Traffic On Admiralty Strait

They come in all sizes and from all over as ships travel through Admiralty Strait in the NW of Washington. Seattle and Tacoma are the top docking ports.

They come one at a time or seemingly they come in clusters. Much of the tug and barge traffic is from Alaska.

Counted in the traffic are Navy ships. With two ports to call on (Everett and Bremerton), you never know what you might see. This ship is at the munition pier adjacent to the Strait. There is some irony in this ammunition ship’s name: the US Cesar Chavez.

Through it all (and in all but the lowest of tides or the severest weather) ferries cross the strait connection Port Townsend to Whidbey Island. We’ve seen the ferry captains take some somewhat out of the way paths from one side to the other due to traffic and currents.

Multi-Modal Snake


We didn’t expect the Snake River area to provide so many unique distractions. Here the American Empress is coming out of the locks at the Lower Granite Dam.



Not many rivers can handle pontoon planes but there was enough straight runs of the river to allow this pilot access.


Fall brought out the boaters too. As you can see, October temps were perfect.


There are several cruise lines that run the Snake. The cruise season is remarkably long as one line begins sailing in late February and goes to the end of November.


Coming together – planes, trains and jet ski boats.


Not at all the action was on the river. Looking as clean and new as it was from the factory, this farmer seemed to be quite proud of his combine.

Cathlamet Up

Fish Lazy

Native Americans settled here for good reason. That reason is still alive and well: salmon. Of course since that earlier age, fishing methods have changed for man. Some aren’t as keen on the fish as they are on the sun.

Osprey & Nest

Ospreys, however, are still all business.

 Once It Was Steam

The mid 1940’s heard the last of the steamboat whistles. Cathlamet commemorates a paddle wheeler with this sizable iron cutout. It seems to be lost to time, as a result I could find nothing about the above named SS Telephone. 

Pioneer Church

One thing that has not been lost has been the faith of its residence. There are at least 6 other churches in this town of just 530.

Brusco Tug & Barge

The river still provides a living. Located halfway between Kelso/Longview and the mouth of the Columbia, there is still plenty of trade on the river. Cathlamet remains an interesting intersection of new and old.

Cathlamet, wa

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Cathlamet, wa 46.203166, -123.383183


First Light


Coming up the Gulf of Nicoya at first light we see perhaps a dozen of these small boats scattered over the broad reach of the gulf. Most have a single lightbulb perched over the edge of the boat and exposed to the water. Perhaps it’s shrimp or baitfish they are after?


Another creature attracted by our ship’s artificial light was this colorful butterfly or moth. We must have run close enough to land at some point overnight for this guy to hitchhike.


As the sun gained some traction in the sky, it seemed to reveal something less than what I was expecting of Costa Rica – the sparkling coast, wasn’t.


Waiting to transfer to our ship, the pilot, who would guide us into the dock at Puntarenas, was standing by. The boat’s name, “Cascabel” has two translations: “little bell” and a chili pepper of the same name.


Once the full force of the sun hit, it brought a steady breeze which pushed the haze and smoke out to the south. It was a much nicer welcome to Costa Rica!

Guatemala – Getting Past First Appearances


You really can never get past first appearances in Guatemala. You think you see a “one of” thing then find similar along the roads as well as the towns. This was going to be (or was) a pretty nice series of condos, but poor design and location led to undermining and abandonment. Not to say that the brief glimpse of we had of Guatemala wasn’t beautiful, it was. Perhaps coming away with the impressions that we did of the country was unfair given just a day spent there, but time and time again, we saw how poverty and a seeming lack of heart undercut much of its charm.



More rust than boat, this trawler was outbound when we arrived in Puerto Quetzal.



One area that didn’t seem to lack the muscle or the will was in its heavy industry in and around the port. Not sure what the function of the buildings in the center, but the port is only a few years old.



Containerized cargo tops the list for import (followed by corn & fertilizers). The top three exports were sugar, containers (empty) & bananas. The country has few natural resources as numbers were high also for the importation of coal, natural gas & “combustibles”.



This is what the Guatemalan Coast Guard fleet looks like. When I googled them, what came up are, surprisingly, stories about our US Coast Guard making drug busts off the Guatemalan coast. Guatemala is a difficult country to write about. You want to be fair and communicate some of the beauty of the place but there is a grittiness that is hard to get past.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

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Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala 13.920556, -90.787778

Harbor Sights



The tuna fleet was once as plentiful as the big freighters are now. All I saw now was this line of about a half dozen boats and I’m not sure any of them were fitted out for tuna. Tuna fleets running out of Los Angeles and San Diego once filled the docks. It is doubtful that there are still local canneries to serve them.


Warehousing in the Port of Los Angeles has pretty much gone the way of the buggy whip. With just-in-time distribution most materials come in by container and then are paired up almost immediately with a train or truck. So why is Warehouse No. 1 still standing when all others around have been leveled?


The reason is Hollywood. Odds are you’ve seen a movie with a scene or climax that features the enormous interior of this old concrete behemoth. They were filming something the day we departed. They don’t build warehouses like this any more – note the gargoyles!


Some things don’t change. For the many times I’ve been out fishing from Southern California, a constant has been the bait barge. If you are a sports fisherman, then this is your first outbound stop.