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Old 13-12-2012, 11:07   #1
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Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

Years ago when I entered the river on a Cascade 36 it was a millpond. I believe that the CG closes this river bar when it really gets bad.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/ByGSMmenPDM?rel=0
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Old 13-12-2012, 11:23   #2
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

Not a bit of water I want to play games on.

But they seemed to be relatively casual about it ... in one shot near the end, a crewman on one boat is standing on the deck outside the pilothouse with what looks like a drink in his hand.

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Old 13-12-2012, 11:38   #3
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

Was the video from New Zealand?
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Old 13-12-2012, 11:54   #4
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

I'd find another home port real quick, like before I had to do it one time.......
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Old 13-12-2012, 12:29   #5
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

I think the cameraman's comments and the long lens exaggerate the situation. While this is not the conditions that it would be wise to attempt with a recreational boat it is certainly not extreme, particularly for the Columbia River bar.

Even on a day with calm seas the bar can often develop 20-25 foot rolling waves on the ebb. These are not dangerous, but do obscure other vessels. And make it nearly impossible to enter the river on the ebb in a sailboat. Add on top some rough seas and the result is shown in the video. Clearly this is not the time to broach, and there is some risk, but not quite as bad as it appears with the telephoto. Probably more dangerous are the "sneaker" waves that happen on the bar: on a flat calm day waves have been known to appear out of nowhere, rolling and sinking fishing boats. This happened a decade or so ago to a boat the size of those shown - it happened so fast that the crew were trapped inside and no distress call was given. Their position was known because of a call home just before it happened, so the vessel and bodies were later found and recovered.

Not for nothing does the Coast Guard have their motor lifeboat school at the mouth of the Columbia. It regularly provides the opportunity to operate, and roll, boats in breaking surf. This is where a boatswain earns the respected "Surfman" rating.

As long as one plans for the weather, and only attempts the bar in calm conditions and at slack water, it is really no big deal - just a very long entrance/exit. However, it is pretty easy to get into trouble here as well.

As for the USCG closing the bar, they have different levels of closure. They will close the bar to small boats first, working their way up to freighters as needed. Personally I would never let the lack of a closure be an assurance that the bar is safe for my boat.

Greg
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Old 13-12-2012, 12:41   #6
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgscpat View Post
Was the video from New Zealand?

I believe you are right. There is a series of training videos for crossing bars in NZ put on by one of their agencies. Makes for interesting viewing.
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Old 13-12-2012, 12:56   #7
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

This video is typical of a bar crossing anywere along the Northren Calif., Oregen, or Washington Coast. It's just another day working for the fishing fleet, as the larger canneries are nearby.
The Coast Guard has a nearby station, and this is where they train for heavy weather operations, including 360* rollovers.
A pilot boat is overshore and pilots board larger vessels to guide them over the bar and up the river to Portland, Ore.
If/when the bar is closed by the CG. they will send a cutter out to baby sit fisherman including sportfisherman.
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Old 13-12-2012, 13:13   #8
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

Yeah, ya gotta love those ebb tides. Having gone through a set of "no big deal" breakers unintentionally at night in the fog on the bank - they seemed like a big deal to me.
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Old 13-12-2012, 13:34   #9
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

The Columbia Bar has a reputation for being the 3rd most dangerious bar in the world (anybody know the other 2?).

I've crossed it at times when it was smooth as glass (where is the bar?) and a time or 2 when it was a big roller-coaster and only once when I should have waited for the next slack.

Cross at slack, set up your crossing time with boat speed, river current and so on taken into account. Astoria is quite a distance from the bar. Usually we anchor out in Mott Basin for the night and get a crossing at the first daylight slack.

Going north is easy as that you can enter Neah Bay at any time. Coming south is more difficult in the sense that you want to arrive off the mouth of the Columbia before the slack. Get a bar report and then cross the bar at or near slack taking the bar report into account. Remember that the offshore current will set you to the south.

THe most interesting crossing I've had was at about 2 am on a moonless night with a swell running and the dredge heading out to dump a load plus a number of freighters going to and fro.

Regards
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Old 13-12-2012, 13:48   #10
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

Here are a few clips of the bar....







There are many more....
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Old 28-01-2013, 23:32   #11
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

I have even put my survival suite on to cross the Crescent City, CA bar, and it is reputed to be the best harbor entrance between SF Bay and Puget Sound, though not during Tsunamis.
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Old 30-01-2013, 22:35   #12
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Re: Entering the Columbia River in the PNW

The Coast Guard ships its folks to the mouth of the Columbia River just to train them on extreme conditions.

It's where they train them in that 42 that you can roll, and then continue the rescue.
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