AUGUST | SEPTEMBER 2017 BoatU.S. Magazine | 49
pleasure. The river bar is a broad patch
of breaking shoals between North Jetty’s
Cape Disappointment Light and South
Jetty’s Clatsop Spit. The ocean continually rearranges the shoals of river sediments.
The deepest zigzag path safely across the
bar changes from day to day, and the
mixing of fresh- and saltwater adds to
the turbulence. To help vessels safely cross
the bar, the Coast Guard and NOAA
an hour before high tide) and river current (not max flood or ebb) and with fair
weather (not a strong west wind) and
plenty of daylight – enough to get us over
the bar and 10 miles upstream to Astoria.
2. Astoria and the Lower Columbia
Ten miles upstream, Astoria Bridge
(193-foot vertical clearance) spans the
river, and the charted ship channel runs
ships over the
bar. Orange pilot
boats are U.S.
Coast Guard river
pilots that lead
ships to Astoria.
TIP Modeled after
Trajan’s Column in
Rome, the 125-foot
was built in 1926.
The outside features a hand-paint-ed spiral frieze,
done in the sgraffito style, an Italian
form. The scenes
tell the story of key
that led to statehood for Oregon
employ 24/7 data from dozens of buoys
placed offshore, in the bar and upriver;
from pilot boats working on the bar and
upriver; and from drones. We watch our
radar and depth sounder, and monitor
VHF 16 and 22 for hourly bar reports
and forecasts from Coast Guard Station
Columbia on Cape Disappointment.
We time our approach to the bar to
coincide with favorable ocean tide (ideally
Far left: The sturdy metal boats of the Pacific Northwest line docks along the river.
This page: Inviting houseboats dot the Portland waterfront.