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Old 06-22-2018, 08:06 AM   #1
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Columbia River Bar

Here in the Taiwanese Makes section, looking specifically for anyone who has taken their CHB-class trawler across the Columbia River Bar. Iím looking to confirm whether these boats with their square sterns, small rudders, and slow speeds are up to the challenge of tumultuous seas.

Requesting first-hand experience!
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:22 AM   #2
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I've crossed the bar numerous times in many types of boats including square stern, small rudder slow boats. The general concept is the same no matter the boat. Lots of small slow boats cross the bar all the time. Preparation and timing are key to doing it safely.

  • Best to cross in light winds and low swell. Watch the weather predictions for wind and swell, generally mornings are lighter winds than afternoons.
  • Flood tide is best when crossing inbound. Slack before the flood best outbound. You can cross outbound on the flood but it will be a slow trip.
  • AVOID ebb tides and onshore winds. The seas can stack up close together and breakers are common. On some days the change from benign to deadly happens almost instantly as the ebb starts. Especially with an onshore wind.
  • Stay away from Clatsop Spit and Peacock Spit. Both can be boat killers.
I have to say this, you may already know it but I've seen too many people get bit in the back side for not understanding this. Tidal current predictions and tide height predictions have very little time relationship to each other on coastal estuaries. For example the ebb current can run well into the rising tide.

Know your coastal speed over ground, it will usually be slower than calm water. Wind and coastal tidal currents will affect your speed. Have a plan for harbors of refuge on your route. Study the charts. Find those with local knowledge. Have good tidal and weather predictions for your route.

If you have no experience off the PNW coast start with Charlie's Charts U.S. Pacific Coast. Then dig in deeper with any good resources you can find for your intended route.

Probably the most important thing you can do beyond getting prepared and timing your crossing correctly is to have patience and flexibility. If you're headed out and you don't like the looks and feel of it before you get to the bar turn around and try again another day. If you're headed in and the bar is kicking up but you're uncomfortable out there, live with it till the bar settles down.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:38 AM   #3
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Thanks, Portage. All excellent advice. Iíve certainly been doing a lot of studying, and the point about patience is well-taken.

Still looking for that first-hand endorsement though...!
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Old 06-22-2018, 10:24 AM   #4
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As Portage stated: NEVER EVER NEVER EVER NEVER cross the bar on the ebb.

Only slack or flood. I know from experience.
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Old 06-23-2018, 05:48 PM   #5
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I've only been across twice and both times were non-events. Smaller chop on the bar than we'd had coming down the coast. It's all about the timing.


"NEVER EVER NEVER EVER NEVER cross the bar on the ebb."
Tom, how do you really feel about that?
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Old 06-23-2018, 06:53 PM   #6
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I have never entered the inlet, but have gone down the coast past it. We were 8NM offshore and once we were in it, wished were twice that far offshore. It was impressive.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:00 PM   #7
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Its all about the timing.

If you respect the bar it will respect you. Exit on a slack, maybe a bit early if your slow like me, enter a bit earlier. When I say a bit, 30 mins or so.

Enjoy but be wise, the bar is a big deal, dont take it for granted.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:39 PM   #8
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Its all about the timing. ...
No doubt!
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Old 06-24-2018, 07:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Portage_Bay View Post
I've crossed the bar numerous times in many types of boats including square stern, small rudder slow boats. The general concept is the same no matter the boat. Lots of small slow boats cross the bar all the time. Preparation and timing are key to doing it safely.

  • Best to cross in light winds and low swell. Watch the weather predictions for wind and swell, generally mornings are lighter winds than afternoons.
  • Flood tide is best when crossing inbound. Slack before the flood best outbound. You can cross outbound on the flood but it will be a slow trip.
  • AVOID ebb tides and onshore winds. The seas can stack up close together and breakers are common. On some days the change from benign to deadly happens almost instantly as the ebb starts. Especially with an onshore wind.
  • Stay away from Clatsop Spit and Peacock Spit. Both can be boat killers.
I have to say this, you may already know it but I've seen too many people get bit in the back side for not understanding this. Tidal current predictions and tide height predictions have very little time relationship to each other on coastal estuaries. For example the ebb current can run well into the rising tide.

Know your coastal speed over ground, it will usually be slower than calm water. Wind and coastal tidal currents will affect your speed. Have a plan for harbors of refuge on your route. Study the charts. Find those with local knowledge. Have good tidal and weather predictions for your route.

If you have no experience off the PNW coast start with Charlie's Charts U.S. Pacific Coast. Then dig in deeper with any good resources you can find for your intended route.

Probably the most important thing you can do beyond getting prepared and timing your crossing correctly is to have patience and flexibility. If you're headed out and you don't like the looks and feel of it before you get to the bar turn around and try again another day. If you're headed in and the bar is kicking up but you're uncomfortable out there, live with it till the bar settles down.
This excellent advice, beyond the specific local points of interest, applies to virtually every inlet on either coast.
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Old 06-26-2018, 01:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
I have never entered the inlet, but have gone down the coast past it. We were 8NM offshore and once we were in it, wished were twice that far offshore. It was impressive.
The affects of the Columbia River can be felt 60nm out.
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Old 06-27-2018, 07:28 PM   #11
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https://www.opb.org/news/video/grave...oria-waterway/
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:57 AM   #12
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Thanks for sharing that video.
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Old 06-28-2018, 01:55 PM   #13
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The Columbia bar at normal times is not the danger that most of the stories paint. Commercial fishermen cross the bar almost every day. I've crossed bars along the Pacific Coast hundreds of times. The Columbia Bar at least twice a year. If you want the best ride, Slack water at high tide. Period.
The roughness of a bar is caused by the seas and swells coming into a shallow bottom. And can be made much worse by low tide and the ebb tide going in the opposite direction of the wind. That causes much steeper waves and causes the waves to be much closer together.
In the days of sailing ships, and some idiot sailboaters today, ships crossed the bar during the ebb for the additional speed of crossing the bar and getting the current push offshore. But the plan was to start the crossing early in the ebb while the tide was still near flood (and the water deeper over the bar). The continuing ebb current will help the sailing vessel get offshore.

Late in the ebb or at low tide, the bar is at its shallowest. Causing the highest, steepest waves. Some shallow bars can cause bigger boats and ships to touch the bottom. Touching the bottom can cause pitch poling. I know a fisherman that did just that.
Even though I have a big boat, I plan my crossings by adjusting my speed to hit the ideal time. Or when coming down river, stay at Ilwaco until tide conditions are best.
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Old 07-13-2020, 10:10 PM   #14
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Responding in the CHB forum to my original post...

I took my CHB (Ponderosa 35) across the Columbia River Bar and up the Washington coast through the Straits of Juan de Fuca and into the Puget Sound. So yes, it can.

I waited for good weather: swells 4ft/10sec, wind waves 2ft/4sec, and hit the bar midway into flood tide. No problems at all. Swells were out of the West, so it was rolly up the coast, but very do-able. Strayed to about 20miles offshore. No problems handling mild following seas into the Straits.

Happy to say my CHB is right at home in salt water and actually performed surprisingly well given the necessary attention to weather conditions.
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Old 07-30-2020, 01:26 PM   #15
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Boat sinks on the Bar

https://gcaptain.com/coast-guard-res...eid=5b70bcca05
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Old 07-30-2020, 02:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schrater View Post
Here in the Taiwanese Makes section, looking specifically for anyone who has taken their CHB-class trawler across the Columbia River Bar. Iím looking to confirm whether these boats with their square sterns, small rudders, and slow speeds are up to the challenge of tumultuous seas.

Requesting first-hand experience!
Any bars you have to pick your conditions to cross. What you want to avoid is conditions where the winds are blowing in, and the tide is coming out at Max ebb. That is when the conditions are most severe. In calm/light air conditions the bar poses no great hazard, just time your passing to take advantage of the tide. In stronger wind conditions you cross when the wind and current coincide and accept the speed hit if itís going against you.

If the waves are breaking, you really need to know what youíre doing regardless the boat you are in, and if you havenít been trained at it, it is the wiser choice to wait for the tide and conditions to change regardless the vessel you are in.
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Old 07-30-2020, 03:37 PM   #17
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Wow.
Great advice
Thanks for sharing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Portage_Bay View Post
I've crossed the bar numerous times in many types of boats including square stern, small rudder slow boats. The general concept is the same no matter the boat. Lots of small slow boats cross the bar all the time. Preparation and timing are key to doing it safely.

  • Best to cross in light winds and low swell. Watch the weather predictions for wind and swell, generally mornings are lighter winds than afternoons.
  • Flood tide is best when crossing inbound. Slack before the flood best outbound. You can cross outbound on the flood but it will be a slow trip.
  • AVOID ebb tides and onshore winds. The seas can stack up close together and breakers are common. On some days the change from benign to deadly happens almost instantly as the ebb starts. Especially with an onshore wind.
  • Stay away from Clatsop Spit and Peacock Spit. Both can be boat killers.
I have to say this, you may already know it but I've seen too many people get bit in the back side for not understanding this. Tidal current predictions and tide height predictions have very little time relationship to each other on coastal estuaries. For example the ebb current can run well into the rising tide.

Know your coastal speed over ground, it will usually be slower than calm water. Wind and coastal tidal currents will affect your speed. Have a plan for harbors of refuge on your route. Study the charts. Find those with local knowledge. Have good tidal and weather predictions for your route.

If you have no experience off the PNW coast start with Charlie's Charts U.S. Pacific Coast. Then dig in deeper with any good resources you can find for your intended route.

Probably the most important thing you can do beyond getting prepared and timing your crossing correctly is to have patience and flexibility. If you're headed out and you don't like the looks and feel of it before you get to the bar turn around and try again another day. If you're headed in and the bar is kicking up but you're uncomfortable out there, live with it till the bar settles down.
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Old 07-30-2020, 03:38 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
I have never entered the inlet, but have gone down the coast past it. We were 8NM offshore and once we were in it, wished were twice that far offshore. It was impressive.

Could you elaborate? What were the effects?
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Old 07-30-2020, 04:34 PM   #19
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I crewed a boat outbound and north July 3. We had good conditions at the bar, but the comments regarding Clatsop and Peacock Spits cannot be overstated.

We went north at 50 fathoms, but came in to 20 fathoms halfway up to get out of crossed seas peaked by the current.

Then all we had to do was dodge crab pots at night!

Be prepared, have a plan B, like do you really want to try to go in at Grays Harbor or is it better to head out to sea, stuff like that.
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:35 PM   #20
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Could you elaborate? What were the effects?
We were southbound going past the Columbia River out 8 NM and the waves were breaking and we thought they were going to break over into the cockpit. We couldnít see the action until we were in it since we were traveling with the waves. It was awesome, but not in a good way. It was the only time I have ever thought I was going to die on a boat. I was certain that we were dead and the wave would board us. However the boat took it in stride and it wasnít an issue. We worked our way out to 11 NM and it was just white knuckle but not going to die. Stopped in at the CG station that night and they said they donít go inside 15 NM unless it was necessary.
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