Current: If the river current is strong, as happens during heavy rains, the minimum number of paddlers in a dragon boat should be increased to correspond with the increased river flow. Consult the NWS River Forecast Data for the Willamette River at Portland for specific data and a link to the hydrologic predictions for water velocity measured in feet per second (fps). Generally, flows during the offseason (October through February) will warrant that the minimum number of experienced paddlers must be increased to at least 10 and preferably should be increased to 12. If flows are greater than 2.5 fps, the minimum number of experienced paddlers must be increased to at least 14 and preferably should be increased to 16. If flows are greater than 3 fps, all teams/crews must not go out. Please note that even if strong currents subside, practices may remain canceled if dangerous large debris is present.
'At last nights meeting, the DragonSports Board voted to update our Safety Rules & Guidelines to give more specific guidance on the number of paddlers required at various stream velocities. The new guidelines read:
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Late last week, the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division issued an advisory due to visual confirmation of a blue-green algae bloom in the Ross Island Lagoon. Lab results to confirm the toxin are still pending, but given the low water and warm temperatures, it is probably safe to assume that there is a bloom in that area.
In the past couple of years, the alert relating to the Ross Island Lagoon has preceded a broader warning to the Willamette River and we wanted to first caution everyone who paddles in the Holgate Channel to avoid the lagoon (or the shallow and slow-moving water of the channel altogether) and to wash with fresh water as soon as you are able, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
DragonSports does not plan to cancel practices or the Portland Dragon Boat Festival if a bloom does occur in the broader Willamette River. Consulting a number of experts and online sources last year, we learned that unless you are ingesting significant quantities of water, there is little risk of harm. The Oregon Health Authority only cautions against swimming or certain activities where there is a risk of ingestion; paddling is not one of them. The biggest risk may be for small children and especially pets who may immerse themselves in and/or drink the water if left unsupervised.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com.
In the typical DragonSports practice areas, see the chart for emergency stops and rescue points. Always know where you can go in an emergency – and how to describe where you are! In the winter, the current moves fast, and you may need to go downstream to get the crew and boat to safety.
It’s important to have a plan!
From Susan West
Friends of RiverPlace
Thanks to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s River Patrol, the Portland Parks Rangers, and the Friends of RiverPlace, we can safely walk on the Public Docks in our neighborhood once again. The situation with squatters and unhealthy conditions has improved, but it has not been solved. Your help is needed in letting City Hall know to vote for the budget to keep the Multnomah County Sheriff River Patrol (MCSRP) and Portland Parks Rangers on the job at RiverPlace.
Last year the Mayor allocated $98,000 out of the general fund to provide 15-20 hours for RP dock patrol. What a difference it made! We need to ask the Mayor and Commissioners to make this money available again, in fact make it a line item in the budget.
Please take the time to write a letter to the Mayor and other commissioners, expressing your concerns and requesting sufficient resources to alleviate them.
It is very important that a few of us give short testimony at the public budget hearings. April 5, Tues., 6:30-8:30 Wilson High School and April 12, Tues, 6:30-8:30 at Alice Ott Middle school. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions. It’s EASY.
Please send your letters to:
Charlie Hales: email@example.com
Amanda Fritz: Amanda@portlandoregon.gov
Commissioner Nick Fish firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Steve Novick email@example.com
Commissioner Dan Saltzman firstname.lastname@example.org
A sample letter: Modify it to express your concerns and requesting the city provide sufficient resources to alleviate this problem. Sight specific examples that you have seen. Ask them where they stand.
Dear Mayor Hales and Commissioner Fritz,
Thank you and the rest of the City Council for your support in keeping the public docks at RiverPlace safe and secure. I appreciate your providing funds in the budget last year to contract with the Multnomah County Sheriff River Patrol to patrol the RiverPlace breakwater dock allowing Portland Park Rangers to work hand in hand with the Sheriff to make the dock clean and safe for recreational boaters and the general public.
The continuation of the MCSRP’s contract to patrol RiverPlace is vital to keeping our community and city safe and secure.Please make this a permanent line item in your budget.
Will you add this to the budget and vote for this?
Friends of RiverPlace walks and cleans in our area. Drug paraphernalia, garbage and all kinds of litter are picked up by volunteers on a regular basis. We have a great Partnership between the Friends of RiverPlace, the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Program, SOLVE, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office and River Patrol, CYA, DragonSports and the Parks department that helps keep our neighborhood clean and safe. We are all working together to keep our neighborhood clean, safe, and welcoming to all.
A CSO advisory email from the City of Portland may have hit your inbox this morning. We used to get these all of the time. So frequently, in fact, that there was just a blanket advisory during the rainy months.
So what is a CSO? A CSO, or combined sewer overflow, is the discharge of wastewater and stormwater from the combined sewer system directly into the river. In Portland, CSOs used to be a frequent occurrence, especially after heavy rainfall. In December 2011, the City completed its "Big Pipe" project which it says has reduced CSOs to the Willamette River by 94%.
CSOs are no big deal for paddlers, despite the fact that you may hear about them from time to time in the news. CSO advisories only suggest that people avoid activities in the river during which water could be swallowed (we're not drinking this water, are we?) and that we wash after coming in contact with the river (something we all should do all the time anyway).
CSOs are different from sanitary sewer overflows, which happen much more infrequently, and to which we will send notifications to team contacts advising whether practices should be canceled if one occurs. If you want to get these updates directly from the City, you can sign up at the City's website for River Alert notifications here (sign in and select "Sewer Overflow Notification").
Visible lighting is required on all DSUSA boats.
We have had reports of boats with inadequate lighting this year. With the increased number of boats outside of our marina, this is all the more important now. Please note that lights must be bright enough to be clearly visible from 100 yards away.
Lights are required anytime the sun drops below the West Hills or behind the Waterfront Condos, which is shortly after 5:00 pm right now. It may still appear light outside but a cloudy sky can make things darker very quickly. We need to be safe and keep the boats as visible as possible.
The DSUSA Safety Rules & Guidelines state:
Red and green bow lights and a white stern light must be displayed on DSUSA boats used between sunset and sunrise and during any other period of limited visibility. Lights should be bright enough to be visible from at least 100 yards away.
Teams in violation of the Safety Rules & Guidelines may be penalized, fined, or even suspended.
The DSUSA Team Boat Rental Terms state:
Teams must provide their own lights for paddling between sunset and sunrise.
There are a few marine supply stores in Portland that carry lights that will work with dragon boats or you can do an online search for "portable navigation lights" and come up with many reasonably-priced options.
DragonSports has received an urgent request from those working on the Transient Boat Issue to get letters to City and County elected officials now, as budget planning is underway, to make sure that adequate funds are allocated to address this issue in the coming year.
There is a sample letter below. You may use it as is, modify it as noted, or send one of your own. Once finalized, email it to:
Re: Transient Boat Issues
Dear City and County Officials,
I am writing in regard to the Transient Boat Task Force that has been assembled to address the derelict boat problem and lawlessness issues of some of the live aboard community in Portland and throughout the state.
[Optional to insert personal experience here. Note what you do on the water - paddler, fisherman, boater and what you have seen in terms of behavior, distressed boats, junk, safety concerns.]
Parks Security and River Patrol, both part of the Task Force, have put in numerous hours to come up with an executable plan for dealing with the crime and the derelict vessels. I support the efforts and hard work of the Parks Security and the River Patrol and would like to see city and county officials do the same.
I am asking you, an elected official, to allocate additional funding and/or personnel in the upcoming budget to aid the efforts of Parks Security and River Patrol and to set new policies and/or support legislation which would prevent the issues from continuing. There is much work to be done to keep this ever expanding problem in check and the work cannot be done without additional personnel, funding and/or equipment and new policies.
It is important to me, as a citizen, that priority be given to keeping our rivers, docks and waterfront safe and free from lawlessness. Live aboard boaters should be made to follow the same rules as the rest of the boating public.
Please respond and let me know what you will do to support Parks Security and River Patrol. Thank you.
[Sign your name here, include any affiliations you think are important - paddling club, boating group, etc.]
We've gotten to the darker cooler portion of the year, and water temperatures have dropped enough that PFDs are again required to be worn on DragonSports outrigger canoes at all times.
As a reminder the DragonSports Safety Rules & Guidelines permit the use of inflatable waist PFDs (please ensure that they are in working order) on the OCs only. Vest-type PFDs are required on the dragon boats.
As always, in fall, winter and spring, weather can be unpredicable. Please exercise caution and good judgment when going out on the water.
We have also made some changes to the launcher on the dock. It now has rollers to make the process require a little less muscle, but you need to pay attention to what you are doing to keep the canoe on track as you pull it up the ramp.
Please email Andrew if you have any questions.
It's no news to paddlers that the derelict boat situation has not gotten any better in the last few months. So, what's it all about? Here's a few bits of information worth knowing. Feel free to share with anyone you like.
Homelessness in Portland is way beyond what the current shelters/funding can handle. There's plenty of people looking for a cheap way to shelter (and some that are just looking for a rogue way of life).
Boats that have not been properly registered, titled, etc. for a few years get handed around from person to person (some sold for as cheap as a hundred bucks). Tracing the temporary owners and even finding the original owner is a somewhat monumental task and, often, the hull ID has been removed. And, evidently, there is a "dealer" out there who specializes in finding these boats for folks. Bottom line, there's a supply.
DSL (Dept of State Lands) owns the land under the Willamette River. They supply permits for docks (it's kind of a lease agreement in a way), but allow boaters to anchor without permit as long as they stay no longer than 30 days in one spot. After 30 days, the boater must move at least 5 miles and not return to the same area within a 12 month period. This rule is being looked at for potential change. Problem is, there's a rule, but DSL has no enforcement arm to their agency, so if someone disobeys there's no consequence via DSL. DSL does not track who is parked where, etc, etc. They rely on the River Patrols, who, quite frankly have their hands full. River Patrols are funded by OSMB (Oregon State Marine Board) and do the best they can to track these boats but it's a monumental task for a small group of Deputies. (For instance, the Multnomah County River Patrol is in charge of 120 river miles). And of course the boaters know exactly where they can push the law limits.
Downtown Docks. The Boathouse dock is owned by PDC, the Duckworth is DOT controlled, Riverplace and Willamette Park belong to City Parks. Any dock owner may remove a trespasser under recent legislation. This does not mean they have the ability to do so.
Duckworth. After Fleet Week, when the transients tied up on the dock caused a security issue, the cleats were removed and the dock was shut down. As that dock was constructed with grant monies, it must operate under grant rules. OSMB was approached for a rule change that would allow them to reopen the dock but no longer allow overnight traffic. There is work in progress to get signage, etc. at when the cleats will be reinstalled and the dock reopened as a day use only dock.
PDC. Issue here is, of course, the swimmers. However, we have a flotilla right off the dock, which means it's on DSL property. PDC has yet to be challenged to remove anyone tied up to our dock since nobody has tried and tested this yet (let's hope they don't).
Willamette Park. City Parks owned. Currently has a "resident". Parks Rangers can ticket, fine, whatever but they have no way to remove the boat. And, there can be up to a 30 day time frame before the receiver of the ticket has a hearing.
Riverplace. Wow, out of control. Again, Parks Rangers can ticket all they want but the boaters know there are not currently any consequences of any big deal coming their way. The Rangers could really use some help from the City of Portland on this because they sure would like to see the problem fixed.
So, bring on the Task Force!
A Task Force has been assembled to find some solutions. The group consists of all sorts of agencies. Governors office, Mayor's office, OSMB, DSL, JOIN, DEQ, DOJ, Parks, Multnomah County RIver Patrol. I have been following the progress of the group, and I will say, it is painfully slow but moving along. So many layers of law and inter-agency dealing to get this solved! And, as with all problems, where's the money going to come from? Lots to figure out.
We need to be patient. I know, it's not like we haven't been already, right? When Duckworth shut down it sent everybody our way which in the end may have been the only reason the Task Force got put together - because so many people complained and got upset about the deluge of derelict/transient boaters.
I will continue to inform when solid outcomes are in place. In the meantime, feel free to send any questions my way. If I can't answer them I will refer you to a Task Force member who can.
The advisory for the Willamette River toxic algae bloom was lifted late last week. The DragonSports Board has been looking carefully at conditions in the RiverPlace Marina and while it appears that some patches of algae remain, we are going to permit teams to resume practices as scheduled starting Monday, October 6th at their own risk.
The Oregon Health Authority news release can be found here. Information about algae blooms can found here.
If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
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