Monday, December 31, 2012

Morning sky for a few minutes

I was not anticipating rousing myself out of bed at 7:32 this morning when I opened my eyes to check the time. After all, it's still holiday vacation and I was up till 2 a.m. reading Alexander McCall Smith's "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" from The No.1. Ladies' Detective Agency series.

But I happened to notice the gorgeous tangerine clouds and dragged myself up and outside to take these photos. By the time I was done shutting down the camera, the colors were gone.

Heron envy

Photo: Mary Forst

I have lived here more than a year and have not seen a single heron on my deck. My neighbor Mary sees them all the time on hers, and on the log of her next-door neighbor. Once I saw one on the float deck of the houseboat to the left of me, and that's the closest I've seen.

Land here, herons!

Photo: Mary Forst

Ultimate Flotsam: Oslo's Hoegh Marlin life preserver

After I declared myself the "Flotsam Queen," named for my newfound hobby of collecting interesting flotsam from my paddles, Dave Fouts (see previous Purple Martin posts) said that he had something he wanted to give me, and one day he brought it over.

It's a life preserver that he found on the Columbia River side of the island in the early 1980s and has kept at his house since then. Ever since I'd seen a life preserver hanging up on my neighbor's houseboat I was thinking it would be a good idea to have one on hand, and now I do. It needs a little repair work and Dave thought I could get the "tape" to patch the covering at West Marine.

Fascinated, I googled the Hoegh Marlin from Oslo to see what I could find out. On a "shipspotting" website, I found this photo from 2011, so this ship may still be cruising the Columbia River. It says this vessel was built in 1966 in Osaka, Japan.


Another web site gives additional information:
Hoegh Marlin (bulk Carrier)
The Sudbury II played a major role in another salvage operation about three months later, when the 22,000-ton Norwegian bulk carrier Hoegh Marlin stranded in Active Pass. Hoegh Marlin, partially laden with woodpulp bales, fell victim to the powerful tide races of Active Pass in the early morning hours of May 4 and ran hard aground on a reef off Collinson Point, suffering considerable hull damage. The resources of Island Tug were summoned and Sudbury II, (3,800-horsepower), Island Monarch (1,800 horsepower) and Island Warrior (1,600 horsepower) were dispatched to the scene. An effort was made to refloat the 586-foot motor vessel on the next high tide, but it was several feet lower than the previous high and the effort was unavailing. The 2,400-horsepower Island Sovereign was summoned, augmenting the aggregate horsepower of the tugs to 10,000, and the Hoegh Marlin was successfully refloated on the following tide. After undergoing hull repairs she loaded the remainder of her pulp cargo and proceeded to Oslo.
Citation: Tacoma Public Library

It's quite exciting to have a piece of history. It's certainly the biggest flotsam in my growing collection and I doubt that I'll ever find anything from a larger source. 

Second year bald eagle

                                         copyright Wildlight Images/used with permission

On December 19th, I was at my desk and heard a loud screeching. I looked out and saw two large birds across the channel, at each other in the air. Both landed in trees; one flew off, and one, I could see, was perched. It was a big bird, and seemed like some sort of hawk. I looked with the binoculars and then with the spotting scope. It had an unusual mottled brown pattern on the wings, and the rest of the body and tail looked almost black. It didn't have a tail like a hawk. I got out my Nat'l Geo "Field Guide to Birds of North America" but couldn't find it.

Next I emailed a neighbor who's an excellent birder to see if she was around and could see this bird and if she knew what it was.

Then I got out my journal and drew an image of it, that was quite wretched. Then I went and got out Sibley's bird guide and there I was able to identify it -- a second year bald eagle. I'd never seen one before.

In the meantime, my neighbor had written back: "Sounds like an immature eagle-- could be last summer's chick as there was a nest behind there. I can't see it but I've seen immatures as well as some adults flying up and down the channel in the last week and they make sounds like that.  They are over at the Nude Beach, too, circling around and complaining."

Yesterday I went for a paddle and spotted an eagle's in a tree on the mainland side next to the confluence of the channel and the Willamette. Farther downriver I saw an adult bald eagle in a tree. My cousins live in Savannah along a waterway and have talked about watching out for alligators. I was thinking that I much preferred living in eagle-dom.


                                                                           copyright Wildlight Images/used with permission

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Ships Parade

There's not much that's more magical than Portland's Christmas Ships Parade, and there's no better place to see the boats than our decks. They come right past, and we get to see both fleets, the Columbia River fleet and the Willamette River fleet. The boat owners are volunteers who bring this treat to the world. All up and down the channel (and the rivers) people gather to watch the boats float by. We ooh and ahh, delight at ones we've seen before and go ga-ga over new ones, singing Christmas carols all the while. Along the moorage, most people have parties and you see the silhouettes of people on the decks on either side.

When I moved to the houseboat last year, I'd only been here a few weeks when it was time for the Christmas Ships. My place was a construction zone and boxes were piled high everywhere. I decided I would just go to Mary's party, where I've been going for years. This year I decided I would still go to Mary's party. It turns out that I know the people who are moving into the houseboat two doors away, but they won't be closing on it till later this week -- so I invited their family to have their first moorage houseboat party at my place. It worked out great and I came home to sweet thank-you notes from them all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas ships -- daylight prelude

This dull-in-daylight boat with its skeleton decorations is a prelude to the delights of the Christmas Ships that will pass right in front of our houseboats this Sunday, December 9th. It's fun to see them go by and imagine what they will look like lit up in the dark.