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Visiting Gorge

 
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Cyrusd



Joined: 06 Nov 2006
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject: Visiting Gorge Reply with quote

I am possibly going to visit the Vancouver/Portland area in mid August. I am an intermediate with a decent waterstart and nonexistant jibes who mostly sails in Hatteras. I was wondering where there was a good place to rent some gear and for an intermediate to sail (I understand there are not many intermdeiate spots at the gorge). I don't mind a little chop or high winds, but I don't want schoolbus-sized swell or to be dragged two miles down stream if it takes me more than 30 sec to get the sails up. If there are such locations, please let me know.

Thanks
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ledel



Joined: 17 Jul 2005
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Event Site or Hook in Hood River should be fine for you under most conditions and are really about the only options. I'm in roughly the same category of sailing and sometimes go to Rowena if the better wind happens to be a bit East of HR, but it can have bigger swell and more chop on windy days.

I'm sure you'll get other responses from locals, particularly as to rentals. Lots of options there.

Gusty and erratic in the Gorge today. That's why I'm here responding rather than out sailing. Have fun
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vadler



Joined: 20 Apr 1999
Posts: 82

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are spots for all abilities in the Gorge. There are tons of shops that will rent you the latest and greatest in gear. When you get your gear, get a GorgeGuide. It outlines all the sailing sites and gives you green, blue, black, double-black ratings just like skiing. For someone of your ability, you will most likely be sailing at the Event Site right in town or Home Valley. And, Swell City/Hatchery is not too daunting on 5.5-6.0. The wind doesn't blow everywhere every day, so you might be out of luck some days. Just pray that you don't get a four-day heat wave. They're brutal.

Enjoy.
Vic
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tweeky



Joined: 19 Sep 2004
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Visiting Gorge Reply with quote

Cyrusd wrote:
I understand there are not many intermdeiate spots at the gorge


This is one of the most common misconceptions about the Gorge. Actually, there are plenty of intermediate spots in the Gorge, though a lot depends on how windy it is. Your best bet is to head into Hood River, rent some gear at either Windance or Big Winds, and then go to the Event Site if there is wind there. If there is not enough wind you could drive west to Viento, or east to Rowena, but Rowena can get very windy at times, and the current tends to be a little stronger. The "advanced" spots that you might not like that are close to Hood River are Swell City and the Hatchery. Bob's Beach (Stevenson) is also a nice place to sail, and not an "advanced" site.
The Event Site is pretty easy because you can just pick how far you want to go, but its crowded at times, and if your slogging you are going to get continually buzzed by kiteboarders. Rock Creek in Mosier is really cool, but you might be intimidated by the big chop and wide reach if its your first time in the Gorge.
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bobgatpdx1



Joined: 13 Oct 2002
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are plenty of good spots for a waterstarting intermediate in the Gorge (from west to east):
- Stevenson (Bob's Beach) - nice rigging area, not crowded, wide river.
- Home Valley - more rustic, also very wide river, never crowded.
- The Hook - kind of dusty/rocky rigging area, has a nice shallow area to get your bearings, wind shadow from nearby Wells Island can make it a little tricky to get out into the main river.
- Event Site - nice rigging area and real bathrooms, but can be kind of a zoo, especially now that the kites are taking over due to the enlarged sandbar.
- Rowena - good rigging area, can be kind of choppy when it gets windy
- Doug's Beach - when not too windy (5.7m or 5.2m), Doug's is a great intermediate spot. Its the only place in the Gorge with shallow areas on both sides of the river where you can rest.
- Further east: Celilo, Maryhill, and Arlington can all be good when not too windy.

The fact that the wind is from the west (in the summer) and the river current is from the east makes it really easy to stay in one spot in The Gorge. If you find yourself downwind of your starting point due to lots of failed waterstarts, then just float for a while and the current will bring you UPWIND back to your starting point.

Taking a lesson is a good investment on getting quickly oriented to the local conditions. There are several good lesson providers:
- Hood River WaterPlay
- Brian's Windsurfing
- BigWinds
- ABK

Two main places to rent gear are:
- BigWinds (downtown HR)
- Isthmus Sailboards (westside HR near WalMart)

Driving is normal in the Gorge. You have to go where the wind is and if its really windy, to a less windy spot.

Water is warm in August - you'll only need a shorty wetsuit.
enjoy,
bobg
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toveyb



Joined: 01 Aug 2000
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The responses so far have been very good. Follow the advice given regarding shops to rent from and lessons. Also, be sure to get hooked in to the various options for determining where it's blowing at a rate suitable for your capabilities. August tends to be warm and often less windy than June/July, though at any time the pressure/thermal set up can bring in some quite high winds. One key thing to remember... even though the water gets warmer in August... enough for many to wear shorties, remember, if you're not making your jibes then you're going to be in the water quite a bit of the time... I've witnessed people almost die from hypothermia when they got stuck in the river because of a combination of inexperience and a sudden rise in the wind velocity. Experts and people familiar with the local conditions can more carefully judge whether a shorty is appropriate. I'd suggest a full suit, helmet, and flotation device. If you get hot, hey... just drop and cool off.
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tweeky



Joined: 19 Sep 2004
Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't forget to check in at the Event Site first, because at that time of year they often have gear you can rent right on site. I know at the Hook they also have a big gear trailer for rentals, so you could try there, but launching into the main river channel isn't as easy there as it is at the Event Site.
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mccoyms



Joined: 22 Apr 2006
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:29 pm    Post subject: Columbia River sailing Reply with quote

You sound like similar ability to me, and I sail almost exclusively at Jones Beach. In August, there is consistent wind almost every afternoon starting around 4 and lasting until sunset. There are some smaller swells, but nothing that makes it too hard to waterstart, if you already know how. I learned to waterstart there on a friend's small board before I learned how to sail (because I couldn't uphaul on such a small board). Jones Beach is downstream of Portland on the Oregon side. I think it's about 30 miles downstream. There is nowhere to rent gear nearby, however.
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advgeek



Joined: 30 Jun 2000
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:19 am    Post subject: Re: Columbia River sailing Reply with quote

mccoyms wrote:
You sound like similar ability to me, and I sail almost exclusively at Jones Beach....


I don't know about Jones. It's not real consistent. Maybe 30% sailable days, Jones only blows when Portland is hot and the coast is cold. It can be nice, I've had some good sessions on the Washington side there, but the Oregon side beach is lighter and has huge ocean going freighters cruising through the channel. These things move FAST and are much scarier than the lumbering barges in the Gorge. Also, it's more like 70 miles from Portland, it's a pretty long drive.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13309

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:53 am    Post subject: Re: Columbia River sailing Reply with quote

advgeek wrote:
I don't know about Jones. It's not real consistent. Maybe 30% sailable days, Jones only blows when Portland is hot and the coast is cold. It can be nice . . . it's more like 70 miles from Portland, it's a pretty long drive.


Consistent, no, but then neither is Maui or Arenal. But I've had 10-day stretches at Jones camped beside a rigged 3.2-5.2 quiver I used every day. 5.2 by noon, then change down one size every few hours until I'm on a 3.x from supper 'til after 9 PM. It's 100 degrees and dead calm in the Corridor, chilly in Astoria, and a perfect 70s days and 50s nights at Jones. Steadiest wind I've ever seen on the Columbia, and only 100 minutes from Hood River if you don't hit construction on the Clatskenie highway or stop to view Mt. St. Helen's. There used to be a very good restaurant, the Crown, a couple of miles from Jones Beach; don't know if it's still there. Jones offers direct access to Nuclear Alley's little patch of tight swell, the larger but less organized swell downwind of the Alley, and the chop from hell along the actual beach that is Jones Beach. It's all fun as long as you don't spend much time in the beachfront chop. But don't forget: tides matter. Flood tide means less swell and more pinching.

I'd go there far more often if it weren't for the small swell, the highly polluted water, and the locals straight out of "Deliverance" . . . or has that problem improved, McCoyms?

\m/
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