Loc: Clatsop Spit
Dist: 58,1 km
Start: 10:45 End: 17:30
Yahoo! Thick FOG as expected this morning…but I couldn’t wait until it lifted. The day is calm, the sea is low, and I have to paddle 55+ km. I put in my deep channel right in front of the steep beach corner – and knew instantly why all looked so calm yesterday. Despite it was half ebbing tide, the current has turned already in this channel, at least lightly. I have to hurry to get out here! There are probably more sand banks out there as expected (and visible yesterday in moderate fog…). The deep channel was leading me straight north, until it got shallow, but I could turn just about in shallow water west into another deeper channel. My experience and seventh sense paddling across shallow sandy river mouths told also in thick fog me where I had to turn into the next channel, until the distinct current OUT, despit on very shallow water, and the nearering surf noise told me I am not in a dead end any more. Maybe in half an hour or such I would have been stuck here…I really didn’t like to get stranded out here for the next six hours or such!
But now, as the surf noise came nearer, and the current of my shallow side exit channel got stronger, I had to ride out whatever was coming on me as surf breakers…I couldn’t see anything, and couldn’t wait to time the breakers sitting on the out going current. Quite scary…thank goodness, the surf noise told me already the breakers can’t be that trashy big, and with three times a wet face and once jumping over quite a high crest, I was out! Not that it was calm now out here…the rollers were scary for a while, until I felt I was out enough that they wouldn’t break unexpected any more.
O could point my bow into the southern direction, and had to notice the strong ebb current here went just north. Aha…who would have guessed that? I was fighting the current for a long while, paddling barely 3-4 km/h. I already saw me crossing the Columbia River bar at night…slowly but surely the fog lifted, came back down, and finally around 10 it was clear all day. thank goodness! At least that was working well. It took much longer that the current turned, much later than the tide did. Not only my speed but also the many crab pot floats indicated the direction.
I was sniffing some hope to still make it across the river around slack tide when my average speed went up to 7-8 km/h. I decided to better cross to the other side and do a surf landing in these low conditions just behind the jetty. It was too late to get flooded inside anyway. I just hoped the river bar on the slightly outgoing tide wouldn’t be too rough already! I paddled hard to be able to hit the north jetty latest at 4 pm, but it would be tough!
I got entertained by many dolphins popping out here and there, always my good omen! And I saw in the distance a very colorful sky – I had long time no idea what that might be? Coming closer, I realized that there was a kite festival going on, and hundreds of kites decorated the sky in the low to moderate wind! Beautiful! I could figure out about six “kite disciplines”: BIG figure flying on one string, maneuverable (double lines) kite flying, also in multiple formation, long strings with many kites on one line, HIGH flying, and kite-like ground figures. Maybe I missed a few? I’m not an expert…
The last chance to land before crossing the river bar – the surf before North Head looked quite low. But my speed was all right, the current went well in my direction now, and I would just cross in the hour after low slack tide. If not today with low wind and seas, and with this timing, when else? Still I was a bit nervous, as there would be no turning around once I was past North Head. I could see no breakers from the distance, and just a few boats going in and out. And it was no fog! Some higher swell was raised crossing the North jetty head, but nothing serious. The bar looked dead calm! The current was with me, and the ebb tide pushed me a slight bit out, but nothing scary. No lumpy waters, just easy going, in a light curve straight to the south jetty head!
A fat ship was sitting not very far away from my course in the middle of the channel, but it was obviously not moving. Strange…must be some work horse digging the channel out or such…a larger fishing boat went out, but that was it with ship traffic today!
When I was nearing the south jetty, I knew there was some submerged remainders of an older jetty at the end. A big piece was still visible, where a sea lion colony found a new home. Between that “island” and the new head, here and there I saw a few rocks, but I still dared to cross right over in some lumpy water with strong current. I could avoid the rocks, but also couldn’t take a picture of the sea lions on steering carefully. A last small fast fishing boat also just came around the end of the submerged jetty and added to the lumpy water here.
But I was quickly across, and safe! Yeah! Now, I just had to paddle 4,5 km along the south jetty’s southern side to hit my beach! The sea looked quite calm here in this corner, and I had some hope the surf would be doable. When I got close, all geared up with helmet and PFD, my timing might not have been perfect to go in, but I could elegantly spin on two wave crests with light high brace to not get caught by it when it was breaking just before me. I speeded up on the back of the last wave to get in. On a last lower one I did the same with a low brace, and I surfed on the very last one in until I was hitting the sandy bottom. Well done, lady! I praised myself, as there was no one around to praise me… 🙂
One of the few surf landings so far, and still no roll on this trip…great! I like to keep it like that! I unloaded, and saw on my second tour a person coming down the jetty – Terry! She was watching with many other people my landing from the lookout tower, and was proudly running up to me. So good to see a familiar face! Thanks to meet me out here! It was no need to get taken back home, I was late and happy to camp right here on the beach. Terry will pick me after ma last four days of paddling for this leg, probably in Depoe Bay, and will drive me back to Seattle to fly out on Wednesday. Thanks for looking after me!