Fast and Fun introduces sailing to the masses

When you’re learning how to windsurf, the learning curve isn’t always fast. But it’s guaranteed to be fun.

U.S. Sailing didn’t exactly have this idea in mind when devising the Fast and Fun program in 1995. But, for the second consecutive year in Hood River, the free learn-to-sail clinic put on by Hood River WaterPlay and U.S. Sailing was plenty of fun for everyone.

And also slightly faster than last year.

“The wind may have been a little too strong for beginners,” said event coordinator and U.S. Sailing Master Instructor Jak Wilberscheid. “But, despite less-than-ideal conditions, we had a lot of people come out and give it a try.”

Kids from all over the state made their way to the Hood River Inn on Wednesday and Thursday to take advantage of 10 introductory windsurf boards and sails, 10 Hobie catamarans, and numerous sit-on-top kayaks from Ocean Kayak.

All activities were presented free of charge, and the total turnout was 361 — “a little better” than the 325 kids who turned out in 2002.

“We weren’t offering formal lessons, but I do think we sparked some new interest in sailing,” said Wilberscheid, who owns Hood River WaterPlay along with Carla Albright.

“Everyone was pretty charged, and at times, we had more bodies than equipment,” he said. “But most people were understanding and we received a lot of thank-you’s, which made it all worthwhile.”

Wilberscheid also thanked the Hood River Visitors Council, North Sports and Hi-Fly for contributing to a successful second year of Fast and Fun.

Wilberscheid and Albright will also be involved in some new programs that have been born out of the success of Fast and Fun.

An off-shoot program called “Sailing Smart” will likely start next summer, while another new program called “Brenden in a Box” will be introduced for kids with developmental disabilities.

Hood River WaterPlay will also help sponsor a pilot program later this summer that works with “beyond at-risk” kids to help them get redirected.

For more info, call 386-9463.

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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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