Our heroic efforts paid off. Gypsy did leave the dock. We had the sink installed, the refrigerator turned on and the auto pilot had been tested. We filled the water tanks and it was time to go. Now to load the boat.
Three carloads latter, food, cushions, clothes, guitars and books were loaded.
4:00 pm on Wednesday 7/26, its time to start the engine and cast off. We leave the dock and head out into the Columbia River. The first thing we do is steer the boat in three and a half circles so the auto pilot can calibrate itself. Then it is down river to St. Helens. Our destination for tonight.
The first obstacle in our way is the Vancouver Washington Railroad Bridge. It is just down river from the I-5 bridge and it is too low for us to clear. We need to have them open the bridge.
We now were west of the bridge and there were no more obstacles between us and the Pacific Ocean. So what do we do? The answer is we keep watch. There is a fair amount of freighter and barge traffic on the lower Columbia River and we want to stay clear of them. There are several ways to do this. The channel is the part of the river that big ships use. It is at least 43 feet deep. We can stay out of the channel in shallower water and that will keep us clear of most shipping. We also keep watch, noting when a barge or freighter is approaching. If there is any doubt we can call the ship on the VHF radio and ask where they are going.
We got to St. Helens, Oregon and tied up for the night at the docks on Sand Island. We were the only boat at the dock Wednesday night. Thursday morning we were up early since we had a long day heading down river. We wanted to get to Cathlamet, Washington where Rose City Yacht Club was having a potluck in the evening.
We made it to Cathlamet by early afternoon. We had time for showers and a trip to the grocery store before the potluck. We had a nice turnout of twenty some boats at the potluck. Friday morning we again were up early to catch the tide to Astoria.
We spent Friday and Saturday in Astoria. Saturday was the Astoria Open Studios, so we toured several artist’s studios. Astoria has an active arts scene. We also visited the Maritime Museum and the library. The library gave us a internet pass so we could check on weather and tides.
Sunday we left for Warrenton, since we had not been there before. The marina at Warrenton is set up for small fishing boats. Gypsy was way too long for her slip. They only let us stay for Sunday because the Buoy 10 fishing season was starting Tuesday and they were sold out.
Monday saw us underway again. We had wanted to go to Ilwaco, Washington. After our Warrenton experience we phoned ahead to Ilwaco to reserve a slip for Gypsy. They told us we had gotten the last slip they had. Needless to say, we spent two days in Ilwaco and the place was empty. That is too bad because it is a fun place to visit.
One of the benefits of going cruising is you have a hard time staying connected to the internet. Not knowing everything that is happening is not so bad. We were quite happy to not be following Donny Johnny’s every twitter. We were also not following the weather news too carefully. So Tuesday morning the weather radio keep mentioning smoke. We realized that all the haze we were seeing was smoke from forest fires.
We anchored behind Tongue Point to spend a couple more days at the relatively cool coast. 90 instead of 100 plus degrees. Not much wind but humid.
We pulled into Cathlamet Friday afternoon. As we were docking Gypsy a guy on the dock was asking us if we here for the boat show? Bill just thought he was a smart alec commenting on our paint job. Once Gypsy was tied up we found out that there was a boat show and Gypsy could be in it. It was the Wooden and Classic boat show. We decided it would be fun and we said yes (plus a deal on moorage for the weekend).
Sunday night we spent at Walker Island which is near Longview, Washington. Monday we sailed to Martin Slough. Just up river from Kelso we saw the river boat American Pride. They were waiting for their passengers to return form their excursions. Just like riverboats of yore, nosed up to the bank with the gang plank down.
Wednesday we continued our homeward sail. We decided to go down Multnomah Channel.
We tided up at Coon Island. We noticed that there were gates at the top to the ramp to the island. We discovered goats. They were quit tame and friendly.
Thursday we headed back to Portland.
We stopped at home Thursday night and headed back up river Friday to a club cruise at Government Island. We found lots of ripe blackberries and made a cobbler.