The World’s Smallest Harbor

 

Depoe Bay, Oregon is the world’s smallest harbor. The entrance to that harbor is none too large and is called the Hole. The Depoe Bay Coast Guard Station call themselves ‘The Hole in the Wall Gang’. There are two 47 MLB motorized lifeboats stationed at Depoe Bay.

The 47 MLB is the Coast Guard’s standard lifeboat, designed to weather hurricane force winds and heavy seas, capable of surviving winds up to 60 knots, breaking surf up to 20 feet and impacts up to three Gs. And, if the boat should capsize, it self-rights with all equipment remaining fully functional.

Rising gas prices or canceled flights may have limited your travel plans so let’s take a virtual trip that features the Hole in the Wall Gang.

The first video is a salute to the Coast Guard and the second video features the rescue of two kayakers inside the entrance to the harbor.

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  1. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    I have heard it said that the waters off the mouth of the Columbia River are among the planet’s most dangerous.   And that because of that the Oregon Coasties are some of the finest small boat handlers in the world.

    • #1
  2. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Last fall I scheduled a whale watch tour out of Depoe.  Cancelled by bad weather.  Now I am truly disappointed to not have seen the world’s smallest harbor.

    As to the rescue scene, is it SOP to tip the victims into the water?  That whole video has a Keystone Cops feel, ending with the forlorn kayak floating upside down.

    • #2
  3. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I have heard it said that the waters off the mouth of the Columbia River are among the planet’s most dangerous. And that because of that the Oregon Coasties are some of the finest small boat handlers in the world.

    The Coast Guard’s National Lifeboat School is located in Ilwaco, WA on the north side of the bar.

    From the Columbia River Bar Pilots website:

    Incoming ocean swells can double in size when they enter the Columbia River. That’s because they have to cross the Columbia River Bar, a four-mile stretch of sand that has built up at the river’s mouth.

    “Swells get upward to 23 to 24 feet, sometimes even greater,” explains Gary Lewen, a Columbia River Bar pilot.

    Up to a million cubic feet of water rushes from the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean every second.

    “It’s a very huge impact with the swells because of the large current outbound and the force of the swells coming inbound,” explains Columbia River Bar pilot, Capt. Michael Dillon.

    • #3
  4. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Last fall I scheduled a whale watch tour out of Depoe. Cancelled by bad weather. Now I am truly disappointed to not have seen the world’s smallest harbor.

    As to the rescue scene, is it SOP to tip the victims into the water? That whole video has a Keystone Cops feel, ending with the forlorn kayak floating upside down.

    As I watched the video of the rescue the kayaker in the water moved from the front of the kayak to rear. The kayaker in the boat sat on the side of the kayak rather than in the center of the kayak. I suspect that with all the weight on one side of the kayak in rough water may have contributed to the capsize.

    • #4
  5. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    More years ago than I care to admit, the wife and I sat in a hot tub on the balcony of a B&B in Depoe Bay, sipping wine and watching the boats go in and out.  It was pricey but darn well worth it. The previous night we had paid $2 for backpack campsite in the redwood parks of NW Cali, and had to negotiate right of passage with a herd of elk to get to it. 

    • #5
  6. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    I spent some time as a youth in Tillamook.  I always wanted to canoe the length of the D River.  Couldn’t find a qualified guide. 

    • #6
  7. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Thanks!  We will make sure to visit on our 19th anniversary trip down the Oregon coast in October.  I’ve been, since I am a NW native, but Ray hasn’t.  Maybe we can schedule a meetup on our way.

    • #7
  8. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    I was in the Coast Guard in the 1980’s, though I didn’t spend any time on the small boats.  I was a buoy tender sailor, mostly in Alaska.  But once we did go down to Astoria, Oregon to do buoys there (the buoy tender there was in extended maintenance due to an engine fire).

    That included the mouth of the Columbia River which was quite the experience.  Though the weather was mild while we were working buoys there, the swells that came into the mouth were very interesting.

    The small boats of that time were the 44 foot motor life boat and the 41 foot utility boat.  The 44 footer was the one that was designed to be able to roll in heavy surf.  But the 41 footer was also used to do plenty of rescue work.

    I’ve watched quite a few videos of the 47 foot motor life boat which has a lot of maneuverability the boats of my time in didn’t.   The Coast Guard did a good job in the design of that boat.

    • #8
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