Great Ambition

"It's a rough life, but someone's got to live it!"

Twelve years and still going!

This is the continuing story of our new life as River Rats on the Columbia River aboard our Trimaran Transporter houseboat we named Great Ambition.

If you want to see how we got here (and hints on how you can do it too) see Great Ambition, the beginning.


Click here to go to the archive of our twelfth year.

Click on this link to see the latest!

Click here to see a map of our travels!

Click here to see what happens when we have a flood!

Why I write this blog.


If you like my backgrounds click here.


Sunrise back home.

A nice tunnel hull boat coming by. I always loved this style although I have never been in one.

A nice sailboat going by. This one has a very high bow and a canoe back, so I suspect it's fast and seaworthy.

I try to get these when I can, a plane going past the moon.

Our first swim from the front deck. It was 98F in Portland, but just 91F here on the river. I'm using a new camera mount I fashioned from scraps of wood to get the camera closer to the water.

Sunrise June 12th, just 9 days till Summer Solstice!

Sunrise June 13th, just 8 days till Summer Solstice!

Ever since we got Great Ambition we've had a problem with the Onan 4KW genset. It was balky, randomly hard to start, and sometimes it would run well. Other times, it wouldn't start at all A few years ago I realized that it needed at least half a tank of gas in the starboard fuel tank to even start. But that is crazy! It has a fuel pump, why can't it run the tank dry? Because, as the manual points out, the fuel must be higher than the fuel pump, and the genset sits on a rack above the deck. So, I came up with a solution. I bought an $8 fuel pump and built a circuit with an IRFB3034 N channel MOSFET to drive it. I mounted the fuel pump on the floor and I drove the MOSFET from the Hourmeter signal that goes back to the remote control panel at the helm station. Now, whenever I prime, or run the generator, the aux fuel pump comes on and sucks the tank from the same level as the bottom of the tank, then pumps it up to the fuel pump in the Onan, yet doesn't overpower it and flood the carburetor. It's a brilliant solution! In this picture you can see the fuel pump, the water separating fuel filter and the circuit board (in the background) that drives the fuel pump. Pretty clever, and now the generator starts and runs great no matter what the fuel level is.

Another sunrise.

A pair of neighbors with Aqua Bikes. They keep asking me to buy one, but I'm not sure I'm ready yet.

The full Moon.

The sunrise on June 18th. A special day, because this morning we leave for Caterpillar Island again!

Now we are underway to Caterpillar Island. Things are going well so far!

And here we are at Southend!

A nice Bald Eagle shot right off the back deck.

A pair of Bald Eagles on the beach. The ugly one is a juvenille.

Another juvenille Bald Eagle on the beach.

The Bald Eagles were attracted by a cardboard box that washed up on the beach. One of them even landed on the box, so after they left I went over and took a look. It was a box full of empty aluminum bottles.

One of the bottles I found. They are aluminum bottles that were filled with Aluminum Phosphide, a fumigant insecticide that is a very, very dangerous chemical. Luckily they were empty, and were partially rinsed out from their time in the river. But they are pretty nasty, and they need to be recycled, they certainly have no business on the beach.

A huge car carrier going back out to the ocean to continue disgorging Korean cars in various US ports. Notice the couple walking the beach from Frenchman's Bar.

Some deer came out of the woods to browse on the beach. Interestingly, there was a head of lettuce on the beach that was lost from a ship loading groceries, but the deer never found it. They just don't know what lettuce is for, they have no idea it can be eaten.

Another nice shot of the deer. Notice the start of horns on one of them, yep, that's a young buck.

While the deer were walking around we were watching the TV show Sledge Hammer, so I had to get this shot of the deer walking around on the shoreline behind the TV. If we don't move around too much, they can't see us through the one-way glass windows.

A Bald Eagle in the tree right off our back deck.

This is a boat we thought about buying at one time. She was a car ferry named Paddlefish. It used to have a paddlewheel propulsion system, but we knew that wasn't going to work out, plus where do you park it? It was anchored in Lake River near Ridgefield for years, but then the Columbia River Yacht Club bought it and renovated it. It's now their floating party barge for all their outings.

And here you can see how the repowered it, with Yamaha outboards. The same outboards we use on our boat. Pretty clever!

Another, or maybe the same Bald Eagle just a few hours later. The eagles love this part of the river.

A juvenile Bald Eagle finds a fish in the river and hauls it up the to beach...

...takes a bite...

...and apparently decides it's a bit too rancid for his taste.

A pair of Bald Eagles flying over the boat. Amazing!

A pair of Bald Eagles in the tree behind our house. They sure like that branch up there.

Three cute little Otter babies swimming around with Mom. She's a little upset they came so close to my boat with me there filming them, but what's to worry?

A little later Mom catches them a carp to share and these formerly cute little creatures turn vicious as they consume the carp as fast as possible.

The Columbia River Yacht Club's Paddlefish, heading back to Portland after a weekend party.

As I mentioned above, they repowered Paddlefish from the paddlewheels to Yamaha 200HP engines. About twice the power of our engines.

A car carrier headed up to Portland to disgorge its load of cars.

The tug boat Maverick. Many years ago we helped Maverick rescue a jet skier who was in trouble. We still have the monkey fist from Maverick left on the jet ski.

A nice shot of a Bald Eagle in the tree behind our house.

An Osprey with a fish.

Sunrise at Caterpillar Island. Tomorrow we leave for home.

Maverick again! That's one busy tug.

I was walking the beach and scared off this pair of Bald Eagles from the beach, so they took refuge in a tree further down the beach. The one on the left is the female, the one on the right taking flight is a male. How do I know this? Before he took flight, I noticed that the one on the right was smaller than the one on the left. Males are about 30% smaller than females.

A Bald Eagle in flight. Beautiful!

The Tidewater tug Deschutes pushing a Shaver tug downstream. Perhaps they both need to be somewhere and the Shaver tug bridge is too low to see over the bridge of the Deschutes.

American Empress.

Sunrise from Sigler's Cove. The weather was threatening to go nasty on us, so we came home.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Our 7AM waterskiier is out again.

Sunrise.

And...she's back!

We finally found a slip for Lil' Ambition on this side of the river. We are keeping it at Big Oak marina which is just upstream of Sigler's Cove, so it's a short walk or short dinghy ride to get to her. It's a little more expensive here than in Vancouver, but since Washington DNR is about to force all Oregon tagged boats to undergo Washington state registration (and get sales-taxed!) it was time to get out!

We took our first drift down Multnomah Channel aboard Lil' Ambition. First, a shot of Great Ambition at Sigler's Cove.

A long shot of our home.

Floating home for sale! Come be our neighbor!

Casselman's marina. A nice place to live!

Coming back home. She sure loves driving this boat!

Sunrise on the 4th of July.

They had the Foot Traffic Flat marathon on Sauvie Island on the morning of the 4th of July. One brave woman carried an American flag the whole way. What a trooper!

A pirate ship on the 4th of July!

Our "7AM waterskier" that we see almost every summer day.

We took a drift down Multnomah Channel by first going up to Fort William Bend. There we saw another skier trying to get up. This was an interesting learning experience for this gal.

We took a cuise in Lil' Ambition down to Coon Island, only about 5 miles from our house. Despite being the Sunday after the 4th of July, there is not a soul here!

We took a nice walk on Coon Island. I love it here.

We took another drift down Multnomah Channel by first going up to Fort William Bend. On our way home we went past Rocky Pointe Marina and captured this video of some of the homes there.

Sunrise. Got lucky with this one!

Our 7AM waterskier is out even though it's raining!

Sunrise, at least as good as it's gonna get.

To be continued...




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