March 26, 2003

Dear friends and family:

Dear friends and family -- Since I last wrote you from somewhere on the Columbia River, we managed to get a little way down the Oregon Coast. We had a couple of problems which prevented us from going further -- the chief problem being the size of the weather window (perhaps we should be calling it the weather "peephole.")

Above:  Yaquina Bay bridge in Newport, from our berth in the South Beach Marina.

The other problem which caused some delay was a giant, invisible-in-the-dark log, which wasn't going down the river quite as fast as we were. We hit it good and hard, first time in the bow of the boat, and then there was a further clunk and some splintering noise (aaack!) further back. We checked everything obvious -- no water in the bilge -- and continued on to Astoria. The only obvious problem at that point was that the knotmeter was no longer working. Once in Astoria we discovered that the evil log must have have been cedar, because it left bits of itself on the paddlewheel spokes of the knotmeter. Once the chunks of wood were cleared, the knotmeter was back in working order. In worse news, the log hit on the starboard quarter, just under the head of the quarter berth. It splintered some of the cabinetry, and cracked a small bulkhead under the cabin sole. But there was no sign of any damage to the hull itself (whew!).

Of course we arrived in Astoria on Saturday night, (nothing open), and we were looking at this damage on Sunday morning (nothing open). Fortuitously, Craig met a local sailor on the dock, who had his shop just up the hill, and was willing to cut and sell us some appropriately sized plywood to effect temporary repairs.

After those delays, we could no longer catch the morning slack tide on the Columbia Bar, and we had to settle for the afternoon slack. We knew that would get us to Newport, but the forecast we were hearing suggested that we weren't going to make it farther than Newport, unless we wanted to experience some fairly rough weather. We had various seasick remedies to try, and found that the most potent (scopalamine patches) had the least effect. It was not a fun afternoon/night, at least from my standpoint. I'll try a different remedy next time.

As we neared Newport yesterday morning, we had lots of chatter with the Coast Guard recovery boat, which was out doing training. They had a whole crowd of orange-jacketed crew watching us with interest. I'm sure they were sizing us up to see if we looked/sounded like terrorists. We were sure they were going to board us for inspection, but it never did happen. I guess we don't look/sound like terrorists. Good thing! The Newport bar entrance proved to be no big deal, and we provided entertainment for watching tourists and fishermen, who were up on the jetty (this is spring break week, so Newport has more people than usual during the winter)
Our moorage in the South Beach marina is just adjacent to the Rogue Ale brewery and brewpub. With a south wind, we get lots of hops aroma, in between the pungent fish odor. We first tied up out at the end of A dock (just across from the brewery) and discovered that we were in the middle of a seagull rookery. Bird droppings and broken shells everywhere, some of which immediately got tracked onto the boat. Overflying birds added more decoration, this time directly to the boat. This afternoon, we're moving down the dock, into more civilized territory. Tomorrow morning [meaning Wednesday morning, March 26] is a possible departure -- another weather "peephole" may be on the horizon.

It seems very strange to be in Newport as a passing boater. We have spent so many weekends here over the last twelve years, as musicians in the Newport Symphony. I picked up an arts calendar brochure in the marina office -- and there we were. But I have seen no orchestra people, and I've been nowhere near the performing arts center. It's seeing the same place, but in another dimension. There are some brief crossover moments -- like walking up to the JC Market, reminding me of many stops for late night snacks before the long drive home. This time we were in search of replenishments for our stores, a few forgotten essentials, and some seasickness folk remedies -- ginger tea, ginger ale and gingersnaps!

Not being part of the Newport Symphony here for the next year -- and for that matter, not being part of the Columbia Symphony in Portland -- leaves a real void in our lives. We'll really miss the music making. These were difficult choices we made -- selling our house, retiring, selling or storing all our stuff, and most importantly choosing not to make music -- at least orchestral music -- for more than a year. But what would life be without difficult choices -- and resulting adventures like these? All the best to everyone, and we'll write again soon.

Craig & Barbara Johnston

S/V Sequoia

Back to the previous report     On to the next report