2010 September S/V AQUILA Sail Cruise...
2010 September S/V AQUILA Sail Cruise...Report Abuse
John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when your busy making other plans." That certainly is the case for here. I note a passage of several months since the last update of this logbook. A period of time with a lot of life and plans inter-weaving into a tapestry occasionally above my control. The 2010 cruise area is within the waters of the mighty Columbia River, along the shores of Roosevelt Lake in northeastern Washington State, U.S.A. If you’d like to read this logbook with multiple images, charts and other visual references please go to http://fosterfanning.blogspot.com/ and start at October 2010.
Before we begin, a quick refresher on Lake Roosevelt. As mentioned above the lake is formed by the waters of the Columbia River restricted behind Grand Coulee Dam. The full name of this 150 mile long body of water is Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. The lake has over 600 miles of shoreline consisting of indented coves, sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and broad bays.The Lake Roosevelt watershed drains 44,969 square miles, almost 88% of which originates in Canada. The water in Lake Roosevelt comes from glacial ice, lakes and precipitation base made up of mostly melting snow pack in the spring. Close to 89% of Lake Roosevelt’s water comes from the Columbia River. There are four additional rivers joining this inland waterway within the confines of the lake. They are, in order of occurrence; the Kettle River, the Colville River, the Spokane River and the San Poil River, with the Spokane being the largest of the four. Of the remaining water flow 7% comes from the Spokane River and 4% comes from a combination of the Kettle, Colville, and Sanpoil Rivers.
Lets start the adventure on the sailing vessel Aquila with the opening day of our cruise - Catherine's birthday, September 6th. It was good to be under way after a visit to our friends of Crandall Coffee Roasters John and Janet also own and operate Riverview Organic Orchards where Catherine and I like to top off our provisions in their pleasant, little on-site store.
There's a lot of work that goes into getting a sailboat ready even for a short cruise. It was good to have all the intense prepping, packing, loading, and transferring of the supplies and gear from the truck to the boat and everything stowed. OUr starting point for this cruise is the Rickey Point Sail Club buoy field located roughly at the 110 mile marker above Grand Coulee Dam. Given the unusual weather for Northeastern Washington at this time of year ~ west coast rain, and lack of wind, we have put a tarp over Aquila's boom and sheltered the cockpit from the pelting rain falling throughout our first two days underway. This made it where Cathy's use of the laptop above deck was safe and dry while we are quite comfortable under the boom-tent ~ but alas, not sailing...
The late start from our shoreside, morning visits combined with a bit of sleeping in equated to a relatively short first day underway. We made Stranger Creek Cove, just off the Colville Indian village of Inchelium. This is technically the New Inchelium as the old town sunk under the waters of Lake Roosevelt at the completion of the dam in the early 1940s. North of our safe harbor is Hall Creek a long, deep drainage too deep for anchoring unless one wants to tie a shoreline to hold the boat in place. For those of you who are interested in exploring Lake Roosevelt yourselves, in this well protected anchorage we continue into the secondary area and drop the hook in 20+ feet of water. No roads, no other boats, no houses in sight. The bottom is good holding mud allowing the anchor to set well. We feed out 100 feet of chain and a bit of rope rode and sleep well knowing we are secure for the night. If you are remote camping (including boats) on Colville Indian Reservation lands a recreation permit is required.
There are three distinct regional variances on Roosevelt Lake. In the northern reaches between Northport and Marcus the lake is narrow, less than half a mile across, and subject to Columbia River currents. I refer to this portion of the lake as the 'Northern Reach'. Once below the north region the lake broadens, in some areas up to two miles across. The 'Middle Reach' is a 75 mile long stretch of lake/river between Marcus and "The Big Bend" of the Columbia River. From well into Canada until the Big Bend the lake/river has maintained a north to south orientation. The Big Bend is where the worlds largest lava plateau, the Columbia Plateau, forces a course change in this vast drainage and the lake becomes an east to west flow. At this point the third region of the lake begins, the Basalt Reach. Wherein the Middle Region is predominantly forested slopes with open meadows on gentle rolling mountains, the Basalt Reach is towering cliffs, sheer rock bluffs, steep and craggy canyons with mostly sparse timber surrounded by open grass and shrub lands. The Northern and Middle reaches of the lake receive much greater precipitation (20+ inches annually) than the Basalt Reach (10 inches or less). In the southern portion of the middle reach the Spokane River Arm intersects Roosevelt Lake. Hawk Creek just south of the mouth of the Spokane River is the easternmost end of the Basalt Reach.
For many years before white explorers or settlers came to the area the San Poil People lived in a village along “Swah-netk'-qhu” what we now call the Columbia River in the shadow of Whitestone Rock. When I reflect upon the early peoples of the river and how they lived in this area, then layer the coming of the explorers, trappers, settlers with the ensuing clash of cultures all woven into the vast upheaval of lifestyles as the dam was built and the waters impounded ~ the story becomes extremely complex. Often I sail over these clear waters in amazement of what has been, thinking of those forgotten peoples, they looking to my vessel several hundred feet above them in a vision of what was to be.
Our cruise is a pattern of seeking out remote anchorages notched into the rugged shores of Roosevelt Lake. Spending a days exploring the area then moving on. Our backdrop is usually a dark and towering basalt cliff with a crescent stretch of sandy beach at the toe of the rock walls. Often we drop the hook deep and tie two stern lines ashore. We sit ten feet off the beach in twenty feet of water with rock teeth looming within fifty feet port and starboard. These are ruggedly beautiful settings. Occasionally we see bass boats working the rock points, or a few pleasure craft a mile or two outside the anchorage but for the most part we have the area to ourselves. Us, the call of an eagle, coyotes howling in the night and the frequent song bird, all share this place. After a few days our daily urge driven work mode begins to become background noise. Conversations elongate, books begin to litter the settees, cockpit cushions and berth. Scrabble games linger at a leisurely pace and journal entries take on a more enriched writing style. It is good to be aboard.
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Admittedly I have a bit of fascination regarding place names. We all live within a geographic area somehow known for it's place name. Hills, brooks, meadows, roads, mountains, bridges, buildings and so many other things can have names to identify, note and address the manner in which we interact with those named points and our environment. Try these on for size:
Aguilar, San Roc, Thegayo... To us norwesterners they all have something in common albeit most of us have no idea what it is. The above are a small sampling of a long list of names given to the Columbia River over the course of the last few hundred years. As well as; The Oregon… River of the West and Estrada de Hezeta. Of course often, we of European heritage, forget our native cousins named places as well and in most cases long before noted history. How about; Sken-I-Te-Ke, Chock-A-Li-Lum, and Swan-Ate-Ku (often for singular portions of the river). But it was on May 19, 1792, that Robert Gray, named this great river for his ship COLUMBIA.
With the above intro, I must tell you now, the name of this chapter ~ Hell Gate Island, simply does not live up, or would that be down, to its reputation. No thundering water funneled betwixt towering rock walls. Foaming cauldrons and tumbling logs. That all vanished in 1941 when the massive gates of Grand Coulee Dam closed and the waters of Franklin Roosevelt Lake backed up nearly 150 miles upstream.
A good friend of mine, boat builder and watersman, Larry Silva joined us for part of the trip again this year, not on one of his several sailboats, but rowing his handmade dory from Moonbeam Bay, near Keller Marina, to Hell Gate anchorage. Rowing his handmade dory nearly 300 feet above the old water channel of the Columbia River.
That said; here's that bit of the story wrote in 1921...
Hells Gate Rapids, Columbia River
In the summer of 1921, M.J. Lorraine, an engineer by trade arrived at the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River near Canal Flats, British Columbia and began construction of a rowing dory to take him down the 1,200 mile course of the river. He was 68 years old at the time!
While there may have been other men to do so, Mr. Lorraine was one of the first to write a book-length memoir about rowing the Columbia River, headwaters to ocean. Lorraine who described himself as “an old voyager and white water man”, did manage to row the entire length of the Columbia River. This was a feat that not even David Thompson, the first European to descend the Columbia, had accomplished – to make a continuous one-way trip from the headwaters to saltwater. 1,264 miles of wild river with no dams upon it. Not only was M.J. Lorraine one of the first to achieve such an accomplishment he was one of the last as well given the dams began to restrict the flow of the Columbia River right after his adventure.
Here’s what Mr. Lorraine has to say about the current location where we find the sailing vessel AQUILA in this cruise. Remember this was before Grand Coulee Dam and the description of the landscape lay 300 feet of water below our surface anchorage.
Of Hells Gate circa 1921:
“South of the international border — precisely 126.5 miles downriver”, Lorraine writes, “the boatmen encountered the rapids at Hell Gate.” Lorraine described Hell Gate as “a contracted gorge of perpendicular walls of considerable height, and at the entrance is a large, protruding rock dividing a swift current agitated, below the rock, into fair-sized breakers which dissolve into a quiet eddy within the enclosing walls.” Lorraine ran the rapids alone, as always, and this time “in underwear only,” prepared to swim if his dory capsized. It didn't. “To the man at the oars, the only thoughts are of the necessity of a cool head and hand, and the exertion of a little muscle — the making of no misplays, either mental or physical.”
As I settle back and re-read the above reflections of handmade boats and the people who venture forth to explore in them fill my mind...
More on sailing Lake Roosevelt go to the Rickey Point Sail Club site at: http://rickeypointsailclub.blogspot.com/