Standing on the beach one summer day in 2015, just staring out at the ocean and enjoying the rare sunny day on the Oregon coast, suddenly we hear a horn. “Odd,” we think. “There’s no fog, it can’t be a fog horn.” Then we see a small boat speed around the giant rock sitting out in the middle of the ocean. We watch in a bit of shock as it races towards us on the shore. “Uhmmm, is that thing going to crash?! It’s heading right for the beach!”
We stand there just staring as it keeps racing in. There’s nothing we can do. It zooms right up onto the beach and – just stops. No crash, no yelling, no damage. What the heck? We ask someone standing near us, “What is that?” They smile and tell us, “That’s a Dory fishing boat. That’s how they land. They don’t dock. They also just launch from the beach.”
We are thrilled and fascinated. Standing there at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon, we found out more about this unusual type of basically flat-bottomed fishing boat. While there are different types of dory boats, the beach dory is only used in a few spots around the country where the fishermen launch and land from the beach. According to the Pacific City Dorymen,“There is no other harbor, port, or fishing fleet anywhere in the world exactly like this. It is truly unique how we evolved.”
Pacific City celebrates this traditional way of fishing by holding “Dory Days” in July. We decided we need to check that out. Fast forward to July 2016. We pulled into Pacific City on a slightly overcast day, which quickly changed to downright warm. We managed to find a parking place pretty easily, and walked back over the little bridge over the canal to the “four-way stop” as everyone seems to refer to it. There we saw several tents with vendors selling their enticing wares. After checking them out, we went back to the bridge and found ourselves a nice little perch where we could sit and watch the parade. We were worried that since we had forgot to bring chairs that we would be standing the whole time but no worries with the bridge to sit on.
Who doesn’t love a small town parade? Everyone hollering out to the people they know on the floats, lots of candy being thrown. Since it’s the coast, David was thrilled to find they were throwing salt water taffy, one of his favorites. He ignored all the other candy but swooped in on the taffy like a seagull.
Some of the usual features, like a few politicians, were in attendance. But what was most unique in this parade was the Dory boats. Some were fairly plain, but many were decorated very creatively and were quite entertaining. For such a small town, it was a nice parade lasting about 45 minutes.
As soon as the parade was over we made a beeline for the car. We knew we wanted to hurry down to Cape Kiwanda before the rest of the crowd got there. Again, we quickly found a parking spot right by Pelican Pub and Brewery, a place we have been wanting to try. Luckily we got there when we did because we got in right away and later saw quite the crowd waiting.
After our very tasty meal, we went on out to the beach to watch the Dory boats coming in. We didn’t have to wait long before one came ripping in. I was a little nervous we were in its path, not sure how far they come up on the beach.
The customers who were on the boat and had been fishing looked happy and excited. Exactly what you want to see. We think we need to come back again and fish next time!
There were a few other activities that were offered as part of Dory Days, such as the Fish Fry and the Oregon Heritage Traditional Dedication Ceremony. Dory Days was a very fun, small town event that we highly recommend attending. And you have to watch the boats landing!