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What is the problem with too much current at Maryhill?
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Jim.od3



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 90

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 9:57 am    Post subject: What is the problem with too much current at Maryhill? Reply with quote

I hear many people warn about sailing at Maryhill if the current is too high. I've only sailed there once for a couple of runs until I blew out a panel on my sail in a crash. The current that day was noticeable, but probably not high like it is now. To maintain my position relative to the launch it felt like I was constantly having to sail at a broad reach, which was great! My early experiences windsurfing were always about struggling to stay upwind, so having a strong-ish current dragging me upwind was not unwelcome at all.

My question is: What happens if the current is TOO strong? What's bad about it? You just have to sail deeper off the wind all the time?

I can imagine there might be a concern about getting dragged far downstream if you ended up in the water for a long time, but it looks like there are places to get out and make the walk of shame.

-Jim
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andymc4610



Joined: 19 May 2000
Posts: 684

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't see Maryhill being a problem, bad chop maybe? I wouldn't think the current would be much worse than an East wind spring day with the added wind push. Rufus, yeah not good. I would stick to doug's probably sweet spot for saturday.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 20770

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. Rapids, virtually. The present amount of current usually produces more disorganized, washing-machine, random mish-mash than swell. Extra current there promotes swell; excess usually kills it.

2. One mistake, one blown jibe, waiting for one barge, one lull in the wind, one session or reach without excess power, and you're on your way towards Hood River at dizzying speeds. The walk of shame from upwind ranges from a bitch if the water is low enough to wade the shoreline to impossible if the shoreline gaps are too deep to wade.

3. Sailing downwind that deeply under heavy power is not a common skill. It's even triggered multiple threads from very experienced Gorge WSers accustomed to sailing efficiently and wondering how to run before the wind powered up.

4. If NOT sufficiently powered to dive deeply downwind, and especially if barely- or under-powered, the normal solution is to slog home in a broad reach. That gets one nowhere in a heavy spring current, and nowhere (or backwards) FAST in this year's (expected) mega-current (at least twice normal). Even after the spring (maybe summer this year) runoff, the current is often strong enough to turn a 100-meter slog into a half-mile slog relative to your van. I find it much easier and more reliable to sit on my board straddling the mast and sail dead downwind than to stand up and slog back to my van, but that's not good enough for 400,000 (let alone 450k) CFM through the John Day Dam.

5. This much current is good for one thing, however: DIY downwinders. Launch at Maryhill overpowered (or else!), sail downwind almost to the dam, then turn around and ride the current back to Maryhill, wind or no wind. The problem? It can be boring if it's like my last such trip: I didn't see one really nice fat swell the whole 14-mile round trip (see # 1).

6. Take Temira's warnings seriously, treat it as a wild adventure rather than normal windsurfing, and make contingency plans (e.g., "Pick me up at Maryhill or Celilo if I don't make it back to my van"). The Maryhill Corridor in a very heavy runoff can be about as challenging ... and sometimes as frustrating, maybe even unrewarding ... as a windy day in the Gorge gets. But if you're bored at the Hatchery at 40 mph, maybe you'd enjoy the Maryhill Corridor at 450kfs.
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westender



Joined: 02 Aug 2007
Posts: 1288
Location: Portland / Gorge

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For one thing, if you go down wrong, the current can grab your clew and if you're not in great shape you'll be huffing and puffing wishing you were back on the beach before you get going again. If you're a Sailing Superman, no worries if you like choppy sailing.
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merriam2



Joined: 25 Oct 2013
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with what Iso says about this stretch of the river. Never tried sailing further east like this. What are the conditions like at Roosevelt, Arlington, Three Mile or Boardman under these circumstances?

Tom
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 2528
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Tom,

The river is pretty wide (really so at 3 Mile) in those locations,
and I've never seen the current strong enough to knock down the swell
out there. I don't think anywhere else (where there's a launch) in the
Gorge develops the rate that can happen between the dam and Mary Hill.
I think Mike pretty much summed it up, and I've personally experienced
that "clew dragged under" effect that Westender mentioned sailing the Wall
under high current. In fact, I've had the pleasure of just about every
effect mentioned in this thread.

-Craig

merriam2 wrote:
Agree with what Iso says about this stretch of the river. Never tried sailing further east like this. What are the conditions like at Roosevelt, Arlington, Three Mile or Boardman under these circumstances?

Tom
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 20770

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never yet seen even an ATTEMPT, let aloe a persuasive one, to explain how the sail knows there's any current. Unless you're standing on the bottom, "It's the wind, stupid" that drives a sail into the water, still or moving.
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westender



Joined: 02 Aug 2007
Posts: 1288
Location: Portland / Gorge

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the same reason it's never a problem in an east wind. I've sailed MH in these conditions before and other Narrow spots in the river and it'll get you. Your mast points straight down.

The MH bridge support areas could be a very dangerous place. If you sail at the grain elevators, if they still park a barge out there, another thing to not get sucked into or under. One of my friends almost died there many years ago.
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windward1



Joined: 18 Jun 2000
Posts: 1348

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobars,

I do not have direct experience, so am only guessing using other information that I do have: Consider that the current is actually three dimensional, not two. It has up and down velocity vectors as well as horizontally "with the current". The downward velocities active in a dynamic current certainly could take one's sail in that direction. Likely to be experienced in violent current.
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merriam2



Joined: 25 Oct 2013
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobars wrote:
I have never yet seen even an ATTEMPT, let aloe a persuasive one, to explain how the sail knows there's any current. Unless you're standing on the bottom, "It's the wind, stupid" that drives a sail into the water, still or moving.


Okay, so I agree with your reasoning and logic but my experience tells me otherwise, I may be biased or stupid (make that I am biased and stupid.)

I have experienced this sail drag at Rufus and the Hatchery in the main channel but don't remember it happening anywhere else. I also understand the logic that the current shouldn't matter except that it seems to. A 30 knot easterly over a 5 knot west current should be the same as a 20 knot westerly over a 5 knot west current but the swell sure seems different to me. Sailing at Rufus in the spring when the current is ripping is a lot less fun and worse swell than late summer in the same or lower wind speed with a lower current and beautiful swell. Why? I don't know.

Tom
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