- Capt. Eric
2 Locks, The Dalles, SS Legacy
A long day to get us back down to The Dalles with 2 lock transits planned: John Day and The Dalles locks. We decided to head further down river than Portland on the way back to explore St Helens a little bit. We've gone by the town and its marinas and free public docks a few times on the way up but have never stopped to explore, so we figure now is the time.
The sheer distance and going through 2 locks meant we'd probably barely make it before sunset. Although we'd been to The Dalles marina on our way up so we knew what it looked like, I much prefer arriving with some remaining day light.
On the way, I took a "shortcut" through a side channel that probably saved a couple minutes over the main channel, but more importantly proved to be a beautiful tight river gorge.
Navigation was tight, so we were all paying extra attention. A swirl of current can easily send the bow off course, and the channel is rather narrow in some spots. There are some big rocks hidden under that placid looking water. Accurate navigation in the channel is vital.
The scenery looked like many of the old western movies I enjoy, and it's not difficult to imagine the real life struggles that must have taken place around here over the years.
As we were approaching The Dalles damn, we went by an old looking cruise ship the "SS Legacy" at anchor, visibly recovering its passengers using a small flotilla of zodiacs.
I called the lock operator to announce our intention to transit down river and he kindly informed me that he'd prepare the lock for us in time for our estimated arrival.
Within a few minutes, the cruise ship also called the lock on VHF and asked for transit: The operator replied he had a recreational vessel going in first, and he'd reset the lock for the cruise ship afterwards. Understanding that would mean long delays, the cruise ship then called me on VHF "Kadey Krogen recreational vessel heading to The Dalles". A boat enthusiast I thought, and I did inform him we were instead a Nordhavn. But close enough!
He asked me if he could transit the lock with us, which I agreed to, and I told him I'd let him enter the lock first, then would follow him in.
A quick chat with the lock operator confirmed the procedure was understood by all parties.
We found a small boat ramp dock just before the lock and tied to its dock to let the cruise ship by. I wanted to be upwind from them in case they had some sort of failure when entering.
I was a little concerned his big prop would churn the waters in the lock and make my maneuver more difficult, but it wasn't too bad, and after a short exchange we took our mooring bit on Starboard for the ride down.
Once out of the lock it's a short trip to The Dalles marina where we arrived just before sunset, like I had planned. Another good day cruising the river.