Friday, March 31, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club Marina update

Rich S., Mark P., Gerald, and I were at the marina Wednesday morning and got A west mostly disconnected. Mark may be able to do a little bit more later this week with some special tools he can bring. However, it really isn't safe to try to do much more with it until the last few drops of "2005" water go out of the lake - - in only about a week or so - - and we start getting appreciable runoff perhaps a couple of weeks after that. Parts of the marina are floating in six to seven feet of water (7132.63' lake level, 154,326 acre feet as of noon Thursday), parts are just touching bottom, but the B-C connecting walkway, the A-B end connecting truss, the A end of the A-B middle truss, and some piers that are in shallower areas are being pushed up, some with quite a lot of pressure. Aaargh, beware mateys!


So, the weekend work party is POSTPONED until probably around April 15 or 22 (more likely the April 22 date) (and will be followed by a work party on April 29 after a club dinner & meeting on April 28). We've asked the state parks folks to shoo people away from the marina until it's safer to work on it.


The ShoreMaster/Galvafoam folks have been asked to hold off on installing the new A Dock until early May. They now plan to arrive on Monday, May 8, 2006, to install the dock. The state parks folks are prepared to accommodate their needs and will set aside a work area for them. With decent luck, we could have the new dock installed by May 12 and have a grand re-opening by May 19.

However, there's some good news.

* Water releases are almost done and the lake may only go down another foot or foot and a half. (All but about 5,000 - 6,000 acre feet of contractor water has been taken out by now.)

* A small amount of water actually is flowing through the Azotea Tunnel and into the lake; once things warm up a bit more that will be quite a bit more water.

* The work that was done Wednesday morning should prevent further damage and should allow A west to separate itself from the rest of the marina soon.

* The projections that were released by the State Engineer's office, according to Heron Lake State Park manager Anthony Marquez, did NOT incorporate moisture from that last storm.
New projections should be out in a week or two and are likely to be a bit more encouraging.

* The Willow Creek ramp is in pretty good shape. The park rangers have surveyed it and the muck is some three to four feet underwater. With the lake only going down about another foot to less than two, that means we won't need much runoff water into the lake to make the ramp usable by all of our boats.

* I had a very productive visit with park superintendant Anthony Marquez. He will be continuing to talk with Clay McDermit and Wayne Treers and the BOR/BLM forks and NMSP Region 1 Manager Doug Bryant. These are the only folks he'll really need to talk to for approval of any plans we might make to move the marina, so the move is looking easier (relatively!) to accomplish.

* Interesting things will be happening at the park, including the launch of the new trail and interpretive hikes and talks. The parks folks are also interested in the idea of doing a safety program at the marina.

More news is to come... and we're still looking for women to join the sailing program at Elephant Butte lake (or perhaps even to compete in the Adams Cup; New Mexico will most likely fail to field one of its teams if a couple of good women don't step forward in the next few days to complete a crew so there are enough teams to make competition exciting) and volunteers to help out at the Butte on the weekend of April 22.

We're on our way to the lake.

Snug lines and safe voyages, Pat

Monday, March 27, 2006

Lake levels in New Mexico

Heron Lake is at 7133.02 feet elevation with 155,620 acre feet (39% full). The marina is mostly in about seven feet of water, but the A-B end truss and the B-C connecting walkway are grounded in shallower areas. The contractors can take about another 8,000 acre feet from the lake. Spring runoff is expected to be much less than average, though likely sufficient for some good summer sailing. It is likely that the marina would suffer a very hard, possibly multi-year grounding if left in place this coming fall and winter.

Elephant Butte Lake is at 4336.74 feet elevation with 463,079 acre feet (about 23% full). Spring irrigation is bringing the lake down, but at a very moderate rate and conditions for the rest of the spring should be very good for sailing.

Late summer and early fall conditions may not be so good if the most recent projections from the State Engineer's Office hold true. These projections show the lake dropping to levels possibly approaching those of the 2004 drought year (although the reality in 2004 was not as bad as initially projected and good spring or summer rains could likewise improve the prognosis for the Butte).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club update

Subject: New Mexico Sailing Club update

This Friday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day):
The NMSC meeting is in Albuquerque at Fuddrucker's I-25 south of Jefferson. Arrive at 6:00 to 6:30-ish. All sailors and friends of sailing are most welcome. Show up and maybe you'll enjoy the luck of the Irish when you're out on the water!

This weekend: Saturday (10:00 a.m.) NMSC work party at Heron to adjust winches, inventory the boat house and tools, repair winter damage, move gangways, and prepare for new A dock installation.

Also this weekend is a boating safety class in Albuquerque.
When: Saturday, March 18th, 2006 – Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: Foothills Church, 12504 Candelaria NE, SW corner of Tramway & Candelaria
Cost: $15 per student (includes textbook & CDROM and completion certificate)
Subjects: Know your boat, Navigating waterways, Legal Requirements, Operating your boat or PWC, Boating emergencies, Getting underway, and more.
Registration: Pre-registration is important to insure availability of sufficient materials.
Contact: Ron at 293-7543 or Ben at 298-0116

Wednesday, March 29: Mark Paz will dive on the old A-B trusses to disconnect them. A small work party will be needed to support him.

Saturday, April 1: No fooling - - this will be our first big work party, so help us get the marina in shape and ready for the new A dock.

Of course, the RGSC host club definitely needs volunteers to help with the Adams Cup women's championship regatta effort! The regatta itself will be the weekend of April 21-23 at Elephant Butte Lake.

Somewhere close to the end of March: RGSC Northern Fleet Social, east side of Albuquerque somewhere; all sailors are welcome.


Lake status: The marina is in about nine (9) feet of water and the municipalities have take out all but about 12,000 acre-feet of their water. The winter weather, combined with the ice that was in the cove and the lowering lake levels, did cause some marina damage (buckling of the connecting walkway between A and B) that will need to be set right.

The recent heavy snows near Wolf Creek are very good news … not good enough yet to get things all the way up to normal, but much better than the situation up until a week ago.


A Dock Update:
The new dock has been manufactured and pre-assembled and is ready to be shipped.
Roger Squires will be talking to the crew foreman and the people at Galvafoam/ShoreMaster will be scheduling delivery and installation of the new dock, probably for either the week of April 10 or April 17. Installation will be done by a crew of about four people. We may need to have special docksitters or a couple of people who can meet the installation crew and orient them to the marina.


This weekend: Don't forget the NMSC work party at the Heron marina.

Monday: Sailing Videos with the Adams Cup team members at Buzz and Kari's. If you're interested, bring a yummy snack or dish or something to share.

Following weekend of March 25: RGSC Spring Series 2 Regatta with dinner afterward at the DamSite.

Pat B. (Carol Anne)

Rio Grande Sailing Club update

RGSC Sailing Club Update

Bits and pieces:
The March 2006 Foghorn now has (mind you, it's very rough) an electronic, on-the-web presence.

The mast-up lot is nearly full with 19 boats paid for (not all installed and this might be counting a few that said they'll go in). Great going Rich and Richard and Bob and all the folks who worked on it! The lot will continue to be improved and the mule should be there soon. If demand keeps up, the mast-up folks might have to open up another lot or expand this one!

The RGSC race committee chose safety during last weekend's heavy winds. At least the RGSC folks had it a lot easier than people responsible for the marinas; sustained heavy overnight winds kept them up all night Saturday. Even with rough weather, we still had a great dinner and club meeting with 26 members dining at the Elephant Butte Inn.


Calendar Items

Don't forget that the next regatta is only a week and a half away. Spring Series 2, March 25-26. Note that the Saturday night dinner will be at the Damsite.

This Friday, March 17 (St. Patrick's):
NMSC meeting at Fuddrucker's in Albuquerque on the I-25 access road south of Jefferson. Arrive 6 to 6:30-ish. All sailors and friends are welcome. Show up and maybe you'll enjoy a little more luck o'the Irish next time you're out on the water!

This weekend: Nothing scheduled at the Butte. (NMSC work party at Heron).

Monday: Sailing Videos with the Adams Cup team members at Buzz and Kari's new place in Bernalillo. If you're interested, bring a yummy snack or dish or something to share.

Following weekend of March 25:
Spring Series 2 Regatta with dinner afterward at the DamSite.

And, of course, we still definitely need volunteers to help with the Adams Cup women's championship regatta effort!

Somewhere close to that time: Northern Fleet Social, east side somewhere.

Pat B. (Carol Anne)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

weekend weather outlook

average forecasts:
Friday 73/43, S winds 6-9 increasing to 12-19 mph (max gust 28)
Saturday 70/41, SW winds 9-15 increasing to 19-26 mph (max gust 38)
Sunday 56/32, WSW winds 8-15 increasing to 15-23 mph (max gust 30)
Monday 60/33, WNW winds 6-8 increasing to 10-14 (max gust 25) , chance of rain

NOAA as of Friday morning:
This Afternoon: Partly cloudy, with a high near 75. Southwest wind around 16 mph. Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 46. Southwest wind between 9 and 16 mph.

Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high around 72. Windy, with a south southwest wind 13 to 16 mph increasing to between 27 and 30 mph. Winds could gust as high as 41 mph.Saturday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers after 5am. Partly cloudy, with a low near 43. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 20 to 23 mph decreasing to between 11 and 14 mph.

Sunday: Showers likely, mainly between 11am and 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 55. Breezy, with a southwest wind 13 to 16 mph increasing to between 22 and 25 mph. Winds could gust as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.Sunday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers before 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 34. Breezy, with a west wind 18 to 21 mph decreasing to between 7 and 10 mph.

Monday: Partly cloudy, with a high around 63. West wind between 7 and 13 mph.

NOAA as of Thursday morning:
Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high around 76. South southeast wind 6 to 9 mph increasing to between 14 and 17 mph. Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low near 45. South wind between 8 and 14 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high around 73. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 13 mph increasing to between 19 and 22 mph. Saturday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers after 5am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 45. South southwest wind between 8 and 17 mph.

Sunday: A 40 percent chance of showers before 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high around 62. Southwest wind between 8 and 15 mph. Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers between 11pm and 5am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 34. West wind between 7 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high around 61. West northwest wind between 6 and 8 mph. as of Thursday morning:
Friday: 71/44 mostly cloudy, SW 19 (SW 13)
1000 59 SSW 12; 1200 65 S 16; 1400 67 SSW 19; 1600 69 SW 19

Saturday: 69/42 partly cloudy, SW 18 mph (WSW 12 mph), 10% precipitation; 1000 58 SSW 14;

Sunday: 50/32 thundershowers, 30% rain, WSW 18 mph, (W11 mph, 20% rain)
Monday: 58/33 few showers, 30% rain, W 14 mph (WNW 10 mph)

Weather Underground as of Thursday morning
Friday: 75/43 partly cloudy; 1100 62 WSW 13 mph; 1400 73 WSW 15; 1700 73 SW 16
Saturday 71/43 partly cloudy; 1100 62 SW 19; 1400 69 SSW 20; 1700 69 SSW 20
Sunday 61/32, 40% chance of rain, 1100 55 SW 20 40% rain; 1700 59 WSW 16 40% rain
Monday 60/30 partly cloudy 1100 51 WNW 6; 1700 58 W 6

Accuweather as of Thursday morning
Friday: 72/43 Breezy with periods of clouds and sunshine. Winds from the S at 12 mph (g 29). Night Partly cloudy. Winds from the WSW at 6 mph (g 14).

Saturday: 71/39 Windy with intervals of clouds and sun. Winds from the SSW at 18 mph (g 39) 2% thunderstorm probability. Night Breezy in the evening; otherwise, mostly cloudy and seasonably cool. Winds from the SSW at 17 mph (g 34)

Sunday: 56/33 Variable cloudiness, windy and colder with a shower or thunderstorm possible. Winds from the NW at 21 mph (g 41), 25% thunderstorm prob. Night: Sunday Night: Partly cloudy and cold. Winds from the WNW at 16 mph (g 32).

Monday: 61/36 Partly sunny. Winds from the NW at 18 mph (g 39). Partly cloudy, 1% t-storm prob. Winds from the NNW at 14 mph (g 29). as of mid-day Wednesday
Friday 72/44 cloudy, 20% rain; SW 14 (night SW 9) (12 noon SSW 15, 1 pm SSW 17)
Saturday 68/42 sunny, 10% rain; SW 18 (WSW 13)
Sunday 54/29 few showers, 30% rain; WSW !8 (W 11)
Monday 59/36 few showers, 30% rain; W 14 (WNW 9)

Accuweather as of mid-day Wednesday
Friday: 73/43 Periods of clouds and sunshine; breezy in the afternoon. Winds from the SSW at 12 mph (g 28). Night: Partly cloudy. Winds from the WSW at 6 mph (g 18).1300 71 SSW 15, 1400 72 SSW 16, 1500 73 SSW 16, 1600 70 SSW 16, 1700 69 SW 15

Saturday 68/39 Windy with intervals of clouds and sun. Winds from the W at 19 mph (g 41). Night: Breezy in the evening; seasonably cool with considerable cloudiness. Winds from the SSW at 17 mph (g 33).

Sunday 56/33 Variable cloudiness, windy and colder with a shower or thunderstorm possible (25%). Winds from the NW at 21 mph (g 41). Night: Partly cloudy and cold. Winds from the WNW at 16 mph (g 32)

Monday 61/36 Sunshine and patchy clouds. Winds from the NW at 18 mph (g 39). Night: Partly cloudy. Winds from the NNW at 14 mph (g 29).

Weather Underground as of mid-day Wednesday
Friday 74/39 partly cloudy, 11 63 SW 13, 2 72 SW 15
Saturday 70/39 partly cloudy, 11 60, SSW 26, 5 68 SW 18
Sunday 62/32 mostly cloudy, 20% rain, 11 54 WSW 18, 5 63 W 18
Monday 60-65/32 partly cloudy 11 53 W 13 2 61 WSW 19

NOAA, as of Wednesday mid-day Red Flag Warning Wednesday

Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high around 73. South wind between 7 and 15 mph.
Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 45. South southwest wind between 8 and 11 mph.

Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high near 72. South southwest wind between 10 and 18 mph.
Night: A 10 percent chance of showers after 5am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 41. South southwest wind between 8 and 16 mph.

Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 63. South wind 11 to 18 mph becoming west. Night: A 10 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low near 34.

Monday: Partly cloudy, with a high around 62. Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 33.


preliminary predictions as of Friday morning for the Spring Series 2 weekend of March 24 - 26:

(not available yet from NOAA and Weather Underground)
Fri. 3/24 73/45 S 11 (night WSW 7)
Sat. 3/25 74/45 SW 15 (night W 10)
Sun. 3/26 74/45 WSW 18 (night W 11)

Fri. 3/24 67/38 ESE 9 (SE 9)
Sat. 3/25 69/41 SSE 8 (SE 2)
Sun. 3/26 75/43 NW 5 (NW 2)
Mon. 3/27 74/44 NW 2

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Frustrating Weekend

I'd passed on the predictions of bad weather for this past weekend at the lake starting the middle of last weekend. Even though some people don't like to hear bad tidings or might panic and not give the lake a try in hopes of changes for the better, I felt people had best know so that the club could plan for whatever might happen on the water or during the Spring Series / St. Patrick's day regatta.

Carol Anne got to the lake by noon Friday and, sure enough, the winds were howling. So, she and some other folks got a classroom session on sailing rules and knowledge (there would be a lot more "class" during the weekend. Friday late afternoon the winds were still rip-roaring when Gerald and I arrived and so I wound up visiting our boat (still not fixed so we wouldn't be able to take it out of the marina!) and running all over town to replace toiletries and all sorts of women's personal care hardware, feminine care products, powders, sprays, gels, lotions, lozenges, pills, oils, ointments, condiments, unguents, sauces, whatever. (A bunch of Carol Anne's stuff was buried under bags of sails in a truck in El Paso from the previous weekend's trip; the end of the trip was a bit chaotic and she'd overlooked some things after the 15-hour drive back to New Mexico.) Unfortunately, the truck's owners hadn't made it to the Butte as planned, which was also a big disappointment since we really looked forward to seeing them and had some stuff to get to them.

Saturday brought the skipper's meeting and a very reluctant decision to cancel the day's races and hope for better weather early Sunday morning, when some forecasts indicated winds would be more tolerable for a couple of hours or so. Saturday some of the gals went hot tubbing and watched videos. One crew at first thought about going out into the maelstrom of churning waters on a J-24 race boat at the marina but then wound up doing all sorts of boat fix-ups and repairs. (Probably Carol Anne wouldn't have gone out in that nasty mess even if she'd been invited, which of course she wasn't.) Saturday night's meeting and dinner were relatively well attended given the busted regatta, with 26 people. Cruising, racing, membership, and the mast-up lot were discussed and a decision was made to do some more work on the mast-up lot.

During the meeting, a tentative plan was made to attempt to get in a couple of races early in the morning, with boat launching starting around six in the morning to allow for an 8:00 am or sooner start. But, after the meeting, some of us got weather updates which showed that even the early morning would be pretty meeting, so that plan was scratched. Rich Strasia wasn't really looking forward to the idea of launching keelboats at 6 a.m. with some biting wind in near-freezing conditions; keelboats are a bit of a bother to launch even in good weather and the chances of the launch running into hang-ups or delays would have been high.

Sunday morning Carol Anne and I slept in late, then went to the internet to get the latest forecasts. We weren't surprised to see powerful winds still forecast, or later to hear about folks seeing surf pounding on the downwind beaches, but we got a pleasant surprise when we looked at the predictions for Monday -- moderate winds of 6 to 14 mph were forecast.

It figures -- I brought the weather predictions to the Strasia's place Sunday morning with all the weather services agreeing that Monday would be a wonderful, gorgeous, almost perfect day for sailing at Elephant Butte Lake. Not again! Aaaaarggh!!!! (We'd just experienced a recent weekend that was lousy for sailing but followed by a perfect sailing Monday that no one could enjoy.) Unfortunately, the Strasias had to leave Sunday afternoon for Placitas and our boat still wasn't fixed.

So, even though Carol Anne had all of Monday off and didn't have to be at work until Tuesday afternoon, she didn't have a place to stay, she didn't have a boat to sail on (her Etchells is in the boatyard for a couple more weeks and our MacGregor still wasn't fixed), and she didn't have anybody to sail with on Monday or Tuesday. Big hairy nasty awful !@%^!**^&!* bummer and so frustrating to have good winds almost within reach after we'd been sitting around all weekend getting our as**s (and other sensitive anatomy) blasted by the blowing grit.

Gerald even wanted to skip school so Carol Anne could have a sailing buddy. (This Monday is the day after the nine-week finals, so he didn't think much would be happening in school.) And, we could have dropped her off in some motel or other, but that still wouldn't have gotten Carol Anne on a boat.

What a letdown! Tantalizing and painful to have the good weather so close, but not be able to do anything about it - - sort of like having salt rubbed in a raw, bloody wound (and Carol Anne knows raw, bloody wounds!). Sigh.

I stayed around until almost dark at the Damsite and watched the winds go down to an almost decent level but there wasn't much I could do other than work on our boat some more and distribute some Foghorns at Del Sur, Damsite, and the state park visitor center. Mark Paz told me about the 40- to 50-mph gusts they'd gotten at the Damsite, which had ripped off a roof in the trailer park and knocked down some trees. Two good-sized houseboats had blown off their moorings (one of the mooring balls had shattered/exploded in the night!) and one of the houseboats had taken on water which was being pumped out. Mark and a couple of the other guys had had no sleep Saturday night during the stormy weather; they'd been constantly adjusting anchor winches and even so some of the giant marina anchors had dragged in the night!

And so, we had to retreat home, figurative tails between our legs and whipped, rather poorer (Carol Anne hadn't been told that the hot tub fee was _per person_ among the many many ways we enriched the local economy, probably far beyond what we could afford), without getting any of what we really came for - - sailing time. Another day, we hope, because this weekend was a real heartburn special. Yeah, at least I've vented a little but I'm still feeling pretty damn sour. Now get us on a boat. With sails drawing. Soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

At what point does the Committee cancel the race?

The feedback I've received so far is that my recommendations are too conservative, and that the race committee should call the race according to the abilities of the average or the more capable boats and crews, and not the less capable boats and crews. So, I have been informed that 30 mph is a more suitable cut-off wind velocity for racing.

The race committee chairman will also be checking with experts on our legal position in regard to liability for running races and at the skippers' meeting he will be very clearly explaining skipper and crew responsibilities to decide to proceed or bail from a race.

Instead of the race being cancelled by the race committee, the less-capable boats or crews should get off the water when conditions are too hairy, and their responsibility to do so should be stressed at every skippers' meeting during weekends when strong conditions are likely to occur. Also, for the group of mostly novice women sailors, there will be a lower cut-off threshold administered by the womens' sailing program. That threshold might turn out to be something similar to what I suggested.

One other input has been that the Beaufort wind scale would need to be corrected for mountain lakes because of the lower atmospheric pressure that comes with higher altitude. At elevation 4300 feet above sea level, wind pressure for a given wind velocity will be noticably less, reducing the heeling of boats and the size of waves. This is in addition to the limits on wave size caused by the limited size of the lake and hence the limited fetch over which winds can blow. Also, there's at least one opinion that one weather service, Accuweather, tends to give exaggerated wind velocity predictions when three or more days out from the date for which it's making predictions.

All of the skippers who enter boats sign a contract when they register for the race, and acknowledge their responsibility for deciding whether it's safe to race and for quitting when it isn't. That contract is the basis for us being able to have regatta liability insurance. Still, anyone can sue anyone; some skippers and crews may not have the experience to judge what is safe, may lack the courage to call a halt, or be too focused on the finish line; and we absolutely don't want to have crews at a high risk of harm.

Now, my two cents worth:

I would think that 23-24 mph sustained winds or 30 mph gusts would be quite enough to stop racing, given the boats and crews likely to be present. Cold weather with lots of wind chill or the presence of marginally capable boats could require us to lower this threshold.

With plenty of wind and short-course buoy racing, the races will be short enough that the race committee can assess the weather as the day continues. The challenge is at the beginning of the racing day when winds may be acceptable to start with, but have the potential to build.

My personal opinion:
If the sustained winds are already at something like 17 mph or gusts are at 23-24 mph by start time, and a forecast gives a possibility of even more wind, it would be prudent to postpone or cancel the start.

If, during the middle of a race, winds build suddenly to dangerous strength, then the race committee should take the extraordinary step and fly "November" to abandon the race, pull up anchor, and give assistance to any boats that might need help fetching port. This might occur if a race started in very acceptable 15 mph winds, but they built up quickly to 24-30+ mph with 30-40+ mph gusts.

If conditions are borderline, it could help if the committee boat goes out early enough to record winds, compare them to the forecasts, and get an idea of whether they're likely to build or weaken.

Also, the race committee should fly the Yankee flag to require PFDs to be worn and enforce the safety requirements that Larry and folks came up with after the Chute-Out (radios, adequate crews, safety boat).

Also, the race committee or responsible leaders will ensure that everyone gets and pays attention to a weather briefing on Saturday morning and stress the responsibility of each crew to decide their limits. Maybe if the weather gets really hairy, we even award a prize to the crew that's smart enough to get off the lake first in a fast and seamanlike way! Possibly crews will decide not to race certain types of boats (water ballast, non-cabin, or boats without auxiliary engines) and will insted help beef up the crews of the more heavy-weather-capable cabin keelboats if strong winds are predicted.

Skippers and crews should make absolutely sure that the boat and its rig, safety gear, and foul-weather clothing are up to their jobs, and that the race committee and all crew members are aware of any medical conditions or any special circumstances of crew or boat that could be significant to safety and health.

Also, the race committee will explain radio channels to be used and the signals to be flown for ensuring safety or canceling races. It would also be good if the race committee or someone jotted down the marinas or launching points of boats so it's possible to make sure everyone got home safe before dark. Also, it would be advisable for all skippers and crews to know how and where to seek local medical assistance (besides calling 911).

I may be way off base on some of these ideas, and plenty of other folks have lots more experience being out in the big wind, so please anyone correct me, add to this, or put in your opinions, suggestions, comfort levels, safety thoughts, etc.


Okay for races:

Beaufort force 4: 13-18 mph, small waves 1-2 ft. high, frequent whitecaps. Near Land: Good working breeze, keel sailboats carry all sails with good heel. On Land: Dust, leaves, and loose paper raised up; small branches move.


Conditions at the lower end of this range are fully acceptable for sound, heavy-weather-capable boats and crews. Consider forecast and conditions before starting a new race. Consider postponement or cancellation, or proceed with caution and with all safety measures in place depending upon capabilities of boats and crews, especially if winds threaten to approach the upper end of this range:

Beaufort Force 5: 19-24 mph, longer waves with some foam and spray, many whitecaps.
Near Land: Sailboats shorten sail.
On Land: Small trees in leaf begin to sway.
Kiters: Probably too much wind for most people.
Dinghies: this is a dinghy sailor's stormy-weather gale!

Cancel races in progress (but allow boats to finish if the boats and crews are heavy-weather capable and can finish quickly and without difficulty):

Beaufort Force 6: 25-31 mph, waves with foam crests and some spray, whitecaps everywhere. Near Land: (Larger, keel-ballasted) sailboats have double-reefed mainsails, vibration or whistling may be heard in rigging. On Land: Large branches of trees in motion; whistling heard in overhead wires. Umbrella use becomes difficult.

Request emergency assistance for any boats in trouble,
get boats off the water immediately:

Beaufort Force 7: (Near Gale, Small Craft warnings) 32-38 mph, Sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks. On the ocean, seas reach a height of 12 to 25 feet (the limited size of the lake, altitude, and other factors limit the size of waves at the lake). Near Land: Boats remain in harbor; those at sea heave-to (this doesn't work for many smaller boats or some racing-type boats). On Land: Whole trees in motion; resistance felt in walking against wind. Whole trees in motion. Effort to walk against the wind.

My assumptions in making the above recommendations:

Crews vary in experience level, but there are no all-beginner crews or boats with small children who might be exposed to dangerous conditions. Boats are keel-ballasted cabin sailboats, keel-ballasted open sailboats, or water-ballasted cabin sailboats; no small dinghies or catamarans are present. All safety equipment that is required by law or by the race committee is present and available for use; personal flotation devices are worn. Recommendations are based on short-course (buoy) racing during daytime.

If all the boats are heavy-weather capable, soundly rigged and equipped, and the crews are highly experienced, allow about 1/2 an additional Beaufort wind scale interval (this is for lake sailing with nearby lee shores, not for ocean sailing). If crews and/or boats are somewhat marginal, implement the recommendations sooner/at a somewhat lower wind velocity.

BBiernacki writes:
> Hello,> > At what point does the Committee boat, or the club officers cancel the race? ...

Windy Weekend Alert

The weather forecasts aren't to be overly trusted, but they all seem to agree that we're in for one windy weekend. So, batten down the hatches, mateys, and tuck another reef in yon main! And, don't forget the requirement to wear a PFD/life preserver (state law for regattas and races); race committee should confirm by flying code flag "Yankee". Note that the forecasts are for peak sustained winds; gusts can be higher but the sustained winds can be quite a bit lower, especially before about 10 or 11 in the morning. I'll try to get updates as the weekend gets closer; maybe we'll get lucky and the winds will start to blow out before the weekend.

Average forecast:
Friday, 63/37 hi/lo temp, winds 15-30 mph gusting 20-40 mph
Saturday, 60/37 hi/lo temp, winds 15-25 mph gusting 20-45 mph
Sunday, 60/36 hi/lo temp, winds 15-25 mph gusting 20-45 mph

61/37 hi/lo temp, 0% rain, winds SW 26 mph (W 12 at night)
63/38 hi/lo temp, winds SW 19 mph gusting to 39 mph (SW 19 g to 33 night)
62/36 hi/lo temp, winds SW 15-30 mph
65/38 hi/lo temp, winds SW 15-18 mph increasing to 23-26 mph

60/38 hi/lo temp, 20% rain, winds WSW 16 mph (WSW 12 at night)
59/37 hi/lo temp, winds WNW 23 mph gusting to 49 mph
(W 18 g to 33 at night)
11 am: 52 degrees, winds SW 19 mph;
2 pm 60 degrees, SW 20 mph,
5 pm 50 degrees, SW 19 mph
61/38 hi/lo temp, winds SW 18-25 mph

59/38 hi/lo temp, 30% rain, winds WSW 17 mph (WSW 12 at night)
59/35, winds NNW 24 mph gusting to 48 mph (NNW 24 g to 34 at night)
60 hi temp, 10% rain, 11 am winds SW 20 mph, 5 pm winds SW 20 mph
63/35 hi/lo temp, winds WSW 17-26 mph

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Aquatic depression designed as receptacle for excess cash:

Or, a boat is a hole in the water...

Carol Anne got a great bargain on her boat. Now comes the expensive part, starting with the trip to retrieve her new baby.

$ for direct expenses
510 trip to purchase tackle and line for mast-moving system,
miscellanous hardware, parts to repair trailer jack and connector,
tactics book, repair supplies, lube
What are the differences among,
McLube, dry lube, and wench lube
and what is the proper use and application for each?)
140 hand bearing compass and two protest flags
292 boatyard bill; pull mast, haul boat on Travelift, pressure wash,
1 quart of paint to touch up hull (@ $38/quart)
144 boat compass
160 4 quarts bottom paint
77 ratchet cams and straps to attach boat to trailer
($ 1,323)

$ for other trip expenses:
410 airline tickets, ABQ LAX and return for Pat and Gerald
40 rental car
285 motel
25 rental car fuel
50 grocery store, supplies and beverages for crew
418 diesel truck fuel to be reimbursed to owner
20 tip at dinner
140 Saturday lunch for crew
8 Saturday night dinner (In n Out Burger) for Pat & Gerald
after Carol Anne & crew left for New Mexico
21 sourvenir burgee from Ventura Y.C.
23 coastal access book souvenir from Channel Islands Natl. Park h.q.
13 overpriced airport food
9 shuttle parking lot
($ 1,462)

$ Future expenses (no doubt more will occur to me)
40 registration
159 t-bar masthead bracket
200 insurance
400 minor fairing/sanding
40 small Windex
2 bucket (required by state of New Mexico)
125 mast butt mover parts
90 class association, hull certificate
5 PHRF certificate
300 used mainsail
125 used jib
125 replacement tiller
150 (small) LifeSling
150 auto-inflatable PFD (for third crew member) or float coat
125 miscellaneous safety gear to meet requirements
500 small, used, removable outboard motor for trailering, bad weather plus
removable motor mount
10 fuel and oil for outboard, 1 season
500 replacement sheets and halyards (before next season?)
1,250 parts to build trailer - - later this spring ?
150 big rope, chocks (for use with boat trailer)
1,500 slip/storage yard fees,
300 race registration fees,
2,000 custom spinnaker - - maybe this fall
$,$$$ lodging, travel, crew expense, send skipper to J World / racing school, ??
$,$$$ ????

Monday, March 06, 2006

weather predictions for Elephant Butte

Predictions for today, Monday - - looks like a FANTASTIC DAY FOR SAILING!

Weather Underground
11 am 65 degrees, wind 12 SSE
2 pm 76 degrees, wind 13 SSW
5 pm 75 degrees, wind 15 WSW
10 am 61 degrees, wind 7 S
12 noon 70 degrees, wind 11 SSE
2 pm 74 degrees, wind 16 S
4 pm 75 degrees, wind 16 S

10 am 61 degrees, wind 5 SSW
12 noon 75 degrees, wind 7 S
2 pm 77 degrees, wind SSW 9
4 pm 75 degrees, wind SSW 9

AVERAGE: winds 9 - 15 mph South - - should be wonderful day on the water

Next weekend: Forecast is for chilly and breezy to windy on Friday, becoming more reasonable on Saturday and Sunday

Weather Underground
Friday: 60/34 hi/lo temp, 11 am, 52 degrees, winds 19 mph WSW
5 pm, 58 degrees, winds 18 mph WSW
Saturday: 62/36 hi/lo temp, 11 am, 52 degrees, winds 11 mph SW
5 pm, 60 degrees, winds 13 mph SW
Friday: 57/32 hi/lo temp, 20% rain, winds 18 mph W
Saturday: 66/35 hi/lo temp, 20% rain, winds 18 mph WSW
Sunday: 64/39 hi/lo temp, 10% rain, winds 16 mph WSW

Friday: 66/34 hi/lo temp, winds 21 mph WNW
Saturday: 65/37 hi/lo temp, winds 18 mph NNW
Sunday: 65/31 hi/lo temp, winds 9 mph N

California Dreaming; Sunday on the Coast

Sunday morning was amazingly quiet without the Rat Pack and the activity of checking out and preparing Black Magic for her move uphill. Before checking out of the motel, I called my dad and talked to Braxton and Carol Anne in Elephant Butte, where they had arrived after a relatively quiet, stress-free, and no-big-problems-at-all trip a third of the way across the country from Ventura to the Butte. They sounded tired, but word was the Larry was already back on a boat on the lake, even if there wasn't any wind to speak of, and Carol Anne was happily showing off her new "baby" to Vicky, Sue, Jo Ann, and Maureen of the Adams Cup squad.

Pockets relatively empty and credit cards approaching red-line, I wasn't especially ambitious, but there was a need to make one more trip to West Marine, where I got a couple of presents for Carol Anne and Black Magic. Then Gerald and I went to the harbor, where we introduced ourselves to the manager of the scenic Ventura Yacht Club, took a mini-tour and chatted with her, and bought a burgee. Then we walked around the beach and the Channel Islands park visitor center, getting some exercise to make up for indulgences earlier in the weekend. We tried visiting the Pierpont YC but no one was around.

It was time to drive south. We went down Harbor Blvd. south to Oxnard and Channel Islands Harbor. No one was around at a local yacht club, but two tall ships were in port; the 1750s ship replica Royaliste from San Francisco and the Baltimore clipper replica Lynx from Maryland. We got to talk a bit with the crews and watch them prepare to take passengers out on a mini-cruise.

Next we found our way to the PCH - Pacific Coast Highway, route 1 - and took the scenic drive south through Malibu, passing lots of names that evoked California nostalgia - Zuma, Topanga Beach, etc. We tried to find a parking spot near the Venice pier before giving up on tha tidea and wound up in Marina del Rey at a familiar haunt, Edie's Diner. We also passed time looking all over the harbor, walking out the north breakwater to watch boats - mostly sail - coming in and out of the harbor - and discussed all the advice we could have given a few of the skippers when we saw screwups and problems now and then, such as the halyard that hadn't been raised fully, the topping lift that was still up on another boat, and a small sailboat that was being tacked ineptly. Ah, we could have rented a boat, bought a bullhorn, and put a sign up that would have said, "Advice - One Sixpack of Beer". (For Carol Anne of course) We also noticed an Etchells in the parking lot of the Santa Monica Windjammers yacht club.

Too soon it was time to leave the waterfront, return the rental car, eat overpriced food at the airport, and endure an extra-long wait for a delayed flight. But, at least we didn't have to drive a diesel truck for 900 or a 1000 miles and the cats were very happy to see us.

Back from the Left Coast: Friday and Saturday in Ventura

Despite a late flight, the last members of the boat retrieval squad are now back in New Mexico.

Gerald and I arrived in Ventura a little before 8 pm Friday night with the cell ringing just as we reached Oxnard to inform us that the Rat Pack - - Carol Anne, Braxton, and Larry - - were a hungry crew but had successfully seen USA 125 / Black Magic.

The crew was much more mellow, though still tired, after dinner, given that their drive to Ventura took around 15 hours and concluded with Braxton's diesel truck squirting power steering fluid in the boatyard driveway, requiring a Saturday appointment with a mechanic near our motel.

Saturday morning, Carol Anne was up early but the other guys weren't moving too fast, so I visited USA 125's seller nearby and got the title and registration signed over and told him that we'd be delayed in getting to the boatyard because of an appointment to repair the truck. In turn, I learned that the boatyard was shorthanded and wanted to pull the boat out earlier in the day than we had planned, so we decided that the test sail would have to be cancelled. Carol Anne would have to wait to sail Black Magic in New Mexico.

After rounding up the guys, we also found an important part that had fallen off Larry's boat trailer and headed for West Marine. Half an hour later, I was more than $500 poorer, but had all sorts of sheaves and blocks and lines and sailorly equipment, plus a replacement for the broken small wheel attached to the front jack on Larry's trailer. Then we met the seller, Jack, at the boatyard, where he had started helping the boatyard folks remove the mast.

The future Black Magic was lifted up on a 35-ton or so Travelift, pressure washed, and transferred to the repaired trailer, but by then Braxton and I had gone to check on Braxton's truck, run him through a shower, and buy straps to secure the Etchells to the trailer - - the old ones that Larry and Braxton had were rotted and hadn't been brought along for the journey. By the time we were back, the boat was on the trailer and it was time for us to grab lunch. The sushi place that Braxton had set his culinary hopes upon was shut so we found a nice Italian cafe, where Braxton and Larry worked on charming our server, Gabrielle, and recruiting her in becoming part of Team Black Magic. Carol Anne also had another near-miss experience in attempting to connect to the Internet at the cafe.

Much poorer after paying for food and beverages, I drove the gang back to retrieve Braxton's truck, which was at last re-united with the trailer. I managed to incrementally increase my poverty by paying the boatyard bill for unstepping the mast, hauling the boat out, pressure-washing her, and grabbing a quart of $38 per quart boat paint. We attached the boat straps but then had a scare when - - you might have guessed - - power steering fluid again erupted from Braxton's truck. Fortunately, it turned out the mechanic simply hadn't tightened a fitting enough and the problem was only a short hiccup along the journey. Soon, perhaps about 4:20 Saturday afternoon, the Rat Packers were en route leaving me and Gerald to worry about how that bunch would ever make it to New Mexico in one piece. Especially if Larry talked them into going to a pre-Academy awards party with Selma Hayek or stopping for a little R&R in Palm Springs. Then there were the Hawaiian blackmail....

The rest of Saturday was much quieter. Gerald and I enjoyed the Sunset from the beach near the harbor, found a money machine that eventually accepted my ATM card, and had an $8 dinner from the In-n-Out Burger.

Oh yes. Larry thinks the sailing club should buy a spare Travelift that the boatyard has for sale. He thinks it'd be great for launching club boats, especially when the lake is low. There would be the minor detail of moving it 900-plus miles.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Surf's Up, Dudes

Now class, why are the Desert Sailors interested in the weather on the California Coast?
Well, the answer is Magic... The Captain and her crew are headed west to rescue and adopt a lonely little racing boat from Ventura and bring her back to the mountain lakes in the land of little water to do deeds of great daring and celerity.

(By the way, Elephant Butte is expected to reach about 72 degrees this weekend with winds of about 16 mph in the afternoon, with some higher gusts. Sunday should be much calmer.)


Weather Underground forecast for Ventura

4 pm Friday: 80% chance of rain, 53 degrees, winds West (264) 7 mph
7 pm Friday: 20% chance of rain, 46 degrees, 90% humidity, winds West (264) 7 mph.

10 am
Saturday: 0% chance of rain, 35% cloud clover, 55 degrees, winds 6 mph SSW (206)
1 pm Saturday: 0% rain, partly cloudy, 35% cloudy, 61 degrees, winds 6 mph SSW (206)
4 pm Saturday: 0% rain, partly cloudy, 35% cloudy, 56 degrees, winds 1 mph SW (236) weather predictions for Ventura, CA:

Friday: Rain showers in the morning becoming more intermittent in the afternoon. High 56F. Winds WSW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch. Winds WSW 19 mph

Friday night: Partly cloudy. Low near 40F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.

5 pm Friday: 54 degrees, partly cloudy, 20% rain, W 16 mph winds, sunset 5:55 pm
7 pm
Friday, 50 degrees, partly cloudy, winds W 10 mph

9 am Saturday, 51 degrees, partly cloudy, 0% rain, winds ENE 3 mph
10 am
Saturday, 51 degrees, partly cloudy, 0% rain, winds E 2 mph
11 am Saturday, 57 degrees, partly cloudy, 0% rain, winds ESE 4 mph
12 noon Saturday, 58 degrees, partly cloudy, 0% rain, winds SW 7 mph
1 pm Saturday, 58 degrees, partly cloudy, 0% rain, winds WSW 9 mph
2 pm Saturday, 58 degrees, partly cloudy, 10% rain, winds WSW 10ph
3 pm Saturday, 58 degrees, partly cloudy, 10% rain, winds WSW 10ph
4 pm Saturday, 57 degrees, partly cloudy, 10% rain, winds W 11ph
5 pm Saturday, 55 degrees, partly cloudy, 10% rain, winds WSW 9 mph

Accuweather prediction for Ventura, CA

Friday, March 3
Cool with rain tapering off. Winds from the WSW at 12 mph. High: 58° F RealFeel: 56° Friday Night: Partly cloudy and chilly. Winds from the NE at 9 mph. Low: 42° F RealFeel: 40° F

Saturday, March 4
Mostly sunny. Winds from the WSW at 7 mph. High: 62° F RealFeel: 68° F
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy. Winds from the NNE at 7 mph. Low: 44° F RealFeel: 37° F

Winds:WSW at 7 mph

Wind Gusts: 20 mph

9 am, 52 degrees, mostly sunny, winds NW 5
10 am
, 57 degrees, mostly sunny, winds W 3 mph
11 am
, 61 degrees, mostly sunny, winds W 5 mph
12 noon, 62 degrees, mostly sunny, winds W 7 mph
1 pm, 62 degrees, mostly sunny, winds WSW 9 mph
2 pm, 62 degrees, mostly sunny, winds WSW 10 mph
3 pm, 62 degrees, mostly sunny, winds WSW 10 mph
4 pm, 60 degrees, mostly sunny, winds W 10 mph
5 pm, 58 degrees, mostly sunny, winds W 8 mph

Sunday, March 5

Sunny to partly cloudy. Winds from the SSW at 16 mph. High: 66° F RealFeel: 60° F Sunday Night: Rain. Winds from the S at 14 mph. Low: 48° F RealFeel: 43° F

reaching about 16 mph Saturday afternoon. Sunday is expected to be calmer.)
NOAA weather for Ventura
Friday: Rain this morning...locally heavy then turning to showers this afternoon. Highs in the upper 50s. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph in the morning..becoming southwest in the afternoon..Friday night: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers this evening...then becoming partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 30s to mid 40s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower to mid 40s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the 60s.




Race Committee Boat Visitors Guide

A note I sent to someone who wanted a refresher on what would be expected of her when she helps out on the race committee boat.

Stuff to bring: PFD/life preserver but call us if you need one; we usually have several different sorts on our boat. Warm clothing - but in layers since the mood of the lake is so changeable; it could be 55 degrees and blowing or 75 degrees and feeling hot in the same day; it's nice to have layers for blocking wind, water, and for insulation. Water! Sunscreen. Maybe bug goop, lip balm, & sailing or other gloves. Hat. Shoes. Boat or athletic shoes with a good grip (even when wet) and non-marking soles are considered better than stiletto heels. Optional: a good wristwatch or stopwatch, nice book to read, camera or camcorder, binoculars, personal stereo & earphones, etc.

Basic committee boat procedure:

At the skipper's meeting, introduce the people who will be on the race committee boat. Describe which VHF radio channel will be monitored (68, 72, 16 etc.) and the starting flag sequence. The race committee should take care of any questions about the courses, rules, expected conditions, safety requirements, or protest procedures. Our racers usually leave rounding marks to port, but some races are different. Most of our races are relatively short-course "buoy races".

Check inventory of committee boat gear; anchor, pin buoy & its anchor & line, starting flags, code/course flags, aerosol horn, soft-sided portfolio with forms including race registration form with info on boats competing in the regatta, stop watch or wristwatch, etc.

Proceed to the race course area so that weather conditions can be checked, the pin buoy can be dropped, and the committee boat anchored with the line squared at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start.

About 10 minutes before the start: check winds to see if good for racing; adjust the line, or ask someone to move the pin buoy, or move up or down on the committee boat anchor as needed to keep the line reasonably perpendicular to the wind. Check to see whether boats are present and conditions look safe. Make last-minute check with race committee if in doubt about conditions or course.

If conditions are or are expected to be very breezy or windy (~20 mph steady winds or 25 mph gusts), the striped red and yellow "Yankee" flag is to be flown to require all competitors to wear PFDs (life preservers) when on deck or in the cockpit.

If conditions are too dangerous to hold a race (~27 mph steady winds/36 mph gusts depending upon the type of race and boats present), and the race is cancelled, fly the blue and white checkered "November" flag. Try to ensure that boats retire safely from the lake and are accounted for and crews are safe; request assistance from the state parks rangers if needed.

Otherwise, if the race is to be started:

Determine the initial course and put up signal flags (i.e., "1 Gulf" for a full-length upwind-downwind course beginning to the south; "3 Foxtrot" for a short "half-sausage" starting to the west). Courses almost always begin with an upwind start. The length and complexity of the course may be adjusted according to weather; good, steady winds and weather may call for full upwind-downwinds or courses that get a bit longer as thewinds increase, but thin winds, a shortage of time, or borderline hazardous conditions may call for a short, "half sausage" out-and-back Foxtrot course.

Honk the horn a few to several times to alert boats to the impending start. On windy days, distant boat crews may fail in their responsibility to hear the horn; try to get in a good blast in their direction.

At five (5) minutes until the start, start the five minute countdown; simultaneously raise the "class flag" (usually the yellow flag on a staff) and sound a horn signal. Keep this flag up all the way until the start.

At four (4) minutes until the start, raise the "preparatory flag" (usually the blue flag on a staff; often elsewhere the white-square-on-blue "Papa" or "Blue Peter" flag is used) and at the same time make a horn signal.

Keep both flags up until a minute before the start.

At one (1) minute before the start, drop the preperatory flag and make a horn signal. Now, in the last minute, only the class flag is flying.

At the start, drop the class flag and sound the horn. Write down the start time if the boats got off to a good start. Note whether any boats went over early. Raise the red flag to denote that a race is in progress.

* If, say one or two boats went over early and can be identified, sound an individual recall with one horn. Call out the boat(s) that was (were) over early by hail and by radio. You can also fly the "blue cross:" "x-ray" flag. Write down on the form who was over early.

* If a bunch of boats were over early, or it can't be told which several of the mess were over early, or the race committee horribly messed up the start, sound "General Recall" with multiple horns and its flag (yellow on blue First Substitute pennant), then give warning that you're re-starting the start sequence and do so.

Enjoy the view.

In the very extraordinary circumstance that a race has to be cancelled while in progress (due to very dangerous weather, a life-threatening emergency, a very prolonged period of no wind, impending darkness, etc.), use the radio, signal flags, horn signals, and the assistance of other boats, if possible; as a last resort weigh anchor and chase the racing boats down.

Otherwise, remain in position and record the time of each boat that finishes.

Continue to set courses, adjust the line if needed, and run race starts as appropriate. After the last race has been completed and all times have been recorded, weigh anchor and retrieve the pin buoy. Deliver the race committee forms and notebook to the race committee chairman at the end of each day. If necessary, participate in any protest hearings or post-race discussions. At the end of the weekend or regatta, deliver the pin buoy, signal flags, and other race committee gear to the next committee boat, or to the race chairman, or to storage in Rich Strasia's boathouse at near Rock Canyon.

That's all there is to it - and there will be someone there who knows the basic procedures.