|For windsurfing enthusiasts, it doesn't get much better than this! In summer, the Gorge's strong steady west winds with an opposing river current and warm fresh water make the Columbia River Gorge a world class windsurfing destination resort. About 12 miles east of Hood River, Rowena is located in what is sometimes referred to as the Rowena Corridor, a straight stretch of river about 4 miles long, extending from Mayer State Park West, past Rowena and Doug's Beach on the Washington side, to Crate's point where the river turns toward The Dalles. It is generally considered to be one of the premier spots to sail the powerful west winds which have made the Gorge world famous. And sailing from a private beach on the "Rowena Riviera" avoids all the crowds from the public launches. Our launches here at Rowena Shores are the finest in the Gorge... lush green lawns leading down to sandy beaches and a riverbottom with no rocks or other obstructions. Paradise, pure and simple.
Here's a picture of your humble webmaster standing by our unique wind meter, down by the river's edge at "Rowena Shores", facing the gale force winds on a "nuking" summer's day. As you can see, the arrow pointing toward the top of the wind meter indicates 45 mph, so the gust captured in the photo is upwards of 50-55 mph! And it's coming right out of the northwest, the preferred direction in Rowena. That 4.2 meter sail on the ground was too big for me that afternoon, even with my 250 pounds. The Gorge is the place to sail those really small sails. I've seen days when pro sailors were getting blown off the water on 3.0's!!! The term "nuclear wind" was coined here in the Gorge by my pals Bingen Bart Vervloet, photographer extraordinaire Jay Carroll and some of the other early sailors back in the mid 1980's.
We've had some monster days in The Gorge over the years, when the river has truly earned its reputation for 'nuclear winds' and Windsurfing Capital of the World. Here's a link to a week in the late sailing season of 2007, as immortalized by Clay Feeter former publisher of Windtracks magazine in his Weekly Gust newsletter.
|Fortunately there are many different places to sail along the Columbia. If the wind is too strong for your tastes at the Hatchery, you can try the Marina or the Event Site just a couple miles east on the Oregon side at the town of Hood River. If that doesn't work for you, strong west wind days in the central Gorge are almost always lighter and more "sailor friendly" at Stevenson or Home Valley, a few miles west of the Hatchery and Swell City or a few miles east at Bingen Beach or The Dalles. Check out our top 20 sailing locations in the Gorge. The Columbia truly offers a site for every skill level. Windance has a great guide to the Gorge Sailing spots.
To help orient you to all the locations in the Gorge, here's a link to a neat map of the area.
This is our little Westie, Gracie... she loves it here too!
Above is a picture of little Patrick (at age 3 1/2) standing on a picnic table with the mighty Columbia River and the cliffs of Washington on the other side of the river showing clearly in the background. The year was actually 1996 but that's the great thing about the Gorge... nothing has changed... this photo would look identical if taken today, except the boy is now 14 (in 2006). Check the size of that large luxury tour boat in the background and you get an idea of how large this river is! It's over 2/3 mile wide at Rowena. You can see a good stiff wind blowing on the river, as indicated by the whitecaps and the flag on the flagpole, and yet, incredible as it may seem, there is no one in sight on the water! This is one of the joys of sailing at a private site on the river... no crowds. The photo to the right is a thumbnail shot of the boy sitting in his MG waiting for his 16th birthday, taken on the old road just above Rowena. Click here or on the photo to see a full size photo.
If you are familiar with high performance windsurfing, then the Gorge needs little introduction. If you have never experienced the thrill of this fun and exciting sport, then we invite you to come visit the Columbia River Gorge and experience it first hand! When windsurfers speak reverently of the true meccas of windsurfing, two places, Maui and The Gorge, are always at the top of their list.
The best months for sailing here are May until early October. Full wetsuits are needed in the spring and fall, but shorties or just bathing suits are fine in the summer with water temperatures in the 70's.