Limboing under the Spokane Arm Bridge

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Hawk Creek to Blue Creek, Spokane Arm

21 miles cruised today; 45 miles for the trip

Approaching the head of Hawk Creek Arm

Wind blew in the middle of the night. Overcast sky first thing. After breakfast I take off in the dinghy for a little fishing. I try trolling a plug for small mouth, and get a few hits but no hookups. Around 10am it’s time to raise anchor and head out. Before leaving Hawk Creek we run a couple miles further up the arm, to its head. We enter a narrow, twisting channel with a thousand foot high cliff defining its southerly boundary. Coming out of the final turn we enter a lovely little lake. A boat ramp and nice looking campground are situated on the northern shore.

Final corner to head of Hawk Creek Arm

On our way out I examine the route up to the Spokane Arm. I notice a bridge which crosses the Arm a short distance above the Two Rivers Casino, which is a development of the Spokane Indian Tribe. Their reservation lies on the north shore of this Arm. A notation which I hadn’t previously caught strikes my attention. Vertical clearance of the bridge is 29 feet. The distance from my mast tip to water line is 35 feet. If we are to stay with plans to explore this arm of Lake Roosevelt, we’ll need to lower the mast. I’ve done this before, while out on the water, and so decide to do it again. I install the mast raising pole and the baby stays, which keep the mast straight when being raised and lowered. The jib halyard gets tied to the mast raising pole, and I tension it with the winch. I think I can leave the boom attached, if I disconnect the starboard side of the dodger. I unpin the forestay, and while Sandy steers us in a lazy circle, I gently lower the mast. It’s difficult to judge how much angle is needed to reduce our clearance by 6 or 7 feet, and I try for a margin of safety. We slowly approach the bridge and, until the last possible moment, our clearance looks questionable. But at dead slow, it finally becomes apparent that we’ll clear the bridge with a good 5 or 6 feet to spare. Once on the upriver side of the bridge, everything goes back together and we’re on our way, most likely the largest sailboat in the Spokane Arm; maybe the only sailboat here.

Nearing Spokane Arm bridge with mast partially lowered

We eat lunch while underway, and shortly after 1pm we turn into the little cove at Blue Creek, on the northerly reservation side. There’s a little campground at the mouth of the cove, but the area at the head of the cove is very private, quiet, and with no development in sight. I give the fishing another try in the late afternoon, trolling a walleye rig. One bite but no hookup. By the time I return to the boat it’s time to fix dinner. Barbqued steak is on the menu, along with mashed potatoes and gravy. We dine in the cockpit, enjoying the use of our new teak cockpit table, which I built and installed shortly before this trip. While relaxing after dinner and cleanup, we’re startled by a loud smack on the water, a short distance away. A beaver has taken offense to our presence. We see him cruising across the cove, gazing over his shoulder at us with a distinctly unhappy look.

2 thoughts on “Limboing under the Spokane Arm Bridge

  1. I’d love to see a photo of your cockpit table – definitely something I would love to build for our MacGregor!

    • I have several pictures of the table, both deployed and folded up, but I can’t figure out how to attach them to this reply. If you send me a personal message on with your email address, I’ll send them to you. Also, I still have the parts from the previous edition of the table. Kind of bulky, but you can have them for the cost of shipping (hardware not included.) They’re a bit weathered, but could serve as a pattern.

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