Tuesday, May 27, 2014 – Underway from Newport Oregon
Port Orford proved to be a great moorage. Because we had stopped at noon on the 24th, we felt like we had a holiday. By 6 am on Sunday the 25twe were off and heading north to Coos Bay.
It was glassy leaving Port Orford and we ran close enough to the shore to see the almost endless display of offshore rocks that seems to characterize this part of the coast. Many of these are named. While some, like Pillar Rock, NW Rock, Haystack Rock are obvious, others, like Fox Rock must have really stories.
The seas were so pleasant that we decided bypass Coos Bay and instead go into the little harbor of Winchester Bay at the outlet of the Umpqua River. Although in bad weather this bar has a nasty reputation, we had no worries given our weather and going the extra distance would split the trip to Newport into two more equal portions. A stop at Coos Bay would would have been about an 8 hour day and would leave us with a 14 hour day following to get into Newport. By going on to Winchester Bay, we broke the trip into two more reasonable days.
|Typical NW lighthouse|
Winchester Bay is served by the Salmon Marina. We called the telephone number in the cruising guide and got a recorded message telling us that the office hours were 8 to 5, Monday through Friday. It being Sunday, that was not helpful. I finally pushed the button for the “emergency operator” as distinguished from 911, and was connected to a lovely young lady. I explained that we wanted to tie up that night around 6 with a 6 am departure and would not be there during office hours. The operator finally put me through to Heidi who manages the RV park. Heidi was very helpful and radioed Ralph, who radioed Steve, who finally explained we could use the after hours dock by the Coast Guard Station and leave $15 in the box at the head of the dock.
For me, this marina was a real return to the Northwest. It is a large marina, but nowhere near full and mostly populated by fishing boats displaying varing degrees of prosperity. Many were the little classic wooden trawlers. One was an old Tolly, literally covered with vegetation. One might have thought the fern glimpsed through the window was a house plant had it not been for the ferns growing through various portions of the exterior. For $15 dollars we were snug and slept very well.
For Earl, the Umpqua held old memories. One of his jobs with the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration in the early 60’s involved lots of sampling at the mouth of this river.
The next day was Memorial Day and as we neared Newport late in the afternoon we were treated to the sight of two multimasted wooden boats. Once was the Lady Washington who we have seen before. I never did get the name of the other. They were apparently engaged in a mock battle because we could hear cannons. Both boats carried passengers, apparently in period costumes, and as they rocked around we wondered it any of them were not sea sick. It was fun.
|Memorial Day seabattle in front of Newport OR|
Newport is huge harbor with multiple marinas. We opted to anchor out. Earl says we are too cheap to pay, but the truth is that it is much less work to anchor than to pull out all the ropes and bumpers to tie up at a dock and then undo them early the next morning.
|Newport Or Coast Guard station|
Our anchorage was just perfect. We are apparently in the season when birds ‘do their thing”. At Winchester, we saw gulls doing it. (She did not seem impressed.) In Newport we had a trio of pigeon guillemots. They are a flashy bird, black with white winds and red feet. The inside of their beaks are also bright red. The three seems to be getting along fine, when suddenly two went off in one direction and started engaging in courtship rituals while the other had a tantrum. He squawked with his red mouth open and thrashed around in the water. Not a happy loser.
|Newport Bridge from our anchorage|
Today we left early, around 5, as soon as the tide was easing on the bar and are headed north towards the Columbia River. We will cross the bar and anchor in the river or keep going over night to Westport, Earl’s home town.
Going is nice. We passed Cape Lookout where in one scenario we had thought to anchor. It has a spectacular cave at the base.
Saturday, May 31, 2014 - Westport Washington
Well, as on other occasions this trip, the weather looked better than it was forecasted to be the next day, so we continued on past the Columbia River and on to Westport. Not having to negotiate the Columbia River Bar and the additional mileage in and out of the river was a definite time saver and the weather was reasonable. It was no doubt the right thing to do, but after we finally tied up in Westport at 7 am after having to kill time waiting for the tide at the bar, we were pooped. No more overnights ever, says Earl. AMEN
I don’t really remember much of anything about Wednesday our first day here. I think we both spent most of it sleeping.
Bright and early on Thursday morning, Earl’s long time friend -75 years worth- Brady came by for coffee and muffins. They had a great time catching up. It was a rainy day and not very conducive to washing the boat which we had put on the agenda. Instead, Earl and I took the bus to Aberdeen, the closest town with a car rental agency. It is wonderful that there is a public transportation system here, even if it only runs Monday through Friday during the day. It cost us each $1. We took a little van that picked us up from the head of the dock and took us and a number of other people who waved it down, to the park and ride on the outskirts of town where we transferred to a larger bus for the 20 miles to Aberdeen.
We picked up the car and scheduled to return it before the agency closed for the weekend and went to look for a haircut for Earl. The closest turned out, from Earl’s brief observation, to be haircut plus some preaching the word of God, so he decided to look for something else. We stopped first for what turned out to be surprisingly good Thai food at a takeout place that had a few tables outside, but under cover. On the proprietor’s recommendation we drove to Rex’s barber shop in the adjoining community of Hoqium and Earl emerged 30 minutes later looking much more respectable. His last haircut had been close to 2 months ago and he was beginning to look like a street person.
We did shopping and drove back to town. Rhododendrons thrive in this coastal climate. Most of the old houses are very modest and many of them are drarfed by rhodies planted along side them, probably when the houses were new. They are very beautiful.
After a little boat cleaning, we treated ourselves to dinner on the town. It turned out the most highly recommended place was not in Westport, but at Bennets in the little community of Grayland down the highway. We had a very good dinner, with crab cakes and chicken left over for lunch the next day.
Friday the sun was out and we went to work getting the boat spic and span. Earl did a wonderful job outside. I did the galley before leaving to return the car. I found the battery was dead –apparently someone left the lights on the night before. But this is small and friendly town and a nice woman passerby offered to get me a jump.
That night Brady and his wife Happy came for dinner and, again, we had a wonderful time catching up. Brady brought Earl a huge bag of live oysters. He knows how to make Earl happy! The big party will be tomorrow. We are hosting an open house for Earl’s school classmates that are still in the area and, probably, a few others. His class only had 20 some kids in it, so I expect it will be a small reunion, but probably we will have enough to make it a crowd for the Serenity. Daisy will be in heaven thinking everyone is there to see her.
This morning as we were having breakfast, Brady showed up with a bunch of freshly dug razor clams for Earl. Razor clams are absolutely Earl’s favorite food. He had thought about going to dig some but instead he just whined to Brady. Between the clams and the oysters, he is in heaven.
|"small" oyster appetizer - just a snack!|
Monday we will be heading off again. Of course the weather gods are probably not smiling on us. It looks like today and Sunday will be the best weather of the week. Regardless, I am sure we will go. Like a horse that smells the barn door, we are ready to be home.