Editor’s Note: Heather (Margot) Longfellow and Ryan Hashagen rowed a hand made 18-foot plywood dory rowboat from Ocean Shores to Aberdeen and up the Chehalis to Montesano last weekend. This is their story:
“We filmed the journey across beautiful Grays Harbor County and the footage will be featured on the main stage of the upcoming Virtual Wooden Boat Festival on September 12. (Tickets to the Virtual Wooden Boat Festival are available online.)
We rowed and paddled from the Pacific Ocean across Grays Harbor to Aberdeen and up the Chehalis River to Montesano last weekend under the sun.
The flood tide pushed into the harbor strongly as we rode a westerly. We had a giant, huge gray whale breach a couple hundred feet from our little rowboat, We also saw some porpoises that helped guide us through the tricky current at the mouth of the Harbor and a half a dozen sharks jumped out of the water as we made it across the bay. For 5-plus hours we rowed toward Hoquiam and then under the Hwy 101 bridge at Aberdeen.
We camped out in the mosquito laden tidal swamp grass in Cosmopolis and woke up to the first responder siren, wondering if it was for a tsunami. The tide was ebbing hard against us, as we were hoping to go upstream to Montesano, where Ryan’s mom was born and raised on north Wynoochee Avenue.
We Struggled to find a place to tie up our rowboat in Aberdeen, but the Lady Washington crew was very gracious and let us moor on the beach next to their tall ship.
We tried to catch the bus from Aberdeen back to Ocean Shores while we waited for the tide to flip, but then realized at the station that the bus wasn’t running on Sunday. So we Covid hitchhiked backs of trucks and with masks, back out to the Ocean Shores breakwater.
Finally back in Aberdeen,the tide was flooding again and we paddled the remaining 12 miles to the Wynoochee/Montesano confluence. Our bikes were stashed in the bushes and we pedaled back along the amazing trails of Grays Harbor County, including the Cosmopolis/South Aberdeen Trail & the Preacher Slough trail (what a gem!) (Well, until one bike broke and we rode handlebars for 9 miles!?)
In normal times, we would have stopped to skate at the Harborena or got some food and drink at NW Passage, but this trip was a bit more socially distant. We have been practicing for this trip for the last year on local rivers like the Wynoochee, Wishkah, Chehalis and Willapa — and have enjoyed may an eve enjoying these great Grays Harbor County establishments.
Thanks to all the folks who helped us along on our journey, from the people who helped us get back to our truck to the friendly beach-goers who waved us off and wished us well. It feels great to have captured so much footage of this corner of the world — and we wanted to make sure to share that Grays Harbor County, including Ocean Shores, Aberdeen and Montesano, will be featured at the upcoming Virtual Wooden Boat Festival!”
Margot Longfellow and Ryan Hashagen live in Portland, where Margot is an art teacher and Ryan runs an ice cream tricycle business. To follow their exploration or to reach out, follow or message @Saul.T.Scrapper on Instagram.