Trailering Magazine Archives - Destinations
Portland is a city of half a million people, 78 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean with the Columbia River on its northern edge, the Willamette River in the center, freighters from all over the world entering and leaving "port" and "land" filled with scenery that makes even the time-worn resident stop and say, "Wow." Lewis and Clark said it...well, sort of.
Portland was a campground for them in November 1805 as the explorers moved west in search of the Pacific Ocean. Looking at the expanding view as the fog lifted on their first morning, Captain Clark noted in his diary, "The countrey [sic] has a handsom [sic] appearance." Two centuries later, a lot of people still agree the explorer knew of what he spoke.
Captain Ted Carr of Vessel Assist Portland is one of them: "Portland is God's city. It's beautiful. There's lots of rain but I wouldn't live anywhere else. There are lots of open spaces and in just a couple of hours you can be in the mountains skiing. And from Portland, you're in sight of six volcanoes [Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Tabor and Mt. Adams in Washington, and Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson in Oregon]."
Andrew Richardson of McCuddy's Marina
Clark's diary is echoed by third-generation Portland resident, Andrew Richardson, boat sales manager at McCuddy's Marina, a BoatU.S. Cooperating Marina with five separate locations in Portland. "In my travels, I've never found another place where one hour away you can reach the longest beach on the Pacific Ocean," he says, "or where you can have year 'round-skiing or look at a massive river, see waterfalls, enjoy all four seasons, and meet friendly, unselfish and very giving people. Portland is that place."
You see a trend here?
Let's get to the boats. Portland has more than a dozen boat ramps scattered throughout the city limits and McCuddy's Marina (www.mccuddys.com) is the go-to place for slips, fuel, service, boat sales and at their Ridgefield and Landing facilities, public boat ramps.
"Portland has all sorts of boating," Richardson observes from his office overlooking the water outside. "The fishing is terrific and many of the boats that launch or are at a dock at McCuddy's go up the Columbia near the Bonneville Dam where there's always a lot of action. On the Willamette, just southeast of the city, you'll find a lot of water-skiers and wakeboarders. And a lot of them launch at Willamette Park where the river provides smooth water. Two of our marinas are on the Multnomah Channel, located near the Willamette's intersection with the Columbia. Boats are part of Portland, that's for sure."
There's also room to tie up and explore Portland. On the western side of the Willamette is Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a two-mile greenway with cherry trees, bike paths, a marina (RiverPlace with a 300-foot transient dock), restaurants, a spectacular view of Mt. Hood, hotels and access to Portland's Old Town, Chinatown and downtown districts. Many observers have noted Portland is a city of neighborhoods-each with its own character and quirks. Close to McCall Park is the Pearl District with lots of family-owned shops including Powell's City of Books (www.powells.com), home to more than a million available titles.
Every June, for the past century, the city has hosted a Rose Festival, which has become the second largest floral parade in the country (Pasadena's New Year's Day Rose Parade is the biggest) and earned Portland the title of "City of Roses." More than half a million people attend the parade, festivals, dragon boat races on the Willamette River, fireworks show, house tours and, of course, tours of celebrated rose gardens.
A common direction reference in Portland is "west side" or "east side" of one of eight bridges that cross the Willamette (i.e. the Portland Saturday Market is held under "the west side of the Burnside Bridge"). Knowing this will help whenever you're asking for driving, or for that matter, boating, directions. Two other things to know when driving or boating in Portland: There's no sales tax and an employee of the gas station or fuel dock pumps all gas.
Portland is the largest exporter of wheat in the United States and one of the largest import points for autos. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai bring their new cars to this city where 20% are trucked and 80% are put on rail cars to 26 states, some as far as the East Coast. Because of the global economy, the port's business is down by 28%. The Port of Portland operates on both the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Onboard in Portland
For the first-timer with a trailer boat, Captain Carr has this advice: "The Columbia runs harder and faster and the closer you get to the Pacific coast, the harder the tides are going to be. In Portland, there's still a tide on the Columbia, so if I were talking to anyone, whether they are first-timers or frequent users of these rivers around Portland, it's to have an anchor.
Believe it or not, this happens too often: I've found boaters whose engine has stopped and they're holding their boat against a bridge piling because they didn't think they needed an anchor. This is a river with a tide and a current."
Richardson concurs. "Any time there's a heavy rain, and the tide is right, you're going to get a current on the Columbia," he says. "This happens most often during the spring and lasts for two to three months. By June, it slows down."
Three of the most popular boat ramps are the already noted Willamette Park just southeast of the city and the 42nd Street Boat Ramp on the Columbia River just west of Portland International Airport. The latter is a central location from which boaters can head down the Columbia to Sauvie Island or make a port turn to go up the Willamette to McCall Park. There's also the six-lane Chinook Island Park at Mile 118.5 of the Columbia River. It is from Chinook Island that most of the anglers launch and head west toward the Bonneville Dam in search of, appropriately, a certain kind of salmon.
The Columbia River along Portland's north shore has a pair of huge islands-Hayden, where McCuddy's Hayden Island Marina is located over which Interstate 5 crosses, and Government Island, a 1760-acre expanse over which Interstate 205 crosses. Most of Government Island is off limits to the public but there are a pair of docks and a recreational area for boaters.
"I always tell visitors about Government Island," Captain Carr says, "because the fishing is good, there's a nice beach and probably 15 miles of shoreline. There's primitive camping too. But beware of the shoals just northeast of Government Island around Ackerman Island. I've done a lot of ungroundings there." Carr also says an all-too common occurrence is misreading a red and green day marker (following the color that is below rather than the color that is above) and then running aground.
Andrew Richardson speaks highly of Hayden Island whenever a boater asks about a good place to eat. "Our Hayden Island Marina has the Island CafŽ, where you can tie up at no cost and have lunch or dinner. It's a huge hangout for boaters and their families. There's also the Deck on the Columbia Restaurant at our Marine Drive Marina (33rd and Marine Drive). They are both wonderful places!"
The Columbia separates Oregon's northern boundary from Washington's southern boundary. Both states have reciprocity agreements regarding fishing licenses-that is, an Oregon fisherman can drop a hook in Washington waters of the olumbia and vice-versa.
"Portland is where you can catch salmon while looking at skyscrapers," observes Captain Ted Carr. "This is a city with a lot going on."
Portland Visitors Information
Portland Visitors Bureau
Vessel Assist Portland
West Marine Portland
1176 N. Hayden Meadows Drive
Donaldson Marina and Gas Dock
($.10/gallon fuel discount)
Rocky Pointe Marina ($.10/gallon fuel
discount w/cash, check or debit card and 5% off repairs over $1,000)
Ducks Moorage (25% transient slip discount)
Marineland at Pier 99 (25% transient slip discount) 503-286-8221