Super Waves

Late last night I received a short email…

Hi Dave, some of us are headed to Cape Disappointment for Sunday shooting. Tim Clifton and Bruce Severeid and Trinda Love will be there.

So, let me expand on this…

When and Where

Sunday would be tomorrow, February 23rd, 2020.

Cape Disappointment would be the light on the northern entrance to the Columbia River.


I think the photos speak for themselves. Most of us would love the opportunity to capture these shots.


So the big question is when to go out to the cape to see these fantastic waves crashing up onto the cliffs.

Turns out there’s an App for that. Several in fact. If you do a google search for “Surf” you will get a collection of sites that forecast surf conditions out through the coming week. These sites focus on the wind for the surfer types. Nobody in their right mind would surf Cape Disappointment mind you.

I prefer

clipping from Windfinder website on 2/22/2020

Above is the forecast for today, and tomorrow. There is a quick visual across the top for the rest of the week also.

Saturday – meh

On the main chart, for today, the color is predominantly blue. The peak wind speed is 12 mph between 7 and 10 am in the morning. The tallest waves are predicted to be about 8.5 ft at 4 pm.

Not the conditions for our monster waves.

Sunday – excitement

Sunday however… well that’s a different story. Winds sustained at around 30 mph with gusts up over 40 mph at times. Now, look at the wave height. Waves in over 16 and 17 feet are predicted for the late afternoon. The period of 13 to 14 seconds means there should be a lot of action.

Oh and bonus. The forecast is for sunny skies in the afternoon.

See you there

Liddy and I will be there.

Drive Time

Google offers 3 routes from the I5/SR512 Park And Ride:

  • I5 to Longview – Oregon 30 to Astoria – then to Ilwaco – 162 miles – about 3 hours 10 minutes
  • I5 to Chehalis – SR6 to Raymond – US101 to Ilwaco – 149 miles – about 2 hours 50 minutes – a pretty drive
  • I5 to Olympia – SR8 to Montesano – SR101 to Ilwaco – 134 miles – about 2 hours 40 minutes – also a pretty drive.

We will probably take the third option, leaving home before 6:30. I want to get a reasonable parking spot as I anticipate there will be a lot of photogs showing up. I also need to get Liddy comfortable with the noise of the waves crashing.

Washington Discover Pass

If you don’t have a Discover Pass, you will be asked to pay the day-use fee which is $10.00 I believe.


Lens: 100 to 400 mm range.
Shutter: really short shutter speeds to freeze the action.
Aperture: f/8, f/11
ISO: adjust to get the desired shutter and aperture.

Because you will be shooting at very high shutter speeds, I will declare the tripod as optional. You may want it to give yourself a break from holding your camera. It is also a good way to stake out your spot on the shooting line.

If you do use a tripod consider a way to weigh it down as winds above 30 mph will make it pretty shaky.

I always travel with extra batteries and a number of extra SD cards. You will want to shoot in rapid bursts as the waves come in. This is a “Spray and Pray” event. Take lots of exposures and pray you capture that amazing shot.

Weather Protection

The weather forecast is for rain. I will add that there will be significant salt spray. Bring a rain cover for your gear sitting on your tripod. Bring a cleaning cloth to remove the water drops on your lens and camera.

Because the spray is saltwater, remember to clean your gear as soon as you get home!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top