At Anchor

At Anchor
Whiskyjack at anchor in Garrison Bay, San Juan Island

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Labor Day Up-River Cruise

The Labor Day weekend was a great time to poke our nose into the opening of the Columbia River Gorge .  We boarded WhiskyJack on Friday night stowing our supplies and preparing for an early morning departure on Saturday.  I left the dock at 0600 hrs with little light, and no wind, heading up the Multnomah Channel at 5.0 knots toward the Willamette River.  I hadn't gone 1/4 mile before I was in heavy fog which obscured both banks of the channel and, more importantly, all the floating "No Wake" buoys in front of the many houseboat communities.  I dropped the speed to 3.0 knots (about 2 kts SOG), and kept a close eye on the GPS.  In less than 30 minutes the sun had risen, the fog was gone, and we were chugging along at 5.0 kts.
Mt. Hood on the bow from the pilot house
We enter the Willamette River, go down stream for 3 miles, then head up the Columbia River for points unknown.  At about 1000 hrs, we anchor above the I-5 bridge on the Washington side of the river for a bite to eat.  We're underway in an hour, headed upstream at 5.0 kts (3.5 kts SOG) in clear sunny weather, but no wind.  We continue for another 4 hours and find anchorage on the south side of Lady Island.

Sunset from our anchorage at Lady Island

The "hog line" off the mouth of the Sandy River
 We're underway again at 0630 Sunday morning.  There is a lot of river traffic from small boats heading to their favorite fishing spot.  Our anchorage was near the mouth of the Sandy River and the fall run of Chinook Salmon is in full swing.  The fish congregate at the mouths of the rivers they will enter to spawn, thus these spots are favorites for fisherman.  A "hog line" is a line of boats anchored side by side, usually extending from a spot near the shore and extending toward the center of the river.

The paper mill at Camas, Washington

We pass the paper mill at the upper end of Lady Island heading up river at 5.0 kts (3.5 SOG), continuing past Reed Island and enter the Columbia River Gorge.  The Columbia River Gorge is the passage way of the river through the Cascade Mountain Range which rise steeply on each side of the river.

We have wind!  There is a light breeze starting to blow up river.  It's time for the A-sail (asymmetrical spinnaker).  By the time we get the sail rigged we have enough wind to move at hull speed with just the spinnaker.  It is peaceful and quiet moving along under this brightly colored sail.  We sail past Tunnel Point, Rooster Rock, Cape Horn, and Sand Island.  It's a glorious day!

Multnomah Falls
The wind is picking up and we drop the A-sail and hoist the jib and run under it alone.  We now pass Multnomah Falls Oregon's tallest waterfall.    Multnomah Falls has two steps, but only the first one is visible from the river.  It's a 542 foot drop into a small bowl, a gradual 9 foot drop between, then another 69 foot drop at the lower falls.

We continue upriver for another hour and decide to turn around and seek anchorage downriver as there is no protection from the wind, now blowing up stream at15 to 20 kts, or from the 1.5 to 2.0 current.  Anchoring in an exposed area like this is foolish, as the wind blows you one way and the current tugs you the other.

We anchor in the protection of Cape Horn on the Washington side of the river, tucked between two wing dams.  There was no wind and no current.  Karen was able to leisurely swim to shore for relief from the afternoon heat.

The "mouth" of the Columbia River Gorge at dawn

Monday morning we start for home.  We're underway at 0630 headed down stream at 5.0 kts (6.0 kts SOG) under cloudy sky and no wind.

The sun rises as we're passing Crown Point.  The recently renovated Vista House sits atop Crown Point.  It was built in 1916 at the same time as Highway 30, the Columbia River Highway, was built.  Highway 30 was replaced by I-84.

The Portland Fire Boat "David Campbell" sprays water on the Jantzen Beach Thunderbird Hotel

While we were away the unoccupied Jantzen Beach Thunderbird Hotel caught fire and burned.  While we were waiting for the opening of the Interstate Railroad Bridge we were fortunate to be able to watch the crews of the Portland Fire Department still at work mopping up the still smoldering fire.

Ships at anchor in the Columbia River
  As we head for the mouth of the Willamette River, and our slip on the Multnomah Channel, we thread our way through the maze of ships anchored in the Columbia River near Vancouver, Washington.  It was a fun and relaxing holiday weekend.


  1. Glad to see you both out on the water. Seeing the Columbia River certainly brings back fond memories.

  2. I see that you haven't published any new blog posts in several months -- do you still have the boat? Reason I'm asking is that I have a similar boat, with similar systems, and have learned alot from your technical posts.


    kentrd at gmail dot com

  3. I notice you haven't posted any new entries in several months. Do you still have the boat (I think you mentioned it was for sale). Reason I ask is that I have a similar boat, with same engine, and I'm learning a lot from your technical posts.


    kentrd at gmail dot com