Leaving Portland before dawn, we sailed down the Willamette River towards its confluence with the Columbia. Passing under several bridges, we glimpsed workers beginning their day on the waterfront. One of the more interesting sights was the huge floating dry dock located on the northern end of Swan Island. This immense structure, the largest in the world, is a floating platform used to service and repair ships from many countries. We saw the American naval vessel Cape Horn in the dock. Numerous workers were already hard at work as we sailed passed in the early morning light.
Upon reaching the Columbia River, we turned right and sailed eastward toward our destination near the Bonneville dam. Along the way, we kept our eyes open for interesting landmarks, birds and other wildlife. A light mist outside kept the crowd low on the bow and many stayed inside to enjoy lectures from our naturalists. Jeff Grover spoke on the geology of the Columbia River, and Adam Maire spoke about the pros and cons of dams on the Columbia and the Snake River.
We left National Geographic Quest after lunch to explore two local sites, Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. The falls are an amazing site and one of the most popular attractions within the Columbia River Gorge. The water, sourced from perennial springs near Larch Mountain, falls from a hanging valley 620 feet above the river: It is the tallest waterfall in the gorge and the sixth tallest in the world.
Our other stop at the fish hatchery provided guests an opportunity to view the rearing pens for salmon and rainbow. We also saw the amazing Herman the sturgeon – a 10-foot-long, 500-pound, 75-year-old sturgeon and local Columbia River celebrity. As Holly Murry would say, it was an amazing sight and another wonderful day in a world-class location!