Late in October, I woke up early to see the last of the full moon setting behind the trees. The golden leaves of the birch tree in my yard fluttered and their long branches swayed gently.

I was excited when I got to the boat ramp because the wind was coming up, the sun was out, and it wasn’t freezing cold. A few dripping boats were already sitting on trailers. The lime green algae on their hulls showed they were coming out of the water for the season. Their loss I thought.

Soon I was out on the river, blissfully alone. The nearest sailboat was a half mile off. I coasted along just quickly enough to beat the current, but in no particular hurry. I lazed in the cockpit, soaking up sun, not worrying if I got burned. The consistent wind meant that I could let down my guard, something that you can’t always do on the Columbia where it can sometimes shift and knock you over.

I’ve long subscribed to the myth that only three non-motorized craft are allowed on the Columbia at any one time. In the distance I saw two kayakers and thought we’d met the quota. But a little while later, three outriggers passed me by.

It was my kind of day. Sailboats outnumbered motor boats three to one (just the way it should be); nobody was sharing their music; and the only waves to contend with were places that the current was surging past underwater obstacles.

A stately 40′ ketch was slowly gaining on me. I stood up, heeled Row Bird a bit to get the most speed and the prettiest sail shape, smiled and waved as its captain nodded an approval at me and pulled ahead.

As I turned to head for home, I passed a kayak fisherman. A splash near shore caught my eye. There were at least eight swimmers with bright caps on their heads, towing buoys adjacent to the shore.

What was going on? Where usually there are only motor craft and keelboats there was a whole human-powered regatta. Had something changed? Was it some kind of pandemic-powered escape valve from other watery places? Had people finally seen the light?

No, as I drove home listening to the news, I learned it was October’s second full moon of the month- a blue moon, which happens about every three years.

I guess I’ll be sailing out there with the big boats, alone again, at least until 2023.