Friday, February 02, 2007

Sailing near Rock Canyon Marina, Elephant Butte Lake

Portion of sailboat row, Rock Canyon Marina. Far right are houseboats in their sheds; empty slip at near right belongs to USA 38, Constellation. Next is Black Magic, USA 125, in her slip along with a couple of our kayaks, and then at left are some cruising sailboats. Note how low and close to the water Black Magic's decks are in comparison to those of the cruisers.

USA 125, Black Magic, snug in her slip at Rock Canyon Marina, Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico. Note that as of last Saturday, she was still missing her boom, which was being re-assembled with a new forward end plate and gooseneck fitting. Although more than thirty feet long overall (twenty-two feet of waterline length), Black Magic looks like a dinghy when adjacent to cruising boats with less length but much greater freeboard and beam.

Except for the occasional winter storm (more frequent this year than in most years), Elephant Butte Lake is very quiet in winter. Gone are the goofy jetskiers and partiers; remaining are but a few fisherfolk and the occasional cruiser or sailor. Some of the houseboats in the marina are quite large and luxurous, with lengths of 80 to 100 feet, large covered upper decks, full flush plumbing, and luxurious kitchens -- no mere marine heads or galleys. Visible beyond and astern of the houseboat is the Rock Canyon Marina office and store. Because of the past year's low water levels, Rock Canyon Marina is now located near the dam at the lower end of Elephant Butte Lake. However, as water levels continue to rise, the marina may have to return to its normal location several miles to the north, just to the north of the area where the Rio Grande Sailing Club conducts races.

As of Friday morning, February 2, 2007 (6 a.m.), Elephant Butte Lake was at 4,344.16 feet above benchmark elevation (benchmark elevation is somewhat higher than mean sea level, perhaps by about 25 feet), with 560,382 acre feet of water in storage.


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