Questions about Oregon Coast

Hello everyone. I recently moved to Corvallis Oregon for grad school and bought a WS Tarpon 120 from a freind before I moved. I have alot of flatwater canoeing and some river conoeing but nothing over a class 1. I have taken the kayak on a couple lakes and the Willamette river (no whitewater). Saturday I went to the Ocean for the first time and loved it! My freind told me to check the surf report and not go our if there is an advisory. I googled “oregon surf report” and got several responses. I can read the WAM alright and found several sites that will interpret the WAM for you and also give you air and water temps and wind info. I found that the national weather service will issue a “small craft advisory” which obviously applies to me… is that different from a “surf advisory?” Also, the sites will usually give a tide schedule. How do I need to account for the tide? How can I tell if I should visit a spot at high or low tide? I know that the tide in some areas is dangerous (Turnagain arm near Cook inlet Alaska has rip tides… it comes in in a wave and many people who wander out in the sand for shell fish have drowned becuase they couldn’t get out of the way). How can I tell if the tide just means the water is rising or if it means I shouldn’t be there when it is rising? I am a minimum of one hour from the coast and farther from what seem to be popular surfing spots so I can’t exactly run down to the water and check it out. I don’t mind to drive but I would like to be able to paddle when I get there.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I did find a local club that am going to join, but at this point I really have no idea how often they paddle etc. Im itching to get in the water.

Call Otterslide or Falcon or Flatpick
They post on this board and aren’t too far from you. Good folks to take a class from.


thanks… how?
Perhaps this is a noobie error, but how do I call them? Are those outfitters or members?

thanks for your patience


take it from an old coast guardsman
The ocean can be a lot of fun, but it can also kill you.

Tides, per se, aren’t the problem – it is the currents those tides may, or may not, produce that cause the problems.

Most of it has to do with geography, thus the venerable nautical term “local conditions”.

On your next coastal visit spend some time observing the water flow in a tidepool area and see how the water behaves with each wave as it flows over and among the rocks. Think of each wave as a miniature tide. Watch for patterns and study those patterns because the same thing is happening offshore, albeit at a slower – and more powerful – pace.

On the coast your bigger threat is the wind – always respect the wind because no matter how powerful your forearms, or how fast your boat, when push comes to shove the wind will win.

The Oregon Coast
I would have to say that the Oregon Coast is one of the most dynamic marine environments available to kayakers. It is certainly no place for beginners.

Having said that, my biggest concern regarding weather predictions is the swell report which predicts the size, direction and interval of waves. A good place to get this information is I would also highly recommend that you get some professional training. There is an old saying “when on the sea, less than three should never be”


another river
Hi I’m new to kayaking also. Try the Santiam. It’s beautiful and clean, and has a few ripples. We put in at the Rest stop between Albany and Salem, got out at Buena Vista on the Willamette. I went in 2 times the first 15 mins but the rest was uneventful.


thanks everyone
I have found several outfitters to choose from. Some of them are more ocean oriented than others… offering several levels of ocean classes. A couple have special intermediate classes on route planning and chart reading. so now I have a couple more questions. When choosing an outfitter, does the cost of the class reflect the quality of traing you recieve? I know its a vague question hard to answer without specific knowledge of the outfitters, but I found one company with a group intro and intermediate coastal paddling class for $45 each if you have your own gear, while other outfitters charge as much as $175 and several in between. The more expensive outfitters all seem to provide varying amounts of gear which I don’t really need so I am leaning toward the cheaper group lessons (Im a grad student and money is a little tight right now) but I also don’t want to waste money on lessons that aren’t going to help me. Here is the link to the outfitter I am leaning towards:

I really appreciate everyones input. Thanks alot for humoring a noob.

online or in the book
The three gentlemen referred to you are the BEST of the best in instruction in the PNW. They are NOT in your area, but just north of you.

Otterslide is a fabulous instructor associated with Alder Creek Kayak (Portland). Falcon is an instructure and business principal of Second Wind Sports (Longbeach, WA) and Flatpick is a paddling professional from Ilwaco, WA.

Good luck finding them…

I’d also recommend you google “pdxseakayaker”, pdxkayaker, pdxrecreationalkayaker.

Welcome to the sport and welcome to the PNW.


All I can recommend is Alder Creek
But that’s not in the Corvallis area

Howdy Neighbor
VT, I’m in Albany and work in Corvallis.

Alder Creek has a good reputation and is closer to us than the one you referenced I think. Don’t know if AC was one of the expensive ones you mentioned.

I’m a beginner too, and not ready for surfing yet. I’m impressed; out there on an SOT.

I’ve body surfed at, and see board surfers, and occasionally kayak surfers, at the beaches just North and South of the jetties at Yakina Bay. Every time I’ve been there in the summer and fall the wind has been from the N to NW, so south of the south jetty will be more wind protected.

You probably jointed WKCC. Their last news letter had an article about surfing at the Yakina bay mouth I think. I can email it to you if you don’t have it.

Re navigation, tide, current:

You can download Coastal Explorer Trial, and download nautical charts separately, or buy the full CE package (which you probably don’t wan to do on a budget.) You also get access to tide, current, and pilot book information.

I think some of the packages linked to the sight below may be free, but then you have to download the maps and pilot books separately.

It’s real fun, for me anyway, to explore the nautical maps. You can right click at any location and check out currents and pilot book entries.

Paul S.

I agree
Jen and I just returned from a week of daytrips at four different areas on the Oregon Coast. It may be the closest thing to paddling Wales and the Irish Sea that the you can find stateside.

We traveled the entire Oregon Coast by car from California to Washington.

I just used a little “weather one” weather radio and tide book and charts. Every day the forcast was variable winds 10-20knts in the a.m., upto 25-30 in the afternoon, swell 4-8 ft, waves 6-9 with occasional 11’.

We’d stand on the beach and try to count the wave sets and surf patterns, and that $#!7 is a lot bigger once you skirt up and sit down in your boat.

Great paddling, nice to play around all the rock and capes and sea lions. Nice texture on the water. Lots of clapotis and refracting waves, rock hopping, slit surfing. Secluded beaches. We were lucky, sunny and 65 every day.

We didn’t see any other kayakers out on the ocean ( other than ww boys in the surf)the entire time. But not really suprised. I could see where some would find the surf landings to be a bit of a challenge.

Awesome coastline.

The Oregon coast is truly magnificent, many people take vacations to seek its beauty. It is far more dramatic from the sea!

As for the sea, how about this little saying from Ireland-

“A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned,

for he will be going out on a day he shouldn’t.

But we do be afraid of the sea, and we do only be drowned now and again”

If your goal is just to take your sit on top and play in the surf, dress appopriately, go on a small swell day, dress appropriately, learn to recognize rip currents and when to use or avoid them, dress appropriately, avoid days with strong offshore wind, learn about longshore currents (can be very strong here!), and…dress appropriately.

You will get a solid bollocking, whipped to an inch of your life, and find you are hooked and may want a surf specific boat.

If your interest is in touring the Oregon coast, my opinion is that there are few who are qualified, most are future statistics. Including some guiding services. Not just an opinion, there have been some serious issues out here, including coast guard rescues of “experienced” kayakers who finally found that they were really only getting away with stuff. Yes, there are always those days with 3ft swell and no wind, but recently we had a day start like that and end with 10ft swells.

Exellent boat handling skills is only the beginnning. Safety measures (not just gear to carry, but management plans) and good old seamanship (poorly developed in most “sea kayakers” around here).

This is not to scare you off, but to make you aware of what is ahead in your journey. It will keep you thrilled and involved for many years.

Check out the Oregon coast pics on this website-


Florence is surrounded by some of the best paddling lakes on the coast.

If the ocean is too gnarly you can always find an out-of-the-wind lake to paddle to save the day.