Monday, September 25, 2006

Quickie weekend sailing update; pleasant weather at Elephant Butte Lake

This weekend, mostly, we sailed. Well, you didn't think we were going to attend an embroidery show or collectible thimble exposition or some such, did you?

The weekend started out slowly. We'd suffered a few disappointments during the week and had been perplexed by some strange happenings (a couple of them related to a sailing club) going on outside our family. Some of this strangeness had left its mark in a couple of sleep-deprived nights. Plus, we have a kittycat who needs to get medicine regularly and can't be left undosed for a whole weekend. And, Friday's forecast was for winds gusting to 40 mph; well beyond our comfort level.

We greeted the weekend with limited energy and expectations; our inability to spend a whole weekend at the lake would limit our time on the water, much as we craved it.

Nonetheless, the weekend turned out quite nicely. We got a bit of work done on Carol Anne's boat on Saturday, installing labels on controls, working on the back end of the mast port, and installing a security device on the boat (a partial solution to some of the strangeness we'd heard about). Of course we went out sailing, going all the way from the marina near the dam and partway up the channel that goes around Long Point, making the boat go in mostly very modest breezes. There we greeted the skipper of a red-sailed green-hulled pram catboat and also saw a cute, small red-sailed ketch daysailer. We traded crew duties for a while and did a bit of spinnaker practice. We're getting better, but we can safely say we still have a long way to go to reach America's Cup crew standards. Then we returned to sail a while with "Zorro" after he got his boat up to the channel east of Rattlesnake Island, finally returning to the marina in very light breezes. All in all, we sailed perhaps 15 miles in five hours. Besides the two Etchells, we saw only perhaps three other sailboats on the water, even though it was quite a nice day. We visited with a couple of other sailors who'd chosen to spend the afternoon in the marina and enjoyed dinner at La Cocina with Zorro, where we were also able to puzzle out a couple of minor mysteries, before returning 150 miles to Albuquerque so we could medicate a kitty and collapse into bed.

Sunday afternoon we returned to the lake, after having left messages with a prospective crew member and having checked the weather. Winds were forecast to be around 10-15 mph gusting to 20, but then Zorro called and relayed a forecast for 15-25. He told Carol Anne not to go out if the lake was whitecapping and to absolutely make sure her crew knew who was boss if she had any concerns at all about sailing.

When we got to the marina, we found a nice breeze going, but only about 5-7 mph with nary a whitecap in sight. The winds died to almost nothing for a while, but fortunately picked up again to about 4-5 mph as we set sail. We had an escort as we left the marina; Captain Groovy had visited us on his motorized psychadelic sailboard and cheered us on our departure. For a while, the winds died again to almost nothing; we were traveling at the speed of the wind, perhaps 0.8 kt, when Carol Anne called Zorro. He was amazed by our report; El Paso was experiencing the 15-25 mph wind forecast with gloomy, cloudy skies and chilly weather while we were basking in sunshine and bobbing in powerboat wakes. Even my report of a big windline coming from up ahead -- it looked like at least 3 mph -- didn't quite match his expectations. We did see breaking waves occasionally -- but only when a powerboat whizzed by at high speed. Of course, our boat's special sonar capability (one of Black Magic's little quirks; maybe this will be a blog post someday?) warned us of fast-moving high-rpm boats well before we could see them approach.

Enough wind filled in for us to continue sailing beyond Rattlesnake Island and up the east side of the lake alongside the traditional sailing club race area. We put up the chute and practiced gybes and then some other special maneuvers. As we returned to our slip and tied up, the wind suddenly ferociously roared up to its highest velocity of the day. Maybe 9 to 11 mph. Maybe. Oh well -- Carol Anne will get to do her 10-20 mph homework assignment another time.

We put away the boat, saving some boat work projects for a future visit. (We have a long list of projects ahead of us, including replacing the floorboard supports; coping with unstable decking in the cockpit has been "interesting".) Then we visited with the marina owner, and visited a friend/crew member in T or C and learned about the oil-painting workshop she'd attended during the weekend. We drove north to Socorro, stopping at the Springs for a well-earned meal and libations, then continued on to Albuquerque. This morning before work I got to run/walk/jog on the treadmill while watching a sailing video; we've hung a liquid-crystal-display television on the wall in front of the treadmill so we can make the exercise less boring. I guess it works; I knocked several seconds off one of my best times.


At 12:14 AM, October 01, 2006, Anonymous AdriftAtSea said...

But is the the new LCD TV high-def or not?? Inquiring geek minds want to know. :D

At 10:51 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger Carol Anne said...

Yes, it's high-definition -- although the VCR isn't.


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