Our education on cruising the rivers is constantly evolving, and what accelerates that knowledge growth is only one thing — being out here plying their waterways. So when we decided to make a run up towards Portland before the Oregon Offshore Race it was only fitting that we spend time on its two major waterways.
The Willamette River runs north-south through downtown and the Columbia River runs east-west on the northern side of the city and creates the border with Washington state. Coming down Mutlnomah Channel allowed us easy access to downtown Portland first, and then we moved out to the Columbia River and north Portland the following week.
Arriving in downtown Portland was an exciting milestone on our journey up the Columbia River, and it was also my birthday, so a little extra celebration was in order for the weekend. After getting Yahtzee setup on the public dock at Riverplace, we headed out for dinner in the city and met up with our good friend Annie to toast another year.
The next day we set off to run a few errands and stumbled upon a kids event in Pioneer Square. It was one of those truly spontaneous things that comes with cruising. Porter and Magnus had a blast playing with make-shift musical instruments, oversized wooden blocks, and a big mound of clay and flowers. Magnus also found a couple books to add to Yahtzee’s library.
Portland’s iconic and very unique Saturday Market was just blocks from there and between the impressive people watching, rhythmic drum circles, brave gentleman swallowing fire and all the locally produced products, there was plenty to see. The market also has an excellent assortment of food trucks to choose from and a variety of talented musicians.
On Sunday we had a group of friends aboard Yahtzee for a day sail on the river. The morning started windless and cloudy, but we ended up getting a little breeze to move Yahtzee around the Willamette and by mid-afternoon the sun was shining. It was awesome to have our friends aboard to show them the boat and how we live. As we meandered around the river, we tossed some food on the grill and enjoyed plenty of laughter; proving once again that there is nothing like being on the water with friends on a nice day.
By Monday it was time to move on and we followed the Willamette northward back under the bridges and out of downtown towards the mighty Columbia.
After hanging around Hayden Island for a few days, we decided to head east up the Columbia to spend the weekend at Government Island. The island is a large park located under and past the I-205 bridge and is only accessible by boat. When we arrived on Friday evening there were a few Hunter sailboats there for an annual safety cruise and we were welcomed with open arms.
Given the nice weekend, anything to do with the water was what the boys wanted to be doing, which made the beach or dock their preferred spot. They dipped their toes in the river, threw rocks, played in the sand and splashed in buckets of water on the dock. And met lots of friends from other boats as they passed by.
Part of the Hunter group’s festivities were safety checks on Saturday afternoon that were performed by two U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members. When they offered to do one for us we figured, why not? After passing an actual Coast Guard check a few weeks prior and now getting the official sticker from the auxiliary folks, we should be good for the rest of the year.
We devoted a few hours Saturday afternoon to getting things done around the boat and many other boat owners were doing the same. With our safety check complete, Porter and I got to work giving Yahtzee’s topsides a scrub while Jill and Magnus worked below. Some new friends of ours joined the dock party aboard their C&C 30 Osprey soon after and were able to tie up in one of the last available spots. We had a delicious dinner aboard their boat that evening and swapped sea and baby stories before it was time for a flare show. Because what safety weekend would be complete without a flare demo?
The Hunter group had arranged for a flare demonstration to be done that evening and a leader from a local troop of Sea Scouts came out to help us put on a show. The Sea Scouts brought bag loads of flares and after he set off a few, everyone was invited to give them a try. It was great experience for Jill and me to test all the different types of flares and to see their differences. Heck, Porter even got into the action!
Sunday morning we were up early and off the dock to head back to Portland for a friend’s birthday party. It was a wonderful weekend hanging out on Government Island and we can’t wait to get back out there to see more of the river.