Sailing on Air Part 6- The Channel Ride

A fork in the river divided our path in two. To our left was the giant Columbia river that we had powered up from.. to our right was a much less known route “The Multnomah Channel”.. When I told people at work that I’d be going down the Multnomah Channel they looked at me with some wonderment.. “what’s that” was in people’s eyes. Everyone knows about the Columbia River and the Willamette River, but the one river the connects both of them just isn’t known…

It’s a shame, but in some ways a lack of knowledge protects this live and luscious place. Venturing down the St. Helen’s end of the Channel you enter into a green Amazon like river cruise. It’s like a Disneyland ride and you expect some huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer adventure ride to narrate your vessel, but this is no pre-scripted ride.. The scenery is real, the trees to either side is real, it’s all un-touched except for some ancient paper mills and washed up rotting barges that are strewn along the banks…

Our boat drifted masterfully along the river.. A steady two or three knots made this drift very enjoyable. A light hand on our tiller to keep the boat turning down this curvy river was all that was needed to keep moving forward. We took turns.. Tink and I.. navigating along.. Lush forests turned into golden farms then back into fishing holes with old wooden docks and hanging tires.. With the sun out.. it truly looked in places like Mark Twain had reached down and carved out a place for us to enjoy. We followed along trying to navigate by our depth sounder which was nothing more then an old fish finder.. “40” Tink sounded off “39, 38, 39” plenty of depth for our barely four foot draft boat..

Nobody was out there, nobody except smokers that is.. There’s an unwritten code written by ancient sailors and codified by our nation… A boater’s code that states that a sailboat or ship under sail is to be respected. Under sail a sailboat has the right away only contested by perhaps a swimmer or rowboat like a kayak or Canoe… Unfortunately.. This code is drifting down into history along with the great sailors of our time… Nowadays those with a few extra bucks in hand can buy a motorboat and 
do whatever they see fit..

Along the channel smokers (powerboats) would trail us and “buzz” us forcing our sailboat to rock madly back and forth. Action such as this has forged a deep divide between powerboats and sailboats. Perhaps because I come from the sail side I blame the power boaters for this divide… They buzz us with their boats and there’s no way we could ever buzz back… They know we’re limited.. they know we’re slow… Why oh why do they try to follow us and buzz us? It’s just not right.. More discussion to follow later on afterwards.

Smokers aside.. The channel is undoubtedly a must for small craft to do.. The current is weak enough and the traffic light enough to really get some experience motor sailing or driving a boat. Some of the challenges you get setting off in the Columbia (such as barges, giant boats, waves, currents, big smokers, etc.) you don’t get on the channel. It’s just a nice float..

More to come about the channel & another story ’bout that Honda motor 🙂

~J out


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