Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Salmon River messabout

 A fellow Coot from California stopped on his way to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival to experience a row on the Salmon River.

Rick rowing his Walkabout.

Rick Thompson brought his beautifully-made Walkabout, a boat designed for rowing by John Wellsford. Wellsford was a featured speaker at the festival this year, which inspired many boat owners with Wellford designs to show up with their boats to what is one of the oldest wooden boat shows in the nation.

Rick and his wife took their time wending their way up the coast from their home near San Francisco to Port Townsend, Wash. He emailed me and said he wanted to experience rowing one of Oregon's coastal rivers. The Salmon did not disappoint.
My wife enjoying the fine weather with Trouble, our dog.
The weather was beautiful - sunny and calm - and the tide that afternoon was mellow with only a three-foot exchange. My wife, who is skeptical of boating trips on the Salmon River from years of experiencing wind-tunnel conditions there, took a stocking cap and coat and, amazing to her, didn't need them.

Rick rowing out to take a close look at the bar.
The water was clear (in contrast to what Rick was used to rowing on the Sacramento River delta) and the wildlife was abundant. Shore birds and water birds of all kinds greeted us and harbor seals followed our boats like curious puppies. A large herd of Roosevelt elk grazed in an open patch above us on Cascade Head. It was a sight we almost missed because we were so busy admiring the two beautiful boats pulled up on the deserted beach.

Six-foot ocean waves kept us in the river and on the beach for the most part, but Rick ventured a little too close to the breaking bar and a wave climbed over his stern and into his cockpit. His Walkabout handled it well and he was able to sponge out the water between strokes on the quiet row back to the boat launch.


  1. What a nice post. Oregon has some lovely rivers!

  2. Thanks Dave! You're right, Oregon does have some beautiful rivers. The Salmon is one of the most beautiful. If you ever make it out this direction I'd love to show it to you.