Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Welcome to New Mexico, land of clear skies and endless views, home, unfortunately, to shrinking lakes. Wait! What's that rumble? Thunder and lightning, oh my! Yes, the monsoon season has finally confirmed itself; good rains a couple of weeks ago have been followed by occasional showers here and there, and the south part of Albuquerque just got a good little storm this morning, enough to leave puddles and knock out some traffic lights.

Clouds and rain aside, clear skies have been the general rules, and this past weekend we took advantage of them to work on projects. Mostly I was the "gravel guy", finishing off spreading a truckload of 1-1/2 inch gravel. Some of it was to renew the drive and parking area for our cabin; I also leveled out and graveled a parking area for Black Magic's trailer and worked on a trail and pathway. Several sandstone boulders also had to be dug and pried up and relocated to form part of a retaining wall. Several hundred pounds of gravel also went (over the past few weeks) to surface the trail that leads from the loading area down to the marina (with Heron Lake about 58 feet below spillway elevation, the 60-foot gangway wouldn't work too well!). My back was a casualty of all this work, but not in the usual sense of aches and strains; it got crisped by the sun when I took off my shirt for a bit too long. Yikes!

Carol Anne and Gerald of course were busy working on Black Magic, as detailed in itsfiveoclocksomewhere, and Gerald and I also did some work on the marina. One of our projects is recycling some old finger piers for use in widening the connecting walkway between the three main piers. This will make the connecting walkway more safe and stable. Before we can bolt the pier segments together, however, we have to remove the rub rails/banding boards and some cleats, which is a pretty good sized project by itself; we're about 2/3 done with this part.

No sailing was done by us this weekend, but I did sail on a Thistle again last week at Cochiti and got nice and wet. This past weekend I was the trailer launching/retrieving guy on Friday when Carol Anne and Tadpole hauled her Etchells, USA 125 Black Magic, out of the water to correct some badly done old fiberglass repairs. We also used Syzygy to ferry tools and equipment over to the ramp area for use on Black Magic. On Saturday, I may have become the first person to use a one-person kayak to bring a seven-foot stepladder from the marina across the cove to the boat ramp. Kayak, work barge, whatever.

Our first two choices for restaurants for Sunday dinner were closed (mysteriously?), so we had dinner at Cooks n Books, where all the table tops are topo maps, so we had dinner over the Cochiti Lake Quadrangle. Also on Sunday, I fired up the GPS and did some surveying for locations where we might have to relocate the marina if water levels are low next year. Scrambling across rocks and hiking gave me more good exercise as I surveyed the area near the dam and then hiked the perimeter of Piedra Cove at the far s.w. corner of the lake.

This week I've talked to a couple of sailors here and there, caught up on some happenings in El Paso and at the Butte, and am looking forward to a couple of our club sailors returning from a J24 championship regatta at Lake Tahoe. I'll make a brief run out to the lake tonight, help teach some sailing to Tadpole's Scout troop tomorrow, and then be back at the lake this weekend in time to host a potluck, check out Carol Anne's boat on the water, and then haul the boat out on Sunday in preparation for our Colorado trip to sail at Lake Dillon. Also, Carol Anne's folks and her youngest brother will visit us; Phil is hosting an astronomy talk and star party at the state park Saturday evening (after the sailing club potluck).

Oh and did I mention we got another boat last weekend? Yep, Carol Anne sent me to the Chama Valley Market to buy her beer and refill the water jug, and I returned owning another boat. "But, Carol Anne, it's only a little one. And it was such a bargain. And we want it to use for teaching the Scouts and other new sailors." So, we picked up another Sunfish. Now that we have so many boats, we need to get more people to visit us and sail them!

Lake Conditions

Rio Chama, 22 cfs (cubic feet per second) currently, 32 cfs maximum in past 72 hours.
Azotea Tunnel, 3 cfs current, 46 cfs max.
Willow Creek, 5 cfs now, 50 max.
Heron Lake is at elevation 7143.59 feet with 193,813 acre feet. It's up 1/8 inch and 38 acre feet which reflects a rough balance of water flowing in vs. evaporation.

El Vado has 67,898 a.f. and is down 2,808 a.f. in 72 hours, with water flowing out at 528 cfs.
Cochiti is at 47,435 a.f., down 528 a.f.
Abiquiu is at 153,607 a.f., down 886 a.f.

Elephant Butte is at 4312.12' elevation, 211,122 a.f., down 10 inches and 6,690 a.f. in 72 hours. It's going down gradually to where it was before the rainstorms brought it back up a couple of feet, but at least the rains bought time for lake users. If the rains hadn't come, the lake would probably be three feet lower than it is. Water is now flowing out at 1800 cfs but is partially offset by inflow; the Rio Grande at San Acacia is flowing at 89 cfs, and flows are higher at San Marcial. The Rock Canyon Marina has been relocated to the area in front of the Elephant Butte Dam and the Damsite Marina will likely have to be relocated before Labor Day.


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