Monday, June 7, 2010

Bridges

We had a lazy weekend, just lying about listening to the rain, and watching the river level rise.  This morning we called the Interstate bridge to get a river reading, and the tender said '13.4'  That means the river is 13.4 feet over datum, which is a defined average specific to a chart. 
This is significant to us today, not particularly as a reference to depth of the water, but as to our clearance under bridges!  The higher the water, the 'lower' the bridges! 
Portland is known as 'the City of Bridges' in addition to the City of Roses.  Today, on our trip from the Vancouver WA city docks, to Riverplace in downtown Portland we passed below many bridges, each with its own beauty. 
Our first today was the Vancouver railroad bridge.  It is a swing bridge, where a section  rotates on a pier to allow traffic through.  At datum, clearance for this bridge is 39'.  Just to double check our height, Al got out his tapemeasure, and we determined we are 24 feet from water to tip of our radio antenna.  We can tip the antenna back a bit, plus it is flexible at the tip, so we can 'fudge' a little.  But the mast itself is 23'  with no flexibility. 
Okay.  We have 39 feet clearance at datum, but the water is nearly 14 feet above that, which leaves 25 feet for the boat, which we have determined is 24 feet.  Hmmmm.  A little close for comfort. 
We called the bridge tender, and there was a train coming.  We would have to wait for a swing.  He suggested we come closer, and he would take a look to see if we could pass safely without the opening.  He hollered that we had a good 6 or 7 feet, but from where I stood, I didn't believe it.  Through and on to the next.
Around Kelley Point and into the Willamette.  The water is very muddy, and FULL of debris, though we HAVE seen more. 
I think the St. Johns Bridge is THE most beautiful of the Portland Bridges.  It was featured in the movie 'Pay It Forward'.  It is green and gothic, and very tall.  No worries.
Then the St. Johns railroad bridge.  We have never required a lift here before, but it looks awfully low!  We cannot see a river guage, but as we get closer we can tell there is enough room.  The guage is on the UPRIVER side--no good to us--and said 39'.
The Fremont Bridge is a huge white arch over the water, and then the Broadway bridge. 
The Steel bridge is a double-decker bridge, with rail traffic on a lower deck, and auto/light rail traffic higher.  We routinely require the rail deck to be raised here.  We wait for an Amtrak train to cross, then the lift begins.  Today, we are not the only boat to pass on this lift--there is a tug and barge behind us.
We travel under three more bridges to reach our destination, the Burnside, the Morrison, and the Hawthorne.  We are now at the dock at Riverplace, downtown Portland.  Three MORE bridges span the Willamette River in Portland--the Marquam, the Ross Island, and the Sellwood--but we won't be going past Riverplace this time.
As we pulled up to the dock, there was a young mother with two boys.  Six-year-old Ian was very excited to see us!  'Is this boat for rides?!'  'No, we are just going to stay here for a few days.'  'Can we come look inside?'  We nodded to mom Amy, and she and brother Colton also came aboard for a peek.  You know how Al loves to show off Viking Star, and pass out our boat card.  Maybe they will take a look at the blog and see their visit recorded here! 
I love the peace of anchoring out, but also enjoy the bustle of tying to the dock downtown.  The dragon boats are coming and going, practising for the big races this coming weekend for the Rose Festival.  We have already been up to our favorite coffee shop for an afternoon treat.
Tomorrow Al has business meetings all day at a hotel, perhaps even dinner.  I will be getting my hair done, and visiting my friend Rhonda.  She is recovering from several surgeries to remove a tumor from her head.  I was so happy to talk to her on the phone the other day, and hear she is in rehab.  They think they will send her home on Friday.  Yay!!!
The weather is nice today, and predicted the same tomorrow.  Rain returns for a few days after that :(

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