I'd love to practice using pods. Glad you were able to.
NOTE: The Cottonwood requires a significant carry to get to the put-in. For this route, Steamboat might have been a preferred launch site, but its dock has been damaged and the high water there required a dock launch so that was out.
We traveled up the Washington side from the Cottonwood landing launch site and then crossed to Reid Island using a diamond formation. This worked well, but the diamond tended to broaden with traverse time. Reid did provide some protection from a 10 kt. southerly wind as we worked up its northern side. We were able to find some sandy beaches just before its east end for an early lunch.
When we came around its eastern end, we had a great view of Crown Point and Rooster Rock. The southern side of Reid has taken some major damage over the years (but not this year) with many trees having lost their supporting banks and falling out into the river. I, of course, headed into the labyrinth immediately and then sat smiling on the other side. Those who had paddled with me at Scappoose Bay knowingly didn't follow as this time they were not lost.
Keeping an eye on what appeared to be building weather, we choose to not cross the Columbia as originally planned. Instead, we had an invigorating windward paddle with an opposing current. Given that the southwest headwinds had little fetch to work with, these conditions were just more stimulating and fun for all. Part of the group stayed towards shore and others moved more out into the main channel which enjoyed the benefits of the downstream current.
We gathered up at the west end of Reid and crossed in a "wing" formation. The idea grew out of suggestions from several prior trips where different formations have been tried. Here the idea is that the lead boat is the most downstream position. The second is positioned slightly upriver and behind the first. Then this pattern repeated until one gets to the sweep. Each paddler is responsible to maintain position just upriver and behind the boat just ahead, but more importantly they need to keep the boat behind them in their peripheral vision and slow down to maintain that contact if needed.
The idea is that the lead boat can easily decide to change their ferry angle on the crossing and not lose the other boats. If the lead changes the angle to be more upstream, all of the upstream boats can see this and adjust course. If they were downstream, one of the paddlers might fall behind and not be able to take up the slack resulting in the pod spreading out. This is what I observed in the first diamond crossing where the down current kayaks tended to not be able to respond to the pods direction changes as quickly as the upstream kayaks.
The wing if executed properly allows the slowest paddler to communicate all the way to the lead without verbal communication as long as everyone slows to keep contact with the paddler just upstream and back of them. It doesn't work it one person fails to keep that contact.
While it took us awhile to setup the formation, it appeared to work well in this case. My take home is that under conditions where the pod needs to thread the needle, say maintaining formation to hit a target say between two wing dams, the wing formation would be worth a try. In a channel crossing where the goal is to make the pod more visible to boat traffic, then the diamond may be the better choice.
All in all, we had a good time and like the day before we got off the water and in our cars before a major weather cell hit the entrance of the gorge. A very nice sight to be viewing from the Glenn Jackson Bridge as opposed to from the water.
I have an assistant TO in Stuart Teicher, so the total number of folks who can register is now 14 including the 2 TO's and the guest.
This trip is limited to OOPS members with WEC. To successfully register you'll need to log in to your member account on the OOPS website.
Narrative: We will meet at Cottonwood Beach at 9 am for a launch about 9:30 to pick up the last of the flood to help us paddle up river north of Reed Island. Rounding Reed we will explore its south side for a bit and if conditions are favorable cross over to Flag Island. From there we can explore Chatham and then Gary Park Islands as the group desires. We will recross the Columbia to return to Cottonwood Beach. Trip mileage will be about 8 miles depending on how much exploring we do.
Cottonwood Beach is inside Captain William Clark Park in Washougal, WA. Take SR 14 east to Washougal, and head south on S 32nd St. to park's entrance on just slightly west on Index St.
Depending on the group's capabilities and interest, we can practice setting ferry angles on the crossings, and hopefully work on improving our group management skills. I'll have a pair of radios at the minimum, to help the lead and sweep keep in better communication.
If weather and currents and the group's skill level make the crossing questionable, we will limit the trip to a more in depth exploration of Reed Island, the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and the Washington side of the river.
We will have a visiting paddler with us. Join and chat him up about paddling on Lake Michigan, and help us inform him a bit about our wet little neighborhood.
Meeting Time: 9:00:00 AM
Launch Time: 9:30:00 AM
Type of activity: Paddle Trip
Put in: Cottonwood Beach, Captain William Clark Park, Washougal
Take out: Cottonwood Beach
Route Alternative for bad weather: Just shorten trip
Minimum Immersion protection: Drysuit
Primary Organizer: Rich Becker
Assistant Organizer(s): Please volunteer
Has organizer paddled here before? No
Has organizer led an OOPS paddle here before? No
Organizer's first aid and CPR current? Yes
First Aid /CPR Person:
Maximum number of paddlers: 6
I certify that I understand and will conduct this activity in accordance with the OOPS Activity Policy: Yes
Estimated Air Temperature: 50
Estimated Water Temperature: 45
Estimated Water Time: 4 hrs.
Tide times & heights: High Tide 10:00 am
Current information: 1-2 knots
Wind strength: Level 1: 0-7 knots (8 mph)
Swell/Surf size: Level 1: Under 1' waves, no breaking waves
Sea state: Level 1: Waves up to the deck seam; water glassy to rippled, no whitecaps
Landing types: Level 1: Frequent easy landing opportunities including gently sloping, sand, gravel or grass
Currents: Level 2: Mild currents (up to 2 knots): current increases / decreases group speed by half
Total distance: Level 2: 6 to 11 miles
Open crossing: Level 2: Less than 1 mile
Oregon Ocean Paddling SocietyPortland, Oregon