Monday, February 27, 2006

A calmer weekend ... can be a good thing.

Through Wednesday night, breezy winds had been forecast for the weekend of February 25 at Elephant Butte Lake. But, the weather cleared out, the isobars stretched apart on the weather map, and we instead got a minimal-wind weekend. The on-and-off breezes were frustrating for sailing, but a bit of relief after last weekend's 25-mph winds and 35- to 40-mph gusts. Now, can someone upstairs just get that wind meter calibrated for something in between?

The women held another sail training session, though attendance was down to six of the most faithful of the gals. On Saturday, with minimal winds, coach Ken and crew (Carol Anne and two others) did a lot of safety inspections and fixes/repairs on a boat; the owner should be glad to be getting a much safer boat after a lot of loose fasteners and frayed line-ends and untaped sharp edges and a loose hatch had been mended. Sue, Sharon, and Jo Ann got to do some good work on Kachina while the Cranky Wench got her toenails, I mean toerails, sanded and varnished to look pretty. On Sunday, Carol Anne got to do a lot of helming practice early in the day aboard Constellation with Braxton. I got to ride along and play jib trimmer on the Etchells while some of the other gals got on the J-24 Kachina and did a bunch of spinnaker work. Later in the afternoon, after a good lunch at Big Food Express/Club Bossa Mundo/Tu Bulls' place, I got another ride with Braxton, this time on "Extrepid" and we flew the spinnaker in on-and-off wind that finally vanished, leaving us on a near-mirror-flat lake.

The ladies also worked some on communications, preparedness, and team roles and goals. Some more boat- or crew-job-hopping may be happening as a result. As sort of a follow-up, we have borrowed and ordered some more racing and sailing videos and hope to have Monday-night get-togethers for watching them.

Now we're looking forward to the weather predictions, not for the Butte, but rather for southern California. Carol Anne, Larry, and Braxton will drive Braxton's truck and Larry's trailer to pick up USA 125 from Ventura harbor; WMCIK and I will fly out Friday night from New Mexico to join them.

It looks like Ventura is about to be hit by some windy, wet weather, with another front predicted for Thursday or Friday, but the late-week front is supposed to be cooler and drier and clearing out during the weekend. That might be good enough WX to sail a motorless thirty-foot sailing dinghy (open keelboat) around the harbor and into Pierpont Bay before the boat gets craned or Travel-lifted onto the trailer. We'll see.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sailing Philosophies and Sailing Full Circle

Some recent events made me reflect about how our family got into sailing, and about the reasons why, and the philosophies underlying the way we and different people approach the sport.

I grew up not too far from being a part-time water rat. Our family lived only 70 miles from South Padre Island, Texas, where we kept a mobile home just a block or two from the water. Though it was almost always on powerboats, I spent a good chunk of my childhood and teen years messing around boats of one sort or another (when I wasn't beachcombing or even "selling seashells by the seashore" one summer for pocket money when I was about eight year old). When I was about twelve, my parents bought me a copy of Chapman's Seamanship to entertain me during a vacation through the interior of Mexico; naturally I devoured the book and have kept it to this day (and now have a small collection of several editions of the book!).

There were also all sorts of nautical adventures and misadventures that I witnessed or took a part in; going out on a Coast Guard cutter when I was about seven years old to rescue some friends of the family who had gotten in a bit of a jam, going out on all sorts of craft, and watching the ever-entertaining antics of folks at the boat ramp. There was conning a 35-foot sloop through narrow bayside channels when a flogging jib had knocked the owner's eyeglasses off into the drink. One "Blessing of the Fleet" was a bit interesting; as an "acolyte" (like an altar boy) I was holding a heavy, tall metal cross when a hundred boats revved up their engines and roared out into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a boiling cauldron of jumping water while I balanced on the heaving, exposed (no railings) bow of a Coast Guard cutter. Then there was the time I was bringing a small Boston Whaler coming back in from the Gulf of Mexico when my eyeglasses were broken and ... well, let's just say that things got exciting for a bit. There was watching people fix things on boats and one part-time job I had taking care of one guy's cabin cruiser.

As a teen I spent a couple of summers and many weekends working as a deckhand on a bay fishing (party) boat. If you think your boat takes a lot of work, think about being a teenager being given some responsibilities for 40- to 65-foot commercial work boats. When I learned to drive at age sixteen, I was simultaneously learning to back a boat trailer down the launch ramp. By the time I was eighteen I probably already had a year's worth of "sea service days" and knew my nautical way all over the area.

Sailing misadventures were part of my education during my freshman year in college, when I hung out briefly with the Rice U. sailing club and survived a distmasting on an O'Day daysailer and committee boat duty during a "Frozen Butt" regatta that really was held in bitter, rough conditions. All fond memories.

Carol Anne, by contrast, grew up as somewhat of a landlubber, other than for a bit of sailing with the Girl Scouts and some friends. She did have some warning as to what she was getting into; we spent some time on the beach and on boats after we met, and I proposed to her and gave her the engagement ring on a small boat in the Gulf of Mexico off the South Padre Island north jetty sea buoy. She also noticed that I couldn't spend more than several months to a year in New Mexico at a time without making a desperate break for the waterfront.

But, it was only after we had been married for some years that my gradually increasing dessication and longing for a boat could not be satisfied any more with occasional trips to one or another coast. I wanted a sailboat, as something that would provide for relatively peaceful, quiet escapes from life's turmoil, and something we could perhaps camp out on. The story of how we got the boat is told elsewhere, including how a condo timeshare salesperson unintentionally clinched the deal. Also told elsewhere is how we did some day charters and then spent some days taking sailing lessons as a family in Santa Barbara, CA, on a J-24, and how the crew-overboard drills were complicated by sea lions that played with the person-overboard dummy and how the instructor had us sail through the marina, tacking within a few feet of gold-plater rich people's yachts.

Flash forward through the past several years, including more sailing classes in Santa Barbara (but on one trip, we were all a bit embarrassed when the instructor let Gerald, then age 12, take a certification test for fun and he got a near-perfect score), and sailing club trips to California (we chartered a 38-foot Beneteau in 2004), and adventures at Heron, Elephant Butte, and Navajo lakes closer to home, plus a boat trailering trip all the back to South Padre Island.

Until recently Carol Anne and I were mostly lazy cruisers, participating in raftups, doing committee boat duty to help the racers, and taking pictures of regattas. Gerald, on the other hand, didn't lose much time in getting crew gigs on racing boats and by now has sailed with almost all of the active racers in the Rio Grande Sailing Club. Occasionally Carol Anne or I would crew on one or another friend's boat during a regatta, but we were never part of the real racing scene.

So, it was a surprise to folks when she took up racing with the Adams Cup group and them helmed Kachina (when Sue was under the weather) to a second-place finish (behind Larry Jessee's Constellation) in her first-ever race, this January's "Frostbite". Of course, a well-tested boat, a fine crew who worked together, and a coach who was a real "wind and weather wizard" were the secrets to that success, but Carol Anne was still proud that a lot of the folks on the race course didn't realize right away that Sue wasn't helming. Also, the J-boat victory brought her full circle in that her first formal sailing lessons had been years ago on that J-24 in Santa Barbara.

Carol Anne gets to see her "new" race boat in only about 7 days and 7 hours or so. She's at the Butte sailing this weekend, learning the finer points of boat control and recovery so she won't frighten her crew so much (grin; at least she was courteous enough to hide her bleeding from her crew last Sunday until she got the boat safe to the marina).

Carol Anne still rightly counts herself as a novice, though at least her sailing training's coming along far enough that Carol Anne's will often notice when she, or a competitor, or even one of the sailing coaches she's learning from makes a mistake. However, she wants to be really discreet about those latter mistakes (1) so she doesn't distract or scare any even-more-novice crew members more!, and (2) since she and every other sailor, no matter how proficient, will make mistakes.

In fact, my reckoning is that Carol Anne, in order to move up a level in her helming and sailing ability between now and the Adams Cup, probably needs to make and learn from at least a hundred more mistakes in order to learn enough to handle a good variety of situations at a decent level of proficiency.

Most of the best sailors recognize their mistakes or don't mind having a crew that will point out mistakes, equipment problems, or things that can be improved. Problems that are acknowledged get fixed, resulting in fewer future mistakes and in more successes. Skippers who don't listen to their crews or who don't want to acknowledge problems and fix them are the ones who aren't going to go far, in my firm opinion. Unacknowledged and uncorrected problems are the ones that, at best, are lost learning opportunities, and, at worst, could lead to future disasters.

One of our favorite couples on the water have also only been sailing for a relatively short time. While they aren't quite perfect people or at all perfect sailors - - far from it, as they themselves would admit - - we admire their attitude of never being afraid to try things. Likewise their attitude toward their boats. If something breaks or isn't quite right, B. is the first to admit that it should be fixed; he'll even spring for airfreight to get parts sent right away. If he's off-base on an opinion or action, it usually doesn't take him long at all to realize it and correct the fault. So, they've become fast learners as sailors. Likewise, another couple we know aren't the greatest sailors in the world, but they muddle through somehow, and they're always game to try something new and they come off the water at the end of the day with big smiles and kind words for their friends. These, and a lot of other folks with similar attitudes and generosity of spirit, are the people with whom we most enjoy sailing.

A favorite sailing philosophy of mine is to try to make mistakes as fast as I can learn from them or fix them [especially if it's in a relatively safe situation] so that I can learn faster. I think that's what a lot of the smartest sailors perhaps do, is deliberately put themselves in situations where they have to learn. And, since only sometimes do we take full advantage of learning from the mistakes of others, there are other times when we have to make the mistakes from which we and others can learn!

My favorite sailing saying is that a new sailor can learn the rudiments of sailing in an afternoon - - and then spend the rest of a lifetime trying to learn the rest.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Tough Times on the Committee Boat and Tricky Wind

Warning label: These are just my impressions and opinions and could be wrong. I'll be trying to correct any goofs, so this post may evolve and change.

This weekend's committee boat duty brought on a whole host of
"Oh no, not another learning experience!" happenings.

The skippers' meeting on Saturday morning had been well attended and convivial, but somewhat chaotic at times, and a couple of pieces of key information had probably not been announced or heard by everyone, as would be discovered later. Heading north from the Damsite Marina to do race committee boat duty on Saturday morning, I found that the southerly winds were already strong enough to let me run out the genoa to about 100% and motorsail much faster than under motor alone.

On Saturday, I had our boat out in plenty of time to drop the pin buoy and to anchor, thus establishing the starting line for the race. Originally, the plan had been for the big boats to do relatively short round-the-buoy races of a mile or two in length, while the rest of the fleet did a relatively long-distance race of five or six miles. Apparently, the plan had been changed at some point to have everyone do the distance race, which I found out only after I tried to fly signal flags for the big boats to do buoy races.

With winds forecast to be blustery in the 15 to 25 mph range, I had brought a "secret weapon" to keep our water-ballasted cabin sailboat on station come what may; a large anchor and heavy chain rode more suited to a 34-footer than our 25'10" water-ballasted lightweight MacGregor 26 (1994 swing centerboard classic). Out went the high-tensile-strength 22-pound Sentinel anchor, a significantly heavy boat length of 3/8" proof coil galvanized chain, and the bulk of 150 feet of 3/4-inch twisted-strand nylon line. Syzygy was in position to stay. (There used to be a center pin that the committee boat had tied to but that had deteriorated and drifted away, never replaced by the state park, so an adequate anchor was a must for any committee boat in windy weather.)

Unfortunately, the line wasn't square, leaving the committee boat end favored at the start by an angle of at least several degrees, and now that Syzygy was solidly anchored in place with me on the boat by myself, there wasn't time to try to weigh (raise) anchor and move the pin buoy at the other end of the line. I tried to call the other boats on channel 16, the hailing frequency on the VHF radio. I had told people I'd be monitoring channel 16 at the skippers' meeting previously, but no one had been paying much attention at the time and it turns out that 68 is the traditional channel for the committee. But, no one had mentioned that to me at the skipper's meeting and I didn't think to try that channel. So, I had a nice conversation with the friendly state parks folks but no word with our people. Also frustrating was that the race chairman passed by 50 or 100 yards away and tried shouting at me over the noise of the wind and waves. Even in calm conditions my hearing isn't at all perfect, so in this mess the distant shouts were pure gibberish. I could perhaps guess what he was shouting about, but couldn't make out the words or do a $^*&*^$%*! thing about it, especially as events later proved. So, I was frustrated and left on my own.

As the winds built, the light water-ballasted boat become rather a bucking bronco. But, at least it wasn't drifting anywhere, even if there was plenty of rockin' and rollin'. Hoisting flags, sounding horns, watching the clock, watching the starting line, and writing was too many handfuls of work for one person, but I got through it with only one horn signal sounded at the wrong moment. The fleet launched on their long-distance race and I finally got a chance to snap a picture as they headed off for the horizon. I had also flown the "Yankee" flag to require use of PFDs (life preservers) and anyone sensible would have had them on anyway.

The intervening time wasn't bad and the fleet leaders only took an hour and a half or so to finish; not bad at all. However, in the time that they'd been away from the committee boat and out of sight, there had been equipment failures and a crew overboard. Many of the race boats have no boarding (swim) ladders to help get someone out of the cold wintertime lake waters, and our small club didn't have a safety/rescue/crash boat to help someone in the cold water, so this was a very scary incident for the club.

Another boat had the boom come crashing down on Carol Anne's hat and head shortly after the boat left the marina and Carol Anne was standing in the companionway organizing her tactician's placard. The boom left a crease in her hat and a lump on her head as a souvenir when a new, high-tech high-dollar (but hard, small, and slick) halyard (rope that holds the big sail up) slipped out of a cleat that wouldn't hang on under any significant pressure. The cleat and new halyard were a marriage made in hell, with a potential for mayhem and carnage. (Actually, the owner notes that the cleats and halyards were new and that the boom never fell on Carol Anne, so I guess that lump and crease and falling boom were imaginary.) (The mainsail had also been raised with the outhaul not connected in spite of Carol Anne's warnings.)

The boat was a very good, fast boat, but it had not been campaigned but instead seems to have been sitting around in recent years and had issues with some equipment "not playing well together" in spite of a lot of new, high-tech running rigging, installed at quite some expense. [It was later found that a vendor had sent the owner the wrong kind of halyard line, with an easily compressed core that wouldn't stay put in the cleat.] The crew had to make do with jib alone, losing places to boats with mainsails or both sails, sailing on for pride and to complete the course but with hopes for victory crushed by those dratted little bitty pieces of untested hardware that had not worked together under breezy conditions.

Frightening also was the accident of Cranky Wench, which had a crew member slide across the boat and into the water. After quite some time, perhaps 10 or 20 minutes or so, the crew was able to rescue her from the cold water after dumping sails and turning on the motor, trying some approaches, and getting a Lifesling rescue float out to the aquatic crew. Luckily, Cranky Wench had just been given the Lifesling the day before! (Along with some brand-new jib cars (pulleys that go on a track) from a coach.) Not so good was that the overboard crew member didn't really know how to use the Lifesling, was showing signs of hypothermia, and the boat, like others of its type, had no boarding ladder, and did not have lower lifelines installed. (It's somewhat fashionable for some J's to come without lower lifelines but might cause rules problems when the crew hikes.) If Rich Strasia hadn't had the strength to haul the person overboard out of the water, this accident could have ended in tragedy. The crew got her into dry clothes but their decision to continue racing might have turned out to be a terrible one if the hypothermia had progressed to serious stages before the crew decided to quit racing, were able to get to shore, and seek medical care with the small local hospital about 8 miles distant.

Another boat, Cultural Infidel, was dueling the C&C 30 Luna C for first-to-finish. Luna C had a better angle to the finish and crossed the line, but after sounding a horn and writing down the time I looked up to see Cultural Infidel peeling off just 50 yards short of the line and heading away from the line toward the Rock Canyon marina. Later I learned that a steering fitting had failed, leaving the boat with poor, mushy steering; and at first Russ and crew were not sure that they had much steering at all and had put the boat under motor power and out of the race.

The J-22 Scirocco's Song, and the J-24s Coyote, Cranky Wench, Goat Rodeo, and eventually the last finisher, the Hunter 34 Windependent, crossed the line and I could organize and pack gear and get ready to head for port behind the fleet.

Then came the fun part: That big heavy anchor on a small, bucking boat with no roller or windlass, was a bear and a half to hoist. I was nervous spending so much time on the bow among the spray, splash, and breaking whitecaps. Soon I was exhausted after hoisting a bit of rode with each downward movement of the bow that made hoisting possible. Eventually I put the rode around a winch, but cranking was slow and hard for various reasons: the rode was too large for our tiny winches, so I could only get two wraps and very little friction on the rode, requiring that I put a huge effort with one arm to tail (pull) while the other arm cranked the winch handle. Also, with no bow roller, the rode came up over the rubrail and then past a stanchion base, adding a load of friction to the effort of lifting the already heavy stuff. Because I was alone in heavy winds, motoring up to the anchor did no good - - our boat is hard to keep head-to-wind and the boat would drift back before I could go forward to take in more anchor. So, it took me 40 minutes to hoist anchor. Ironically, someone on shore made a joke that evening that I was probably not there because I was trying to hoist the super anchor. At least the state parks rescue boat was keeping an eye on me and came over to visit and chat while I tried to catch my breath and massage cramping muscles.

Then came yet another challenge: Once the anchor had been partially broken free, our boat had started drifting, drifting a third or half mile downwind of the pin, which I now needed to retrieve. But, before I could retrieve it, I had to find it in the driving spray and crashing waves. Worse, the conditions wouldn't let me motor directly upwind or on certain other headings; if I tried to go straight up the offset-to-port-mounted outboard motor's lower unit would pop out of the water, causing the motor to race and losing propulsion. So, even though I was under motor, I had to tack upwind! Eventually the parks guy, after first suggesting that I leave the pin overnight (the state parks folks were the ones who had required us to remove our former Olympic Circle buoys a year or two back!), helped point me toward the pin. After several passes, I was able to retrieve it. By then, all the other boats were long since home in their marinas or driveways and people had long since started celebrating the end of the day, far from the cares of the bedraggled race committee of one lonely, wet, soaked, sailor.

Then, I got to enjoy a wet, splashy motor back to the DamSite Marina at the end of the lake and drag my battered beaten carcass up and down the hill to the truck and slowly drive to the restaurant where the club would meet - - after having to stop partway for a bad attack of muscle cramps in my side; previously motoring in I had experienced a strange thumb cramp that left me unable to grasp items with my right hand for a while and aches and cramps in assorted other places.

During the night's dinner, the race chair decided that if conditions for Sunday looked anywhere near as bad as Saturday's that the race would be cancelled. With no rescue boat and the day's frightening crew-overboard and falling boom accidents and gear failures, that was a wise decision. One thought was that the winds would perhaps hold off enough in the morning to allow for racing to be completed Sunday morning before things got too hairy. That night, internet weather services predicted sustained winds of 15 to 19 mph for Sunday afternoon but lighter winds of 5 to 13 mph for the morning; the Weather Channel predicted winds of 15 to 25 mph, the same as for Saturday.

Sunday, February 19: Mo' Troubles

Sunday morning dawned with us up early and the Weather Channel predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph, as before. We were quite sure that there would be no race under those conditions, but I was duty bound to get the committee boat out, especially if there would be an attempt to perhaps have some short buoy races instead of the distance race that had been planned originally. I put a couple of gallons of gas with some 50:1 oil into the tank and motored out toward the race course. Then, the engine sputtered out. Attempts to restart it were futile. I checked the cut-off switch to make sure it hadn't cut off and experimented with the choke and throttle; no good. The starter was willing, but cranking didn't accomplish anything.

Then I saw that the fuel line was completely cut off. No gas, no go. The fuel line on Syzygy had probably become brittle from ultraviolet (UV) sun and exposure and weathering and simply broken off neatly at a point just an inch outside where the line exits the lazerette (storage locker) and enters the motor well. I unrolled the jib and tried to sail back to the marina in 15 - 18 mph winds but the swing centerboard had jammed in the up position and refused to come down. It may have gotten stuck the day before when I was having trouble with it catching on part of the marina or something under the slip. With no centerboard, the boat could not claw off the threatening rocks waiting for me on the lee shore. Plus, by myself, I found tacking difficult; I couldn't leave the tiller for long to try to sheet the jib. Realizing that I would soon be on a rocky shore, I picked out a relatively benign spot of shore to beach Syzygy, tie up, and await rescue which fortunately wasn't too long in coming. I heard myself discussed on the radio, joined the conversation, and prepared to be rescued. Unfortunately, there wasn't a kettle or tea on board, so I didn't have a chance to brew up a warm beverage.

Windpendent came by first, but was in danger of being blown onto the lee shore, and Mark Paz in a DamSite power boat was in sight and on his way, so I waved Marty and Windependent off before he and his crew risked getting their big, less maneuverable boat into big trouble on sharp rocks. Even though Marty said he was still in fourteen feet, he was still out of range for me to throw my tow rope upwind. I by then prepared the storm anchor rode as a sturdy tow rope, and was easily able to pass it to the power boat, which took up slack, gave me a moment to untie my bow line from a rock on shore and shove Syzygy off the cobbles carefully and board. After getting far enough from shore, we transferred from the aft-cleated tow rope to the bow line and I worked the rudder to help maneuver Syzygy to the marina, where the power boat let me loose while I had just enough steerage to coast into a vacant outer slip.

Then I and Windpendent's crew had to transfer gear to the alternate committee boat. This took some time; my gear took up room and the race committee's big box of gear, flags, buoys, anchors, etc., took a while to load into dock carts and move to Windependent, which was halfway across the marina at the fuel dock. So, all in all, we did quite well to have Sunday's start at 10:52 AM, delayed less than an hour from plan and well before Saturday's windy 1:01 PM start. We had scrambled to have the start as fast as possible at the race chair's urging. By then, we had picked up an additional crew member who had boarded from Russ and Maria's Cultural Infidel; the Infidels had decided not to race on Sunday and Buzz Biernacki left them and came aboard the committee boat to watch some of the action.

Of course, the fact that we were having a start at all was a bit of a surprise, because the winds were already rather powerful and expected to build. Also, it was surprising to me that the race chair stuck with the planned distance (about five or six mile) race instead of opting for a shortened course or buoy races with boats and crews within sight of the committee boat and each other. This would have had some advantages in keeping boats in sight of the race committee, making it easier to see if a boat and crew got into trouble, having boats closer in case rescue was called for, and in having shorter races so that racing could be ended easily after any races if conditions became hairy.

This day was also different in that at least there was a big, stable committee boat. Unfortunately, although it had a just-dandy bow roller and anchor locker, the moderate-sized anchor and the short rode (less than two-to-one scope and less anchor and chain weight than I'd used on my much smaller boat on Saturday) were inadequate for the big, unwieldy boat; it dragged anchor after the start, covering 300 or 400 yards in an hour.

Before boats started finishing, we had to raise the anchor, which was difficult because Windependent didn't want to head into the wind or toward the anchor, making a strenuous job for me and Buzz Biernacki to weigh anchor against the pull of the several-ton boat. Unfortunately, although we got the anchor up and got back to the line, the boat wound up stopping and dropping anchor very close to the pin buoy marking the other end of the line. This made for a tiny, eccentric, short, oddly-angled finish line that was difficult for boats to cross properly. It also led the skipper to worry about the possibility of Windependent's stern weathercocking and swinging toward the line as a racing boat tried to finish. However, and also unfortunately, there wound up not being so many boats to cross that line as the day before.

I guess folks hadn't learned enough from the day before, except for the boats and crew members who didn't show up on Sunday. Conditions were starting off heavier earlier and we still didn't have a rescue boat on hand. Some of the racing boats still didn't have boarding ladders or retrieval equipment. Some of the boats were still undercrewed, with some having started out shorthanded and others losing crew after Saturday's racing, leaving the remaining crews stretched dangerously thin for the heavy conditions. Also, perhaps the race chair really wanted to demonstrate how dangerous and unpredictable distance races could be. Unfortunately, this demonstration was to have its price, though fortunately not a fatal one.

Seven of eight boats finished on Saturday. A ninth had registered but not started.

Only four were finish on Sunday. Two of the big boats didn't start, but the crew of the C&C 30 Luna C were first to finish, as they had been on Saturday. The J-24 Coyote didn't finish but instead headed for the Damsite, but the other J-boats were still in the chase.

Equipment and safety continued to be an issue, with the same crew who had gone swimming the day before almost taking another Esther Williams aquatic escape off of Cranky Wench and other boats retiring from the regatta. Those lower lifelines will likely be installed very soon!

Carol Anne, helming a boat with only one coach and one other crew member was short-handed but Ken had improvised a way to get the main halyard secured to keep the mainsail up (after the halyard and its cleat had failed to play together on Saturday and the starboard jib car had wandered up and down a bent jib track on Saturday but behaved better on Sunday after Ken the coaches had a go at it). The crew passed some of the other boats and given the them a taste of bad air in their wake.

They had worked their way up the fleet and were closing in on the lead J-boat, Kachina with Sue Strasia at the helm, when high sprits took a sudden beating. A sudden wind started to push the boat into a an uncontrolled tack and knockdown. Carol Anne had been holding the mainsheet at the time and tried to let off the mainsheet (the rope that holds the boom and mainsail close or far from the boat; loosening it enough will take power out of the sail when the boat is headed upwind). First Carol Anne tried yanking with one hand (the other hand had to grip the tiller) to pull the sheet out of the cam cleat but that didn't work. Carol Anne remembered what she had been told about kicking the sheet up out of the camcleat (though that action can have some negative side effects) and kicked and kicked at it without success. Soon her crew was screaming at Carol Anne to blow the main; Carol Anne was yelling back that she was trying. The boat kept going over. The cam cleat was jammed and not working properly; the left cam was not moving but stayed frozen stuck. Finally, a kick booted the sheet out of the cam. The sheet ran out for a few feet, freeing the main slightly, but then caught again in the cantankerous cam. So, Carol Anne had to kick it hard a couple more times to get it to finally loosen the sheet for good and relieve pressure on the sail. (The owner however, although not present on Sunday, believes that Carol Anne simply didn't think to dump the main and had to be reminded by the crew; she says that there were no equipment problems and that the knockdown was all Carol Anne's fault.)

By the time the sail had been released, the side of the boat had been driven deep into the water leaving the crew exhausted and gasping and definitely out of sorts - - the other crew member had barely hung on and had had water almost up to her chin.

Their coach proposed a rest to sort things out and get the boat back into shape; he moved to the helm position and tried to put the boat in "neutral". But, this too proved to be inopportune when a powerful, unannounced, 180-degree wind shift - - some people said it was more like a vortex or cyclone of swirling winds - - shot the unsheeted boom across the boat. Carol Anne felt a sudden terrible pain and then found herself on the floor of the cockpit with her glasses and her special lucky Aussie hat gone and the other crew standing over her saying, "Get up, Carol Anne, get up!"

Upon doing so, she found the boat in a mess with their coach bleeding profusely from a gash in his forehead. The coach turned on the motor after getting the latch to work to lower it into the water and Carol Anne took over the helm, turning back toward the committee boat and marina. The coach and the other crew alternated between using pads from the first aid kit to staunch the blood pouring from the coach's forehead and trying to get the mainsail down by dumping the main halyard (the rope that holds the mainsail up), but the slip knot that was holding it in place of the failed cleat now proved to be a terrible enemy; the knot had hardened, leaving the halyard welded in place. Shortly thereafter though some good news came as Carol Anne's glasses appeared. The coach's glasses had been hanging around his neck but weren't so fortunate; the boom had clobbered one of the lenses and the other was covered in bloom. Later, Carol Anne got the boat into a wider part of the lake and head to wind to take pressure off the sail so that the rest of the crew could undo the knot and get the sail down.

After arriving at the marina, Carol Anne told the rest of the crew that she had also been hit by the boom and had been bleeding; her red hair had made her bleeding less obvious and she had turned the injured side of her head from the rest of the crew so they wouldn't be any more upset or alarmed then they were already. That, plus the stress of the accident, had kept them from noticing Carol Anne's wound and adrenaline had kept Carol Anne going. Larry and a bystander (Kenny?) and a paramedic helped them at the marina after commenting upon the apparent battle royal and bloody scene, and the bystander led the way the the nearest hospital - - Carol Anne's crew had to drive Ken's manual-shift diesel truck, not necessarily an easy task, to the Sierra County medical center.

There, one nurse took Carol Anne into a room and another took the coach into another room. Vital signs were recorded and the wounds were cleaned and then examined by a physician. A waterproof cape or curtain had been put around each patient while the wounds were being cleaned and prepped, and then Carol Anne got four staples applied the coach a whole big bunch of stiches. The coach's wound was worse and so he also got to stick around for a CAT scan to make sure things weren't scrambled. Carol Anne was discharged with a list of instructions, which included someone checking on her every hour to make sure she didn't go unconscious. Also, the medical staff had given her a tetanus shot as a precaution. Before giving her the shot, they had asked her which arm she'd prefer to have sore for several days. With her left arm already sore from "tiller elbow" from the previous weekends that was the one she picked.

The committee boat had meantime got into port, and while I was loading committee and personal gear onto a dock cart we noticed someone waving from the restaurant area up the hill above the marina. It turned out to be RGSC commodore Richard Dittmar. I told the rest of the crew that I'd only be gone for a few minutes and went up with a few things, leaving the rest piled in and on top of a dock cart.

I climbed the hill only to be stunned as I approached and Richard told me that Carol Anne and the coach had been taken to the hospital. S*! I said in shock. Richard reassured me that things didn't seem too bad, but I was still upset all over and not at all happy that the distance race had been held in these conditions. Fortunately, when we got to the hospital and Richard let me out of the truck, I was hugely relieved to see Carol Anne walking out of the hospital's back door / emergency area with her other crew member - - Carol Anne looked and spoke with more composure and was incredibly upbeat and courageous about the whole misadventure. I was in awe, though still also in turmoil mixed with relief and thankfulness that things hadn't been worse.

Then I got my turn a driving a manual transmission for the first time in quite a while; our task was to take the coach's truck to the Strasia compound while Richard and the other crew member waited for the coach to be discharged. My instructions were to check on Carol Anne every hour and wake her if necessary to make sure she didn't leave consciousness. We were glad to get to the Strasia's compound and reassure people that things were not as bad as they could have been. Gerald had tried to call me on the cell phone earlier, as Richard and I had left the Damsite, but reception was poor and the call had been cut off. There was more celebration when Richard returned about 40 minutes later with Lisa and "Bloody Coach", his pants still splattered with blood, a small amount of which was licked off by the resident canines, Lucita and Dodie Coyote.

We also received a suggestion from the old days of fighting sail and Nelson's Navy, when before battle the crews of wooden line-of-battle ships would sprinkle the decks with sawdust to soak up the bloody of the ensuing battle so that men wouldn't lose their footing. However, the last time the gals checked, we didn't have any buckets of sawdust aboard any of our race boats. That will be changed soon. If any challenger crews show up for the Adams Cup, the local women will hoist the bloody flag and neither expect nor give any quarter. Now that she's been properly blooded, Carol Anne and the rest of the gals are ready to inflict maximum carnage on any opponents foolish enough to challenge them. Aaarrgh, mateys!

Also, previously at the hospital Carol Anne's crew had worried about whether anyone would clean up the boat they'd crewed upon; Carol Anne said that it looked like a cheesy slasher horror movie had been shot on board, with blood all over the cockpit. Fortunately, Rich Strasia reassured the group that the boat had been cleaned to something like its pre-accident state. Also, Buzz Biernacki appeared at the compound with our personal stuff and the race committee equipment, so everything was where it belonged except for Carol Anne's sailing gloves. The gloves, and her crew's morale, were what concerned Carol Anne, rather than the wound.

Rich also took notice of the additional boat fixes that had been discovered on Sunday and added them to his to-do list (jib track and cars, cleats for the traveller and sheets), along with things like installing the missing topping lift (it may not have needed a topping lift in San Francisco Bay's heavy airs when sailing for a previous owner) that the owner had planned to order.

The crew and coach had been exhilarated earlier when they had passed other boats and threatened the club's sailboat-racing queen, Sue. Carol Anne had the leaders in her sights but a unlucky wind and equipment problems left her and her crew feeling cheated and licking their wounds. She doesn't want to be frustrated again. It would probably be a very bad idea since she's capable of applying a great deal of power against any obstacles that have the temerity to interpose themselves in her path.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Landlubbers' Lies and Sailors' Yarns

The classic lines:

1. The check is in the mail.

2. I'll respect you in the morning.

3. I'm from the government, and I am here to help you.

4. Trust me, I'll take care of everything.

5. Drinking? Why, no, Officer.

6. I never watch television except for PBS.

7. ...but we can still be good friends.

8. Don't worry, he's never bitten anyone.

9. I've never done anything like this before.

10. ...then take a left. You can't miss it.

What would be the sailor’s version? Maybe something like,

This boat was never raced.

The diesel had a complete, professional overhaul.

Sure these fish are under the limit.

Our varnish will keep your toerails and handrails looking great for three years!

We always washed the sails.

The trailer’s never been in salt water.

Rebuilding the head is actually much more pleasant than you'd expect.

Our team has never fouled another boat.

All the electronics check out fine.

This boat has a large, palatial head that's just like the bathroom at home.

This trailer will never give you trouble on the road.

This manufacturer’s hulls never have blister problems.

You don't need to waste money on a pre-filter for diesel fuel.

Sure, you can strip the old paint, re-fair and prep the hull, and slap the new paint on in three to
six hours, tops.

Don’t worry, this weekend’s winds are forecast to be perfect, moderate breezes.

We’re the crew who are always reliable and on time.

My crew have never had reason to complain.

These foulies keep 100% of the water out.

Really, the boom is perfectly safe and not to be worried about.

I would never barge in on the start line or try to bluff a competitor.

The A fleet boats are never over the line early.

We always sail our proper course.

Don’t worry, the grounding system in this marina is perfectly safe and regulated.

I never shout at my crew.

Nope, I’ve never run into a dock. (But the pier is another matter.)

Sure, I’ll remember to get some good beer.

It’ll only take you a few hours to fix everything.

We can get your boat part by noon tomorrow.

I know every shallow in this bay and so I’ve never run aground. (It was the boat that did it).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Gerald brings Pat to the ramp, Saturday, Feb. 11

Gerald is already a good helm and last weekend he also got to drive a diesel truck for the first time. (Buzz Biernacki photos)


Part I, Elephant Butte women's sailing, Feb. 11, 2006

Port view of J-24 Kachina on a calm Elephant Butte Lake during sailing practice for the Adams Cup. Come on down; we have lots of boats and room for more gals!

MacGregor with Bahamanian flag (left) and red-hulled boat do a sailing raftup with Elephant Buttte in background (052).

Carol Anne's trophy

Close view of second-place trophy for the Rio Grande Sailing Club Frostbite Regatta, January 28, 2006. In her first regatta as a skipper, Carol Anne helmed Kachina on behalf of owner Sue Strasia and finished third of nine starters, correcting to second place overall behind Larry Jessee's Etchells, Constellation.

Carol Anne holding trophy at the awards dinner after the Frostbite Regatta. But will she let it go out of her sight? Will Gerald have to polish it every week?

Carol Anne seems happy to get the trophy. Rich Strasia and Richard Dittmar to left.

Heron Lake Marina, January 15, 2006

View of marina from point, showing A dock and south side of Willow Creek cove (3061).

Overall view of the marina from southeast atop the "isthmus" toward the northwest (3063).

View from end of A dock (3077), Heron Lake marina, January 15, 2006. Marina was mostly in light ice but the southwest part of Willow Creek cove was then free of ice, including the south end of A dock.

A dock view (3079).

Top view of connection between A west and A east (old state parks docks, to right) (3080).

(3081) Side view, connection between A east and A west docks.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Weekend update, Elephant Butte Lake before Lover's Day

Friday arrived with abundant winds at Elephant Butte Lake and the women's sailing coaches were worried that the next day would be too breezy and chilly. Carol Anne was one of the first to arrive and went sailing on one of the Etchells with Braxton for some mock racing, which went well until Larry took advantage of local conditions and did a "banana lift" on them. WMCIK and I came down right after his school ended, arriving by 5:00 so we could get our boat out of a storage lot and rig her for the weekend, then catch up with folks. Later that evening, Larry and Braxton returned to one of the Etchells for a lovely moonlight sail, returning in time for the spaghetti dinner at the Strasia's compound and boatyard.

Saturday dawned with breezes still going well during Dan's weather briefing, but by the time boats were in the water the breezes had moderated to quite gentle zephyrs indeed. One of the J-24's had some difficulties in launching, but it later turned out that part of the problem was a shallow underwater cable at the end of and perpendicular to the courtesy dock next to the ramp. On Saturday, WMCIK and I enjoyed photographing the boats.

On Sunday Gerald crewed with Braxton and Jo Ann on their J-24 Cranky Winch along with Jacob, Kari, Margaret, and Rich, and we tried to set up a mock race with them and Sue and Carol Anne and Maureen and Dan on another J-24. The wind, if it could be called that, was not cooperative; the lake surface was glassy other than for distant reflections of powerboat wakes, and it took the J's nine minutes to reach the starting line after the start was sounded. Are there knot meters that will measure a 20th of a knot?!? Still, it was a learning experience for the crews and skippers to handle the boats in extreme light conditions. The interesting part from the committee boat point of view was improvising a starting line pin buoy and committee boat flags from what I had or could beg from local marinas. At the tail end of Sunday I did a bit of shopping, buying a storm anchor to keep our boat in position (if serving as committee!) no matter what the conditions in future races.

Next weekend, we'll have a motel room next to a hot tub, so any sailors with sore muscles can come over to our place after the race to relax storm-battered muscles and joints. The regatta will be a mixed event and should be really interesting to watch; the largest (30- or so to 36-footers) three boats will be doing buoy racing and the regular fleet will do a distance race on Saturday and another one on Sunday. Yours truly will be committee boating and should have a grand view and maybe some good pictures of the proceedings.

Volunteers needed for Adams Cup Regatta, April 21 - 23, 2006

The Adams Cup regional regatta at Elephant Butte Lake is less than nine weeks away and a huge amount of work remains to be accomplished. Rich and Sue and Larry and folks will need volunteers to canvass local merchants and organizations for support, provide hospitality and information and registration for teams, help with providing boats of all sorts (committee boat, mark boats, transfer boat, crash boat, dormitory boats or lodging to house team members), and all sorts of things.

Here's a sample of how the professionals organize people to run a regatta, taken from the J-24 USA web site:

Organizing Committee, Events Chair
[NAME], Chair

Race Management – [name]
[NAME], Race Administrator
International Jury: [NAME]
Measurement: [NAME]
R/C Equipment: [NAME]
Scoring – Reporting (Info Sys)

Sponsorship – [Name]
Event Sponsors
Keg Sponsors
Giveaway Merchandise/Donations

Fundraisers – [name], Chair

Social & Entertainment – [name]
· Social Parties (coordinate with Sponsorship – Liquor/Beer/Food)

Merchandise – [name]
Merchandise Sales
· Race Packets (coordinate with Giveaway Merchandise/donations)

Volunteer Coordinator – [name]
· Coordinate volunteers, contact information, commitments.
· Coordinates volunteer attire

Participant Services – [name], Chair
Information Services (chandleries, boat repair, parts)
Travel Arrangements

Promotion/Communications/Public Relations - [name]
Website content
Class Associations
Sailing Magazines
Club Newsletter
Local Media
Participant Mailing List
Other Regatta Promotions

On-Shore Logistics – [name], Co-Chairs
Boat Prep/Launching/Haulout
Registration – (Event)
Trailer Storage
Sanitary Facilities

Information Systems – [name]
Scoring program/Results
Delta Scoring
Website development/Maintenance
Daily Weather Reports
Mailing lists

Friday, February 10, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club update

Tuesday, February 7, 2006, NMSC update, revised Friday, Feb. 10th, yet again Mon., Feb. 13!

Don’t Forget to Mark Your Calendars:

NMSC Club Meeting, Friday, February 24, 2006, Eldorado Community Center east of Santa Fe.
Potluck dinner, club budget presentation, Adams Cup update, Antarctica travel show. Directions: I-25 to about 8 miles s.e. of Santa Fe, exit 290 to US 285 south [road to Cline’s Corners], then south perhaps a half mile to the first light, turn right [west] for about 1.1 miles on Avenida de Amistad. Gather at 6:00, enjoy potluck and fellowship, start meeting at 6:30.

Also, Friday, March 17, 2006, Fuddrucker’s Famous Hamburgers in Albuquerque, Pan American (I-25) West (southbound) access road south of Jefferson (near the big Century Rio movie theater) (room in east end of building),

Friday, March 30 through Sunday, April 2, probably beginning of work parties at Heron Lake marina for A-dock disassembly and marina re-building, and

Friday, April 21, 2006, Gabriel’s Restaurant, US 285/84 Cuyamungue exit 176 between Tesuque and Pojoaque. THIS ONE MAY HAVE TO BE RE-SCHEDULED: Pat and Carol Anne Byrnes, Lisa Carlson, Rich and Sue Strasia, Sarah Manges, and probably some other folks will definitely be tied up with the Adams Cup regatta at Elephant Butte Lake that weekend.

! W O N R E E T N U L O V

Marina Report:

Last Sunday, Feb. 5th, I visited the marina. It’s having some problems with this winter’s conditions and we’ll need to do some work on it as soon as the ice breaks up. Right now, all of what’s left of Willow Creek cove is iced up pretty heavily; open water is about 100+ yards from the marina. Part of the connecting walkway (between A and B, right over where the B-south truss would attach to the connecting walkway) has twisted and buckled upward and A dock looks a little bit out of line.

There may be several causes:
* Winches probably haven’t been tightened as the marina and lake have lowered.

* The main lake is open and is going down by about a foot a month but the marina has been mostly locked in ice during the winter. (A dock in particular has been in and out of the ice.)

* The marina doesn’t have all of its cross-cables and reinforcements attached or adjusted properly.

Also, we didn’t have a full crew to do all the things we’d have liked to have done when shutting the marina down. Now that the lake is down and the cove iced up, the gangways are a mess. The gangway that went to C dock is on land, resting on top of a swim ladder (!) that was uncovered by the receding ice and water; the float there is partially grounded. Near the dockhouse, the improvised gangway of lashed piers is partially grounded on land and tangled up with a tree trunk that drifted into position.

What needs to be done:
A “marina expert” needs to adjust the winches soon. As soon as the ice melts, perhaps near the end of the month, a small crew needs to mess with the gangways (untangle them from shore and float them) and with straightening out the marina. Also, it would be good to crank the marina several feet further from shore, as soon as the ice melts so that this is possible.

If people are really enthusiastic, we could work on the trails down to the water’s edge and inventory the tool supply so we can replace tools before this spring’s work sessions and prepare for A dock removal.

Also, people can be thinking about and looking at potential alternate locations for the marina, such as the cove between Brushy Point and the Island View campground. People are needed to help plan the club’s options for dealing with future droughts and lake level changes.

Other Changes:
The overnight fee will go up to $10 (ten dollars) this year. It hadn’t been changed in many years; the part of the raise that goes to our concession fees will be our little extra contribution to the state treasury and the state parks folks.

We also hope that, after the new A dock is installed, we’ll be able to re-deploy the old state parks docks and re-cycle parts of the old A west to repair, maintain, improve, and protect the marina.

! W O N R E E T N U L O V

A Dock Replacement:
The new dock is being designed and fabricated by ShoreMaster/Galvafoam Corp. in Camdenton, Missouri. Mark Paz is available to help with diving for the old A dock disassembly, which we hope can start on April 1st. Fabrication is reported to be about on schedule. Look for more updates soon.


Lake Report:

Most of the contractor water has been taken out but the lake still has several feet to go down.

We expect some runoff this spring, but probably quite a bit less than the nominal “full yield” of 96,200 acre feet and certainly far less than last year’s generous runoff. There should be plenty for sailing, but the club will need to pay extra attention to gangways and marina access so that getting to the marina is as safe and easy as possible.

Heron Lake, NM on Monday, February 6, was at elevation of 7139.92 feet with 179,911 acre feet of water. Heron continues its winter discharge at a steady rate, losing about an inch and a half and 500 acre feet of water each day (11.5 inches and 3,550 a.f. for the week) and about 19,701 a.f. from January 1 through Feb. 6. That would bring the total contractor discharge to 65,900 acre feet and the amount to be discharged to 30,300 a.f., which would leave the lake at about 149,600 a.f. before adding any early spring runoff water to the figure.

The lake is about 13 feet 6 inches below this summer's highest elevation. The marina is in about 14.5 feet of water and the lake will go down about another 8.5 feet. The marina was locked in ice (about an inch or two thick) on Sunday. Willow Creek Cove was frozen, and the nearest open water was about 100 yards from the marina in the Narrows.

The fearless prediction for the water level the marina winds up in for the end of this coming winter/early spring of 2006 is about 5 feet, plus 1.0 feet or minus 0.35 feet (above the level of most of the silt, not counting a couple of "bumps" such as the ridge under the walkway connecting B and C). It might remain slightly deeper if some 2006 runoff arrives before all the 2005 water has been discharged.

The 2006 snow-pack is off to a slow start. Colorado has lots of snow, but there's not so much in southern Colorado. New Mexico is much worse off. If we get 50% to 75% of the "normal" 96,200-acre "firm yield", we'll have plenty for a great summer of sailing, but will face hard grounding in the winter or spring of late 2006 or early 2007. (In this scenario, the marina would wind up about a foot above the lake level next winter unless spring runoff arrived early in 2007; water level fluctuations would be likely to cause some further damage to the old B and C docks and connecting walkway unless the marina were to be re-located.)
Snotel summary for the Upper Colorado Region as of Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Area % of avg. snow water equivalent % of avg. accumulated precipitation
New Mexico Upper Chama 41% 47%
Colorado Upper Rio Grande 45% 65%
Colorado San Juan/SW area 55% 71%


Adams Cup Championships come to New Mexico:

Some women from the NMSC are among those who have already started practicing for the Adams Cup regional qualifying regatta to be held April 21, 22, and 23 (NEW DATE!) at Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico. Still, it’s not too late for more ladies to join in the fun (and guys and all sorts of folks, racers or not; coaches and all sorts of logistical support will be needed). The more the merrier! Also, if our teams do well, they may be on their way to Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, for the Area F semi-finals.

Sue and Rich Strasia are among the principal organizers of the event, which will be held on J-24’s. The two best teams will go on to the Area F semi-final, which will probably be held this summer at Lake Travis in Austin; and the winner there will go on to the National Championship in Cleveland, Ohio (Lake Erie), in September, where the Adams Cup championship will occur at the same venue and time as the Mallory Cup team championship for men. New Mexico will have at least team representing the RGSC and a team representing the NMSC; if not many out-of-state teams register we may be able to fill the slots with a third or fourth team if enough New Mexico sailing women show interest and commitment. Other competitors may be coming from Colorado and perhaps even Wyoming or Nebraska.

Rich and Sue also contributed to the selection process for New Mexico’s women to sail in the Adams Cup. Teams may earn points for first- and second-place finishes during specified practice races (one weekend each month) and during regattas at Elephant Butte Lake this winter and spring. The next regatta at the Butte is the Valentine’s Chute-Out, to be held the weekend of February 18 and 19 at the lake. Skippers’ meetings begin before each race at 10:00 am; races usually begin at about 1:00 pm, all depending upon weather, time of year, length of day, etc.

This is a big deal for New Mexico to be hosting the Adams Cup and we hope that a whole lot of NMSC members will be available to watch the Cup Regatta in May, and perhaps help out with practices, hospitality, publicity, logistics, and all of the many details with which the RGSC host club could use a hand.

Also, the NMSC needs to supply liaison folks to help with the selection committee and all the other planning and organizing work that will be needed to make this regatta a success. Rich and Sue and a few other sailors are doing a lot of work but they’ll need a huge amount of help.

NMSC members are always welcome to come to Elephant Butte lake to participate in RGSC “sister club” events. Items on the calendar include

February 11, 12 women's sailing practice and instruction
February 18, 19 Chute-Out Regatta and Distance Race
Feb. 23, (Thursday) Fleet social possibly at Pasta House in Rio Rancho
Feb. 25, 26 women's sailing practice and instruction

March 11, 12 Spring Series 1
March 25, 26 Spring Series 2

April 8, 9 Spring Series 3 (may be attended NMSC members who are excused from that weekend’s work party at Heron!)
April 15 (Good Friday) Pickle Race for NM Boys and Girls Ranch youth
April 21, 22, 23 Adams Cup Regatta at Elephant Butte - -
(Area F, S.A.I.L. Regional Qualifying Event for US Sailing Championships)
April 29, 30 Club Championships/Spring Series 4

May 5, 6, 7 Adams Cup (Lake Travis, Texas, Area F Semi-Finals Event for US Sailing Championships for Women's Team Sailing)
May 13, Joshua Slocum single-hander solo race
May 14, Jack and Jill her-and-his race
May 20, Anniversary Cup
To be determined (early to mid July??) Trailer cruise to San Diego
To be determined: raft-ups and socials

! W O N R E E T N U L O V

Other Club News

* Roger Vinyard is working on tax refunds for the club, corporate registration, and the club budget. Then, when he finally gets a break from finances, he’ll be off to the club website, to get it into shape for 2006. So, you can understand why he needs help if we’re to revive the Spinnaker Sheet on top of everything else! Any volunteers?

* Ken Mitchell will be our host for the February 24 club meeting; he’s also been deep in discussions with NM Tax & Revenue to find out when we do and don’t have to pay gross receipts taxes. This is particularly applicable and important for the purchase of the new A dock. Spence Reid and colleagues have also been looking at that and other issues. Ken is also interested in the whole issue of boat ramps and access to the lake.

* Gary Landon, Ray Boyce, Rich Koch, Lisa Carlson, John Polk, Dan Hoyer, Tom Riggs, Giles Pennington, Meg Meltz, Rich Strasia, Bob Hopper, and the rest of the gang may not know this yet, but there will be several weekends when I won’t be able to be up at the lake and they’ll be very much desperately needed to run and help with work parties. The A dock replacement and lots of marina will probably occur just as things are heating up for the big Adams Cup regatta down at the Butte the weekend of May 6th.

* Our past secretary should be feeling much better these days; Eddie Dry will need to get club records from her soon; there’s some information from last year’s minutes that the board urgently needs to know. She may be moving something bigger than a box of records and minutes; word is that her J-24 is about to be on the move soon.

* Rich Strasia, in addition to all the work he’s putting in for the Adams Cup championships, has sent out renewal information to last year’s members. Please let me or him know immediately if you haven’t received your membership and slip renewal information. Note that slip renters should be paying their membership dues as well as slip fees. I also plan for us to send membership info out to former members who might want to re-join the club with so much going on, including the new docks.

* Bruce Bowen and prospective volunteers for the safety committee will likely have their hands full with the changing lake levels and marina construction. Please step forward if you have ideas about how the marina could be a safer, healthier, more secure, and more accessible place.

* Lisa Carlson was welcomed to last weekend’s Adams Cup with intense practice sessions on J-24s. On Sunday, observers commented that she showed a wonderful feel for trimming and handling the spinnaker.

* Racers and more: I sent an e-mail to a bunch of the club racers and folks. Spence is looking for race committee members. Also, we need folks to help the RGSC plan, organize, and run the Adams Cup Regatta later this spring at the Butte. So, far, the silence has been deafening; no one has even approached the start line or hailed the committee boat. Please respond to the club and let us know where you can help. Besides the need for an active race committee, we have so much to do as a club this year that we need all hands on deck. If we don’t get more response, the board may have to hire some out-of-work pirates as a crimp gang to “press” or “shanghai” a crew of happy volunteers. Latest hot tip for a potential volunteer: Bob Perry.

P.S. did I mention we could use some more volunteers?

this week's update

Ah, the joys of multi-tasking and administrivia. It would be nice to say that exciting things had been happening - - and they have, but I've only been an occasional spectator. For me, this has been a sort of in-between time, where I've been running lots of errands and doing chores to get ready for the next rounds of activity. Some of these are even vaguely sailing related; doing research to answer questions for the sailing clubs, sending out membership renewal reminders, talking to prospective members, and watching sailing videos with Carol Anne. Otherwise, the last few weeks have been almost low-key; chauffering WMCIK around to all of his winter concerts and lessons and meetings, working on recovering from the cold bug, doing the laundry, sending in membership forms (Friends of Heron and El Vado Lakes, US Sailing, etc.) blah, blah.

Also, this week has seen a lot of change, shuffling, and suspense about sailing plans. The originally scheduled date of May 5 through 7 for the Adams Cup (women's team championships) regional regatta got blown to bits when the semi-finals were scheduled for the same weekend at Lake Travis in Texas. Normally, the semis are much later, well into summer. But, the prior weekend was going to have all sorts of J-boat folks in Texas for a national competition. So, the regional regatta at Elephant Butte Lake will probably be either the weekend of April 1st or the weekend of April 22nd. Stay tuned, sports fans.

Oh well. Maybe next week I'll get to the "Foghorn" newsletter and also have a bunch of pictures to post here. This weekend I should at least be able to watch as some of the women practice their sailing skills down at the lake and perhaps get some photos.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

weekend of February 4

Where in the world are we this weekend? Carol Anne went south to sail with the women; presumably she's nursing sore muscles but at least this weekend's winds were expected to be light.

Friday night while CA was in Elephant Butte, Gerald and I stayed home; I showed him some info from the web site. Oh yes, by the way, Gerald got his first piece of junk mail from a auto manufacturer!

Gerald had a rehearsal this Saturday morning (Feb. 4) 24 miles from home in Rio Rancho, then an evening concert that was very well attended, with perhaps 500 or 600 people in the audience at Rio Rancho High School's (Intel High) rather new and nice performing arts center. Also, this afternoon I took Gerald to the tail end of a first aid and CPR training session for his Scout troop, but that wound up getting cut short and will be re-scheduled for when more of the other troop members can attend. Then we had a late night drive to our cabin near Heron Lake so we can catch up on a whole bunch of errands and check on the Heron Lake marina (operated seasonally for the New Mexico Sailing Club).

I also unloaded a few hundred pounds of gravel and some firewood that I brought up - - nothing like a little weight to improve the Expedition's traction. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of snow here, so we'll really have to get into the snow dances. The wheelbarrow only had about a six-pound chunk of ice in it, and there's snow only in the deeper shady spots. Tomorrow, besides looking in on the marina, I hope to move some dirt around.