Travelling Up the Columbia


Penelope approaches the interstate bridge between Oregon and Washington.

The next morning we awoke to blue sky and sunshine. It was a remarkable contrast to the night before. Peter and Mike walked to the marina fuel dock and hauled back two jerry cans full of diesel which they poured into Penelope’s fuel tank. Once our fuel was topped off we were ready to depart.  We had two days to get Penelope 85 miles up the Columbia River to her new home in Scappoose.

We fired up the engine, pulled out of the slip and began to maneuver toward the break wall at the entrance to the river. Standing at the helm we were amazed at the enormous size of Penelope. We laughed at ourselves for our naivety. Once out in the river I said, “Honey, let’s raise the main sail.”  “Hold on,” he said. “Let’s get our bearings about us first.” Within a short time Peter had organized the menagerie of lines and shackles and had the main sail smartly aloft. “Honey, let’s pull out the jib sail!”  I encouraged. “Hold on,” he said. “Let’s get out bearings about us first.” Within a short time Peter again had the sheets and the blocks configured properly and the jib sail had joined the main sail to propel us up the river. Soon we had the staysail up, too; and we turned off the engine. The day offered wind from the west blowing directly up river at about 10 knots. The wind conditions were perfect.

The warm spring sun felt exquisite after a long, gray Pacific Northwest winter. Peter taught me about the navigation aids along the river. I learned how to read the chart and compare the information on the chart to the features I saw around us to determine where we were and monitor our progress.

Later in the afternoon Peter went down below to rest. After a brief nap he opened one eye to check on me. He found me at the helm, stripped to shorts and a tank top, binoculars around my neck, MP3 player blaring 80s pop through the head phones and our boat advancing at about 6 knots up river against the spring runoff.

About Susan M. Gierga

Everyone already knows everything there is to know about me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. To learn current details. Visit my blog, CruisingwithCaptainPeterandtheAdmiral.
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1 Response to Travelling Up the Columbia

  1. Charlie Bailey says:

    Thanks Peter, for including me on your blog distribution. I will be following you guys around the world. I’m very impressed with your gumption and wish you guys all the best in your exciting travels.
    ……..and don’t run over too many salmon fishermen on your way down the Columbia!!


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