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Old 06-30-2020, 07:17 AM   #1
beavs6
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Default Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

So I’m comfortable with my boat, motor, electronics, and safety gear. I’m not as comfortable with my understanding of forecasting for ocean conditions and potential bar crossing times. I’ve been in the ocean hundreds of times over my life, but rarely captaining myself. I know there are various reporting websites and they can have differing info. I’m looking at the National Data Buoy Center site. What I’m hoping for is some constructive ideas, suggestions, and even corrections to my thoughts and what I’m looking at to make a decision. The hope/plan is to just chase salmon around the 4-CR buoys without straying too far from there. (I’ve tried to look at past threads to educate myself...I know this may be a tired topic for some)

Friday and Sat currently show (I know they can change drastically as the week progresses) NW wind at 5-10 knots. Wind waves 2 ft and NW swells 4 ft. I get frequency can make a difference, but for now these seem like moderate conditions. If these projections hold, it seems like a doable trip. My additional concern is in timing crossings according to the tide. Low tide is around 7am and then 8am(prox) and there appears to be a big exchange coming in to High Tide at 1 and 2 respectfully. Is it best to get out around (or just before) the low exchange and then plan to come in at and or after the High Tide exchange? Is there better timing? If it’s best to have a dialogue through a PM, that would be great too. Thanks in advance for everyone’s thoughts and considerations.

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Old 06-30-2020, 07:46 AM   #2
Jsteel
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Default Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

There is a lot you can find on search here. To quickly try to answer a few of your questions:

Number one rule - if you aren’t experienced, educate yourself. Read as much as you can, find a buddy boat to go with you (or go with someone else before your own boat), consider taking ocean safety classes/seminars, etc.

Swell 4’ and wind waves 2’ is generally a reasonable forecast to be on the ocean. The forecast is for wind out of the NW, which is ok - watch out for south winds.

Very general rule for tides - an incoming tide (low to high) is good. An outgoing tide is something to avoid as much as possible. Even a big incoming tide swing is generally fine on a decent ocean. Beware that sometime the bar can be bad even during the slack portion after an outgoing - pay attention to Coast Guard broadcasts on bar conditions.

So you should be fine if you cross the bar between 8 and 2.
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Old 06-30-2020, 08:34 AM   #3
upland hunter
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

With that big exchange and negative low in the am I would wait an hour or so after the low for the bar to lay down. Big exchanges take a little longer.


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Old 06-30-2020, 09:36 AM   #4
fishin"G"man
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

Swell and wind waves really should be added together and matched against the seconds between the swells. The higher the seconds or the greater the difference between swell and wind wave (combined seas) compared to the seconds in between is equal to a better ride.

As for the tides this weekend... They're BIG ones and they aren't gonna lay down very quick so get out early or wait till 9-10. Be careful getting on the front of big waves coming in... if the bow digs into the wave in front of you and the one behind you pushes you have a recipe for pitch pole. Control your throttle sometimes backing out of it, sometimes hard on it.

If you go out, stop and look over whats ahead from a safe distance, usually from Buoy 11 or sometimes 10. You DON'T want to turn around on the bar so be aware of breakers ahead before you get there. Around Buoy 8 is where you'll encounter the worst of the bar. Sometimes the south route is better than the north. Sometimes there's a hole in between.

The shallow water over at Buoy 9 is a "no go" area for us. There's a rule on our boat... never cut Buoy 9. Shallow water means bigger breakers and I know a lot of guys do. They say you'll encounter a few big waves then you're out of them. Might be true but there's no way I'm going into that washing machine with big water exchanges. We go out to 7 or further and then turn north. Look at your chart or look at your fathometer when crossing over there... IT'S SHALLOW (25-30') and the refraction of the waves off the North jetty and Benson beach come at you from all directions. Peacock Spit is NOT an area to play in.



These are just things "we do". They aren't meant for everyone and their comfort level. The more you cross that bar the more you'll understand where and how to do it safely.

One thing for sure... no matter what the bar or ocean is doing...... WEAR YOUR PFD!!!!
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

There are many facets to your question, and I'm going to address just one, and that is the time delay between the actual tidal currents and the published high and low tide times. For example, on Saturday the 4th, low tide is 7:57 am at the North Jetty station. However at that time the ebb current is still racing along at about 4.2 knots. The ebb current rapidly diminishes after that, but doesn't stop entirely until around 8:30.

So if you cross right at low tide, expecting slack water, you'll find a vigorous (but diminishing) ebb current.
Why the delay? Here are some of the reasons.
* The flywheel effect of all that water moving in the ebb current. It takes a while to reverse the momentum of billions of tons of moving water
* The massive fresh-water flow through the CR entrance creates a bias toward outbound current, independent of tidal effects
* The ebb current is nothing more than water flowing downhill. But the narrow CR entrance just isn't big enough to drain the massive estuary in real time. It sort of backs up, and takes a while to drain

Chartplotters often have tidal current information built in that can quantify the delay. The online tool I used in this case is deepzoom.com. Here is a Deepzoom screen shot showing the 4th at the CR. The yellow arrows show the current direction and speed in knots, which shows an ebb current of 4.7 knots at the location indicated by the arrow. At upper right is a tide chart. I've set the time right at low tide.




Here's another shot where I moved the time slider until the ebb current stopped. Note the time is about 8:30.




Tools like Deepzoom can give you some idea of the delay between published low tide and actual slack water. But there are lots of caveats.
* There are relatively few locations (yellow arrows) where tidal currents are shown. In this example, there are no yellow arrows out between or beyond the jetties. So what you actually see out there will be different
* I suspect that Deepzoom and others use some kind of average for river flows. If Bonneville opens the gates, or a big rain hits, I doubt that Deepzoom adjusts their predictions
* On the CR wind is a major factor, as is swell and swell period

In summary, tools like this can be a general guide, but are not definitive. The bottom line is the time of actual slack water often lags the time of low tide shown in the tide tables.
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Old 07-01-2020, 11:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

Informative site Tinman, thanks for sharing
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Old 07-01-2020, 11:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

The bar report from Cape Disappointment can be two hours behind.

You could be going out on max ebb when the report was for two hours prior.

Can make a huge difference.

Make note of the time they give you on the report-"as of xx:xx" conditions are as follows.......
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Old 07-01-2020, 03:00 PM   #8
beavs6
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

[QUOTE=Tinman;16401225]There are many facets to your question, and I'm going to address just one, and that is the time delay between the actual tidal currents and the published high and low tide times. For example, on Saturday the 4th, low tide is 7:57 am at the North Jetty station. However at that time the ebb current is still racing along at about 4.2 knots. The ebb current rapidly diminishes after that, but doesn't stop entirely until around 8:30.

Thank you!
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Old 07-02-2020, 06:46 AM   #9
steve-o
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

I am glad this thread came up. I know there is a lot of information in the search which is very valuable.

Here I have a scenario for someone learning to cross the first time and looking at tides and forecasts. See the attached picture of the wind/wave forecast and swells.
With looking at this forecast and assuming it stays true the day of, would this be a good day for a smaller boat, say an 18 to 20 foot windshield aluminum sled soft top to venture out? Looks like low tide that day is 8:23am -1.3 at the entrance and high tide is at 3:06 6.6.
Would this be a good day to test the waters for learning crossing the bar in the morning around 9:00 am and coming back at high slack?
All this being said, it is understandable that it is weather and things can change at any time.
Thanks for any input, Steve


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Old 07-03-2020, 11:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-o View Post
I am glad this thread came up. I know there is a lot of information in the search which is very valuable.

Here I have a scenario for someone learning to cross the first time and looking at tides and forecasts. See the attached picture of the wind/wave forecast and swells.
With looking at this forecast and assuming it stays true the day of, would this be a good day for a smaller boat, say an 18 to 20 foot windshield aluminum sled soft top to venture out? Looks like low tide that day is 8:23am -1.3 at the entrance and high tide is at 3:06 6.6.
Would this be a good day to test the waters for learning crossing the bar in the morning around 9:00 am and coming back at high slack?
All this being said, it is understandable that it is weather and things can change at any time.
Thanks for any input, Steve


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Does any experienced salty dogs have a comment or advice to what i posted?


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Old 07-03-2020, 12:25 PM   #11
edressen
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-o View Post
Does any experienced salty dogs have a comment or advice to what i posted?


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Those ocean conditions look great. The problem is you're not addressing the tides. There are two huge exchanges on Sunday. Not a good day to be a first-timer in my opinion.

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Old 07-03-2020, 01:35 PM   #12
steve-o
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edressen View Post
Those ocean conditions look great. The problem is you're not addressing the tides. There are two huge exchanges on Sunday. Not a good day to be a first-timer in my opinion.

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I put the tides time and the low/high ft in my original post........


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Old 07-03-2020, 02:23 PM   #13
steve-o
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Default Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

Quote:
Originally Posted by edressen View Post
Those ocean conditions look great. The problem is you're not addressing the tides. There are two huge exchanges on Sunday. Not a good day to be a first-timer in my opinion.

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Sorry edressen, I failed to put Monday the 6th as the day in my example.


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Last edited by steve-o; 07-03-2020 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 07-03-2020, 04:04 PM   #14
edressen
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Default Re: Bar/Ocean conditions education (Astoria)

Monday shows a 10 and a half foot exchange with a low tide at 9:00. That scares the Dickens out of me. From low to high is then an 8 1/2 of foot exchange. Both of those are big. I'm new enough to this that I'm hesitant on large tidal exchanges when you look at the Columbia River bar.

Personally, I would look for a different day. There's other saltier dogs on this forum that would fish that one from 10 to 4 in the afternoon, but I'd sit it out.

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