The Most Recent Ship Report Podcast:
The Columbia River Bar is on red status this morning? What does that mean? We’ll talk about it.
Our weather continues to be a topic of conversation this week, as PNW winter makes its presence known.
According to current forecasts, we’re slated to get smacked with a Pineapple Express sort of atmospheric river event over the next day or so. What’s an Atmospheric River, anyway? Not to mention a Pineapple Express, which sounds like a dessert you might order in Hawaii… We’ll talk about all that today on the Ship Report. Spoiler alert: it means lots, and lots, of water up in the air, ready to rain down upon us. Some areas could see seven inches of rain before this storm is over!
We’ve been talking lately about pilot boat crews and how they support and make possible the work of marine pilots on the river and ocean. Today we take a look at the pilot boat Connor Foss, frequently seen on the waterfront in Astoria. What’s her role in the piloting network and what challenges does her crew face? She also carries both kinds of local pilots: Bar and river pilots, who tackle separate hazards on the channel between the river’s mouth, Portland, and beyond.
Once there were lightships on waterway entrances around the U.S. Now there are none. There’s a famous one here in Astoria, at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria. She was one of a number of lighthips – floating lighthouses – that marked the entrance to the river, dating back to the 1800s.
It happens every year: sooner or later the weather gets messy enough that ship traffic is affected. Today the Columbia River Bar is in yellow status, and some ships will have to wait. We’ll talk about what yellow status is, and how it affects vessels entering and leaving the river.
It’s that time of year again, where the weather goes to hell in a handbasket on the coast. Not as bad as it can be, but winter weather is here. Just another fall and winter day in the Pacific Northwest. We’ll talk about what that means for mariners.
They call them “helos” in the maritime industry, short for the helicopters that pilots here rely on to get them safely to and from ships outside the river’s mouth. On the helo is a highly trained military pilot, and an equally skilled winch operator. They are the indispensable crew behind every pilot helicopter boarding and disembarking.
Out on the ocean, out of sight of land, works an intrepid crew of professionals – the bar pilot support personnel who labor on the high speed pilot boats. They take pilots out across the river bar to meet ships and bringing them safely home again after they’ve escorted ships across the bar. These folks are expert foul weather boat handlers and pilots rely on them for their safety and successful completion of their mission as pilots.
The pilot boat Peacock is on display at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. You can see her decorated with holiday lights when you drive by. Of all the amazing vessels we have here on the lower Columbia, this one stands out as a true game changer. When she came to live on the river, commerce as we know it was transformed. She made it possible for many ships to come into the river in rough weather, because she was such a capable craft.