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

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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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Enjoy the trip GFC!

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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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Sounds like a great last ride. Enjoy


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#573937 - 07/07/20 09:16 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Can't wait to join you vicariously on this fun, but ultimately sad, adventure.


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#573938 - 07/07/20 01:29 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Grand Poobah

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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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Good call!

Have a great trip and thanks for taking us along!


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#573940 - 07/07/20 02:39 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Sounds like you made the right choice.


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#573953 - 07/09/20 07:10 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Grand Poobah

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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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Wow that is quite a start to your journey. Glad you were able to make it work out safely.


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#573955 - 07/09/20 10:21 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Grand Poobah

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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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Wow that would have been a bad day - really good thing you decided to wait for better conditions.


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#573959 - 07/10/20 02:30 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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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!


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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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Grand Poobah

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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!
#574116 - 08/14/20 09:01 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Grand Poobah

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Pasco, WA
I wrote this on Wednesday night, the first day of our cruise to take the boat to Seattle. I was too pooped to post it then and last night just ran out of time so here it is. I wrote a short post last night but again, was too tired to post it. I did take some photos yesterday and I'll add those as I have time to upload them. Here's Wednesday night's missive.....

On the road again,
just can't wait to get one the road again,
going places where I've never been before

Well, y'all know the rest of that old tune.

We've been over a month getting the boat fixed and fixing our schedules so we could take off for Seattle again.

Well today Jim, Tom and I struck out for Seattle. We left the slip at 9:30, right on schedule. It was windy and as we got down the river a few miles we were running into 4'-5' waves with spray washing the boat from one end to the other. We got to McNary lock about 10 minutes early and that gave us time to set fenders and lines.

After passing through the lock we headed on down river. I was feeling kinda pooped so I turned the helm over to Tom and took an hour nap on the aft seat on the bridge. That felt REALLY good. We got into Arlington, OR right at 5:00 and got tied up with a lot of help from the wind.

After a quick cold one we hiked up into town and had some mediocre burgers for dinner, then back down to the marina.

Now I gotta tell you if this writing seems a bit disjointed it's because I didn't sleep much last night and other than today's nap I'm feeling sleep deprived.

So, with that thought in mind I'm going to sign off and hit the hay. I only took one photo today so I'll try to post that tomorrow and will continue this sorry tale when we get further down river.

Tomorrow's agenda includes two locks and 55 miles of river travel to the town of The Dalles, OR. Hopefully by this time tomorrow I'll be more awake and will be able to write stuff that makes sense.

Nightey night.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574117 - 08/14/20 09:02 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Grand Poobah

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Pasco, WA
Here's last night's tale. I'll add some photos when I get some time.....

Nothing great to add. We're in The Dalles, OR. We traveled 74 miles the first day, added an additional 40 or so miles today and went through two locks. The second lock (The Dalles Dam) we had to wait almost an hour for a tug and barges to pass through the lock heading upstream. We could have pushed the issue a bit to get them to let us pass through first because we were closer to the lock but I deffered to the tug and let them go through first.

We ate at a sports bar tonight and had a good dinner. We got a ride from the marina up to the bar from a gal we met in the parking lot (I paid her $10) then got a ride back to the marina from a cop and his wife who had been in the same restaurant. Funny stories in both and I'll probably write them later. I also have a few photos to post but that will have to wait for another time.

For now, it's a bit after 9:00 and I'm heading to bed. Nightey night.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574132 - 08/16/20 10:46 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Addendum

I’m going to add some additional “stuff” as I think of it; most of it will be stuff that just didn’t seem to fit in each day’s post or maybe it’s stuff I didn’t think of at the time but thought of it later.

Day 1 - to Arlington, OR
This was probably the roughest water day of our trip. As we started the winds were stiff and the waves about 3’. That quickly changed to waves 4’-5’ and stayed that way almost all the way. It’s 74 miles, we left on time, got to McNary on time and then had a nice (albeit bumpy) ride the rest of the way. The dock at Arlington is oriented N-S. With a strong (30-40kts) wind from the west it blew us hard up against the dock. We had lots of fenders out so they absorbed the bump and we had no damage. OK GUYS! Get the captain a cold one!

For dinner we hiked about ¾ mile up to the town’s only restaurant. I got a burger that turned out to be mediocre at best. Then we hiked back to the boat and relaxed.

Day 2 – to The Dalles, OR
This run is always a long one—there are two locks to go through and that’s what takes so long. In summer months the locks are on a set schedule for rec vessels. Downstream it’s 9:30, 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30. The dams are close enough together in this part of the river that it’s too easy to cruise from one to the next. Even with very rough water we arrive too early at anything above idle speed and then we have to wait until the scheduled time. PITA

When we got to The Dalles marina the wind was howling. I had to enter the marina and make a hard turn to port and do it between the breakwater and nearby boat houses. Then spin the boat in a 180* turn to side tie at the only long dock they have. On a calm day it’s tricky. With the wind blowing hard it’s tough but to say I nailed it would be an understatement. Not trying to toot my own horn, but both guys said I did the docking maneuver like a professional. OK GUYS, get the captain a cold one!

There are no restaurants anywhere close to the marina so it looked like we were going to have to walk about a mile, uphill both directions through 2’ of snow and blowing winds. I saw a family who appeared to be living out of an old beater motor home who happened to have a truck parked next to it. I approached the mother and offered her $10 for a lift. She jumped at it and we all were happy.

After dinner we came out of the restaurant right ahead of a couple in their 40’s. I told them we were at the marina and asked if they would please give us a ride. I showed them my retired cop ID to let them know they would be safe and when they saw that the gal said “We’d be honored.” Turns out he’s a cop so we had something in common. They gave us the ride then joined us for a beer and a tour of the boat. In our conversation I found out her mother has stage 4 breast cancer. I told her about my battle with cancer and she was surprised. Her comment was “You have cancer but you’re still smiling.”

I told her that when I found out I had cancer it was 3 days before I could even say the word because it scared me so bad, but then I decided I was not going to let the cancer kick my butt either mentally or physically. Another thing we have in common. After a beer and some conversation they left and we headed for bed.

Day 3 – to Government Island

Today was going to be an easy day. Only one lock (Bonneville Dam) and the water between The Dalles and Portland was just like glass. I’ve never seen it that way and we enjoyed it. When we got close to the lock I called them on the radio to let them know we were coming. There was a tug with one barge going into the lock and the lockmaster said if we stepped up the pace a bit we could lock through with the tug. We got up on plane and ran the last few miles at about 22kts. We caught up to the tug just as he was entering the lock and, to my surprise, he told us to tie up to him not the bollard. Another first with Beachcomber. I’d never done that before but it was a piece of cake.

Coming out of the lock we were too late to make the fuel dock we were headed to so we stopped short at the dock at Government Island and got tied up. OK GUYS, get the captain a cold one!

Day 4 – To Tom’s Dock near Longview, WA
We left the Government Island dock about 7:00 and cruised through Portland. It was “lumpy” but not bad until we got downstream from Portland and we were back in the 4’-5’ waves and lots of wind and spray. That continued all the way to St. Helens, OR where we stopped for fuel and pumped out. 300 gallons of diesel at $2.00/gallon later we were back on the water headed to Tom’s digs.

We had an uneventful cruise to Tom’s. This is a beautiful stretch of the Columbia. Lots of ships coming up river to load up and head back to wherever, lots of huge terminals and other commercial buildings. The closer we got to Tom’s the more the winds died down and by the time we got to the slough he’s on we were back on glassy water.

This is not all there is to tell about Day 4 but we’re all pooped so I’m going to sign off, put the dishes away and we’re going to hit the hay early. Tomorrow is the day we cross the bar and head up the coast. Our goal is to make it to Port Angeles. If we do, that will be a run of a bit over 200 nautical miles. We plan to shove off around 7:30 anuinsed if we run at ~18knots that would work out to a cruise day of around 11.25 hours. That puts us in there around 7:30, about an hour ahead of sunset.

I’m going to bed but I will check in tomorrow night from (hopefully) Port Angeles. I uploaded Jim's photos to my computer so I'll try to work on getting those ready tomorrow.


"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574134 - 08/17/20 08:45 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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captkevin Online content
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Sounds like quite the trip. Keep the updates coming & good luck


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#574135 - 08/18/20 12:17 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Aye Captain!


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#574146 - 08/19/20 10:10 PM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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Grand Poobah

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Pasco, WA
Guys and gals, I apologize for not updating this but I have been without wifi since the first night of the trip. I will try to do a day by day update starting tomorrow and I have a TON of photos that I need to upload to my 3rd party site before I can post them on here.

Be patient I'm home now (just arrived) so I'll start working on it tomorrow.

Sign me: One Pooped GFC

Last edited by GoFirstClass; 08/19/20 10:10 PM.

"Beachcomber" 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge


Anchor's down......Bottoms Up!
#574148 - 08/20/20 08:08 AM Re: Want to go for a boat ride? [Re: GoFirstClass]  
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captkevin Online content
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captkevin  Online Content
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Can't wait to hear how it all turns out. Have fun & stay safe.


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