Light air sailing

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Threemile Creek to Hells Gate

22 miles cruised today; 311 for the trip

Wing on wing in light air

A light breeze from the east and brilliant sunshine greets me when I emerge from the cabin at 7:30am. Following breakfast I go out in the dinghy seeking a smallmouth bass. I’m trying a crawdad plug, trailed from a bottom-dragger sinker. I’ve learned that crawdads are plentiful here, and I know that bass love them. It’s a great plan, however, the bass don’t buy it. After a couple tours around our bay I return to the boat and prepare to set sails. The breeze is light, but from a useful quarter, so I put the main and jib to work, sailing down the lake on a reach. Typical speed is 3 mph, top speed 4. As we near the confluence of Spokane Arm the wind lightens and comes more astern, so I set up for wing on wing. We’re going slowly, but we’re going. We pass another sailboat, anchored in a nearby cove. I see him get under way and raise his sails. He’s the first cruising boat (anchored out and trailing a dinghy) we’ve seen in our 2 week tour of Lake Roosevelt. I try hailing him on the VHF but apparently, his radio is turned off. A little further along, we draw near to a MacGregor 26M, who’s out beating uplake in the light air. He doesn’t come close enough to us when we pass for us to say hello.

26M and cruising sailboat enjoying the light breeze

Around noon the wind fails, so I drop the sails and motor up. Our destination is an interesting looking cove a few miles east of Hell Gate. When we draw near, however, we discover that a log boom completely blocks entrance to it. Once again I start scanning the map for Plan B, and I soon conclude that our best bet is to head for the cozy bay behind the little island, just west of Hell Gate, where we spent our first night. Most coves and beaches along the way have been jammed with speed boats, pontoon boats, and houseboats, but we find this place vacant. I anchor in the same spot we used before, set up the sun tarp, and drink a cold beer. This is probably the hottest day of the trip, in the mid 90’s, and the water temperature here is an inviting 72 degrees. It doesn’t take me long to get in the water for a refreshing swim. I come back to the boat and suggest to Sandy, who has a strong aversion to cold water, that she’d enjoy dinghying ashore and wading along the sandy shore. Last time we were here the lake was about 2 feet lower, and we had a narrow sand beach to walk on. That’s now underwater, but it makes for great barefoot wading. Definitely better than walking along a dusty dirt road.

Approaching Whitestone Rock on the way home

Our final dinner is a cashew chicken curry which Sandy had prepared in advance and stored frozen in a seal-a-meal bag. We heat the bag up in boiling water, and enjoy a very tasty dinner. Our 2 week provisioning plan has worked out extremely well, with excellent meals throughout, thanks to our ability to keep things frozen in the Engel refrigerator. The sun is now low in the west, lighting up the nearby cliffs with a vivid glow. The powerboats and jet skis have all gone home for the day, and we can relax afloat, in our little cove.

Our little sheltered bay near Hells Gate

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