- Capt. Eric
Port of Hood River
We left tiny Cascade Locks Sunday end of morning with an easy 20 miles to Port of Hood River ahead of us. Turning around in the tight marina space had me backing out of our spot until I had just enough room for a 90 degree turn.
The pilothouse on Enfin is "blind" towards the stern unless I crouch down and peek through the salon and enclosure, so Di tends to stay in the cockpit and announce stern distances to me over our closed Bluetooth system. She counts in tender lengths, 10 feet, as that's an easy way to visualize distances. She told me I had a whole tender. I believe I had not much more in front of the bow, so had to walk the boat on its propeller to turn in place, with short assists from the bow thruster.
As soon as we got out of the marina we regained the main channel and proceeded upriver again.
The region is known for its winds and is the mecca for all things windsurfing, kite-boarding and similar sports, and the wind didn't disappoint us, slowly coming up as the day passed and as we got closer to Hood River.
The valley was really beautiful, with tall mountains on the South side in particular. For the first time since leaving Portland, the combination of low current in the lake, and wind pushing us gave us some acceptable speed.
Di used the occasion to review her knots. Useful to get fenders in place fast, tie the tender ashore and so much more.
The further East we got, the more wind we had and it wasn't long before we were swarmed by all sorts of windsurfs, kite-boards, with and without foils.
In theory, being sail powered these crafts have the right of way on power vessel Enfin. But since they go very fast and are ultra maneuverable I decided instead to keep our course steady both in terms of speed and heading. That way we would not surprise anyone and they would keep clear of us.
Both Di and I kept a good eye for any fallen surfer, especially if they ended up falling right in front of us, but even then, they are so fast back up and away that I never had to alter my speed.
A few came by to say hello and play with our wake. Enfin's hull is very efficient, and since creating a big wake is just wasted energy we do not raise much of anything for these guys to play on. They tried though, and it was fun to watch from the dry warm viewpoint of our Portuguese bridge.
The closer we got to the entrance of the marina the more sail traffic we had.
Entrance into the marina was uneventful, though the guest dock had very limited space left for us, namely about 47 feet of linear dockage (we measured once stopped). With the cross wind pushing us down to the dock I had to be accurate to slide Enfin between 2 small boats whilst controlling my speed well enough that we would gently rest on the dock, not slam into it.
Soon it was time to go and explore the town. A reasonable walk and we found ourselves in a beautiful riverside park full to the brim with surfing addicts with tons of gear, many living out of various types of converted vans and RVs.
We grabbed a couple wood oven fired pizzas from a food truck -yes, just like in France and Italy they had a wood fired oven built in their truck- walked around the old downtown and had a good time exploring the area.
Only a few years ago, when I was windsurfing regularly from our Baytown house I would have been all over the various kite-surf rental places and instructors to go and play myself. Today, after the hit from the various cancer treatments it was clear the best I could do was to sit down and watch them from the shore.
So another thing to add to my recovery: Gaining my strength back so I can once again surf to my heart's content.
The funny thing is that most of the sails I bought for my various boards in Baytown, came from Hood River and we went past the shop where they make them today.
Being a larger town we decided to stay a couple of nights in Hood River. The marina guest dock is fine, has 30 amp electricity and gets OK WiFi. On the way out we'll be able to empty our head and refill our water tanks at a separate dock, so overall a convenient stop.
Still, like many places along the valley we found the town was noisy from the proximity to highway I-84 as well as the rail road tracks that both follow the river. So we'll be happy to move on and explore some more.
For our last evening, the sky treated us to a superb spectacle once the wind dropped:
A very fitting goodbye to Port of Hood River.