Columbia River Boaters -Questions

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Kaniksu

Veteran Member
Joined
May 25, 2021
Messages
31
Vessel Name
Kaniksu
Vessel Make
Roughwater 41
We have kept a boat on Puget Sound (Olympia) for over 15 years even though we live in the Portland/Vancouver Metro. It is 120 miles each way to our boat. My wife and I love the sound and so too does our daughter, but here is the thing; she is growing up (middle school) and being with us every weekend and for weeks in the summer is socially isolating. Parents are not willing anymore to let their kids go away with friends to a place they have not been to do an activity they do not comprehend. So I have considered, but not decided to move our boat to the Columbia River and cruise from Portland. Additionally, as I get older and have been dealing with some cancer for the past 2 years, I don't care to drive up to Olympia after work anymore to do a 2 hour project or clean the boat and then drive 120 miles back home. We have never boated on the Columbia. It seems that heading down stream there is much to explore. I think I understand the cruising to the east and how few people ever lock thru and go any great distance. So my questions:
1. Is is fun and interesting to go for long weekends and a week or two on the river?
2. Is exploring the lower river, anchoring out, fishing, swimming and floating doable in a boat that drafts 4'?
3. Is it quiet enough away from the airport, interstates and bridges to find some peace and solitude?
4. Is there solid support for marine services, such as haul outs, repairs and improvements in the Hayden Island area?
Thank y'all
 
There is a fair amount of weekend style cruising. Up the willamette river, Multnomah channel, up river to Rooster Rock state park and down to Kalama. Two weeks will take you up to Lewiston, ID.

Unfortunately, you will run out of real estate quick, how quick depends on the individual.
 
There is a fair amount of weekend style cruising. Up the willamette river, Multnomah channel, up river to Rooster Rock state park and down to Kalama. Two weeks will take you up to Lewiston, ID.

Unfortunately, you will run out of real estate quick, how quick depends on the individual.
Thanks Tilt. What about between Kalama and Ilwaco? Any exploring, islands, channels, anchoring opportunities?
 
There are some channels around Cathlamet but west of that the water is very shallow out side the channel.
 
We kept our boat for some years on both Hayden Island and on the Multnomah channel and did most of our boating between Astoria and Beacon Rock. While there is not a lot of places to explore, you will find nice little side channels or other out of the way places to drop the hook and relax.

All boat services are available in the area including haul outs. And being its fresh water, your bottom paint will last a LONG time!

The gorge, while beautiful, turns out to be quite noisy with a train line on each shore and a freeway on the Oregon side. But there's a little dock at Beacon Rock that is a fantastic place to stay a few days.

We found it quieter downstream. Coon Island on the Multnomah channel is a nice spot. Of course Astoria has a nice marina where you can stay for a while and visit the town.

You won't have all the terrain of Puget Sound, but the convenience of it all will make up for a lot. Good luck!
 
Last edited:
Posted a thread a few years back, might help you a little.


Cheers
 
We took our 50' trawler as far up the Columbia and Snake as Fishook Park. It is interesting above Portland, weather can get really treacherous at times as the wind can HOWL until you get to Umatilla. We spent a couple months exploring and water skiing ( we towed our comp ski boat for a lot of the trip). We sold the trawler on the way home when a guy from Portland saw her and had to have her. We kept a 45' SeaRay in Portland for a couple years after selling the trawler but eventually got tired of the river and the commute to our place in Port Townsend which is 3 minutes away from our marina here.
We all did really like being able to swim in fresh water on the river.
Hollywood
 
We have kept our boats on the Columbia for a bit over 10 years. As others have said there are quite a few nice areas to go and explore but it gets repetitious after a while. We call it “Linear” boating (up river or down river). So we go up to B.C. and/or the Puget Sound every other year. One advantage is you can find covered moorage fairly easily or find a boat house which is really nice for keeping the boat out of the winter weather in fresh water. Any questions, ask away.
 
Being new to cruising the Columbia, I studied the info in the link that Crusty posted before we made the trip to Lewiston it is very accurate. I also got some great advice from Kevin (Stout) that was very valuable. There was also a web cast by Waggoner. https://waggonerguide.com/waggoner-webcasts/ Look for March 31, 2022. The other Blog I reviewed was MVDirona. Cruising The US Pacific Coast. Our blog is: https://timtoplaytravels.blogspot.com/ Look at the 2022 posts.

The Columbia River Yachting Association has many yacht clubs as members that publish a calendar where they will be. I am not a member of any club but it is nice to know where a lot of boats are going to show up. I also learned a couple of places to go on the Willamette River. Columbia River Yachting Association

The current on the Columbia is to be respected and learned. Below Bonneville Dam during spring the current can be ripping with no hint of tidal influence. In the fall water drops and tidal influence is an important. At Hood River the scenery turns from forest to desert and gets very warm during the summer.
 
Posted a thread a few years back, might help you a little.


Cheers
We had a great time ALL THE WAY to Lewiston ID!! 8 dams up and 8 dams down through the locks.
Posted a thread a few years back, might help you a little.


Cheers
A lot of fun all the way to Lewiston ID. 8 Locks up and 8 locks coming back. Word of caution. There is no river diesel available on the Snake.
 
1. Is is fun and interesting to go for long weekends and a week or two on the river?
2. Is exploring the lower river, anchoring out, fishing, swimming and floating doable in a boat that drafts 4'?
3. Is it quiet enough away from the airport, interstates and bridges to find some peace and solitude?
4. Is there solid support for marine services, such as haul outs, repairs and improvements in the Hayden Island area?
Thank y'all
1. I brought my boat down from PS to Vancouver last June. Once I left Astoria, the sky was clear and sunny. I have found the lower Columbia river absolutely beautiful. I could just stare at the shores and small towns with amazement.
2. I had no problem finding anchorage with my 7.4' draft.
3. Outside Portland/Vancouver going West the scenery is gorgeous, quiet, and peaceful. I do not know much about East, but driving up to Wanatchee, I could see the desert land beyond Hood river.
4. Across of my marina on the Hayden island I know two yards for maintenance work. One of them is for hire only. The other is a DIY yard, but has 30T limit for their travel lift.
Of course, at the entrance in Astoria and Ilwaco you can haul out and DIY, or hire someone. Ilwaco is smaller and lots of commercial boats. Astoria is large and they always have space for your boat. The distance between Portland and Ilwaco is 92 miles, so it can be done in one long day.
 
Kanisku, I've always said that things happen for a reason. We may not know it at the time, and sometimes it never becomes clear, but it now will become clear.

I was a long term Columbia River boater until Cancer forced me to sell our beloved Sea Ray. Thanks to help from TF member ASD and another friend we cruised Beachcomber down the Columbia, around the coast and up the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Seattle where I kissed her goodbye and wished her well.

I live in Pasco, just a few miles upstream from where the Snake River joins the Columbia. We boated both rivers for many years including two trips to Lewiston and back and three trips to Portland and back.

Over those many years and many trips I compiled tons of data about both rivers and built an Excel spreadsheet showing the miles between ports on both rivers.

You should bring your boat to the lower Columbia for some great boating and, when you get tired of seeing the same things over and over, head her upriver. You'll encounter four dams as you cruise upstream on the Columbia, then four more if you venture up the Snake. Each of the dams is similar but each has different features.

I haven't been on TF for years but will pop back in from time to time to see if you have any questions I can answer.

Mike
 
BTW, if any of you are interested in reviewing that trip from Pasco to Seattle, here's a link to my TF writeup....

 
Kanisku, I've always said that things happen for a reason. We may not know it at the time, and sometimes it never becomes clear, but it now will become clear.

I was a long term Columbia River boater until Cancer forced me to sell our beloved Sea Ray. Thanks to help from TF member ASD and another friend we cruised Beachcomber down the Columbia, around the coast and up the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Seattle where I kissed her goodbye and wished her well.

I live in Pasco, just a few miles upstream from where the Snake River joins the Columbia. We boated both rivers for many years including two trips to Lewiston and back and three trips to Portland and back.

Over those many years and many trips I compiled tons of data about both rivers and built an Excel spreadsheet showing the miles between ports on both rivers.

You should bring your boat to the lower Columbia for some great boating and, when you get tired of seeing the same things over and over, head her upriver. You'll encounter four dams as you cruise upstream on the Columbia, then four more if you venture up the Snake. Each of the dams is similar but each has different features.

I haven't been on TF for years but will pop back in from time to time to see if you have any questions I can answer.

Mike
Thank you very much for that post. It means a lot.
 
If you do decide to do this move, I will miss you. It’s always a delight to run into you and the girls.
Nothing is permanent though, and maybe it could be the right thing at this point in time. Your boat will certainly be able to handle the trip, and it will make the return just as well. Securing moorage up here again might take some time, but I’m sure it can be done.
We raised a daughter on board, and sure there were some drawbacks regarding her social life, but in the end the pluses outweighed the minuses.
I didn’t realize you had some health issues, and that should take front seat to everything. My wife went through it for a few years, and has come out the other side intact, very grateful for that.
Now I’m just rambling…
Might be fun to check out some new places, right?
 
If you do decide to do this move, I will miss you. It’s always a delight to run into you and the girls.
Nothing is permanent though, and maybe it could be the right thing at this point in time. Your boat will certainly be able to handle the trip, and it will make the return just as well. Securing moorage up here again might take some time, but I’m sure it can be done.
We raised a daughter on board, and sure there were some drawbacks regarding her social life, but in the end the pluses outweighed the minuses.
I didn’t realize you had some health issues, and that should take front seat to everything. My wife went through it for a few years, and has come out the other side intact, very grateful for that.
Now I’m just rambling…
Might be fun to check out some new places, right?
Hey B!
No decisions have been made. We are on the sound for this summer and you are right; we would likely never get a covered spot on the sound again if we give ours up. We would have to become "joiners" and get a boathouse at some club that would be foolish to admit me :) See ya when I am looking at ya my friend.
Phil
 
Kanisku, I've always said that things happen for a reason. We may not know it at the time, and sometimes it never becomes clear, but it now will become clear.

I was a long term Columbia River boater until Cancer forced me to sell our beloved Sea Ray. Thanks to help from TF member ASD and another friend we cruised Beachcomber down the Columbia, around the coast and up the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Seattle where I kissed her goodbye and wished her well.

I live in Pasco, just a few miles upstream from where the Snake River joins the Columbia. We boated both rivers for many years including two trips to Lewiston and back and three trips to Portland and back.

Over those many years and many trips I compiled tons of data about both rivers and built an Excel spreadsheet showing the miles between ports on both rivers.

You should bring your boat to the lower Columbia for some great boating and, when you get tired of seeing the same things over and over, head her upriver. You'll encounter four dams as you cruise upstream on the Columbia, then four more if you venture up the Snake. Each of the dams is similar but each has different features.

I haven't been on TF for years but will pop back in from time to time to see if you have any questions I can answer.

Mike
Hope you are well my friend.
 
Thanks, Tom.

Some days yes, some days not so much, but hanging in there.

Say "Hi" to Kay.
 
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