Places on the Columbia River
These are just opinions, so take them with a grain of salt. If
you have other opinions or more info, please pass them on to: chaos5@viclinkcom .
Warning! The Flood of '96 may have changed
channels significantly! Be careful & don't trust last year's
knowledge. If anyone discovers changes that should be made to
this information, please pass them on.
- West of the Cascades (home of the rain)
- Portland, Oregon
- A big city and an ok town with lots of marinas along the
Columbia & Willamette rivers. There is a good
maritime museum downtown on the waterfront. It has a lot
of information on the old time river traffic on the
Willamette and Columbia. Its star attraction is the
restored steerwheeler Portland, which was a tug in the
Portland harbor and was one of the last sternwheeler work
boats in the country.
- The noise from jets landing over the Columbia River at
PDX is frequent and LOUD interrupting conversation
regularly. Nonetheless, Portland offers many fine boating
related stores and other big city related benefits...as
well as detractions.
- Multnomah Channel (Portland to St. Helens along Sauvie
Island's south side)
- Very pretty but not a fast route. Sauvie Island is about
sixteen miles long which makes this a winding trip along
the edge of the flood plan. Several areas of (no wake)
houseboat moorages. Can get shallow in spots during late-summer
low tide. Coon Island is a nice stop with docks on both
sides of the island but no beaches.
- St. Helens, OR (the town, not the mountain)
- A nice stop. The free (and often full) city docks are
handy to downtown and have a porta-potti dump. The nearby
marina & store are run by good people. Sand Island
Marine Park across the channel is a great place to stop -
it has docks (nicely rebuilt since the '96 flood) &
trails and the kids can swim from a sandy beach - WATCH
THE CURRENT. A flood tide reverses the river's current
here and below. Several nice restaurants in the town
square above the marina, but nothing is open on Sunday
evening or Monday. If you're up to a 1 1/2 mile walk,
there is a great Italian place up on the hill at about 20th
& Columbia Blvd.
- Martin Slough
- This is on the Washington side between St. Helens and
Kalama. Martin Island has a fair-sized lagoon in the
center. I haven't tried it but Rob Fernandez tells me:
"You should mention Martin Slough as a good
anchorage... go all the way into the lagoon (not by the
highway), throw out the hook, drink shots of tequila!!!
Approach the channel from down stream of the range and
favor the shore side of the channel. The depth is 7 to 8
going into the lagoon. Depth inside is 25+"
- Kalama, WA
- Has a marina tucked between the freeway & the river.
Has marine head pumpout which, as of August '95, is free.
Sells fuel, but I've never managed to be there during
their 9am to 4:30pm hours.
- Goble, OR
- Across from Kalama. Does have fuel earlier & later in
the day. No pumpout. Small dock space and store. Decent
showers & miserable pit restrooms. Not the place to
display your Save the Whales stickers.
- Rainier, OR
- A couple of docks with a launch ramp and rest rooms.
Stores, including a large grocery, a short walk up the
hill. Despite what some cruising guides say, there was no
fuel at the dock last time I was by.
- Cathlamet, WA
- Nice marina & town. Contact the marina on VHF channel
16 & they will direct you to a slip. I enjoyed rowing
the wooded sloughs behind the marina. Has nice restrooms
& showers, a pumpout ($0.50) & fuel. A few slips
have shore power. Be careful with the channel through the
slough. We haven't had any problems with our 4.5' draft
and there are some fairly large sailboats in there, but
some folks report problems with the sandbar.
have been other opinions expressed to me. Some folks
avoid the place due to problems with the harbormaster and
there was an interesting report of a (now-fixed) peephole
into the middle shower. I'd check the showers to be sure,
- Westport, OR (thanks to Russ Beck)
- Thought I would mention the Westport slough as a nice
place to anchor or tie up. Although it pales in
comparison to all the big city life of Cathlamet, it is
nice and quiet and very well protected. Proceeding up the
slough after the ferry landing about 400 yards is a dock.
There are a couple of restaurants within walking distance
from here. On up the slough, maybe about a mile, I'm
guessing, and my charts are on the boat, is the Westport
Marina. Not much activity on shore, there is a restaurant
about 1/2 mile or so down highway 30 which runs right by
this marina. I did tie up here last fall, at no charge,
but there are several places you could anchor in just as
well on the slough.
- Clatskanie, OR
- The summer of '95 we 'sailed' up to Hump's Restaurant in
Clatskanie. Approach Wallace Island from upstream, stay
to right of small island, 12 feet at midtide, enter
Clatskanie River, run up past loop entry which is about
sixty feet deep, stay to right of river as you go up,
shoals on left, saw seven feet at midtide, come to "y"
in river, take right, look for sign on right in tall
grass, go past RR bridge, thar she blows! Good food, 10-15$
entres, varied menu, cheaper stuff, good atmosphere,
moored the night, no charge but a crowd of five boats.
Docks can be treacherous. Take the rising crest of the
tide out. About three miles.
(note: As of late Aug '96, despite the burning of the
caretaker's house, the RR bridge is reported to be closed
only when the daily train goes by, otherwise is open for
- Astoria, OR
- A fine old city. 2 major, city-run marinas: East Mooring
Basin & West Mooring Basin. The East has no services
but is reportedly close to a large grocery store. The
Astoria Yacht Club maintains reciprocal moorage with many
other yacht clubs and has a few spaces at the West Basin.
The West basin, just downstream of the bridge, has a
new fuel dock which is now operating with a huge new
onshore tank and line. The hours are seven days a week (May
through Oct 15th) 8:AM to 5:PM. The phone number is 503
325-2101. The West Basin also has a pumpout, restrooms
& showers. The restrooms are adequate though there is
only one shower in the men's room (haven't been in the
ladies). When the sailing season is on picking the right
time to shower is important. Restrooms require a
combination which the harbor master will give you when
you check in. There's an interesting collection of
fishing boats, large & small, local boats,
liveaboards and other sailors waiting for the weather to
head north or south.
The Pig is a good breakfast house with friendly and
efficient waitresses and has a full menu. Did I say that
the Pig and Pancake has the best Cocoanut Cream Pie in
the world? Follow the tracks east to eleventh street and
you'll find Pier 11, an excellent dining house on the
river. If you follow the tracks to about sixteenth street
you'll find Englund's Marine Supplies. They've been in
business a long time and have what you need more often
than not. The people are knowledgeable and friendly, the
variety great, and the prices reasonably competitive.
There is a fine Maritime Museum on the waterfront that
is well worth a visit, figure two hours for a walk-through.
I understand they have a dock now, but have no detailed
knowledge. Don't forget to take a walkthrough at the
Flavel House Museum on eighth street for a peek into
theVictorian era living of an old time sea captain.
Tongue Point is just a few miles upriver from Astoria.
Many times I have anchored behind there in the "black
jelly" mud and very sticky sand and my Danforth
style anchors have dragged due to failure to properly set
in this gelatinous yet very firm bottom. Based upon
observation, I believe the anchor becomes "glued"
all over with the sand/mud bottom and, thus loaded, fails
to reset upon the change of wind and/or tide. I always
set two anchors, sometimes both from the bow, sometimes
one bow and one stern. A plow anchor is superior in my
opinion in this location. I like to rise early and watch
the terns and eagles fishing. Last trip I saw an eagle
carrying a tern. Hell to be lower on the food chain.
- Warrenton, OR
- A peaceful place about 5 miles closer to the mouth than
Astoria. It seems to be in decline along with the salmon
runs. There is no longer any fuel dock here or any
There is a nice place on the west side called
the Skipanon Marina & Yacht Club. It has good
concrete docks & free showers for those who moor
there, but it very shallow. Only a few slips could handle
a 4.5' draft. There is a nice restaurant above the marina.
There is another place, the Warrenton Mooring Basin on
the East side of the waterway. It is larger & deeper
and has more commercial fishing boats. I was moored there
years ago when it was more popular than Astoria which was,
at the time, in decline. The restrooms are just short of
open air with no heat. However, the showers are nice. I
have heard of problems with Warrenton Harbor but do not
currently know the specifics. If you are moored in
Warrenton and need hardware or stainless fasteners, I
recommend the Coast to Coast store at the hwy 101
junction a decent walk away. They have a good stainless
fastener selection and plenty of tools and housewares.
- Hammond, OR
- A couple of miles closer to the bar than Warrenton. We
found the depths into the basin to be more than the 6'
noted in the Coast Pilot. Your experiences may vary. You
can contact the harbor master on VHF ch 11 - he may be
there or at the Warrenton basin. This is a small basin
used by fishing boats, both locals and larger charters.
The docks are pretty worn. There is a fuel dock and
showers & restrooms. You have to get a key to the
showers from the harbor master. This isn't the normal
image of a yacht basin but we liked it here.
a park on the point west of the basin with a couple of
tables and a small river beach for the kids to play on. A
few blocks inland is the town with a couple of stores
& pubs and a bicycle rental place. Fort Stevens State
Park abuts Hammond on the west side with miles of trails
to walk and ride, historical monuments, wildlife and
beaches (good use for the rented bike). It is a large
park built around an old fort that defended the Columbia
from the 1860s thru the 1940s. There is a museum a mile
or two from the basin. From there, bike paths lead south
& west to the rest of the park & to the beach and
clear to the south jetty of the Columbia to the north.
You may have an opportunity in Hammond to look for the
eggs for which the town is so famous. You hear them asked
for all over the world........Hammond eggs?
- Ilwaco, WA
- Getting into Ilwaco from the Columbia is about a mile
long winding path past shallows and the Coast Guard
station. The entrance is between the markers on a rock
jetty just upstream a ways from Jetty A on the charts.
Don't miss it. The town is perking up though there is
little to do in town. Always enjoy the Lewis and Clark
interpretive center, overlooks Columbia Bar. The Port of
Ilwaco runs the boatyard in Ilwaco (Used to be Howard
Gertuli's) and can pull large boats on their travelift.
Owner work is the rule, the prices are reasonable but the
weather, often bad, can work against you if you're not
prepared. Also, the Port Marina now has, by report,
proper restrooms and showers available for your stopover
pleasure. The docks are getting tired but the folks are
nice, there's excellent burgers and fresh fish available
on the "promenade". Chandlery supplies are
available at the local Englund's Marine Supplies up the
- The Columbia Bar
- I am *NOT* an expert though have crossed it several times
in each direction. But a few tips:
- - Study the Coast Pilot
- - Study your charts and know where the shallows (which
make for breakers) and other hazards are
- - Beware of crossing on an ebb (outgoing tide) - the
waves can really stack up & a sailboat may not be
able to go back upstream against it
- - Best to cross the bar on slack water if you can. A
flood tide is second choice. Do NOT be afraid to NOT
cross if it's too rough..in OR out.
- - Don't cut corners - there are shallows & submerged
jetties past the apparent ends of the jetties (see the
- - Beware of getting trapped by the current against the
- - Check with the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard by radio
(vhf 16) to get conditions before crossing. Among other
things, they will probably remind you that the safety of
a vessel is the skipper's responsibility.
- - Check the weather and bar report on vhf then don't
trust it, especially if its marginal
- - DON'T figure that if the fishing boats can make it then
you can. They're really good at what they do & they
push their limits.
- - Have more than one method of navigation. The fog rolls
in and a GPS can die.