This is a record for me, three trips in one month, and nine, count 'em, nine days of sailing in nine tries. Charley and I merged onto I-84 at the Middleton interchange just as Jeff and Chris tooled by in Jeff's big dually. We caravaned to Pilot, aborted the "let's stop at 3 Mile" plan for lack of wind, and parked on the rocks at Rufus. Show time!
In the swirly vortext behind the big rock pile, it didn't seem that big, but people were coming off the water looking a bit overwhelmed. One sap who'd been spanked on a 4.7 rigged down to a 3.7; I was using him for a buoy most of the afternoon. Well, it wasn't quite that bad, he was still going well enough not to re-rig, but after a couple of tentative out/jibe/back-and-stops, I decided my 4.2 could handle the gusts and the lulls just fine, thank you.
Love those big rolling swells, but I do wish they'd set up on starboard rather than on port. I was experimenting with how slow I could plane, avoiding the excess speed that was there for the taking on the gusts.
Charley did the 5.1 thing again, Chris did a rigging drill, professed happiness with all of his 4.5, 4.0 and 5.0, as the wind waxed and waned over the afternoon. We cajoled Jeff out on his floaty thing and a 4.5 during the slack time, he was smiling too. I just worked the 4.2, and my not-quite-in-shape forearms, at least 4 reaches past sensibility.
Saturday morning was billed as big, although with only the now lame Q104 report to go by, we just knew it would be "blustery," somewhere between Astoria and Pendleton. (Bart, come back!) Checked out the farmer's market in Hood River first (the cherries, c'est magnifique!), walked around the shops, and headed east around lunch time. Doug's was marginal and going down, under the marine layer moving inland. Avery was no better, and no one out.
Maryhill? Maryhill was happening. The main lot was full, and overflow just getting going, we experimented with the boat ramp end of things. The parking's easier (as long as they don't enforce the "boat trailer parking only" zone), but the launch is funky. I swam out on the downwind side of the dock, hoping to get out from the jetty's wind shadow sooner, but I was kicking my way through weeds much of the way. Not recommended.
Once out to the wind line, my 4.7 was get up and go right quick. Pointing was easy with the current and in spite of lulls, and I'd got upwind/downriver to the rock beach in 6 or 8 reaches. Stopped to see about taking my contact lenses out, and then to watch the wind get flukey as the cloud deck made its way out to Bigg's Junction and eastward. It picked up again after the clouds had broken up some, but then it was even more gusty, coming more northerly and over the Mary Hill. Nothing quite like slogging and getting slammed on the same reach.
We gave it some time to settle out, but it didn't, really, and so Charley and I packed up and went over to Rufus. It looked like the Hatchery crowd had moved in for the day, lots of sailors and 4.0 or better conditions. Late in the afternoon, my contact case left at our lodging, and semi-thrashed from Maryhill, we decided to just spectate for a while, see a few loops get landed, a lot of willyskippers go nowhere, and one fool playing in traffic with his little kite and going ballistic every so often.
Sunday morning, The Dalles was close to overcast, the marine layer even further into the desert. The eastern corridor under John Day dam was cloudy too, and we skipped on out to Roosevelt. The predictable camping scene there, the kampers a bit larger every year, and the grass mostly covered with the sails from Saturday. 3.0 on up to 5-ish, looked like it was a good time.
The marine layer had may its way out to here too, leaving time for that extra cup of coffee. The poplars lacked that attractive woosh factor, three kites and somebody with a big race sail the only thing for breakfast wind dummies. It looked a lot like good morning wind at Lucky Peak, actually, and on that basis, Charley rigged his 6.7 and I my 5.7, the biggest we'd brought.
It turned out just fine, thank you, amply powered for me to finally get brave and try some port-side chop hopping (one launch, 3 or 4 successes!), some high-speed carve jibes (my best ever), and just a generally good time reaching back and forth across the wide Columbia. Charley was happy on his 6.7, and by the time we quit around noon, we'd skimmed the best of the morning, and quite possibly the best of the day. 3 Mile was sailable but not as good as what we'd had by the time we went by there, mostly overcast from there on, through the Blues (with rain), Baker, and to Boise, east wind at Farewell Bend, north here in the Treasure Valley.
Tom von Alten tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org