Launch sites for beginners

A place to ask your questions or give up your secret tips about the Columbia River Gorge

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Launch sites for beginners

Postby obzansky » Sat May 20, 2006 6:38 am

Hope all you Gorge travelers can help with this one!!

Eileen and I are planning at least one Gorge trip this summer and wanted to check out some of the best beginner lauch sites. Eileen is just getting started so she likes big stable boards with very small sails. The Dalles sounds good, but are there other to check out?

Thanks
DaveO
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Postby Fred Gruendell » Sat May 20, 2006 9:35 am

Hi Dave,
I've been just starting out for many years :) It sort of depends on your definition of "just starting out". Obviously the Columbia is a river. The current is always a consideration. Does Eileen waterstart okay? This is a pretty handy skill because on the river it can often be nearly impossible to uphaul due to wave and swell. Conditions also change from hour to hour. At the Hook there is a protected area refered to as the "kiddie pool" and on the other side of the jetty is another area inside of Wells Island that can be good to practice waterstarts. If the river level is low you can even stand on the bottom in here. The Marina is also a good beginer spot. The main river current can be avoided if you stay inside. The point where the current starts is usually plainly visible at the Marina. The Dalles is good for begining too and again watch for the usually abrubt wind line and current. There are a couple of islands here that shield the launch from the current. You might also like Bob's Beach in Stevenson. I love that place. Nice grassy rigging area and the friendliest people for some reason.

The Gorge should be respected in my opinion. This is not an amusement ride with an operator. It's a river and a commercial waterway. If you get caught in the main flow of the river they don't turn it off and get you out. That is one good reason to sail at the Marina the Hood River Fire Dept. and Sheriff will still rescue people, I believe. If someone should get washed down the river, stick with your gear and get to a shore. Most places seem to be rocky with plenty of stickery bushes. Access to the river is very limited and it can be difficult to get to someone stuck on the shore, but at least you know where they are and they don't get munched by a barge. Having said all that, the Gorge is an awesome place and many first timers learn there. It would be worth it to take a lesson too.
Others may disagree with the opinions expressed here. Dissenting views are welcome.
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Location: usually dead last

Re: Launch sites for beginners

Postby Craig Goudie » Sat May 20, 2006 9:56 am

Hi Dave, You're gonna love it!

There are some moderately safe places to learn in the Gorge.
The Dalles is a pretty good place. If you are rank beginners,
I'd recommend inside at the Hook. Plenty of safety there
in a fully enclosed shallow area. You'll also find learning
kit rentals there. Outside between the Hook and Wells island
is a great place to learn your water start. The launch is a pretty
ugly scramble down nasty rocks, but the wind blows you back
into the beach for a safe and rewarding water start experience
away from the main river. Also, the Hood River Sail Park just East
of the Event Site, though not protected from the main river is shallow
and typically lighter wind with nice grass, a sandy beach, and beach
side rentals and instruction.

Ready for a little more excitement? There's a really cool
bay way out East which is the launch into the main river
called 3 Mile canyon. When it blows out there it can be double black
diamond sailing, but the bay is totally enclosed away from the river,
and the break waters don't obstruct the wind, so you can get a
taste of real Gorge wind in the bay, but not have to deal with the current,
swells, or getting blown any farther than the end of the bay. It's a great
place for your first "extreme wind" experience. Just take lots of water,
and ask around town as to when it's going to blow out there, because
it is a long drive (1.5 hrs) from Hood River (but it's right on the way
in if you're driving from Salt Lake so check it out).

Have a look at the top 20 launches on line
http://www.rowenashores.com/top20/ or any of the Gorge Info page
(link is at the top of this page). That will give you some insight.

Also give us more details on your current level of experience, the gear
you currently use and own, where you currently sail and what conditions
you like best, and what thing you'd like to learn next, and we can give
more details.

The Tribe and I are up there most of the summer and would be happy to give you the insiders tour if we're up at the same time. Just email me your plans, and we'll see if we can't get together.

If you've got more specific questions ask'm

-Craig

Dave Obzansky wrote:Hope all you Gorge travelers can help with this one!!

Eileen and I are planning at least one Gorge trip this summer and wanted to check out some of the best beginner lauch sites. Eileen is just getting started so she likes big stable boards with very small sails. The Dalles sounds good, but are there other to check out?

Thanks
DaveO
Craig Goudie
Sailing the high desert lakes of Utah on my:
150 Sumo, 8'6"RRD TT, 8'2"Cross M
with Sailworks/Naish Sails

Sailing the Gorge on my:
9'1"RRD Freeride, 7'9" Open Ocean Slasher, 8'0"Hitech
with Northwave Sails
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Location: Most Likely--Doug's Beach

Trailer in the Gorge

Postby Rick Heninger » Tue May 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Dave,

Ok my TRAILER brother... This is an issue... The one thing about the Gorge that I don't like is that it is a River in a Gorge, so the parking sucks in most places if you have A TRAILER. HOWEVER, there are specific things you can know before going there about the trailer parking that will really help you... First they charge an extra $1.25 extra or $0.75 to cross the Hood River Bridge (have cash ready). Also, to park on the Washington side is either $5/day or somewhere around $45 for the season... If you buy a seasons pass, And you end up not going again while I'm there, I'll buy it half price from you when you get back! ;) if they're still transferable.

Ok, some of these sites I haven't seen in 2 years, so some may have changed dramatically since...

:D The following sites are VERY EASY PARKING w/trailer (that I can really remember this way)(straight in parking w/no struggle) Oregon Side: The Event Site (best), The Hook (I echo Fred and Craig, Kelly rented a Startboard there, GREAT for beginners)(good trailer parking), Rufus HEEUGE parking areas no pavement, round rocks, no yellow lines, Celilo Park, Big parking lot... most sites east of the Dalles... ...on the Washington side: Stevenson's (Bob's beach) (best sailing on an easterly), Home Valley (although I've never sailed there, parking is more friendly. Layne loves to say Home Valley, you need to hear him say it sometime as only he can! ;) ),

:roll: MEDIUM DIFFICULT PARKING w/trailer: On the Oregon Side... Mosier (but it's a little rough getting in, bad road. On the Washington Side... The Hatchery (solution: Get there between 5AM-6AM to be able to pull straight into a spot... Leave as much room for people to use up extra space around you or your Trailer/Van will get DINGED by Rigs that "accidentally" hit it... i.e. Don't leave a big space on the side of you where a small car or van could actually have fitted it there were an extra couple feet! Especially in Gunars' Chateau, a parking shoulder IN the "Hatch", very utah friendly locale for parking, Gunars will be there early, its just past the open parking area on the right where the big shady trees are blowing!!! my mouth's watering... Otherwise on the left you just pull your van into the weeds, straight, as far as possible with out compromising your vehicle).


:evil: VERY DIFFICULT TRAILER PARKING w/trailer: Oregon Side...Rowena, small parking spaces, you almost would have to take two spaces, I haven't sailed here since having my trailer... On the Washington Side... Swell City Locals... They double up parking spaces and if you have a trailer, it makes that difficult, but you can fit. It's more difficult because of how uncomfortable you can feel from some of the people who have a small vehicle rig, but it works pulling straight in, Again, GET THERE EARLY... Doug's Beach Doug's is a wild card because of how they're talking about adding a train track pullout (extra track) which will compromise parking even further! Duane Karen know's the low down on that... But Doug's has to be the spot of some of the most laid back fun sailing I've done in the Gorge... But with a trailer, you have to take up two spots because if you leave your trailer on, it is almost out to the freeway and it blocks the passageway for people driving in looking for spots...

Well, I hope this helps... It is the one sore spot of having a trailer... But It's very nice to have a roomy vehicle and the security of not having boards on top of the car (bugs, security, wind resistance, boards blowing off)... Just make it as unintrusive as possible and you'll be good...
Rick Heninger
 

Postby Craig Goudie » Tue May 23, 2006 2:15 pm

Just wanted to mention 1 thing about Rick's comments. It looks like
there won't be any day use fee (or season pass) this year at
the Hatchery or Doug's.
Not sure how this will turn out, but so far free is good, Oh and the
parking at Doug's is already gone. There's now room for about 35
vehicles East of the entrance and maybe 10 West of the entrance.

But the original poster doesn't want to go there anyway, like
Mr. The Shred says "this ride ain't got no operator other than
yourself," and the flush is a long way to The Bonneville Dam ;*)

-Craig
Craig Goudie
Sailing the high desert lakes of Utah on my:
150 Sumo, 8'6"RRD TT, 8'2"Cross M
with Sailworks/Naish Sails

Sailing the Gorge on my:
9'1"RRD Freeride, 7'9" Open Ocean Slasher, 8'0"Hitech
with Northwave Sails
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Craig Goudie
 
Posts: 3196
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:53 am
Location: Most Likely--Doug's Beach

Postby obzansky » Wed Jul 05, 2006 7:45 pm

Hey Craig, Fred and Rick,
a belated thanks for the great advice on the Gorge! Rick, I especially appreciate the detailed advice concerning the trailer. While I knew about the parking situation at some of the sites, I have not been at many of the others. Thanks again.
DaveO
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obzansky
 
Posts: 132
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:01 pm

Postby lesvierra » Wed Jul 05, 2006 10:55 pm

More thanks here too. Thanks for bringing this thread back just in time for our first time trailer trip along the northern cali, oregon coast, floras lake, and the gorge. Beginner info much appreciated and needed and advice for us white trailer folks.
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