With the Willamette and Columbia rivers flowing by, it's not surprising that the Portland area has the most sailboats in all of Oregon.

Some freshwater mariners prefer to do it all on their own, while others like to join one of the many local sailing clubs and share their passion for the wind.

Summer brings prevailing winds out of the northwest, ideal conditions for sailing up the Columbia and tacking all the way back home. That's probably why the Cascade Locks Marine Park in the Columbia River Gorge has become such a popular harbor for sailboats of every size, and it doesn't hurt that the scenery is magnificent.

Just 45 minutes east of Portland, the locks offer consistent winds, warm water and spectacular views, making summertime sailing here a memorable adventure.

Each year, the Columbia Gorge Racing Association (CGRA), based in Cascade Locks, offers a full schedule of racing regattas and provides sailing performance clinics for every skill level. Its summer Community Sailing Programs provide public access to sailing and teach children ages 9-16 sailing technique and skills.

Reach the CGRA at www.cgra.org. For information about learning to sail in Oregon, including information on finding a sailing school, visit www.american-sailing.com.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.