VIVIMOS! Sailing Oregon's Columbia River to the Pacific and Turning Left

Note: This is just one of many posts documenting a sailing voyage from Hood River, Oregon to Colombia, South America aboard a $5000 1973 Catalina 27' sailboat named "Sin Fin".

El Viaje Sin Fin (Spanish for "The Trip Without End") was a 19 month adventure with plenty of twists and turns.

Check out an overview of the trip, or start with the first post of this blog.  Peace.


It's been a week since the last post. We've wanted to check in daily, but between Max freaking out over little things and/or puking constantly and Mac slaying fish, there just wasn't time.

Plus, it turns out that there's no cell service and hence no poor-yachtsman's-interweb 15-20 miles offshore in the North Pacific.

We didn't die over the course of three nights at sea and now we're at port in BEAUTIFUL Bandon, Oregon... 217.36 fabulous miles south of the notorious, ship-eating Columbia River Bar.

Here's a week of good living crammed into a little slideshow. No justice.

Could this be the best picture I've ever taken? FYI, that's freshly harvested "caviar" in Mac's carvinorous piehole.

We made it to Portland and got the boat hauled out. We're in a hurry to get South but we had to paint the bottom and retrofit some additional keel bolts. As you can see, the hull was DIRTY. Notice that the bottom little bit of the keel is spotless. Mac was kind enough to clean it by running aground on a sandbar just North of Portland. Well done!

If you ever wondered how they haul out superyachts like La Sin Fin, this is how. The boatyard made us wait 36 hours before they'd pull us out and that really chapped my ass.

They also wanted to make us wait to get it back in the water until Monday. Clearly they were trying to charge us for as many days as possible and didn't appreciate our hurry to escape the NW before the fall storms really hit. Otherwise, everyone was really nice and informative at the boatyard.

We were stuck in Portland for three nights watching perfect coastal weather slip away.  This drove Max to the brink of sanity. Fortunately, Justine Jerrel and Randy Bachelor (great name, eh?) put us up and gave us wheels to get shit done.

The friendly "yardmonkeys" in blue jumpsuits put us back in the water without notifying the ass-dragging bosses. As such, the boatyard never got a credit card number from us.

Go ahead and bill me... but what's my address?

Bottom paint is some horribly toxic shit so the uptmost protective measures must be undertaken. Sadly, Max's favorite pair of jeans and his old Jackson Hole employee polo shirt had to be thrown away after the painting project. All the yardmonkeys were quite jealous of the ridiculously steezy ski goggles.

While Max was painting, Mac installed 5 new beefy bolts in the keel. Again, thanks to Winona's own Fastenal for $240 worth of marine grade stainless steel.

We left the boatyard in such a hurry that we left much to be done "en route". FYI, boating and caulking don't mix. All the windows and deckfittings on La Sin Fin look like they came from Santa's Workshop thanks to hearty doses of liberally applied caulk. Importantly, as we discovered at sea, the water stays out.

Cruising down the Columbia River at dusk we came across a sailboat that had run aground. This got us nervous enough to stay attentive as we motored through the night towards the coast. Thanks, fate.

We were happy to pass industrial wastelands like this under cover of darkness. Motoring through the night and hitting Astoria, OR at dawn worked out perfectly. The river isn't exceptionally scenic for the 90 miles from Portland to the Coast... no wind either.

We stopped in Astoria for fuel (oilfreefun... not quite) and then got back at it, hoping to hit the Columbia River Bar when the tide was right. Visibility was somewhere between "horrible" and "supershitty". A hunch said the fog would lift and it did...

Meeting monsters like this in the fog isn't too much fun. Moms and Dads, note our incredible foresight in navigating just outside of the shipping channel. Equally deep water, but less likelihood of getting plastered against a supertanker. We're trying to be safe.

We followed this guy out the Columbia River Bar because he knew where to go. Everyone in Hood River we talked to was freaking out about the terrifying Columbia River Bar. It turned out to be anticlimacticly mellow on account of our intensely-safety-oriented mindsets and parentally-instilled-propensity for planning.

Again, rest easy parents.  We're trying to be safe.

Excitingly, as we crossed the Bar, Max looked below deck to see 6 inches of water had burbled up from the bilge. Too much weight in the stern had put our output hose underwater. The bilgepump proved that it kicks ass in this instance... and we safely negotiated our first technical incident of the trip. Disaster averted.

This may be the biggest boat either of us has ever seen. Its a Chevron Tanker. Without boats like this millions of suburbanites wouldn't be able to commute between pointless jobs and vacant, faceless communities. Yee-haw. Burn it up, suckers.

This was the best picture Max ever took until the one of Mac's massacre. We must have seen three dozen seals out thus far. Great critters, except for when they steal fish off your line.

After we reeled in Mac's first fish, one came right up to the stern of La Sin Fin and gave us the meanest look.

These overgrown aquatic gerbils were pretty cool too. It's amazing what qualifies as a mammal.

On a sailboat with the motor off, you hear the whales before you ever see them. In the middle of the night, their finslapping and spouting can freak you out. The greatest critters on Earth?


Mac reeled it in and then Golem netted the fish. Golem loves fishies. Golem couldn't wait until Baja to bust out his classic retro Mexico soccer jersey and got it filthy with caulk, fishguts, gasoline, and assorted boatsludge.

C'est la vie.

Our first fish.

The sushichef brutalizing the unborn as he butchers their mother. Gruesome stuff here. I wouldn't have partaken in the sushifeast that followed had we not already eaten through all 20 pounds of candy aboard La Sin Fin. We didn't bother with rice... just soysauce and wasabi. We could have used some spicy aioli mayo stuff but regardless it was the best sushi of my life.

As we dined, the view proved incredible too.

Shortly after this picture was taken, our weather window closed.

"Red sky at night, sailors delight," my ass.

The beautiful N wind we'd been sailing on for 36 hours switched to straight out of the south. We battled upwind for 24 hours and made it about 40 additional nauseating, wet, dreary miles.

Exhausted after four nervewracking nights and with weather forecasted to get worse as the week continues, we pulled in to quaint, sleepy Bandon, OR. And here we are...

It looks like we'll be stuck here until at least the weekend. Fortunately, some of the nicest people on Earth live here... and the kiting looks to be epic.

Ohh yeah, my knee is getting better every day. Good times? Great times.

Sell yer house and buy a boat. Trust me.

Hasta luego, amigos.

Max Mogren


Note: This is just one of many posts documenting a sailing voyage from Hood River, Oregon to Colombia, South America aboard a $5000 1973 Catalina 27' sailboat named "Sin Fin".

El Viaje Sin Fin (Spanish for "The Trip Without End") was a 19 month adventure with plenty of twists and turns.

Check out an overview of the trip, or start with the first post of this blog.  Peace.