PORTLAND, Ore. -- On gorgeous days in the Northwest, boaters want to get out on the water. But this time of year especially, there are reasons to be extra careful.
The Columbia River is dotted with fishermen who launched at the Glisan Street Boat Ramp near Portland International Airport. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office River Patrol is encouraging boaters to take advantage of these warm days as summer draws to a close. But, as always, they are preaching safety first.
"We're coming to the end of summer, which means our water levels are reaching the lowest they have been all summer long," said Sgt. Steve Dangler. ”In one section it can be two feet (deep), and then it drops down to 20 feet.”
Sgt. Dangler said the river can be especially tricky with sand bars, gravel bars and other debris, which can now lie just below the surface.
And of course, the most basic advice, but the most important, is to wear a life jacket.
"I can't stress enough life jacket awareness. If you're not wearing a life jacket, nothing's going to keep you afloat in case something bad happens," said Dangler.
Some fishing buddies on the boat ramp say they are hitting the river every day right now. As for life jackets, they don't leave the dock without them.
“These are the most important things,” said Clark Williams of Tigard. “We wear them all the time, it's not a requirement."
The River Patrol is keeping a watchful eye on the Columbia, hoping for a safe end to the summer boating season.