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Is Bingen Marina good for intermediates?
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30knotwind



Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 127
Location: White Salmon, WA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:09 am    Post subject: Is Bingen Marina good for intermediates? Reply with quote

My wife and I are sick of the insane gusty conditions at the Event site--not to mention the 'scene' of crowds, speed sailors, group lessons, kiters and jetskis.

Is the Bingen Marina a better alternative? We live in White Salmon so it would be very convenient, but I have not seen anyone sail there since the 90's. BTW, she hates the Hook.

She is working on getting hooked in and into the footstraps--which is really tough to learn in gusty conditions. Her best days are steady ~18 MPH, i.e. she loves light wind out east because gusts are minimal, but we don't want to drive an hour+ on weekdays.

If Bingen is good, what are the hazards? Is the wind less gusty? The beach looks good and the water doesn't look too choppy. Are there any underwater hazards, e.g. deadheads, rocks, etc? What is the current like? Seems good for me too, I can do some high speed jibes and try some freestyle.

Are there any better alternatives near White Salmon, e.g. Home Valley, Stevenson?
GORGE MAP

Thanks
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Mulekick84



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 333

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surprisingly, my wife likes Doug's. She can stay on the inside just West of the launch and the water is pretty smooth with little to no current. It sounds like they are at similar sailing levels. My wife rarely gets in both straps, but uses the harness all the time. She also likes Doug's because she can stand up on the other side and take a breather, when the conditions aren't too crazy.

We also sail Rowena where she feels pretty safe. Its a good scene with grass and shade for hanging out if I go down to Doug's West for a longer session. The wind is pretty steady and as long as they don't go to the WA side, the chop/waves aren't too bad. There are also a ton of girls/women sailors at Rowena, which is always a good motivator.

Got to keep Mama happy!!

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River-Lizard



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 188

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:50 am    Post subject: Re: Is Bingen Marina good for intermediates? Reply with quote

30knotwind wrote:
The beach looks good and the water doesn't look too choppy...


Shhhh... not so loud or the Event Site crew will hear you... Ok, seriously though, why sail at Bingen in steady wind with tons of rigging space, free parking, and great restaurants nearby when you can do battle at the Event Site for $5 a pop?

Bingen is one of the best kept secrets in the Gorge in my book... the only real downside is that there is no swell. I've never sailed there where there is anything remotely resembling the swell you would find at Mosier, or in front of the White Salmon. That aside, its great.

The launch... I think this is what keeps people away from Bingen. Looking at it, the launch looks like its in a total wind-shadow, and that there is a little island that the back-eddy carries you toward when you try to get out.

What you need to do is wait for a good puff, and go by the feel of wind on your face, because you won't see much of it on the water. Then commit fully and start to drift away from shore. You'll get exponentially more wind the further you drift out, and be up in no time. If you want a little more drift room, try out the other launch that is WEST of the wind-sock where the trees are.

The thing to keep in mind is that any "opps I can't get back to where I started from" will result in putting you in some pretty unfriendly territory. To the east, the river will widen and if you can't get back to the boat launch lagoon area, you'll end up where the log booms are, and very long way from home. To the west, you run out of shore line fast. The pilings are nothing to worry about, but the shoreline by the crane is deep water. Further west is a very rocky, steep shoreline. You can exit there, and easily walk back to the grass area, but be careful getting out as the rocks are sharp, slippy, and super steep. Almost better to wait for friends to help you carry your rig and then board out one of a time.

They allow kiting at Bingen. Not many people kite there, but some do, so be sure to leave any anti-kiting sentiments at home.
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 1124
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bingen is sweet and easy, and almost always lighter wind
than the Event Site. The inside is great for hero jibes on the flat water.
There are occasional errant logs that float through, so keep an eye out.

-Craig
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jingebritsen



Joined: 21 Aug 2002
Posts: 2293

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bingen to Rock Creek and back is lots of fun. Swells get better as you go downwind. Wind can sometimes be better when the overhead winds have a bit more NW to them. If the wind slows down, one can always drift in the current back home.

Been out at Rufus when the wind was coming off the Washington side and the wall was getting skunked.... Sometimes the fashionable places to go aren't the best. Avery is pretty sweet too.

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johnl



Joined: 05 Jun 1994
Posts: 1089
Location: Hood River OR

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also for intermediates Viento is good as is Home Valley. Not as popular and don't have wind sensors, but still pretty decent. Home Valley's launch is more difficult (wind shadow, lagoon, etc) but the sailing is pretty intermediate. Viento is great for intermediates since it is an easy launch and a "big" day is 2 - 3 foot chop. Nice calm area on the Oregon side but the Washington side you will be jibing in small chop/swell.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13294

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

30knotwind wrote:
Is the Bingen Marina a better alternative? We live in White Salmon so it would be very convenient, but I have not seen anyone sail there since the 90's.

Are there any better alternatives near White Salmon, e.g. Home Valley, Stevenson?


Dooood ... There are over 70 different launches on the Columbia. TRY 'EM OUT! Wink

There are at least 20 launches within half an hour's drive of you; experiment, read the site guides, and keep asking just as you are now. Relatively easy spots, at least in modest winds and normal currents, include Stevenson (Bob's or Seatrend launch), Home Valley, the Hatchery on lighter days, the whole continuum from the Marina to Wells Island, Bingen, Doug's, Avery, The Dalles, Rowena, Celilo, Mosier, Viento, and more. Each has its own flavor and its favored wind direction, and each behaves differently depending on where the marine cloud layer stops. Moving just a mile or two east of the cloud line or picking a spot that favors SW winds (e.g., Avery) or NW winds (e.g., Mosier, Rowena, Celilo) can make a huge difference in wind speed and quality. When the cloud layer moves over the Hatchery but stops short of the bridge, Bingen's wind can be rock steady. Its crowds diminished because the city of Bingen (wisely?) decided to emphasize business over recreation and because it's not a glamorous spot, not because it is a bad spot to sail. RiverLiz covers its features quite well.

The biggest factor in site selection is probably your wife's confidence. As long as her water start is solid and she can get back to a shore she can walk back from on land or in the water, she's very safe. The waist-deep south shore walk from Doug's to Rowena is a stroll in the park. Walking the south shore waist deep between Swell City and the Event Site is a piece of cake. There are multiple specific exits from the river along the Hatchery-Swell continuum. Except where cliffs or log jams interfere, the opposing forces of wind and current can be used accordingly to transport us to an exit spot or underwater pathway. In normal current, a person in trouble can raise his sail and move east or lower it to head west, thus choosing his exit spot from among many options.

Don't let this year's sailing conditions discourage your wife. Its extreme current makes staying in one spot tougher, so it behooves us to sail east of our launch. The lack of the usual summertime north Pacific high has produced much gustier winds along the entire Columbia, further challenging the sailing.

Mike \m/
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30knotwind



Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 127
Location: White Salmon, WA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobars wrote:

Dooood ... There are over 70 different launches on the Columbia. TRY 'EM OUT! Wink


I've been sailing the gorge since '91, I've "tried 'em" but my wife has a much lower tolerance for risk/humiliation.

She has done the drift across the river to Bozo Beach, which scared the hell out of her and probably prevents her from being more adventurous. Also, she has trouble staying upwind.

She has a very narrow comfort range--Bonaire was perfect. Wink Doug's is too crowded (dangerous, embarrassing); the Home Valley wind shadow is too inconvenient; the Event Site is too crowded and gusty; The Hook is too onshore and too many people; The Hatchery is too 'advanced'; Stevenson is too far to drive; etc. etc.

But she can waterstart consistently and she has lots of fun when sailing with friends out east in light air so I'm trying to find a spot nearby that others of her skills have had success with.

Thanks for the helpful answers! Hopefully she'll read this and get inspired!
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13294

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take her to Corpus Christi for 2-3 weeks some spring. She can sail for miles in chest-deep water and nice breezes, and you may get a few blasts of
Gorge-level winds.

Embarrassment? Does she really think anyone is watching HER, and has not been in her shoes, and does not understand the dues we must pay because we want to WS rather than golf or cruise around under a kite? This $#!+'s HARD, and anyone willing to even TRY windsurfing in the middle of the Columbia River is already among the top 1% of the population in general in terms of bravery. Have a T shirt made up for her that says, "Laugh all you want; just get me out of this damned river" or "You can laugh AFTER you've tried it yourself".

I once walked into the Cascade Locks sternwheeler landing/restaurant/tourist trap full of nicely dressed tourists, barefooted in my dripping wetsuit, and began asking employees and customers if anyone could give me a ride back to Bob's Beach. I was back to my van in just minutes, LONG before the sailors who dragged their raggedy butts along the truly nasty WA shoreline west of Bob's when the easterly winds backed off. Resourcefulness and familiarity with the shoreline can really pay off; maybe your wife's confidence would benefit from spending a calm Saturday exploring both shorelines of the Corridor, checking out exit points. Maybe a cell phone in a waterproof bag would reassure her, presuming you're also carrying one.

A couple of us saw a lady struggling alone as she drifted from the Marina past the Event Site and towards the Hook late one evening, pretty much the last person on the river. We launched and got her and her gear to shore, and she was somewhat shaken by it all. It was her first trip to the Gorge, and I told her, "I'll bet you learned something today, didn't you?"

"Yes ... that I'm over my head here, and shouldn't be here".

"No; you learned that even if it's not your own launch, shore is always nearby. Hassle, not your safety, is the risk."

If you remain patient and she gains skill and confidence, good luck talking her out of sprinting to Stevenson or Rowena or Celilo just because it's 6:00 PM on a July evening. "There's 3-1/2 hours of light left, Bozo; move your butt. Time's awastin'".

Mike \m/
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River-Lizard



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 188

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobars wrote:

Embarrassment? Does she really think anyone is watching HER, and has not been in her shoes, and does not understand the dues we must pay...


When the current was rippin me and a buddy left from the new waterpark launch and rode up to the White Salmon on 4.7's, it was great! Came in to check on a friend, went out again... this time the wind died. Buddy ended up at the Hook, and me? Well, I gave up power slogging and sailed up to the Hatchery. Hitched a ride back... I didn't think it was any big deal, certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. Personally, I think having the option to quit fighting the current and pull out at a different spot is kind of nice, and makes the Gorge a pretty safe place to sail.
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