Portland Sailing Center

A Forest of Sails

Portland Sailing Center's Basic Sailing Textbook

In a perfect world sailing is learned where local waters provide the raw materials from which to extract all the basic sailing skills and lessons about such things as tides and currents, lee shores, sailboat races and other hazards, navigation aids, ships, barges, bridges and locks, ocean bars, strong winds, anchoring and docking in adverse condtions, etc. Well, duh! All those opportunities are right here on the Columbia River!

After too many years of teaching a watered down curriculum intended for places with none of these gifts, PSC wrote its own book. A Forest of Sails was written based on decades of teaching and sailing on these local waters. It was edited by David Ritchie, Ph.D., Professor of History, author and playwright, and illustrated by Fae Young, professional artist and former student of PSC.

A Forest of Sails was reviewed by local professionals. Dale Waagmeester, sailmaker, sailing writer and arguably the most respected sailing authority in Oregon reviewed and approved every word we wrote about sails and what to do with them. Scientists from Oregons State University and NOAA reviewed those chapters dealing with the Columbia River Bar and local winds, respectively. Captain Ann McIntyre, president of Columbia River Pilot's Association reviewed and approved the chapter on Columbia River navigation.

The reviews have been great! Students say the book is engaging, readable, and relevant.

Here is an outline:

Part I, About 45 North, 122 West

These three chapters discuss the context of sailing on the Columbia River. Wind and current top the list, followed by discussions about navigation and traffic conditions and hazards, seasonal and daily characteristics of the river, and particular safety considerations. These are challenging waters. If you can manage the Columbia River you are well set for waters anywhere in the world

Part II, All Sailing is Basic

There are eight chapters in this section covering the meat of basic sailing. Practical topics from knots and terminology to maneuvering and sail trim are discussed and illustrated in detail. Chapter Nine is for those who want to read about theories of lift, drag, angle of attack, true and apparent wind, etc. Chapter Ten covers the many specialized practices of sailing such as reefing, heaving to, overboard recovery, docking and anchoring. The final chapter of Part II covers Rules of the Nautical Road.

Part III, Big Boats and Cruising

These five chapters introduce big boats, their particular hardware, and how to operate them. Two of of these chapters discuss Columbia River piloting, the bar, and a bit about local coastal sailing.


 

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