Monday, October 30, 2006

Thermocouples and wind shifts

No, we didn't go sailing. Yes we were right in the middle of a bunch of sailboats that were racing.
No, we didn't go racing. Yes, I pulled ahead of a bunch of boats and circled around others while they were racing (and no, I didn't have a motor).
No, we didn't bring a camera and we don't have pictures of the regatta.
Yes, we had a camera and took lots of pictures of the regatta.
No, our boat isn't fixed. Yes, we did rig, launch, and take our boat out on the water... no, it was not the one being repaired. Yes, we now have a place to stay at the (southern) lake. No, we were not warm and snug; we spent two nights shivering in the cold. Yes, we do now have heat at the lake place. No I didn't have a radio or entertainment system out in the middle of the lake. Yes, I was listening to some barbershop music in the middle of the lake.

Now how do we quite make sense out of a weekend like this past one?

A week ago, we learned that Carol Anne's Etchells, Black Magic, wouldn't be out of the repair shop by this past weekend; the re-attachment of the console couldn't be completed until this week, with more work remaining for us to do when we finally get the boat back. Also, we learned that the race committee needed a committee boat, so we volunteered our MacGregor 26 trailer cruiser as committee boat.

Friday we rigged and launched our Mac at the DamSite boat ramp and put it in Black Magic's slip at the nearby Rock Canyon Marina. We also moved into an apartment that we're renting temporarily several miles from the lake in Williamsburg / Truth or Consequences, NM. There we found that the heater wasn't working and so we spent a chilly night huddled under blankets.

Saturday morning we got a small space heater, but found it too unstable to leave on the carpet and so had to leave it in the front of the apartment Saturday night, so things were still chilly. However, we were able to install a replacement thermocouple on Sunday, so now the apartment has heat again and should be much more comfortable next weekend.

After breakfast Saturday, we got in on the tail end of the sailing club skippers' meeting and met our crew who had volunteered to help out on race committee. Carol Anne and Tadpole had hoped to crew on one of the race boats but couldn't get a last-minute crew slot with any of the skippers they asked as the meeting dispersed and people raced for their boats. Also, none of the race committee gear was present, so we had to drive a few miles to track down the buoys, anchors, flags, air horns, etc.

Eventually we got out on our Mac, and gave a tow to an engine-less race boat. Arriving at the race area a few miles north of the marina, we dropped the pin buoy, then drifted for a few minutes to establish the wind direction. We then lowered our anchor to set the start line and were able to get the start off in spite of light breezes that made for a very slow race.

We hadn't been able to find our camera to take pictures for the "Foghorn" newsletter. But, Charlie sailed by and tossed us his fancy digital camera with a powerful telephoto lens to use. So, although some of the pictures may not have been very good, we shot a lot before exhausting the camera's battery. We returned the camera to him on Sunday without taking more pictures but should be getting some of Saturday's pictures from him soon.

It was hard to pin down the wind direction in the flakey, shifty winds, but eventually it seemed that W to WNW made some sort of sense, so we set a line accordingly and made signals for a short-course race to a mark about a thousand yards to the NW. Because we aren't allowed to keep Olympic Circle marker/turning mark buoys on the lake, we set courses to nav buoys and sometimes have to make do with buoys that aren't exactly upwind or downwind.

Despite setting a short course of perhaps only a mile or mile and a half (round trip), even the club champion and crew on their fast Etchells took more than an hour and a quarter, and one of the slower boats took two and a half hours to finish. So, "Tadpole" and I had plenty of time to take turns kayaking out to and visiting with the race boats while they inched along the course. Only the one race was completed on Saturday. Nine boats were raced, with some more boats and crews that showed up to watch and sail on the lake just for fun.

The rest of the evening was devoted to a sailing club board meeting, where the new commodore-nominee (Buzz B.) discussed some new ideas for how the club could do more for its membership. That was followed by a club membership meeting and buffet dinner with about 25 people dining and a few more visiting. Then we tracked down folks at another restaurant who were eating out with "Firecracker", a long-time club member and spouse of a recently deceased club member. Some of the crews returned to the bar at the DamSite, while "Sister Rosebia" took the boys back to the house to enjoy videos and games; Tadpole got to drive the big diesel truck.

Sunday morning we were at the marina at 8:30 (the time change helped) to get the boat ready and tow another boat out to the race course. Despite a forecast of breezy winds to 15 mph and gusts to 20, the lake had few ripples and precious little of anything that could be called a wind.

After dropping the pin buoy and its anchor and rode, we drifted about and then anchored while waiting to see what the weather would do. The race committee chair, who is no fan of faint zephyrs, was skeptical that we'd get wind in time to race and thought we might only wait thirty minutes beyond the nominal 10 a.m. start time before giving up on the racing. Fortunately, we didn't, though we did have to wait for our wind. For a while, another boat rafted up to us and we snacked, treated another skipper to a kayak ride, and listened to music while the other boats sailed around, with bare steerageway in about a knot or a bit more of faint breeze that came and wind. For a few minutes, a westerly breeze of perhaps three knots fooled us into thinking we'd have a start and race upwind to the west, but it faded away.

Finally, a steady breeze filled in from the north and we scrambled to re-set the mark, hoisting a new course signal and sending Tadpole out on the kayak to shift the pin buoy westwards to re-set the starting line. The boats all got off to a good start in about 5 knots of wind. It was a picture-perfect moment.

Then the wind shifted, allowing some of the late starters to gain distance on the leaders. Then the wind faded and almost died to nothing. Groan. Were we going to have to abandon the race? That was a new worry, and a painful one after we'd waited so long and gotten such a great start for the race. I paddled out a quarter mile or so to some of the boats in case I'd need to communicate with some of the radio-less crews. Then, the wind filled in ... from the SSW/SW, almost a 180 degree wind shift. The glassy lake grew wavelets and bigger waves and even a few whitecaps. I paddled back to the committee boat in time to watch the finishes at the boats finished in 8 to 10 knots of wind.... a great improvement from Saturday's minimal breezes. We were worried about running out of time for a second race, but fortunately even the slowest of the "B fleet" boats finished well in time for us to continue.

For Sunday's second race, we called for a longer "full sausage" course that sent the fleet SSW and then N before returning to the finish line. Despite the course being twice as long, boats finished it in good time, giving us three races for the weekend. One minor incident nearly resulted in a protest as a boat reaching upwind got in the way of a close-hauled boat because the upwind crew didn't keep a good lookout. (Both boats were on starboard and the leeward boat had the right to make the windward boat point head up toward the wind, which the windward boat was very slow to do.) All in all though, it was a good race, with relatively steady winds that created a few whitecaps but then settled down to a comfortable 8 or so knots and didn't shift as they had in the previous race.

After waiting for the last finisher, I used the kayak as a "mark boat" to retrieve the pin buoy and its anchor. Back at our Mac, Tadpole and the rest of the crew then had a very tough time retrieving our boat anchor, which had lodged on something heavy on the bottom. Eventually we got moving and back to the marina, where we put away the boat, loaded committee boat gear into our vehicle, and said goodbye to our faithful and helpful crew. We returned to the apartment, where we prepared to return north to Albuquerque and Tadpole installed a replacement thermocouple for the furnace. Then we enjoyed a late lunch at a local cafe with our sailing friends before making the drive north.

Race 1, Saturday, October 28, 2006, Wind BN 0-1
Elapsed Time Boat, sail
A fleet
1:17:49 Etchells "Constellation" USA 38
1:33:28 J22 "Sciroccos Song" 720
1:49:54 J24 "Kachina" 4441
1:50:19 J24 "Hot Flash" 1565
1:56:30 J24 "La Sonadora" 1511
B fleet
DNC J22 Imafirst
1:57:23 H26WB "The Hunter"
1:59:06 Freedom 21 "Wind Rush"
2:05:23 Mac26sk "Mac Goddess"
2:30:52 H240 "Dado"

Race 2, Sunday, BN 2-3
Elapsed Time Boat, sail
A fleet
0:58:41 J24 4441 "Kachina"
0:56:20 Etchells 38 "Constellation"
0:59:23 J22 720 "Sciroccos Song"
1:00:04 J24 1565 "Hot Flash"
1:03:29 J22 "Imafirst"
DNC J24 "La Sonadora"
B Fleet
1:10:51 Freedom 21 "Wind Rush"
1:11:38 H26WB "The Hunter"
1:13:22 Mac 26sk "Mac Goddess"
1:29:58 H240 "Dado"

Race 3, Sunday, BN 2-3 Pl Pl
Boat, sail Elap Time
A fleet
0:37:52 Etch 38 "Constellation"
0:40:31 J24 4441 "Kachina "
0:42:04 J22 720 "Sciroccos Song"
0:43:45 J22 "Imafirst"
0:46:51 J24 1565 "Hot Flash"
DNC J24 "La Sonadora "
B fleet
0:47:24 H26WB "The Hunter"
0:49:45 Freedom 21 "Wind Rush"
0:52:50 Mac 26sk "Mac Goddess"
1:10:15 H240 "Dado"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Quick lake update for New Mexico sailors

Heron Lake:
7,148.03 ' elevation.
211,484 acre feet.
Up 1/3 inch and 122 acre feet in 24 hours.
Up 2 inches 731 acre feet in 71 hours.

Monday night (October 23) the flow through the Azotea Tunnel dropped dramatically, from around 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) to just 3 cfs. Willow Creek flows are dropping to follow suit. The lake will probably hold about level for the next week or so, until contractors begin withdrawing water in November.

A third of the slips at the Heron Lake Marina were replaced with a brand-new dock. Further rehabilitation of the older docks is planned for the off season.

Elephant Butte Lake:
4,330.60 ' elevation (above benchmark).
390,224 acre feet.
Up 2-1/2 inches and 2,254 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 5-1/2 inches and 4,954 a.f. in 71 hours.
Up a foot in less than a week.
Up 3.5 feet so far in October.

The lake is as high as it was last April 28, just before the weekend of the spring series 4 and club championships. It is within four feet of its level at the beginning of the year, and within nine feet of its highest level during the spring runoff this year. Late summer rains have compensated for the sub-normal spring runoff.

Anticipation... or what to do when ten tons of stuff is about to fall into your lap.

Heron Lake's marina is unique in the area in that it is operated by the all-volunteer New Mexico Sailing Club. It's a great place for sailors to socialize and congregate during the warmer months of the year and provides a cool escape for city dwellers to get away from it all and relax in a splendid natural setting.

However, after a surprise telephone call, today was not the day for me to relax in my role as a part-time marina manager. I learned that a truckload of marina parts that the club had ordered was already on its way, with delivery imminent. The parts were ordered so that we can rehabilitate and extend the life of one of the older docks; we wanted them delivered in time for the fall work parties that begin this weekend and need to be installed before winter closes in on the high mountain country. Among the parts are three jumbo concrete anchors, two smaller anchors, a couple dozen and some reinforcing braces, a couple dozen jumbo plastic-encased floats, and various winches, stands, cables, etc. We were surprised because that factory hadn't given us an expected fabrication or delivery date.

Worse for us, the club member who'd volunteered to accept delivery at his home near the marina had recently suffered a stroke and was undergoing intensive rehabilitation therapy in the big city 160 miles from the marina. And, he'd been the guy who was going to find a forklift to unload the delivery.

So, this morning, I was asking myself, "How on earth am I going to unload several tons of this stuff?" Well, that wasn't quite exactly what I was thinking. Some of the stuff could perhaps have been unloaded by hand, but truckers aren't very patient, and for sure the 4,100-pound low-profile anchors would need a heavy-duty forklift.

Frantic phone calls ensued. I soon learned the location of just about every forklift within 50 miles of the marina and eventually came up with a plan to get the truck unloaded.

Now all we have to do is hear from the driver as to where in North America the truck is and when it'll be in our neighborhood... I hope in time for me to drive the 160 miles to meet him or her.

Also to be done in my abundant spare time is finishing the ballot for the NMSC elections, working on plans for the marina, and doing committee boat duty down south at the first RGSC fall series regatta. That, and moving furniture to set up a place, and trying to speed repairs for Carol Anne's boat, and moving and repairing some small sailboats, and setting up boat storage at another lake, and preparing our MacGregor for eventual sale, and more. And little stuff, such as folding 150 luminaria (farolito) bags last night and encouraging "Tadpole" to prepare for his big string bass audition this week. It's getting interesting.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Now we're at Heron Lake

We do get around. Now we're at our cabin near Heron Lake. The sun has been up for a couple of hours, yet the mercury has just barely inched above the freezing mark. This time of year, we can experience a temperature difference of 20 to 30 degrees F or more between the northern (Heron) and southern (Elephant Butte) lake areas. The few hundred miles of latitude and three thousand feet of elevation difference that separate the lakes also span mutliple bio-climate / life zones. Even the fish species in the lakes are quite different.

The Heron Lake marina is closing, but a few hardy souls still need to show up to remove their boats. One boat was even sailing yesterday in spite of the chilly weather; consistent winds were just too good to ignore for the owners and guests aboard a Moore 24 (somewhat like a J-24). Also tantalizing is the fact that the lake has continued to rise, leaving the lake the biggest it's been all year. A J-24, a MacGregor, West Wight Potter, Catalina 22, and a couple of other boats also need to leave the marina before the chill of fall turns into the snow and ice of winter.

Still to come for the marina are a couple of work parties to prepare it for winter and make some improvements.

Etchellian repair thoughts

Background: USA 125 is elderly as Etchells go; sail number 125 puts it well within the oldest 10% of the members of its class.

The boat has floorboards in the cockpit, which class rules require be removable, and which have to meet certain specs for weight, size, and position. They can be attached to the hull only in certain ways and places so as to not change the stiffness of the hull.

The original Etchells, I am told, had a round post that came up to provide an attachment point for the mainsheet. Subsequently, sometime in the class history, the Barney post was replaced by a rectangular console, which had room not only for the mainsheet cleat, but also for several other cleats and lines, enabling the helmsperson quite a bit of control from the steering position. Our console housed controls for such items as the the mainsheet, backstay, vang, and spin pole.

However, it seems that the console may not have been original to USA 125, but rather a retrofit, and perhaps wasn't installed properly. The old fiberglass should have been cleaned carefully and roughened with sandpaper before new fiberglass was applied to attach the console. But, once the floorboard supports failed, depriving the console of lateral support, the base of the console peeled right off the hull. For a while, a fitting on the tail end of the mainsheet held the console, but then it, too, failed, with its bracked pulling right out of the keelson board.

After we bought the boat, and begain sailing her late this spring, w e had been noticing that the floorboards were working loose and were a bit "springy". More recently though, things became more serious: the aluminum tubes that supported the floorboards began to fail. When we looked below, we could see that the 3/4-inch aluminum box tubing had corroded. Apparently, the tubes did retained salt water during the boat's more than 30 years in salt water, and the 3/4-inch tubing was too flimsy to support the weight of a bunch of sailors. One of the cross members snapped into three pieces! (Etchells class rules limit floor supports to a width of 1-1/4 inch (35 mm), with no more than five athwartships supports, and only the four corners can have a small, glassed-in attachment point to the hull, along with attachments to the central keelson board and keelbolts, as we understand the rules.) Some previous owner of our boat had emphasized lightness instead of strength, choosing relatively flimsy supports.

So, when the floorboard supports began to fail, the console lost some of its support and began to wobble. Because the console had not been well glassed to the hull, it began, unnoticed by us, to work free from the hull. A couple of weeks or so ago, while we were sailing, it finally failed in dramatic fashion.

Because we live far from shipyards, and the few boat dealerships and repair shops in our area specialize in motorboats, figuring out how to fix it has been a challenge. A fellow Etchells owner knew of a great fiberglass guy, so we brought the boat 150 miles south of the lake to El Paso, Texas. But, when the guy was located, it turned out that the company he'd worked for was shut down, and he was in a hospital in Mexico with terminal cancer. Yikes. And, while we were in El Paso last weekend, in the driveway of another Etchells owner and friend and preparing to take a crew of hungry sailors across the border for lunch, our Expedition's fuel pump and relay gave up the ghost. So, we spent another night in El Paso and got to pay $692 for the privilege of ransoming the truck.

We considered re-attaching the console by ourselves, or with the help of some of the other Etchells folks, but Carol Anne agreed with one of the skippers who thought that the console, which receives a lot of loading from the mainsheet, really should be glassed in by a professional. This skipper, Jester, also knew of good fiberglass work done at a local boat shop, but it was open only on weekdays, so later this past week he towed USA 125 to the shop.

Another skipper had thought that he or we could do adequate work, but it seems like his plan would have involved fiberglassing the hell out of the floor supports to glass them to the hull, which would be hard to undo if we ever needed to make the system fully comply with class rules. With older, noncompetitive boats in a remote backwater of the world, it seems that a lot of skippers don't worry about the finer points of class one-design rules. Still, we're trying to do things right, or at least as correctly as we can with our limited knowledge of the class and limited resources. Even if the boat never goes to high-level one-design regattas, we'd like to think that we took good care of her, preserved her re-sale value (such as it is for an older boat), and would leave the boat better than we found it and not create a problem for a future owner.

And so, it'll soon (we hope!) be time to open up the wallet/checkbook in El Paso. The decision to spend a lot of cash, and more than we could reallly afford at the moment, on an older boat was particularly hard on Carol Anne. Suffice to say that, while she enjoyed learning about fiberglass work and welding this year, enduring financial sacrifices while losing time on the water is NOT a lot of fun. And, losing one of her students wasn't fun, either.

Then we'll need to bring the boat to a place at the lake where we can do the rest of the work needed to reinstall temporary or permanent floor supports and do a lot of other boat maintenance and upgrades. While Black Magic is up on the hard, our MacGregor will be in the water to do committee boat duty and let us at least have a sailboat-like object to go out on. Notice that I was careful in that description; after we'd been sailing the high-performance boat, the Mac, with its old sails and cruiser lines isn't quite so thrilling, even if it was a wonderful boat to learn on and so easily trailered, rigged, and launched. So, we'll be making it look pretty and putting it up for sale before too long.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The boatyard calleth...

...and our wallets and purses emptieth.

This morning's news was that it would cost

nine hundred fifty dollars, United States legal tender,

to to a _partial_ (!) repair of Carol Anne's boat. Ouch.

That's just for re-attaching the console. We'll still need
to patch the keelson board, re-attach and glass the
mainsheet tailpiece bracket, glass in floorboard support
corner brackets, buy and cut aluminum box tubing
to make the floorboard supports, repair one of the old
floorboards, install the floors and attach brackets,
cleats, and sheaves, and do all of this before winter
cold closes in for the season. Of course, there's all
the planning and measuring we'll have to do to try
to make the finished product safe, strong, and
class-legal so we don't have to do it all over again
some day!

Life could be worse; I should look at the bright side.

Selling blood plasma isn't nearly as bad as auctioning off an arm and a leg.

P.S.: Just heard from John, the fiberglass tech.
He's about to start work.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Last Saturday and Sunday nights (after visiting the house of many cats), I shared a roof with:

6 humans
1 half-coyote dog
1 cockatoo
1 Amazonian grey parrot
1 skunk (unaltered/intact)
1 python
100 koi (give or take) and several algae-eating fish
1 python
2 western diamondback rattlesnakes
4 black-tailed rattlers (croatalus mossalus mossalus), several prarie and assorted other rattlers and critters ... probably I missed counting several. But, the pygmy goats were outside. And, I had a great night's sleep after the rainstorm passed through El Paso late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The nice thing about animals is that they often have better manners and do a better job of following the Golden Rule than some humans. I also learned the some orchids are "cats".

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club, Heron Lake update

Friday, August 20
Heron Lake Update:
7,147.72 feet elev., 210.226 acre feet.
Up 1-1/2 inches and 530 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 5-1/2 inches and 1,71 a.f. in 71 hours.
Willow Creek flow is 265 c.fs. (249-362 in 71 hours)

Elephant Butte Lake:
4,329.98 feet elev., 383,294 a.f.
Up 1.7 inches and 1,554 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 6 inches and 5,322 a.f. in 71 hours.


Hi All,

Saturday our family was at Elephant Butte Lake, which, like Heron, has continued to rise this fall. There we did some boat swapping so we could get a boat in line for some repairs. (By the way, has everyone gotten their trailers out of the parking area near the Heron marina?)

The last best news I had about Heron was that the lake has continued to rise quite a bit, all but about ten or so boats have left, and that Bob H., Rich K., Giles , and Joe M. (thanks guys!) had been keeping an eye on the place while we were encouraging folks to get the last few boats out.

The weekend before last, I participated in the Heron Lake town hall meeting and trail dedication on October 7th, and got some information (water level projections) from the new Bureau of Reclamation engineer in Albuquerque, Garrett Ross. The marina will likely stay afloat until mid-winter, but the marina cove is expected to completely dry out next spring before the runoff replenishes the lake.

Rich K. has contacted our diver to get work done to prepare the marina for winter. Galvafoam / Shoremaster is working on our order of marina parts and we should have news soon about their progress and a shipping date. (I left a message for Roger Squires at Galvafoam. With Bill R. in rehab, we’ll need a volunteer to find a forklift or piece of similar equipment to help unload the shipment when it arrives.)

We still continue to wish for a speedy and full recovery for Bill R. and can provide more information for anyone who would like to send him a get well wish. His therapists have asked that friends NOT visit. An update sent Tuesday evening by Elaine is attached below.

Besides the B dock and walkway improvements, and preparing the whole marina for winter, we’ll need to get stuff out of the dock house and store it for winter, haul out the club dinghies if that hasn’t been done yet, stack up the picnic tables, etc. Also, we’ll want to withdraw the gangways and lock the gate when we don’t have work parties so as to discourage uninvited guests, especially during snagging season.

Please save time on your calendars for fall work parties and our Holiday / Christmas party on December 9th.

Rich K. said… Pat: Mark P. and I finally connected by phone today. He said that he had to check his schedule but thought that he could dive sometime later this week or next week. He's supposed to call me back with a date. I think I can take a day off work to meet with him and get the underwater work done. Will let you know what transpires. -- Rich


Heron Lake conditions on Wednesday morning:

209,250 acre feet, 7,147.48 feet elevation.
Up 2-1/2 inches and 853 acre feet in 24 hours.
Up 8 inches and 2,600 acre feet in 72 hours.

Willow Creek is flowing at 336 cubic feet per second (324 c.f.s. minimum, 584 c.f.s. max. within the past 72 hours) The Azotea tunnel is flowing at 334 c.f.s. (624 c.f.s. maximum)

This is the highest the lake's been all year ... just when it's time to leave ... of course! September water balance calculations for Heron Lake:

. 844 a.f. Rio Grande water in
5,556 a.f. San Juan-Chama water in. 101 a.f. Rio Grande water out
. . . 0 a.f. San Juan-Chama water out
1,110 a.f. San Juan-Chama water loss

65,168 a.f. San Juan-Chama water in, March – September
.6,320 a.f. San Juan-Chama water loss, Jan.- Sept.
.6,773 a.f. San Juan-Chama water out, May – Sept.

Date . . storage, a.f. elevation, ft. . marina depth, ft.
Dec. 31 . . 198,729 . . 7144.85 . . 19
Jan. 31 . . 182,547 . . 7140.63 . . 15
Feb. 28 . . 168,444 . . 7136.75 . . 11
Mar. 31 . . 153,624 . . 7132.42 . .. 7
Apr. 30 . . 161,650 . . 7134.80 . .. 9
May. 31 . . 186,191 . . 7141.60 . . 16
Jun. 30 . . 192,532 . . 7143.26 . . 18
Jul. 31 . . 192,300 . . 7143.20 . . 18
Aug. 31 . . 193,382 . . 7143.48 . . 18
Sep. 30 . . 198,571 . . 7144.81 . . 19
Oct. 18 . . 209,250 . . 7147.48 . . 22

From: "Bill & Elaine
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 21:11:34 -0600
Dear Friends and Family,

Not all of you know that Bill suffered a stroke on Sept 30. He continues to make progress everyday, but he has a ways to go. Because he is involved in the biggest fight of his life, his therapists have asked that we curtail all visits. His therapy sessions are very intense and he needs his rest to be able to make it through them. At this time what we need the most from our friends and family is prayer.

If you call, I can't promise that I will be able to answer the phone or that I will even have time to call you back. Our days at the rehab center are intense and sometimes I am very tired when I get home at night. Email is the best way to communicate with me. I will try to keep you all informed on his progress whenever I can.

Thank you for all you do and for all your prayers. Elaine

Rio Grande Sailing Club update

From: "Art Bouffard" < >
Subject: October Social for RGSC Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 10:05:34 -0600

The October Social for the Rio Grande Sailing Club will be held Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, at Buzz and Kari's home in Placitas at 6:30 pm.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own beverages and a dish sufficient to share with others.

A special "fun" program is being planned (we hope)!

...April's social (yes, April) will be at Perry Abernethy's.


Based on responses to e-mails, it looked like the sailing clinic, fun races, or other club activities weren't going to happen after all last weekend. (A couple of nice exceptions: Rich took some New Mexico Tech students out on Saturday, including a new sailor gal, and Chuck Arasim and William Guenther enjoyed a sail on Kilo Whiskey.)

Our family did a boat swap at the Butte and hauled a boat out for critical repairs. Our weekend became interesting when the fuel pump failed on our Expedition en route to Mexico with eight hungry sailors on board. But, as a result, we did wind up seeing an orchard farm and meeting a whole lot of fascinating critters.

(A note for mast-up users: the mast-up lot is reserved for mast-up storage of renters' boats and in accordance with the storage contract. The southeast corner of the lot opposite the gate is reserved for larger boats that are more difficult to maneuver in and out of the lot. Mast-up users should be trained in operation of the mule.)

Don't forget the social on Thursday, October 26, and the start of the fall racing series on Saturday, October 28.

Thanks to all the folks who have already returned ballots for the RGSC election. If you haven't, don't forget!

Pat Byrnes


Elephant Butte Lake Conditions for Wednesday, October 18, 2006

4,329.70 feet elevation above benchmark
380,191 acre feet
Up 2-1/2 inches and 2,441 acre feet in 24 hours.
Up 8-1/2 inches and 6,876 acre feet in less than 72 hours.

The San Marcial Floodway is flowing at 418 cubic feet per second.
The Rio Grande at San Acacia is flowing at 1,170 c.f.s. No water is leaving the dam.

The lake is at the same level it was at on May 2nd. It is within five feet of the level it was at on January 1st (4,334.06 ', 430,410 a.f.) It is within ten feet of the highest level it achieved during spring runoff (4,339.88 ' , 503,030 a.f. on March 5th).

A thoughtful quiz:
From: "Braxton Merritt
Subject: FW: FW: 2 TOUGH QUESTIONS Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 11:44:21 -0600 Organization: Texas Realty ________________________________________

Answer the next two questions.

Question 1:

If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one who was mentally retarded, and she had syphilis, would you recommend that she have an abortion?

Read the next question before looking at the response for this one.

Question 2:

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts.

Here are the facts about the three candidates.

Candidate A

Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologer.
He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B

He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C

He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife.

Which of these candidates would be our choice?

Decide first... no peeking, then scroll down for the response.


Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Candidate B is Winston Churchill.

Candidate C is Adolph Hitler.

And, by the way, on your answer to the abortion question:

If you said YES, you just killed Beethoven.

Wait till you see the end of this note! Keep reading...

Never be afraid to try something new.

Amateurs... built the ark.
Professionals... built the Titanic

And finally, can you imagine working for an organization that has a little more than 500 employees and has the following statistics:

* 29 have been accused of spousal abuse
* 7 have been arrested for fraud
* 19 have been accused of writing bad checks
* 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
* 3 have done time for assault
* 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
* 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
* 8 have been arrested for shoplifting
* 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
* 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year...

Can you guess which organization this is?

Give up yet?

It's the 535 members of the United States Congress.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sitting on the dock to wait for our ship...

Our household has too many boats on dry land, and not enough in the water right now. In particular, we're suffering withdrawal while awaiting repair arrangements for Carol Anne's boat. We're hoping we won't have to trailer the boat 800 miles to the coast for repairs. Once the major repairs are done by a professional, we have other repairs and upgrades that we can get to, and we have a whole bag of parts and stuff to be installed, and more to be ordered.

And, on other fronts, we're also awaiting developments beyond our control, including the arrival of a diver at the Heron marina and the arrival of parts for work on the marina.

There's supposed to be some fun sailing/racing this weekend down at Elephant Butte Lake, but we've only heard from a bunch of folks who aren't going to be down there, and we have a bunch of commitments that may keep us close to home, such as feeding medicine to a cat and encouraging Tadpole to catch up on his music practice. Also, sailing the Etchells has spoiled Carol Anne for the notion of doing much with our MacGregor, which may be on the market next spring. At least I did repair the Mac's cockpit drain, which was a simple but dirty chore.

Lake conditions continue to improve after several days of rain that continued through last weekend into the beginning of this week, and which may resume later this weekend.

Heron Lake continues to rise. With 204,852 acre feet of water at elevation 7,146.39 feet, the lake is at its highest level so far this year, even after having given up 13,000 a.f. to various water contractors. Heron is up about 2 inches and 700 a.f. in 24 hours and is up about 6-1/2 inches and 2,200 a.f. in 72 hours. Willow Creek is flowing at 371 cubic feet per second (326 c.f.s. minimum and 443 c.f.s. max in the past 72 hours), and water in the Azotea Tunnel is flowing at 355 c.f.s. (326 c.f.s. min., 477 c.f.s. max.). Slack off another couple of turns on the dock winches, mateys!

Elephant Butte Lake also continues to rise. With 366,307 acre feet at elevation 4,428.44 feet above benchmark elevation, the Butte is as high as it was in May. It has gained about 4 inches and 3,500 a.f. in 24 hours and 9 inches and more than 8,000 a.f. in 72 hours. The San Marcial Floodway is flowing at 1,130 cubic feet per second (548 min., 1,370 max. in past 72 hours). Rain is expected to add to the total this weekend.

The Butte was expected to give up most of its water this summer, but defied projections. In July, when it was expected to go down by perhaps 15 or 20 feet, it only went down 3.78 feet. August was phenomenal; instead of going down, and in spite of some continued irrigation and withdrawals, the monsoonal rains brought the lake up 15.98 feet. The recovery has continued at a milder pace since then, with the lake up 1.92 feet for September, and up 9 inches so far in October.

In spite of the huge shortfall in this spring's snowmelt runoff, the lake is likely to end the year at least as well off as it began the year.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Mexico lake update

It's that wacky, move-the-boats-around time of year. Saturday we hauled Syzygy out from the chill northern mountain waters of Heron Lake; Sunday we hauled Black Magic out from the Butte so repairs can be made to re-seat the console that houses some of her control lines.

Recent rains are helping local lakes.

Elephant Butte Lake:
355,253 acre feet, 4,327.42 feet elevation (above benchmark).
Up 2 inches and 1,934 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 3 inches and 2,600 a.f. in 72 hours.
Rio Grande Compact restrictions will be lifted once the Butte reaches 400 kaf.

Navajo, 1,430,969 a.f., down 16,529 a.f. and 15 inches in 72 hours.
El Vado, 53,351 a.f.
Abiquiu, 154,567 a.f.
Cochiti, 48,980 a.f.
Ute, 205,000 a.f.

Heron Lake:

201,738 a.f., 7,145.61 feet elevation.
Up 2.6 inches and 833 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 7 inches and 2,250 a.f. in 72 hours.
Azotea Tunnel flow rate is 365 cubic feet per second (120 minimum, 662 maximum in past 72 hours).
Willow Creek flow is 358 c.f.s. (120 minimum, 598 maximum).

13,000 acre feet of contractor water has already been discharged this year, leaving about 83,000 a.f. to be given up this winter (along with 300 a.f. of native Rio Grande basin water). The Heron Lake marina will likely ground in late February and the cove floor will likely be about four or five feet above the lake level at the lake's low point in April (if we don't get an early spring runoff).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Elephant Butte Lake after Sunday sailing

Zorro, Tadpole, and Batwoman finish putting USA 38 and USA 125 away after an afternoon of sailing, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2006.

Carol Anne and Gerald tend to Black Magic after Sunday's sail and the unwanted excitement of collapsing floorboard supports.

Heron Lake Marina, late in the season

A dock and marina pavillion.

A slightly skewed perspective: Heron Lake marina, B and C docks, Saturday, September 30, 2006. Although it is late in the season for this high-mountain lake, many boats remained in the marina. Part of the main lake is visible in the distance, beyond the Narrows.

Mustang Navy, Friday, September 29, 2006, Cochiti Lake

Some of the Lasers lie in readiness on the beach at Cochiti Lake. Several dozen high school students from Albuquerque and Los Alamos got a taste of sailing when the Navy Jr. R.O.T.C. programs of West Mesa and Los Alamos high schools arrived with several Lasers, a Cal 20, and a J-24 sailboat. Several sailing club members arrived to help set up and then help take the cadets out on the water.

Nautical panorama 800 miles from the ocean; vessels of the Mustang Navy and Hilltopper Navy ply the gentle waves of Cochiti Lake.

Aaargh, we be a right scurvy crew for the flagship o' the Mustang Navy, West Mesa's J-24!

The last boats sail to the beach at the end of day in the life of the Mustang Navy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lake Update

Last weekend saw us doing the grand tour of New Mexico lakes, with visits to Cochiti, Heron, and Elephant Butte Lakes.

At Cochiti I helped set up some Lasers for the "Mustang Navy", then returned later in the day to watch the West Mesa and Los Alamos high school cadets finish sailing. They were assisted during the day by several sailing club members. At Heron, I visited the marina and we did some maintenance on our MacGregor. At Elephant Butte on Sunday, we sailed on Carol Anne's Etchells ... until shortly after the floorboards caved in and collapsed! Then we hitched a ride on USA 38, Constellation, still managing to get in about five hours of sailing between the two boats.

Now, we're learning all about one-design rules and construction methods for re-doing the floor supports and floorboards. Rebuilding part of a boat in a state that is 800 miles from the nearest coast and the nearest Etchells fleet, and with minimal sailing infrastructure, gets to be one of those, "Oh no, not another learning experience!" occasions. The challenge is to make the floor system conform to Etchells class one-design rules, while being lightweight and sturdy, and also affordable, and do-able with our limited skills.

Lake conditions remain much better than had been predicted earlier in the year.

With 199,281 acre feet at elevation 7144.99 feet, Heron Lake is half full and at its highest level for the season. It is up 197 a.f. and 6/10" in 24 hours and up 1.6" and more than 500 a.f. in 72 hours.

With 352,672 a.f. at elevation 4327.18' above benchmark, Elephant Butte Lake is up about 1/4" and 216 a.f. in 24 hours, 3/4" and 652 a.f. in 72 hours. The lake is as high as it was during the Joshua Slocum regatta on May 13, 2006. If the lake receives seven more feet this fall, it will be higher next January than is was at the beginning of this year. Despite this year's limited spring runoff, we may start next year better off than this year.

430,410 a.f., 4,334.06' elev., January 1, 2006, conditions for Elephant Butte Lake
503,030 a.f., 4,339.88' elev., March 5, 2006 -- high point
183,870 a.f., 4,308.50' elev., July 28, 2006 -- low point
352,672 a.f., 4,327.18' elev., August 5, 2006 -- up 18 feet, 8 inches from low point... so far.