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#573930 - 07/06/20 04:17 PM Want to go for a boat ride?  
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GoFirstClass Offline
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Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
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Pasco, WA

I rounded up a crew to help get the boat around to Seattle. It’s going to be about 650 miles and we expect it to take 7 days unless we run into weather issues. There will be 3 of us on the boat from here to Longview, WA where one of the crew (Jim) has to leave to take his daughter to college. He’s had some cruising experience on Beachcomber, having helped me take her to Portland and back.

Jim will be replaced in Longview by Doug who will be on the boat as we finish the trip to Seattle. Doug and I met in 2014 when he and I helped a new friend (Stuart) take his boat from Seattle to Stockton, CA. So Doug has some very welcome open ocean experience in addition to being an accomplished skipper in his own right.

The third part of the crew is Tom. Tom and I met when Doug and I took the boat to CA. Tom is also an experienced skipper, having taken his boat from Longview, WA where he lives and docks it, to Alaska every year. So lots of open water experience plus experience going back and forth over the infamous Columbia River bar.

Me? I’m just along to do the cooking and cleanup. Now you may chuckle at that, but I’m party serious. I’ve just finished a round of chemo treatments to fight off stage IV cancer. One of the lingering side effects is an unsteadiness on my feet. I’ve promised my wife I would NOT go out on deck unless someone’s life was in jeopardy. I also made that unsteadiness clear to the other crew and made sure they knew about it ahead and were OK with taking on my share of the deck duties. All readily agreed to take on any additional load.

So, with this kind of a setup and crew, what could go wrong? Well, my biggest concern is the weather, and not the weather on the ocean. My concern is the winds on the Columbia. We have to pass through the infamous Columbia River Gorge area that’s widely known for being the wind surfing capital of the world. We also have to pass through 4 locks on the Columbia and 1 in Seattle.

The Columbia River locks can be tricky on a calm day. In one of the locks on the Snake River, I had the wind spin my 330 Sundancer (33’ express cruiser) in a full circle when they opened the downstream (upwind) gate to let me exit. It acted like a venturi with the wind. To say that I was experiencing a major pucker would be a gross understatement.

I’m going to do all the boat driving when we’re going through a lock or in any docking/undocking maneuvers. Other than that we’re going to do 2-hour shifts with each of us getting a turn at the helm, as a spotter for debris/crab pots etc. The third person will have his turn to rest before coming back on the helm. We did that on the way to California and it worked well.

We’ve also decided that ANY of us has the right to say “Nope, we’re not going out today.” That takes the burden off anyone and relieves them from feeling bad about making the call.

We’re leaving Tuesday, July 7th around 0845 or a little earlier. The first lock we encounter is McNary. [Linked Image] It’s about 36 miles downriver and has an average lift of 183’ though that may be a bit higher now because the river is high. All the locks on the river have lock times for downstream travel of 9:30, 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30. We intend to make the 12:30 lock. That let’s us out of the lock around 1:00p and it’s another 47 miles to our first stop of Arlington, OR. We should be in there around 5:00, just in time for dinner.

So, come on along with us. We’ve all decided this is going to be a FUN trip and the only schedules we’re setting will be to make the lock times at the dams. Please put your tray tables in the upright and locked positions and get ready to go for a lengthy boat ride.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
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#573935 - 07/06/20 08:41 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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kenhdog Offline
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kenhdog  Offline
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Enjoy the trip GFC!

Nothing beats friends/friendship.


2002 Rinker 212 Captiva
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#573936 - 07/06/20 10:41 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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captkevin Offline
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Sounds like a great last ride. Enjoy


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#573937 - 07/07/20 09:16 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Justification Offline
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Justification  Offline
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Fruit Heights, Utah
Can't wait to join you vicariously on this fun, but ultimately sad, adventure.


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You should feel without beer.
#573938 - 07/07/20 01:29 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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GoFirstClass Offline
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Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,535
Pasco, WA
Well they say that hindsight is 20/20 and I’d have to agree with that. We were planning on leaving this morning but after checking on the winds all day, and watching them build throughout the day, I decided last night to canx todays’ start. It was the right decision and, after looking at the winds this morning it was the right decision. Winds at our first destination this morning were in the mid 30’s with gusts to 41. Ain’t no way I’d want to be going through the lock or docking the boat in that kind of wind. Tomorrow’s winds are showing steady at 14 with gusts to 20. That’s OK so we’re just shifting our schedule back one day.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#573939 - 07/07/20 02:37 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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WayWeGo Offline
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WayWeGo  Offline
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Oakton, VA
Good call!

Have a great trip and thanks for taking us along!


[Linked Image]
1975 Trojan F36 Convertible, Twin Chrysler 440's
2014 West Marine AL360 Inflatable, 1966 Mercury 6HP, 1992 Mercury 20HP
#573940 - 07/07/20 02:39 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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captkevin Offline
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captkevin  Offline
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Chicago, IL
Sounds like you made the right choice.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#573953 - 07/09/20 07:10 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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GoFirstClass Offline
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Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,535
Pasco, WA
Well we had planned on leaving the slip at 0845 and we were exactly on that time mark when we departed. All went well even as we cruised toward the area where if there are going to be high winds, they start here. The winds kicked up about a 1.5'-2' chop but not bad. We continued on, rounded the bend at Wallula Gap to the stretch where the winds are usually blowing like the devil. Surprise, surprise, no wind, calm waters, blue skies and a beautiful day to be on the water.

When we got a bit further downriver we spotted about a 32' houseboat that appeared to have been blown up onto the rocks at the shore, most likely by the winds from the prior day. We called it in to the USCG and continued on our way.

I had planned an early departure in case we ran into high winds and waves and had to slow down. As it turned out we were going to arrive at McNary lock about 45 minutes early thanks to the 2+ mph current helping us along. I called the lock on the radio and asked if we could pass through on arrival instead of waiting for the scheduled time. They OK'd the early lockage so we got in and tied up about 45 minutes early. They lowered the water and we were out of the lock in about 15 minutes from when we had tied to the bollard.

When we left the lock we still had no wind and a beautiful day. That was not to last long as we had an engine overheat alarm about 2 miles from the lock. The port engine showed as the hot one so we shut it down. Tom opened the engine room hatch and couldn't even see in because of the heavy smoke/steam. We drifted around for about 30 minutes until he could get into the engine room to inspect the engine.

He found what looked like the source of the leak. A 1/2" 90* "street ell" coming out of the heat exchanger had a length of pipe screwed into the femail end of the ell and there was coolant dripping from the fitting. It looked like there was a possible crack at the threads. Here's the ell he thought was faulty.
[Linked Image]

Had there been any winds blowing we would have gone into the Umatilla marina rather than risk going back through the lock on one engine. There was no wind so we called the lock on the VHF, explained our plight and asked for another early lockage rather than wait another 3 hours to the next scheduled one. They obliged us so we started back to the lock.

I must admit that my "pucker factor" was extremely high as we entered the lock. I could just see us crashing into the wall and damaging a boat I was about to put up for sale. Then, to top it off, there were 5 people standing on the walkway at the top of the lock watching and waiting to the the big boat smashed to smithereens inside their lock.

As it turned out it took me 3 attempts to get up next to the bollard so Jim could get a line around it. He did and secured us tight to the wall. Thank heaven for bow thrusters. We got out of the lock after being raised to the top and started a loooong journey home, now on one engine and running against the current.

We got home about 6:30 without incident and got Beachcomber secured in the slip. We unloaded a bunch of perishables into dock carts and my wife picked us up. We got home, went for a swim then stuffed ourselves on her wonderful spaghetti with homemade sauce.

I had called the owner of Columbia Marine Center from the boat while we were drifting around. He suggested we take some photos of what we thought was the damaged part(s) and send them to him, and he agreed to meet us down at the boat at 10:00 today.

He spent about 2 hours down in the engine room and found this:
[Linked Image]

The 1/2" galvanized ell had a pencil lead-size hole in the bottom and that's where the coolant had leaked out. He disassembled it and took the bad part and adjacent parts so he could find replacements.

On the way back all 3 of us decided that we would wait a few weeks before heading back downriver. We all have things on our schedules that need to be taken care of so in a couple of weeks we'll regroup and see how everything looks for the dates for the next trip.

All things considered this could have been a LOT worse. The silver lining is that ell could have given way when we were crossing the bar or 25 miles offshore in the Pacific. It was a beautiful day to be on the water and the day just happened to be turned upside down by a $1 part. That could have been a LOT worse.

Stay tuned.



Last edited by GoFirstClass; 07/09/20 07:11 PM.

"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#573954 - 07/09/20 07:17 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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captkevin Offline
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captkevin  Offline
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Chicago, IL
Wow that is quite a start to your journey. Glad you were able to make it work out safely.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#573955 - 07/09/20 10:21 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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GoFirstClass Offline
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GoFirstClass  Offline
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Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,535
Pasco, WA
Yeah, it started off beautifully then we encountered that houseboat that was blown up on the rocks on shore. That probably happened the day prior when the winds were so bad--that same day we decided not to venture out. With 20/20 hindsight, had we gone the day before and had the blown cooling line there's no way in hell I would have taken the boat back into the lock on one engine.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#573958 - 07/10/20 09:33 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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captkevin Offline
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captkevin  Offline
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Wow that would have been a bad day - really good thing you decided to wait for better conditions.


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#573959 - 07/10/20 02:30 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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WayWeGo Offline
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WayWeGo  Offline
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Oakton, VA
That should have been a bronze part. If you were keeping the boat long term, I would go through the rest of the fittings and replace.

Glad you got back safely!


[Linked Image]
1975 Trojan F36 Convertible, Twin Chrysler 440's
2014 West Marine AL360 Inflatable, 1966 Mercury 6HP, 1992 Mercury 20HP
#573960 - 07/10/20 07:55 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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GoFirstClass Offline
Retired Boating Bum
GoFirstClass  Offline
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Grand Poobah

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 15,535
Pasco, WA
If I were keeping the boat I would replace the fittings and likely would use stainless parts. Since we're selling the boat I'm trying to keep the money I put into it to a minimum.

I didn't get the title "BABC Cheapskate" by tossing money where it ain't needed.

Last edited by GoFirstClass; 07/10/20 07:56 PM.

"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!

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