It's OrEgun

, Along

North Coast Surf


Tide Pools and Critters:

To See and Do

Beaches of North Coast Oregon vary from all sand to all rock to a mix.  We live by the tides.  There is about 6 hrs. between the Low and High tide.  When the high is not that high, the low is not that low.  When the high is high, the low is really low and the fun begins.  Minus low tides expose tide pool critters and chances to explore past rocky points.  When exploring just remember, the high tide will put all that wet sand under water.  It's always a good idea to know the tide's schedule before exploring the shoreline.  Tide Tables for year are posted in resources section o  Times and heights will vary slightly from beach to beach.


There are several good spots for surfing along the coast, provided you have a wet suit.  The surfer report can give a heads up to all who enjoy the beach.
Seaside Oregon Surf Report.
produces various shells and odd wood pieces.  The prize is the glass float that has floated across the Pacific from a Japanese fishnet.  Now very rare, for I fear most nets are now supported by plastic floats.  I searched most of my life for one.  One day, a thought came to mind while I searched.  “It was hopeless and I should just go to the novelty store and buy one.”  Then I walked a few steps further, and believe it or not, there it was waiting for me.  It’s a small one, but worth everything to me.  Each time I look at it, I remember to never give up.

What's a Sneaker?

When I moved from Oregon to North Carolina, a friend took me to Atlantic Beach.  It seemed to me that we were standing on a low elevation sandbar.  I could see the Atlantic on one side and the Sound on the other side of the beach, so I asked, “Where do you run to?”  My friend replied “Huh?”  So I rephrased, “Where do you run to if there is a sneaker?”  My friend replied, “What’s a sneaker?”  It was then that I realized the Pacific along Oregon was much different than the Atlantic.  I was taught from childhood to “Never fear the Ocean, but respect it.”  And respecting it meant, never turning your back to the ocean.  Always keep watch for a sneaker wave.  Always know where to run to get to high ground if needed.

A sneaker is a strong wave that arrives unexpectedly and travels much further inland than the others.  It looks no different than any other wave while approaching.  Just before a sneaker, the ocean recedes.  Watch for the appearance of far more wet sand than usual.  If there is about 30 feet or more of wet sand, move back to dry sand or you will get your feet wet.  If there is 60 feet or more, run.  Get as far away as you can and to the highest elevation possible.
Sneakers are not common events.  That’s what makes them so dangerous.  If they happened all the time, everyone would know when to walk and when to run away.  While not a common event, they are not a once in a lifetime event.  Walk the shores long enough and you will eventually encounter a sneaker, usually small, but sometimes quite large.  In the last 10 years, I have personally seen too many small ones to count and 2 large sneakers.

Never take refuge on driftwood no matter how large the log.  The ocean tosses them about like toothpicks.  The pictures below were taken during a winter high tide.  A man can be seen walking on dry rocks above a large log.  Moments later, a wave splashed over the place he had been standing.  The large log was moved.  Had some stood on that log for a good view, they would have been crushed to death.  As it was, no one was injured.  The man had not turned his back on the ocean.  He knew the ocean well enough to respect it and move out of its way.
Cool evenings have made beach bonfires a tradition.  There’s nothing like watching the waves while roasting a marshmallow.

When finished, please drown fire with water.  Stir coals and flood it again.  Do NOT cover it with sand.  Why?  Sand insulates the embers and they stay hot for a long time.  Covering it over makes it invisible.  Unsuspecting children can run across the buried fire and receive serious burns to their bare feet.
Please build your fire on the sand, not in the grass or log jams.  Please burn small pieces of wood found along the shore.  When you set fire to a big log, you are burning history that may never be replaced.



The Down Side of Winter:

Too much snuggling up to a good book by a warm fire causes a lack of movement.  A lack of movement causes the brain to go to sleep.  The lack of sunlight causes the brain to think it’s time for sleep.  The negative ions in the air produce soothing chemicals in the body.  Unfortunately, too much soothing results in feeling depressed.  The combination can be just too much of a good thing.  It is no wonder that Oregon leads in the research of Seasonal Affective Disorder / Seasonal Depression.
It is my opinion that those moving from the sun ridden southern states are probably more prone to catching Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Why?  In the south, 1) the goal is to block the sun from the house.  Drapes are kept closed.  2) Few walk from place to place; it’s just too hot.  3) The body is conditioned to endure high temperatures; as a result a “warm” day on the coast of 65 degrees feels cold.  The combination of 1, 2, & 3, makes those coming from the sun belt an easy target for seasonal disorders.
If living on the coast, open the drapes.  Use skylights and mirrors to bounce light into every corner of dwelling space.  Do not wait for the sun to shine before going outside to play.  The body will adjust to the cold if given reason to do so.  Contrary to popular belief, rain does not cause human tissue to melt.  It’s ok to get wet and feels good.  Catching a cold results from contact with an infected person, not from getting cold or wet.  Infected people hang out indoors not outdoors.
Note:  I wonder.  How much of the findings of research into Seasonal Disorders is influenced by the one factor that cannot be controlled, the weather outside of the clinic or lab.
More info on SAD:

The Up Side of Winter

The first glimpse of sunlight after weeks of dark clouds feels like a gift from heaven.  It is a natural upper that defies description.
Above: Sand Dollar do not collect those with fur - they are still alive.

Left:  All natural art, Kelp arranged by the ocean.
Above: Winter wave launches 100 feet into the air
Above: Color photo taken in md-day winter.  Air thick with ocean mist blends the view.
Thick clouds filter colors from sight.  Moist air soothes.  It’s time to curl up by a warm fire with a good book.  But resist the urge.  Venture outside into the screaming wind.  Watch the waves fly with massive force.  There is little doubt who is in charge.  It is not man.  I am humbled.  My ego in check, I return to my warm fire.
Above: Crabs:
Being Crabby is knowing you taste good to almost everyone and everything.  Crabs are smart enough to hide.  They are crabby enough to pinch any finger that accidentally pokes in the wrong place.
Sea Anemone, aka "Sea Rose" 
is quite a critter.  Poke a finger in one and it rolls inward, thinking you are food. Watch one swim on Youtube.

Razor Clam Digging

The pride of the North Coast.  Razor Clams don't just sit there and wait to be caught.  A powerful digger at the bottom and a neck that squirts, jet propels them down through the sand.  Digging requires a low tide, special shovel, and license ($7 pr year for Oregon residents).  The best place to find them is in a restaurant.  In recent years, clam digging is more often closed than open due “red tide,” an unhealthy condition.  Impurities in the water rapidly accumulate in the bodies of shellfish, making eating them potentially life threatening to humans.  If you like the taste of shellfish then it’s time to stop pollution of our ocean and Columbia River.
Above: Window adorned with beach combing treasures and the grand prize, the glass float which floated across the Pacific from Japan.
Above: A low tide at Seaside OR
Hermit Crabs:
Backpacks a snail shell for a home.  They are too small to make good people food, but it is fun to line a few up and watch them race back to the tide pool.
In summer, pelicans migrate from California to fish North Coast Oregon waters. Seeing fish from the air, the dive, making quite a splash landing.  Several varieties of seagulls travel with the pelicans, feeding off fish pieces pelicans leave behind, and some have learned the pelican dive.
Several types of wildflowers bloom in the sand and rocks along the shore.  How do they find nutrition where there seems to be no soil?
Above: A couple surfers enjoy a quarter mile hike to reach their favorite surfing spot on Oregon's north coast..
Above: Winter brings courageous athletes in wet suits to the North Coast.  The waves are tamed by summer.

Beach combing

Above: Watching high tides is fun, but view from safe distance, away from logs for the ocean tosses them about like tooth picks.

Updated: Feb. 21, 2021
© = R. W. Faulkner