Seattle to Portland...On Water?

Jun 6th, 2008, 10:44 AM
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Seattle to Portland...On Water?

Is there any way to get to Seattle to Portland on the water (no jokes about putting on my bathing suit and jumping in the river, please)? Alternatively, any experience with Amtrack?
LosAngeles90004 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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If you want to sail down the Columbia River, head north after Astoria and sail up the west Pacific coast, in through the Straights of Juan de Fuca, into the Puget Sound area, yes. I guess it would take 4-5 days, depending on your boat and your tolerance of blue water sailing.
Marginal is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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No way by water that is convenient

and Amtrack - well it frequently runs VERY late - like up to 5 hrs late-
you might check with Amtrack though - maybe some of the departure times are more likely to leave on time
I met a family on Amtrack going from LA to Seattle once - they were so frustrated at the lateness they got off in Eugene and rented a car to drive the rest of the way
sunbum1944 is online now  
Jun 6th, 2008, 12:23 PM
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Of course you can get there on the water, ignoring a few inland bits. You can cross over Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula, go counter-clockwise around the peninsula via Port Angeles, down the Pacific coast to the Columbia, then up the Columbia (WA side is nicer) to Longview or Vancouver, and cross back into Oregon. It can be done in a long day, but more comfortably with an overnight someplace.

The train is obviously faster, and the ride from Seattle to Portland is surprisingly scenic and relaxing. The train hugs the Puget Sound shoreline for a big part of the way, then cuts through some scenic inland bits until it hits the Columbia, then along the river the rest of the way.

The shorthaul trains are less prone to big delays than their long distance sisters are (like the Coast Starlight.)

There's no C in Amtrak, by the way.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 01:58 PM
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The Amtrak trip from Seattle to Portland is a piece of cake. We've taken it right down to Eugene twice and prefer to pay a little extra for business class.
April is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 03:14 PM
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The Amtrak "late" problem mentioned by Sunburn1944 is for the Coast Starlight, which comes all the way up the coast from California.

I have take the Cascade, which runs between Seattle (or points north) and Eugene a number of times, including 2 days ago. It has always been close to on-time.

It is a very pleasant way to travel, and cost effective. With a AAA discount, my business-class ticket was $38.
enzian is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 03:51 PM
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That is good to hear Enzian- I might give it a try again
last experience was not so good but that was on the Starlight
sunbum1944 is online now  
Jun 6th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Thanks for the Amtrak info. I had expected that it would be late but it is good to hear that that is not necessarily the case.

So a follow up question: After 4 days in Portland, we will be going to Seattle for 3 nights. Do we need a car in Seattle?
LosAngeles90004 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 06:22 PM
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Yeah, I don't think the Portland-Seattle Amtrak trains (besides the Coast Starlight) run all that late - like an hour late at most, maybe less in my experience. I'm not riding Amtrak from Portland to Seattle to save time anyway, although the fact that the train gets you city center to city center (as opposed to the airports, especially SeaTac, which are away from the downtowns).

I do wish Amtrak would get funding to have a real high speed rail link between Seattle and Portland or even Vancouver, BC and Eugene, Oregon. As of now, the freight companies own the track in that corridor, so every time an Amtrak train and a freight train compete for the same track, the Amtrak train has to pull over and wait.

If there was a real European-style bullet train between Portland and Seattle, there would be no reason to fly and less to drive.
Andrew is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Andrew, I saw a History Channel piece on bullet trains in other countries and it made me mad. We have so many anti-train forces arrayed against improving rail travel in the US that I wonder if it will ever happen. Maybe when gas gets up to $20 a gallon and it costs $1000 minimum to fly across the country. You can move a heck of a lot of people more efficiently by train than by any other mode of transportation.
Bobmrg is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 09:52 PM
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The saddest part is that the US once had an extensive train network. Today's Amtrak is just a pale shadow of that.

Granted, I don't think trains make sense from say, LA to NYC when you can fly so much quicker, but for medium distances trains work great (e.g. Portland to Seattle). It's too bad Boston to Washington DC is really the only corridor in the US that has really good Amtrak service.
Andrew is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 10:30 PM
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Haha. I've gone from Portland to Seattle by water. Did it once and once was one time too many.

Crossing the Columbia River Bar is a trick. You have to go when the tide is just right so you don't hit a standing wall of water and lose your boat.

So, here's how you do it from Portland to Seattle. You could reverse it for the other way.

First, you have to figure out how long it takes your boat to get from Astoria to Neah Bay. This is the stretch of the Pacific Ocean off of the Washington Coast. While there are a couple of harbors along the way, they have their own river bars, to dodging in is not small matter.

Our boat is slow and takes about 15 hours from Astoria to Neah Bay.

Then, you look at the tide tables and see when the tides are just right so you can cross the Columbia Bar early in the morning, so you have all day to make it to Neah Bay by nightfall. It only happens about 2x/month.

If you screw up and don't figure the tides right, you could find a several foot wall of standing water where the Columbia River dumps into the ocean. Not wanting to be a ship wreck or a Coast Guard rescue operation, you have to be careful.

So, you pick the day. Then you leave Portland and take several hours getting to Astoria. You stay overnight in Astoria, and wake up early to begin your trip out over the bar.

You go over the bar and feel pretty darn smart. Then you hit the Pacific Ocean and you wonder why the heck it is called the Pacific Ocean. Everything in the boat is tossed, including your lunch. You discover the rails that you thought were for hanging wet swimming suits are for hanging onto when the boat hits a swell and goes sideways. You rip off the "Relief Band" you were relying on and throw it overboard as you rush to the toilet.

You crawl to the john and hold on for dear life. You claw your way to the desk with the Meclazine is kept and take one, only to throw it up a minute later. Then you find the scopalamine patch that goes behind your ear and read it should be put on 4 hours before needing it. You find you are still able to do the math, and realize that you still have 11 hours to go, so waiting 4 hours for it to kick in isn't so bad. You slap it on and look on the bright side. You realize no one ever dies of seasickness, but if you did die, at least you'd be finished with this, so you really can't lose.

After four hours of throwing up every time you move, you fall asleep and wake up at Neah Bay, home of the Makah Tribe. Halleluyah!

The next day, you journey east through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and arrive in Seattle by evening.

So, all told, it's a three day trip. Any takers?

Of course, my husband has gone a couple of times through glassy seas, with whales escorting the boat. As for me, as I said, once was enough.

I see you are on to Amtrak anyways, so sorry for the little story, but I couldn't resist.
Orcas is offline  
Jun 7th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Great story, Orcas!

LA90004---you do not need a car in Seattle, unless you want to daytrip somewhere else. The downtown area is very walkable, from the ball fields on the south to Seattle Center on the north, and the waterfront and shopping district in between. And the busses are free within the "ride free" zone, which encompasses most of that.
enzian is offline  
Jun 8th, 2008, 05:13 PM
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Los Angeles, You do not have to rely on the Coast Starlight) to get from Seattle to Portlans. You may take the "Cascade" The schedule is convenient
Nevisian is offline  
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