Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fisher Poets in Astoria


David Densmore - Fisherman Welder Poet Biker

The Fisher Poet – David Densmore

In Astoria’s East Basin, It was a pretty long hike out to where the boat was docked.  I think catamarans are always at the very end of the dock.  As I walked back and forth on the long finger, I would pass an old fishing boat named Cold Stream.  A rough looking man with long hair and a greasy work coat was busy MIG welding an aluminum bulwark onto the boat.  Since I am interested in welding, I would stop to watch, and we struck up a conversation.

In the adjacent slip lay a huge 60’ Ferro-cement ketch.  He told me he was planning to retire onto that boat and go cruising.  David told me that he had lived on boats his whole life, but always on fishing boats mainly fishing in Alaska.  He is looking forward to learning to sail and spending some time in warm water.

David is a burly man, with long hair, a loud Harley, huge hands, reddened and scarred from years of hard work.  Having a lot of sailing books on Footloose to get rid of, I shyly asked if he learned by reading or if his learning style had more to do with hands on and practical application.  Surprisingly to me, he confessed a love of books.  I brought him my load including Adelard Coles heavy weather and the cruising encyclopedia.

David surprised me by offering me one of his books of poetry in exchange.  It seems he has written several books of poetry.  He told me the poems come to him spontaneously, and he would just write them down.  I mentioned my surprise based on his appearance and he laughed, “wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that”.  You can’t judge a book by the cover.

A few days later I was leaving for Alameda and as I wheeled my luggage down the dock he told me that I should plan to attend the annual fisher poets gathering at the end of February.

In February, Lisa and I took a few days to drive back up the coast.  One of our stops was in Newport where my favorite restaurant Local Ocean Seafood was just as good as the last time I had eaten there 7 or 8 years previously.

Cold Stream - Open For Business

Cold Stream – Open For Business

David Desmore – MC

When we got to Astoria we spent a couple of days at the boat, and went to the Fisher poets’ event. It was a held over the weekend with several venues, I started with coffee on Dave’s Boat where one of the attending poets began to sing with his guitar. The event was well attended with lots of people crowding into three venues to eat, drink and listen to 90 fisher poets. Highly recommended.

Fisher Poets


The Sea Lions of Astoria



Sea lion deterrent

We arrived in Astoria, Oregon on the first of September to a harbor infested with sea lions. Several of the docks are sinking under the weight of thousands of huge animals. The first order of business was to build a visual deterrent to keep the beasties off the boat.

When we arrived a large sailboat, a few slips down, had three sea lions on her coach roof which was sagging under their weight. They had climbed from the dock onto the boat.
The sea lions bark constantly, 24/7, the only way to sleep on your boat is with construction earplugs. Lying awake you can almost hear the words. Their voices seem to consist of about 6 notes, the notes are “barked” in a series of up to about 5. In my mind the notes are letters and each series of barks a word. I imagine the conversation to be something like. Hey you are lying on me fatso. I was here first. Make room. I’m bigger than you. Arp aarp urp. They make up for content with constancy.
Imagine the shock of finding a 5 foot tall sea lion standing in your path on the head float at night. Intimidating to say the least. They do eventually give way by jumping into the water. Interestingly a barrier of construction ribbon on a wooden stake about 18 inches high was enough to keep a thousand pound sea lion from coming onto the dock. As soon as a stake is knocked over however, all bets are off and they scramble to make themselves comfortable.
The sea lions are a hot topic in Astoria. There is a Sea Lion Preservation committee that wants the port to abandon the Marina to the creatures. They post “observers” on the causeway every day to watch for wrong doing against the sea lions. On weekends depending on the weather, as many as 100 tourists come to view the sea lions. The port tries to charge them $5.00 for parking, but most do not pay.
Pro sea lion forces want the port to abandon the marina including its est. $100M sea wall. They claim that any damage to the fishery is more than offset by the vast increase in tourist revenue brought by the sea lion “attraction.”
Anti-sea lion forces claim that sea lions have decimated the salmon runs killing salmon by biting out just the belly of the fish, apparently the best part. A man who dove on our boat to inspect our zincs told me he used to be a commercial fisher and had enjoyed killing “hundreds” of sea lions, sometimes leaving them draped on navigation buoys where they had hauled out.
Both sides of the issue are rabid in their beliefs. Meanwhile the government brands the sea lions as they appear and have a program to cull the greedy ones. Pro sea lion forces claim a relentless slaughter but I read somewhere that the program had killed a total of 50 sea lions in the life of the program….years.