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
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
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.