Friday, and weather is predicted to be mild and fair, for a change. After the winter storms, a mild weekend will let us complete some boat projects and maybe even get out on the water.
Last night, "Tadpole" and I attended a sailing club potluck dinner and social. Food was abundant; all the vittles and grog a sailorman and pirate queen could want.
Kyriel's skippers provided the progam, which was a presentation about their catamaran charter last year in Belize. They and two other couples took a Moorings 37 (which was replaced with a Moorings 40 after engine problems) out to explore the world's second largest barrier reef complex last October. The main challenge was the need for precise navigation in an area where deep water could instantly turn shoal. They were also glad they had both a dinghy and a kayak to explore the numerous small islands and reefs. The cruising catamaran had lots of space and stability, and its shallow draft let the crew anchor close to the reefs (with care not to damage coral). Normally they'd anchor fore and aft to minimize swing; many of the anchoring sites were tight. The only drawback for them was the cruising cat's ponderousness; even when the winds piped up to 25 kts, and experienced sailors did everything they could to boost speed, they'd be lucky to get 6 kts out of the boat. Because so much shoal water is in the area, the Moorings base in Belize rents only catamarans.
Other notes from the presentation:
The split provisioning, plus a few meals in open-air island kitchens, was more than adequate. One cook had sold out of all of her entrés, but was able to cook up shrimp that the crew brought her, and was able to whip up nice side dishes to go with the shrimp.
The flight through Miami on American Airlines, however, was a near disaster and cost them an extra night of travel; the quality and friendliness of customer service were gravely disappointing. Another couple, who traveled through Houston on Continental, paid perhaps $100 more, but had a far better experience and saved time.
The ten-day charter option was well worthwhile and let the sailors unwind and explore more without being in a rush.
After the presentation from Kyriel's crew, we were treated to some more pictures from "Your Mom"'s trip to Hawaii.
I also got to talk to "Milo" of "Glory Be" about adventures and life in the Virgin Islands. Interestingly -- in a bad way -- it seems that U.S. customs officials in the U.S. Virgins and Puerto Rico have rather a bad reputation for rudeness and red tape. Clearing back into port after visiting the British Virgins is quite a chore, and, even after a day sail, U.S. skippers are required to sign an statement that they've not created any trash while sailing and are told that they're prohibited from bringing trash ashore! They also have to clear in through U.S. customs when traveling from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico and back and are threatened with forfeiture if they don't clear in immediately upon arrival -- and are threatened with severe penalties if their boat arrives in Puerto Rico during non-work hours.
Another good note: "Cultural Infidel" has been repaired and is back in the mast-up lot; she should have her mast up probably this weekend but probably won't get to go in the water for another month.
Elephant Butte Lake (12 noon, Friday, Jan. 26):
4,343.42 feet elevation, 550,246 acre feet.
Up .12', 1,640 a.f. in 24 hours; up .30', 4,094 a.f. in 71 hours.
7,138.11, 173,301 a.f.
Down .34', 1,234 a.f. in 71 hours.
Elephant Butte Lake Elev. (feet) . . . . Storage (acre feet) . . . Date . . . rise/fall
4,343.42 . . . . . . . 550,246 . . . . . . . Jan. 26, '07 (1200) (up 2.70' to date)
4,340.72 . . . . . . . 514,050 . . . . . . . Dec. 31, '06 (2400) (up 4.20')
4,336.52 . . . . . . . 460,330 . . . . . . . Nov. 30 (up 5.28')
4,331.24 . . . . . . . 397,510 . . . . . . . Oct. 31 (up 4.14')
4,327.10 . . . . . . . 351,800 . . . . . . . Sept. 30 (up 1.92')
4,325.18 . . . . . . . 331,550 . . . . . . . Aug. 31 (up 15.98')
4,309.20 . . . . . . . 188,970 . . . . . . . July 31
4,308.50 . . . . . . . 183,870 . . . . . . . July 28 low point
4,312.98 . . . . . . . 217,970 . . . . . . . June 30
4,339.88 . . . . . . . 503,030 . . . . . . . March 5 high point
4,334.06 . . . . . . . 430,410 . . . . . . . January 1, 2006