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  • Capt. Eric

Weather to go?

I've been watching the weather forecasts and doing simulations of our possible routes up to the San Juan de Fuca straight. I favor our route further offshore than usual to stay far away from fishing boats, nets and buoys.

For the last week now, a weather window of a few days seem to open starting Wednesday, with the best days probably being Thursday and Friday. Depending on currents and winds we will take 30 to 36 hours of offshore passage, starting with one of the most dangerous spots in the world, the Columbia Bar.

Checking weather routing. Our route will probably be further away from shore

So we're preparing Enfin for the bar crossing. We take it seriously. A simple extract of Wiki will tell you all you need to know:

The Columbia Bar, also frequently called the Graveyard of the Pacific, is a system of bars and shoals at the mouth of the Columbia River spanning the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. It is known as one of the most dangerous bar crossings in the world.

The bar is where the river's current dissipates into the Pacific Ocean, often as large standing waves. The waves are partially caused by the deposition of sediment as the river slows, as well as mixing with ocean waves. The waves, wind, and current are hazardous for vessels of all sizes. The Columbia current varies from 4 to 7 knots (7.4 to 13.0 km/h) westward, and therefore into the predominantly westerly winds and ocean swells, creating significant surface conditions.[2][3] Unlike other major rivers, the current is focused "like a fire hose" without the benefit of a river delta.[4] Conditions can change from calm to life-threatening in as little as five minutes due to changes of direction of wind and ocean swell.[5] Since 1792, approximately 2,000 large ships have sunk in and around the Columbia Bar, and because of the danger and the numerous shipwrecks the mouth of the Columbia River acquired a reputation worldwide as the graveyard of the Pacific.[6]

Dark in windy weather. Di in front of an old pilot boat, similar to old North Sea salvage boats

So far in Astoria the weather has been very unstable, switching from sunny to hailstorms in a few minutes, from snow showers back to calm and sunny in the next hour.

A sunny moment. It won't last long!

I'll continue to watch the weather closely and we'll push off as soon as we see a safe window.

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