Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club, Friday, El Dorado Community Center, Work Party on Saturday

New Mexico Sailing Club meeting, 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 28, 2006, El Dorado Community Center

To get to the El Dorado Community Center, continue east on I-25 beyond Santa Fe about seven miles (beyond the St. Francis exit) to exit 290, which is the exit for US 285 south to Cline's Corners. Go just a couple of blocks south to the first stoplight, which is Avenida de Amistad. Turn right (west) on Avenida de Amistad into the El Dorado subdivision and wind around for about 1.1 miles.

The community center has a white fence and a large parking lot, and one of the buildings is a train depot. The building next to the train depot (across the breezeway) is where we'll have our potluck and meeting. Socializing should begin at about 6:30 and the meeting proper by about 7:00 p.m.

Bring something yummy to share.

Tentative Agenda

Membership, slip & buoy, dock sitting, and treasury reports (Roger , info from Rich )

Eddie's report on New Mexico State Parks concessionaire workshop.

Status of Heron Lake
Heron Lake is up 8 inches in 3 days; water is flowing in at about 300 to 500 cubic feet per second. Elevation is now (Thursday 4/27) 7133.93', with 158,684 acre feet. By Saturday, April 29th, the date of our next major work party, almost all of the marina should be floating freely and most boats should be able to use the Willow Creek ramp; by early to mid-May the ramps should be in very good shape for all boats.

Status of Marina (latest info from Rich K.)
Eleven piers are missing some or all of their flotation. It looks like there is enough flotation available to replace that missing from the piers, but it will probably take 2 or 3 people using the work barge the better part of a day to get it put back under the piers.

Status of new A dock
Anthony M., Heron Lake State Park supervisor, asked us for information to be reviewed by the state parks before the new docks are installed.
The installation crew from Galvafoam expects to leave Missouri on Monday, May 8, and arrive at Heron on Tuesday, May 9, to complete A dock assembly and installation that week.

Correspondence, reports: Adams Cup, and upcoming events -- RGSC San Diego Cruise, Dillon.

New business:

Purchase of 8-hp water pump (Honda, Norton-Rupp/Honda, or similar for use in marina maintenance for blasting mud away from marina structure. (Pete Barlow).

Buy more floats for maintenance/replacement and for building a pontoon to support a gangway end.

Slip for John D’s bigger boat. John is buying an Ericson 30. A29 or A5 maybe?

Confirm okay for slip exemption for George and Christina V. (board had been polled previously)

Race schedule and need for race committee volunteers.
Tentative: May 27 Memorial Day regatta, June 10, June 24 (fun races), July 1 Long Race, July 2 buoy race (Spence), July 15, July 29, August 19, September 2, September 3.

Need volunteers (Dave & Sue H., others?) and schedule to coordinate dinghy sailing class.

Need volunteers to coordinate a safety day/workshop/activities (July 3?)

Look for info on designing a security gate.

Ask someone to research getting a new gas grill.

Get a crew to re-install the pump-out and get prices and a design for an enclosure/hut.

Work party for Saturday, April 29, 2006, 9:30 a.m.
* Support Mark P. (diver) in disconnecting A-B trusses and old A dock, move old A dock out of the way.
* Re-install foam flotation under piers
* Other projects as needed; install short truss on C dock, repair damaged connections, salvage A west for use in improving the connecting walkway, prepare to re-cycle A east, salvage cables for use as dock reinforcements, prepare a big float to support the bottom of the big gangway, screw down deck boards, check for loose cleats, improve pathway, prepare an upper landing stage for the big gangway, cut a path to the upper landing stage. Inventory racing buoys & equipment, picnic supplies, etc.

Work party for Saturday, May 6, 2006, 9:30 a.m.
Continue to prepare for the arrival of the Galvafoam crew on May 9; install the radio, bbq grills, set out picnic tables, dinghies, etc. Maybe Bob H. or Tom or someone can bring some gravel? Bring dock master notebooks, forms, etc. Bring fire extinguishers up (Bruce B.).

Marina opening weekend, Saturday, May 13, 2006

Gangway work party, Saturday, May 20, 2006

Memorial Day regatta Saturday, May 27, and semi-potluck dinner, Sunday May 28 (need volunteers)

Note from Dillon Yacht Club via S.A.I.L:
To SAIL Members,

Dillon Yacht Club has opened its Summer regattas. These 10 events are now open; formerly, only the Dillon Open was open to non-members. The Notice of Circuit is attached and is posted at

The schedule is:
June 10-11 -- Peak One Regatta
June 24-25 -- Buffalo Mountain Regatta
July 1-2 -- Stars and Bars Regatta
July 8-9 -- Timberline Regatta
July 22-23 -- Ptarmigan Regatta
August 5-6 -- Dillon Open Regatta
August 19-20 -- Peak Seven Regatta
September 2-3 -- Mt. Elbert Regatta
September 23-24 -- Changing of the Colors Regatta
Fees: Entry fees are $50 for each event. With DYC membership of $180, a racing fee of $250 gains entry to all events except the Dillon Open. The Entry Form is also posted at

Eligibility: Boats must have sail numbers and inform the race committee in writing of any changes to sail numbers. Club membership & racing fee is required to be scored in the Summer Series. (Each event will also be scored separately.)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Heron Lake, New Mexico Sailing Club update

Heron Lake is up 5 inches in 3 days; water is flowing in at about 300 to 400 cubic feet per second. Elevation is now 7132.48', with 153,830 acre feet. (Compare this to April 3, when we were at 7131.11!) By April 29th, the date of our next major work party, the marina should be floating very nicely and most boats should be able to use the Willow Creek ramp; by early to mid-May the ramps should be in very good shape for all boats.

Besides the work party, don't forget our next meeting, Friday evening, April 28, at the El Dorado community center southeast of Santa Fe. Bring something yummy to share!
The supervisor of Galvafoam's installation crew for the new A dock called and plans to leave Missouri on Monday, May 8, and arrive at Heron Lake on Tuesday, May 9th, to begin installation.

Pete B. is investigating pumps that the NMSC could use to blow mud out from under trusses. He should have more info soon on something like an 8 or 8.5 hp trash pump in the maybe $900 to 1,500 price range that the club could buy.

I'm heading down to Elephant Butte lake in about an hour to watch Adams Cup women's championship sailing this weekend and do some messing around in boats. Some of the women have been working hard all winter and spring, going out in conditions when not many of the guys were there, so I hope you'll drop by to watch and give the women your support.

Eddie D. represented the NMSC at a concessionaire workshop hosted by the NM State Parks this past Thursday (and Buzz B. represented the RGSC, so sailors were well represented). I hope this will help continue our good relations with the parks folks, which may be useful if we wind up moving the marina this fall.

We hope to also have more opportunities for women's sailing, youth, and racing activities at Heron this summer. So please let me or one of the board members or folks know what YOU would like to see happen at Heron this summer. One idea is to maybe have a fun series of races beginning Memorial Day weekend and continuing in June, then continue with the long race and a racing weekend right before the 4th of July, then continue with some a "championship" race series. But, whatever you want, please let me or someone know!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Weekend of April 15 at Elephant Butte Lake

Mixed winds, mixed sailing conditions, mixed feelings, and a couple of episodes of, "Oh no, not another learning experience!" But it still beats a great day at the office.

Thursday night we finished our tax returns and I brought Gerald to the community college so that Carol Anne could sign a couple of tax forms and Carol Anne and Gerald could drive south to the lake. Friday they eventually got in some practice with "Birdwatcher" and "Husker" of Carol Anne's team and coach "Yoda". C.A. didn't feel up to driving right after a stressful week and a short night for recovery, so they had Birdwatcher do the helming, which worked out quite nicely. I arrived Saturday just in the nick of time to serve cold beverages to the returning crew.

Saturday was supposed to be the day of the "Pickle Race", held for the benefit of the NM Boys and Girls Ranches. The idea was that the club would treat the youth (many from unstable families) to an on-the-water scavenger hunt, then on shore an Easter egg hunt, games, and picnic. Unfortunately, the ranch's central office had not called the houseparents at the individual ranches, so no youth came and the event had to be cancelled.

Saturday, Carol Anne, Gerald, Husker, and their coach got to practice spinnaker sets and douses while performing mock races against another J-24. It was a wonderful experience, especially since Husker had never had a chance to handle a spinnaker until the weekend before, so she was really learning fast. The sailing was followed by a de-briefing for the benefit of the crews, which was also a very useful thing.

I also had my own learning experience. Soloing Carol Anne's Black Magic for the first time, the sail went very well until the late afternoon breezes got out of hand and a few whitecaps started cropping up. I waited a while for other boats to get into the marina before heading in, but when I turned the corner boats were still milling around trying to dock in the stiff headwinds and crosswinds. (Stability of winds is not a given on mountain lakes.) The boat lost headway after I made some short tacks in the unfavorable winds and an attempt to tie up at a houseboat dock also didn't work out (bounced the forestay against the marina but thankfully Etchells have very forgiving rigs), so I had to push the boat off from the marina and accept a tow from a sailboat that was operating under motor. (On Carol Anne's boat it's very hard to try to operate the motor when single-handing ... but more about that later in this narrative.) Gerald, by now on shore with Carol Anne's crew, helped with docking, though we had to work around a very uncooperative, rude, and foul-mouthed (in front of his young children) fisherman who insisted on fishing in a boat docking area instead of using the fishing wells.

Saturday night also saw a good party at the "J-24 Fleet 141 Compound" as many sailors who had planned to help with the Pickle Race showed up for dinner or socializing at Sue and Rich's place near the RockCanyon marina. Of course, it's not hard for nearby sailors to find a place with a half dozen or more sailboat masts sticking up as markers!

Sunday morning people were busy with church or moving slowly, but one boat (Vicky and Ken) did get out in spite of very flat water and little wind. Gerald helped with an Easter egg hunt for the two sons of Sue's sister and with playing cards with Sue's mom. Eventually more people went out on the water. Sue took her sister out with Carol Anne and Husker and Gerald for a short cruise, though the presence of the guest somewhat limited what they could do on the water. Meanwhile, I soloed Black Magic again but had to drop the sail when the headboard fell off the halyard shackle and had to motor in. I hadn't yet been checked out on the motor, but my motivation was very good, so I got it started right away. The small outboard motor is several feet behind the tiller and tended to spin around (it has no reverse so it revolves in its mount), so I wound up running a control rope back to the motor so I could hold it in one hand and the tiller in another and dock. At least this time the docking went just fine and we were able to launch a sailing friend up the mast to retrieve the halyard.

Carol Anne went back out with Sue and Husker for another short sail; I followed a little later with Gerald and Ken No. 2, who wanted to take video of his friend Vicky at the helm of her J-24. This sail went very well and Ken No. 2 loved the Etchells.

We also tried to shadow the fleet sailing champ in his Etchells, but we gave up quite a bit of ground. Although we had a definite advantage of crew weight (Larry was soloing), it was not a fully coordinated crew, plus the motor was partially in the water in spite of efforts to tie it up (bracket was stuck in the down position), plus we were missing a sail batten, plus I had almost no experience with the boat or with racing and didn't know very well what I was doing (it was hard for me to learn to trim for pointing as a mostly cruiser sort of sailor), plus I couldn't hear Larry say where he was going, so I just had to follow him along ... but then that's what happens to even the more experienced sailors in our club during races anyway and they all finish way behind him, too.

Besides, I'm not any sort of real helm on Black Magic -- my job description is more like substitute trimmer/tactician and water boy/team go-fer. My helm time had to be snuck in when the skipper / Sorceress was otherwise engaged with her J-24 team and was officially for her benefit -- crew training and figuring out what needed to be improved or repaired on Black Magic.

Still, Ken got his videos and we had a great sail, getting in just about 20 minutes before the winds got really strong again. Sunday evening became a smaller-scale and much quieter version of Saturday's party, with a break for me to take Carol Anne to a nice, romantic sort of restaurant (Los Arcos) before taking my leave and heading north into the night.

Now it's only several days until the big regatta. None of the teams are as ready as they'd like to be, especially Carol Anne's last-minute, brand-new to J-24s and racing crew, but that's the way it is and neither the quarter-final regatta this coming weekend or the semi-final regatta two weeks later in Austin will wait. It's now a case of, "Ready or not, here we come!"

Monday, April 10, 2006

weekend update

Friday morning, Carol Anne drove down to Elephant Butte and arrived at the "Fleet 141 compound" before noon. Getting women out took a while because only one of the J-24's was in the water and attempts at launching another stalled when the deep-keel boat and trailer ran into a sandbar a few feet below the water's surface.

So, Carol Anne and one of her crew members, Sue, and three other women - six in all - finally piled into the one available boat to do some training. They considered putting some of the women on Carol Anne's boat, but the lower backstay hadn't yet been replaced so the boat wasn't fully usable yet.

In the meantime, I picked Gerald up after school and we drove to the Butte, checked into our motel (Charles), and went to a marina where one of our boats is slipped. We parked near the boat ramp, launched a couple of kayaks, and paddled over to the marina, where we tied the kayaks by Syzygy and looked for the marina manager, only to find out that he had recently resigned. But, I got to talk to him and learned that he seemed okay.

We then went to Rock Canyon in time to help work on Black Magic and meet the women at the end of their sail. While Gerald was running errands, Carol Anne took me and Larry out on her boat. With the lower backstay newly replaced, we were able to run both mainsail and jib on our sunset cruise and had a great time sailing along with Braxton on Larry's Etchells, Constellation. We then joined the folks having dinner at the Strasia's, Carol Anne completed registration procedures for her crew for the Adams Cup, and we then dropped Gerald off at the Damsite to sleep onboard Syzygy, joined Braxton and Larry for a while at the bar and learned the secrets of success for female athletes, and finally collapsed late into our motel beds.

Saturday morning we grabbed a bite and met the rest of Carol Anne's new crew at the pre-race skippers' meeting on the Damsite restaurant terrace. The crew then headed for the Rock Canyon marina where rigging the boat took a long time; it was the day for coaches to back off and let the crews do things on their own and Carol Anne was the only member of the crew who had ever sailed on a J-24. Helming the four races plus instructing a green crew (none of the crew had ever handled a spinnaker pole or had much race experience) was a big workout for Carol Anne, and the spinnaker gave the crew so much trouble that they had only very limited success in deploying it. Much more work is needed before the crew will be really ready for competitive racing, but at least they're now working hard and learning.

I had volunteered to help Rich crew a boat, but it turned out that the boat's owner had no need for my services, so I wound up working on Carol Anne's boat and slip in the warm sunshine. By the end of the day, I greeted a weary crew. Our family then wound up among a crowd of thirty hungry and thirsty sailors at the Damsite restaurant. Service was quite a bit quicker than at the disastrous dinner of two weeks before, but still not terribly fast; the kitchen gets overwhelmed by crowds, so we had to wait an hour and twenty-five minutes for our dinner and one of our side dishes was undercooked.

Sunday morning Carol Anne was moving very slowly; pollen allergies and a dose of allergy medicine combined with a very early dockside rendezvous time to shorten her sleep severely. Carol Anne was the first woman sailor at the marina, excepting one sailor who with her husband had slept aboard their MacGregor, and even beat Larry to the marina. Her crew were only about five minutes behind her, and had a bit of breakfast and started rigging their boat before their coached arrived. Casting off eventually, they practiced and then sailed two races before returning with a few other boats; perhaps half the fleet remained for a third race.

The spinnaker was still giving the green crew lots of trouble, but Carol Anne had lots of fun with the second race start. The wind had shifted earlier, leaving the port side of the starting line well favored and, unfortunately, the committee boat on the port end of the line (the wrong end, but only one person was on the committee boat). All the rest of the fleet was bunched together and heading for the favored port end when Carol Anne came up from starboard and forced the other boats to duck. Unfortunately, the crew didn't quite have timing down and Carol Anne didn't have the information about how close they were to the line, so she had slowed the boat and let a couple of other boats get away and crossed 20 seconds after the gun. As it turned out, she could have really wreaked havoc on the port tackers and kept any of them from crossing her if only she had known had far she was from the line. She did, at least, force the fleet champion to do a crash tack to avoid her and make some choice comments that can't be printed in a family-friendly weblog. Perhaps his crew had been caught napping and not telling him the info he needed for the start.

Back at the marina, I worked on the boat a bit, helped a sailor shuttle his truck and trailer to another marina, rescued Gerald (the skipper for whom he was crewing had not made arrangements to pick him up and hadn't told Gerald when or where to be in the morning, so Gerald missed out on crewing), and enjoyed breakfast with one of our sailing friends. Arriving at the marina, I was introduced to a local newspaper reporter, who wanted pictures of the fleet. I arranged to meet her after checking out of our motel; while I was gone Gerald talked to her and prepared Black Magic for its journalism mission. Arriving near the end of the first race, we sailed among the fleet, giving our passenger lots of good pictures. This was the first time I'd ever helmed Carol Anne's boat and it really seemed fit in among the racing boats much better than our cruising boat ever did or would. Returning to the marina, we arrived with an enthusiastic passenger who'd had a great time on the water and presumably lots of good pictures.

After Carol Anne's crew returned (sailing two races) and de-rigged and packed their boat, it was time for dinner and an end to the weekend.

The story continues.

More pictures of an Etchells sailboat trailer

Pretty soon we're going to have to get a trailer of our own for Carol Anne's new-to-her boat, the International Etchells (USA 125) Black Magic. As a starting point, we can look at the construction of the trailer that Carol Anne borrowed to tow her boat from Ventura, California, to Elephant Butte Lake. (And you could even ask her about the white bundles she nearly ran over in the middle of the night in Arizona.) What do you think of this trailer? We'll likely go with tandem drop-axles instead of a single and want to attach some sort of climbing ladder to the front of the trailer. What else might work?

View of front of trailer.

View of trailer from left front.

Left side of trailer.
Left rear of trailer.

Larry's Etchells trailer

View from rear of Etchells trailer, showing boat-centering guides.

View of trailer from right rear
Trailer and axle details from left front.

Tongue details showing swinging jackstand; backet on far side is for mounting a full-size tire to allow the trailer to roll down the ramp more easily.
Centering system details on sailboat trailer, view from front.

Axle and rear-center portions of Etchells single-axle trailer.

Information label on axle.

Intrepid/Blondie/Niña Diabla/Extrepid being loaded onto Larry's trailer and hauled out for refitting.

Black Magic on trailer ready for launch.

Fits Like A Glove - NOT

And now for something different. Carol Anne lost her good sailing gloves in the hospital some weeks ago when the boom hit her, and she asked me to get her some half-finger gloves that would accommodate her short fingers and still allow enough of them to stick out so she could feel and grab things with her fingertips. I had some rebate coupons from W _ _ _ _ marine and talked to the order clerk about Carol Anne's situation. The only sailing gloves that came in half finger in their entire inventory were the Gill half finger gloves, which were available in a unisex or men's extra small. We decided to try them. (When they arrived, we noticed that although the catalog called them "half finger", the manufacturer merely called them "short finger".) Unfortunately, you can see that this experiment was a failure. Does anyone make good half-fingered sailing gloves to fit smaller hands and shorter fingers?

The so-called half or short-finger gloves cover so much of Carol Anne's fingers that they simply can't work in the manner intended.

Carol Anne's fingers barely peek out of the "half finger" or "short finger" gloves.

Launching "Black Magic" at Elephant Butte Lake, March 26

"The Sexiest Boat on the Lake" BlackMagic and trailer on the Rock Canyon ramp, rigged and ready to get wet the evening of March 26, 2006, at Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico.

Trailer and boat party into the lake with corner of Rock Canyon marina in background.

Finally afloat in New Mexico for the first time.

"Black Magic" on the move with Marty as crew and Carol Anne manning the motor.

Arriving in her slip.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lake Levels and updates

Monday, April 3, 2006

Elephant Butte Lake,
4335.50', 447,807 acre feet (down about three and a half feet from spring peak), 1450 c.f.s. release offset slightly by incoming flow. Spring irrigation is expected to continue until April 16, when the amount of outflow is expected to be cut back to 725 c.f.s., then increased again on May 7 to 1450 c.f.s. Aproximate exected conditions for later this spring are 4332.21' elev. and 408,645 acre feet on April 22 and 4327.55' elev. and 356,630 acre feet on May 20.

Sailing conditions were very good for this past weekend (April 1 - 2) with a wide variety of calm to breezy (it very briefly blew like hell Sat. p.m. near Rattlesnake Island) conditions, a mix of cloudy and sunny skies, and no precipitation. Weather conditions for the April 8-9 Spring Series 3 races are expected to be sunny with winds medium to breezy. Dinner for the spring series 3 regatta will be Saturday night (April 8) at the Damsite restaurant.

Crew members are still critically needed for the Adams Cup. The RGSC's ability to host a quality regatta depends upon enough women showing up to compete. Contact Pat or Carol Anne Byrnes or Rich or Sue Strasia for information or to crew or volunteer or otherwise support the Adams Cup and women's sailing programs in New Mexico.


Heron Lake,
7131.11' elevation, 152,603 acre feet, decreasing about 2 inches and 425 a.f. per day. Almost all the water has been taken out by the water contractors. Most of the marina is in five to six feet of water with some portions grounded in shallow areas. A small amount of spring runoff has begun to flow out of the Azotea Tunnel (17 to 40 c.f.s.) via Willow Creek (7 to 45 c.f.s.) in recent days. This flow should increase by mid-April enough to start refloating the grounded portions of the marina.

Possible (these are just guesses!) Heron Lake elevations and marina depths
7131' (5.5 to 6 feet depth in marina cove) April 1 to 8, 2006
7130' (4.5 to 5 feet) April 9 to 14 (depth of mud below boat ramp area: 3 feet)
7131' (5.5 to 6 feet) April 15-19
7132' (6.5 to 7 feet) April 20-24
7133' (7.5 to 8 feet) April 25-29
(First work party probably April 22 or April 29, possibly as early as April 15 is runoff comes in unusually fast)

7135' (9.5 to 10 feet) May 8 (depth of mud below boat ramp area: 8 feet. All boats can launch.)

7136' (10.5 to 11 feet) May 19 Opening day festivities.

7139' (13.5 to 14 feet) May 29

Guess-timated runoff
12,000 a.f. April
26,000 a.f. May
10,000 a.f. June
1,000 a.f. July
49,000 acre feet total

197,000 acre feet peak storage, June - July.
160,000 acre feet, October - November 2006 - point at which marina would again ground
101,000 acre feet end-of-season storage, April 2007

Current Snowpack Figures show some improvement over last month's:
Upper Chama Watershed, 63% of average snow water equivalent
San Juan headwaters, 65%
Upper Rio Grande in Colorado, 69%
Southwestern Colorado rivers, 74%

Black Magic Sunday; the Etchells sails on Elephant Butte Lake

Pick a number, any number ... After Carol Anne got a park ranger to do the hull inspection (and comment, "That's one bad-ass boat!"), New Mexico's motor vehicle department gave Carol Anne new registration numbers instead of having us keep the old California numbers.

Sail up and drawing! Crew still needs to learn a lot of the finer adjustments ... and there are quite a few of them on an Etchells. But, Black Magic is on the move.

The skipper getting ready to work on her boat and take it out for the first time ever. The motor remained unused all day and Carol Anne got a compliment on her docking upon the return to the marina. Sunday, April 2, 2006, Rock Canyon Marina, Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico.

A (magical) day at the lake

Upwind from the Rock Canyon Marina, the skipper checks the telltales.

Gerald with his skipper.

Downwind with the Elephant and Rattlesnake islands in the background. Sunday, April 2, 2006; "Black Magic" sails for the first time in New Mexico. Even though a whole lot of work still needs to be done, it was time to go sailing!