No announcement yet.

Strait of San Juan de Fuca to Columbia River

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Strait of San Juan de Fuca to Columbia River

    I'll be retiring next year and am starting to think of new places to go in our 4550 based out of Tacoma. I've been thinking it might be nice to spend some time on the Columbia River, but am mostly clueless about the trip from Port Angeles to Astoria. I expect that we would leave Tacoma in late April or May, and return north in August.

    If the 4450 suitable for this?

    What marinas are located between Port Angeles and Astoria (especially those with fuel and service/repair, if necessary)?

    What are typical sea conditions, and what distance from shore should we cruise?

    If we leave Port Angeles with full tanks, will we have enough fuel to reach Astoria, and vice versa? (looks to me like the trip is about 200nm, and 18 hours of cruising at 11 knots).

    I'm told the only good time to cross the Columbia Bar is a slack tide? Is that "good" an absolute or just relative to very bad at other times?

    Can you recommend any cruising guides or articles specific to power boats for this trip, and also for the Columbia?

    Is this a bad idea?

    1986 4550 "Embark"
    Tacoma, WA

    your boat may not be meant for crossing oceans, but it will do fine for coastal cruising.
    the only problem will be if you have no experience in handling the boat in a rough seaway, or the ocean on a typical nasty day. if you have this experience, it will be just another day in paradise for you.

    there are many small boats (16-20ft) crossing the columbia river bar all the time during fishing season, so depending on the time of year you go, you may be able to follow someone in...
    you can (and should) study the US Coast Pilot 7, chapter 10... it gives some good information, basic and specific, depending on what all you are wanting to know.

    on your transit down the coast, I would stay at least 10 miles off shore for the most part, and 15 to 20 would be better in my opinion. make sure you have the charts to study that covers the area you want to travel, and study them...the GPS is a great tool to show where you are, but its not a tool for good intimate study of the danger areas you will be passing thru when entering the columbia river...

    the columbia river has some great scenery and is very boater friendly as far as amenities go, but you do need the river chart so you can plan your route and not lodge the boat on a sandbar, of which there are many outside of the channel where one would like to anchor.... there are a LOT of places to anchor, but you dont want to run aground trying to get into one of them..

    Salem, OR

    1989 Bayliner 2556 Convertible
    5.7 OMC Cobra - 15.5x11 prop
    N2K equipped throughout..
    2014 Ram 3500 crew cab, 6.7 Cummins
    2007 M-3705 SLC weekend warrior, 5th wheel
    '04 Polaris Sportsman 700 -- '05 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO
    Heavy Equipment Repair and Specialty Welding


      Plan to cross a bar on a slack or flood tide. The USGC publishes bar reports and you can listen to the bar conditions on the VHF when nearing the bar. One option would be to overnight in Neah Bay then depart there so you arrive at the bar at slack tide. That will shorten your 11 hour day and allow a daylight bar crossing.
      Jim Gandee
      1989 3888
      Hino 175's
      Fire Escape
      [email protected]
      Alamitos Bay, SoCal


        As others have said Slack tide....ideally full slack with minimal wind. You can stop in Westport coming down the coast but is a bit of a trek and there is a bar to cross there as well. If you look at charts or possibly even do an internet search there is a line that is a "Crab Free Zone" about 6 miles out. It is a "path" that can be mostly free of crab traps as you go. Watch weather (obvious) and expect fog that time of year. Once in the Columbia there are a ton of docks....most of Oregon's are free. Usually folks head back to Oregon in Sept. but you may find a couple of boats heading south to buddy up with. It's a long ride. Enjoy!
        We have No Plan and we're sticking to it...,


          Thanks to all for the advice. We plan to hop-scotch from Neah Bay to Astoria and take our time. If they weather is no good, we'll just stay in port.
          1986 4550 "Embark"
          Tacoma, WA


            Not really that much in the way of options. You are either going to Astoria or Westport. Might as well just go for it if the weather and conditions are good. Drive to Westport if you want the experience there.
            1999 Sandpiper Pilothouse - Current
            1989 3888 - 2011-2019, 1985 Contessa - 2005-2011, 1986 21' Trophy 1998-2005
            Nobody gets out alive.


              We came the other direction from SF Bay in Aug/Sept 2018. We harbor hopped and had a great time! In short it is very doable if you do a little homework and are not in a rush. Time your barcrossings both leaving and entering. Also time your transit down the straight for tide and wind. Basically you never want any significant tide against any significant wind. Take some sea sickness meds with you. Some of the pacific rollers can get big. Not bad if they are on long periods. Not as much fun when the period (or less) equals the wave height. Port Angeles, Neah Bay, La Push (cool place) Westport, then Astoria. The USCG was super helpful. I called the stations, by phone and radio, we were leaving and the ones we were entering to find out local conditions and any tips they had on navigating the inlets. They were happy to help and provide guidance. The Coxwain in Bandon OR even drove out to his lookout to talk me in by radio through some 8’ surf. The bar was closed to smaller boats but open to us. It was fun riding the back of the wave across and no big deal as long as it was done correctly. We bypassed the Columbia going from Tillamook to Westport over a longish day. We were west of the outermost entrance buoy (10miles from entrance) and when entered the current of the out flow it steered us about 15-20° before the autopilot corrected. We took about three weeks to come up the coast and wish we had taken even more time. We waited for good weather and had a great trip!
              2000 4788 w Cummins 370's, underhulls, swim step hull extension
              12' Rendova center console with 40HP Yamaha
              MV Kia Orana
              Currently Enjoying the PNW


                Thanks for the description of your trip. It is helpful.
                1986 4550 "Embark"
                Tacoma, WA