“Tack toward shore” and “Pass it to starboard” are terms used by sailors the world over. That includes those who gather each year on the wind-swept flats of Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon. The only difference: There is no water.
The annual Big Boat Coalition at Alvord Desert attracts land sailors from across the West and elsewhere. The colorful sails of their boats on wheels snap and flutter against a backdrop of snow-dusted Steens Mountain for several days in early autumn.
Most in attendance are experienced sailors. The high speeds and occasional near-crashes are just part of another day on the flats for them. For first-timers, like me, the experience can border on sheer terror.
The larger wing-mast boats reach speeds upward of 90 miles per hour, while the smaller, more maneuverable boats average 60 to 70.
For those looking to join the fun, most events and gatherings afford newcomers an opportunity to try out land sailing without the expense of buying a boat first.
The cost of a land yacht starts at about $1,500 for basic models to $15,000 or more for larger, advanced models. Or sailors can build their own.
Whether a hobbyist or a competitor, events sanctioned by the North American Land Sailing Association offer participants a chance to test themselves and their boats, as well as learn new techniques and hone existing skills.
Find out more about the sport by visiting NALSA’s website at www.nalsa.org, or show up at an event and get a firsthand taste of the exhilaration of land sailing.
Land Sailing Fast Facts
- The current land sailing speed record is 126.1 miles per hour. It was set by Richard Jenkins in 2009.
- NASA is developing a land sailing rover to send to Venus in 2039.
- Land sailing may be an Olympic sport some day. There was talk of adding it to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but breakdancing was chosen.
Pamper Your Canoe or Kayak in Storage
People often do more harm than good when storing their kayak or canoe. That’s because prolonged storage on their tops or hanging from their carrying handles or gunwales can cause structural damage.
The proper way to store them is in a hull-fitting cradle or by hanging them hammock style inside a tarp hung from rafters or some other kind of supports. Ensure the weight is distributed evenly across the entire length of the hull.
Special Days in November
- November 6, Marooned Without a Compass Day
- November 11, Veterans Day
- November 17, Take a Hike Day
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