After loading my boat for the week's cruising, I shoved off for St. Helens, 11 miles downriver, getting there just after sunset on a full ebb tide and with wind opposing. Thanks to patience and a friendly local geezer on the dock, I was able to get secured, then secure my fellow yachtsman who was behind me. Fortunately, the courthouse clock was broken and did not chime all night, but unfortunately, the Internet network was tango uniform, so I couldn't post. No matter, I had to get up at dawn to meet my daughter, who is departing to work in Albuquerque, NM shortly. Next day, I got her squared away with Microsoft Streets and Trips '07, which now has voice command on navigation. Her Kia Rio is now equipped better than a Lexus for navigating the unfamiliar roads between here and there.
Then we pushed off for Rainier, about 20 miles further downriver, where I shanghaied a deckhand and bought an emergency starting battery, since my batteries are looking tired (still start the engines, but who know for how much longer), and my buddy's starting batteries are toast (dead cell on a Trojan golf car battery, rather unusual). With the equipment and deckhand aboard, we push off again, another 25 miles downriver. The river was UP, with nasty 3 foot rollers countering the ebb tide. Nice steep waves. Occasionally had to brace myself in the helm seat against the motion, and when I took a break for the head, I noted that a lot of things had changed locations in the main cabin, despite my best stowage attempts. Nothing broken, though.
It gets worse until we enter Cathlamet channel, which we timed for high tide, and even still, I saw four feet on the fishfinder once (boat draws 2 1/2 feet).
Navigation in the silty channel is by local knowledge, as the USCG doesn't maintain the four buoys that are there very well. I had the local knowledge, but it wasn't fresh - I haven't been here for two years.
Pull into the marina and take on fuel (only $120 worth, boat did better than I thought), then proceed to the assigned dock and completely fark up the stern-to landing. Some excuse, though, since my starboard engine kept dying at idle, and I couldn't train myself quick enough to keep it a skosh off of the idle stop.
Finally get tied up, and eat a late lunch at 1400. More boats arrive, then the driver arrives to take my deckhand back to Rainier, via Longview and the Lewis and Clark bridge. I take all of them out to dinner at the River Rat Tap, a waterside dive with an average tavern burger:
Note the classy missing chunk of roof. They need to sell more burgers and get that fixed, the first fall storm is due in Monday night.
Off to bed early. The rough river is hard on the Cap'n's old body. Heating pad AND Cyclobenzaprine.
Today, did some work on the batteries, bringing up the voltage by a thorough cleaning of the terminals and lugs on the battery cables (of which this boat has over a dozen).
Welcomed more boats to the cruise, then took a dinghy ride in my little Livingston dinghy, out into the main channel again, where I had to bail some due to the foot-or-better cross-chop, but I got some pictures of the outer harbor:
There's nothing but character in that old bucket, eh? More salty ships, here are two Brusco barge-dragging tugs, which usually average 4 knots at sea:
The inner harbor is full of these gillnetters, and I may gin up a post just on them and they way of life they represent, past, present and future:
More later, and then a post when I get back. I'll probably have to navigate through that coming storm, could be interesting.
Gotta go, Internet access here is $2.00 per hour and I only bought two hours.