The Ship ReportTM  
         All Things Maritime
     with Joanne Rideout 

Photo: Joanne Rideout 2008.

Ships, bridges and channels

On today's Ship Report, Joanne Rideout talks about the limiting factors that restrict ships from traveling on rivers: like bridges and channel depth. These factors determine what types of ships we see on the Columbia.

Photo: 30' breaking waves on the Columbia River Bar. Photo: courtesy Columbia River Bar Pilots.

November 30, 2015

Ship Report

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Joanne Rideout
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about her trip aboard the
cargo ship CSL Acadian.
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Tuesday through Thursday

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When's High Tide where you are? Find Tidal info at


pproximate Vessel Travel Times:
(Times vary according to tidal conditions, current, weather,
and individual vessel horsepower)
  • Portland/Vancouver -Astoria: 6-8 hours
  • Kalama -Astoria: 5 hours
  • Longview -Astoria: 3.5 hours
  • Columbia River Bar - Astoria: 1.5 hours

Tide Notes:
  • Tide times are often listed in 24 hour time - for times after noon, subtract 1200 from the time to get regular clock time. Ex: 1300 hrs - 1200 = 1:00 pm)
  • Also, tides are referenced to Mean Lower Low Water, a reference point for depth on many nautical charts. MLLW is the average of the lower of the two low tides in a day, over a 19-year cycle. Minus tides are lower than MLLW.
  • If you're right on the coast, subtract an hour from these times. Upriver, highs and lows happen later. For instance, in Knappa, add an hour. In Clatskanie, add 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Ship Horn Signals
Commonly Heard off Astoria:
  • One prolonged blast every two minutes or less: vessel operating in fog.

  • Five consecutive horn blasts:  warning signal that means literally "I do not know your intention." This generally means another vessel is in the way of a ship in the channel, and is being asked to move before they collide.

  • Three short blasts: Vessel going in reverse

  • One long blast followed by three short: signal for the change of pilots. Soon after this signal, you'll see the pilot launch Arrow II head out to a passing ship, to facilitate the transfer of bar and river pilots.
  • Note: "Pilot transfer" is when a pilot disembarks or boards a ship. Ships generally must by law have a river or bar pilot on board when they are on the Columbia or Willamette Rivers. The bar and river pilots have separate pilotage grounds defined by the Oregon Legislature.

Revelers gather every December in Ilwaco, Wash.,
for the ceremonial lighting of the World's Tallest Crab Pot
Christmas Tree. Photo: Dirk Sweringen 2008.

The R/V Marcus G. Langseth in a gale
                              off Tonga
The R/V Marcus G. Langseth takes seas over the rail in a gale off
Tonga in the South Pacific. Photo: Ted Koczynski

The Marcus G. Langseth is a seismic research vessel owned by the
National Science Foundation and operated by Columbia University.
She spent several months in Astoria in the fall of both 2008 and 2009,
at the Port of Astoria. In early December, she headed to the shipyard
in Portland for some needed maintenance and repairs.
She headed back out to sea in early 2010.

This Week's Podcasts
  • MondayOn today's Ship Report, Joanne Rideout talks about the decision to delay the opening of commercial Dungeness crab fishing past Dec. 1 because of domoic acid contamination.

Bulletin Board:

Blog: Mystic's Adventures: Joan Marie and Ron Ash live aboard

Bridge Safety by Zip Code

NOAA Public Comment on Right Whale Protections

Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain come to the Columbia River

Deployed for the Holidays:
interviews with mariners and military personnel

Oregon King Tide Photo Project

Washington King Tide Photo Initiative

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald [video]

Watch the film BOATLIFT, about how mariners came to the rescue in 9/11 New York City.

Ship's Store
  • Shipwatching Guide - A handy foldout guide that will teach you how to identify the ships you see.

  • Fisher Poets CD - Recorded live in 2006 at the 11th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Ore. Sales benefit Coast Community Radio in Astoria.
Credit cards accepted


Ship Report
                                                  Creator and Producer
                                                  Joanne Rideout
Ship Report Producer Joanne Rideout
inside the research submersible Alvin.

The Ship Report
is a daily podcast about ship traffic from around the world, along with recorded interviews with mariners and other nautical folk about issues ranging from piracy to life at sea. Producer Joanne Rideout is a journalist and photographer who created The Ship Report in 2005. Since then Joanne and has been interviewing, writing and photographing the maritime world and its interesting people
as much as she possibly can.


Video: Impressive Coast Guard Rescue of HMS Bounty crew

West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

See the film BOATLIFT, about how mariners came to the rescue in 9/11 NYC.

Check out the Blog
Hooked for  the survival story of the "Man in the Fish Tote."

Patrick Dixon, Marine Photographer and Writer

Fisher Poets: In the Tote - Poems, Stories, Songs of the Sea

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New Year's Eve Ship Horns!

Water and Steel Blog

Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Fisher Poets Gathering

Tsunami Prep for Mariners

Three Things You Need to Know about Tsunamis

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