The Most Recent Ship Report Podcast:

Buoy 10 fishery on the Columbia

Every year in August, the Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens, and lots of boaters in small craft head out onto the lower Columbia off Astoria. It's an opportunity for great fishing, and also an opportunity to use common sense to stay out of trouble on the water. We'll also talk about the legalities of interactions between boats and ships. The bottom line there: Ships Rule.

Archive Podcasts:

Buoy 10 fishery on the Columbia

Aug 04, 2022

Every year in August, the Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens, and lots of boaters in small craft head out onto the lower Columbia off Astoria. It’s an opportunity for great fishing, and also an opportunity to use common sense to stay out of trouble on the water. We’ll also talk about the legalities of interactions between boats and ships. The bottom line there: Ships Rule.

Cleanup begins on the Tourist No. 2 Ferry sunk in Astoria

The Tourist No. 2 is an old wooden ferry, with a long history in Astoria, that’s currently lying on its side in shallow water off the Astoria waterfront, leaking diesel. Her owner apparently doesn’t have the resources to mount a cleanup effort, so the Coast Guard is stepping in. Here’s what we know so far about what’s being done.

John Day Dam lock damage highlights river commerce

Aug 02, 2022

The John Day Dam lock system upriver from the Dalles is broken and a workaround in place means tug and barge traffic is slow through the dam. This would be an issue anytime, but more so now – because it’s harvest time and lots of wheat is waiting to come downriver to ships for export overseas. The mechanical breakdown highlights the importance of the chain of river commerce that we take for granted.

Image courtesy US Army Corps of Engineers – USACE, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The sinking of the old Tourist No. 2 Ferry in Astoria

Aug 01, 2022

Right now a boat that played a big part in Astoria’s history is sitting partially sunk off the city’s waterfront. It’s the Tourist No.2, one of the ferries that used to take passengers across the river between Astoria and Megler before the big bridge across the Columbia River was built in the 60s. It’s a sad thing to see a great old wooden boat go down, and there’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding this one. Today, some thoughts about such boats and what it takes to keep them going.

Samantha Steerman, Part 5

Jul 29, 2022

Today is the final show featuring a recent interview with Samantha Steerman, vessel traffic coordinator for the Columbia River Bar Pilots. Her job is unique, demanding and central to the transit of cargo ships on the river.

Her role, like many jobs in the maritime industry, is largely hidden from the public. She’s part of a vital workforce of maritime professionals who work shoreside, making it possible for pilots, ships and their crews to do their jobs on the river.

It’s not a stretch to say that without skilled professionals like Samantha working here on our local waterfront, we would not have our “90 percent of everything” that comes to us on ships.

Samantha Steerman, Part 4

Jul 28, 2022

Today we continue this week’s series from my interview with Samantha Steerman. She’s the first woman ever to hold the position of vessel traffic coordinator, or dispatcher, for the Columbia River Bar Pilots.

To imagine yourself in her job, picture yourself sitting at a desk with a microphone, a radio transmitter and receiver, and a telephone, in an office with colleagues  who are also asking necessary questions and checking in with important information. Not to mention numerous ships transiting the river inbound and outbound. All of these things may be happening at once.

At any given moment, she’s interpreting a scratchy radio transmission from the captain of an incoming ship whose first language is not English, fielding phone calls about ship and pilot transits, and talking with pilots who need to check in with her about other priorities.

Let’s just say it’s a job for someone with a cool head, a lot of multitasking abilities and skills, and inside knowledge about the local maritime industry.

Samantha Steerman, Part 3

Jul 27, 2022

This week, we’re hearing excerpts from a recent interview I did with Samantha Steerman. Her official job is Vessel Traffic Coordinator for the Columbia River Bar Pilots. She works on the waterfront in Astoria. Her job requires her to juggle a lot of competing priorities at once, and each one is important. She’s also the first woman to hold this position for the pilots. And while she occasionally encounters other women in her day’s work, people she talks with in the course of her day are often surprised to hear a female voice, because women are still few and far between in the maritime trades.

Samantha Steerman interview, Part 2

Jul 26, 2022

This week we’re hearing excerpts from my interview with Samantha Steerman: she’s the vessel traffic coordinator (dispatcher) for the Columbia River Bar Pilots in Astoria. She coordinates the comings and goings of ships and pilots on the river. That means she spends a lot of time on the radio talking to people from all around the world about critical details related to the transit of massive ships in and out of the Columbia. It’s demanding work with a lot at stake.

Columbia River Bar Pilots Dispatcher Samantha Steerman

Jul 25, 2022

This week we’ll hear excerpts from my interview with Columbia River Bar Pilot Dispatcher Samantha Steerman.

She’s a seasoned professional in the maritime industry, and the first woman ever to hold the dispatcher’s position for the pilots.

Her job requires her to multi-task like mad: handling emergencies, coordinating pilot transfers, and working daily with people from many different countries.

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