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The Columbia River Bar is a system of bars and shoals spanning the mouth of the Columbia River between Washington State and Oregon. The bar is about 3 miles (5 km) wide and 6 miles (10 km) long.
The bar develops where the river's current dissipates and suspended sediments are deposited forming a shoal that creates standing waves under certain conditions of waves, wind, and currents. The Columbia River current varies from 4 to 7 knots westward, usually opposing the winds and ocean swells. This creates very dangerous conditions for vessels of all sizes. Sea conditions can change from calm to life-threatening in a few minutes with sudden changes in direction of wind and ocean swell. Since 1792, approximately 2,000 large ships have sunk in and around the Columbia Bar. A navigation channel is maintained through the bar with a width of 600 feet (180 m) and a depth of 43 feet (13 m).
The Peacock is a Columbia River pilot boat now on display in Astoria, Oregon. The Peacock was decommissioned and replaced by an integrated pilot boat/helicopter transportation system in 1999. Because of her historical significance, the Peacock was given to the Columbia River Maritime Museum by the Columbia River Bar Pilots Association. Designed as the ultimate heavy weather vessel, the Peacock crossed the Columbia River Bar more than 35,000 times during her 30-plus year career. The Pilot Boat Peacock was custom-built for the Columbia River Bar Pilots in Germany in 1964, and is based on a North Sea rescue boat design. Delivered for service in 1967, she is 90 feet (27 m) long, 33 feet (10 m) tall, and is self-righting. The stern of the boat is hinged to allow the launch and recovery of a 23-feet (7 m) long "daughter boat" used in heavy weather to make the actual transfer of the pilots between the ship and pilot boat. The Peacock's maximum speed was 26 miles per hour (41 kph). She carried a crew of three in addition to up to 12 bar pilots. Read more here and here. Learn more about the Pilot Boat Peacock here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore the mouth of the Columbia River.