Roy L. Allen – Oct 2004
Sam and I went elk and deer hunting off the SW coast of Washington near the mouth of the Columbia River. Sam borrowed his father-in-laws 20 foot cabin cruiser. Our plan was to live off the boat and shuttle back and forth in my 10.5 foot long inflatable dory using oars. The area surrounding the island is tidal mud flats that are exposed at low tide for a great distance from the island so to reach the island one had to be mindful of the tides and consult the tide book frequently.
We arrived in the area about 3pm on the 9th of September with a plan to stay five days. The weather was “California” nice. We moored the boat to a lone piling in the water about 200 yards from the shore. When we awoke at 5am the next morning the boat had a side ways tilt to it and was not rocking to any waves. Sure enough we were resting on the mud flats at low tide. We had no way to get to the island until the tide returned to a sufficient depth for my inflatable dory to float. Hunters are cautioned that it is too dangerous to walk across muddy tide flats. Even if we had tried to walk ashore we would have been confronted with a 20 foot wide, waist deep slough to wade across. We finally got ashore at about 10 am with the sun shining and the temperature about 70 degree plus.
After hunting all day Sam and I met about 7pm on the bank above the dory. The wind was way too strong to row against it to get back to the boat. With daylight fading rapidly we started building an emergency shelter and collect some dry tinder and fuel for a warm fire. Sam did not bring any rain gear with him ashore for the day had been so nice. He did have a black trash bag that he put on over his camouflage tee shirt and under his leaf net camo jacket. I had regular rain gear that I donned at the first drop of rain at 3:15pm. We used the inflatable dory as the roof to our shelter. I cut bows with my folding saw to enclose the back and sides. We caught rainwater off the roof to fill our empty water bottles. The tinder was too damp to get the fire started. Sam asked if I had any fire starter. I said no. I said that I had made some tinder by saturating cotton balls with petroleum jelly which I had put in some plastic film cartons. However I did not remember bringing any. The I decided to look in the orange emergency kit bag that I had bought at one of the Hunter Sportsmen’s Show from Peter Kummerfeldt and OutdoorSafe, Inc. Peter had demonstrated to my son and I how hot and long this cotton and petroleum jelly mixture would burn. So when I got home I made some up to put in my hunting gear. Sure enough I had put two of them in this orange bag! So Sam “the master fire builder” went to work and with 1 and ½ plastic cartons worth of fire starter had a roaring fire going in the rain.
So Peter your petroleum jelly and cotton worked like a charm and we used the orange trash bags as our ground cloth. However our shelter was on about a 2% grade that prevented us from sleeping stretched out parallel under the length of the inflatable boat as our roof and we would slide downhill off the slick plastic bag towards the fire. Since we had rain gear and rubber boots to cover us from waist down, we slept with our lower torsos sticking out into the wind and rain.
With best regards – Roy
P.S. My order for additional plastic bags is attached.