Monday, October 12, 2009

Oregon Coast Motor Home Camping part 6

Posted 22 October: Brooking's Harbor Oregon
  • is just north of the California state line. The drive south from our last Winchester Bay, Marina harbor campsite (cheap), then through Coos Bay
  • Old Mill Casino (free overnight). This drive is always great and has lots of side turnouts and state parks. The huge 6000 year old sand dunes with their pine forests, are the hills through which the highway 101 winds. Lakes and ponds are all along this part of Oregon.

    Brooking's Harbor RV Marina is our new home for a week. It has one private residence set up nearby with it's own little lighthouse above the harbor's south beach shoreline. Seals, Crabbing and Salmon along with the boats are interesting, changing attractions. Storms including dense fogs along this beautiful, massively rock strewn shoreline, are always a possibility, oceans are unpredictable.

    Mariner's Memorial:
    "I must go down to the sea,
    again to the lonely sea
    and the sky
    and all I ask is a tall ship
    and a star to steer her by"

    Storm 16 August 1972 victims Memorial:
    Richard B Crook, Joel M Crook, John M Crook,
    "Dixie Lee"- Clayton Dooley
    "Ro-Ann"- Joe F Leoni. "Mindy Lynn"- Robert W Scott. "Bounding Main"- Dennis Main, Mathew Main. "Karen 1"- Virginia Friend Brian Friend William Friend jr.

    1986 Michael R Goergen, 1993 Jim Irwin, 1996 Richard Rigel, 1997 Scott Carlson, 1962 Carl Collier, 1978 Donald E Corzine, 1980 Ralph R Hughes, 1980 Kerry D Smith, 1980 Deborah C Brown, 1981 Paul E Vines jr, 1981 Douglas Nelson, 1981 Tommy Oglesbee, 1980 James V Lockhart, 1983 Joseph Santo, 1984 Raymond Hall, 1985 Pat Longtain, 1985 Stuart Klinefelter, 1986 Richard Erb, 1989 Lester E Miller, 1989 Janet M Hartman. All lost their lives at sea in storms. All range in age from 10 to 72. All from the Brookings Harbor area.

    This small stone memorial with mounted brass ships wheel, within a small garden, is located near the U.S. Coast Guard station. Nearby is the 44 foot Motor Lifeboat, 44385 being preserved and restored by the Southern Oregon Coast Maritime History Preservation Society. The U.S.Coast Guard's two latest 47 foot Motor Lifeboats are docked nearby. They train often when the weather is 'worthy'.

    These pelicans were busy several times each day, entertaining us with their antics as we watched through the windshield from the captains chairs. Gulls rode on their backs waiting to steal a fish from them as they tried to gulp it down.

    The harbor cats are still prowling the jetty and also their custom built 'cat house' near the docks by the Marina RV park. The 'cat ladies' of Brooking's Harbor, still visit daily, feed and spay them using donations from the cat loving public. The weather is harsh on the jetty, puzzling how these beautiful cats survive. I walk the jetty at night with a set of red LED's mounted on my cap. The cats eyes are not blinded by the red LED's and their eyes light up like bright red reflectors hiding among the huge, rough cut stones. Years ago, about 20 lived in the jetty, are now down to 5 of so.

    The fog was thick and the evening harbor walks were cold. Next trip will have to be earlier in the year, if this chilling pattern continues, each year earlier as it has for the last 6 years. More of this 'Global Warming' and it will be another Little Ice Age.

    Walking the harbor always finds interesting people at leisure, willing to describe this fishing method. Watching the dozens of small boats endlessly and orderly, doing long circuits of the harbor entrance between the jetties. Wild Salmon are lying there in wait of the rainfall to start the mountain streams and rivers running. Their migration from their years at sea, has come.

    The urge to make their run upstream and spawn their next generation, is irresistable. The Salmon will still hit a good lure or anchovy bait. Each day the many dozens of fishermen (2 to 4 per boat) and a few fisherwomen, pull about a dozen total big Salmon from the harbor entrance. On these days, 34 to 40 boats are visible at a time.

    The water must be about 53 degrees for the Salmon to feel comfortable. They are ranging around 30 to 40 or more pounds and about 30 inches in length. So far all have been wild fish on their natural migration route. 'Jack' as well as an occasional Ling Cod, are also reeled in. Only two Chinook are legally allowed each person, each year.

    The true fishing devotees, then resort to standing on the shore and taking pictures as the others continue to fish in their elongated circuits between the jetties. It is as well, a spectator sport here. Lots of cheering, clapping and whistling whenever someone has one on the line and even more as they net it aboard. The other aspect of this sport, is to watch the others performance during the procedure, and judge whether they did well or poorly in the process.

    The judging of craft quality and how each handles, is yet another aspect to this spectator sport. If you own a top quality craft with all of the whistles and bells, you are expected to perform equally, if not better. Woe be unto the owner of an expensive boat, an amateur that does not know what he is doing. Something as minor as the way a hooked fish is netted aboard, or wrong drag adjustment of the persons reel, is instantly detected from shore.

    Each day the Salmon linger in the harbor, is yet another days enjoyment for everyone. The 'Pilot' local newspaper, documents and reports each noteworthy catch with full size pictures. Of course the story of how the person made the catch and the equipment used, is featured. The coming storm will end most of this fun. The wild Salmon will make their upstream run, leaving the Chetco Harbor entrance for their last time.

    Fishing as well as Crabbing from the high public pier, west of the U.S Coast Guard Station in the harbor, is extremely popular every day. An innovative local man called 'Pineapple' (Hawaiian), manufactures and sells his popular stainless steel versions of the 'Butterfly' traps. They are made in various sizes and can be thrown like a frisbee or cast out by rod and reel, to open and lay on the bottom. They are baited with chicken or fish, held in a center mesh pocket of Pineapple's own design. After a time spent on the bottom, pull them in and check for legal Dungeness crab, males over 5.75 inches wide. Sometimes a Seal will grab the trap if baited with large Salmon scraps, and swim away with it. During season, many locals also venture offshore into the larger waves to place traps and return later to retrieve their 'booty'.

    Large Commercial fishing boats that also fish Kodiak Alaska, with names like Haida, Little Joe, Wahoo
  • and Miss Sarah
  • are based in Brookings Harbor. Miss Sarah is my favorite because of the 'storm of the Century' 2003. We were camping here when she was turned sideways and partially lifted onto the high rock jetty by a following wave. No minor feat because Miss Sarah is about 95 feet long. Her jetty mounting 'action' picture was captured by Scott Graves of 'The Pilot' newspaper. Scott's excellent mounted photography is now sold in local gift shops. I bought one for the great memory.

    The 34ft 'Helen Marie' is owned and operated by Lonnie holding two licenses. After 13 years at the local lumber processing plant, rising to top 'Sawyer', he returned to the sea like his father before him. Working 'Helen Marie' with his crew of 3, Lonnie totaled about 13 tons of fish and crab last year. Considering she is the second smallest commercial boat in the harbor, that is very notable. She sells her crab, tuna and salmon, fresh and iced in 'sno-cone', to restaurants.

    After being built in 1948, she served for many years as a 'Tug' in Sausolito Harbor in California. She now runs 600 crab traps in season, and most times 10 hooks from outriggers with her stabilizing 'birds' in the water.
    Today I walked over to the loading dock and watched as she returned without a lot of crabs. No guarantees of profit in this unpredictable, very risky business. The 'Hungry Clam' near the Brookings Harbor launch area, is our little seafood cafe of choice. Their clam chowder actually has clams in it..

    Kenny from Idaho, is still working as graveyard 'port security' for Brookings Harbor. He has been here for 14 months. They must like his work. On days off, he drives his truck into the mountains and cuts up big 'Red Fir' logs, splits and sells them as firewood from his large Port paid, RV site on the north end of the RV lots, near the kite park. We entered his name in the 'painted bears' drawing in town, hope he wins. Fely's Cafe in the shared laundry building, is still open 7 days a week. Her hamburgers, bisquits and gravy, along with her other 'beach food', is a legendary staple.

    Alex from Hayden Lake Idaho, is working in Brooking's as a welder on the new backup power distribution line. After work he is busily throwing his 'Pineapple' designed crab 'butterfly' traps off the city pier. Alex finds the 'red rock' crabs tastier than the Dungeness. Back home in Idaho, he fishes his 24 foot Sea Ray on the lakes.

    The owners of the double ended sailing vessel, 'Torrey Pines' with it's dingy named 'Pine Cone', have finished their project. They are preparing to head out to sea in the spring. Their ocean voyage will take them far from Brookings Harbor Oregon. I wrote about their project last year in October. Nice to see it looking so great. Have a super voyage with fair winds, Torrey Pines.

    Tim, the ex-contractor turned full time surfer, was out this afternoon. The waves were not really big but he got in a few good rides before they lost there 'shape' and got 'gnarly' and dark. The storm is approaching, the thunder waves are rapidly growing in intensity, and the Pacific Ocean is getting interesting. The winds are supposed to be near 50 MPH so the shade tarps covering the 'live aboard' boats at the dock were taken in and the hatches were battened down.

    One 'live aboard' I spoke with on his 55 foot motor cruiser, said it should be the first real storm of the season. Another 'live aboard' went out yesterday on his 34, and said that with his 'Jib' and 'Main Sail' only, he was going much faster than he anticipated. Rain is starting now, the Salmon should start getting their first sniff of mountain water soon, and begin their upstream journeys. Small towns upstream have 'Return of the Salmon' festivals.

    Brookings Harbor is considered in the 'banana belt' of Oregon. The safest harbor.. Temps from low 50's at night to 74 high during the days now.
    These trees show the type of wind power on the high bluffs over the shoreline. The City water treatment plant is also Chetco Point Park
  • follow this trail up and across the bridge, hike out onto the farthest end of the rocky outcropping plateau during any storm. As you stand on the huge section of lava rock, the size of a football field, it shudders with each large wave as it thunders into the chasms far below. The violent waves of the Pacific Ocean are reclaiming the coast of Oregon, one bite at a time.

    This coastal storm pictured below, the result of a typhoon near Japan, is wailing on us right now in it's Oregon birthing pains. The motor home is rockin' and rollin'. Often, big shudders are shakin' our timbers. We never camped in the front line on the shore during anything like this before. The rain is horizontal and intermittant. The WX report indicates 50 mph winds at peak. We have experienced that before and still stayed on our wheels. Big trucks roll over at side winds above 60 mph. We have not tried that trick before.

    A big lake is forming then draining, in the beach parking lot in front of us. During heavy winter storms, the water is reported to be three feet deep across these RV parking sites. Many of the campers have already left and are still leaving early. Only the foolish ones like us, and the one visible in the camera (link below), are still here. The waves are getting bigger by the hour. The ocean is now a dark green-gray with the whitecaps starting to form much further out than before. Storm is hugging the coast from the south. Eerie sunlight pokes through from time to time.

    The waves had been only about 5 to 6 feet high in front of us, but now growing faster and moving faster. The large ones that break before shore, are following each other at much closer intervals. The U.S. Coast Guard station has the Harbor Bar warning lights flashing.

    The Coastie's have just returned from playing in the bigger waves offshore, on their 47 foot motor lifeboat
  • We had driven out onto the inner harbor river jetty, to look at the entrance... big waves in the entrance mouth with the inner harbor nice and calm. The winter swells raise and lower the floating docks on their big tidal guide pilings. In Newport Marina, I saw rub marks, ten feet above the normal on the tall pilings.

    We are parked in the front row of the camping line facing the Pacific Ocean about 25 yards in front of us. This is the camera link below. We are at the far end of the street in the lower left picture. Today the south camera is facing into the water sprayed wind, so pretty fuzzy images. The locals are driving down to park and watch this little storm build.

    The winter removal of the long aluminum beach ramps by motor crane, started as we were leaving. During winter storms, the swells and waves are over 3 feet above this pavement. On the port web cam link below, most times the roadway facing the beach, looks mellow with vehicles parked facing the seawall. The harbor looks calm and peaceful with people fishing from the high city pier visible at distance. The closer low dock is at the Coast Guard Station and sometimes has a resident sea Lion lounging on it.

    Port webcam
  • That white water in front of the seawall, 'was' the beach. Even with all it's bluster, this little storm is a wimp in comparison to the one we watched in 2003 early November.

    Taken through the coach window, Jetty straight ahead. The rain is hitting like bullets, the wind is getting much stronger and the entire rig is shuddering like it is in an earthquake. We may have a little damage from this 'blow' by the nights end. We just retracted the windward slide out room, after hearing sounds we never heard before. Did not want to do that because the added outboard weight was acting like a stabilizer. The 'landing gear' is all down now, just retracted the bedroom slide also. The table and computer is rocking like crazy, I am missing the keys while typing. Never been in a slightly used typhoon before. Japan had this storm before us. Can not see the waves now. They are really roaring. Really dark outside. WX radio just reported 15 to 17 foot (4.5 - 5.1 m) seas. We may go out to sea..... Hang on momma.....

    16 October, Starting our departure in morning, but we are now looking for a way out of here. California is reporting even more rain and some snow at the high elevations that we have to go over. Bicycle tour riders, take note. An earlier trip is advised for the future. This year's departure is over two weeks earlier than we ever did before and the weather is more winter-like than ever before. Each year it turns wintery earlier and earlier. AL Gore's Global Warming is sure strange. Maybe the Nobel Prize is a little premature... or far more than likely, highly Political? What do you think?

    Next post soon. Wireless was not available during some evening stops.

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