2008 September Cruise

"The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails." - Joshua Slocum

The Labor Day holiday weekend had come and gone. Departing with it was most of the tourist traffic on that jewel of an inland body of water in the Pacific Northwest known as Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. Lake Roosevelt for short.  This a 150 mile stretch of deep, still water impounded behind the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. And this is a story starting off with the crews of three small sailing vessels in preparation to depart ‘down’ lake for an extended cruise.

S/V COYOTE close-hauled in light air on Lake Roosevelt with Captain Silva at the helm: September 2008.
The vessels are S/V COYOTE, a custom built 26 foot catamaran. The crew being owner / builder Lar Silva and his mate Connie. GILLEYFOYLE, a Helman 20’ is crewed by owners Joann and John. This is their first extended trip on their new vessel. The third of the fleet is the S/V AQUILA, a 1986 S-2 center cockpit sailing sloop with Foster, Catherine and the ships mascot Bos’n aboard. I say three boats but when you add in several dinghies and a couple of kayaks, well it was a small armada traveling in company down this historic route.

The S/V GILLEYFOYLE underway with her new owners Joann and John.

The S/V AQUILA crewed by Catherine and Foster with Bos'n aboard.
 I mentioned historic route above, actually the Lake route isn’t historic in nature except for the notation that in 1942 when the flood gates were closed 150 miles of the Columbia River Valley, it’s towns, farms, ancient villages, and a way of life to many peoples vanished beneath these waters. But my reference is to the route of the Columbia River itself that has historic bearing on the region, indeed the entire Pacific Northwest has it's history entwined with that of the Columbia River bearing the nickname of "The River of the West".
L to R: Connie, Lar, Foster, John, Catherine; photo by Joann Marshal.

There was to be nothing historic about this journey either, just a gathering of friends who have managed to squeeze some time off from busy work/life schedules and come together to celebrate boats, friendship and the simple pleasures thereof.

The Rickey Point Sail Club buoy field; photo Connie Copeland
The start of the cruise is the Rickey Point Sail Club buoy field on a fine September morning. A location on northern Lake Roosevelt near the town of Kettle Falls, Washington, just south of the mouth of the Colville River on the eastern shore of the lake. The sail club, under a permit from the National Park Service, maintains 26 buoys and an access dock in a small north facing cove. The forecast for our trip ~ clear and sunny...
In this northern stretch of the Lake Roosevelt,  Carson Shoals at the top of the image is the 105 mile mark upstream from the Grand Coulee Dam. At this point on the Columbia River we are approximately 700 miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean. 

There's a noticable difference between a 20 foot and a 30 foot vessel.
Photo by Connie Copeland
The days of planning have all come together. The three vessels rendezvous at the sail club buoy field. There is a last minute run up to Crandal’s Riverview Organic Orchard for fresh fruit and ice cream and finally the flotilla of friends is underway. Did I mention the forecast of “clear and sunny”? Unfortunately for the most part in September in the Pacific NW that means no wind. Here we have the 20’ GILLEYFOYLE and the 30’ AQUILA steaming south beam to beam.

L to R: Lar, Connie, Catherine, Joann and John. The Gifford / Inchelium Ferry is crossing the lake in the background. Photo by Foster

Opportunists one and all; the lack of wind doesn't deter this group of boat crews from having a good time. The three vessels are rafted together, fenders secure on all beams, spring lines in place, and with AQUILA'S reliable Yanmar diesel humming along we enjoy coffee in the cockpit and a good mid day visit.

Joann & Bos'n share an unexpected moment over breakfast; photo by John

Generally over the course of the first few days under way, if there are new crew aboard they have a chance to intermingle and get to know each other. One thing about Bos’n, he’s a get-to-know-you kinda’ guy ~ especially if there’s food involved as Joann is learning here. Rafting the three vessels together gave our ship’s cat a chance to stretch his legs and explore all the boats. And like any good bos’n he now knows every nook and cranny on all three vessels.

AQUILA running, Catherine on the bow; photo by Connie Copeland

Thankfully about day three the wind filled in and there was some good sailing to be had while we made our way sou’wards. Northern Lake Roosevelt lays between two mountain ranges that the Columbia River and many intrusions of ice over the millennium have carved out a most impressive valley. That valley with it’s steep sided mountains is a wind funnel. Either up lake or down lake but very little in-between. Within the Rickey Point Sail Club there are stories of our Port Captain setting out after the passage of a cold front and catching the northerly winds all the way to the dam 105 miles down lake of the buoy field. The arid, desert like lower lake area is known to some of our northerns as "Little Baja" and consequently that breeze down the lake has taken on the name ~ “the Little Baja Express.” In the case of our above mentioned Port captain those northerly winds broke down after several days only to be filled by an up lake breeze which he also caught to run back up lake to his homeport. 210 miles of down wind running there and back again.  
The trimaran COYOTE off Nine Mile Falls in Cove of the Waterfall off the
Colville Indian Reservation. Photo by Catherine Brown.
When cruising Lake Roosevelt a large portion of the eastern and northern shore line is Colville Indian Reservation. There are special rules and permits required to anchor adjacent to or camp on the reservation (see link below). The area is strikingly beautiful. Plunging valleys, mountain peaks, rolling meadows of pines, long sandy beaches and sparsely populated shorelines. Add to that the generally warm waters (70+ in the summer time) and you can see why cruising here has such attraction. Of course a trailerable or in the case of AQUILA, transportable vessel, is required since Lake Roosevelt is a reservoir and has deep draw downs during the periods of spring run-off to help control flooding downstream.

S/V AQUILA traversing deep water adjacent to Castle Rock on Lake Roosevelt.
The white line along the cliff is the high water mark. This trip we are about
10 feet down from full pool ; photo John Hageman

The crew of AQUILA cruise with not only charts (paper and electronic) but both historical and contemporary books of an area. Frequently there are notes in the margins and as more information is discovered notes in reference to other notes. Such is the case with Miter Rock pictured here with AQUILA pass close to the sun warmed face. Not to worry the water plunges 100’ straight down with no protuberance on the rock face wall either above or below the waterline. On some charts and maps this rock is known as Castle Rock. In several of our reference guides this rock historically has been called Mitre Rock. Hence the use of both names one in this text, the other in the caption.  My preference is Mitre Rock as there is already another, more famous, Castle Rock far downstream on the Columbia River. Nearby Mitre rock was the campsite of the Cuthbert survey party of 1891.
Three sailing vessels rafted in the Hawk Creek anchorage while the crews are out kayaking, hiking or simply soaking up the warm September sun. Photo by John Hageman
Into the Basalt Reach

The Basalt Reach of Lake Roosevelt is an area of towering cliffs, sheer rock bluffs, steep and craggy canyons with mostly sparse timber surrounded by open grass and shrub lands. Hawk Creek, just south of the mouth of the Spokane River, is the easternmost end of the Basalt Reach.
Hawk Creek fjord, southeastern portion of Lake Roosevelt
Follow Hawk Creek on Lake Roosevelt far enough east and you come to a point where the columnar basalt cliffs draw together narrowing the passage of the waterway through this spectacular vista of water and rocks. There is a point when the cliffs are 20 feet either side of the beam and the water is 80 feet deep. In this tight canyon the water appears a bright aqua green in stark contrast to the orange, and yellow lichen moss growing on the cliff faces. Navigate further east and the cliffs drop away and green, grassy meadows encroach to the water’s edge. The northern cliff dips south for a bit and fishhooks back north at the eastern edge of the water where Hawk Creek Falls spills into Lake Roosevelt (when the lake is at full pool).
A view of the Hawk Creek fjord between the basalt cliffs looking east from the inner pools. Photograph by Foster
The S/V GILLEYFOYLE making passage over the green waters and below the cliff face of the Hawk Creek fjord. Photo Connie Copeland

Connie poses in front of the spill pool of Hawk Creek Falls. Photo by somebody else...
Gazing upon these pleasant vistas it is hard to imagine the incredible forces that shaped this rugged country. Based on extensive research and keen observation, science and geologic professor J Harlen Bretz has proved this area had been scoured in a virtual instant by a massive flood. The breaking of an ice dam holding back a huge glacier fed lake sent walls of water hundreds of feet tall blasting at speeds of 60 mph that carved to the bone the landscape in it’s path. This area is the northern reach of the Scablands, a vast tract of the Columbia Plateau shaped by volcanic fire and flood.  

Gathering before the falls and testing the waters. Will they do it? 
Our intrepid explorers are in what was once a massive spill pool for this waterway measuring a couple of hundred feet across but with only a ten foot wide stream taking the plunge. Professor Bretz noted that such a stream, even over the course of tens of thousands of years could not have carved out such a spill pool with such notable signs force even if quadrupled in size. Note the shallow cave in the basalt wall behind where we stand ~ an even deeper one is behind the present waterfalls.
Brr... at about 55 degrees this water is a bit cold compared to that of the 70* lake. Photos by Connie Copeland
We (some of us) took the plunge. Catherine, AQUILA’S planning chief, was in style with her wetsuit bibs and managed the cold water exposure better than John and I both of whom began to show signs of ‘higher octave restrictions’ a sure sign of get-out-of-the-cold-water-now symptoms.
Seven Bays Marina is as good of a provisioning stop as you'll find on
Lake Roosevelt. Image from website (see link)

We did backtrack just a bit to the Seven Bays Marina, just north of the Hawk Creek juncture, for fuel, beer, water and ice.

GILLEYFOYLE is trying out differing sail sets as her
new owners settle into managing this fine little vessel
Around the Big Bend and into the Palisades

Its time to hoist sail and set a course for another anchorage. This time we will be traversing around the Big Bend of Lake Roosevelt heading west of Hawk Creek making for a rounding of Sterling Point before setting our sights on the Palisades.

COYOTE is lifting an ama as the breeze fills in. Photo by Foster

An excerpt from William D. Layman's NATIVE RIVER The Columbia Remembered:
This view-from-above encompasses just over twenty miles of the waterway of Lake Roosevelt. 
The Palisades are an area of Lake Roosevelt on the shore of the Colville Indian reservation. On this portion of the lake, within the Basalt Reach, the waterway is running east to west. The Palisades are located on the north shore of the lake thus the big stone face cliffs face the southern sun and warm throughout the day. Often a sun-shade is required for mid day comfort. Of course that makes the swimming great. And this is a fine place to swim and cliff dive. The Palisades area is made up of a small island, and three rock islets. All of which plunge to depths immediately off their craggy faces. There is one beach to the NE locality (more remote) and one to the SW (more boat traffic). There are no roads nearby, no homes and once the sun is down no lights to see except the moon, stars and that of the vessels.
The three vessels beach anchored off Palisades Beach, Lake Roosevelt 2008. Photo by Catherine Brown
This is one of our favorite beaches on Lake Roosevelt. During this 2008 cruise we had two friends, Les & Gary, kayak from the boat launch at Lincoln to join us for a couple of days.  

With the addition of the two new kayaks our fleet count of boats, including dinghies and mother ships is nine. Photo by Foster

Our 2008 Cruise Palisades Beach Party. Photo by John Hageman

Connie out for a stroll across the water with the Palisades anchorage
as the backdrop. Photo by Lar Silva
With several days to explore our various crew members venture off singularly, in pairs and sometimes as a group to kayak, swim, hike, dive, fish, and more. There are a few evening Scrabble games and I seem to recall the wine cellar in our bilge losing ballast. Here the gals have gathered in the forepeak of AQUILA with mojitos in hand to ‘do-the-toes’ which is apparently some sort of female sailor ritual.  We guys tend have a natural inclination to avoid such things, although I have to say, those were some pretty sexy toes that came off that forepeak deck.  

A somewhat impromptu gathering of the mermaids on AQUILA'S forepeak. Photo by Foster
I’ve had the great pleasure of boating to the Lake Roosevelt Palisades since the 1980’s and typically we try to cruise here at least once every two years or so (depending on how often the call of the saltchuck lures us westward). Happens that my birthday falls in September and on this trip we were anchored here on my birthday (as has been the case on several other occasions). What a great way to celebrate the 57th ~ a few boulder scrambles followed by a few plunging dives, wash it all down with a few cold brews and a good nights sleep aboard a securely anchored vessel. Works for me…

Diving off the big island of the Palisades. Photo by Catherine Brown
How is it I’ve passed a week of good times with good friends that feels shorter than a long, slow day at work? All those star lit nights and shared conversations. The happy hours together and all the times of sand-between-your-toes. It all passes, but in this case it was the sailing vessel GILLEYFOYLE who had to turn their bow nor’wards and back up the 75 miles of lake to homeport. COYOTE and AQUILA will venture down lake a bit further in each other’s company. There are family and new crew logistics in front of each boat when they hail the Keller Marina.

Before the masts; We've hoisted Catherine up the mast for this image of the three vessels together on their last
day at Palisades anchorage.
Joann and Catherine sharing departure hugs.
Fair ye well our friends ~ until our vessels cruise together another trip.

"May you have warm warmth on a cool evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a fair wind to fill your sails." ~ An old Irish blessing

Rendezvous at Keller Marina and our anchorage base in Moonbeam Bay

AQUILA reaching toward Moonbeam Bay as the sun
settles into a late summer sky.
And once again the halyards are tight with canvas up the mast as COYOTE and AQUILA set a heading westward to fetch the mouth of the San Poil River where the Keller Ferry transports automobiles across the span of Lake Roosevelt. The area is also home to the Keller Marina.

Here’s a little history of the Martha S. also known as the Keller Ferry: On the morning of September 9, 1998, the Washington State Ferry, Martha S. made her 50th anniversary crossing of the Columbia River between Lincoln County and Ferry County. The vessel was launched in 1948 and has been in continuous service since.

The Martha S. is 80 feet in length with a 30 foot beam. The capacity of the vessel is 12 cars with a maximum vehicle size of 75 feet in length with a gross weight of 80,000 lbs.

The vessel is powered by two Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines with an approximate combined horsepower of 470. The top travel speed is about 12 miles per hour and the crossing takes about 10 minutes

COYOTE making headway in light air on approach to the mouth of the San Poil River. Photo by Catherine Brown

COYOTE at anchor Moonbeam Bay: Photo by Catherine
Catherine up the mast in Moonbeam Bay: Photo by Foster

Truth be known Catherine likes going up the mast and really it’s a lot easier for me to haul her 120 pounds aloft than for her to wrestle with my 260# bulk. This times she’s in the rigging to hide the prize of a treasure hunt birthday present for her daughter Clementine who is about to join us and celebrate her 16th birthday aboard.

Less than 20 miles uplake from the Grand Coulee Dam is the Keller Ferry where the San Poil Arm extends
northward to the mouth of the San Poil River. The Keller Marina is in this area too.
Captain and crew (make that sea-sick crew.
Photo by Catherine
With an approaching Pacific cold front driving over the North Cascades one afternoon we have a brisk sail into Moonbeam Bay. Unfortunately our ship’s cat is prone to Mal de Mer and the channeled winds on the lake had got a little rough this day. Bos’n knows like all good sailors a trick at the helm can relieve the symptoms of the ailment. Here he is sharing the station with me.

Catherine on the foredeck assembling prepping anchors. Photo by Foster

With a bit of a blow settling upon us and our buddy boat having already motored up to their anchor to reset it we decide to deploy both the claw and the Fortress anchor. Moonbeam Bay has good holding but the channeling winds cut across the low head of the bay and really gust. Without the fetch there usually isn’t much for wind waves but the pressure of the wind can be a force to be reckoned with. Of course our saltwater friends will have already surmised that on Lake Roosevelt we have no tidal flow or changing currents to deal with (makes for much easier anchoring).  We choose to set the anchors in a V pattern off the bow. We let go the Fortress first. It has 40’ of 3/8 chain and 200’ of 7/16 rode. Were in 20’ of water and want a 8 to 1 scope. When we have the Fortress set we motor forward at a 60* angle and lower the claw. Our claw is the normal working hook for AQUILA with 100’ of 5/16 chain and 200’ of 7/16 rode once set properly it has never failed. We carefully allow the chain out in pace with the vessel backing away from it so as not to pile the chain. At the end of the chain run we set the anchor afterwards feeding out the proper rode to achieve the desired scope. It’s gonna’ take quite a blow to bother us. But blow it does all through this night with winds over 40 knots. With the exception of a few anchor checks I slept soundly.

Turns out these cold front winds have turned into the “Little Baja Express” for another of our sail club boats. George and Teanna on the S/V HOT TUB left the buoy field and made it 85 miles down lake in less than three days with two over night anchoring. Pretty good run with no motoring ~ unlike our trip. They joined us in Moonbeam Bay for their third night on the water.

The Keller Marina is generally light on provisions although they have fuel,
water, cold beer and ice. Image from on-line source (see link).

Over the course of the next few days both vessels will be using the Keller Marina for family logistics. COYOTE goes first with a rendezvous with Lar's daughter and fiancee driving west from Boston to Seattle and stopping on Lake Roosevelt to enjoy a few days down time with her dad.
How many miles is it to Boston? Photo by Connie Copeland
 A couple of days of hanging out on COYOTE’S trampoline is a good fix from a long cross the continent drive. Water has a way of making people whole again.

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Photo by Connie Copeland
COYOTE is carrying a boat full of family and crew and I’m shooting some video of her on a run (see footage embedded at end of this post). Of course I’m a professional and carry full insurance for this specialty. Yeah right!

Looking good and ready for more miles. Photo by Foster
With COYOTE’S company continuing on their coast-to-coast journey and AQUILA’S not to arrive for 36 hours we decide to sail eastward to another favorite anchorage, in the company of our buddy boat who is beginning their homeward portion of their trip (having missed the return winds 24 hours ago). This time Hell Gate Island anchorage is in our sights as we travel east of the San Poil Arm (still within a few hours of Keller Marina for our logistics).
AQUILA and COYOTE rafted and beach-anchored (shore-tied) at Hell Gate Island. Photo by Foster
While we didn’t have much of a sail with the wind being down again we did manage to get the beach front property we were looking for on a very settled night and had one fine sunset added into the mix. Well worth the effort to steam here and set the hooks.

Sunset over Hell Gate Island beach anchorage. To be in the right place at the right time with the right people on the
right boats are indeed very special moments in the course of a life. Photo by Foster
Another view of the sunset over Hell Gate Island beach anchorage. This night was to be the last COYOTE & AQUILA share on this cruise. Lar and Connie would be routing uplake on the morrow while Catherine and I return to Keller Marina and pick up family and crew. We still have ten or so days of our cruise left and much more lake cruising to do.

Okay fair warning ~ things are about to change on this sailing blog. We're gonna' have a birthday party ~ for a TEENAGER!
If you look really close, under her foot, under the spreader is a taped envelope. That where her mom choose to hide her 16th birthday present, "so she'll remember," Catherine had said.
Well actually Clementine didn’t go up the mast until the day after her party started. The treasure hunt didn’t commence until that morning. But let me explain the balloons; Catherine had me tie the balloons with a slipknot on a messenger line I sent up the halyard. Fortunately it was a totally calm day and we were drifting on the lake near where the ferry crosses. Thanks for the shore side phone (no cell phone service on most of Lake Roosevelt) we had a close approximate time for the arrival of our crew and guests. As it worked out they were on the ferry crossing the lake just when we had completed the balloons to the top of the mast. The Martha S. blasted her horn several times alerting us to the eminent arrival of our passengers and we steamed into Keller Marina.
A tiger lilly cake ~ the balloons to the masthead, a present taped under the spreaders all equal a great 16th birthday party afloat.
Luv U Clementine...
What a sight AQUILA was flying blue and white (school colors for this young cheerleader) balloons to the top of the 40 foot stick. We loaded Clementine, her grandma and a good friend, Mary, aboard and steamed off with all balloons intact (it wouldn’t take much of a breeze to lose them all). Back out to the calm of the lake, the newly arrived having changed into bathing suits below decks as I steamed out, we shutdown the boat and bid the BDay girl a “happy, happy”…

And then I pulled the cord. Two dozen big blue and white balloons drifted off from the sailing vessel into the calm waters of the lake. There was just enough whiff of a wind to cause the balloons to drift northwards. “Quick!” I shouted. “We can’t let those balloons get away!Everyone over board and gather as many as you can!” And with that I plunged oversides, into the dark, green waters of Lake Roosevelt in hot pursuit of floating balloons...

The birthday girl having fun oversides. Photo by Catherine
It is told that a picture speaks a thousand words ~ needless to say; a good time was had by all…
Tis a full dinghy that Walker Bay is. Photo by Foster

Daughter rowing starboard, mother to port, grandmother as coxswain and friend Mary in the bow with Bos’n sharing the thwart seat. Whats the capacity rating of this 8 foot Walker Bay. This is gonna’ be fun. The girls have a tendency to row against each other in play before settling in and rowing together. Of course the play phase has lots of splashing, squealing, spinning the dinghy in circles and a rocking of the boat.

A long swim follow by a catnap in the sun are all part of the day for this boatcat. Photos by Foster
Bos’n can only take so much tom foolery and he soon abandons ship heading back to the mother vessel. Bos’n has been messing about in boats since a tiny kitten. We’ve a braided 5/16ths line tied to the aft ladder which hangs from rail to water. Whenever we are stationary the people boarding ladder and cat boarding ladder goes down. Bos’n not only uses it but his early training assured he knew how to find it even if he falls off the bow. Of course after any form a get-wet-swim a catnap in the sun is in order.
Departing Guests and the Cruise Continues
Time to hoist sail again and make the turn-around of our September cruise. From this point on we will slowly (with emphasis on s-l-o-w-) start back up lake. Only this time we will have the teenager as crew, at least for part of the journey as there are more logistics to come.

There are times when nothing beats a good book and a toes-in-the-water
 reading experience. Photo by Foster
As mentioned earlier, we're not in a big hurry to get home as seen here with Catherine and one of her summer reads doing prime beach time together. AQUILA is again beach-anchored, this time to the outer beach of the Palisades.

We recently upgraded our PFD gear on AQUILA and when making the purchase decided to buy several extra cartridges in order to assure practice with the device. It was quite fun to deliberately fall overboard and have the jackets self inflate. On AQUILA we do make a practice of taking the time to drill various boat handling techniques; reefing in differing conditions, deploying anchors from deck and dinghy, motoring in heavy floods or currents, how to set hove-to in a strong breeze, sailing on and off a buoy and or dock and many others. Catherine and I are competent sailors and can handle the boat single handed.

Clementine riding shotgun on the boom. Photo by Catherine Brown
Clementine climbs atop one of her favorite perches on the boom-tail as we round into the cliffs and crags of The Palisades of Lake Roosevelt. We have towering rock cliffs off port and starboard beams but a hundred feet of water under the keel.

A day later it feels strange to depart the Palisades. So often do I wish we could be there, but at over 85 miles from our buoy field in a 5 knot vessel, well it just ain’t feasible. So looking astern as we approach Sterling Point while steaming to the east I watch the details on those towering cliffs vanish. Gone too is the sandy beach. Indistinguishable are the islands now blended into the cliffs. I wonder how long it will be before we can anchor there once again…

And so it goes as we hopscotch anchorage to anchorage each day closing the distance to our homeport by just a little more and the month of September drawing to a close. One of our stops is at the sandstone caves along the eastern shore of the lake north of the Spokane River Arm. Here are a couple images of the girls exploring a shoreside cave while I stand off with AQUILA.

These caves have been carved into the sandstone walls and submerge when the lake water reaches full pool.
Photo by Foster
Really like this photograph that Clementine captured of Catherine near silhouetted near the entrance of the sandstone cave with AQUILA standing off in the middle ground. Not long after the girls rowed back to the boat we were under way with e freshening northerly on the nose ~ yes but we were able to trim the sails and gain ground close-hauled to the wind.  
Catherine in the sandstone cave. Photo by Clementine Brown
As AQUILA and crew close in on home waters we have been out for most of the month of September, we logged over 250 miles at less than five miles per hour, we’ve anchored with friends, shared fine meals, visited under the stars on clear summer’s night, watched the moon wax and wane growing full in-between. We’ve anchored out every night (not unusual on a 150 mile long lake where there are only five marinas). Indeed tis have been a fine cruise.  
The last anchorage. I'm coming ashore to beach walk with the girls. Photo by Catherine Brown
In this image AQUILA sits at anchor off Barnaby Island which we consider the beginning of our easily accessible home waters. We will spend one more night on the hook and depart early in the morrow for final approach back to the Rickey Point Sail Club buoy field where we have moorage.

"So long"... Fare the well"... "Until the next time"...

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened"… ~ Dr. Seuss