Second Annual Float and Feast
Nov 24, 2012

We'd just done a Halloween Float and I wasn't even thinking of reprising last year's Post-Thanksgiving Float and Feast but one of the Coots, Jim B., thought it'd be fun to do it again this year, so we did.

It happened to be the same week as the OSU/Oregon Civil War, and I knew traffic was going to be horrible on I-5, so I left early and drive down through King's Valley, then for fun, drove down Elk City road, and while zipping along the slicker-than-snot dirt (now mud) part of the road, I realized I was making pretty good time.

This is our route. Just over 3 miles from Canyon Quarry to the Boathouse. The airport ramp is another ~1.5 miles down river from the entrance to the slough.

I stopped by the launch ramp at Canyon Quarry to check things out. The tide was nice and high and it was only 10:30 (launch wasn't until 1) so I started thinking "I bet I could paddle up here - it's only 3 miles, and even if I'm only making 2mph against the tide, I'll still make it."

This really was a stupid idea - I was supposed to be at the Boathouse, organizing shuttles and telling people what to do. I really don't like telling people what to do, but I do like paddling. I exited the Depot Slough and into the Yaquina River at 10:53.

My little Skin on Frame canoe was skimming right along - making very good time. The tide had already changed, but I was scooting. I decided to take a pic of this piling to see if there was any change in flow between now and when I passed on the way back, in 3 hours or so.

Silly grebes. They should know me by now.

Red-Tailed Hawk trying to warm itself.

Right after I put my camera away after taking this shot, I saw the dorsal fin of a salmon rise up and skim along the water. I was so shocked, I just sat there as we passed each other - the fish was maybe 24" long and all covered with splotches - rotting while still alive. I hope (s)he got to spawn.

It took me just over an hour to paddle from the mouth of Depot Slough to the Canyon Quarry ramp. We always do these floats down-river, but I think we can do them up-river as well. Such is the joy of life on an estuary. Chuck and Chelen (left) were at the ramp already and Jim (right) arrive soon after.

And Bob and Roy right after that.

1pm was fast approaching, so the boats were launched and cars driven to the take out spots - the Boathouse for the paddlers and the Airport Ramp for Bob's boat. Chuck drove shuttle.

Boathouse Volunteer Bob showed up, but he didn't want to go paddling. He took pictures, instead. This was the first real test of the 12' Skin on Frame kayak I designed, so I had Bob take a few pictures so I could get a good understanding of how she sat in the water. I should move the seat back a few inches. I am not usually a fan of kayak paddles on a canoe, but this canoe is so short and light the kayak paddle makes for easy, non-technical paddling.

Roy is a veteran single-handed sailboat sailor. He has an Aquarius 23 and he knows how to dress for Oregon waters.

Chuck and Shalline are veteran boat owners as well - having lived on a 22' Falmouth Cutter and a gill netter while they commercial fished in Alaska.. They found this 10' canoe in some blackberries, traded a kayak for it, and restored it very nicely. Jim just has a beautiful kayak, of course.

With all the grace of a drunken duck, I enter my canoe for the launch.

Nice group photo - thanks, Bob!

Another good group photo.

Jim, Chuck and Shalline pass by a 'retired' salmon troller.

Good art shot of Jim.

Bob took a moment to grease his leathers, a friend of a friend gave him a really cool, hand-carved, wooden flask for him to store the grease in.

Bob (volunteer Bob, not boat-rowing Bob) drove ahead and took pictures of us along the way.

It was a FINE Oregon day - overcast but no rain and as calm and still as being in a bottle.

Grebes again. The Buffleheads that were in the area are more skittish and flew away before I could get a picture.

Jim is just being all picturesque today, ain't he?

Same post as earlier - now 3h 20m later. The flow seems the same. I'm pretty sure we can do upriver paddles if we want.

Bob and Roy spun off to the airport ramp while the rest of us entered the slough for the final run to the Boathouse.

A perfect day on the water, finished off with a perfect beer and burger at Pig Feathers. Way to go, all the way around.