Surfboard repair man takes act global

"Broken board? Nasty ding? Bad crack? Don't worry, man!

Take it to the Board Hospital."

That's the marketing salvo of the newest surfboard repair man in Hood River. Michal Przeciechowski is his name -- "Mike" for short -- and windsurfing is his game.

He has traveled all the way from Lublin, Poland, and in just one month, is already living the American Dream.

Mike founded the Board Hospital -- a part-time venture run out of his friend Nathan Salter's garage -- so he could make a few extra bucks while helping out in the community.

"People tend to worry when their board breaks," Mike said. "They think it will take a week to get it back, but we offer a quick, inexpensive service to get them back on the water in less than a day."

After spending the last 10 years surfing and repairing boards in and around Poland, Mike, 21, felt this summer was the perfect time to test some new waters.

"I read all about Hood River on the Internet and knew this was the place to be," he said. "I wanted to find the best windsurfing in the U.S. and that's what brought me here."

He didn't waste any time either. Within five days of his arrival, Mike had secured a job, a car and a place to live.

One reason for his relatively seamless transition into the American culture was Holly Tencer at Windance Sailboards in Hood River. Not only had she offered him a full-time position as a salesperson before he arrived, but she also picked him up at the airport and helped him find a room for rent.

"We had been exchanging e-mails since April, and he seemed like good fit for the job," Tencer said. "He even sent pictures of himself and his gear which helped us make a decision.

"The more people are into windsurfing, the better they are with the gear and the customers," she said.

Although Mike's main responsibility at Windance is equipment sales, he spends some of his time instructing newcomers at Rhonda Smith Windsurfing Center or Brian's Windsurfing in Hood Rivÿer.

"I enjoy helping people and working with the equipment," he said. "There's a lot of freedom in my job and I get to try new things every day."

As much as Mike enjoys interacting with people, his true love is board repair. And he has no doubt earned his credentials over the years. For the past four summers, Mike has lived out of a trailer in Hell's Bay, Poland and repaired boards to earn money.

"Repairs generally pay better than instruction," he said. "Plus, you're totally free. You make your own hours. Surf in the day, repair at night."

But Mike is quick to remind people that repairing boards isn't for everyone -- even die-hard windsurfers. There are many harmful chemicals in the fiberÿglass and resin that can present potential health hazards.

"This isn't a job that anyone can do," he said. "Every case is different and it can be quite comÿplicated -- kind of like a science."

From an outsider's perspective, it may sound like Mike doesn't allow himself any free time. But all work doesn't necessarily transÿlate into no play.

When he's not fine-tuning boards, he's usually riding them. Afterall, you can't travel all the way from Poland and not experiÿence what makes the Columbia Gorge so famous.

"I really love it here," he said. "Windsurfing on the river is difÿferent than what I've done in Poÿland, but so far it's been good."

Mike plans to stay in Hood River until the beginning of Octoÿber, when his work visa expires. He expects to return to the U.S. next summer -- perhaps to Hood River -- but would also like to explore another windsurfing mecca such as Maui, Hawaii.

"Next time I come to the states, I'm going to bring my girlfriend, Gosia," he said. "I don't want to experience all these wonderful things without her."

Although he misses his friends and family in Poland, Mike feels very much at home in Hood River and is making the most of his first overseas adventure.

Sick board?

Call the Board Hospital, cell: (541) 806-6283

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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