Monthly Archives: April 2009

Light air — Not just for stand up

We had an unusually warm stretch of weather beginning Sunday, April 19th. The high for the day was 80F and for most of the day there was little wind. Around 4PM the wind woke up and gusted up to about 20, enough to bring hopeful windsurfers and kiters down to the water. The windsurfers that waited around before rigging were rewarded for their patience as the wind gradually faded. A couple of kiteboarders took a shot at it. Two put in at the Event Site and made it about a hundred yards before climbing out on the sand bar.

Event Site light air kiteboarding
Click to enlarge

But, this guy put in a solid hour long session. The camera isn’t lying. With the wind no more than 5 knots this would certainly be his final run in, but no, he turned and crossed the Columbia again. Call it lawn mowing or lament the lack of waves, but planing is planing — sunny, warm and the place to yourself.



The following is the text of a press release issued March  30, 2009 by the U.S. Coast Guard:

(SEATTLE) — Coast Guard Sector Portland, Ore., is investigating a bridge allision involving the Tidewater Tug Defiance and the Hood River Bridge on the Columbia River in Ore., Saturday. At 3:20 a.m. the Tug Defiance was pushing three barges ahead when one of the barges allided with the north pylon of the Hood River Bridge.

Immediately following the incident, the Tug Defiance and barges quickly moored upriver at the SDS Lumber facility in Bingen, Ore., to assess the damage.

Crewmembers from Sector Portland worked with Tidewater in determining that the barge had sustained minor damage and is safe for continued cargo operations.

The Port of Hood River inspected the bridge and found no damage. There is no current threat to the environment and the bridge remains open to all traffic.


The things you learn: allision: to strike or dash against. Maybe an allision is a collision only not as bad.

Toward the end of July, 2006 a fierce wind blew through Hood River that left almost all of the sailors in the corridor frustrated and mildly confused. It wasn’t that the wind blew hard, it was that it had a wicked southerly angle, a component that leaves all but the truly stubborn on the beach. On occasion, though, the stubborn are rewarded. The trick to surviving the southerly (other than leaving the corridor completely) is to put in at the Event Site, smile to the nice kiteboarders and turn right and sail in their area. In fact, the payoff is to be so stubborn that you sail through the whole kite community and stay just down river of the Marina. NOBODY sails there except, on this one day, me and some Canadian hockey player with long blond hair. Maybe it was a dream. It felt like it after this day.

In a big southerly, the waves pile up against the Washington wall and bounce off, forming wedges that make the hassle worthwhile. Only the hockey player and I were taking advantage. Actually, she was there by accident, having put in at the Marina and turned left. I found out about her heritage and passions as we sat on the tip of the sand bar and watched a barge driver take a couple of shots at the Hood River bridge. It’s a narrow part of the river, so when a barge comes through, it’s best just to take a breather and watch.

The wind got puffier and stronger and backed further south. I’d say the gusts had to be in the upper thirties. I was getting pushed around pretty hard on my 4.2. I couldn’t imagine how a barge, with that much surface area facing perpendicular to the odd wind direction would manage to stuff his load through that little bridge opening. And, he didn’t, on the first try. That big yellow smiley (BYS) face turned grim with determination as the tug driver floored it. I guess he thought he could get through with a burst of speed. But the Wind said, “No way, bud,” and dealt out a monster puff.

Reverse. I didn’t know those things could stop that quickly. The new problem was that now that he had stopped, the wind was about to shove him onto the Washington shore. Black smoke poured out of the tug’s stacks as he jammed it into full reverse, with his stern toward me and the hockey player. Once he got some way on he turned down river. The effect on his barge was sort of like crack-the-whip; he sort of flung it so that it lined up again with the river. He continued backing up clear to the White Salmon bridge, making an even bigger mess for all the sailors.

The hockey player and I resumed sailing. Soon a little tug (LT) came from the lumber yard in Bingen and joined BYS. Two tugs are better than one. I thought it would take them awhile to hook LT up to the front of BYS but they didn’t bother. The plan was to have LT push the nose of BYS enough into the wind as they approached the bridge. So, the hockey player and I took another seat on the sand bar and watched. There was a lot more black smoke and churning water but they made it. No dings. Another blond came paddling up to us in a kayak. He said a few words to the hockey player and they took off together and made their way back to the Marina.