Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Those Lovely and Tempestuous Oregon Coast Winds
By Guy DiTorrice
(Newport, Oregon) - Walk on any Oregon beach, any time of the day, and you're impressed with two things:
One - The beach is pretty clean, save for the occasional pile of driftwood, dead (and smelly) jellyfish and seasonal flotsam and jetsam populating the shore.
Two - You'll have a breeze blowing. Its direction pretty well determined by the time of the day and the month of the year.
These two ingredients provide the perfect recipe for a full menu of activities - from cooling off from those hot, summer days "in the Valley" to high-flying recreational antics. There's even a side benefit hiding in there when it comes to avoiding the nerve-wracking dive-bombings of seagulls.
Burrowed deep in the stored memory of my youth, I recall windy summer months in the Midwest, trying my hand at a homemade kite with instructions provided by the latest edition of the BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE. (My parents were really strong believers in the "Look it up" method of teaching us.)
Parts were simple: a crossed-frame of lightweight wood or plastic, even lighter cover of plastic or cloth, the obligatory tail of ripped rag cloth and the trickier task of tying some sort of bridle to that precious roll of twine.
Tree-free locations were tough in the city parks of the Midwest - a problem seldom encountered on our many sandy shorelines, waysides and state park campgrounds. The good news is that oceans of air are always moving around us; it's a basic function of the land usually having a different temperature than the Pacific. (Good thing, too!).
Summer months, we get these nice healthy breezes during the day coming out of the northwest (winter months from the southwest). We can also count on the wind blowing back out to sea after the sunsets.
But, let's leave more detailed study of currents, winds and temperature to the Weather Channel and the host of weather wonks entertaining us on Portland TV (who manage to seldom properly guess what our coastal weather will do).
Back to breezes and the recreational opportunities presented on the beach. We can all agree on kite flying, with retailers along the entire Oregon coast aptly stocked with the widest array of colors, designs and prices to accommodate the child in each of us. Forget the standard single-string kite design with the skies full of streamers, boxes, foils, deltas, and socks as well as nylon-shaped animals, our favorite cartoon characters (personally partial to Betty Boop), the family crest and an occasional live person.
You read me right: one of the latest rages on the Oregon coast is kite-boarding. Stop thinking about those Hood River sail-boarders; these are serious surfers looking for even faster thrills at the double-cord end of large kite sails.
The phenomenon has even got the seagulls re-thinking their white-encrusting bombing techniques when faced with the high-speed controls of a surfer ripping across the water at hair-raising speeds thanks to a car-sized kite. (I would not want to be a seagull caught either by this kite flying through my traffic pattern or behind the slipstream it creates, any time of the day or year...)
Naturally, our sandy stretches of breezy beaches from Astoria to Florence provide some of the best kite-boarding conditions for basic beginners to top-flight professionals. Short boards are preferred, designed more along the lines of a Cascade snowboard, with the additional attachment of some important hardware, high-tech lines and the nylon sail (or chute).
I've come to really appreciate kite-boarders working portions of the surf when I'm on the beach. Not only do they provide the thrill and excitement formerly limited to sail-boarders, they've added the extra sky patrol element of pushing the seagull population well away from their white-encrusting strafing runs on the beach where I'm walking.
Thank you kite-boarders!
Guy DiTorrice lives, works and writes in Newport
on Oregon's Central Coast, where he frequents local beaches to relax and
enjoy the state's most attractive natural resources. He’s also known
Fossil Guy,” giving beach tours of prehistoric bits and pieces
to be found on the coast.