Columbia River, April 23, 2010
We are finally away from the winter dock and headed out to the Pacific Ocean. We started provisioning in February, hoping for an early weather window to appear. No early weather window showed itself, and we ended up doing some re-provisioning. There was a minor weather window last week. The captain chose to let it pass by – though two of our boater friends did take it – and are now up in Washington. We stayed and did some final errands. Those are all done, and we know it is time to leave before new errands develop or we need to Re-re-provision!
Our last couple days at the dock were not that fun. My cell phone managed to jump into the Columbia River just as I was boarding the boat Sunday evening. It is not lost – I know where it is, but it is gone for good. We had another setback when Bruce realized his wallet was missing. So, in addition to all the other last minute items on Monday, we added cell phone purchase and lost wallet ops. All that is behind us now, and so, too, is the marina.
Shortly after we left the marina we passed the ship ways, where ships were built and then launched during World War II. They are all but forgotten, overgrown with weeds – many of the people who worked there have passed on; and now just a fading reminder to those of us who travel on the river.
We headed up river for two days. We didn’t go far, though, just seven miles to the Government Island Marine Park docks. The weather was mild. We were the only ones there. We were finally away from the Portland Intl Airport noise. But it wasn’t all that quiet.
We were about a mile east of the 205 Bridge, busy with traffic around the clock. Just across the water, on the Washington side of the river there is a beautiful community. The trains run right through the middle of it, constantly, day and night. We wonder how the people tolerate the noise and dirt pollution. The ground must tremble with the passing of every train, and the train sounds its horn – multiple times. I thought the noise and grime of the airport was bad, but these folks must have it worse. Maybe they built all the houses on granite, have triple pane windows, and 10 inch thick walls with plenty of insulation. We are certain the train tracks came first. It is a testament to what people will do to live on waterfront property.
When tying up to docks on the river, you generally want your bow pointed into the current. That allows the water to pass by your hull unrestricted. We did tie up – bow into the current, but the wind was on our stern and at times the wind seemed stronger than the current – which created a lot of creaking and straining of the dock lines and fenders – another reason it wasn’t that quiet at the docks. Though the wind, right on our stern, made cooking on the BBQ complicated, we were still happy to be there and into our cruising routine. The beauty of being at anchor is that the bow turns into the wind, leaving our aft deck in the lee. We can cook or sit on the aft deck out of the wind. Very nice!
There is an occasion when it doesn’t always work that way. It has to do with current being stronger than wind. In 2006 we were up in British Columbia, anchored in Cutter Cove – just inside the Broughton Archipelago. It was mid afternoon. Bruce was taking a nap and I was doing crossword puzzles in the pilot house. I looked up and noticed that we were broad to the wind. What? That didn’t make sense to me. My first thought was that the wind had shifted, but then I realized it had not. I started walking from one end of the boat to the other, looking out the windows, assessing our location, knowing definitely that we were not pointed into the wind. I was pretty sure that we were in no danger. I could tell that the anchor was holding. I really was worried, though, and thought about waking Bruce. I decided to wait. If things started looking worse, I would wake him. He finally woke up and I shared my concern with him. It turned out that the current coming out of the cove was stronger than the wind! That was my first introduction to current verses wind. Here on the Columbia River, if tied to the dock, your bow should be pointed into the current. Trillions of gallons of water flow out of the river, and the current is always the first concern.
Early the next morning it was flat calm and very quiet – makes sleeping in easy!
After two days, we recovered from the departure drama, got organized, and are ready to head down the river. There is no weather window yet, but we are anxious to get going – to our 2010 cruising destinations.