Big Left Turn: Making the Turn & the Columbia River Bar

September 21-22, 2021

The next stop we planned was Astoria, OR, via the Columbia River Bar. The guidance says if you want a smooth transition you need to transit at slack current or at least a flood tide. This is so you avoid the situation they call ebb chop, which can even lead to breaking waves. We projected the trip to take 18+ hours and slack was around 9 AM so we decided we would depart Neah Bay at 1 PM to give us enough time.

Since I had a bit of time while we were at anchor, I decided I’d fly the drone a bit and got a few good shots.

After departing Neah Bay, the wave chop picked up and we were a bit concerned with the ride since it was for 18 hours. However, once we made the left turn and got a bit offshore the ride smoothed out and overall it was good ride.

It was interesting when the sun began to set and then we hit darkness. I’ve talked to a bunch of boaters that do crossing and long trips. Some say they just put on the alarms and sleep. Others have watches. But there is a feeling of nothing you can do. We can’t see traps or logs so looking out the window is not that productive. Looking at the radar and AIS was very helpful but we only passed two boats all night. We had a great moon rising. There was no way to get that on camera given the lighting and motion.

We had planned to be at the Columbia River Bar around 9:30 AM. However, we made great time and got there a couple hours early. Starting about 6 AM the Coast Guard started communicating reports and that the bar had a 20 foot and below restriction. Steve asked if he should call in and get guidance and I figured they would just give the same report. Which is exactly what they did, but added your vessel is not restricted as this time. Basically it’s your call captain. A charter captain hailed us after the call, and gave us guidance on how to approach, which gave us a little more confidence.

Crossing the bar was a good experience. The waves were 4-6 foot with some 8-10 footers thrown in. Steve was so puckered up that he wouldn’t let me take pictures. Therefore, we have limited footage.

Once successfully across the bar, we cruised in another hour to Astoria. We were all beat given the long trip and not sleeping much so it was nap time.

In the late afternoon, after our naps, we headed up to the Bridgewater Bistro for a meal. As we sat down, we got a call from Gary on Illimite asking what we were up to. Him and Noelle waked up to the restaurant and we had an amazing meal with great company.

Voyage Information:

Neah Bay to Astoria
Time: 21 h 56 m ( 12:29 to 10:25 )
Distance: 160.99 nm

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