Portland Sailing Center offers large boat and salt water experience through three different extended adventures. Bonneville, Sea Trials, and Off Shore fuse learning with doing, but without texts, tests, or syllabi. Every trip is as different as the season, tide, weather, seas and crew, and each is shaped by the particular gifts of our maritime geography which is unlike any other in the world:
Piloting the lower Columbia River — "Piloting" is the term for close-quarter navigation where accuracy is measured in feet and your peace of mind can change in seconds. Piloting is not technically difficult but requires unflinching attention to charts (nautical maps), aids to navigation (buoys and such) and the progress of your vessel. Running the river at night is especially challenging, and great fun when done well. There are about a hundred miles of winding river between Portland and the Columbia River bar, and every one can surprise you with navigational challenges, ship and barge traffic, and diverse scenery.
Crossing the Columbia River bar — This speck of Earth where Columbia River meets Pacific Ocean has been called the “graveyard of the Pacific.” Perhaps an apt moniker as recently as fifty years ago, ”graveyard” is due for retirement as being unfair and onerous. We will show you how to cross the bar safely. Captain Vancouver and others managed to cross without benefit of engines, radar, jettys, or dredging, so we count our chances as fair indeed. Rest assured, however, that we do not cross if weather or seas are prohibitive.
Click to see video of Messenger on a trip through Bonneville Locks and sailing above the dam.
Sailing on the Pacific Ocean — Nothing beats the feel of a powerful sailing vessel working a lively sea. The rhythmic play of waves, wind, and sails has captivated sailors for thousands of years. We've mastered longitude and invented stainless steel, but--aargh!--we are still cursed with motion sickness. Ocean sailing will surprise, challenge, elate, and disappoint. Try it in small doses with us.
Bonneville Locks and the Columbia River Gorge — Our trip called Bonneville provides a new perspective on a familiar section of the Columbia River, from Portland to Cascade Locks. We go through Bonneville Locks twice and sail on the broad waters above the dam where windsurfers generally outnumber all other vessels. It is a sailor's paradise, and the trip to and from is flush with scenery. Search You Tube "Messenger Sailing Adventures" to see video of a trip to Bonneville. We also offer day-sailing by the hour from Cascade Locks.
Sailing with strangers — Queasy about committing to an extended boat trip with strangers? Look for a comment on the subject on our FAQ page.
Though licensed for six passengers, Sea Trials and Off Shore are limited to three or four people per boat, plus the captain(s), except by special arrangement. This makes for more participation and more elbow room for everyone. For Bonneville, a much shorter trip, we comfortably take four or five people. Check the FAQ page for more information on bunks, toilets, and the like. Call or email with any questions or to sign up: 503-281-6529, cliff at portlandsailing dot com (convert to conventional format).