Monday, November 20, 2006

Heron and Elephant Butte Lakes

A re-cap on how our sailing lakes did this year.

Elephant Butte Lake suffered from continuing drought and poor spring runoff. Predictions were for dire low-water conditions during the summer of 2006 with the potential for the lake to sink to 3% of capacity and become a glorified river without good ramp access or sailability. This time, however, the clouds on the horizon brought good news with the gift of abundant summer rains. The lake never sank below 9% of capacity and remained fully usable all summer long. The rains continued into fall, with the lake raising almost continuously throughout August, September, October, and November.

Heron Lake also suffered from a sub-par spring runoff, but at least got most of what passes for normal runoff in this part of the world. And, Heron also benefitted from late-summer rains.


Elephant Butte Lake

Elev. (feet) . . . . Storage (acre feet) . . . Date

4,334.82 . . . . . . . 439,541 . . . . . . . Nov. 20
4,333.54 . . . . . . . 424,254 . . . . . . . Nov. 13
4,332.14 . . . . . . . 407,850 . . . . . . . Nov. 6
4,331.24 . . . . . . . 397,510 . . . . . . . Oct. 31
4,327.10 . . . . . . . 351,800 . . . . . . . Sept. 30
4,325.18 . . . . . . . 331,550 . . . . . . . Aug. 31
4,308.50 . . . . . . . 183,870 . . . . . . . July 28 low point
4,339.88 . . . . . . . 503,030 . . . . . . . March 5 high point
4,334.06 . . . . . . . 430,410 . . . . . . . January 1, 2006

Note that the Butte is already recovered above its January 1 level and is within five feet of its maximum level for the spring.

Heron Lake

Elev. (feet) . . . . Storage (acre feet) . . . Date
7,145.85 . . . . . . . 202,691 . . . . . . . Nov. 20
7,147.10 . . . . . . . 207,707 . . . . . . . Nov. 8
7,148.03 . . . . . . . 211,484 . . . . . . . Oct. 24
7,144.46 . . . . . . . 197,203 . . . . . . . Sept. 25
7,143.47 . . . . . . . 193,350 . . . . . . . Sept. 1
7,143.47 . . . . . . . 193,350 . . . . . . . Aug. 29
7,143.29 . . . . . . . 192,653 . . . . . . . July 5
7,143.26 . . . . . . . 192,535 . . . . . . . June 29
71,42.29 . . . . . . . 188,816 . . . . . . . June 4
7,141.09 . . . . . . . 184,270 . . . . . . . May 27
7,135.01 . . . . . . . 162,731 . . . . . . . May 2
7,133.93 . . . . . . . 158,684 . . . . . . . April 27
7,144.29 . . . . . . . 196,496 . . . . . . . Jan. 5

Commodore's Corner, New Mexico Sailing Club

The marina is quiet now that the last work party has prepared the marina for winter. The long trusses have been loosened and floated to the surface to minimize damage from spring grounding. With workers and boats departed, the lake belongs to anglers and waterfowl. The golds and reds of fall color season have come and gone in the high country, replaced by frosty mornings, and the local wildlife is preparing for winter.

With boats put away for the winter, the thoughts of many sailors turn to the holidays that are now fully upon us. As we rush to prepare for the holiday season, we can remember the sailing season that was and make time for the final New Mexico Sailing Club gathering of the year. Our party will be held Saturday evening, Dec., 9, from 6:00 p.m. onward, at the Coronado Grill in Bernalillo. Mark Paz, the manager and part-owner, is a sailor and friend of the club; he helped prepare our marina for the winter and is very kindly turning over the restaurant to the club for the evening.

New Mexico sailors navigate through interesting times and places and 2006 was no exception. We enjoyed the closest thing we've had to a "normal" year since the 2003 - 2005 drought thanks to the hard work of a loyal group of volunteers. Despite a subpar spring runoff, we were able to open the marina by late spring and enjoy a full season of sailing. We increased the number of boats in the marina, scheduled a couple of races, enjoyed dinners, potlucks, and an ice cream social, and enjoyed the beauty of Heron Lake in all its many moods and colors.

Many NMSC members enjoyed area activities in addition to sailing. Fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking, and riding the Cumbres & Toltec scenic railroad are traditional pastimes. Some also participated in a new event when Heron Lake State Park hosted its first-ever Osprey Festival, which was a popular success. Your commodore also participated in a town hall meeting on behalf of the club, and attended the dedication of a new trail that extends from the visitor center eastward across the marina driveway. We also launched a Sunfish flotilla and brought some Boy Scouts to sail. And, even after the season's close, we continue to sail, either in reality or in our dreams. The fall sailboat racing season is just ending at Elephant Butte Lake with some of us still being fortunate enough to enjoy sailing year 'round. Other NMSC sailors have ventured to warmer ocean waters to fulfill their needs.

Along with the fun, we have shared sadness, especially with the death of long-time member Darold Rhodes and the stroke that has been such a blow to Bill Ross, who, however, is working very hard on his physical therapy and recovery.

The club made major investments in the marina's future by replacing A dock entirely. The new A dock is designed to withstand future groundings and also offers advantages such as corner platforms and longer slips. It is a beautiful facility for Heron Lake. We also purchased floats and knee braces to stiffen and rehabilitate B dock next spring and make it more like the new A dock. The work barge is motorized and furnished with an electric winch that adds lifting power and saves workers' backs. And, we made our insurance company happy by adding a section of handrail near the dockhouse.

We also see the need for continuing improvements. Many marina projects will be continuing in the new year. We've improved the trail down to the marina with lights, drainage, and gravel, but it's still "interesting" on a rainy night. If the lake rises sufficiently next spring, we should be able to re-install the long gangway and give marina users a safer, easier means of access. The dockhouse is listing and the floats under it will need replacement. We still want to widen and stabilize the connecting walkway. We need to improve our activities, be much more successful in re-establishing racing, re-establish sailing lessons. We need to continue to improve safety at the marina. We need to recruit more new members and volunteers, get more boats back in the marina, and get some of our old timers to realize that the lake is up and the water is fine. We need plans in place to continue club activities in case of future drought. And, the list does go on!

Please call, visit, or e-mail me or our club leaders with your suggestions, comments, or questions. The club cannot exist without your support. With your support, we will have many opportunities to become better sailors, introduce new sailors to our sport and joy, and enjoy the wonder and beauty of Heron Lake.

Snug lines,

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quickie Elephant Butte Lake update

Skip over if watching the lake come up glazes your eyes shut....

Elephant Butte Lake levels and amount of water

Elev., feet above benchmark . . . water, acre feet ... date

4,333.54 . . . . . 424,253 . . . Nov. 13, 2006 (Monday morning)
4,332.14 . . . . . 407,850 . . . Nov. 6
4,331,24 . . . . . 397,510 . . . Oct. 31
4,327.10 . . . . . 351,800 . . . Sep. 30
4,325.18 . . . . . 331,550 . . . Aug. 31
4,308.50 . . . . . 183,870 . . . Jul. 28
4,339.88 . . . . . 503,030 . . . Mar. 5
4,334.06 . . . . . 430,410 . . . Jan. 1, 2006

Elephant Butte Lake is

up 2.4 inches and 2,367 a.f. in 24 hours
up 8.2 inches and 8,017 a.f. in 71 hours
up 1.4 feet and 16,403 a.f. in 1 week
up 2.3 feet and 26,743 a.f. in November so far
up 25.04 feet and 240,497 a.f. since July 28 low point

within 6 -1/4 inches and 6,157 a.f. of where it was Jan. 1, 2006
within 6 feet, 4 inches and 78,777 a.f. of the Mar. 5, 2006, high point for the year

Nice wind for sailing... if your boat is up for it.

Saturday we couldn't complain about the weather; we had great wind for sailing. And, we pretty much had Carol Anne's boat ready to go and had a great first race. Then things got a bit exciting when the tiller started to crack, the gooseneck pin and then the gooseneck fitting itself failed, our foredeck crew had trouble with the jaws on our spinnaker pole, sending us way beyond a leeward mark, and we had some bad starts and freakish winds to set us back in the pack. But, "Tadpole" lashed the boom to the mast and duct-taped the tiller and we kept sailing, passing other boats. We were last in our group on corrected time in most of the races, but at least it felt good to be catching up and passing other boats and being second or third to finish in most of the races.

Max Temperature 66 °F / 18 °C
Min Temperature 45 °F / 7 °C

Wind Speed
8 mph / 13 km/h (NW)

Max Wind Speed
16 mph / 26 km/h

Max Gust Speed
21 mph / 34 km/h

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sailing Club Websites back up

Yestderday, the web sites for the Rio Grande and New Mexico sailing clubs were down.
Today they're back up. So, enjoy.

RGSC update and announcements

Desert Classic Regatta, November 11 - 12, 2006
(Veteran's Day Nov. 11)
Committee boat helpers needed.
Foghorn articles wanted.
Social update.
Boat wanted for NMSU sailing.

----------Forwarded message ----------
XDate: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 11:43:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: RGSC Announcement

Please pass on:
Everyone welcome. Come race, watch or just enjoy.


at Elephant Butte Lake:
Saturday 11th:
10:00 am at Elephant Butte Inn
1:00 pm First Gun at Committee Boat
6:30 pm Dinner at the Elephant Butte Inn

Sunday 12th:
10:00 am First Gun at Committee Boat

Richard Dittmar, Commodore


Committee boat helpers are very much needed for this weekend and beyond. Please contact Charlie A. or the race committee if you can help this weekend or in the future.

Boat wanted.
And, from Peter * at New Mexico State University:

Pat, I think that in the far distant past you and I had talked about trying to acquire a boat for the NMSU recreation department. As you may be aware we are to offer a course - beginning sailing (1 credit hour PE course) - this next spring semester. Rich and Sue * are to teach the sailing theory part (small boat certification), and Ben * will teach the basic boating part. Additionally there will be two days on the water at Elephant Butte.

My question to you is - can we put an ad. in the next copy of the Foghorn asking for a boat donation for the NMSU Recreation Dept.? The donation I believe would be a 100% tax deduction. I will be bringing my Compac 16 up to the Butte sometime before Xmas - my wife wants it out of the driveway before I bring down my Albin Vega from Oak Harbor, Washington for cosmetic work prior to putting her in the water again. I am currently in the process of trying to purchase a 1991 truck to tow her down here with.

I had been going to go to the lake a couple of weeks ago but the weather was terrible and so Rich suggested, and I agreed that that weekend was not to be! Peter


And, for your social calendar:

Fleet hosts for socials are Bob & Patt for December
Jeff and Robin for January
William & Jane for Feburary
S _____ for March (help! - who signed up?), and
Perry & Barb for April

The Foghorn needs your articles!

women's sailing and Etchells fleet in formation

At a post-race dinner following the start of fall racing, our racing chairman explained how 2007’s format for the Adams Cup women’s team racing will differ from what was done this past spring here in New Mexico.

Essentially, each team will be responsible for its own training, organization, and logistics. Based on expected limited demand for women to compete locally on this year's more sophisticated and locally less common boat, the sailing clubs in our area would not anticipate hosting a local quarterfinals. Instead, they would most likely work with the regional sailing association to choose teams to compete in the semi-finals in Texas. The top team from the semis will go on to the national finals in September in San Diego.

Based on proposals by our commodore-nominee and others, the Rio Grande Sailing Club may be focusing on sail training (for youth, women, men, everyone) in the coming year, along with expanding club services.

Let us know what you'd like the sailing club to do and how it could be more useful to you.

Carol Anne is looking for one or two women for her team, along with alternates, support team, and women who want to try a taste of racing on a fast boat. Experience is far less important than enthusiasm, energy, availability, and willingness to learn. The idea is to work hard enough to be good, but have fun while doing it. For anyone who might want to try things a little slower, we could offer rides during non-race times or on other boats such as our MacGregor 26.

Also, we're helping form an Etchells fleet for the mountain west. As I post this, a fifth Etchells is moving into our region, with at least one other likely to follow very early next year. Look for more announcements abut the Etchells fleet soon. We are active members of the class and have information and materials from the International Etchells Class Association to share with anyone who'd like to be part of this exciting venture. Contact me, Carol Anne, Larry, or Frank if you'd like to be one of the founding members of the fleet.

Potential sailing dates

Nov. 11 - 12 Desert Classic Regatta
Nov. 18 - 19 Commodore's Cup, Fall Series 4
Nov. 25 - 26
Dec. 2 Kris Kringle Regatta, RGSC Holiday party
Dec. 3 Kris Kringle Match Racing
Dec. 9 NMSC holiday party, Bernalillo, NM
Dec. 16 - 17 (haulout)
Dec. 23 - Jan. 2 '07 San Diego
Jan. 20, '07 Frostbite (distance race?)
Feb. 3 Marina Cup match races (Feb. 4 lay day)
Feb. 17 - 18 Chute-Out regatta
Mar. 3 - 4 full moon weekend, Passover (SD midwinters?)
Mar. 10 - 11 Spring Series 1 (Daylight savings time)
Mar. 17 - 18
Mar. 24 - 25 Spring Series 2
Mar. 26 - 30 APS spring break
Mar. 31 - Apr 1 (raftup)
Apr. 6 (Good Friday, APS Vernal holiday)
Apr. 7 (Youth, Pickle Race)
Apr. 8 Easter
Apr. 14 - 15 Spring Series 3
Apr. 28 - 29 Spring Series 4
May 5 or ??? possible date for spring regional Etchells champs
May 12 Joshua Slocomb (single hand)
May 13 Jack and Jill (double hand hers and his)
May 19 Anniversary Cup (distance race)

Jun. 2 - 4 Memorial Day weekend (Heron or Colo.?)
June 16 NMSC
Jun. 23 Sailstice sailing celebration
June 30 NMSC
July 6 - 7 - 8 NMSC Long Race, challenge race
July 27 - Aug 6 Dillon Open

Sept. 1 - 3 Labor Day weekend, race & dinghy rally?
Sept. 19 - 23 Adams Cup (National Finals)
Sept. 21 - 23 Sunrise Regatta ?
Oct. 6 - 7, 20 - 21, Nov. 3 - 4, 17 - 18 Fall races?
Dec. 1 -2 Kris Kringle

New Mexico Lakes: Better Wet Than Drained

The fall continues to be kind to New Mexico's lakes, especially at southern New Mexico's Elephant Butte Lake, which has almost recovered to its beginning-of-year level.

In the meantime, contractors have begun to withdraw water from Heron Lake in northern NM. About a thousand acre feet were taken out in the first week of November, to join the 11,000 or so a.f. that were withdrawn earlier in the season.

Heron Lake, 10 a.m. Weds., Nov. 8, '06
7147.10 feet elevation
207,707 acre feet
down 1.2 inches and 406 a.f. in 24 hours
down 3.6 inches and 1,259 a.f. in 71 hours
Zero flow in Willow Creek.

Elephant Butte Lake, 12 p.m. noon Weds., Nov. 8, '06
4,332.42 feet elevation above benchmark
411,115 acre feet
0 outflow
629 cubic feet per second inflow at the San Marcial Floodway (373 min., 674 max. in past 71 hours)

Up 2.4 inches and 2,324 a.f. in 24 hours
Up 6 inches and 5,575 a.f. in 71 hours
Up 14 inches and 13,605 a.f. in first 8 days of November
Up 23 feet 11 inches and 227,245 a.f. since low point in July

Within 1.64 feet of January 1, 2006 beginning-of-year level (4,334.06 ft., 430,410 a.f.)
Within 7.46 feet of March 5, 2006 high point for the year 2006 (4339.88 ft., 503030 a.f.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Weekend update ... it's been busy.

Friday afternoon Carol Anne and I drove to El Paso to ransom Black Magic from the Boat Shop. The critical job of re-attaching the console to the hull had been completed. We've learned to do some of our own fiberglass work, but this was a job that really needed to be done right.

John, the technician who'd done the work, was very proud of the result and was pleased to have had the opportunity to work on our boat. The console is very solidly attached now -- John thinks that the boat could just about be lifted by it! He'd also never seen something like an Etchells; sailboats alone are exotic in this part of the world, much less something as sleek as the Etchells. Interestingly, he and the other guys at the shop were also fascinated by the massive keel and wondered how much the keel was worth! We also paid for a buff and polish job, so by the time we'd hooked up and left, we were more than a "boat dollar" poorer. (If you don't know what a "boat dollar" is, it's probably too expensive! Also, the Boat Shop was an interesting place; in addition to a bunch of motor boats, jet skies, and a rowing dory there were some cars being customized, and a cage containing an enormous iguana. While waiting, we rubbed the tummy and scratched the ears of the resident "junkyard dog" - a slightly greasy but not at all ferocious canine.)

John confirmed our suspicion about how poorly some past owner had attached the console; no hull preparation had been done at all the previous time, so of course the console had peeled right off when the floorboard supports failed. (New glass won't adhere well to old if the old surface hasn't been prepared by cleaning and sanding.)

Saturday I returned to Albuquerque to run (many) errands and bring "Tadpole" south. My errands included everything from getting Tad to the music store to pick up sheet music for the New Mexico All State Concert Orchestra to buying a recliner chair at a thrift shop to renewing a pharmacy prescription for one of our cats. Meanwhile, Carol Anne caught up on her writing, grading, reading, etc., along with starting to figure out what still needed to be done on the boat, and supervising a visit by plumbers who set the apartment bathroom sink drain to rights. (Besides teaching four classes and working on the boat, exercising, and racing, Carol Anne is again participating in the National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo - with her novel this year titled, "Murder at the Yacht Club". And, yes, I know who at the yacht club is going to get killed. And, I'd better behave, too!)

Carol Anne and Tad worked into the night re-rigging and re-attaching boat parts until it was finally time for us to grab a pizza. Then Tad worked in the apartment we've rented, installing mini-blinds. We were a bit frustrated because it wasn't obvious how we were going to re-do some of the blocks and rigging, especially with the floorboard supports and attached blocks still missing.

Sunday we worked on boat and other chores. We climped up a ladder to look at USA 438 to see how it was rigged, but with the mast, mainsheet, and other components missing couldn't learn much. We did do some good by pumping out several inches of rainwater that had accumulated (but someone will probably still want to use a portable pump to evacuate quite a bit more water that the fixed pump couldn't reach).

We then drove to the marina, arriving right behind "Zorro" who'd been unreachable the day before while he'd been enjoying homecoming festivities at the University of Texas at El Paso. He thought it wouldn't be too hard for us to finish getting the boat ready, so Tad and I left to bring Black Magic from the apartment to the mast-raising pole near Marina del Sur while Zorro and Carol Anne sailed on USA 38, Constellation. By the time they walked up the boat ramp to the pole, we had the mast in place and were almost ready to launch. Zorro was in a hurry for us to launch, so I whipped the boat around to the ramp with Zorro, Carol Anne, and Tad on board and did a quick launch.

While they rigged Black Magic, drilling more holes with a cordless drill and attaching more hardware and control lines, I took Black Magic's trailer to the apartment, unhitched, and then hitched up Syzygy's trailer. Leaving the truck and trailer in the Rock Canyon parking lot (still near the dam), I took Syzygy (our MacGregor) and a kayak our for a brief sail to meet Zorro on Constellation and Carol Anne and Tad on Black Magic. Black Magic was being motored; we'd not put a mainsail on Black Magic because we didn't think she'd be ready to sail so quickly, and had only a jib on board after I'd persuaded Tad to bring it on board. But, Zorro offered the loan of one of his practice mainsails from the dock, so I relayed the message to Carol Anne.

Carol Anne and Tad got sails up on Black Magic so they could sail with Zorro and they even got to do some tuning and "synchronized sailing". (They had to improvise; for example, with the main halyard cleat missing, Tad cleated the halyard to the fraculator cleat.) The sail made them much, much happier. Tad took some pictures that we should have on our weblogs later this week. I took Syzygy across the cove to the DamSite boat ramp, closed up the boat, and then paddled the kayak back to our slip. This opened up Black Magic's slip for her to return to her proper place. I then drove the truck and trailer to the DamSite ramp and retrieved our MacGregor solo, then parked the boat facing downhill so I could quickly lower the mast and de-rig.

Eventually we all made it home, stopping en route at Socorro Springs for dinner and a refill of Carol Anne's "growler" with Pickaxe IPA. Once home, we lost little time before ordering boat parts, including some new running rigging and blocks.

Boat Status:
Syzygy: de-rigged, ready to be trailered north.
Awaiting space at Cochiti for the winter.

Black Magic:
Sailable but still needs work.
More gear is on order.
(We spent a few more "boat pennies" last night.)

We still need to
install main halyard cleat
install temporary supports for floorboards and attach floorboards
rig new boom vang control system with new block (on order)
install new block (on traveler) for main sheet
(to provide 5 to 1 instead of 3 to 1 purchase and
eliminate need for main fine tunes)
replace backstay control line
(new 1/4 Yale Light line on order)
replace mainsheet
(new BZZZ line on order)
finish re-installing gear and bringing stuff on board
(spin pole, compass, sails, etc.)
attach spin pole holder on boom (pop rivet)
install clip for tiller extension (on order)
attach tangs to backstay

Later on...replace temporary floor supports with aluminum tubing, install corner supports, replace more cam cleats, cover up paint dings, re-do bottom paint, etc.

Elephant Butte Lake Status:

The lake continues to rise.
As of Monday morning, Nov. 6, 2006, 8:00 a.m.:
4,332.04 feet elevation above benchmark.
406,694 acre feet of water.

Up 1.4 inches and 1,383 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 6 inches and 5,500+ a.f. in 72 hours.
Up 5 feet and 55,000 a.f. since the end of September.