Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Astoria, Oregon: Columbia River Light Ship
After living in Oregon, sixty miles from the coast for most of my life, I am surprisingly ignorant about the maritime lifestyle. I feel much more enlightened after our visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Before entering the museum, I looked at the Coast Guard boat displayed in the huge glass window; it's almost standing on end. Did they have trouble fitting it in the space? Inside I learn that in heavy seas, a boat could get to this pitch.
In addition to the regular museum, we toured the Columbia Lightship, pictured above. This ship served as a floating "lighthouse" near the mouth of the Columbia River. A crew of 18 lived aboard for two or more weeks at a time.
As we went on board, a friendly volunteer advised us to go down the steep steps into the living area backwards like a ladder. Once there, I had to compare the tiny space with my only long-term sea experience, which was on a cruise ship. After 2 days at sea, that big cruise ship seemed more like a prison than a vacation. If I had to live on the Lightship, they'd have to pad the walls. (Oh, and have paper bags on all the hand rails.)
In Astoria, 1729 Marine Drive. www.crmm.org