Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty

The Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty is exposed to the ripping current of the Columbia River main channel but if you dive at slack tide, you can get halfway decent water conditions and a unique experience.  Old ruins on the north end of the dive site usually have good marine life although there is the potential for entanglement hazards.  Head away from land a few feet and you will find the water gets rapidly deeper as you approach the shipping channel.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty is exposed to the ripping current through the main channel of the Columbia River as it rushes the last few miles to the ocean. Old ruins are interesting to check out although there are entanglement hazards.

Nearest Town:

The dive site at the Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty is just north of downtown Hammond, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

46.206129, -123.951349

Special Directions to Site:

Head north from downtown Hammond toward the boat basin.  Follow signs for Seafarer’s Park.

Parking:

There is parking at the north end of Seafarer’s Park.  The last time we checked, parking was free although this could change.  Be sure to verify with the signs in the park.

 

Site Orientation:

The dive site sticks along the jetty from the entrance to Hammond Boat Basin at the south and east end of the dive site up to the ruins at the north and west side of the dive site.  If you head north and east, you will eventually run into the Columbia River shipping channel.  It’s a good idea to stick closer to land where you have at least a little protection from the current.

Entrances and Exits:

There are several decent entrances and exits along the jetty near the parking area.  We marked several on the map above but if you look around a little at the Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty, you will find a few other decent places to climb over the jetty rocks and enter the water.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

There can be a lot of current at this site.  Be sure to dive at slack tide.  SCUBA diving here during the tidal exchange could cause you to have a rather unpleasant drift dive.  There is regular boat traffic in the area both in the main shipping channel and coming into and out of the Hammond Boat Basin.  It’s a good idea to fly a dive flag.

Normal Visibility:

Depending on river conditions, you might get only 3 feet of viz or up to 15 feet of viz.  Be prepared for low visibility conditions.

Normal Temperature:

Temperatures can vary between 45 and 55F depending on the time of year.

Best Time of Year:

There doesn’t seem to be one best time of year here.  In the summer the parking lot can be full on the weekends.

Max Depth:

You can find 50+ feet of water if you head toward the main shipping channel.  Right along the jetty, the water is shallow (max 15 feet).

Suggested Special Training:

Advanced open water training is a good idea to dive the Hammond Boat Basin North Jetty.  Experience with diving in a high current area is also a good idea.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the current and the risk of entanglement in the old ruins on the north end of the dive site.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you enter, you might need to walk up to 200 feet.  At the entrances near the parking lot, you may need to wade through water before it gets deep enough to swim in.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

The dive shop in Astoria is full service and has an air fill station.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is decent food in Hammond and great food over in Astoria.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a lot of public campgrounds in the area with good camping.  We haven’t tried any of the local hotels so please let us know if you’ve found one that is SCUBA diver friendly.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Fort Stevens – South Jetty of the Columbia River

The South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River is a dive site that has escaped us for many years.  We have never managed to be here during the right conditions to make this dive.  However, we are pretty sure that you can dive the jetty in perfect conditions.  Someday we’re going to get this dive.  Maybe you will beat us to it!

The South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River is almost always a rotten place to dive but every once in a while the weather is just right and this is an enticing place to dive. Someday we’ll manage to dive here.

 

Site Highlights:

The main drive for us to dive here is the novelty of diving on the most northwesterly point of Oregon.  Because conditions here are almost always rough, we have never managed to get in the water.  We expect that there is good spearfishing on the jetty.  There may also be some pieces of old shipwrecks but we aren’t sure.

Nearest Town:

Warrenton, Oregon

 

GPS Coordinates:

46.228340, -124.019644

Special Directions to Site:

Head to Fort Stevens State Park and then follow signs for the Columbia River.  Look for Parking Lot C signs.  If you are going to drive on the beach, check locally for what permits you need (probably an Oregon OHV permit) and where access is available to get onto the beach.

If you’re accessing the jetty from a boat, the Hammond Boat Basin on the Columbia River is the closest place to put in a small boat.  Make sure you have a good captain who knows the Columbia Bar.  We know of someone who died on the bar in his small open boat.  His body was never found.  There’s a reason that the Columbia River’s mouth is part of the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Parking:

There is a big parking lot right at the base of the jetty.  Otherwise, you can drive on the beach with proper permits (Oregon OHV permit) and at the right time of year.  This will get you closer to the site.

We have not had to pay for parking at Lot C but this could change.  Make sure before you park if you need to pay or not.

fort stevens columbia river south jetty
Imagery ©2017 Google, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, TerraMetrics. Map data ©2017 Google.
You have to dive this in perfect conditions or you will probably get smashed on the jetty rocks, sucked out to sea, drowned by massive breakers, or worse.

Site Orientation:

The site is mostly west-east.  You want to stick close to the rocks and not stray far away.  There can be a lot of strange currents in the area that change frequently.  The south side of the jetty is deeper than the north side close into the shore.  Farther west on the jetty, it gets deeper on both sides.

Entrances and Exits:

If you’re doing a shore entrance or exit, right at the base of the jetty is where you want to hop in.  If you drive onto the beach on either side of the jetty, the entrance will be easier than climbing on the massive jetty rocks.

If you’re doing this as a boat dive, it’s worth heading toward the tip of the jetty for deeper water.  Make sure you check out the proper nautical chart and have a good boat captain.  The tip of the jetty goes underwater and can be hazardous even in good conditions.

north side of jetty
The beach on the north of the Columbia RIver’s south jetty is very long. You will have to walk through a lot of shallow water before you find a place worthwhile to go underwater.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

The south jetty on the Columbia River can be done either as a boat or a shore dive.  When the conditions finally align with our plans, we expect we’ll do this as a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Normally it’s way too rough to dive here.  Every time we have tried, the conditions are rotten.  In absolutely ideal conditions, you will still have to contend with surf, surge, and current.

Normal Visibility:

Based on what we have been told by other divers and our own experience on nearby jetties, we expect visibility to range from 5 to 15 feet depending on conditions.

Normal Temperature:

This site is exposed directly to the open ocean so water temperature tracks ocean temperature.  Expect to see temperatures between 45F and 55F.

lot c
Parking Lot C is the closest you can get on pavement to the jetty. It’s a good place to stage before making the climb over the jetty or the long walk to the north beach.

Best Time of Year:

Summer and early fall when no storms are predicted is the best time to try your luck at getting a calm day at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Max Depth:

At the very tip, nautical charts show about 65 feet of water.  Along the jetty where you can dive from shore, the north side won’t get much below 15-20 feet at high tide while the south side can get up to about 30 feet.

Suggested Special Training:

You really should have rescue diver training and a lot of experience diving jetties in Oregon before you attempt this.  Even then, this can be a dangerous site.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an advanced dive that requires lots of planning and good conditions.  Diving in anything less than ideal conditions is just asking for trouble.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

If you park in C Lot, you’ll be walking about 300 feet plus a jetty scramble for the south side of the jetty or about 1500 feet plus a long slog through shallow water (up to 2000 feet!) for the north side of the jetty.  It’s possible the north side might have quicksand in the shallows so be very careful.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is necessary on most of the south side unless you’re starting from the beach in which case you might have to swim 1000 feet for deep enough water.  On the north side, you’re looking at 1000+ feet of swimming to get to deep water.

Special Site Notes:

To dive on the beach, you need a permit (Oregon OHV).  Check locally to see what the rules are.

This site is not one that you can just go and do any day of the week.  Weather needs to be good and ocean conditions need to be calm.  Even then, the Columbia River pumps out a LOT of water and there are a lot of strange and unpredictable currents around the jetty.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There is a full service SCUBA shop in Astoria with air fills.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Look for the little tugboat on the back of a trailer in downtown Astoria for really good fish and chips.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The state park has camping available.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels in the area.  Please let us know if you are aware of diver-friendly lodging in greater Astoria.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!