Last fall I managed to get myself a mini-sabbatical from work. After contemplating all manner of adventure and toil, my mind kept coming back to the lazy days I spent rowing down the mid-Willamette River with a friend. We cruised in and out of towns, through the farm fields, and down side channels, alternately drifting and paddling. We stopped on islands or isolated shores and camped at will. Our conversation meandered through topics crude, deep, funny, simple, exciting, sad, and silent. There was a freedom of movement unparalleled on a backpacking trip.
I love the river and that’s where I do most of my water activities, but my first love is the sea. There is magic and wonder in the changing surface and the many creatures that live in salt water. I’d been sailing and rowing on the Salish Sea (Puget Sound for you old-fashioned types) a number of times, but most of my trips were short. Starting in the calmer waters of Olympia and rowing north into more open waters near Seattle seemed a good way to go.
It was a great trip. A week into it, I was soaking in the landscape, the solitude, and the waters. I never tired of rowing. But I kept thinking how much more I’d enjoy myself if I was on a sailboat.