Oral History and Natural Wonder

Coquille River boat tours on the O’Flynn

Sit back and enjoy the view on Bandon’s earliest highway. Coquille River tours aboard the O’Flynn take passengers back to a time when the water was the region’s most-used transportation system.

“History is a passion of mine, and I can tell you what happened 150 years ago around every turn,” said Brian Kraynik, owner of Coos Boat Tours.

Captain K’s living history tour includes before and after glimpses, with historic photos courtesy of the Bandon Historical Society. He reflects on the number and size of boats built on the river, as well as the ecological wonders of the marsh and riparian habitats on the riverbank.

Kraynik has lived and worked near waterways most of his life. He spent his childhood in New York, where he explored Lake Ontario and developed an interest in the engineering of marine structures, such as break walls and docks. He served in the U.S. Navy following high school and worked for five years on an aircraft carrier stationed in San Diego. The Kraynik family now lives in Prosper Village, an unincorporated community northeast of Bandon that was once a hub for shipbuilding, timber and agricultural product transport on the Coquille River.

“I’m fascinated by (marine) infrastructure that works with tidal influence,” he said.

The Coos Boat Tours business lets Kraynik share his enthusiasm for water recreation, history and engineering. Conversation starters on the two-hour Coquille tour are countless. Spruce and myrtlewood trees stand sentinel on the bank. Remnants of docks and fishing weirs peek above the waterline. Riparian birds glide overhead or forage in the shallows.

The experience is relative to each passenger’s frame of reference, observed Kraynik. For some, it’s a chance to unplug and slow down. Multi-generation family groups are often the most rewarding for Captain K, especially interaction with senior passengers who are visibly energized by the open air and oral history.

The O’Flynn, (a family name also shared by Kraynik’s daughter), is the latest addition to the Coos Boat Tours fleet. The Fun Sway motor yacht is available for Coos River tours, departing from the dock in downtown Coos Bay. The Coos tours present a unique juxtaposition of commercial and industrial development on one side of the bay, opposite the Coos Bay Estuary. Northbound trips take passengers past McCullough Bridge; the southbound route passes through Isthmus Slough to Shinglehouse Road.

Coquille and Coos boat tours are approximately two hours. Make reservations by phone, 541-999-6575, or online at coosboattours.com.

What to Expect on the Coquille River Tour

Coquille River passengers board the O’Flynn at the Port of Bandon boat basin. The 21-foot ranger tug accommodates up to six passengers over the age of eight. Public restrooms and parking are available on the boardwalk, 1st St. SE, in Old Town.

Bottled water is provided on request, and passengers are encouraged to bring snacks and beverages.

Dress in layers. Expect cooler temperatures and breezy conditions closer to the mouth of the Coquille. Temperatures rise inland near Parkersburg and again near Rocky Point.

Boarding the boat is equivalent to climbing a short flight of stairs. Those with mobility concerns are invited to contact Kraynik about accessibility.

Photos contributed by Coos Boat Tours; article by Geneva Miller.