Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Mexico Lake and Weather Conditions, Sailing

Lake Conditions
Heron: 7143.26 ft elevation, 192,535 acre feet, down ¼ inch & 39 acre feet in 72 hours as of Thursday morning. (Tunnel & Willow Creek flow is about 10 to 15 cfs.)

Elephant Butte: 4313.5026 ft elevation, 222,221 acre feet, down 12.5 inches & 8,622 acre feet in 72 hours. 1,780 cfs discharge, 204 cfs inflow at San Marcial Conveyence.

El Vado: 77,959 acre feet, down 2,828 a.f.
Abiquiu,:154,234 acre feet, up 294 a.f.
Cochiti: 49,731 acre feet, up 432 a.f.


New Mexico Sailing Club meeting, noon Saturday
NMSC potluck, 7 p.m. Saturday
Fun races, Sunday
Long Race, Monday

Shroyer Center Ice Cream Social, Sunday 5 p.m.



Heron Lake/Los Ojos NM
Thurs. eve. Winds ESE 5-10 mph, 15% chance of rain

Friday: 84/47 hi/lo temp, winds W 3-5 mph becoming NW to SW 5-10 mph, 20% chance of rain becoming 30%

Saturday: 81/46 hi/lo temp, winds NNW 5-9 mph becoming SE 3-8 or NW 5-10 mph, 20% chance of rain becoming 30%

Sunday: 82/47 hi/lo temp, winds variable 1-15 mph, 20% chance of rain becoming 30%

Monday: 80/46 hi/lo temp, SSE winds 3-14 mph, 20% chance of rain becoming 30%

Tuesday: 82/48 hi/lo temp, winds variable 2-15 mph, 20% chance of rain becoming 30%

Wednesday: 84/48 hi/lo temp, winds variable 3-12 mph, 15% chance of rain becoming 20%

Elephant Butte
Thursday evening: South wind 6-11 mph, 20% chance rain

Friday: 94/67 hi/lo temp, 20% chance mostly p.m. rain, S wind 3-6 mph becoming SSE to SSW 5-11 mph

Saturday: 95/67 hi/lo temp, SSW wind 4-7 mph becoming WSW wind 5-10 mph, 10% chance p.m. rain

Sunday: 95/69 hi/lo temp, SSE to variable winds 2-7 mph becoming 4 to 12 mph, 10% chance mostly p.m. rain

Monday: 94/69 hi/lo temp, SE wind 2-6 mph becoming 4 to 12 mph, 10% chance mostly p.m. rain

Tuesday: 94/69 hi/lo temp, E wind 3-7 mph becoming ESE 5-12 mph, 10% chance mostly p.m. rain

Wednesday: 90/67 hi/lo temp, winds NE to ESE 5-12 mph

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday, Monday...

Hmmm, it looks like my quest to go sailing three days in a row is going to crash today. After donating a small piece of my body to medical science earlier this afternoon and leaving the surgeon's office slightly lighter (minus a pesky old tumor) than we I entered an hour or so earlier, I was hoping to convalesce on the nearest sailable lake, but I didn't set that up soon enough, sad to say. Oh well -- at least I got to crew on a couple of little sailing safaris with skipper Carol Anne on Saturday and Sunday and look forward to more tomorrow evening, if the summer monsoon doesn't rain on our parade up at Heron Lake. (Sunday we got to take a reporter and her daughter out for their first-ever sail. We were able to sail out and back without having to use the silly old motor, and gave our guests some nice sailing excitement before threatening, stormy weather chased us back.) And, I set up a new exercise program -- by ordering a truckload of gravel to be delivered to the cabin, to be used to re-surface the driveway and parking areas, cover pathways, cover the area where we park boat trailers, etc.

Lake conditions... well, I hope you have a dry sense of humor, because the state of New Mexico is getting rather drying, losing its stored lake water at about a rate of 1% a day. The good news is that maybe, just maybe, the summer afternoon "monsoon" rains have begun. Let's hope so!

Heron Lake:
7143.27 feet elevation, 192,575 acre feet. Down 1/3 inch and 121 acre feet in 72 hours (As of this morning). Spring runoff is over; the Azotea Tunnel has only about 11 cubic feet per second of water (10 to 20 cfs during a 72-hours) and Willow Creek 10 cfs (9 to 16 cfs).

Elephant Butte Lake: 4314.56 elev., 231,011 acre feet, down 15.6 inches and 10,229 a.f. in 72 hours. Water is flowing out at 2,040 cfs, but in at only about 100-plus cfs.

El Vado: 80,637 a.f., down 3,222 a.f. in 72 hours.
Abiquiu: 153,976 a.f., down 3,217 a.f.
Cochiti: 49,311 a.f., up 237 a.f.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Lake Conditions and Update

Another busy weekend is over, but this time at least we made time for some sailing; with Tadpole back from his backpacking trip it was our first family sail on Heron Lake with "Black Magic". I also played with the kayak, worked on the marina, and moved a couple of tons of dirt at our cabin.

Heron Lake:
192,730 acre feet as of Monday morning, June 19, elevation 7143.31. Up just 117 acre feet and a third of on inch in 72 hours as spring runoff is essentially over, with the Azotea Tunnel and Willow Creek flowing at only 30 to 60 cubic feet per second. Still, Heron has 75% as much water as Elephant Butte Lake in southern NM, though only 13% as much as Navajo Lake.

Elephant Butte Lake:
254,652 acre feet, 4317.28 feet elevation above benchmark, down 11 inches and 8,355 acre feet in 72 hours. This morning, the rate of water release increased to about 1,950 c.f.s. from the previous level of about 1,560 c.f.s. 209,812 a.f. at elevation 4311.96' is projected for June 30th in the operations plan.

Other Lakes:
Navajo, 1,480,621 a.f., down 3 inches and 3,637 a.f. in 72 hours.
El Vado, 90,076 a.f., down 3.22 feet and 6,538 a.f.
Abiquiu, 158,863 a.f., down 2 inches and 485 a.f.
Cochiti, 48,678 a.f., down 8 inches and 800 a.f.
Conchas, 128,284, down 1599 a.f.

At the current rate, about 10% of all of New Mexico's reservoir water is depleted each month. Some reservoirs will be nearly dry by late summer, though Navajo and Heron should be very usable for quite some time.

Water flow through Heron Lake, in acre feet, by month:

125 Rio Grande water in, 92 out
706 San Juan-Chama water in, 15,372 out, 187 loss
-347 Rio Grande water at end of month
153,971 San Juan-Chama water at end of month
7132.42 ' elevation

87 Rio Grande water in, -86 out
17,763 San Juan-Chama water in, 9,131 out, 607 loss
-346 Rio Grande water at end of month
161,996 San Juan Chama water at end of month
7134.86 ' elevation

581 Rio Grande water in, -97 out
25,623 San Juan-Chama water in, 1566 loss
138 Rio Grande water at end of month
186,053 San Juan-Chama water at end of month
7141.60 ' elevation at end of month

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Excuses to go sailing?

You might THINK that any self-respecting sailor would be out on the water on the weekend before the longest day of the year (for those of us who stand right-side-up on the globe), BUT examination of any large marina will, sadly, tell you it ain't so.

So, whatever excuses we need to take people sailing are what we gotta use. Don't forget to celebrate the 427th anniversary of Sir Francis Drake landing in California.

In the spirit of celebration, here are historical events that occurred on June 17th:

1239 Edward I king of England (1272-1307)
1703 John Wesley cofounded Methodist movement/author
1882 Igor Stravinsky Oranienbaum, Russia, composer (The Rite of Spring)
1951 Joe Piscopo Passaic NJ, comedian (SNL, Miller Lite commercials)

1986 Kate Smith singer (God Bless America), dies in Raleigh NC at 78

This day in history
1397 Union of Kalmar established between Denmark, Sweden & Norway
1579 Sir Francis Drake lands on the coast of Calif
1775 Battle of Bunker Hill (actually it was Breed's Hill)
1850 Paddle-wheeler "G P Griffith" burns off Mentor Ohio (206 die)
1856 Republican Party opens its 1st national convention in Philadelphia
1885 Statue of Liberty arrived in NYC aboard French ship `Isere'
1895 US Ship Canal (W 225th St) in the Bronx completed; cutting Marble Hill off from Manhattan
1940 France asks Germany for terms of surrender in WW II
1946 SW Bell innaugurates mobile telephone commercial service, St Louis
1960 Ted Williams hit his 500th home run
1962 Brazil Beats Czechosolakia in soccer's 7th World Cup at Santiago
1972 5 arrested for burglarizing Democratic Party HQ at Watergate
1982 Pres Reagan 1st UN Gen Assembly address ("evil empire" speech)

Iceland : Republic Day (1944)
Japan : Lily Festival
Mass : Bunker Hill Day (1775)
Paraguay : Chaco Peace Day (1935) - - - - - ( Sunday )
US : Father's Day (Sunday )

New Mexico Lake Conditions

Heron Lake
7143.27 ' elevation, 192,575 acre feet, 48% full.
Azotea Tunnel is running 78 cfs (78-159 in last 72 hours).
Willow Creek is running 88 cfs (77-254 cfs in last 72 hours).
The lake has risen 1.6 inches and 502 acre feet in the last 72 hours, but only a quarter inch and 77 acre feet in the past 24 hours. Spring runoff is mostly over and finished, though more water likely will flow through the tunnel upon occasion if the back side of Wolf Creek ski area gets some good rains and the tunnel is kept open. We have received about 44.25% of the "normal" "firm yield" runoff. Heron Lake has 72.5% as much water as Elephant Butte Lake, but only 13% as much as Navajo Lake.

Elephant Butte
4318.48 ' elevation, 265,593 acre feet, 13% full.
The river at San Marcial is running at about 193 cfs,
but the dam is discharging 1560 cfs.
The lake has fallen 11.3 inches and lost 8,778 acre feet in 72 hours.

Water storage, in acre-feet
1,486,363 Navajo Lake (down 6,200 af and 9.6 inches in 72 hours)
. . 265,593 Elephant Butte (down 8,800 af and 11 inches in 72 hours)
. . 192,575 Heron
. . 157,639 Abiquiu
. . 130,481 Conchas
. . . 98,869 El Vado (down 5,900 af and 2.7 feet in 72 hours!)
. . . 49,323 Cochiti
. . . 35,981 Eagle Nest
. . . 32,632 Santa Rosa
. . . 22,234 Brantley
. . . 12,444 Sumner
. . . . 9,296 Costilla

Stream Flows
1560 cfs discharge from Elephant Butte Lake
1430 cfs Animas River
1220 cfs Pecos at Artesia (below Conchas & Santa Rosa reservoirs)
. 193 cfs Rio Grande at San Acacia
. . 87 cfs Willow Creek above Heron
. . 38 cfs Rio Chama at La Puento
. . 27 cfs upper Pecos
. . 11 cfs Jemez
. . 11 cfs Gila

Social and Club Cruise Announcements

Thursday, June 29, 2006
6:30 pm
Coronado Restaurant in Bernalillo
With Mark -- Our old Sailing Buddy
Located on NM 550, just East of NM 528 and just west of the Rio Grande

July's Social
Mario's Pizza & Ristorante
Thursday, July 27, 2006
6:30 pm
Located at 2401 San Pedro Dr. NE
(a couple of blocks south of Menaul)



Here it is, time for ... Summer Cruise III.

I need a final head count for the trip to San Diego. Based on the number that confirm, we should be able to stay at the Southwestern Yacht Club or at the Harbor Patrol Marina.

Our basic plan at this time is to depart Albuquerque on Saturday morning July 15th, drive to Yuma, spend the night and drive into San Diego the following morning. We will spend Sunday through Friday in San Diego. There are a number of day sails and also day trips available such as the Zoo, a Padres game, or numerous nautical museums. Saturday morning, July 22nd we will depart San Diego and drive to Phoenix or Flagstaff. We will return to Albuquerque on Sunday.

If you want this year's T-shirt, please let me know the size and number of shirts you would like. I plan on making the order sometime late next week.

We are planning on having a meeting (potluck and BYOB) to discuss the final details on Tuesday, June 20th, at 6:00 PM. It will be at our house (4 Anasazi Trails Loop, Placitas).

Please call me to confirm that you are coming. If you cannot attend the meeting, but are planning on meeting us out in San Diego, please let me know ASAP.

Gentle Breezes!

PS If you know someone who is interested in attending, please forward this email to them!

Buzz Biernacki Realtor, Allstar RealtyOffice 5 0 5 . 934.7253 Fax 1 .8 8 8 . 249 . 7614 w w w



Also don't forget that this Saturday, June 17, is being promoted as "Summer Sailstice", a sailing holiday and opportunity to promote sailing. One way you can celebrate is by taking someone sailing with you this weekend. You can also go onto the website to register for prizes. We plan to invite folks to sail with us at Heron Lake this Saturday afternoon, and then bring some dogs for the grill and treats to share with anyone who's interested.

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club and Heron Lake Update

Heron Lake, New Mexico, is up 3.7 inches and 1,172 acre feet in 72 hours. The lake is at 7143.13' elevation, with 192,033 acre feet of water. Water continues to flow in from Willow Creek and the Azotea Tunnel, though at a reduced rate of about 125 cubic feet per second. Water has been flowing through the tunnel at 77 to 302 cfs, and through the creek at 77 to 328 cfs. By content, Heron is New Mexico's third largest lake, with about 70% as much water as Elephant Butte Lake in southern NM.

Elephant Butte Lake has dropped 10 inches and lost 7,808 acre feet in 72 hours.
The Butte is at 4319.48' above benchmark with 274,939 acre feet.

Content of New Mexico lakes, in acre-feet, as of Monday, June 12, 2006
1,498,682 Navajo
. . 274,939 Elephant Butte
. . 192,033 Heron
. . 158,752 Abiquiu
. . 131,962 Conchas
. . 104,852 El Vado
. . . 48,867 Cochiti
. . . 37,083 Santa Rosa
. . . 36,207 Eagle Nest
. . . 19,247 Brantley
. . . . . 801 Avalon

On Sunday, the Santa Fe New Mexican published a somewhat doom-and-gloom story, "Tapped Out"by Staci Matlock (, which cited a projection that Heron would be down to 165,000 acre feet on Labor Day, El Vado down to 30,000 a.f., and the Butte down to 75,000 a.f. These projections seem lower than expected and I'm trying to track where they came from and find out whether they're very accurate and up to date or maybe instead represent some sort of worst-case scenario. Even with these projections, it looks like Heron will be one of the best places to go sailing in the southwest this summer.

NOTE: I had an e-mail conversation with the reporter, Staci Matlock; her data was from the B.O.R./State Engineer's press release at the end of April. So, it's probably not the latest and greatest info and the B.O.R. should have more recent info.

At the Heron Lake marina this weekend we had a work party pull some cables and an anchor as a test of the new electric winch - - it did wonders - - , held a dinner potluck attended by about 20 people, and had a few more boats coming into the marina. Sailing was also good on both Saturday and Sunday, with nice breezes.

At the meeting late Saturday morning, the club discussed and decided several issues.

One decision was to allow month-to-month rentals with some restrictions. The rate will be $180 plus tax, plus $25 to join the club, and the rental will be limited to two months maximum. The rate was kept high enough so as to make sure that long-term slip renters would not be put at a disadvantage.

Another was about the future of the marina. The club decided to try to extend the usability of the marina by making B and C docks more like A dock. The idea is to add corner bracing where the finger piers join the mainwalk as well as additional anchoring and some better floats while getting rid of the substructure, starting at the end of B dock.

If this works well, then the marina would be usable in shallower water than it now requires, and would be less subject to damage and need less effort to prepare for groundings and restore to service after a grounding.

At the same time, which was also part of the motion that passed, we would still pursue the approvals and plans for moving the marina into the main lake, so that if moving becomes necessary, we would be prepared and able to move. We will also want to address the issue of being able to move the marina back to Willow Creek Cove if the club wants to do so someday if and when the lake becomes full again.

The work that will be done on B and C docks this season will also help us in case we do have to move the marina. One of the important points of the discussion was the need, if we move the marina, to also work on boat ramps and access. Being able to keep boats in the water is only good if we can also get them in and out. We'll need to work on ramp maintenance and improvements with the New Mexico State Parks.

One thing that was put off was installing the long gangway. With the lake only coming up a few more feet and then going down, even after moving it to the point it would still be very steep. Plus it would cost quite a bit of money to prepare floats, a landing, and hire a crane to install it. Instead, we'll continue to improve the trail and likely put in a new switchback and more ropes, posts, and lights. With advance notice, we can also arrange to have a volunteer meet people at the boat ramp with a boat to help ferry people or heavy gear to the marina. Also, one of our board members has proposed that we move part of the old docks to the proposed new marina site to be able to use it as a working dock and staging area for any future work at the new site.

One action that will need to be done at some point is improving the platform / float upon which the dock house sits. The dockhouse is listing to the south and probably isn't well supported.

Other things that will likely be done eventually may include putting a shed up for the pumpout, generator, and a porta-potti, widening the ABC connecting walkway, and, when the marina is on the hard, attempting to excavate part of the ridge that causes the BC connecting walkway to buckle during low water. Pat

Sunday, June 11, 2006

end of the weekend and back to the big 'burque...

Saturday night's potluck at the Heron Lake marina pavillion was well enough attended and the marina is showing much more activity, now that more than thirty boats have put in. We also had a couple of MacGregor sailors (Allan and Patricia) arrive late on Saturday; I paddled out in the kayak under the moonlight to the Willow Creek boat ramp to greet them as they put in and lead them to an overnight slip.

Sunday was a bit bumpy as a certain Senior Patrol Leader seems to have forgotten the meaning of "Be Prepared". He wasn't ready to head out at the appointed time, and then, some miles down the road, realized he'd forgotten his sleeping bag. So, we were about 30 or 40 minutes behind our planned arrival time at the Scout camp where he was to join the older boys in his troop, who will be taking a 30-mile backpacking trek Monday through Friday.

After dropping him off, I could have been back in Albuquerque in less than two hours, but I'd promised Batgal that I'd return to Heron Lake to crew for her. That meant adding 150 miles and more than three hours of driving time to my day, including repeat trips through some nasty construction zones, so it was quite a big, tiring commitment. However, I was greatly looking forward to crewing on Black Magic's maiden voyage on Heron Lake; Black Magic had been in her slip for a week but still hadn't sailed upon the lake.

Upon arriving, I found Batgal on board her boat, which was rigged and almost ready to go. A nice breeze was blowing, perhaps 10-12 mph with some stronger puffs, and several boats were out on the water, including boats with families on board, and others with some of the more "seasoned" members of the club; they were all out having a great time. Unfortunately, the Batgal wasn't comfortable with sailing with just me as crew; she was looking for more competent crew for her first voyage on Heron and the more gung-ho I got about prospects for getting out the moreabsolutely positively sure she was that she wouldn't go out. Finally, I did a quickie solo on our water-ballast MacGregor, then got in some more kayaking around the lake. Then, after eating and visiting with folks, and helping some folks dock, we de-rigged Black Magic. Oh well, maybe one of these days Black Magic will finally get some hotshot crew on board so the Batgal can take her out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quick Lake Update

We got a quick look at the Butte (150 miles south of Albuquerque) last night and will be at Heron (165 miles north) tonight.

Heron Lake: 7142.84' elevation, 190,918 acre feet. Up 1.8 inches and 573 a.f. in 24 hours. The Azotea Tunnel outlet has water flowing at 281 cfs, Willow Creek at 315 cfs. Most of the marina is in 17 feet of water. About a third of the marina spaces have been filled, and about another third paid for. Heron now has about 67.4% as much water as the Butte and is the state's third-largest lake. Bill Ross reports from Victor Salazar of the Bureau of Reclamation that no discharges are expected until November. (A possible exception I thought of might be some diversions by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.)

Elephant Butte Lake: 4320.36' elevation (above benchmark), 283,327 acre feet. Down 3.6 inches and 2,896 acre feet in 24 hours. Water is flowing out at 1,520 c.f.s., which at least is better than the 2,000 c.f.s. that had been projected in the reservoir's operating plan; if it continues at the current rate instead of the 2,000-c.f.s. rate, then the lake would have about 150,000 a.f. at the end of July instead of the 100,000 or a bit less a.f. projected in the plan.

108,731 a.f. El Vado
159,794 a.f. Abiquiu
49,719 a.f. Cochiti

Dumbledore and Mother's Almost Excellent Adventure Abroad

Yesterday evening we journeyed to the Fleet 141 compound to drop off some boat equipment and a check and found that the skippers had just arrived the night before from San Carlos, northwestern Mexico. They'd journeyed down from the Butte early Friday morning, towing Magnum's Catalina 30 to the Sea of Cortez.

It was getting dark, since Carol Anne's car hadn't had its brakes repaired until late in the day in Albuquerque, giving us a late start on our errand. Neither Zorro nor any other sailors were in evidence, and cloudy skies, a tight schedule, and lack of launched boats ruling out the idea of a moonlight sail. So, we had a nice visit under the porch while the passing clouds gave us the music of raindrops pattering gently on the roof. We had a nice visit to catch up on Dumbledore and Mother's boat-hauling adventure to Mexico.

The trip was a success, though apparently not without a few adventures and misadventures, including spending a day being sent to find one or more marinas that didn't exist (Magnum, it turned out, had viewed a very realistic-looking depiction of a proposed (!) marina and resort complex, and the traveling group had also been told by another New Mexican sailor to look for a marina in the crowded commercial waterfront in Guaymas where none of the locals had ever heard of such a thing.)

There was also some interesting "learning experiences" involving the Marina Seca's big jacknife-like launching apparatus and a heavy duty launching crane. The latter, with the sailors' help, turned out to be just the solution for getting the boat in the water when the marina didn't have enough workers to operate the big jacknife launcher.

Another of their adventures involved the failure of the Gypsy Soul's fuel delivery system just as the boat arrived in the Marina Real. Dumbledore had Magnum steer into the nearest empty slip so he could diagnose the problem (an electric line that had come lose and shut off the fuel pump, plus some issues with the fuel pump's ability to fill up a big filter) and do more of his usual ingenious fixes, which ultimately involved splicing a squeeze bulb into the fuel line.

The good news was that paperwork and officialdom were quite gentle and easy to handle. The only surprise in the southbound border crossing was when Magnum and his wife and brother were waved through into the car lane and route, whereas Dumbledore and Mother, with Magnum's boat, were sent to the truck route; the crews were only reunited later at the 15-km checkpoint. The visa paperwork was taken care of at the 15-km checkpoint; a couple of toll booths were encountered on the journey south; and then boat paperwork was taken care of in San Carlos.

It was a long, hot journey, with some hardships. I suspect that Mother and Dumbledore still would immensely prefer the Pacific Northwest or northern New Mexico's Heron Lake to San Carlos in summer, but, as is said, different strokes for different folks. That's okay just so long as it's not a sunstroke!

Travelin' man

This is just a domestic update for the benefit of anyone who might wonder (a) where I've been, or (b) why the Foghorn has been delayed so much.

Thursday (6/1) - worked, drove to Cochiti, sailed on Steven G.'s Thistle.

Friday (6/2) - Batgal & Tadpole drove to Elephant Butte to paint the trailer while I worked and then drove to Heron Lake and Laguna Vista.

Saturday (6/3) - Batgal & Gerald worked with Seymour to re-center her boat on the trailer and de-rig and prepare for travel while I cleaned up "Five O Clock Somewhere" and installed a rough dog run next to the house, shopped in Chama, went by marina, greeted the Batgal, Tadpole, Seymour, his wife, son, and Tyler the Bulldog when they arrived with s/v Black Magic.

Sunday - helped rig and launch Black Magic at Heron Lake, worked at marina, kayaked in cove, took pictures of marina and boats.

Monday - downloaded pictures, worked, made appointments, read part of a book.

Tuesday - dropped Expedition off at Ford dealership for charging/starting test (wound up getting a new battery), worked, shopped, then traveled north 165 miles to Heron Lake, visited marina, rigged the MacGregor, sailed, switched vehicles, picked up Carol Anne and Gerald, returned to Albuquerque a little after midnight.

Wednesday - worked, took cats to vet's office for annual physical, took Gerald to string bass lesson, cello lesson, 1st portion of Scout meeting, and music class; took Carol Anne out for a bbq dinner.

Thursday - dropped off car for brake job, worked, took bus home, retrieved car, drove 155 miles south to Elephant Butte to the Fleet 141 compound, then dinner at Pizza Hut in T or C and arrived back in Albuquerque after midnight.

Friday (6/9) - paid bills, went to work, will be shopping and going to Heron Lake tonight.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Marinas in the Desert Seas

Dan ( had a post about why people choose a marina. Carol Anne ( replied and I had to add my two cents' worth.

Carol Anne said,
"At Elephant Butte, my favorite marina is the northern one, which is a mere quarter mile from the Fleet 141 Compound with no overhead wires in between. It’s also the closest to the RGSC racecourse....

At Heron, the NMSC runs the marina, which means it’s a very friendly place for sailboats and sailors. It’s in a cove away from the main lake, so it’s peaceful, but it’s a beat upwind through the Narrows to get to the main body of the lake.

Both marinas are in state parks, and so are away from industry (actually, the whole state of New Mexico is pretty far from industry). Both marinas may have to relocate if lake levels drop, making the location less convenient for the one at the Butte, and less secluded for the one at Heron."


[The "Fleet 141 Compound" is the Elephant Butte lake home of the skippers who are fleet captains of J24 fleet 141; their home is a popular gathering place for local sailors and is easily identifiable from a distance by the concentration of masts. The home is only a few blocks from a boat ramp, and there is a route to the boat ramp that is free of overhead power lines.]

[Also, it may be the case that ALL of the marinas at the Butte may have to relocate if lake levels go down far enough. 4407 feet above benchmark is spillway elevation; 4335' is this year's high point, 4320' the current elevation, 4298' the level at which one marina would have to re-locate, 4294' is when a second would have to relocate, and a possible worst-case scenario has the lake going down to the mid 4280s or so.]

And my comments,

To continue from what Carol Anne posted, many factors influence our choice of where to put a boat. One is our “migratory” habit of moving boats seasonally. The dramatic elevation and climate differences in New Mexico mean that temperatures near on various lakes can differ by 15 or 20 degrees. So, we can enjoy 85-degree (F) weather at Heron in the summer while it’s almost 100 degrees at the Butte. Conversely, we can often sail during the cooler months at the Butte while parts of Heron are frozen over.

Another factor is cost; although we like the convenience of marinas we can’t really afford pay for the season at Heron (where the marina is volunteer-operated and less expensive) and then also have to pay for annual contracts for both of our boats at the Butte. So, we need a marina at the Butte that will allow us a seasonal/peak of sailing season month-to-month sublet or similar arrangement. Also, unlike our cabin and land near Heron Lake, our home in Albuquerque is too small to store our larger boats (single car garage, short narrow driveway, limited street frontage, no rv parking, no vehicle access to back yard).

Another factor is limited selection. Unlike densely populated segments of the coast, our state has very few marinas. Elephant Butte Lake, once New Mexico’s largest lake, has but three marinas. Heron Lake has only the one. Navajo has a few - - about 20 miles apart. (The Colorado end of the lake is particularly friendly to sailors and Navajo is the only large lake in the region that is nearly full.) Only a couple of other lakes are large or developed enough to have marinas. Cochiti Lake, a moderate-sized lake within an hour's drive of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, once had a marina but lost it due to neglect and indifference by the local governmental powers that be. That’s it for marinas.

Yet another is suitability of slips and facilities. One marina we’ve tried had slips where the piers had sharp metal edges without wooden or plastic rub rails or bumpers. Sailboats, especially our water-ballasted high-freeboard small cruiser, can be hard to maneuver in tight quarters and in crosswinds, so a few hundred dollars worth of fiberglass damage convinced us to go to another marina.

The marina where the Batgal’s boat has been slipped has some sailboat slips that are easily approached, with maneuvering room enough so that she can usually sail in and out of the slip and not need to keep a motor on the boat. This marina also has, in addition to the usual chemical heads, bathrooms with flush toilets and running water (albeit cold) that are reserved for slip tenants (who have keys). This is a step up from what the other marinas have ... and saves a whole lot of steps up the steep hillsides (during low lake levels) to the far-distant (and sometimes off-seasonally locked) state park restrooms.

Yet another is management. One of the marinas at the Butte had been managed by a sailor who was friendly and helpful to other sailors. When new owners started making changes, instituting and enforcing fees without making significant or noticeable improvements (except for adding some potted plants and putting insulation in the ceiling of the marina store), he disagreed with their policies (making customers pump their own gas, for an example) and left to run another business up in the big city. Unfortunately, the people who had been hired to run the marina in the place of the previous marina manager simply didn’t have his intimate knowledge of the marina; as an expert diver he had touched every board, truss, bolt, anchor, and cable and knew precisely how to maintain the structure and keep it safe.

The marina also became much less convenient when the new management started locking the outer gate to the piers each night without giving the slip renters keys or a combination. So, anyone staying on board for a night would be locked in . . . unless they had a dinghy to row to shore or wanted to swim! And, if an emergency were to occur at night, fire, police, ambulance, or rescue personnel might have to wait for management to show up with a key or else have to evacuate a victim by boat in the dark.

In the meantime, Batwoman’s boat has been kept seasonally at the northern marina, where management is friendly, approachable, and generally accommodating. The owners are hands-on managers who spend much of their time at the marina. Although we did have a couple of minor items disappear from the boat overnight during night-fishing hours, we generally have felt very secure. Also, we have a feeling that the owners were looking out for our interests; when the Batgal, Dino, and Zorro had a dismasting on USA 38, the owner saw the sail come down in the distance and called the state parks rescue boat to investigate and help.

The story at Heron Marina is quite a different one, since that marina is administered by the New Mexico Sailing Club and run by volunteers. Also, I've had to become rather intimate with that marina, given my current responsibilities. We recently had a third of the slips replaced with a brand-new "A dock", but are still dealing with the effects of fluctuating lake levels, silting of the cove where the marina is set, and drought. All of this is probably material for one or more separate posts. Pat

June 7, 2006, Lake Update

June 7, 2006, Update

Lake Conditions:

Heron Lake is at 7142.55 feet elevation, with 189,848 acre feet. It is up 5" and 1,605 acre feet in 72 hours. Heron is up 12 feet and 40,000 acre feet since the spring low point. The Azotea Tunnel is flowing at 216 to 386 cfs; Willow Creek at 225-353 cfs. This summer Heron will perhaps receive another 8,000 - 11,000 a.f. but maybe give up a similar amount for irrigation. Heron is now the third largest lake in New Mexico, with 65% as much water as the Butte.

Elephant Butte Lake, 4320.92 elevation above benchmark, 288,728 acre feet.It is down 9 inches and 7,637 acre feet in 72 hours and down about 15 feet since the spring high point. Water is flowing out of the dam at about 1,500 cfs.

1,526,818 a.f. Navajo Lake
10,171 a.f. Costilla
159,646 a.f. Abiquiu
111,451 a.f. El Vado
49,949 a.f. Cochiti
134,164 a.f. Conchas
36,691 a.f. Eagle Nest
47,788 a.f. Santa Rosa
9,389 a.f. Sumner
15,251 a.f. Brantley

Bill R. and Rich S. (who should be on his way back from San Carlos) could probably help us figure out where things are underwater and what junk we should be pulling off the bottom and how to make sure the new and old marina parts stay aligned.

It would be good to have a work party at 9:00 followed by a meeting at 11:00 Saturday, a fun race Saturday afternoon, and a potluck dinner (with the club contributing burgers and dogs and fixings) Saturday at 7:00.

Because we didn't succeed in having a meeting during Memorial Day weekend, I hope we can have one at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. With luck, and more boats now in the marina, we can have more activities and get more people to attend. If people can't make it, then our next-best plan would probably be to discuss things via e-mail and phone.

It's been proposed (Rich S.) that we offer a monthly rate with no docksitting requirement and no seniority rights to fill in empty marina spaces. The price would probably need to be low enough to be competitive with marinas at other lakes, but high enough that all of our members who pay for the whole season plus contribute docksitting aren't shortchanged. With that in mind, something like $175 tax-included (about $160 before tax) might be reasonable. Someone needs to make a motion if this sounds good.

Gangway - - someone who knows more perhaps can decide whether the lake will get high enough to make it feasible to set up the long gangway. Ideas?


Marina - - move or stay?
We also need to get more info on how willing the parks and reclamation folks are to help us if we decide to move the marina. Also needed is better information on how much more runoff we might get.

So far, it seems likely (all of these are educated guesses at best and the numbers are terribly uncertain) that if we leave the marina in place, next spring it would be stranded on dry land about 8 feet above the lake level.

(Data/assumptions: Heron went down to 150,000 acre feet this spring, received about 40,000 acre feet and may get 10,000 more from runoff, will perhaps give up 15,000 for irrigation this summer, 30,000 more the rest of the calendar year, and 50,000 more before next spring's runoff, leaving the lake with 105,000 acre feet at next spring's low point. At about 125 kaf water would reach the marina; at 150kaf most of the marina would be in 5 feet of water and partially afloat; at 170,000kaf the marina would be fully usable.)

We would need to receive and keep about 65% of average runoff in order to float and open the marina at all in spring 2007 (A dock could be used with 60% runoff), and about 70% for most deep-keel boats to use the ramp. With 80% of normal runoff, we would be reasonably assured of a good summer season. The marina would probably have to open late in the season (Memorial Day weekend or early June) unless there's a very strong early runoff.

In order to prevent parts of the marina from touching bottom again in the spring of 2008, the 2007 runoff would have to achieve a near-record 165% of normal.

If the marina remains in place and next year is relatively dry like this year, with runoff only around 50% or so, then we'll be out of business for the year 2007 and in the year 2008 would need around 120% runoff in order to have any season. A dry 2007 would make it probable that the marina is out of business in 2008 as well.

Discussion? Ideas? Suggestions? Plans? Comments?

Richard K. writes:
Pat et al.: As of now I'm planning to up Friday evening for dusk sail. Saturday morning would be good time to try out the new winch and welding job.

The yellow lines attached to the old A-dock undertruss are a hazard to navigation and hopefully we can get something to come up without breaking something or hurting someone.
Does anyone (Bill??) know what became of the cables that we removed from the old A-dock west end winches? Pete Barlow and I tied them to a buoy in late April, and they were tied to the buoy before the new A-dock went into place. Did they attach the west end new A-dock winch cables to the old mushroom anchor cables? Or did they drop those cables and attached their winch cables to the new 4500 lb concrete anchors? I don't see the buoy near the end of A-dock where it was before the new A-dock went in place.

I mention this because it seems that the new A-dock and the pavilion seem to be drifting eastward with respect to the main walkway and B and C docks. It seems to me that the new A-dock might need to be attached to the old mushroom anchors somehow to keep the prevailing winds from blowing A-dock and the pavilion back to shore. I'm not sure if the placement of the new concrete anchors is right to achieve this. (The new west end-cables seem to be more N-S of A-dock rather than out to the west.)

There are 2 mushroom anchors to the SW of A-dock, one down in the channel that was replaced in circa 2002 or 2003 by work party headed by Mike Grady, and another on the south side of the channel that Rich Strassia said he placed when the south shore deadman anchor line had to be removed for safety reasons when the lake went low. (I'm not sure that we need the second anchor, but it may provide a good backup.) It's my understanding that there is another mushroom anchor to the NW of A-dock that may also serve as an anchor for B or C docks, not sure about this as I have no direct experience with any of the B or C-dock anchors.
Any information about the old A-dock anchor line status would be helpful. See you on the water.

Thanks. -- Rich
posted on Wednesday, June 07,

Monday, June 05, 2006

s/v Black Magic arrives at Heron Lake

Tadpole connects the shrouds.

Tadpole and Batwoman with the sexiest boat on Heron Lake.

Tadpole brings a load of "fun noodle" floats to be used to cushion the slip.

Carol Anne aboard Black Magic on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Finally almost ready to sail!

Lake Conditions at Elephant Butte Lake, NM

Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico continues to shrink as irrigators pull water out. Elephant Butte is at elevation 4321.46 (above benchmark) and has 294,009 acre feet as of Monday morning, June 5, 2006. It lost 9.3 inches and 7,689 acre feet in the past 72 hours. Discharge from the dam is 1490 to 1500 c.f.s.

The lake reached its high point earlier this year on March 5, 2006, at elevation 4339.88 (about 67 fleet below spillway) feet with 503,030 acre feet. (Maximum capacity is a little more than 2,000,000 acre feet.)

Weather is expected to be hot with moderate breezes.
Monday, high 90s, afternoon winds SE to SW 7-12 mph
Tuesday, high 90s or more, p.m. winds SE to SE 7-13 mph
Wednes., high 90s, afternoon winds E to SE 6-10 mph
Thursday, mid 90s, afternoon winds SSW 6-9 mph

Heron Lake, Sunday, June 4

Panoramic view of marina at Heron Lake in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Conditions as of this past Sunday continued to improve, with more boats arriving at the marina. Water continued to flow into the lake; the Azotea Tunnel was flowing at 233 to 409 cubic feet per second this weekend and Willow Creek at 245 to 353 cfs. The lake rose 4 inches and gained 1,260 acre feet in the past 72 hours, reaching elevation 7142.29 with 188,816 acre feet (or about 64.2% the amount that's now in Elephant Butte Lake). The marina is in 15 to 17 feet of water and ramp conditions are good.

Buoys partially afloat. (This picture was reluctant to load.)

Dockmaster Jay and daughter enjoy a paddle near the mouth of Willow Creek.

The Davey's Ericson 30 sailboat arrives at Heron Lake after a long journey from California.

Highlander eases back toward the marina with Roch Koch aboard; Sunday, June 4, 2006.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Elephant Butte Lake Conditions and Predictions

Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico continues to shrink as the irrigation season goes on. However, there's a slight bit of good news; today the rate of water release decreased from 1520 cubic feet per second to 1120 c.f.s.

Lake level is 4322.26 feet above benchmark, with 301,892 acre feet of water remaining in the lake.

This is a decrease of about 9 inches and 7,400 acre feet in 72 hours.

According to the operations plan, the lake should be at 4,322.35 and 302,756 acre feet and releasing 1450 c.f.s. until 12 June, when the rate would go up to 2,000 c.f.s. This plan projects the lake to have,

on June 30 207,612 a.f. at elevation 4,311.67;
on July 4th the lake would be at 192,113 a.f. and 4,309.63 feet;
on July 31st the lake would be at 89,437 a.f. and 4,292.97 a.f.

However, this assumes continuous outflow of 2,000 c.f.s., which is not currently the case, and essentially no inflow (2,000 a.f. in June and 1,000 a.f. in July). Better runoff, seepage, and summer rains could delay the predicted low-water date.

It is not yet known when or if the marinas might have to move, though lake levels in the 4,294 to 4,298 foot level would likely require some significant adjustments and place a burden upon the state parks rangers to allocate more resource to boat ramp clearing and improvement.