starting out

So, back last November and early December, my friend Brian and I spent a few days in kayaks and my skiff, pulling clean spruce and cedar logs out of log jams on the Nehalem River. But how to get them out of the river and back to the shop, where we could mill them up?

bucking the big Spruce log

bucking the big Spruce log

The nearest good boat ramp was over 3 miles downstream from where the logs were tied up, and Brian’s idea was to have a kayak race, where teams would each be assigned a log, and the first ones to get their log past the highway 101 bridge over the river would be the winner.

So, On February 7th, with a strong outgoing tide in the afternoon, a groups of kayakers converged on Brian’s shop in Nehalem and he laid out the plan. There were prizes offered, including a skin on frame kayak, a well used copy of “Kayaks of Greenland” and a quart of excellent beer.

Within an hour, all the kayakers were putting in at the upper boat ramp, having already shuttled a mess of cars to the dock in Nehalem. Andrew Elizaga came along in one of Brian’s adirondack guide boats and filmed the whole thing, his movie can be seen here on Youtube.

Andrew filming

When we got to where our logs were tied up, we separated into teams and I started passing out logs as I untied the raft. Some people got enormous huge logs, some got smaller logs, and it was evident pretty quickly that a close competition was not going to be had, as those with lighter cedar logs quickly took the lead, and the team of three paddlers with the monster butt log struggled to stay with the group. Brian switched teams around a bit and he and I rotated around between the teams that had bigger logs, helping keep the group together.

Dave and Diana

Bob and Reg

We passed a motor boat and some folks out on their decks as we got closer to town and got some strange looks and odd comments here and there.

Finally everyone made it to the dock and we tied up the logs, and then paddled back upstream to Nehalem, pulled out on the dock in town and wandered over to have some pizza and beer. And that was the kayaking race.

tying up at the dock

The next day I came back with the truck and a trailer and Brian and I spent the day loading the logs onto the trailer and taking them back to his shop, where we finally figured out how to unload them without getting stuck in the wet grass. This one was the biggest one, at eighteen feet long and 34″ in diameter at the small end. It was a one log load, scaled at 950 board feet on the Scribner scale and we guessed its weight at about 5,000 pounds.

Big spruce log

There are still a few small logs tied up there, and once we have them pulled out and moved to the shop, I will move the mill down there and saw it all up into lumber, some of which will get built into kayaks, and some of which will get built into a new back porch to replace the one I lost to snow load on Christmas day. Stay tuned!

Naturally, at some point, my interests in kayaking and sawmilling would collide, and the result of this is kayak logging. Lots and lots of logs end up in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. Some of these are pretty nice sawlogs for a small mill like mine, and every now and then some nice logs come along in a way that I can actually get at them and salvage them.

kayak and log jam

Last winter, my friend Brian and I tried to salvage some very nice cedar in the whitewater section of a nearby river. We had a pretty exciting adventure, but ended up finally losing the log. Recently he called me up with news of more logs in a lower, flatter and tidal section of the same river. Today, we geared up and went to investigate.

By the way, kayak logging, or any kind of log salvage work like this, even for someone with as much experience at it as I have, is an extremely dangerous undertaking. Logs shift and roll, saws bind and kick back and there are a thousand ways to get hurt or killed outright. Do not try this yourself! If you decide to ignore this advice and do try this yourself, don’t tell anyone that you heard about from me! My advice is to stay safely at home and read about it on other people’s blogs.

kayak accessories

There were some old growth cedar chunks stuck in this logjam, along with a really nice, straight and clear Sitka Spruce log about 80 feet long and about 32″ at the butt end. We decided that the bottom 40 feet or so would be worth saving and set to work.

kayak logging

fun with chainsaws

Unfortunately, the longest saw we had with us had only a 24″ bar on it, and this log was more like 26″ or so at the part where we needed to buck it off. In the end, I cut out sort of a window block to effectively make the log a small diameter. We eventually got it cut through and, miraculously, it did not have some hidden branch underwater pinning it in place. We finally got it loose and tied up to shore nearby. We added a couple of the old growth cedar chunks to our log raft and called it a day, visiting the shaggy cows nearby on the way back to the boat ramp.

towing the log

floating log

long spruce log

Next stop for this project will be pulling those logs up to the boat ramp, loading them on a trailer and taking them to the shop to mill up into lumber.

shaggy cow