Sector Columbia River
2185 SE 12th Place
Warrenton, OR 97146
Sector Columbia River
Protecting the Pacific Northwest
Columbia River Bar Hazards
The Coast Guard maintains a recorded bar and weather forecast report at each station. The recording is updated every 3 hours during daylight or when weather conditions change. In addition Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment can be contacted via VHF-FM Channel 16 for conditions of the bar. New "Restricted Bar" warning signs and lights have been installed at Ilwaco, Chinook, Hammond, and Skipanon boat ramps. If these lights are on... there is some type of safety restriction for the Columbia River bar.
Bar Conditions (click to see bar camera images and latest bar
observations and Coast Guard restrictions
- Columbia River bar report - (360) 642-3565
- Grays Harbor bar report - (360) 268-0622
- Tillamook Bay bar report - (503) 322-3234
- Radio Stations KVAS (1230 kHz) and KAST (1370 kHz) give bar condition reports 15 minutes before and after the hour.
- CHINOOK SPUR, UPPER, LOWER AND MIDDLE SAND ISLAND SPURS are built on two rows of staggered pilings. Currents flowing through these pilings attain a velocity of up to 5 knots. A boat which becomes disabled or is maneuvered in such a way as to come in contact with any of these spurs is almost sure to suffer damage or become trapped against them and turn over. Even large boats have been capsized in these areas. Give these spurs a wide berth and never get close to them on the up-current side.
- CLATSOP SPIT is the most unpredictable area on the river entrance. During flood currents and slack water it may be calm with only a gentle swell breaking far in on the spit. Yet 5 or 10 minutes later, when the current has started to ebb, it can become extremely hazardous with breakers extending far out toward the channel. You should remain north of the red buoys in this area, particularly just before or during the ebb. The South Jetty has a section broken away on the outer end. The broken section is under water close to the surface. Boats should use extra caution in the area from the visible tip of the Jetty out to Buoy "2SJ" Peacock and Clatsop Spits are called the graveyard of the Pacific for good reason.
- JETTY A which is southeast of Cape Disappointment, presents a particular danger when the current is ebbing. Water flowing out of the river, is deflected by the jetty and frequently the currents reach 8 knots, often causing waves up to 8 feet high. Boats proceeding into Baker Bay West Channel make very little speed against the swift current and are exposed to the rough water or surf for long periods of time. The shallow sandy area should be avoided by small craft when heavy seas are present because of the surf which breaks on the beach.
- PEACOCK SPIT: Breakers are heavy in all types of current. Sports craft leaving the river should never be on the north side of the green buoys. When rounding Peacock Spit, give the breakers at least a half-mile clearance. Many times unusually large swells coming in from the sea suddenly commence breaking 1/4 to 1/2 miles outside the usual break on the end of the north jetty.
- MIDDLE GROUND: This is a shallow area between the North Jetty and main Ship Channel that is subject to breaking seas when swells as small as 4 feet are present. Conditions here can change in minutes with tidal current changes.
Columbia River Bar Pilots web site
Columbia River Pilots web site