Gorge trip #2 for 2001

It was a big weekend, especially Sunday. We got an early start Friday, passed John Day dam by noon or so. No wind to speak of east of there, half a dozen kites out at Rufus. We stopped at Maryhill to have a look around, a couple guys were trying to slog on big sails.

Unknown sailors at Celilo, slalom conditions

Celilo looked sailable, so we pulled in there, and put on our morning wind gear and sailed that for a while. It gradually picked up, and I rigged down to 5.1, Charley went from 6.7 to something smaller. It was a good "intro" session, but the chop at Celilo is really unpleasant, never sets up to decent waves. We called it "psycho chop." I doubt I'll ever bother sailing there again, even though it's such a nice park and launch.

On Saturday, we made a shopping run into Hood River, but didn't end up buying anything significant. Came out to Avery about noon and met up with Charlie and Betsy. I sailed my brand new 4.2 Ezzy (a 2000 model that I bought last weekend at Windance) and my new 9" Naish fin and they were both perfect. Much nicer waves there, and a couple of great hours. Seemed like it was going to pick up (the "6 o'clock express" that we'd seen over at Celilo Friday), and I went down to my 3.5, but it never got to where that was powered. The near side in particular was holey and had nice big waves that were useless underpowered. I kept waiting for it to come up stronger, but never did - should've just stayed on the 4.2 all day.

Betsy stayed out later than most people, sailing her 3.5 and having a great time, not coming over too close to shore. She came across on a perfect gust, blasted in and said "why are you standing around?!" We pointed out the problems with the situation, and she gradually realized the truth of it. Charley gave it one late go with his 5.1 and short board, and once past the near-side holes, he was tailwalking over and back, then just about swimming in the last bit.

The windward tip of the island at Avery

This was my first time at Avery, a nice place with low amenities (one porta-potty), but a loyal following. Best when the wind is a little from the south and the launch doesn't have a wind shadow, known to be holey at times. One regular had a bumper sticker, "I voted BOB AVERY." He said "if you sail Avery, sooner or later you're going to bob Avery."

Sunday morning, the marine layer had moved inland, there were some clouds over The Dalles, and it was well cooler than it had been. Charley and I headed to Doug's for "morning wind," I rigged my 4.2 and he his 5.1, and we hung around a bit to see if the holes would fill in before going out. The water's low there (as it had been above The Dalles dam), and there's some funky green algae along shore. The launch was in a bit of a wind shadow and there were some big holes at first. After waiting a while to see if it was going to build, I decided I needed more sail.

I took down the 4.2 and rigged my 4.7 (and wished I had another mast and booms again) and went out on that, about the time Charley was hanging on for dear life for a pair of reaches on his 5.1 and big board. I made 4 reaches, in survival mode myself, but not quite as close to the hairy edge.

Most everybody was driving by us, going east, so rather than rerig AGAIN, we decided to go for the desert too. If I'd stuck with my 4.2, I probably would've stayed at Doug's - the waves were awesome, and there was almost no one there so early in the morning. I would have found out how well it performs in overpowered conditions!

But it was windy going east, and Charley convinced me to give Maryhill a try, another spot I hadn't sailed before. It was blasting. I rigged my 3.5 without hesitation, but once on the water, did feel a little underpowered in the lulls. I didn't have enough time to feel disappointed though, because the gusts were big, and it filled in soon enough. Charley tried his 4.5, but had more than he could handle. He got launched on his first big reach back and landed on his mast, broke it in two. He was fairly close to shore, so the swim in wasn't too bad, but that was his day. I kept going for another hour or so, barely in control. I really need to get a smaller board to sail those kind of conditions. The smaller fin made my board better for it, but 267 (8'9") is still too big down below 4.0.

We were on the road home by about 1pm, well toasted from 3 days of sun and sailing.

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

Monday, 16-Jul-2001 20:49:29 MDT