Portland Sailing Center

Portland, Oregon
(503) 281-6529

Portland, Oregon • (503) 281-6529


A Forest of Sails

Portland Sailing Center's Basic Sailing Textbook

Sailing is best learned where local waters present as many flavors of sailing as can be hoped for in one place: Winds from all points of the compass, and wind speeds from gentle wafts to violent gales. Tidal and river currents, ships, barges, and recreational boats. Shoals and lee shores, bridges, and locks. Parades and races. State of the art aids to navigation and local marks in use for thousands of years. And within a day's travel, an ocean, the other way, a mountain river gorge! All these assets and more are available to us. We live in a grand place to sail.

After too many years of teaching a watered down curriculum crafted to plug into places with few or none of these gifts, we produced our own book. A Forest of Sails was written based on decades of teaching and sailing on these local waters. AFS brings to life the myriad lessons right before us that only need a nudge and a bit of scrubbing to fix. 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 Oregon State University and NOAA reviewed those chapters dealing with the Columbia River Bar and local winds, respectively. Capt. Ann McIntyre, past 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 and fun, 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

These eight chapters cover the meat of sailing, the terminology, techniques, maneuvers, and "how-tos;" including countless references to local conditions and examples. Everything from knots to overboard recovery techniques are touched on here; also Rules of the Nautical Road, sailing theory, wind formulas, heavy weather sailing, docking and anchoring. Much of this is optional reading for new sailors, but it is all written in plain language, with local references, and occasional spritzes of humor.

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.

Portland Sailing Center
3335 NE Marine Drive
Portland, Oregon 97211


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