Posts Tagged ‘boating


Montlake Cut in Seattle, Washington

This past week, while in Seattle, we took one of those two hour tours, which turned out safer than for the Gilligan Island crew. We traveled from Union Bay over to Lake Washington and back on a sunny, breezy day, taking in the sites. Part of that boat excursion was to travel along the Montlake Cut. I am posting a few photos of the outing and showing some old, historical photos via the very informative DorpatSherrardLomont historical site.

 Montlake Cut-SwittersB-Seattle-boats ~
Montlake Cut-Seattle-boats-SwittersB
Montlake Cut-bridge-SwittersB-Seattle-boats
Montlake Cut-railline-Sherrlock Files WP
montlake cut-sherrlock files WP

The two bottom, historical images are courtesy of Dorpat~Sherrard~Lomont WP blog. A lovely resources for Seattle history, and in particular the Montlake Cut


Knowing Your Limitations…….

“Now then, Pooh,” said Christopher Robin, “where’s your boat?”
“I ought to say,” explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, “that it isn’t just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it’s a Boat, and sometimes it’s more of an Accident. It all depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“On whether I’m on the top of it or underneath it.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie~the~Pooh


“A man’s got to know his limitations”

Harry Callahan, Magnum Force

Boats-Columbia River-Safety-Fishing-SwittersB

When it comes to taking a boat out into a crowded venue, I know my limitations. Yes, I have putzed around on lakes and small rivers, but handling a boat in a safe manner and knowing the rules of the road, so to speak, are a foreign language to me. The State of Oregon requires a boating safety course, testing and a permit to operate a boat of a certain size on public waterways. For the most part, yesterday, the overwhelming majority of the boaters were courteous and seemingly aware of the rules and unwritten courtesies of operating a boat in heavy traffic, on the river.

Columbia River-Oregon-Boating Safety-Photography-SwittersB

But, I found one aspect of the day most interesting from a safety awareness point of view. There is a commercial channel on the Columbia River in which large vessels (lower river) and tugs and barges ply the river. Yesterday, I observed a boat anchored in the shipping channel and the approaching tug/barge encounter reminded me of why one needs to know the rules and common sense that goes with operating a boat. Hundreds of boats had figured this out save the one boater, who decided to anchor in the shipping channel.

Barge-Tug-Columbia River-Boating Safety-Photography-Oregon-SwittersB

 My brother-in-law, Richard had earlier remarked about the sounding of the horn from the tug/barge, in particular the sounding of 5 loud blasts indicating the tug is not turning, altering course, stopping (takes them over a mile to stop) and you better move or die.  Sure enough, here came a tug/barge heading upstream, cutting close to the fleet of boats, none of which, prompted a sound from the horn until reaching our point…then there it was: 5 large blasts from the tug/barge and a pleasure/fishing boat anchored in its path up ahead.

Columbia River-Tug-Barge-Boating Safety-Oregon-Photography-SwittersB

 Every head turned toward the front of the barge; in front a smaller boat. Fortunately the ‘boater’ had, like most of the boaters, a break away anchoring system that allow one to separate the anchor/rope/float from the boat. The boater was able to start his motor and back out of the path of the tug/barge, but lost his anchor/rope/float system as the tug/barge, never breaking, chugged over the top of the whole set up….less the boat/anglers. This whole fiasco reminded me of my limitations and ignorance re that river’s protocols, shipping channel and the safety responses in the event of an emergency.

tug-barge-Columbia River-SwittersB-boating-photography

Two men stand at the ready at the front end of the barge, rain or shine, as the barge pushes upriver. They coordinate with the bridge of the tug, which has a partially obstructed view. It must be interesting to be closing in on an oblivious boater, waiting for them to respond to the approaching tug/barge, the horn blasts etc.

Another good reason, I am thankful we were in the capable hands and conscientious minds of my brother and sister in law, who take great pride in not only showing you a memorable time, but keeping you comfortable and safe. 


Start Plotting River Levels via Gages (Safety & Planning)

With recent heavy rains, you can see the river has risen several feet into a not so fishable stage. For this river, the bank angler is best served in the 9.0′ to 11.0′ range.

I remark about this each year as something to do to help you in making a decision whether to drive to the river….or not. That drive might only be 30 minutes or several hours. Knowing what is optimal conditions for safe, potentially productive fishing will save you wasted effort and avoid dangerous conditions.

Now this usually doesn’t just happen. It requires research and observation. I know the above river is nice to fish at a certain level because I have wasted time going without checking in advance the water height after a hard rain. Trial and error at times. Eventually, you just know what is fishable and worth your time.

Also, I have taken 3 sons on numerous outings to Fall and Winter rivers and that makes you really pay attention. Keep notes, remember what the river looks like. Go home and check the level and note it “too low” “blown out” “muddy, but dropping” “perfect” then also note the river level. There are numerous river gage reporting stations around the country although not every river has a gage. Learn if any are in your area and take advantage of the data. Important for wading and boating and even property ownership. Some sites will forecast the river’s trend in the hours ahead given the weather looming.

Here is the same gage a few days later as the river dropped into shape.


DROWNING!!!! SEE IT? (Recognize the Danger Signs)


Mike Monteith on FB shared this link about the possible signs of drowning. Being an avid fisherman and not being able to swim a lick, I pay attention to such things. Give the piece a read.

“The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television…”


Every Day in May Challenge: ‘Runoff’


Leaves Up Into the Trees:

RUNOFF: I suppose I typically associate that with snow melt and the Spring time, early Summer runoff that scours out rivers and keeps bank anglers and river runners waiting for better fishing conditions. Of course, kayakers, rafters and thrill seekers are ecstatic.

I watch the river gages to see when some of my favorite rivers will drop into shape. Much of time, I am not dealing with the typical Spring time, snow melt, high water scenario. Rather, I more often am dealing with Winter time heavy rains and surface runoff that pushes rivers well up into the trees and makes wading forbidden. Then it is the waiting game. Which rivers drop into shape sooner than others. Do I know at what height the river is getting fishable and is the water clarity closer to “steelhead green” rather than chocolate latte? 

One learns the minimum levels to consider fishing on say the Deschutes River (Oregon). Risk takers will ignore this, of course, and some will perish. I am to risk avoidant to wade in waters that are like walking on bowling balls with less than a foot of clarity. “Flows can fluctuate in May. High but steady or decreasing flows are fishable, but once you get above 6500 cfs or so (Madras gage), it’s hard to find good spots to fish. When flows are high, you should look for the same TYPE of water that you usually fish, but it may be in a different place. And there won’t be as many places to fish as there are at lower flows.” (Westfly)

River gages, when available are a valuable resource in deciding whether the timing is right to drive an hour or more to a river to fish, especially in the Winter. I can drive a short distance and look at the Sandy River for color and flow and decide if it is worth driving up to Oxbow or higher, but gages help too. Watching weather predictions, river forecasts and dam releases will help in your decisions to travel or not travel. In the Spring, the ‘runoff’ is hopeful for the long term as snows melt and temperatures warm…hope springs eternal that months lie ahead of decent fishing. Not so predictable in the Winter. 

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Writing Challenge Topic: Safety First

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August 2020

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