Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 27-28, Astoria: River bites log

Yesterday morning our neighbors, the river pilots, repaired the mesh on the lower part of their building after it had suffered a winter's beating by storm-borne debris. Keep in mind the size of the people down there when you look at the next picture.

As it turned out, they repaired it just in time, because look what the river brought in during the night. It looked much bigger in person than it does here. The short pilings on the right are probably the diameter of telephone poles. This is the biggest floating log I've seen since this episode.

See the new crack in the log where green rocks meet the white ones? Apparently the thing had to bend when the receding tide dropped it where it couldn't lie flat any longer.

It must have been lying or floating somewhere for a long time, because it's got a garden growing in its side.

As the day progressed, of course the tide started coming in again. I wondered how the log would behave, whether it would float peacefully back into the river or would stick around and pummel the building. Much smaller logs have rocked the foundations and made the building shake. It's an interesting sensation, but not terrific for the pilings!

What happened next surprised me - maybe because it seemed to happen quickly. I found one piece of the log in its original position, and the other . . .

. . . beneath our deck several yards away.

Here's looking straight down at it. It wouldn't give me a good angle, because it was beneath the catwalk that goes to the radio tower (a catwalk with a locked gate that we're not allowed to access). But now I could measure this larger piece, which is about 20 feet in length. I had estimated earlier that the whole thing was approximately 30 feet before it broke, and I think that's about right.

Here's the garden, now rocked onto its side.

The log lies about five feet below, and there's my foot for scale.

Another scale photo, with the piling once again about the size of a telephone pole.

The grounded part (looking like a cross between an extinct whale and an oversized alligator) is rocking and bobbing now and partially broken up, but it's still hung up on the rocks. In a short time it floated free, but the incoming tide kept it in place. It remains to be see whether it goes or stays tonight. I'm guessing it will float away when the tide turns again. At almost 6:00 pm, it still hasn't reached high water. One of the river pilots came out on their deck, and we were talking about the log. I asked whether something like this posed any problem for the big ships, thinking it might (what do I know about ships?) and he said it didn't. "What about the pilot boat?" I asked, and he told me it would only be a problem if the log was sticking far out of the water like this one was. Well, the pilot boats are made for very rough seas, and apparently it's the pleasure craft that are most in danger from these monsters, but that's not the main reason we don't see a lot of them on our water. It's simply very rough out there much of the time. So, now you know.

1 comment:

Bubblewench said...

That is a huge piece of log to be floating like that! Strange.