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  • Capt. Eric

The Heat is On

We decided to push for a long day from Arlington to Umatilla, and we had typical fall weather the whole day. Low visibility and spitting rain for the whole trip, reducing visibility to less than a mile regularly.

We sailed Enfin with navigation lights on -per the rules- and even at noon the dark skies made it look like dusk. Inside Enfin we had the lights fully on, just like at night.

With cold rain, we cocooned ourselves in Enfin's pilothouse, switching the heater on for the first time this season, outside of the earlier tests we'd done. Warm air gently blew from all vents, making for a great contrast to the outside.

Enfin's heating system can be heated by the engine when the boat is running, in effect getting energy that would otherwise be wasted from the hot engine. Th heat is recovered and transferred to a heating loop that runs around the whole boat.

It's a great comfort to be sailing in cold rainy weather while wearing pajamas, or shorts and T-Shirts. Something this ex-sailor does enjoy a lot more than I expected.

In the rain and poor visibility. Doors closed and on autopilot

Staying nice and warm, piloting the boat from the settee

The passage was uneventful but the low visibility meant I had to keep and extra sharp eye to spot buoys, markers and traffic. An interesting find is that although our chart plotter doesn't show chart details anymore (no inland chart coverage), it still displays AIS traffic.

By law all commercial traffic must broadcast Automated Information System (AIS) data that then can be displayed on special receivers to show a vector of the target's name, speed, bearing, closest point of approach (CPA), time to CPA and more. It's very useful for commercial traffic though the recent reduction in price has allowed even small yachts to carry similar systems. I tend to think AIS gets "polluted" by irrelevant info from a small 8m boat doing its thing so much prefer leaving it to filter by larger size when possible.

Arriving in Umatilla. Small and easily forgotten

We arrived in Umatilla just before sunset, and despite all guides saying there were guest docks, we couldn't find any. Access to shore from all docks was closed by locked gates, which obviously wouldn't work for us since we need to take Princess ashore regularly.

A phone number to call yielded no answer, so we docked at the only place we could: The fuel dock with prominent signs saying no to do that and not to stay longer than 2 hours. We'd tried doing it the right way, so we figured we'd sort things out in the morning with the port.

During our walk we saw that big festivities were scheduled for tomorrow -11th September- with over 100 veterans going fishing on many small boats. The worse part for our retired selves was that they would likely start their fishing and associated noise at 06:30 in the morning. We elected to go to bed early, and true to form the ex-militaries started showing up at 06:30, then promptly did nothing for a couple hours until they set sail for fishing around 08:30. It reminded me of my own time in the Navy: Wake up early and wait!

Before calling it a night we had gone for a long walk around the neighborhood. The old downtown seemed too far away to be easily reached, and the local area had little of interest, save for some nice green grass for Princess.

A port representative of some sort did show up in the morning, and promptly informed us we shouldn't stay at the fuel dock (which fuel pump was marked as being not in service!) but offered no alternative. I explained that no one answered the listed phone number, which got me a blank stare, then I offered to pay for our night, which got me a shrug. The lady then promptly left and was never to be seen again. We didn't pay anything, which seemed like the correct price for a dirty rickety wooden dock with no electricity and no water.

In the morning, after Princess' walk, I called McNary Lock on VHF 14 and they said upriver recreational boats had an opening at 09:00 so we left in time for that transit, leaving Umatilla behind. Considering how friendly other places have been, I doubt we'll be back.

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La Paz


Capt. Eric
Sep 29, 2021

MJ. We're at Irrigon Marina today. Very tight entrance for us and I had to back in the public dock. So far seems like a lovely place, with a beautiful park and friendly people. I'll write more about it, including photos once I get good Wi-Fi again.


Sep 29, 2021

Captain Eric. I spent five retirement seasons working the river patrol on the Columbia between Arlington and Umatilla. My bases were Irrigon and Boardman. I saw a picture from of your boat moored at the Irrigon Marina pump out public dock. Maybe you could give a shout out on your trip log to the Irrigon Marina folks. I am enjoying reading your logs and married a land lubber so I will enjoy living vicariously through yours and Di's exploits. Fair Winds and Following Seas. M.J. Cahill

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