Belle's Sailing Adventure to Martin Pond

DanTest's picture

Last August (2013) I found myself with an unexpected 3-day weekend so I decided to explore Martin Pond just north of St. Helens, Oregon on the Columbia River, someplace I had always wanted to check out and it made for easy logistics for a 3-day holiday.

Day 1 - Launch from Scappose Bay Marina to Martin Pond

It was a beautiful sunny day with little or no wind but that was okay because I expected to have to motor through the rather narrow channel at low tide of Scappose Bay.  The launch facility seemed quite new and well maintained with a large parking lot, I bought 3-days worth of launch fees, rigged up Belle and launched without any difficulties.


The Scappoose Bay Marina was a very pleasant, clean marina.

Boat ramp at Scappoose Bay Marina


Above is the actual track taken from the marina to Martin Pond - 10.6 NM.  The image below shows how to access the pond by going past Martin Island and then use the side channel to go back upstream (adjacent to I-5) to the entrance of the "pond".

I spent an absolutely fantastic evening anchored out on Belle.  There were 3 other sailboats but it's a big pond and I didn't feel cramped at all.  One thing to keep in mind about going here is technically the island itself is off limits to visitors so consider yourself boat-bound for the evening.  (Although while I was there I did see other boaters access the island to walk their dogs or whatever, so I'm not sure how strict these off-limits rules are policed.)  

Here was the view looking north, with I-5 traffic in the distance.  

On close inspection you might think the sailboat in the picture appears to be tied up to a dock, yes it is!  There is indeed a floating dock there, not really connected to the island as far as I could tell.

Day 2 - Martin Pond to St. Helens

In the morning I had an early start back to St. Helens where I had planned on spending the day where they have wonderful free docks for visitors, complete with shower facilities.  

I walked way up the hill into town for some exercise, farther than I have ever gone before and had a very good lunch at Dockside Steak and Pasta.  The wind started picking up in the afternoon, well above 10 knots, so I decided to try sailing downstream to the docks at Sand Island where I planned on docking for the evening.  Unfortunately, there was a large gathering of Hunter boats at the set of docks where I am the most familiar, which meant I needed to go further downstream to the other set of docks.  The wind waves were quite heavy on these docks and the only protection appeared to be on the inside of the inside dock where one other boat was already tied up.  I ended up tying up just behind them for the evening, and were very helpful with instructions on how to rig up a springline.

If you look closely at the picture above you can see the plethora of Hunter sailboats at the other docks on Sand Island.

Another very comfortable night on the boat, especially after learning how to rig up the springline.  

Day 3 - A little radio fun and heading home

The last day of the adventure was Sunday, and every Sunday morning I try to meet with some friends on the radio (for you amateur radio operators out there we meet at 9 am, 3540KHz, CW) and I knew my best chances of having them actually hear me was to rig up a decent antenna on Sand Island and give it a try.  The exercise turned out perfectly as the entire group was on the air and everyone heard everyone else quite well, which isn't that common especially since we were all running low power. (Less than 10 watts).

 The picture above was the operating position on the picnic bench with a 40 foot kite pole holding up a 100 foot doublet.  I've used this antenna before in portable operations and it hasn't let me down yet.  (Rig was a Elecraft KX3.)

At about noon I packed everything up and motored back to the marina.  At one point I thought there was enough wind to sail, but I needed to get back to Corvallis by 5 pm so I really didn't have enough time to mess with sailing that day.

The trip was uneventful, well, except for a slight snag after Belle left the water...

I had inadvertently left the tracker on after getting Belle on the trailer and if you follow the track through the parking lot you will notice a spot where I appeared to stop and back up at one point.  I was very careful about looking out for low hanging trees but forgot to make a careful survey for low hanging wires.  Crap!  I snagged some power wires with the mast, but fortunately since I was going extremely slow and reacted quickly I didn't appear to do any damage to the wires or to Belle, and I think I actually snagged the lower telephone wires low on the pole, not the power wires.  Phew!

You can see the wires I snagged in the picture below.

So if you learned anything at all from my little Martin Pond tale,