Biggest seas you ever experienced?
For me it was on a crossing from Swiftsure Bank back to Neah Bay. The dawn crossing in growing seas from an oceanic storm that had been raging and we suspected high seas but nothing like what ensued.
It always scares me when the sky gets so dark that the water looks brighter, and mid-day to boot. The waves were as high as telephone poles, luckily about as far apart too. Each crest made the motor labor to the peak where we might or might not see the other three boats in the party depending on whether they were in a trough or peak. Each downhill slide brought the risk of pitch-poling us into the trough, as these waves were big enough to have turbulence between crests which had those Hawaii-5-0 white trails blowing off the tips.
The boat was a 23ft hardtop and the bulkhead was completely under waves manytimes. I never thought I would see the inside of a huge wave with a panoramic view of the thousand foot depths of the Strait of Juan De Fuca from a boat chair, but I did. I would look at the Clint Eastwood face of my mentor Ken Morgan and as long as he didn't flinch or show fear I was OK with it. Each time we would pitch a curtain of water weighing several hundred pounds would pour over the bulkhead mostly onto the deck and drain out the transom as we would climb. The bilge was working doubletime and the motor straining to combat the forces.
We eventually came inside the breakwater at Neah and I swear I almost kissed the slimy gut-covered gull-splatted deckboards at the cleaning station on all fours when the ropes were out.
And then there was the tsunami alert...
Juro,That sounds very similar to my worst experience.My best friend and I spent a summer in 67 Kelping out of Neah Bay and Ilwaco.We were at Ilwaco one day chasing a good run of silvers in the rips nw of the north jetty.Fishing was so good we stayed out till almost dark .The tide was still running out hard,but we felt we had to come in before dark.In a Cape Kiwanda dory with a 35 & 15 in the well for power.There were huge swells from an asian storm[we thought at time they were at least 40 ft].Well. when they hit the outgoing Columbia[about 8mph?] they stacked and broke like surfer waves all across the river.We had to go full speed to crawl up the backside and shoot over the break and go fast enough to clear the white stuff ,but then slow enough so we did not skip around too much and catch a sideways edge .We were hauling and skipping and sliding and somehow made it through that area at the end of the jetties.There were coastgaurd boats there trying to help people in trouble[we were not the only dummies].4 boats went over and 3-4 people died.Beau
Beau, how to strike fear into a man's very sole. If there is a place where fear should win out over bravery it is the Columbia River Mouth. There is no place like it that I know about anywhere in the world. Youth fills us full of experience's we hopefully are able to ponder in later years and that is one of them. Hope you caught fish that day.
As a side note: That is what my son wants to do for his career. To be a skipper of a Coast Guard boat on the Columbia River Mouth. At 13 he lives it on a continuous basis. He has my apporval, I would be proud of him if that is the path he takes.
swistsure is the roughest run out of neah bay... period. especially if you are hitting it in the middle of a big ebb current (which i'm sure you were).
i've been out in 18 foot seas at neah... but it's a little hard to fish... but fun to see. the scariest in big waves was a foggy day in roughly 15 ft seas where the fog was so thick you couldn't see the top of the wave from the bottom.
big waves are okay if the wind direction is with the waves... but last spring i was out at the canadian long hole with 8-10 ft seas and a SE 45-50 knot wind.... and that was by far worse than anything else i had seen or run in before.... especially for 40 nautical miles. the big charter boats had microwaves come off the walls the pounding was so bad. almost every longtime neah bay fisherman has a SE wind story... now i have mine and know why many won't even go out if there is any SE wind in the forecast. if i had a different boat, i'm not sure how i would have fared that day. but that day did have the best client quote ever on my boat, i overheard this... "the captain must be doing something right, i've never puked before."
i've never dealt with the bars at the columbia or westport... but i've seen enough to know i would be cautious as hell. luckily, as sportfishermen we are rarely surprised by the weather... it is almost always forecast and we make the poor decisions that make the great stories when we make it back (or the devastating stories if we don't). i've pushed the limits more than i should of... just damn lucky.
with halibut season about to start... i hope people make good decisions about the weather and other boating issues.
I couldn't agree more!
Very early 1960's the CG sent me 'down there' for a bit of 'cross training.' When the skipper handed me a crash helmet (which I expected), a trapeze harness with short clips (which I expected), ... then he hands me a flack jacket for rib protection which I didn't expect. I was wrong, he was right.
The most increadable 2 hours of my life; we did 2 360's and several that were close to 270's. These guys were NUTS!:whoa: But LOVED every moment of it. Told them I'd stick with my Smith Island/Juan De Fuca posting.:roll:
I've been in bigger seas than the story I'll tell, but never in such a small boat.
One day years ago on the Hudson River I was out with two other people in a 14' sailboat in 6-8' seas with very little distance between waves. When you were in the trough you might as well have been in the center of the ocean since you couldn't see any land. We were at the widest point of the Hudson at Half Moon Bay. All three of us were on one side of the sailboat, we had only the mainsail up, and I was hanging off the rigging over the water as far as I could just to keep the boat from flipping. It was 3 miles each way from where we launched to the beach on the other side (Black Beach). There was a gale warning out for part of that day too...
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