Astoria

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WorldNorthern AmericaUnited StatesOregonAstoria
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46°11′N, 123°46.14′W
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Local chartlet

As you come over the Columbia bank make your way up river, a beautiful and functional town comes into view. Its lights dot the south shore, you can see cars on their busy hectic way over the bay to your south and on the bridge spanning the Columbia. In front of you are large freighters, some anchored and some making their way to the ocean. There are piers and docks everywhere, most old and rotting away while the dark green ferns smother them. Some piers are completely gone, just posts standing in the water. If it isn't foggy and raining, it may be soon. This is Astoria, the end of the Oregon trail and home to sailors and adventurers. It is the town that never grew up, having the same charm I imagine it having a hundred years ago. Here you will find everything a sailor needs for re-provisioning, boat repair and relaxing before you challenge the Pacific again, and at prices that are reasonable.

Where else can you shop for sushi at Safeway (from a sushi chef making it on the spot) and listen to the seals outside on the docks? That you can ride a rail trolley through town from the dock to your boat yard, chancellery or a supermarket? A place were cruisers are not though of as weirdos, but are part of the local scene. That's because sailors have been coming to Astoria for hundreds of years now. This is one of the places cruisers have always belonged. I think you will find it charming too, as long as you can get used to the rain.

Cruising the Columbia requires some patience and a lot of sea sense, but can be very rewarding and beautiful. You are the mouth of a great river, which has a strong seaward current 70 percent of the time. Use the currents and the wind, and you will get to your destination quickly. Fight them, or try to work around them, and you will spend your time passing the same navigation aids, again and again. Its good to have a well equipped yacht, a decent axillary, good sails and working ground tackle will not only make the journey more pleasant around here, they can save your life. I get the sense from becoming acquainted with the sailors around Astoria, that this is not a beginning ground for cruisers. The tireless NOB, with his breaking down sailboat and endless optimism just doesn't seem to be present. Instead there are a number of very practical, very experienced sailors who live on their boats and work their lives in quiet humility and strength. As you enter the region by passing over the bank, you have a number of ports available. Port side there is Ilwaco and the tiny port of Chinook. On your starboard, there is the shallow bay of Hammond, the quiet industrial port of Warrenton, and two boat fields in Astoria, appropriately named West dock and East dock. Eastward under the Astoria bridge there is a commercial anchorage, some islands and a very quiet cruising anchorage as the Columbia slowly narrows and becomes more a river and less a bay. Charts and or chart plotters are essential for this area, as the Desdemona sands split the river before Hammond, and the the shipping channel is very busy (ie you need to know when you are in it, because the freighters will not be able to avoid you). A depth sounder is important as the sands are constantly changing and may differ markedly from the charts. A working VHF is very useful, the freighters use channel 13 and general hail is channel 16.

Charts

Give charts applicable to this port or refer to a Chart section of another page (Country or Region) that lists the charts.

Source
Chart Number - Chart Name
Chart Number - Chart Name
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Chart Number - Chart Name

Weather

Give local weather conditions or refer to another page (a region or island group) that covers these conditions.

Sources for Weather forecasts:

Passages

List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.

Islands

This section does not apply for most ports, if that is the case for this one remove it. You may, however, list ismall islands this port.

Communication

Almost all your ship to shore can be done with a cell phone. I have included the local port phone numbers here, and digital phone service is broadcast from Astoria. For ship to ship, and contacting the USCG, we hail from 16 and turn to another channel for the conversation. Radio checks are not preformed on 16, and the coast guard gets very upset by communications other than emergencies on this channel. The commercial tugs and sailors use channel 13, and it is wise to monitor this channel when sailing close to the shipping channels. They will often hail you as they come into view and it is best to tell them your intentions if you are in the channel or close to it. Astoria is home to the world famous Columbia Bar Pilots, and they will often state the condition of the bar to each other (and to you if your listening).

You can also get real time predictions of the tide and bar by hailing the USCG Cape disappointment station. They broadcast over 16 any warnings or current restrictions to ships coming over the bar, and will talk to you on another channel about your current situation.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Navigation

Crossing the Columbia Bar. Crossing the Columbia bar should be considered an advanced sailing technique. You should have experience with PNW bar crossings ideally and have done the bar with someone else first. This area is not considered the Graveyard of the Pacific for nothing. That said, I only cross the bar on a flood tide with ocean swells in the 10 foot range or less coming out, and midflood coming in. I listen carefully to the Coast guard reports, and talk to them if I have any questions. I have everyone tied in or below decks. I go during the day. Other than that, I will leave this section to be filled out by more experienced sailors than I.

Entrance

If this is not a port of entry omit this section, otherwise submit details about facilities for checking in - location of immigration & customs, etc.

Health and Security

This =place is safer than my home and the only time you have to worry is when there are large amounts of tourists or transients coming through. That is basicly the summer months. I have heard of people getting some tools lifted at the boatyard, but if you don't clean up after you are finished for the day, well, what can I say.

I am sure that Astoria has violent crime, I have not heard of it happening to the cruisers or anyone that works with us. It is an unusually tight community in that way.

In the slips: Once you get to know some of the liveaboards here they look out after your boat. And you tend to look out for theirs. Kinda a nice perk for being on the edge of the world.

Berthing

Oregon side: From the Mouth Eastward-

  • Hammond Marina: 503-861-3197
  • Skipanon Marina (Warrenton): 503-861-0362
  • City of Warrenton Basins: 503-861-3822
  • Port of Astoria West Basin Marina: 503-325-8279
  • Port of Astoria East Basin: 503-325-8279.
  • Astoria Yacht Club : 503-861-1439
  • Washington side: From the Mouth Eastward
  • Port of Ilwaco: 360-642-3143
  • Port of Chinook: 360-777-8797

My experience: Ilwaco is closest to the mouth, but I have always berthed on the Oregon side because of no sales tax and generally cheaper cost. Chinook appears to be largely for fishermen, as does Hammond. I have always been treated well by the protected slips in Warrenton city, and the West basin in Astoria is your regular marina- fuel, provisions and even a DIY boatyard close by. I do not know anything about Astoria Yacht Club, except that it is behind a lift bridge that you need to schedule. East basin is somewhat remote and has quite a population of seals. Pumpout at Warrenton and Astoria is free, and fuel is only available at the west basin.

Berthing

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

See Berthing Options information. This page will be filled in later. If you have specific questions on the marinas, I suggest going to the Cruisers Forum and asking.

Anchorages

Although there are many places to anchor on the river, the current tends to make these miserable and nerve racking. There is one excellent anchorage that is worth mentioning. As you sail past Tongue point (east of Astoria) you will see the old WW2 shipbuilding yard in Mott Basin. Turn down this channel (John Day Channel) passing Mott Island to port. Behind Mott Island is a bay, tucked between Lois Island the mainland and Mott Island. It is about 10-20 feet deep, has excellent holding and is protected (if you anchor just southeast of Mott Island) in all directions. Dingy access is up John Day river to a boat ramp on your starboard. Once you are at the boat ramp however, stores are a ways off. Its a nice bike ride, or if you have an outboard it may be just easier to motor back the way you came to the Safeway in Astoria.

Yacht Repairs and Services

Marine Stores

Englund Marine is the store for parts. They have always been extremely nice to me, and if they didn't have it, they could order it. They have branch store at many of the smaller ports, but their main store is here. At the end of the tracks of the trolley to the west or just north of the boatyard. They also have welding supplies if you are DIY metalworker.

Repairs/Yards

  • If you need some canvas work done, I have found Four Winds Canvas Works on Pier 39 (along the trolley and just east of the east basin) easy to work with and excellent quality. In addition to sail repair, they do all sorts of boat and outdoor covers, and have a small marine consignment. They are also local sailors and it is worth going into their shop to just say hello.

Fuel, Water, & Electricity

Fuel
Give details on fuel
Water
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Electricity
Give details on electricity

Things to do Ashore

Tourism

You shouldn't miss the Maritime Museum and its display on the Columbia bank. It is right on the trolley line to the east of west basin. There are other museums in town, but I have not been to them. Downtown Astoria is definety funky with little eateries and bookstores and whatever. It is worth exploring. Take the Trolley/railroad when it is running. It is a blast and a all day pass is cheap. There are a ton of places catering to tourism and eating out, but I end up at Subway (on the main drag across from the West Basin, often open past 10pm) and Pig in a blanket (opens at 6am with Wifi- just west of Subway) For those with cars, bikes and kids: Seashore and Cannon Beach have great beaches and all the shopping of any modern big city.They are about 12 miles away, just go west on 101. In Warrenton there is a Costco, Home Depot and Fred Meyer. To get there you have to go across Youngs Bay, and it is about a 5 mile trip (by road) If you are serious about these shops, it may be easier to get a transient slip in Warrenton, or just get a taxi.

Grocery & Supply Stores

Eateries

Internet/WiFi

Available?

Laundry

Motorbike & Car Rentals

Garbage Disposal

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Transportation

List transportation (local and/or international.)

Friends

Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

References & Publications

See United States.

Comments

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Names: Lighthouse, Newt


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