Portland Cops: "Yes, Legal to Swim" from the Dock

The Portland Boathouse hired a security guard to tell people they can't swim from the Dock. Guess what, they can.

Last week, Willamette Week wrote about the Dock, which juts from the eastern shores of the Willamette River just south of the Hawthorne Bridge. This summer, the Dock has become the ultimate place for people looking for a chill spot to swim or enjoy a tasty beverage with their legs in the water.

On a nice afternoon, you might find 20 or so people at the Dock. After our story ran, commenters reported that the Dock grew even more popular, at times even crowded.

Some boaters who use the dock have been angry about this—read the 100-plus comments here or the letter here. Now, a club that represents boaters has apparently hired a private security guard with a metal badge to to sit on a lawn chair at the edge of the dock, informing would-be swimmers that he'll call the police if they attempt to swim from the dock.

Last night, I stopped to chat up the security guard, who confirmed that he was hired by the Portland Boathouse. (The Boathouse did not return a request for comment.)

When I walked up I found five people upset that they were told they couldn't swim at the dock. I then asked the security guard if swimming from the Dock was against the law.


"I'm not sure, but it's a rule. It says it up there," he said.

I asked why he thought it was OK to tell the public it couldn't use a public dock.

"It's privately rented out," he told me. 

I told him that the Dock was public and asked what he would do if I attempted to swim from the dock.

"If you wanna get in the water I will call the cops," he said

Alas, I did not have my swimsuit. So, instead, I wrote the Portland police this morning.

Here's what Sgt. Pete Simpson, the Portland Police Bureau's public information officer, told me:

"Yes, legal to swim."

"Would you arrest or cite someone for swimming from the dock?" I asked.


So, there you have it. According to the Portland police, it's legal to swim at the Dock. Just be cool.

"This is a public dock so all laws apply (open container, MIP, Disorderly Conduct, etc.)" Simpson wrote. "The boats are private property though, so trespassing and/or criminal mischief could apply if someone got onto one of the boats and damaged it."

So, it's still Dock o'Clock, Portland.

But, please, be polite and friendly to the boaters, and try to stay out of their way when they're getting into and out of their boats.

You'll also probably want to cool it with the beers until things blow over. 

UPDATE at 7:18 pm: Everything's cool. People are swimming and having a great time. The security guard now on duty says "we're just worried about the boats." Let's keep it cool.


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