It would be keen if more people were asking me what’s happening with the Portland Sail & Oar League, because when we get together, we have a darn good time. More members means more fun. PSOL has no official leadership structure, no dues, and if we have rules, they are as follows:
- Get out there!
- Only do what you consider safe and fun. We’re all nice, caring people, but the reality is that the butt you save, may be your own.
No matter what, we’re a quirky and accepting bunch, regardless of the boat you bring out. Sometimes, there are a whole lot of us and sometimes there’s just a single boat on the whole river. That’s the way it was last weekend when Sergei and I went out storm sailing in his SCAMP, Serenity.
Because the weather was supposed to rain like crazy, be gusty, and not much above 50 degrees, we decided to don our space suits, I mean dry suits. Sergei in his self-described ratty black suit and me in my strangely plummy one, loaded the boat and shoved off into miles of unoccupied Columbia River.
The forecasters were wrong in all the best ways. There was no rain and the temperature slowly rose to be about 60. The wind on the other hand was consistently strong and stronger.
Some people are dismissive of the tiny 13 foot long SCAMP, but they underestimate its seaworthiness. With water ballast filling the bottom of the boat and a couple of reefs in the sail, we moved along smoothly with Serenity living up to her name. And wearing dry suits, neither of us were too concerned about falling out, so we sailed along with near abandon through shallow water where larger craft would fear to go.
As we approached the giant freeway bridge that straddles the Columbia, we thought it odd that a heron was able to stand about a third of the way out in the river. We made a few more tacks and escaped a sand bar we’d never noticed before. Since we had no place to go and were in no hurry to get home, Sergei deployed his new bimini, I got to drive, and we made a few sail adjustments. Snacks were distributed and a quiet satisfaction fell over the boat.
When we finally decided to turn back, a whole fleet of big keelboats was out for a Sunday afternoon race. (I like to think we lured them out.) Instead of being bummed about the crowd, we cut back and forth between the racers, waving and smiling. Several boats were flying spinnakers and in the distance I noted one had an orange sail that seemed a little bright for the normally conservative fleet.
It being the day after Halloween, I couldn’t help but think the orange spinnaker was a jack-o-lantern. And sure it enough when we crossed paths, that’s exactly what it was. My grin got bigger.
The only thing that could have made the day better would have been more little boats like ours. So if you haven’t joined PSOL, what are you waiting for?