Posts Tagged ‘Bay Center’

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The original destination for today was the Niawiakum River that runs in front of Goose Point Oysters, just north of the Bay Center turn off. It’s one of three rivers accessible from Bay Center that also includes the Bone and the Palix. Here’s a map to give a general idea. The Bone River is just below Bruceport, then the larger Niawiakum River just east of Bay Center and the larger Palix River system is SE of Bay Center

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 5.31.33 PM.png

Bay Center is just across from the tip of the peninsula.

In the early 1850’s James Swan lived at the mouth of the Bone River. A trip to that site is here. He sketched and wrote extensively of the area and included this sketch of a camp he visited on the Palix.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 1.18.21 AM

The cover and a sketch he includes.

The tide was low at only 1.5 feet, which meant most of Willapa Bay was mudflats.  It seems to stay that way until it rises to about 3 feet. It would be rising until dark so I planned to stick to the river channel after leaving the dredged port entrance. There is a launch in Bay Center amongst the oyster boats, next to one of the shellfish processors, but first I drove by the picturesque wreck of the R/V Hero. To the owner, it must look nightmarish. Last year it was afloat but in need of work, but now that it’s sunk, it’s going to cost more. There is a Facebook page for the R/V Hero that includes many photos of its work as an Antarctic research vessel and its demise located here.  It was built in1968.



At Bay Center, just uphill from the dock, I ran across the Chinook Tribe’s Office.


One of their great canoes is stored here.


A low tide and a quiet harbor.

Near the launch is an area washed by the tide that supports Salicornia (Sea Beans). Here is a site with better ID and seven ways to eat them.


A plentiful supply of Sea Beans. A few would be salad garnish tomorrow night.

It was a quiet launch as it was a Sunday and a low tide.



Accidental landscaping to starboard as I left.


Oyster farms extending out into the bay as I pick my way through the channel.

I headed for the channel marker tower to look for the Naiwaikum River and turn upstream. From the shore, the start of my adventure looked like somebody’s first-time sail trip. I put up the sail and then headed nearly straight out.  Then, if they were watching, onlookers saw me get tangled in the eel grass, beach the boat, take down the sail and slowly paddle away. I didn’t see another boat out on the water today which speaks to how remote we are.


It’s slow going through this stuff.


Here’s my excuse for missing the entrance to the Niawiakum on this google map. The river’s entrance was actually further downstream from the channel bouy. There was no Niawiakum that I could see.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 5.53.39 PM

I chose the Palix River channel and headed upstream hoping the Niawiakum River channel would appear later.  As Rat said in The Wind in the Willows “…there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Either river would be a good day.


The Mollusk in front of one of the processors. It was working during my visit when I blogged about the trip here.


Older real estate with character.


The Hero from the other side.


The 101 bridge over the Palix.

From here the Palix splits into the North, Middle, and South. I followed the South Palix.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.05.42 AM.png


This might have been the camping ground in James Swan’s book.

It was very quiet except for the birdlife.


A house was an unusual sight so it gets a picture.


The bank washed away and ruined this dock but even google maps doesn’t show a likely house that would have used it.

Further upstream I came to this cleared area and discovered I needed to turn around or take the mast down.


I can see through first floor. The lack of plantings made this house look empty.

Within sight of the empty house was a low bridge. It was 3 PM, an hour and a half out from Bay Center. It would be upwind most of the way back so I turned around. I had come 5.7 miles but it ended up being 10.5 miles back. That included a lot of tacking and a short side trip up the middle branch of the Palix. I read there is a falls upstream. That trip will have to wait for another day.


Trask Lane meanders over this bridge.


Logging relics just east of Highway 101.


Here’s a boat launch next to 101 on the Palix I haven’t used yet.

The wind gauge shows I’m making progress upwind (if the daggerboard is doing its job). Another sailing dingy my dad gave me would usually put me on the same shore locations at each tack, with no upwind progress. It’s made of styrofoam and sits so high off the water I think the wind just overwhelmed the daggerboard and rudder.


A low sun, a glittering surf, and maybe a whole eight mph.


The Hero again at higher tide with a flooded doorway

It was 5:40 and the tide is now up from the earlier 1.5 to 5.9 feet. Finding the Niawiakum would be easy now. Next time, I’ll head a bit downstream for the right channel or, just wait for a higher tide.


The channel buoy is now surrounded by water.


Oyster bed markers.


Bucketing off the deck.


A wet lens, so it must have been fun.





Read Full Post »

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Allan Paddles the Bone River

James Swan, the author of the book, ‘The Northwest Coast’, built his residence at the mouth of this river in the mid 1850’s. In his time it was called the Mouse River or the name it had always been before: The Querquelin.  The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is currently running a photo exhibit of ‘Swan’s Land‘ which I plan to see soon.


Mr. Swan’s sketch of his residence with Toke’s lodge on the right

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 2.03.53 PM

The Bone River is just below Bruceport

Today’s plan was to use the northwest wind to carry me to and from the river’s mouth and also to use a rising tide to go up the river, a falling tide to return.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 12.34.10 PM

Starting at Bay Center and going for a  gold star


1 pm to 6 pm will be clear of the vast mudflats.


Passing Baby Island at 11:20 with a rising 2.4′ tide and mudflats.

There is a short road upstream just north of the bridge that would make an easy starting point if you’re comfortable leaving your car there.


Looking downstream from the turn off.


A peaceful highway view that soon will have a red boat distraction coming upstream.


The town cafe and biker bar. I will return.


Oyster farmers unloading.


A large parking lot at the launch with an oyster white sheen


Another working boat coming in just before I leave.


Between those two points lies the Bone River


I found a skinny cup for the small cup holder in the little yacht. I can now sip drinks enhanced with salt spray.


Off for more oysters.




First view of the river’s entrance


I tried for a better photo, twice, before pulling down the mast. The bridge is really too low .


This works.


The swallows swooped in and out faster than I could snap the shutter.


A calm river with very little current. In four miles there will be hazards only a more nimble little boat can ascend.


A hot day today. The birds and animals seemed to be snoozing. Here is a stray fishing float we will follow up later. Note its location.


Convenient for logging, the trees were all pretty young.


This line of pilings to tie up log rafts were the only human relics I saw past the bridge.


A mild wind was blowing upstream.


Not enough wind to bother with the sail.


A head scratcher.


This was the end for me today. The water was five feet deep but this hazard is is best conquered with light little boats like Mary Beth’s 39 pounder she sold me.



One outrigger pulled in but it’s still like turning around a motorhome.


Quiet trees on a warm day

Now it’s time to get back to the launch. The day is still, quiet, and the wildlife seems to be snoozing until the evening. I speed up to 4 mph and head back to the bay. A 33 sec. YouTube video putting you there is here.


Potential sea beans for Skyler on the right side but they’re muddy and it would kill the plant.


Same float, different place. Now it’s in our yard.


A survey post where I wanted to land to see where the old village/homesite might have been.

I walked out to what I thought might be a marker for this historical site.


It was a marker for a recent survey and a ‘witness post.’


When I got home I reread the book’s passage and decided the more likely village site was upstream of the bridge.


“The river wound round this point in the form of a horse-shoe…”

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 12.59.02 PM

The circle indicates a field that may contain the site of the old illustration.


Possibly a historic field next to the highway

In the 1966 book: ‘Coast Country’ by Lucile McDonald, she describes the recent finding of James Swan’s old fireplace. The site has also changed due to building a highway through it and flooding.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 1.20.06 PM.png


Sea beans for Skyler by the survey site. Plump, thick patches of sea beans everywhere. I took a few and we had them for dinner the next night.


No salt required on these little green delicacies.


I sailed back to Bay Center.


Closely spaced floats in rows marking oysters


Six o’clock Sunday evening and the port is quiet


A view of the 101 bridge just south of the Goose Point Oyster plant from Bay Center.


A rough oyster shell beach.


Lots of ‘stopped’ time today, like a staycation tourist.


Using this and google maps you can see how far upstream it is navigatable.


Outside of the Dock of the Bay eatery


Some of the interesting art inside. I couldn’t see an artist’s name on these prints but very interesting in a ‘how things work’ way.



Reasonably priced hamburger steak dinner including the option of ‘oyster dressing topped with hollandaise sauce and melted cheese.’


Baby Island on the way home at 8:20 pm with a falling +2.1′ tide. It’s back to being mudflats again.

Read Full Post »

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 1.20.30 PM

This is the third trip that was not on the local lakes. The first trip on October 5 went upriver from South Bend (located at the top of the map). The second on October 12 went up to the the Naselle River (located by the ‘d’ in Long Island).

Today the trip is from the town of Bay Center (located above at the red balloon).

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 1.30.18 PM

A close up of the mouth of the Palix showing the route I took and a a balloon over another boat ramp.

My goal was to go inland towards what is marked as ‘Minks Ranch’ and/or around the bay south which is the mouth of the Palix River. I stuck some lines on the map where the trip eventually took me. With the wind coming from the east, there was a bunch of back and forthing but the wind died when I wanted to use it to go back to the dock. The red balloon on this map refers to a boat launch that works well to go up the river.


Unrestored boats at the port

The boat launch and dock has houses looking over it and a working oyster processor which makes me feel more secure about leaving the car alone. It also has a couple of artistic boats pulled up on shore like we have in Ilwaco.


Bay Center port with the boat launch at the left and a busy oyster processing plant center.

Here’s a view of the dock and some of the fleet tied up. I could hear some workers shoveling oyster shells into bags and a couple of boats took off while I sorted things out. Anything not bagged up or not put under a hatch will get wet I have discovered. I can put a jacket behind me as it gets warmer but it will be splashed on when I go for it later.




Orange & green oyster baskets

I saw in the commercial boats a collection of various oyster baskets or, ‘self draining weed baskets’, to a gardener such as Skyler.


Various oyster bed markers to avoid

After paddling out to the bay there were sticks and floats to watch for while I sorted out ropes and snacks. I figured I’d  meet an oyster farmer in person if I mowed over any of their markers. When the tide was low on a previous trip I saw how shallow and sharp these beds are.


The Goose Point Oyster plant from Bay Center

I headed across the bay to check out the  ‘Minks Ranch’ area north of Goose Point as the other bridge looked pretty far.


Pretty splashy but easier than paddling as I headed upwind.


Highway 101 just south of Goose Point.


A forklift operator is checking me out too.


Heading away after I discovering my mast would have hit the bridge.


Flashing blue lights and an oyster bed marker on left as I approach the Palix River entrance


A tall enough bridge for even me to clear


Looking south under 101.

My goal was just to reach the concrete slab boat launch. I didn’t take a picture of the launch as it is about as dull as a…concrete slab. There is a blog that covers these ramps, local boating adventures and fishing advice and more. It’s at: http://www.leeroysramblings.com/boat_launch_observations.htm. For example, did you know that motorboats powering up onto a trailer can swirl the silt away at the bottom of the ramp? The next trailer that backs itself off the end of the concrete slab will drop deep and be very difficult to pull out. Here’s a sample pic. LeeRoy explains the back story on his site.

Not MY adventure

Not MY adventure ( photo from http://www.leeroysramblings.com/ )


Approaching the Palix River boat launch.


At the Dike Road intersection, two cows without a field.

This was probably the most memorable event of the trip and it wasn’t really that exciting. I suppose that proves that I was prepared and nothing went wrong,. Not every excursion can be a hair raising Youtube video.


Nowhere to go and few grassy snacks.


A bored cow and its friend and not much room to play in.


A familiar farm on the highway to the beach.

 This is where the boat ramp turn off is looking south east.


A view of Bay Center about 2.4 miles away


The wind has died, Bay Center is near the gap on the right. It’s 3 o’clock and I’m hoping to be back by 4.


The Mollusk heading for the port.

An oyster boat left the dock so I immediately turned away from shore


The telephoto gave me a blotchy picture of the crew checking me out.


Back to Bay Center at 3:30.


The Mollusk left to get more oysters after quickly unloading.


Its little feet churning the water as a shy bufflehead duck didn’t want its picture taken

Several large flocks of Canadian geese (‘honkers’) flew overhead at a distance but there were few opportunities for wildlife pictures as I was mostly in the middle of a bay and after all, it is January.


A heron watching the Mollusk return again after I had pulled my boat out.


A good tide for late risers.


A final view of Willapa Bay off the Bay Center road on the way home

Read Full Post »