Upriver and locking through the Bonneville Dam

Entering Bonneville Lock

On the second leg of our Columbia River cruise, we left the larger cities of Longview, Portland and Vancouver behind and passed through Bonneville Lock, the first of eight upstream locks that we’d transit. Early on the first day of this leg, we got a taste of what we thought was strong current, but we had no idea what strong current was until we reached Bonneville.  We also climbed 800-foot Beacon Rock for a great view to Bonneville Lock and Dam shortly before our transit.

Here’s our log from our first anchorage on the Columbia River off Fir Island to Cascade Locks. You also can view these on the map view.

04/22/12: Dawn
Fishboats heading out for the early morning catch.
04/22/12: Sunrise
Sunrise with Longview in the distance.
04/22/12: Approaching Longview
Steam rising from the plants alongshore at Longview.
04/22/12: Lewis and Clark Bridge
Passing under the Lewis and Clark Bridge. Looks like another warm and sunny day ahead.
04/22/12: Loading dock
Bulk cargo ship loading dock. This complex loading infrastucture can fill several all cargo compartments at the same time on some ships.
04/22/12: Washing off the salt
Washing off the salt that built up from our offshore run. One of the nice things about river cruising is we have an unlimited supply of fresh water for the job.
04/22/12: Willamette River Junction
Stopping for lunch.
04/22/12: Swing bridge
Approaching the BNR RR swing bridge as it opens.
04/22/12: Bridge gears
The bridge gears, with the bridge operator alongside.
04/22/12: I-5 Bridge
Passing under the I-5 bridge. We’ve passed under I-5 at several places in the Puget Sound by dinghy, but never in the main boat.
04/22/12: Mt. Hood
Mount Hood rises in the distance. The waterways around Vancouver were packed with boats on this warm, sunny Sunday.
04/22/12: Government Island
Government Island State Park has two large concrete public docks, with numerous boats on each. We’re tied off for the night on an older wooden dock between them, where nobody else is stopped.
04/22/12: Debris
Debris trapped by current at the north end the dock.
04/22/12: Sunset
Sunset viewed from the dock.
04/22/12: Dusk
04/23/12: Dawn
Underway at dawn with Mt Hood in the distance.
04/23/12: Sunrise
The sun rising through a light fog.
04/23/12: Towers
Power transmission line towers “floating” in the fog.
04/23/12: Current
The current is quite strong here, and buffeted the boat where the Sandy River joined the Columbia.
04/23/12: Tug in the fog
This tugboat looked almost like a submarine in the fog.
04/23/12: Vista House
The Vista House observatory at Crown Point is built on a 766′ cliff overlooking the river.
04/23/12: Wide load
Foss tug bringing four barges downriver.
04/23/12: Cape Horn
Waterfalls have worn deep channels into the basalt cliffs at Cape Horn.
04/23/12: Waterfall
One of the waterfalls at Cape Horn.
04/23/12: Approaching Beacon Rock
Approaching Beacon Rock. This part of the trip reminded us of the karst formations along China’s Li River.
04/23/12: Beacon Rock State Park
The view from the top of 800′ Beacon Rock, if we can reach it, will be amazing on such a clear day. A heavy current was setting us onto the dock, so we were more cautious than usual on our approach.
04/23/12: Docks from Beacon Rock
Looking down to the park dock from harlfwy up Beacon Rock. You can see how strong the current is in the channel around the dock and in the Columbia beyond.
04/23/12: Switchbacks
One of the series of switchbacks on the way up. The trail is incredibly well-engineered, allowing a reasonably easy climb given we’re gaining 800′ in about a mile.
04/23/12: View from the peak
Looking east from the peak. Bonneville Dam is visible in the distance.
04/23/12: Bonneville Dam
Close-up of the dam. We’ll be heading through this afternoon.
04/23/12: Switchbacks from the dock
Looking up to the switchbacks shown earlier, this time from the park dock.
04/23/12: Approaching Bonneville Dam
Approaching Bonneville Dam. The current below the dam was intense. Running at maximum RPM, at what should have been 9.5 knots, we were alternating between 1.6 and 3 knots.
04/23/12: Bonneville lock
View of the navigation lock as we near Bonneville dam.
04/23/12: Waiting to lock through
We had radioed the lockmaster when we were a couple of hours out, and he said he’d lock us through in three hours. We arrived about an hour early and are tied off to a small dock just outside the lock doors (on the left in the previous picture).
04/23/12: Entering the locks
Swing bridge opening as we enter the locks. The lockmaster said we’d probably just clear, but that he was going to play it safe and open the bridge for us.
04/23/12: Inside the locks
The lockmaster assigned us a mooring bit at the west end of the lock. Dirona doesn’t take up much space.
04/23/12: Mooring bit
The mooring bit is a beautiful stainless steel fabrication. Unlike at the Ballard locks in Seattle, where a bow and stern line are tied to separate bollards, here a single bit is used. We used a single line amidships, but you also can run lines from bow and stern.
04/23/12: Checking the fenders
Checking the fenders as we start to lift.
04/23/12: Heading up
Enjoying the 70′ ride up.
04/23/12: Almost there
Getting close now.
04/23/12: Exiting the locks
We’re now 72′ above sea level.
04/23/12: Power transmission
A view into the complexity of the power transmission towers above the dam.
04/23/12: Fishing platform
Fishing platform such as these were strung along the river. Native Americans fish from them for steelhead and salmon.
04/23/12: Bridge of the Gods
Approaching the Bridge of the Gods. According to Native legend, a land-bridge across the Columbia once existed here. Geologists have confirmed that a landslide did occur here some thousand years ago.
04/23/12: Port of Cascade Marina
We stopped at the Port of Cascade pocket marina to visit the Cascade Locks and Marine Park. The marina has solid cement floats and is very clean. Moorage is free for 72 hours, but the space for transient vessels is limited to the dock we’re tied off to. We weren’t planning to spend the night, but the marina was so private and quiet that we decided to stay.
04/23/12: Cascade Locks
Looking east down the old Cascade Locks, with the Bridge of the Gods in the distance. The locks were used to bypass the Cascade Rapids before the Bonneville Dam flooded the area and covered the rapids. The Columbia Gorge (see above) apparently moors here for summer tours. The current then must be a lot less strong than it is now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOdo3fPTkDM.
04/23/12: Rest stop
Enjoying the view from the park on the north side of the locks.
04/23/12: Beer time
Having a beer on a restaurant patio with an awesome view of the river and the Bridge of the Gods.
04/23/12: Tug under the bridge
Tug pushing a barge upstream under the bridge. The current upstream of the dam was still fairly strong, about 2/3rds of that below the dam.
04/23/12: Sunset
Sunset from the boat deck, looking over the sternwheeler Columbia Gorge.

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