Swell City

"Where the swells are bigger than the parking area" Like the salmon that swim by here, Swell City is quickly approaching endangered status. Under constant pressure from non-sailing groups and the traffic authorities, parking access to Swell City has been cut to the bare bones. While the $2 launching fee is a small price to pay to sail here, there are only about 40 of those $2 spaces now available. Expect it packed to the rafters on any West wind day. Rigging space is also sparse, but those who sail there don't seem to mind. Afterall, this is Swell City. . .launch pad to one of the premium and most consistent sites for big swells and smooth wind. If you can handle the parking, rigging and launch scene, the water and wind will reward your patience with some truly spectacular conditions. Just keep your eyes open for the less conscious. Like the Hatch, competition for airspace, LZ's and jibe zones can be intense and unrelenting. The sailing attitude is always aggressive and observant.

RIG & LAUNCH You can rig at the west end in the small grassy area, or somewhere right near where you parked. Either way there is not much room. You can launch from two spots: In the small cove by the point at the west end (watch out for the big, submerged rocks by the point); or at the rocky beach at the east end (you'll have to swim to the windline on lighter days.)

WIND Great sailing from late spring right into fall. Typically 35 to 45 with frequent nukin' days. It generally is best in the morning and early afternoon. There can be a large wind shadow on the Oregon side from Ruthton Point, especially on a W-SW wind.

WATER The strong current and big swells make this popular spot an "experts only" area. On bigger days look for 6 - 8 foot swells with both starboard and port ramps. The biggest and smoothest swell pattern is in an area called "In-Betweens," located just up river, around the point.

GETTING THERE Just 4 miles west of the Hood River Bridge on WA 14. Only 1/4 mile past The Hatchery. There is limited parking for up to 35 cars. Be cautious of traffic and the rules of parking.