Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Mexico Sailing Club basic information

Here's a bit of info about the NMSC and Heron Lake:

New Mexico Sailing Club
PO Box 1995 Bernalillo, NM 87004

Membership: $25
Marina wait list fee: $20 (applicable toward first year's rent)
Overnight slip rental: $5
Treasurer: Roger Vinyard,
Membership: Rich Strasia,
Secretary: Eddie Dry (2006)
Commodore: Lisa Carlson, 2005
Pat Byrnes, 2006

Activities: Sailing, cruising, informal get-togethers, holiday party. Monthly dinners and meetings during the off-season. Typically about five race weekends during the sailing season. The NMSC was first formed about 35 years ago at Navajo Lake but moved to Heron shortly after Heron first filled around 1972. Drought and sedimentation grounded and closed the marina from August 2003 until the 2005 season brought abundant water to improve lake conditions.

Marina: 90 slips (plus some mooring buoys when the lake is full enough). No electricity or water at slips. Covered floating picnic area with six picnic tables and two gas grills. Dockhouse with solar-powered VHF radio. Pumpout machine. Vault toilet on shore nearby.

The club plans to replace part of the marina with in new structure in April or May of 2006.

About 90% sailboats (mostly 22 to 26-foot keelboats with cabins), 10% pontoon boats. Slip rental fee of about $425 covers the entire season of up to about six months. The marina is operated by volunteers; slip users are obligated to provide a "dockmaster" for a half week during the marina season. Dockmasters camp in their boats or on land adjacent to the marina during their half week and provide security for the marina, information to prospective members, slip rentals to overnight guests, and minor marina maintenance and upkeep.

Services: Full bath houses/park restrooms with hot water showers about 1 mile away. 1/2 mile to Park headquarters, 1 mile drive to boat ramp and mast-up storage lot with mast-raising crane. About 1.5 miles to convenience store/gas outside the park and 7 miles to cabin rentals and nearest restaurants (Tierra Amarilla or Stone House Lodge). Additional services, groceries, and lodging available in Chama (17 miles), Dulce (36 miles), Pagosa Springs (66 miles), or Espan~ola (74 miles).

Heron Lake: 6,000 surface acres and 400,000 acre feet when full. Fed via the Azotea Tunnel and Willow Creek, the lake receives inflow at Willow Creek Cove, the site of the NMSC marina and the Willow Creek boat ramp. Water then passes through a channel called "The Narrows" into the main body of the lake. Elevation 7186' at spillway (7147' current elevation with 207,000 acre feet). Heron Lake State Park administers the lake and its shoreline on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation. The park borders the lake on the south, southeast, and west. Heron Lake is a no-wake lake; motors are restricted to trolling/slow speed and "Ranger Grizz" is delighted to enforce this regulation. This means that the lake is a peaceful oasis and escape from city life.

Other: Views of cliffs, mountains, forests, and wildlife. Southernmost point in U.S. where anglers regularly catch trophy cold-water fish such as lake trout and kokanee salmon. Water to fill the lake originates on the other, western side of the continental divide and arrives via three tunnels, the longest of which is around seven miles long. Nearby activities including riding the historic steam-powered Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, horseback rides, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, sightseeing. Other local attractions include exhibits and classes at Tierra Wools, visits to the Parkview Fish Hatchery, and trips to the Jicarilla Apache reservation, Pagosa Springs (hot mineral baths), Taos, and the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Location: Northern Rio Arriba County about 15 miles south of the Colorado Border. North/northwest of Santa Fe, west of Tierra Amarilla, southwest of Chama. About 3 hours' driving time from Albuquerque.

From Albuquerque, I-25 N to exit 274B for 599 bypass around Santa Fe and proceed about 14 miles; then merge onto US 84/285 North through Pojoaque to Espanola, about 25 miles.

Upon entering Espan~ola (milepost 189), turn left (west) just past the Dan-dy Burger and cross the Rio Grande to remain on US 84/285, then turn right (north) and very shortly thereafter take a diagonal left (northwest) to remain on the highway.

Proceed north from Espanola to Abiquiu (milepost 212 by Bode's Store), Ghost Ranch (m.p. 225 turnoff, m.p. 227 Piedra Lumbre visitor center, m.p. 229 Echo Amphitheater), and Cebolla (milepost 242/243) past milepost 254 to just south of Tierra Amarilla, where US 64 comes in from the direction of Taos and the highway numbering system changes; the next milepost just past the junction is 175 and the numbers now start to get smaller.

After passing through Tierra Amarilla, slow down; the turnoff to the lake is between mileposts 172 and 171. Turn left (west) on NM state highway 95 and drive west about 5.5 miles to Heron Lake State Park. Shortly after entering the park, turn right on a gravel road that leads about 1/3 mile to the marina.

(If you are towing a boat to the ramp or wish to stop at the Visitor Center, do not turn off to the marina; proceed past mile marker 6 to the Visitor Center or another third of a mile further to the turnoff for the boat ramp and the first set of park campgrounds.)


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