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Pacific log problem was worse in past

Jan 1, 2003

To the editor:I am a USCG licensed master, near coastal, and I have been going offshore on the northwest Pacific coast for 40 years. I'd like to make a few observations about logs and debris found in this area: The problem of logs in these waters today is so much less than in years past that it is hard to describe.

I remember that 40 years ago the waters around here were loaded with debris. Up until about two years ago, the Straits of Juan de Fuca were often loaded with debris. By loaded I mean tides full of logs up to 70 feet in length and two to three feet in diameter, stretching for a mile or more.

For whatever reason the Straits are much cleaner today, to the extent that using a night scope I have run 100 miles at night without seeing a log. As for the coastal waters of California, Oregon, and Washington, in general, except just after rain storms, mostly in the winter, there is no debris off the California coast and only small amounts off Oregon/Washington coast.

It is my experience that, after storms, logs drift ashore within two weeks, especially when under the influence of northeast winds.

That said, this past summer was unusual in several respects. For the first time ever I retrieved, on two separate occasions, 12- to 16-inch Japanese glass floats, one off Point Arena, Calif., and the other off southern Washington, in March and April. In addition, due to the number of floating logs off Oregon and Washington as late as mid-August, we struck logs on several occasions while delivering boats from California to Washington. None of these impacts resulted in any damage, but it was very nerve wracking.

There was more than the usual amount of rain here last spring and summer and a marked lack of northwest wind to drive logs back to the beach. However, this does not explain the glass floats. Maybe the floats and logs came from the same place, but I think not.

I have been delivering boats on this coast for more than 30 years, during every month of the year. These comments are based on this experience. Those who sit on the beach have no knowledge of the extent of logs out on the water.


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