On the weekend of the 12th and 13th we had the pleasure of joining the Sauvie Island Yacht Club for the Anchoring Cruise. The location was the lagoon at Swan Island basin, on the Willamette River in Portland. This sounds great, a lagoon! It’s actually pretty industrial, it’s where all the big ships are refurbished and it’s close to a public boat ramp so the drunk fishermen are going in and out at odd hours.
It was great fun, and full of experiences for us newbies. We woke up early on Saturday to bad weather, rain and cold. We quickly went back to bed and hoped for a break in the weather later on. Somewhere around 10 or 11 we had a light breakfast and got the boat out of the slip and to the fuel dock to take on 5 gallons of diesel, the rain had let up. So we got a late start, there was not enough wind to sail against the current. We started at river mile 86 or so, the Willamette meets the Columbia at about river mile 102, then about 6 or 7 miles on the Willamette to get to Swan Island basin. Almost 2miles to go, and we were making only about 3 kn5ots. The recent engine work means we are limited on rpm for the break in period. It was clear we were going to miss dinner, and arrive in the dark. What fun!
The trip on the Columbia was OK. It rained some, the Sun broke out for a few minutes, pretty much uneventful. I’m glad we had a good heater. On the Willamette we brought out the head sails and picked up a whole knot of speed motor sailing. Very quickly we came to the RR bridge and Rowan hailed for a bridge lift, the tender was in a good mood and we only waited a minute or two while a train passed. We figured the VHF antenna needs 45 feet to clear, the bridge tender reported bridge clearance at 46 feet, that was too close for comfort.
It got dark pretty fast, there is enough light on land to see debris or other boats, we found the raft up easily and maneuvered in to tie up in about 20 feet of water. We had some desert and rum on the host boat, and several hours of good conversation about cruising. 7 boats had showed up for the raft up. The next morning we were up in time for breakfast, and were the first to untie and head back down the river.
We brought out all the sails after turning on to a beam reach in light air on the Willamette. We were making about 5 knots motoring, and 6 knots sailing! It’s great to go faster with the sails than with the motor, that’s why it’s called an auxiliary. Turning North on the Columbia was dead downwind, we set wing and wing with a preventer. We were making about 4 knots. We only sailed about an hour then the wind dropped off and we lost steerage, so the motor came back on to finish the trip to Sand Island. We tied up at the dock before the 50 mile an hour wind hit, the boat was heeling on the dock! There where thunderstorms in the area.
Monday morning we saw some Sun, and sail-able winds. We cast off and sailed up and down the Columbia between Sand Island and Martin Island. We were getting 7 knots moving across the current! Wow! We figure the wind was 15 to 20 knots, we talked about a reef but we were comfortable with the 15-20 degrees of heel. The wind was going with the current so there was no chop.
We decided to leave on a high note, and headed back to the slip. We prepped the boat for the week of storage in the Sun, dressed in tee shirts, no jackets required!
It was a great weekend. We sailed, we moved the boat at night, we found a new anchorage, we rafted up. A bunch of new stuff to add to our box of tricks.
There are leaves on the trees, and there is more and more Sun. I hope Spring is here!