Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tia, The Swampscott Dory on a Columbia River Journey

Scott Sadil is a an English teacher in Hood River, accomplished writer and a passionate fly fishermen that has started a new journey, a voyage from the mouth of the Columbia to LewistonIdaho in a stitch-and-glue Swampscott dory he built last spring. 

Sadil hopes his journey will increase awareness of the health of both the Columbia and Snake rivers and their dwindling runs of native anadromous fish. He just completed the initial 170-mile leg of his journey. Here's some insight into his journey, read on if you are ready to be inspired. 

About the journey?  I built Tia last year and for the first time in my life fell in love with boats and all they offer in terms of exploring new water.  I didn't know how to sail.  I didn't know how to row.  All I knew was that a wooden boat was a beautiful thing, a delight to build and have has a companion on the water.
Last August, I made an experimental trip from Astoria to Prescott Beach, between Ranier and St. Helens (The story of this maiden voyage will appear in two parts in the Small Craft Advisor, a magazine for small boat adventurers published in Port Townsend.) Inspired by the possibilities of this sort of river travel, I decided I wanted to experience the river all the way to Lewiston, following it upstream like the adult anadromous salmonids.
I had no idea if it was really possible.  Robin Cody, whose book Voyage of a Summer Sun, chronicles his 82-day journey down the length of the Columbia in a canoe, passed through Hood River this spring and told me I was nuts:  

"You intend to go against the current?"  Nevertheless, I've made it to Hood River, a little more fit, a little more confident in Tia and my sailing and boat handling skills.
But there's a long way to go.  I launch again Thursday morning, July 11.  I have a list of locals who I'm calling on to help shuttle me around the dams, both literally and symbolically the biggest obstacles for getting upriver.  On the Snake I think I'll be able to go through the locks.  I wonder if it's that easy for the fish.

Anyway, besides the sort adventure that people approaching the seventh decade of their lives really should embrace while they can, I hope this trip is also a little something to give back to the rivers and fish that have enriched so much of my life.