PORT OF ILWACO - For the first time in 12 years, the Lindblad Expeditions MV Sea Bird moored at Holman Dock at the Port of Ilwaco Friday, allowing the 67 passengers to tour the port and North Head Lighthouse, visit the Cranberrian Fair and watch the cranberry harvest.
The 152-foot vessel, which draws 8.5 feet, was able to come to Ilwaco because of four years of dredging at the port, enabling larger boats to moor there.
Port Finance Director Mary DeLong and the port's "ambassador of tourism" Neil LeClaire were on hand to greet passengers and crew and hand out packets of brochures about the area provided by the port's leaseholders.
Expedition leader Neil Folsom said the Sea Bird had traveled from Portland to the Snake River, back to Portland and then on to the mouth of the river. "We came back to Ilwaco because of the dredging work the port has done," Folsom said. A historian, a naturalist and an expert on the explorers and Native Americans of the region were on board to describe the areas the vessel passed through on its trip.
"The passengers aren't just cruising, they're learning as they go," Folsom said.
He said a photo of Ilwaco will be on the Lindblad Expeditions website, which pictures destinations worldwide, for two years.
The boat's captain, George Doherty, said he's met old-time fishermen in Mexico who come to Ilwaco for tuna every year. "This is one of the few places they know well," he said.
DeLong said there could be four more Lindblad boats coming to Ilwaco in the future. "They had a good time," she said. "They got in and out of the port without incident."