Crashing the Surf in a Pacific City Dory

The Oregon Coast is known to sailors as “the graveyard of the Pacific.” That’s why watching the dories launch at Pacific City is an age old spectacle of seafaring bravado.

The flat bottom fishing boats have since the late 1920’s launched from the beach into crashing surf in the lee of Cape Kiwanda. They became necessary once commercial fishing laws in Oregon changed to require fishermen to operate on the open ocean. So if you want to catch Coho or Chinook Salmon, set crab pots, or take tuna or rockfish, you’ll want to get yourself a proper dory. 

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The originals were double enders with two sets of oars, designed to claw their way out past the surf and into the open ocean. Modern dories run outboard motors, and to see the pilots gunning them against crashing waves is powerful.

The massive bows, designed to diffuse the waves and cut through the surf head up almost vertical as the screw nearly leaps from the roiling water, threatening to toss the boat like a leaf. This is the stuff of legend back at the taverns.

But for the dorymen it’s a way of life, and the sport of the thing becomes a backdrop for the real mission of catching fish.

And really, it probably makes the fish taste a little better when you’ve fought your way out to sea and then took a Mister Toad’s Wild Ride back in, crashing ashore in controlled chaos, relying on the friction of the sand for re-entry.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The Sea hates a coward.

Photo credit: Youtube