Anchoring in the Columbia River

Graphic from the US Army Corps of Engineers on how to anchor properly and know exactly how much chain and line are required.

The Columbia River can be one of the most thrilling and inspiring places to boat and fish, but it also has a reputation of being one of the deadliest.  Here are some tips to stay safe when boating on the Columbia River:

Choose an anchor that fits your boat and the boating conditions.

  • The plow-style anchor is good for most boats and gets its holding power by plowing into bottom sediments.
  • The fluke-style anchor (referred to as a Danforth) is similar to the plow style but is more lightweight.  It is also good for most boats and gets its holding power from its pointed flukes digging into the bottom sediments.
  • The mushroom anchor gets its holding power by sinking into the bottom sediments.  It should not be used to anchor boats larger than a small canoe, rowboat, small sailboat, or inflatable boat since the holding power is weak.  You should never depend on a mushroom anchor to hold your boat in rough water or weather.

Prepare your anchor before setting out:

  • Attach 7-8 feet of galvanized chain to the anchor. The chain aids in setting the anchor by lowering the angle of the pull as the chain sinks and lies on the bottom.  It will also help prevent abrasion of the anchor line from sand or rock on the bottom.  Most anchors grip by digging into the bottom when the line is pulled horizontally.  Any upward pull may break the anchor loose.
  • Be sure the anchor line is strong and long enough to anchor your boat.  A good rule of thumb is that the length of the line should be at least 7-10 times the depth of the water where you’re setting anchor.
  • Since an anchor can be a safety device in an emergency situation, store the anchor and its lines in an accessible area.  If the engine breaks down, you may need to anchor quickly to avoid drifting aground.

Follow these steps to anchor your boat:

  1. Select an area to anchor with plenty of room.  Ideally, it should be a well-protected area with adequate water depth and a sandy or muddy bottom.
  2. Head slowly into the wind or current into a position upwind or up-current of where you actually want to end up.
  3. When you are at that position, stop the boat and slowly lower the anchor from the bow -to the bottom.  NEVER ANCHOR FROM THE STERN because this can cause the boat to swamp (flood with water).  The square stern may be hit by waves, and water will splash into the boat.   The motor’s weight will add to this problem.
  4. Slowly back the boat away downwind or down-current.  Let out about 7-10 times as much anchor line as the depth of the water, depending on the wind strength and wave size.  Tie off the line around a bow cleat, and pull on the anchor line to make sure the anchor is set.
  5. After anchoring, take visual sightings of onshore objects or buoys in the water to help you know where your boat is positioned.  While at anchor, re-check these sightings frequently to make sure the anchor is not dragging.
  6. Periodically check connecting knots on your anchor line.  When possible, use splices instead of knots.  Knots weaken a line more than splices.

Follow these steps to retrieve your anchor:

  1. Move the boat directly over the anchor while pulling in the line.  Pulling the anchor straight up should break it free from the bottom.
  2. If the anchor is stuck, turn your boat in a large circle while keeping the anchor line pulled tight.
  3. When the anchor breaks loose, stop the boat and retrieve the anchor.  Never drag the anchor behind the boat.

It’s shaping up to be another fantastic year to go fishing for steelhead, salmon and sturgeon.  Be sure to know the fishing regulations and have all of the proper equipment on your boat to stay safe…especially a properly fitting life jacket.

*Graphic property of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District.

Look Out! Huh?

situationalawarenessWhy “Situational Awareness” is a big deal when operating a boat, and is a skill (and a mindset) that can be developed.

What are you paying attention to when you are operating your boat? Not just what are you looking at, but what information are you processing when making decisions while boating? Are you focused on your wake to see if you can shape it just right for the rider, are you focused on your passengers to make sure they are having a good time, or perhaps you are checking out that cool personal watercraft that is jumping your wake?

Unfortunately this year, Oregon experienced far too many collisions as a result of operators paying attention to exactly those things, and not to what is in front or to the side of their boat. This past year saw an 8.8% increase in fatalities caused by distracted drivers on our nations roadways, and unfortunately we are seeing similar (if not greater) increases on our waterways, too. While the reasons for distracted driving on the road may be different than on the water, the results tend to be the same.

The biggest factor in preventing boating accidents is human awareness, understanding the environment where you’re boating and the critical decisions that are made.


PayAttentionYou watch the road, stay in the lines, check your rear-view mirror and side mirrors routinely.  Why is a boat (propelled by paddle or motor) any different?  Sure, there aren’t any lines to follow, and in many cases, there aren’t rear-view mirrors installed, but there are environmental factors to always be aware of.  What direction is the wind coming from?  What is the condition of the tide -coming in or going out?  What is the depth and contour of the waterway?  Where is the sun’s position?  Where is my bow in proximity to an oncoming wake?

SAScaleHaving the right MINDSET, is a tangible skill but it’s something you need to prime your mind for.  Develop your perception, comprehension and projection, defined in the context of situational awareness:

  • Perception -of cues and stimulus from the environment
  • Comprehension -involving the integration of information to facilitate relevance determination and sense-making
  • Projection -the ability to forecast future situation events and dynamics

Reference: Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems; Mica R. Endsley, Texas Tech University

To develop the right mindset, first recognize that threats do exist.  Rivers are inherently dangerous.  The salt water environment is treacherous.  Lakes and reservoirs are not static.  Many boaters are complacent about potential threats, like cold water.  They aren’t expecting to get wet, so when a boater sets their anchor incorrectly and gets swamped -then what?  (Insert tragic headline here…) Most involve not wearing a life jacket.

Boat operators also need to take on the mindset that everyone’s security is their responsibility.  Everyone on board needs to have a properly fitting life jacket, know what to do if someone falls overboard, and have a plan on how to dock, launch and retrieve -as a team.   Ultimately, the law says that the boat operator will be held liable if anyone is injured in an accident or if another person’s property is damaged (or your own).  Not a good way to keep friends or spend your hard-earned money.

The situational awareness mindset also includes trusting your instincts.  Be mindful of your subconscious and the subtle signs of danger causing those goose bumps.  Have you ever had a feeling that something bad is going to happen without putting your finger on it -and then it happens?  Don’t ignore these feelings.  Act on them. 

Here are a few life-drills to help prime your mind:

  • At a boat ramp, how many people are launching?  What are they wearing?
  • Is there a staging area?
  • How many car slips and trailered parking spots are there?
  • What are the weather conditions?
  • Which direction is the wind coming from?
  • Where is the signage kiosk and how many signs are on it?
SUP enthusiasts must operate with "defensive" paddling, proper gear, and know your limits.

SUP enthusiasts must operate with “defensive” paddling, proper gear, and know their physical limits.

Engaging in such simple situational awareness drills will help train your mind to be aware of things around you, almost subconsciously, when you’re in a relaxed state of awareness.  These details matter.  Like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Bottom line:  Situational Awareness = Being present in the moment and taking action when needed.  You’ll also receive an added bonus of taking in more of the wonderful scenery, tranquility, and environmental sensations that help you connect… with nature -and yourself. 

Detroit Lake Boating



Water Sports Foundation hosts meeting with kayak manufacturers

-By Water Sports Foundation, August 22, 2016

The Water Sports Foundation (WSF) hosted its second paddle sports safety meeting with the world’s largest recreational kayak manufacturers at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City on Aug. 6. The attending manufacturers represent an estimated 90 percent of U.S. recreational kayak production.

The relationship started in 2015 when WSF, a U.S. Coast Guard non-profit organization grant recipient hosted a meeting to discuss a negative trend in paddle sports. During the previous five years paddle sports popularity showed steady growth and with this, boating deaths related to canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding showed an increase as well.

In 2014, 135 paddlers lost their lives while participating in these three categories and in 2015 the number jumped to 146. All this occurred during the same five year period* that total deaths from the larger power boating segment declined, creating the alarming anomaly.

“For the past year we’ve followed the direction that the manufacturers gave us to deliver video safety messages through their distribution channels. The video messages are currently in the market reminding paddlers to wear their life jackets and stay safe on the water,” Jim Emmons, WSF non-profit organization grant director, said. “The meeting at Outdoor Retailer was the chance to report on what’s happened in the past year and to look for new opportunities that direct non-profit organization grant funds towards projects that make paddling a safer American pastime. It’s imperative that we do all we can to reverse the trend of increased deaths in paddle sports and it’s uplifting to have such great manufacturer partners that also believe in this mission.”

The meeting was attended by the United States Coast Guard along with others such as members from the American Canoe Association (ACA), representatives from the Stand Up Paddleboard Industry Association (SUPIA), several paddle sports consumer media brands including Canoe & Kayak, Kayak Angler,, and the paddle sports boat manufacturers – nine in total.

During the meeting the manufacturers asked organizers to repurpose the current safety videos in different ways so that they can re-share them. For maximizing social media effect, it was suggested that they should be no longer than 15 seconds and focus on only one topic – referred to as a “social cut.” This, along with a new initiative to produce safety messages for the stand up paddleboard market, are the two primary directives for 2016 and beyond. Discussions with the video producer to implement these suggestions have already taken place.

“We learned a lot this year, especially that the manufacturers are not as adamant about their brand being included and that our future projects will most likely be shared even if the message contains a competitor’s product,” Emmons said. “I grew up in the sports marketing world and I can’t remember a time where manufacturers put their own interests aside for the common good of humanity like they did in the August 2016 meeting. It was truly amazing hearing them willing to work together at almost any cost.”

On Sept. 9, WSF will host a similar meeting at Surf Expo in Orlando with stand up paddleboard manufacturers designed to coalesce the SUP manufacturing segment with paddle sports safety messages similar to what’s occurred in the kayak market. Also this fall, with the U.S. Coast Guard’s assistance, a jointly designed safety pamphlet will be printed and distributed to the kayak manufacturer partners. The pamphlets, printed to supply manufacturers for three years production will be included in kayak packaging so that they are available to consumers at the point of purchase. For examples please contact Emmons at 407-719-8062 or by email at

Headquartered in Orlando, the Water Sports Foundation is the non-profit educational arm of the Water Sports Industry Association ,and since 2011 WSF has received boating safety outreach grant funding from the U.S. Coast Guard for its outreach grant projects known as “Your Boating Dollars At Work.” The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund administered through congressional action provides funding for the U.S. Coast Guard’s recreational boating safety initiatives.
* According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Accident Report Data for 2014 and 2015

The Concrete Truth about Boating Access Improvements -The Cedaroak Boat Ramp Example

The boarding floats at Cedaroak showing a strong list due to a build up of sediment underneath.

The boarding floats at Cedaroak showing a strong list due to a build up of sediment underneath.

It begins with a “need.”  Sometimes “wants.”  But many times, the “need” trumps the “wants,” which is the case for Cedaroak, managed by the City of West Linn.  This site is a perfect example of why “build it and they will come” isn’t like the movies.  Surveying, planning, design concepts, environmental opinions, funding, permitting, natural processes, and many other variables need to align in just the right order for a boating facility to be improved.

In 2005, the City applied for, and was awarded a grant for maintenance dredging of the boat basin area.  For background about the site, the Cedaroak boat ramp is just downstream and behind Cedar Oak Island, which for most of the year, provides protection from the river current and debris.  But with the protection comes an unwanted side-effect: sediment accumulation.  As the water sweeps and eddies behind the island, the water velocities slow and the sediment drops out of the water column, creating a buildup that just-so-happens to occur right near the boat ramp.  This makes launching, especially during low water years or low tide, nearly impossible and is also a potential safety issue if boaters are unable to retrieve their boats and wind up becoming stranded in the river.

The Marine Board approved a grant to dredge the sediment in the 2005-2007

Lacking traction due to sediment build up on the ramp, filling in the V-groove for friction to help automobiles launch and retrieve.

Lacking traction due to sediment build up on the ramp, filling in the V-groove for friction to help automobiles launch and retrieve.

biennium and the City applied for the required permits in 2005, but didn’t receive them until 2007, just before the Marine Board grant expired.


Dredging is a known money pit and usually a never-ending issue, so the Marine Board rarely approves grants for dredging due to the recurrent nature of sedimentation in certain areas and encourages boating facility owners to look for alternative designs to reduce sediment accumulation. Cedaroak is unique because it is the only boat ramp on the west side of the river between Willamette Falls and Portland’s Willamette Park, which is 8.4 river miles away.  It’s also the second most popular launch site in Clackamas County and accommodates all types of boaters, including fishing boats, wakeboarders, personal watercraft, and paddlecraft. The Board had to consider the high use, lack of nearby launches on the west side, and other factors in making a decision on whether or not to continue investing boater dollars for dredging. The Board approved a grant to dredge as an interim measure while the City explored the City a long term solution to this perennially consistent (and costly) sedimentation problem.Picture 009

The dredging project was completed and in 2008, on par with the Board’s interest in seeking a better solution, the City requested assistance to complete a hydrologic analysis of the existing launch ramp to help determine if redesigning the ramp or relocating the ramp within the park property would minimize the need to dredge in the future. Part of the plan also included developing a conceptual design for a new boat ramp.

When the hydrologic analysis and conceptual design were complete in 2009, it identified that the boat ramp could be designed to reduce sediment accumulation by replacing and extending the ramp approximately 143 feet further into the river. The Marine Board coordinated with the City to come up with a viable game plan to replace the boat ramp. As mentioned earlier, “many variables need to align in just the right order”. Armed with the consultant’s hydrologic analysis and conceptual design, the City, Marine Board and Consultant identified who they needed to get permits and approvals from. The list turned out to be quite extensive. And as any construction person can tell you, getting permits is not only expensive, but the process takes a long time! Cedaroak was actually fortunate compared to the typical boat ramp, where the average is 16 state, federal and local agencies review and provide comments as part of a permit application. This doesn’t include additional comments from interested parties such as the public, Audubon Society or Willamette Riverkeeper.


  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -Permit
  • Oregon Department of State Lands -Permit
  • Building -Permit
  • Willamette River Greenway -Permit
  • Planning Department Land Use –Permit
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 401 Water Quality Certification
  • FEMA No rise Certification
  • State Historic Preservation Office
  • National Historic Preservation Act Review
  • Tribal Consultation
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Endangered Species -Consultation
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Essential Fish Habitat –Consultation
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife


The permit process started immediately after the hydrologic analysis report was completed in August of 2010, and would take nearly three years, due in part, by endangered species consultation requirements for the Corps of Engineers (COE) and Department of State Lands (DSL) permits. The City received a permit from DSL in 2011, but due to delays with the Corps of Engineers permit process, DSL’s permit would have to be extended five times. The City applied for a grant from the Marine Board in 2011, but the application was deferred until all of the required permits were received. All it takes is one party disagreeing or concerned with any portion of the permit application, or being on vacation, or a change of staff, for an entire permit to fall by the wayside. It’s a delicate dance with a lot of changing steps.

The City re-applied and was awarded a grant in 2013 but had to withdraw the grant since permits were not issued and modified to allow for drilling multiple test holes and didn’t leave enough time within the Marine Board’s biennial budget to complete construction. The City was also coordinating the separate planning department permitting process which requires a pre-application, but it is only valid for 18 months which resulted in the process being repeated as a result of the Corps permit delays.

Some questions readers may be asking at this point is why did the City need to get five permits, two certificates and numerous consultations from fourteen different agencies and why did it take so long to issue them, knowing that each year that passes the siltation would get worse? The answer partly lies in the interests that each agency serves to protect. For example, NOAA’s role was to provide a biological opinion on the impact to endangered species and habitat. SHPO, Corps Archeologist and Tribal consultation were analyzing any impacts to cultural and historic properties. For each permitting agency, justification and clarifications were continually being required of the City and with each question or clarification, more time being added to actually getting the permits issued. It’s a race at a snail’s pace.


Public comments are also carefully considered when a facility is getting a makeover. The City hosted a meeting to collect public comments as part of the planning process. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers and Department of State Lands also solicited comments on the permit application for the project. Some of the concerns that came up during the public meeting included:

  • Navigability between the docks and the island and side channel if the docks were located on the outside of the ramp lanes.
  • Congestion between the island and docks if the docks are located on the outside of the ramp lanes.
  • The need for non-motorized access
  • Parking congestion
  • Sediment transport changes
  • Could the docks be increased from the statewide standard of 6-feet wide to 8-feet wide

A common theme was about the proposed design and moving to a single dock configuration from two, and not making the dock wider. Ultimately, it was decided to go with the statewide standard to reduce shading impacts for endangered species, the increased cost of having two docks, more piling and to meet statewide recreational boating facility design standards. The single lane of 6-foot dock configuration is a standard design in Oregon as well as nationally. It can be found at many facilities including the Hammond Boat Basin which during buoy 10 fishery, successfully launches up to 800 boats a day, or nearby Sportcraft Landing and Meldrum Bar. A carry down launch was also incorporated into the new boat ramp design and will deflect congestion at the ramp, which will hopefully minimize any conflict during launching and retrieving.


Finally, by 2015 all the necessary permits were in hand and the City re-applied again for a grant from the Marine Board for $200,000. The City also received a huge grant from the Sport Fish Restoration Fund for $900,000 from ODFW and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The City kicked in $204,769 and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contributed $300,000 in Restoration and Enhancement funds for a project total of $1,604,769.


By now, eight years’ worth of planning, permitting and design work finally came together. The construction work begins in mid-August, 2016.

As the designs morphed from paper into the real world, the facility will have a new two-lane concrete boat ramp, new docks, new piles,, new carry-down trail and lots and lots of habitat plantings and riparian enhancements to reduce erosion and benefit endangered species.

Schematic of the boat ramp design with planting areas outlined.

Boat ramp design with planting areas outlined.


Even with the best planning, the timeline is somewhat fluid based on dock fabrication, weather, or other contractor/material delivery conflicts, but the goal is to have the facility completed in the early fall.

Proposed Timeline

Proposed Timeline

The first thing boaters will notice is the removal of the asphalt, land clearing, and removal of the existing docks. Then the ramp will be demolished and the existing piles will be removed. By the end of August, the new structure will take shape, including the new ramp build-out, construction of a new infiltration swale, new piles, rail installation, and the new parking lot and ramp subgrade.



During the first week of November, shortly after the concrete was poured and grooved…something happened.

During construction a large subgrade soft area was discovered on the upstream side, near the mid-point of the boat ramp, causing the boat ramp to settle unevenly.  This has impacted construction and the timeline for completing the boat ramp and boarding dock replacement.  The City’s consultant engineers, Maul Foster & Alongi and geotechnical engineering firm, GRI, are currently working with the contractor and City of West Linn to resolve the site conditions before the ramp can be completed and re-opened.



A lot of time and a lot of planning have gone into this facility. By taking the time and investing in this new facility design, the City of West Linn will reduced maintenance costs over the long haul because there will be less sedimentation to deal with, and dredging will (hopefully) be a thing of the past. Cedaroak will no longer be a money pit and source of frustration for boaters trying to launch. The new ramp will have improved traction, there will be less fear about “getting stuck in the muck” and non-motorized boat traffic being deflected to a different area to the side of the main ramp.

The bottom line is that dredging is not a viable long term solution to silting, waterway managers need to plan on as many variables as possible when submitting a permit application, and to expect many bumps in the long road. Cedaroak needed a new ramp design. The facility also needed to meet the needs of boaters and comply with the permit agencies that protect navigability, the environment and sensitive species.

The truth is, any boating facility improvement takes a long time. Not all of the “wants” or desires will happen. But what’s proven time and time again is every facility improvement is worth the effort. Cedaroak will provide fantastic access for recreational boaters for decades, without a launching and retrieving hassle.


The Marine Board is funded by registration fees and marine fuel taxes paid by boaters. No general fund tax dollars are used to support the agency or its programs. Boater-paid fees go back to boaters in the form of law enforcement services (on-the-water enforcement, training and equipment), education/outreach materials and boating access facilities.


Why Does it Take So Long to Build a Boat Ramp?

ClamShellDredgeMaterialHave  you ever wondered why it seems to take “forever” to replace a boat ramp or get something fixed?   Did you know that the average boat ramp project takes nearly 3 ½ years to complete?  Others can take 20 years, like the M. James Gleason on the Columbia River.

Replacing a boat ramp takes lots of patience, planning and dedication.  Before the Marine Board can even begin talking about replacing or repairing a boat ramp, we need a facility owner who is willing to invest staff time, funding, and resources over several years.   Ideally, the facility owner needs to plan for the boat ramp improvements in advance, generally 5-6 years ahead of the need becoming critical or a safety hazard.  TimelineBoatRampButtonsReverse

A simple answer to why replacing a boat ramp takes so long would be the permitting process.   Did you know that there is on average 16 state, federal and local agencies that review and provide comments on the permit application?  This does not include comments from interested parties such as the Audubon Society or Willamette Riverkeepers.  Each permitting agency may find issues with the design concepts or potential impacts to their interests, such as Endangered Species (ESA review).  This slows the process and can sometimes lead to Marine Board grants being deferred because permits haven’t been issued in time for the in-water work window.

In many cases, if there’s land-based work that doesn’t require permitting, the Marine Board will fund these easier projects.  So it’s not uncommon to see a new vault toilet being installed while the boat ramp cracks or undermining at the toe of the ramp continue to degrade.  This will be done to keep parties interested and demonstrate that there is forward progress and momentum on the overall facility improvements.

So what can boaters can you do to get repairs or improvements going?

  • Contact the facility owner and let them know why repairing the boat ramp should be a priority.  Remember the first step is a willing Facility Owner.
  • Contact the Marine Board’s Facilities Program.  Send photos, describe water conditions and your observations, and we can work directly with the facility owner with ideas and concepts.

Safety is important to everyone, whether it is improving access to launch, retrieve or moor boats short-term, and when boaters are recreating on water.  Partnerships are a critical necessity to make things come together smoothly and improve the boating experience.

The Marine Board works very closely with permitting agencies and diligently follows up with issues and concerns to avoid any unforeseen delays.

More information will be blogged soon about specific facilities where we are working through the permitting process, like Cedaroak in West Linn.  This project has been underway since 2005!


IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation Delivers Over 500 Life Jackets to Loaner Stations -Teams Up with U.S. Distributing

Jen Tonneson, Marine Board Member, Mike Kondrat, Nautical Safety Foundation, David LaDouceur, Park Ranger, Jeff Sleight, U.S. distributing, Bobbi Trout, Park Ranger, Bernard Klatte, Army Corps of Engineers, Bill McKinney, IOBG, and Boyd Logan, Park Ranger.

Jen Tonneson, Marine Board Member, Mike Kondrat, Nautical Safety Foundation, David LaDouceur, Park Ranger, Jeff Sleight, U.S. distributing, Bobbi Trout, Park Ranger, Bernard Klatte, Army Corps of Engineers, Bill McKinney, IOBG, and Boyd Logan, Park Ranger.

IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, partnered with U.S. Distributing (owned by Englund Marine Supply) to purchase and deliver over 500 life jackets to major water safety organizations for life jacket loaner stations throughout Oregon. The Oregon State Marine Board awarded IOBG a $2500 grant to purchase new life jackets.

“It is very rewarding to see that a major local company, U.S. Distributing, sees the benefit in assisting us in providing life jackets to numerous kiosks throughout Oregon. The true benefit is in saving that one child’s life because the life jacket was there to use,” said Mike Kondrat, President of IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation. “We also thank the Oregon State Marine Board for the grant which enabled us to meet this year’s demands for life jackets,” continued Kondrat, “Without the Marine Board’s help we would not have the funds to provide these jackets.”

These life jackets primarily replaced worn out, weathered and missing jackets at over 50 life jacket kiosks on major bodies of water in Oregon such as the Columbia, Willamette, Sandy, Clackamas and Rogue Rivers, as well as Hagg Lake. We also support new kiosks being built during this year such as the one built by Nathan Roner for his Eagle Scout Project.

Eagle Scout Nathan Ronen, at the newly built Dabney State Park kiosk

Eagle Scout Nathan Ronen, at the newly built Dabney State Park kiosk

“U.S. Distributing, Englund Marine Supply and Charlie Bond of Ralston Cunningham Company, our life jacket sales representative, are very supportive of any effort that we put into helping save lives and are very impressed with the IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation’s work in getting these life jackets distributed where there’s a need in such a timely manner”, said Jeff Sleight, U.S. Distributing Sales Manager. “We hope we can continue our relationship with IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation and support the numerous life jacket kiosks throughout our state.”

IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation has partnered with organizations like Safe Kids, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Boy Scouts of America, Daughters of Neptune and various County River Patrols for the past three years. The Foundation has delivered almost 1500 new and used life jackets to these organizations.

“The Oregon State Marine Board awarded the IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation with this grant based upon their submitted proposal which identified a great need for life jackets to supplement the numerous life jacket kiosks on major waterways in Oregon. Partnering with U.S. Distributing allowed the IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation to exceed their proposals delivery commitments.” said MariAnn McKenzie, Oregon State Marine Board Boater Education Coordinator.

Multnomah County River Patrol along with the Daughters of Neptune accepting life jackets from IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation at the 42nd Street Boat Ramp (M. James Gleason) in Portland.

Multnomah County River Patrol along with the Daughters of Neptune accepting life jackets from IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation at the 42nd Street Boat Ramp (M. James Gleason) in Portland.

 About IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation: Based in Portland Oregon, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to provide local water safety organizations with much needed safety equipment such as life jackets.

Donations can be made at – or by check – IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation 152 SE Spokane St. #10 Portland, OR 97202


IOBG Nautical Safety Foundation Contact:

Mike Kondrat



Boating for Beginners and Refresher for the Experienced

IMG_2586Maybe you grew up on boats and finally gave in to the itch and bought one.   Or you’ve been at water level in a paddlecraft a few times and decided it was time to see the water from a different perspective.  Maybe you want to try your hand at fishing or experience the thrill of watersports.   Whatever your motivation, rest assured that Oregon waterways will not disappoint!  There’s a boat -and a use, for everyone.

But where do you start?  The Marine Board suggests taking a few minutes to explore Discover Boating.  There you’ll find out about different boats, different sizes, and different price points.  You’ll also learn what type of boat is best for a particular type of waterway.  You can also visit one of your local boat dealers who are also Marine Board registration agents.  They can provide a wealth of information and give you a chance to take a boat for a spin.DreamBoatBanner

Does a more serene, out-of-the-way, back-to-nature experience float your boat?  Consider renting a stand up paddleboard, kayak or canoe to see if that’s more your speed.  Boating rental facilities (liveries) offer a wide variety of paddlecraft that you can try.  Paddling is a great way to stay fit and experience nature.  Learn the basics before picking up a boat at your local sporting goods store, though.  The Marine Board has an approved Internet paddlecraft course to get you started.  Canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards -they’re all boats, and are required to carry safety equipment and many retailers are unfamiliar with boating laws.IMG_2737

When you’re ready to take the plunge and get a boat, the first thing you need to do is take a boating safety course and learn the rules of the road, local regulations, and getting familiar on how to improve your boating skills.  The Marine Board has three approved Internet courses and classroom courses to choose from.  Once you take a boating safety course, you’ll then send the Marine Board an application with a copy of your completion certificate and a one-time $10 fee for your boater education card.  This card needs to be carried on board by the boat operator.

Not sure where to launch?  Choose your view and zoom in to find out where the boat ramps are, as well as learn the local rules by turning on and off data layers from the Marine Board’s interactive Boat Oregon Map.   The data layers give you the ability to filter data and help you find what you’re looking for.

Another thing to know is the location of shallow areas or where potential obstructions exist.  You can find out the latest information on the Marine Board’s obstruction page.  Be sure to do your homework before heading out.  But if you can’t resist the first dawn’s sunrays, be sure to take some time to scout the waterbody.  For lakes and reservoirs, head out slowly going counter-clockwise and look for submerged objects and shallow areas.  For beginners, we recommend avoiding rivers at first.  They are inherently more dangerous and going with an experienced guide or joining a paddling club are great ways to get exposure and build your paddling skills.

Other Tips:WearItBanner

Travel Responsibly

  • Some rivers are great for jet boats, but as you get further upland as a river becomes constricted, paddlecraft may be better to use.   Be sure to check local regulations to find out where motors are allowed, or where other motor restrictions may apply.
  • Always carry a properly fitting US Coast Guard -approved life jacket for everyone onboard.  Better yet, wear it!  Accidents happen too fast and putting one on in an emergency is nearly impossible.  Cold water and swift current make this task even more difficult.
  • Always operate at a safe speed.
  • Always have a designated lookout to keep an eye out for other boaters, objects and swimmers.
  • Never jump a wake.  If crossing a wake, cross at low speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and towed devices.  Boat wakes travel distances, so slow down before you reach a slow -no wake zone, not as you pass the waterway marker.  When entering a slow -no wake zone, some boaters react by only slowing the boat slightly, and then plow through with the bow up and stern low -which actually increases a wake.  In Oregon, any whitewater behind a boat is defined as a wake.  The operator can have the boat moving at the slowest speed necessary to maintain steerage but slow enough to eliminate waves that appear as white water behind the boat.
  • When approaching a wake, slow down but don’t stop.  Motorboats are more stable when underway, so stopping could lead to swamping.  Avoid taking a wake on the beam (side) or head on.  The best approach is at a slight angle.
  • Be sure to comply with all waterway markers, signs or barriers.  This includes hazard areas, speed limits, no wake zones, and obstructions sometimes marked by buoy balls or even gallon milk jugs in some cases).
  • Always tell someone your travel plans and fill out a float plan and leave it with family and friends.  Do your best to boat with friends and family.  Boating alone can be dangerous.
  • Make sure the boat trailer is in proper working order, that the lights work, the tires are inflated and the ball bearings are lubricated.  Make sure the boat is secure on the trailer with tie-downs before you travel.
  • When trailering your boat, balance the load, including items stowed inside.
  • Don’t combine alcohol or drugs with boating.  It’s just a bad mix.  Impaired boaters will lose their boating privileges, pay a $6,250 fine, may be required to take a boating safety course (again), and the judge may impose other penalties.

    A waterskier enjoying flat water.

    A waterskier enjoying flat water.

Respect Everyone’s Rights to be On the Water

Respect the rights of others, including swimmers, skiers, anglers, divers and other boaters so they can enjoy their recreation, too.

Show consideration to everyone who’s out on the water.

  • Be courteous to other boaters while at the boat ramp and staging areas. Launch and retrieve your boat as quickly as possible.
  • Keep the noise down, especially around shore.  Sound carries across the water.
  • Always have the rules of the road in mind…who has the right of way, and who’s more maneuverable?

Be PreparedEducation Meme

Make a plan, and stick with the plan!

  • Take a few minutes to visit the Marine Board’s website to find out if there are any reported obstructions, local rules, or restrictions on the waterbody you plan to go boating.
  • Check the weather forecast and plan clothing, equipment, supplies, and extras based on where you’re going.
  • Check the water levels.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel and oil for the entire trip.
  • Make sure you have your Certificate of Number and Boater Education Card in a water-tight container.  For paddlecraft, make sure you have an aquatic invasive species prevention permit.
  • Always carry a Coast Guard approved working fire extinguisher and visual distress signals.
  • Prepare to get wet…always expect the unexpected and pack plenty of emergency items.
  • Know how to use your distress signals, fire extinguisher, or other emergency equipment.
  • Apply sunscreen, drink lots of water, and pay attention to your energy levels.  Sunny, warm days or even windy cold days take a toll on your body and stress the body more than you realize.

Avoid Sensitive Areas 

Be the best role model -and show others how to be a good steward of the environment!  Leave an area better than you found it by properly disposing garbage, fuel, oil and waste, and avoid spreading invasive species by removing all weeds and plant material from the boat, gear, motor and trailer before leaving a waterbody.

  • Pack out what you pack in.
  • When fueling your boat, take every precaution to not spill fuel into the water.  Sign up to be a “Clean Boater,” and get a free clean boater kit with supplies to help you clean up after any spill.
  • Use a floating restroom, land based restroom, or purchase a port-a-potty and discard human waste at a pumpout/dump station.
  • Before and after a trip, wash your gear, boat and trailer or support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Drain livewells, bilge water and transom wells at the boat ramp prior to leaving.  Remove the boat plug and keep it in a safe place for the next trip.  This will allow any standing water to drain and allow the area to dry.

Sources: Tread Lightly  and

Inclement Weather Boating Tips

 By Keith McCafferty, US Coast Guard Boating Safety, Shared via OSMB.

“It was like looking down into the eye of a hurricane, except I was looking up.”

That’s the way Mark Hawkinson recalls the March day three years ago when he, a friend, three children, and Capt. Allen Sifford, the guide they had hired to go redfishing, nearly perished in the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway south of Corpus Christi, Texas. The forecast had been for overcast skies and scattered showers. There was no word of the near-100-mile-per-hour winds that would tear the watch off Hawkinson’s wrist. After the guide had dropped him off on a sandbar to wade-fish, the sky became a mass of “pukey, pearly” clouds. The temperature fell 20 degrees in minutes, and as the rain lashed him like bullets, the guide came roaring up in his 21-foot V-hull and yelled at him to get the hell in the boat.

For the next two hours the men and boys held tight as the boat fought the waves. Sifford recalls that it was like being hit by car-wash spray. Visibility was just inches. Shouts were drowned in the storm. It was so difficult to keep from being washed overboard that no one thought to put on life preservers, which were stored within reach. Motoring back to shore, with the seething waves running against the side of the boat, was not an option. The only hope was to try to steer a course toward a shallow bar where a rickety wooden fishing shack stood on pilings driven into the sand. Sifford had marked a nearby buoy on his GPS, which was miraculously able to obtain satellite positioning through the dense cloud cover.

The captain shouted out his location into the boat radio, hoping his Mayday calls would reach the Coast Guard. But he had laid his antenna down as a precaution against lightning, and the signals didn’t get through. The boat bilge was filling with water as he steered toward the position marked on the GPS. When he drew as close to the buoy as he dared, he threw the anchor, and the men and boys jumped overboard. Within minutes the boat had sunk onto the bar, stringers of redfish and coolers floating over its gunwales. Clinging to each other, with the smallest of the children on Hawkinson’s shoulders, the crew slogged through the hip-deep water.

The platform was invisible until they were right next to it. Climbing up, they took refuge for seven hours while the structure swayed and the pilings groaned.

At 10 P.M. a Coast Guard helicopter, following a 2-mile-long debris trail, spotted the silver flash of the motor on Sifford’s capsized boat. A frogman jumped into the sea. “I’m looking for three guys and three kids,” he said. “You’ve found them” was the answer, and one by one the shipwrecked crew of red-fishermen were lifted in a basket from the water.

Unless you want to fault a higher power for the weather, you just have to shrug. Certainly Hawkinson and his group should have donned life jackets, but other than that their actions were exemplary. The Coast Guard commended Capt. Sifford for his foresight in identifying the only sanctuary they had a chance of reaching, and for repeatedly attempting radio contact. As bad as their day was, Sifford can now joke that it was worse for the clients of another guide, who took refuge in portable toilets on an island before the wind blew the johns over.

One-third of all U.S. boating fatalities involve hunters and fishermen. Bucking the trend begins with boat and motor maintenance, and upkeep of survival and navigational equipment, including radios, GPS, charts, PFDs, flares, flashlights, rain gear, whistles, distress flags, and water and food stores.

(1) Prepare for contingencies by filing a float plan, then stick to it.

(2) Tune your radio to the National Weather Service (get details at to listen for small-craft warnings, and heed them.

(3) If you capsize or fall overboard, stick with the boat. Swimming exposes more surfaces of the body to cold water, hastening the onset of hypothermia. It’s also much easier for rescuers to spot a boat than a head bobbing in choppy water. If you can’t re-board the boat or crawl on top of the floating hull, assume the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP) with knees drawn to chest, ankles crossed, and forearms crossed over chest to insulate the body’s core.

(4) Wear a life jacket. As a group, sportsmen are the most reluctant to wear them. Coast Guard Cmdr. Kim Pickens of Portsmouth, Virginia, recommends the new user-friendly life jackets, including inflatable suspenders and belts that layer comfortably over clothing, and more traditional Type III jackets that permit free movement of the upper torso and arms for fishing or shouldering a shotgun.

A GPS and PFD. Mark Hawkinson would not be here to tell his story if Capt. Sifford hadn’t had a GPS unit on board.

* * * * *

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency’s Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to “Boat Responsibly!” For more tips on boating safety, visit

Port of Alsea Warns Boaters of Heavy Silting at Boat Ramp

Silting at the boat ramp on Alsea Bay during a negative tide.

Silting at the boat ramp on Alsea Bay during a negative tide.

Heavy silting is impeding safe launching from the ramp into Alsea Bay.  The picture says it all.   Several boaters have been stuck on sand bars and have had to wait for the tide to come in.  The Port of Alsea have put notices up on their website and the kiosk at the boat ramp.  The Port urges people to avoid launching on any negative tides and to always use caution when launching.  Boaters need to be extra mindful and closely monitor the tides.

Dredging in the bay is scheduled for November 1, 2016.

2016 Tide Information for Alsea Bay

NOAA Tide Tables

Boarding floats (docks) at the Port of Alsea on a negative tide.

Boarding floats (docks) at the Port of Alsea on a negative tide.


Alcohol and Boating: A Case Study on Impairment

Foundation Findings, BoatUS Foundation

buii, drinking boater, impairment, boating under the influence of intoxicants, boating safety

While there isn’t an open container law in Oregon, marine law enforcement look for impairment. Impairment can occur with any amount of alcohol or drugs and is amplified with natural stressors like wind, current, sun, noise, motion and vibration.

On a delightful Chesapeake Indian Summer day last year, a 44-year old male, a boater all his life, decided to try out a Parker 18 on the Rhode River. After a quick spin around a nearby cove and safely back at the dock, he thought it was time for a shot of vodka. It was 10:30AM. After about 15 minutes talking boats with his friends with his friends, this very experienced boater took another quick trip in the Parker. The boat, powered by a 90-hp Honda, performed perfectly as he maneuvered around the same cove again, this time at higher speed. The operator was “getting a better feel for the boat,” he said.

And although by then, as he later admitted, he was “getting a buzz on,” he brought the boat back to the dock – deliberately and almost overcautiously – without incident, despite the alcohol.

That called for another drink and when he took the Parker out a third time, he “was really starting to feel the booze,” as he confessed afterward.

“I was pretty confident that I could handle it but I had to concentrate hard on what I was doing,” he confided to friends several days afterward. “If there were any other boats around, I didn’t notice them and I never realized I’d hit that buoy. But I didn’t do any real damage anyway.”

Witnesses later said that when this man pulled the Parker into a slip on the cove, the port quarter hit the dock hard. The operator, now rather flustered, backed down and tried again. Once inside the slip the second time, he attempted to reverse the engine to stop but got confused. He revved the engine in forward instead and ran the bow up on the dock. Fortunately, there was no damage from this incident either.

Despite his obvious impairment level, this boater wouldn’t quit. Ashore with his friends again and laughing sheepishly about the docking experience, he knocked back another vodka. By then, as tests would later show, this man’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) stood at .11%, well over Maryland’s .08% for legal intoxication.Clearly, this boater was “operating under the influence.” Or as Officer David Scheler of the Maryland Natural Resources Police put it – using terms any jury would have understood – “This guy was smashed.”

On any other day, Officer Scheler would have taken the boater ashore, probably in handcuffs, for an accurate BAC test that would be admissible in a court of law. And this otherwise responsible boater would have drunk his way to criminal prosecution and a stiff fine. But this wasn’t just any day and a boater who most people would have agreed had no business being on the water, did. That’s because he was one of four BoatUS staff members who volunteered to test the influence of alcohol on their boat-handling abilities for this special “Foundation Findings.”

Water Is a Poor Chaser

As more states adopt strict operating-under-the-influence (OUI) laws that mirror stepped-up alcohol enforcement on the roads, boaters are coming under increasing scrutiny. Venturing out on the water after drinking, even after moderate social drinking, can be very hazardous.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is a major factor in as much as 50% of all recreational boating fatalities.

The Coast Guard says a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10% – the legal threshold in 38 states – is 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than a boater with zero BAC.A vessel operator backs the boat under the supervision of a law enforcement officer.

No matter what the activity, alcohol affects balance, vision, coordination and judgement. But in boating, stressors like wind, sun noise, motion, and vibration can magnify the effects of alcohol and even accelerate impairment.

Numerous studies have measured the effects of alcohol on motorists but comparatively little scientific study has gone into boating and alcohol. While it is possible to extrapolate data from motor vehicle research, we wanted to find out, firsthand, how alcohol would affect experienced boaters. And we also wanted to see what we could learn, at least anecdotally, from our test subjects’ own recollections of their performance stacked against data collected by on-scene observers.

The Float Plan

A few things to note in this image: drinking while operating a boat and a child not wearing a life jacket. It is against Oregon boating law for an operator to be impaired and for children under 13 to not be wearing a properly fitting, US Coast Guard approved life jacket.

A few things to note in this image: drinking while operating a boat and a child not wearing a life jacket. It is against Oregon boating law for an operator to be impaired and for children under 13 to not be wearing a properly fitting, US Coast Guard approved life jacket.

In this “Foundation Findings” test we designed on-water and shoreside components in cooperation with the Maryland Natural Resources Police (MNRP). The boat selected was a Parker 18 described at the beginning of this report, actually a confiscated vessel used by the marine police for undercover surveillance operations.

For the on-water segment, we put the subjects through three exercises, a slalom course at planing speed through six buoys, a steerage-speed run through six more buoys placed in a zigzag pattern, and a docking test.

For our “dock” we built a floating structure using sections of four-inch plastic pipe configured as a single-loaded slip. The dock, anchored adjacent to the test course, measured 10 feet wide by 20 feet long. A MNRP vessel patrolled outside the cove the entire time to prevent other boats from straying into the test area. For our test subjects we selected two men and two women.

Name Your Poison

We gave our test subjects a choice of vodka or rum, both 80 proof, straight or with water. A “drink” measured 1oz. To maintain a constant evaluation basis we adhered to a strict time schedule, waiting 15 minutes after each drink to get into the bloodstream.

Each test sequence started on shore with a breath meter reading to establish blood alcohol concentration, and three Field Sobriety Tests commonly used in law enforcement, all administered by the marine patrol officers. These consisted of walking a straight line nine paces and walking back, standing on one foot while counting to 30 and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. In this test the subject is asked to focus on the movement of a pen or some other subject held just above eye level. Involuntary eye movements indicate some level of impairment and failure on any of these tests gives a law enforcement officer “probable cause” to detain the person.

Finally, each subject navigated the on-water course under the supervision of an officer who commanded the boat between the dock and control buoys marking the beginning and the end of the course. Test subjects took the helm at the first control buoy although the officer held an engine kill switch at all times. Afterward, the officer recorded operator performance (see graph), as well as observations on each subject’s behavior.

Operator Error

For safety reasons, as well as to record data, we assigned a “buddy” to each test subject. Their job was to ensure that the subject ran through the test sequences in the proper order and time allotted as well as to keep them out of harm’s way. All parties wore life jackets at all times.

After one drink, the BAC of our subjects, all of different body types, ranged form .02% to .05%. Three of the four failed the eye exercise in the field sobriety test, indicating that some people show signs of impairment well before legal intoxication. All subjects performed adequately on the water although two maintained slightly erratic control over boat speed. And the same two hit the dock.

With a second round of drinks under their life jackets – two subjects had to have doubles for the alcohol to keep up with their metabolism – BAC ranged from .05% to .10%. This time all four did poorly on the field sobriety tests yet each appeared more relaxed and confident in the on-water test.

Following the third round of drinks (a total of four to five ounces, depending on the subject), BAC ranged from .08% to .12% and the field sobriety test showed that each was clearly inebriated. Officer Scheler recorded that the subjects varied boat speed greatly this time, taking very wide turns and overcompensating on the helm. Again, two hit the dock and one hit a buoy.

Performance in all categories after the fourth round of drinks proved far worse. At this point, two subjects had to be removed. The two remaining, a male and a female, had both reached nearly .15% BAC by that time, nearly twice the legal threshold in 17 states. They got through the on-water course, but with great difficulty, proving only that some boaters can physically manage to take a boat out on the water, even at that level of intoxication. In reality, they would be a serious threat to other boaters, their passengers, and themselves.


In the cold light of a later day, the test subjects and their observer “buddies” gathered for a debriefing. Each observer noted that the level of mental concentration the subjects needed in order to compensate for the effects of alcohol increased markedly throughout the day.

Each subject also noted that he or she began to loose track of activities around them as BAC rose, at least until they neared intoxication. This was very obvious to the observers. Interestingly, two subjects recalled being aware that their peripheral vision suffered as BAC rose, too. At or beyond legal intoxication level, however, they were neither very aware nor concerned about activities around them.

Observers also noted that as the day went on, the subjects paid less attention to details like having their life jackets fastened properly or whether their assigned buddy was with them.

Each subject noted that even at moderate BAC levels, any unforeseen situations would have created problems for them in operating the boat. Any variable – obstacle in the water, approaching vessel, man overboard – that would have required a quick decision or spontaneous reaction could have had dire consequences.

Most subjects agreed that the lag time “before the alcohol hits you” can produce a false sense of security that could lull a boater into drinking too much in too short a period.

The Sober Truth

Most boaters think of collisions as the greatest threat when drinking on the water. Yet, according to BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety research, an estimated 75% of alcohol-related boating accidents and injuries do not involve collisions. In fact, falls on board or overboard, or missteps at the dock or getting into the dinghy, are a much greater threat when drinking afloat.

It is more important to note that the subjects in our test were boaters who do not drink when operating their own boats. Of course, they knew this was a test and that quite naturally prompted them to concentrate harder on activities than a boater who may assume it is okay to drink and operate a boat or one who doesn’t think twice about doing it.

In addition, this test was conducted under ideal, controlled conditions, conditions that the average boater will seldom encounter on the water.

With most of our “Foundations Findings” tests, we advise you to try the products yourself. However, when it comes to alcohol and boating, we ask you to take our word for it.

Special Thanks

This “Foundation Findings” could not have been conducted without the assistance of the Maryland Natural Resources Police. The on-site team headed by Sgt. Wayne Jones, Community Relations Coordinator, provided not only supervision and field sobriety testing, but a wealth of real-world information about the effects of alcohol.

Special thanks also go out to Cpl. Wayne Avery, Cpl. Steve Jones, Off. David Scheler, and Off. Brian Noon of the Southern Region Marine Patrol. Their experience, professionalism and good humor turned a long, demanding day into a very worthwhile learning experience for everyone involved.StoryEnd.png