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post #1 of 4 Old 05-04-2002 Thread Starter
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Crossing bar at Columbia river

dose any one have any advice for crossing the bar at the Columbia river between Oregon and Washington. It is supposed to be the second most dangerous bar in the world. I have been told to do it at High slack tide. how can you tell were the bar is, and do you just head at full throttle straight in to it, or ease your way through at say 3 knots. take it at about 30 degrees or strait on. any good advice I would sure appreciate, heck I kinda like listening to some of the bad advice also.
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-04-2002
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Crossing bar at Columbia river

Crossing the Columbia river bar is not difficult if you use common sense and caution. The channel is over 600'wide and carries a depth of 42' +. The channel is well marked with bouys that are easy to spot and entrance range lights. I would suggest a daylight entry or exit for your first trip across the Bar. The Columbia is a mighty river sending vast amounts of water to sea. It is always best to enter or leave on the flood. Mid tide is nice but it really depends on the sea and wind you can tell when the seas go down soon after the flood starts. With no large swells running it is no worry. Contact the USCG for a bar report and give your self plenty of time if you are coming out from Astoria, many miles from the Bar, I always try and depart from Ilwaco which is just inside the bar and a completly protected harbor with all ammenities. If I go out and the conditions are bad I just head back in. It is nice that the USCG has their motor-lifeboat rescue school there [Ilwaco]so that help is always ready if the worst happens. With the deep channel and breakwaters the Columbia has not been tamed just made manageable for sailors.

Last edited by Faster; 11-25-2011 at 02:22 PM. Reason: changes inches to feet!
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post #3 of 4 Old 11-25-2011
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Crossing the Columbia River Bar

You wanted tips to crossing the Bar. Predominant winds and seas in winter are from the southwest with a lesser period from the west and north. Strong ebb tides and normal river current tend to heap seas on the bar making them very steep. Best time to cross the bar year round is on the flood tide. You can also go to the Columbia River Bar Pilots web site which has a great many beneficial links to weather. If you see a yellow or red bar status, stay away.
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post #4 of 4 Old 11-25-2011
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We entered Astoria in an unexpected/unplanned stopover some years back. The crossing was uneventful entering and leaving; we were fortunate to have benign conditions, but we missed the markers for the channel that hangs a sharp right and follows the back of the spit.. consequently suddenly noticed very shallow water on the rhumb line to the Astoria bridge. We turned quickly and found the channel... a few days later observed a fishboat high and dry on the same flats.

In hindsight this was a foolish move, our skipper had not planned to stop here and did not have the necessary charts.. however at the time we had little choice. Live and learn...

Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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