Sunday, October 14, 2007

Up the river without a paddle

We finally had a few days of Indian summer, coinciding with a school holiday, so decided to head upriver for a long weekend. On Friday we got a late start leaving Portland, so we motored for 6 hours to reach Beacon Rock State Park before dark. Only one other boat at the dock, which is one big advantage of a late season trip. This place is packed on a typical summer weekend. The park has been extensively developed in the 5 years since our last visit, and we enjoyed a long walk along the trails before night fell.
On Saturday morning, we radioed ahead to the Bonneville lockmaster, and were told we could get locked through in about an hour. It took us nearly that long to get there, as we were fighting current of up to 4 knots in places, and weaving our way through hog lines of salmon fishing boats. Here's an aerial view of the dam, with the lock to the right.
This was our first time through, and we were impressed with how easy it was. It's a bit spooky coming into the lock from downriver, and seeing that your masthead doesn't even reach the top of the sidewall! We were glad we weren't sharing the lock with any tugs or barges. It took nearly a half hour to fill the lock, after which we emerged onto a placid lake. We motored another half hour to reach the small marina at Cascade Locks. The entrance is quite shallow, but we didn't touch bottom. This is a nice facility, especially for the price (free). Since there was no wind, we decided to go for a hike on the nearby Pacific Crest Trail. When we got back to the boat, the wind had come up, so we had a nice afternoon sail over to Stevenson and back. I don't think I've ever seen such mild conditions in the Gorge.
A strong east wind came up overnight, so we had a nice trip downriver. After clearing the lock, we partially unfurled the genoa, and flew down the Gorge. When we reached Government Island, the sun gave way to fog, and the wind switched to the west. End of the season for this year. Time to start getting the boat ready for a possible departure to Mexico next year.

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