What Lies Beneath Columbia River Could Cost You A Fortune
With Memorial Day weekend upon us and hundreds of boaters expected to hit the river (many of them new to boating and the area), it is important to know the depths and what areas of the river(s) to avoid.
Strawberry Island Claims Another Victim
I have first-hand experience of running my boat aground. Circa 1994 - it was our last ski and kneeboarding outing of the season and we had just finished our final run as the sun was setting. I wanted to get back to the boat launch before dark, so I secured the load and passengers and throttled up, not thinking about water depth. We were just off the east side of Strawberry Island on the Snake River near Hood Park. I was probably at full speed for no more than 30 seconds when I heard a noise that sounded like a fork in a blender and we came to an abrupt stop. When I peered over the side I discovered that we were in about a foot of water hung up on rocks. I later learned (from others with similar experiences) that the water depth in that area varied from 1 to 3 feet, depending on water flow. The chart below with the area circled in red is where this dreadful experience took place.
Luckily, the only injury was to my boat. I tore off most of the skeg guard of the lower unit and there was barely a prop left. Needless to say, we didn't make it back to the launch before dark and a very costly repair ensued. The image below shows minor damage - the damage to my lower unit was severe. Imagine the prop blades shaved off and the skeg below it gone.
How Deep is the River Around the Tri-Cities Area?
The depth of the Columbia River between Richland and Pasco varies greatly but averages about 30-35 feet in most parts of the channels. The deepest part of the river (around the Tri-Cities) is between the Blue Bridge and the Cable Bridge with a depth of about 65 feet in places (see map green circle below).
Check out this online depth map before you launch and avoid costly repairs to your boat or worse, injured passengers. Happy and safe boating!
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