Coast Guard Lifeboat 44300


My favorite exhibit at the Maritime Museum in Astoria was this boat – Coast Guard Lifeboat CG-44300.  It’s an actual boat, retired from service after 19 years of active duty and 15 years as a training boat.  It had an incredible run on active duty, and now it’s spiffed up, as shiny and clean as if it were a replica, demonstrating an ocean rescue.

Rescue DioramaThe CG-44300 was a 44′ prototype boat, self-righting and self-bailing, that was used along the Oregon coast in order to be tested in extreme weather and large waves; it passed its tests with flying colors.  During its career, it evidently rolled over several times, was pitchpoled once (rolled front to back end-over-end), and retired only when an engine was damaged on a rescue mission.

One of its most unbelievable stories – to crib directly off the informative placard – is this:  one evening when the 44300 was moored in a boathouse in Yaquina Bay, a 10,000 ton lumber ship lost steering control  and ran into the Lifeboat, plowing it through some docks and under another boathouse, where it had to stay, presumed unsalvageable, while the other crash wreckage was cleared away.  But when it was freed, it bobbed right up out of the water and righted itself, ready for use again.

Stern and Cockpit

It definitely deserves its place of honor on display at the front of the museum.


strange building-boat

We’ve had visitors in this weekend (and last) and we spent some time talking about our vacation in Astoria – in particular, the boats we saw passing our hotel.  We were reminded of one that is really indescribable – so I’m putting up the photos.

If I recall correctly, John noticed this first, and exclaimed in surprise that a building was being towed downriver….

Tugboat tugging a building?


On closer inspection, the situation really did not clarify itself.  What is this thing?  Where is it going?  What is it doing, being towed out to sea?

Is it a barge?



But regardless of the boat-building confusion that was never resolved (we really should have looked at the ship schedule while we had the chance), the tugboat was cool.


Or is it a towboat, since it’s got the flat front and two protruding pushing-bars?  I think that tow boat is the correct term, but I can’t remember.  Anyone?


The best fish and chips in Astoria.

Bowpicker boat

We read it before we got there, and were a little skeptical, but after testing a decently large sample group, we concur – it’s Bowpicker Fish & Chips. It’s tiny – just a little boat – where the only  options are a full- or half-size order of fish-and-chipped tuna and fries.  You get to the window – say how much you want – and they fry it and hand it over.  I’ve never had tuna fried like that before, and it didn’t sound that great, but it actually works really well – nice and firm.

Unfortunately, the length of the line matches the food’s reputation, and after a morning of biking up and down hills we were very tired and hungry.

Bowpicker lineBut we traded off standing in the sun and sitting in the shade, and lunch was all the more delicious for the wait.  Definitely recommended if you’re in Astoria – especially if you’ve biked or walked up to the column just prior.

The boat itself is interesting – it’s a type of fishing boat I wasn’t familiar with before.  Here’s another one that was out in front of our hotel.

Bow PickerAccording to the informational sign, the bow picker style of boat was designed for single-person operation.  The open space at the bow has a second set of controls, so you can stand up there and steer and haul your fishing nets in at the same time.  No need for a crew.

Bow controlsNice and efficient for a small operation.




View from the Top

Of the hill at least – not the top of the tower.  After climbing a large number of hills between the Goonies house and the Column, only to find at each that we had reached a dead end and had to go down again and back up, I was completely beat.  There was no way I was going to walk up another 150 stairs (or however many it is) just to be slightly higher up.

Plus the view is very beautiful just from the base of the tower.

Looking Westward


Here are John and Max again…

John and Maxwell

standing in front of what looks, from this angle, suspiciously like a bridge held together by duct-tape.

Duct-taped bridge


Check out how far we climbed!
(confession: by the 5th thwarted attempt upward, I had to start pushing my bike up the steep inclines.  But I still made it!)

Goonies House

Are you familiar with the movie The Goonies?  I wasn’t before we visited Astoria, but it was a favorite of John’s when he was young (rightly so, being a quintessential young boy’s adventure movie).  It’s set in Astoria, and when John realized that, we had to watch it.  Evidently our idea wasn’t unique, because when we called down to the front desk of the hotel to ask if they had any movies available to borrow, the answer was – “well, we have The Goonies….”

(Fun fact – it’s got a young Samwise Gamgee in it.)

The thing is, the actual house that’s the setting of the first part of the movie is an actual house in an actual neighborhood in Astoria, and it’s labeled right on the map, so of course the next day we had to go and see it.  It’s conveniently located at the east end of town, so after we passed the Sea Lion dock, we headed south into the residential streets.  The land climbs steeply (and so do the roads – more on that later) so soon we were not far from the river laterally, but quite high above it, in front of The House!

John and Max in front of the Goonies House


John was a little sad because in the movie, there is a huge and elaborate Rube Goldberg device in the yard that allows you to open the gate from inside the house, and – surprise! – there was no such thing there in real life (any longer).

It was also a little awkward, because there were a lot of other people trekking up and down the driveway to take photos in front of the house.  We had to wait for a few minutes before our turn came up for a photo.   However, it was pretty cool to see, and we were both glad to take the little side excursion.

The Civil War at Fort Stevens

After we drove out to Astoria, we had a few hours free before we could check in to our hotel, so decided to visit Fort Stevens for their “miles of bike trails,” batteries, beaches, and washed-up shipwreck.  We parked near the entrance, hopped on our bikes, and embarked on the miles of trails, heading in the general direction of the  batteries and military museum.   As we popped out of the woods, though, we saw that everything was not as-expected.

The "south"'s civil war encampment


Right in front of the battery: a huge civil war encampment.

We spent quite a bit of time walking around and looking at the demonstration… I’ve never seen one before, and was startled by the size and scope of the thing.

We also did get out (briefly) to one of the batteries to look around.  Nice view of the river from on top (of course).

So now the park is on our must-return list, since we got an unusual and unexpected (and interesting) adventure but missed out on most of what we wanted to see there.  Next time, we are definitely visiting the Peter Iredale shipwreck!