I never really thought I would ever have much of an interest in cruising on a boat, viewing it as more of a pastime of the well-to-do. That opinion slowly changed, first as a result of my relationship with Debbie and her interest in boating, then as I began to meet members of the various yacht clubs on the Columbia River. They were just like me! The descent into boating was complete when Debbie and I were invited along on Opening Day in 1997 as guests of the Vancouver Yacht Club Commodore, Larry Mead, onboard the Dandelion. By the end of that fateful day, I knew I would have to buy a boat I was infatuated with the pleasure of the craft, and the people, completely!
The culmination of that infatuation was the purchase in May 1997 of a 1964 26' SabreCraft. This was a boat that was in fair condition, though it was deep in the throws of an interior refit. The previous owner, Terry O'Neil, had began a remodeling process that promised to update and improve the cruisablility of the craft. He had installed many new amenities (larger water and holding tanks, etc.) and put in the infrastructure to add many more. But he decided to sell before completing the job, having gotten two-foot-itis for a larger boat. This was to my good fortune. I was able to get into a reasonable boat for a reasonable price. All that was required was to finish the refit. And being a soul that enjoys tinkering around, this was not an all together unpleasant prospect. So the deal was made and the games began.
Even though many of the parts were there, waiting to be installed, the old adage of a boat being a hole in the water began to ring true. We began the challenging, though at times, tedious, task of putting her back together. Time and money became the most important factors in the refit, with the ability to do the job coming in a close third (I've never been much of a carpenter, and working on a wood boat proved that to be too true at times). But she came along rather nicely, and in the space of just a little over a month, she was ready (for the most part) to go out on our first cruise.
That first cruise was an overnighter to Portland Waterfront park for the Blues Festival. From there we went to so many other places, and met so many other wonderful people, that it would be difficult to recount all of the adventures in the mere four megabytes allowed for this web site. But there were some cruises that stood out amongst the others:
Labor Day '98 cruise with the Willamette Yacht Club: By far this was the longest cruise that Debbie and I have taken the boat on. Having taken a week's vacation each, we definitely were not rushed for time. We headed downriver after the last day of work to spend the first night of our vacation at Sand Island by St. Helen's, OR. Docking the boat there, in rapidally darkening skies and gusting winds, proved to be quite a challenge (and a comedy of errors), but we were able to get O' Baby! tied up without any damage to the boat, the dock, or our egos (the definition of safe boating to me:-]). The following day saw us heading to Cathlamet, where we tied up for the night and partied with some members of the Columbia River Yacht Club. The next day we headed to Skipanon to meet up with Debbie's cousin Tina. Enroute we encountered the heaviest seas of our relatively brief boating career. Passing the Meglar Bridge we ran into what we estimate as four foot seas, tossing O' Baby! around pretty good (and making a mess of the galley). We were both pretty glad to turn into the Skipanon River and tie up in port. We spent the greater part of that evening drying out our bedding (the rough seas brought water into our boat in places we didn't know water could pass!). The fourth day of our little adventure saw us leaving Skipanon for a short jaunt across the mouth of the Columbia to Ilwaco where we met up with some of the other Willamette Yacht Club members. We stayed in Ilwaco for a couple of days then headed back upriver. Our first stop was the dilapedated docks of Rainier (nothing like the description in the Boating the Columbia and Snake Rivers book). It was an absolute pit (I confirmed this when stepping out of the boat and putting my foot through the dock)! We stayed through the night (it was late when we got there) and left as soon as we could in the morning (we had to wait for the tide to come in as O' Baby! ended up on the bottom during the night). We then cruised from there to Coon Island where we joined up with Vancouver Yacht Club to spend a night with them on their Labor Day cruise. On Monday, Labor Day, we left the Coon Island docks and cruised down the to the Columbia where we slipped into the channel leading to Ridgefield to have a Labor Day dinner with my union friends. After spending the evening there, we left on a setting sun and cruised back upriver to Debbie's house on our final leg of what was a most wonderful week of cruising, both by ourselves, and with our boating friends. Life just doesn't get any better than this.
1998 Halloween Cruise to Sand Island: Again, Debbie and I had taken a week of vacation to cruise the river in O' Baby!, culminating in a stop at Sand Island for our first "Spook Cruise". Things didn't work out quite that way though. While cruising around looking for a place to keep our boat under cover for the winter, we found that Big Oak would haul out our boat for a very acceptable price. So with the good weather of that week, plus the fact we were both on vacation, we took the opportunity to haul the boat out and paint the bottom, as well as take care of some other maintenance below the waterline. And most surprisingly of all, it really turned out to be quite satisfying (fun too). So we spent a few days painting the boat, fixing the outdrive, changing the transducer, etc., until we felt she was ready to go again. We put her in the water on Thursday and proceeded to Sand Island. When we arrived, there were about 5-6 boats already tied up. We sterned in and tied up as the second boat on the inside pier next to Ron and Cathy Edmiston's Marauder. It was nice having the island mostly to ourselves. This lasted only a few hours, though. By Friday there were well over 50 boats tied up to the east dock and they were still coming in a continuous stream. Our mouths were agape in disbelief, neither Debbie or I had ever seen a cruise like this, boats of all descriptions tied to each other in all directions, three and four deep off the docks. And the dingy's! They were stuck in every nook and cranny that could be found I swear, it would have been impossible to fall in the water, you'd have either ended up on someone's swimboard or in their dingy, that's how tight things were parked! The weekend was so full of activities, spook walks, food, trick or treaters, food, good friends, food, boat tours, food, and lot's of nautical amenities. Did I mention there was a lot of food? Everyone had somethings to share, all 180+ boats. I gained...well, never mind! Let's just say there were a lot of calories there! I couldn't believe one could have so much fun, but then every new adventure in boating has out done the last. That's what I love about this hobby, I can hardly wait to see what's next I feel like a kid anticipating Christmas. Let's get on with the next cruise!
This is an evolving web site, so check back often as we add new adventures.
Thanks for visiting our website, we'll see you on the next cruise!
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