|From Washougal, WA to The Dalles, OR|
The premise was simple enough - take our boat, O'Baby!!, from Camas/Washougal,
Washington to Lewiston, Idaho. It's been a trip that Debbie and I had planned for over a year,
and have anticipated greatly for the last couple of months. Oh yeah, sun, water, and boating -
a combination you read about in magazines! We were there!
Sunday, August 18th was a beautiful and sunny northwest summer evening. At around 6 P.M. that evening, Debbie, Josh (our nine year old grandson, a neophyte boater) and I cast off our lines and pulled out of the slip at the Port of C/W. Our destination would be Beacon Rock State Park, a mere 18 miles up the river, where we would spend the night before tackling our first dam the following morning.
We arrived at Beacon Rock
just after dark, and to our surprise, the docks appeared full! On a Sunday! But with a holler out to
the dock, the boaters there found us a spot, lit it up with their spotlights, and grabbed our lines
when we got close enough. Pretty uneventful, and a great start.
We got up early so that we could make the scheduled 9:00 A.M. lock-through at Bonneville Dam, had a bit of trouble getting off the dock because of the current, but nothing too noteworthy.
It was windy, the current was strong (we managed about 3 knots), but we made it in plenty of time, in fact a little early. So we pulled up to the Corps of Engineers dock and waited the opening of the locks. When the lockmaster told us we could proceed into the locks, we dropped O'Baby!! into gear and headed forward. But it didn't respond correctly and by the time we had gotten past the dock it was evident that we had lost thrust on the starboard engine. We tried to make it into the lock so we could tie up and deal with the problem. But that damn wind and the large windage area of our boat tended to work against us. Before we knew it we were sideways in the lock and moving passed the bitts assigned to us. No amount of forward and aft thrusting on the port engine would get us where we needed to be. We were quickly approaching the end of the lock with no sign that we were going to get it into position.
The Corp finally came in with their boat and used it as a tug to move us up against the wall where we could secure the boat and effect repairs to the starboard shaft (which had come out of its coupling).
The repairs were made while the locks lifted us up, and when the doors opened we were able to motor out without incident.
Oh, but it doesn't stop there - not even close!
Within half an hour or so after leaving locks the starboard engine began to overheat. What a fine day this was turning out to be. We thought of stopping at Cascade Locks to fix the problem, but decided it would be better to get to a bigger city (i.e., more repair places) to fix whatever needed to be fixed.
Our plans for Lewiston were beginning to unravel!
We lowered the throttles a bit to keep the temperatures in check (below 230 degrees) and decided to call it a day at Hood River.
Oh, but if it were just that easy!
Remember the wind? Well it really began to kick up and we were getting our decrepit butts kicked as much as we had on our voyage up the coast from San Diego. I mean it was nasty!
But we did make it to Hood River, where after some extensive investigation it became apparent that the heat exchangers had become clogged (I didn't find this out until after I had changed impellers though). I'm assuming that jerking the hose around while fixing the shaft/coupling let loose some crud into the intercooler and/or oil cooler. After some judicious back-flushing of the system, we never had a problem with cooling on the engines for the remainder of the trip.
But that's not to say our problems were over!
Leaving Hood River the next day, the wind wasn't as bad as it had been the day previous. We motored along toward The Dalles Dam with a hopeful anticipation of a better day.
The lull was just a tease and by the time we finally tied up in The Dalles Dam locks, it was howling again. But except for some fumbling with lines, we locked through without too much trouble.
But our resolve was beginning to weaken and we seriously entertained thoughts of abandoning our trip up-river for the more familiar waters of Ilwaco, or such.