We took the Outrageous Jet Boat trip from Portland to Astoria in September 2009. We called the office a couple of days ahead to book, then showed up early in the morning for the ride.
They were a teeny bit disorganized and the trip started a little late, but finally we were underway. The crew consisted of the "captain" and two other employees, all young in their mid-20's but very capable. They went over the safety procedures with life jackets, etc. There was a large cooler of bottled water, which was free, and people were welcome to bring their own lunches or snacks to eat. There is a toilet on board, or "head" as it's called on a boat :-) The boat seating consists of padded benches lining the sides of the boat, and there are clear plastic "curtains" that the crew can raise and lower, depending upon the weather and spray.
There were only about 15 people on our trip, so it wasn't crowded at all. Everyone is free to move about as the boat is underway.
One of the crew gave a very good narration as we started out on the Willamette heading toward the Columbia, describing a bit of history of the river usage. Once we got clear of greater Portland, the captain sped up and we just flew along! It is somewhat noisy, and the crew does provide earplugs if you want them. Some areas of the boat were noisier than others.
The scenery is very interesting and ever-changing as the Columbia River winds up north then west toward the ocean. Each time the crew members wanted to point out something of interest, the boat would slow down so everybody could hear. We passed right by several large cargo ships, a sunken vessel on the shore, several small towns and lots of other sights.
As we got closer to Astoria, the river widened out and the water got quite a bit rougher. The captain said that is not unusual for the trips at the end of summer as the seasons change and the tides get more intense. He slowed down a lot and was very good at manuevering the boat to minimize the impacts of the bigger swells.
Once we arrived in Astoria, everybody had 4 hours on their own; well actually about 3½, since we were to be back at the boat about 20 minutes before departure time. My husband and I headed to the Ship Inn for fish-n-chips, then just walked around a bit. Some folks rode the fun little trolley. Others enjoyed a picnic lunch along the docks.
As we left, we went very close by the sea lions that lounge around on the rocks just offshore. The trip back was much smoother as we were going with the tide rather than against it. As we neared the Willamette, there were several brave - or maybe foolhardy - jet skiers who jumped our wake!
We arrived back in Portland in the early evening after a great day of river and scenery. I would recommend this trip to anyone, however, it probably is not suitable for very young children.