Wednesday, March 28, 2007

views from a kayak, Elephant Butte Lake, March 15

After a long day in the safe boating instructor class, I was ready to get out on the water and stretch my stiff body. So, I kayaked about a mile up the lake to enjoy the sights on a warm late-winter day. Green buoy no. 7 is not far from Horse Island and a pass that leads to the Marina del Sur.

The Elephant formation that gives the lake its name.

Rock Canyon Marina fro the northwest, showing the end with the docks for large houseboats, some of which reach 80 to 110 feet in length overall.

Gulls and other seabirds have decided that the Butte is the closest thing to an ocean in this part of the world.

Sailboat row at Rock Canyon Marina; the second mast is Black Magic's.

Rest in Peace, Tres cat

Dulce and Tres dining together on Tres' last night on earth. These were the last photos taken of our loyal companion. When Tres first required prescription medicine and food, we had to shut the cats in separate rooms. Later, however, they became so accustomed to the separate-feeding arrangement that we could feed them in the same room with minimal supervision. After dinner, we cuddled with Tres and he settled in bed with "Tadpole" for his last night.

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Mandatory lifejackets? Maybe not.

One of our club officers brought up the subject of a state law requiring that personal flotation devices (lifejackets, or PFDs) must be worn in certain circumstances. Certainly professional safety advocates, who'd like to mandate that everyone on deck on a boat being operated on the water be required to wear a PFD at all times, are likely to support such a requirement. And, in many circumstances, (solo, night sailing, rough weather, non-swimmers, cold water, low visibility, congested waterways, etc.) wearing PFDs is particularly prudent.

Yep, there's a state law that says that participants in regattas and marine parades have to wear PFDs. Getting certain people we know to actually wear them, especially on a calm, hot day, and perhaps while coasting along lazily on a self-righting keelboat maybe even equipped with lifelines to give that extra feeling of security (real or imaginary), is a whole 'nother story.

Also, the same law has to fit a huge variety of circumstances -- jet boat races at 50 to 100 mph, PWCs, beach catamarans, dinghies, and keelboats with widely varying weather conditions, air and water temperatures, wind speeds, day/night conditions, and differing bodies of water.

Throw in different levels of crew training, temperament, and sobriety. And, add in accident statistics that show that sailboaters, especially in organized events with aid available nearby, are relatively free of casualty-producing accidents compared to personal watercraft operators, anglers, and boaters who aren't members of a club or an organized activity.

As a result, the law feels like a one-size-fits-not-quite-all approach that's just a bit too snug.

Also, although more comfortable auto-inflatables (SOSPenders, Mustang, etc.) are made and are becoming less expensive, they are still expensive by the standards of New Mexicans and are certainly not the sort of thing you find in Wal-Mart. Only the more sophisticated and careful boaters are likely to order one from West Marine or some other chandlery. How soon do you think it will be before the marina stores or boat shops at the Butte and in our cities will have inflatables on sale for under $100? How many boat manufacturers are still quite proud to sell boats with "safety packages" containing uncomfortable cheapo PFDs instead of ones that people are more likely to wear?

And, to make things more interesting, many sailors aren't very aware of rules and if anything, tend to favor a "no rules" approach to their sailing recreation. We all know many examples. And, some boaters at the lake are foreign nationals who aren't particularly aware of US boating laws or American safety consciousness.

Other PFDs may be more comfortable than the old Mae Wests but comfort is still a relative term. (And, the jackets may not fit as comfortably after some holiday boating yahoos have had several beers, rueful grin.)

So, it ain't easy. And, the name of the game, as those of you in the insurance profession of course know, isn't risk elimination; it's risk management. We can try to support the things that most efficiently and realistically reduce risk for our sailors, whether it be wearing PFDs appropriately, requiring two-way radios, providing guidelines on abandoning races, providing chase/safety boats, hosting training, or doing boat checks.

However, we're a voluntary organization, and the more freedom we have to figure out what makes sense for a particular set of circumstances, then the more cooperation and voluntary safety observance we'll get. It would be particularly helpful if legislators and law enforcers sought our advice before indiscriminately adopting and enforcing one-size-fits-all safety legislation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beyond the Rules: Is is Safe? Is it Right?

Note: This essay may seem a little strict, but sometimes that’s the way these things may have to come off in order to emphasize that the safety-related parts of racing and navigation rules are vital to keeping lives and limbs whole, not to mention keeping us out of expensive trouble.

Beyond the Rules:
Is it Safe? Is it Right?

The Rules, Ethics, Safety, and the Law

Most of us, even racers, sail for enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. Some of us have invested a great deal of effort and expense in our boats and in becoming better sailors, and just about all of us enjoy socializing, cruising, or competing with our fellow sailors.

The pace of socializing and cruising is usually pretty mellow, and these activities often don’t have a whole lot of structure; sailors can come and go as they please to parties, raft-ups, and similar events.

But with racing, the pace can be rapid, with boats and crews jockeying in close quarters. Racers especially must obey the rules and meet their other obligations out of consideration for the safety, property, and well-being of themselves and others. Each skipper and crew member has obligations under federal, state, and local laws, including legal responsibility to operate a boat in a safe and controlled manner, respect the environment, respect the property of others, allow other boaters to enjoy their rightful activities safety, not place other boaters in danger, and not infringe upon the safe navigation of other boats.

Racing skippers should also think about the reasons why they and other people participate in sailboat racing, and follow the written and unwritten rules of good sportsmanship and courtesy.

Irresponsible behavior can hurt the offending skipper as well as his or her victims and even result in bad consequences for the sailing club and sailors as a group.


In New Mexico, most popular sailing waters are under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico State Parks.

• State police officers, county sheriff’s deputies, and state parks marine enforcement officers can write citations against boaters who violate laws, and they can arrest a lawbreaker.
• They can terminate a voyage and order a crew ashore, or haul a crew off a boat and tow it ashore. They can close the lake to boating when conditions are unsafe.
• The state parks also decide whether to issue permits to allow the sailing club to hold regattas. Further, the sailing club, as the operator of the mast-up sailing lot, is a state parks concessionaire and has associated obligations to the state.

For these reasons, it is absolutely vital that our sailors obey the laws and sail safely and courteously.


Skippers in a tight race situation need to think beyond the immediate concerns of a maneuver. An aggressive racing move might be perfectly appropriate in a national one-design championship where all the skippers are highly skilled and have boats with identical maneuverability. But is this okay in a local, small club regatta such as those hosted by the RGSC?

Here, race boats are different in size, speed, and maneuverability; safety facilities are limited (such as no safety or chase boats); water temperatures can be frigid; and crew and skipper experience levels vary hugely. Thus, wanton rules violations, reckless sailing, or indiscriminate use of aggressive tactics could be a recipe for mayhem and disaster and could cause grave harm to the club and to its racing program.


Consider some possible actions and the consequences that could result:

• Approaching the starting line on a fast broad reach, an experienced skipper points a boat straight at the beam of a leeward boat. Both boats are on starboard tack, with the leeward boat close hauled and the windward boat looking for a hole in the line.

Not knowing whether the windward boat has seen her and fearing a collision that could sink her boat, the less experienced skipper falls off sharply to avoid disaster, hits the pin, does a penalty turn, and starts the race more than a minute behind the boat that caused the incident. The victims were too busy avoiding collision to yell protest before the other boat was well up the course. The give-way (burdened, no-rights) boat gains a significant advantage by her wrongdoing, and finishes ahead of the victim on corrected time. The give-way boat neither takes penalty turns, nor disqualifies herself from the race.

• Two boats are approaching the starting line near the committee boat on starboard tack when a port tacker passes close in front of the leeward boat, forcing her to quit heading up, and to sheet out to avoid collision. Then the port tacker tacks to starboard very close to the windward boat, forcing her to luff to head to wind to avoid collision, and then to give up her start to avoid collision with the committee boat. The near collision startles the crews of the starboard tack boats and the port tacker is on her way upwind before one of the victims puts up a protest flag.

• A group of boats is approaching what was originally the windward mark, but due to a huge wind shift the boats are on a downwind course in very light conditions. The inside boat does not immediately turn around the mark, but continues on for another 10 boat lengths, carrying the outside boats with her and in close proximity to some sharp rocks and shallows. The skipper of the inside boat then turns, and the other boats have to take avoiding action to avoid the hazard, placing them further behind.

• A port-tacker approaches a wall of starboard tackers and fails to take avoiding action, fouling some boats and causing others to get tangled up and start poorly. In the confusion, no protest is called.

• An experienced racer modifies his boat to carry sails larger than those allowed by the boat’s class, and does not declare the changes to the race committee.

• A racer, while breaking one of the racing rules, collides with and damages a smaller boat. The racer doesn’t pay for the damage and the owners of the smaller boat quit the club and sell the boat that had been damaged not too long before one of them dies.

• An experienced racer, on port tack, approaches an inexperienced racer, who is on starboard. The port-tacker loudly yells “Port!” in an attempt to bully and confuse the beginner into giving up his rights. This is an obvious violation of rule 2, Fair Sailing.

• A club member/racer “borrows” a slip from a marina during a busy weekend without paying for it.

• During a windy regatta, the race committee hoists the “flotation required” code flag Y before the preparatory signal for a race. However, some crews don’t bother to observe the requirement, or bother to obey the state law requiring life jackets for racing. A state parks patrol officer notices that the racers are not complying with the law and questions whether the club is able to safely host a regatta in accordance with the state parks permit.


Now, for the above scenarios, think about the following:

Which of the actions were allowed under the racing rules?
Were they legal?
What should the parties have done?
What should the race committee have done?
What would you have done?
What should be told to the skipper and crew of the no-rights / burdened / give way boats or the skippers who caused an incident?
Who should have done what to prevent a dangerous situation?
What were the possible consequences or liability for the club?
What was the right thing to do?


Other thoughts…

Contact resulting from a luffing match between a couple of like-sized boats creeping along at one or two knots isn’t likely to cause any appreciable damage and isn’t a very big deal.

But, “bumper boats” behavior is strongly discouraged by the rules and is a bad habit that could cause disaster. A resulting accident in stronger wind conditions could result in damage, injury, and serious legal consequences. A port-starboard collision at only 5 to 10 knots could lead to a boat being holed or sunk, rig failure, crew injuries, and crew being dumped into frigid water and endangered by cold shock response or hypothermia.

The rules are written to prevent the skipper of one boat from “trapping” another boat into a dangerous situation from which the victim boat can’t escape and is placed in danger of collision or grounding. Such behavior not only breaks rules, but also is unethical and contrary to the ideals of Corinthian sailing. Any skipper who thinks it’s fun to “trap” novices or “teach ‘em a lesson on how it’s done” without regard to safety is not only a boorish bully but also a menace. And, since other skippers are likely to see the bullying, what goes around just might come right back around… and around again.


The skipper of a stand-on (right of way, privileged) boat must maintain course and speed until it appears that he is in danger of collision with an offending boat. Then the skipper must do whatever is possible to avoid or minimize a collision.

It’s been said that some skippers, especially of bigger racer-cruisers, would rather lose their homes than see their boats sunk. After all, reasons one such skipper, “I can probably sleep on my boat, but I sure as $&*&@#*%! can’t race my house!”

Certainly the skipper of a starboard-tack boat doesn’t have to wait to be t-boned by some clueless port-tacker (or a leeward boat let itself be run down by a windward boat), but should avoid collision as best as possible and then protest the offending boat. Boats and skippers that are protested properly are more likely to learn their obligations and observe them in the future.


Under the racing rules, a skipper who is maneuvering can expect other skippers to be able to maneuver and control their boats in a seamanlike fashion. But, courts of law are likely to consider many factors, including the relative skill levels of the skippers and their relative ability to avoid collision. It’s possible that an experienced, but overly aggressive racing skipper might still be within the racing rules when colliding with a novice skipper of a less maneuverable boat, yet still violate laws and be held liable for negligent or reckless operation and face civil or criminal sanctions.


Under the racing rules, a boat and crew that gain a significant advantage through breaking a rule are not allowed to excuse themselves with penalty turns. Such a boat must retire immediately from the race. Boats must also retire in the event of a serious collision, although the victim boat will be entitled to redress if she can show that the collision occurred through no fault of her own or was unavoidable by her.

However, the consequences of breaking the rules go far beyond penalty turns, retirements, or disqualifications by a protest committee. Among the them could be:

• Offending crews are required to attend mandatory safety training.

• Skippers of offending boats are cited or arrested.

• Offending skippers find themselves dropped from insurance coverage or unable to get affordable coverage.

• Offending skippers are the subject of civil lawsuits by the victims or the estates and survivors of the victims and are subject to discovery proceedings, subpoenas, restraining orders, and other legal proceedings.

• Novice racers are frightened, confused, and leave the club and the sport.

• Ethical racers refuse to participate in a racing program in which one or two “bad apples” are allowed to continue without being penalized; racing participation withers.

• The club has difficulty in recruiting officers, board members, and race committee volunteers.
• The club gets a bad reputation in the community and is unable to obtain sponsorships, meeting places, or invitations to participate in local activities.

• Regattas are terminated or the state refuses to issue regatta permits.

• Incidents on the lake lead to more restrictive legislation that limits the freedom of all boaters within the state.

Since none of these are desirable outcomes, we should follow not only the Racing Rules of Sailing and the local laws, but also abide by courtesy and Mom's Law: Just Be Nice.

Pat Byrnes
(volunteer safe boating instructor, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators instructor certification)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Elephant Butte Lake and Weather Conditions

Thursday morning’s Albuquerque Journal article noted that spring runoff is beginning early. The Rio Grande near Pilar and Embudo is running at record levels for this time of year.

As of 9:00 Friday morning Elephant Butte Lake was at 4,347.64 feet above benchmark with 609,359 acre feet of water. The lake is up about two inches and 2,300 acre feet in the past three days; inflow from early runoff is more than keeping up with spring irrigation. This is even in spite of Thursday morning’s increase to 1100 c.f.s. of outflow from the dam, and the lake is within an inch of its highest level so far this year.

Snowpack is down because of the dry spell during late winter, as well as due to runoff that has started earlier than usual. Snowpack (snow water equivalent percent of normal) as of March 22:
68% Rio Chama basin
66% Upper Rio Grande basin
83% Sangre de Cristo basin
57% Jemez basin
75% Pecos basin
66% San Juan headwaters
73% Upper Rio Grande basin in Colorado
60% Southwest Colorado
( )

Water is flowing into Heron at a good clip, with 300 to 500 c.f.s. inflow from the Azotea Tunnel and Willow Creek balancing the remaining water that contractors are withdrawing. As of 7:00 am Friday morning, Heron was at 7136.78 feet elevation, with 168,553 acre feet; unchanged in the past 71 hours.

Today’s cloudy weather is expected to persist through Friday night and then gradually clear off on Saturday, with bright sunny skies the rule by Sunday. Moderate temperatures with good winds, occasional showers, and a mix of sun and clouds should be the rule on Saturday afternoon.

Draft Sailing Instructions, Rio Grande Sailing Club Spring Series 2007

Spring Series
March 10 – April 29, 2007
Rio Grande Sailing Club
Elephant Butte Lake, NM


1.1 The spring series, and each regatta, will be governed by the rules as defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing.

Notices to competitors and changes to sailing instructions will be made from the racing committee signal boat. If a notice or change is to be made, the boat will fly flag L, and competitors are to come within hailing distance.

3.1 Dates of racing: March 10–11, March 24–25, April 14–15, and April 28–29, 2007.
3.2 The scheduled time of the warning signal for the first race on each Saturday is 2:00 p.m. (except 1:00 p.m. for spring series 1).
3.3 No warning signal will be made after 5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. for Spring Series 1).

A yellow flag shall be used as the default class flag for a combined start of multiple fleets.
If each fleet is to be started separately, then flags may be used as designated from the committee boat prior to the warning signal for a race. When feasible, the following flags may be used to designate the spring series fleets:
Etchells Class: code flag E or Etchells flag
A Fleet: yellow flag, code flag A, or J fleet flag
B Fleet: red flag or code flag B


Attachment A shows the racing area, including the channel marker buoys to be used in racing.


6.1 The diagrams in Attachment B show the Olympic courses, including the order in which marks are to be passed. All marks are to be left to port.
6.2 No later than the warning signal, the race committee signal boat will display flags for the letter designating the course and the number designating the first mark as shown on the race area map.


7.1 Turning marks 1 through 8 are designated channel marker buoys as shown on the race area map. The race committee may, as an alternative, use temporary (“drop”) marks in place of the channel marker buoys.

7.2 The starting and finishing marks will be a staff displaying an orange flag on the race committee signal boat at the starboard end, and a round orange buoy at the port end, looking upwind.


8.1 If no boat has finished the first leg within 45 minutes, or a course of four or fewer legs within 120 minutes, the race will be abandoned. This changes rule 35.

8.2 A boat failing to finish within 45 minutes after the first boat within her fleet or class sails the course and finishes will be scored Did Not Finish. This changes rules 35 and A4.


9.1 Protest forms are available at the race committee signal boat or from the race committee chairman. Protests shall be submitted to the protest committee within the protest time limit.

9.2 The protest time limit is 45 minutes after the race committee signal boat reaches the dock. The same time limit applies to protests by the race committee and protest committee about incidents they observe in the racing area and to requests for redress. This changes rules 61.3 and 62.2.


10.1 The scoring will follow the low-point system in Appendix A of the Racing Rules of Sailing except as follows:
The number of throw-outs for the series will be set by the race committee, which will allow approximately one throw-out (from scores eligible for a throw-out) for each five races completed by a boat. This changes Appendix A of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

10.2 One race is required to be completed to constitute a regatta.

10.3 A boat must compete in at least two regattas within the spring series to be eligible for series awards.

10.4 A Fleet boats will be scored on Portsmouth handicap with wind modifiers. B Fleet boats will be scored on Portsmouth handicap with the addition of headsail modifiers.

10.5 The overall series awards (combined fleets) will be scored on DP-N only. Overall awards will be scored based on races in which all boats were able to start at the same time. Depending upon how starts are scheduled, this number may be smaller than the number of races that is used for scoring within each class or fleet.

10.6 Boats that serve as committee boat during a regatta will have average scores calculated for purposes of series scoring.

Prizes will be given as follows:
Each regatta: trophies for the top two yachts in each fleet.
Series Awards:
Etchells Class: top two
A Fleet: top three
B Fleet: top three

The number of awards given for each regatta and for the series may be modified based upon participation.

Competitors participate in the regatta entirely at their own risk. See rule 4, Decision to Race. Rio Grande Sailing Club will not accept any liability for material damage or personal injury or death sustained in conjunction with or prior to, during, or after the regatta.

Each participating boat shall be insured with valid third-party liability insurance with a minimum coverage sufficient to meet New Mexico State Parks requirements.

Spring Series Draft Notice of Race

Spring Series
March 10 – April 29, 2007
Rio Grande Sailing Club
Elephant Butte Lake, NM



1.1 The spring series, and each regatta, will be governed by the rules as defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing.


2.1 Each regatta in the spring series is open to monohull keel or cabin sailboats. Eligibility for other types of boats may be offered depending upon sufficient demand and available facilities.

2.2 Eligible boats may enter by sending a representative to attend the skipper/crew meeting at the time and location designated for each regatta in Elephant Butte, paying the $15 registration fee, and signing the registration sheet.

2.3 Eligible boats will be divided into the following classes for purposes of scoring and awards:
Etchells Class, International Etchells Class Association
A Fleet, Portsmouth D-PN of 84.0 or lower
B Fleet, Portsmouth D-PN of 84.1 or higher
Cruising boats may be entered in the B Fleet at the race committee’s discretion.


3.1 Required fees are $15 per boat for each regatta within the series.


4.1 Registration is as follows
10:00 to 10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 10, 2007, at Casa Taco.
11:00 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, March 24, 2007, at Casa Taco
11:00 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, April 14, 2007, at the Dam Site
11:00 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, April 28, 2007, at the Dam Site

4.2 Starting Time: The scheduled time of the warning signal for the first race on each Saturday is 2:00 p.m., except for the Spring Series 1 race, which starts at 1:00 p.m.

The sailing instructions will be available during registration periods.


6.1 Attachment A shows the racing area, including the channel marker buoys to be used in racing, designated by number.


The courses to be sailed will be as follows: For each race, the race committee signal boat will display flags to indicate the configuration of the course, as designated by letter on the chart of Olympic courses, and the first mark of the course, as indicated by number on the race area map.


8.1 The scoring system will follow the low-point system in Appendix A of the Racing Rules of Sailing except as follows:

The number of throw-outs for the series will be set by the race committee, which will allow approximately one throw-out (from scores eligible for a throw-out) for each five races completed by a boat. This changes Appendix A of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

8.2 One race is required to be completed to constitute a regatta for each spring series regatta.

8.3 A boat must compete in at least two regattas to be eligible for series awards.

8.4 A Fleet boats will be scored on Portsmouth handicap with wind modifiers. B Fleet boats will be scored on Portsmouth handicap with the addition of headsail modifiers.

8.5 The overall series awards (combined fleets) will be scored on DP-N only. Overall awards will be scored based on races in which all boats were able to start at the same time. Depending upon how starts are scheduled, this number may be smaller than the number of races that is used for scoring within each class or fleet.

Prizes will be given as follows:
Each regatta: trophies for the top two yachts in each fleet.
Series Awards:
Etchells Class: top two
A Fleet: top three
B Fleet: top three
The number of awards given for each regatta and for the series may be modified based upon participation.

Competitors participate in the regatta entirely at their own risk. See rule 4, Decision to Race. The organizing authority will not accept any liability for material damage or personal injury or death sustained in conjunction with or prior to, during, or after the regatta.

Each participating boat shall be insured with valid third-party liability insurance with a minimum coverage sufficient to meet New Mexico State Parks requirements.

For further information please contact Pat B.; or Larry J.


RGSC March 10 Meeting Minutes Draft

Rough draft of minutes from March 10:
RGSC board and club meeting, Saturday, March 10, 2007

Meeting called to order
We have quorum
Buzz has Art B.’s proxy. Board members Stan H. and John W. joined Marilyn B. and officers Buzz B., Commodore; Pat B., Vice Commodore; Charles A., Treasurer; and Carol Anne B., secretary.

Treasurer’s report – Right now checking account has a little under $1900.
All bills are paid
Another $200 to $300 of income has not yet been recorded in the bookkeeping program that Charlie is using.
The balance in the club savings account is about $9300.
Buzz will send out the proposed budget for 2007.
All records are now computerized; Charlie bought a bookkeeping program for about $60 that should be good for a couple of years.

Rich S. presented the mast-up lot report. Three spaces are now empty.
At some point, will could have an issue with non-paying tenants; so we need to clarify procedure as to what to do if that happens. It was suggested that the defaulters would need to be contacted by registered mail and then the club could take possession of their boats and trailers after getting title via the motor vehicle department. Some work is needed to place rocks and fill to prevent erosion in the mast-up lot, and the club needs to arrange work party. Rich would like sometime to buy railroad ties/timbers for making parking stops for boat trailers and would then paint numbers on the parking stops.

The Race Committee report was presented by Larry J.
Time change. Beginning with spring series 2, the race committee and board decided to move skipper/crew meetings to 11 a.m. Saturday, with a 2 p.m. start and an 11 a.m. start on Sundays. Larry will send Buzz the budget for race committee.

Adams/Mallory sailing championships:
Pat discussed most recent thinking of US Sailing’s Area F leaders about where and on what kinds of boats to hold the Area F semi-finals. The finals will be held on the Etchells, but most boats in the Galveston Bay Etchells fleet are not available to be loaned for the championships. The board discussed putting together a credible bid to host these championships. Pat will put together a proposal and send it up to Area F.

Cruising Report – Buzz will put together a schedule for raft-ups. Discussion, with input from cruiser William G. and others, led to a consensus that the raft-up dates should try to avoid club meeting dates and major races. Also agreed to was the need for the club to provide support and leadership for the raft-ups. Suggestion: Don’t make this an official event if we don’t have to, insofar as park fees and permits are concerned.

Pickle Race – Rich S.reported on the Pickle Race, to benefit youth in the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranches, will be Easter Saturday, April 7th, 2007. The race gives youth who don’t have a home to go to for the holiday a fun outing to enjoy. Rich has been in touch with the Ranch people and PNM (as a sponsor) to coordinate the event. Also, Sue plans to bring her eighth-grade class from the Bernalillo charter school where she teaches.

Rich and Sue plan to have a no-sails race and then a regular sailing race. The Women on the Water sailing group, the WOWs, will host the picnic and games after the race. Rich and Sue need skippers to come with their boats and take the youth and their chaperones out on the water. Each skipper should bring decorated Easter eggs and picnic food (such as hot dogs or burgers) for themselves and the youth they’ll be hosting.

NMSU college sailing class. Members of this class, taught primarily by Sue and Rich, just completed their final exam. Several of them may need to re-test in order to pass. They also got on the water on the weekend of March 10th and completed their on-the-water qualification in light air conditions. To be fully certified, the class members will also need to demonstrate their boat handling skills in winds of 12 knots or more.

Club Survey –

Buzz led the discussion about the club survey he sent out a few months ago, in which he polled club members about what to do with club income and possible steps the club could take to expand its activities, such as buying a boat, starting a junior sailing program, or purchasing property for a clubhouse.

Several club members who responded to the survey had questions about the purpose of buying a club boat or the kind of boat to be bought. Would it be used as a committee boat, mark-moving and safety boat, coach boat for youth sailing, boat to be rented out to members who don’t have a boat, or as a floating clubhouse? Would having a rental boat discourage some club members from buying their own boat and would some renters be irresponsible with the boat?

Some members who responded to the question about buying a clubhouse were concerned that it would result in a dues increase and cause members to drop out of the club.

Some members who were asked about encouraging power boaters to join the club didn’t think they’d have much in common with the power boaters.

Also mentioned at the meeting was the possibility of the club being given a chance to run all or part of a marina, due to possible marina ownership changes at the lake and new opportunities that might be offered by the state parks.

The most positive results were strong club support for youth sailing. Some questions were asked about the purpose of a youth sailing program (general support for sailing by the club or a way to get families to join the club and grow the club; in general; the group thought an important part of the program would be to promote the club overall), the best way to do a program when our lakes are distant from big cities, and what steps would need to be taken to create a youth sailing program.

Barbara H., who had experience with the youth program at Lake Travis’ Austin Yacht Club, described steps to be taken to make a youth program. The club needs to clarify what we want the program to accomplish, and will need to obtain boats (dinghies to be sailed, coach boat) and equipment (safety gear, training aids), and provide instructors and an adult to oversee the program and manage paperwork, safety, and possible risks. To protect the club and provide quality instruction, all instructors would need to be trained and certified.

The group discussed ways the club could support the program. One suggestion was to bring in a trainer from US Sailing who could train and certify youth sailing instructors. Also discussed was cost. In general, Barbara advised the group that most programs, once they get going, are run as financially self-supporting programs, with fees charged to the participants offsetting costs.

Also discussed was how to identify youth who might want to learn to sail. One idea was to survey club members to learn about any children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., who might be interested. Also suggested were contacts with Scout, Campfire, Y, Boys/Girls Club and other youth groups and building our relationship with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Programs at West Mesa and Los Alamos high schools.

Other points discussed during the board meeting:
Overall promotion is needed for the club. Having the web site working is a good thing that has brought some people to the club.
The club needs more activities for cruisers and club members who aren’t active racers. There’s a dichotomy between racers and cruisers.
We need to find a place with better acoustics and perhaps more privacy for general meetings; with changes at the Inn and the patio now torn up at the Dam Site, our options have become more limited.

Following the board meeting, Buzz convened the general meeting.

Treasurer Charles A. reported on club finances; financially the club is looking good, with revenue coming in from the mast-up now that most of its start-up expenses have been paid.

The board reported on the possibility of our bid being considered for the Area F Mallory and Adams cup semi-finals. Pat mentioned the race management class that he and Carol Anne completed in Houston recently and safety instructor training being offered through the state parks.

Larry J. has prepared the racing schedule for all of 2007.

The club is still working on scheduling raft-ups and cruising events, and Buzz invited volunteers to organize these activities.

Survey results showed strong advocacy only for youth and college sailing. The club leadership and interested members will look at what we can do and figure out the focus of a youth sailing program. Club feedback is invited.

The time change for regatta skipper/crew meetings and start times was announced.

Buzz asked for club member input so that he and club leaders know what people want.

Sue S. announced that we are still doing the Pickle Race, and that the Boys and Girls Ranch youth will be joined by a class of eighth-graders. She needs to know how many youth our skippers can take out on the water and asked the skippers to bring hot dogs, candy, Easter eggs, etc., for the youth who will be on their boats.

Buzz also asked Albuquerque area sailors to look around their neighborhoods for boats and report their locations to him so he can find out who has the boats and invite them to join the club.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.


Draft Rio Grande Sailing Club Announcements

Spring Series 2

MARCH 24-25, 2007,
B FLEET (84.1+ DPN)
trophies for top two yachts in each fleet

(note time changes)
(may be earlier if conditions allow)


A Fleet scored on Portsmouth with wind modifiers.
B Fleet scored on Portsmouth with the addition of headsail modifiers.

Series awards
Etchells Class - top two
A Fleet - top three B Fleet - top three
OVERALL; top two yachts (overall scored on D-PN only)
(Awards may be modified based on participation – more boats = more awards!)
(Overall awards based on races in which all boats were able to participate at the same time.) (Cruising boats may be entered in the B Fleet at the race committee’s discretion.)

Skipper/crew meetings and dinners are expected to move to the Dam Site Restaurant for the Spring Series 3 regatta on April 14, 2007.


Pickle Race, April 7, 2007
So far it looks like about five boats are available to host youth from the NM Boys and Girls Ranches and the Bernalillo charter school eighth-grade class that will be joining them. Skippers are asked to bring decorated Easter eggs, snacks, and picnic food (hot dogs or burgers and buns). The WOWs (Women on the Water) will host the picnic and games after the on-the-water races. Usually the Ranches chaperones bring life jackets for the youth, but it helps if skippers have some available just in case they forget.

The Pickle Race will be held Saturday, April 7, 2007, Easter Eve. Skippers will meet their crews at about 10:30 a.m. at the Rock Canyon Marina (located near the dam).
Vicky Z., J24
Stan H., Newport Mark II 30
Clarence S., J24
Pat & Carol Anne B. (one or possibly two boats; MacGregor, Etchells)
Rich & Sue S.(one or possibly two boats; J24, Ranger 31)

“Russ and Maria would be good and the Hawns also. I think Chuck will do it and if you could ask John D., we would be in pretty good shape.”

(Jim J., William G., and other skippers of cruising and racing boats are also very much welcome to participate.)


Race Committee Proposed Schedule
(confirm with LJ and with committee volunteers)

LJ, How about something like,
Mar. 10-11, Spring Series 1, Charlie A.
Mar. 24-25, Spring Series 2, Vicky Z.
Apr. 7, Pickle Race
Apr. 14-15, Spring Series 3, Stan H.
Apr. 28-29, Spring Series 4, John D. (on Syzygy)
May 12, Joshua Slocum s/h, Marty
May 13, Jack & Jill d/h, Larry
May 19-20, Anniversary Cup, Etchells Champs, Jon P.

Sep. 22-23, Desert Classic/Fall Series 1, Barbara H.
Sep. 28-30, Sunrise Regatta
Oct. 13-14, Fall Series 2/Governor's Cup, Richard D.
Oct. 27-28, Fall Series 3/Halloween, John S/Imafirst
Nov. 17, Fall Series 4/Commodore's Cup, Pat B
Dec. 1-2, Kris Kringle/Etchells Winter, Rich S


Raft-Ups & Cruises
(confirm schedule from Buzz)
? April 28, May 26 with Freedom Parade, possible summer cruise raft-ups at Heron, Cochiti, and Navajo, possible Labor day weekend raftup at ?, Labor Day weekend Challenge Cup at Heron?, perhaps Sept. 22, Oct. 27)


April Social
The next fleet social will be April 26 at Perry and Barb's home near the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Directions: The home is on Frontier NE, just northeast of the intersection of Lomas Blvd NE and Girard and just northeast of UNM. …

Dues: Most people are now paid up, but we still have about 30 members from 2006 who have not paid their 2007 memberships ($30 couple, $25 single, $15 assoc.) and are OVERDUE IN PORT / LOST AT SEA. RGSC, PO Box 13953, Albuquerque, NM 87192.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Four days and four nights

Is this criminal behavior or perhaps am I the victim of a crime: being at the lake for four days and four nights and only getting in one hour of sailing ... when sailing conditions were good most of the time during each of those four days?

Wednesday evening I drove to Truth or Consequences, did some housework at the rented trailer, and studied a bit for the boating safety instructor class.

Thursday morning I met my fellow students. During class breaks, we went outside and were able to enjoy a panoramic view of much of Elephant Butte Lake. It was hard to return inside after each break. After class, without a sailboat available to me (not enough time left in the day to rig and our trailer cruiser and it needs new sails before it will sail well, and Carol Anne's boat wasn't available to me), I took out one of our kayaks. Then I paddled for a mile or two, leaving the marina, paddling past some hazard buoys, circling around buoy 7 near Horse Island, and taking pictures. The exercise was good for me. I did see a couple of sailboats out during my class, but never got a chance to get close enough to one of them to see who it might have been.

Friday was that day that each of us in the class had to make a teaching presentation, to be videotaped (well, captured digitally on a mini-CD) and watched later. My topic was "running aground". That's a topic with which I've had at least a bit of experience. I discussed prevention methods, equipment, risk assessment, methods of ungrounding, and some of the issues related to getting outside help.

Also, we took a qualification test; my score was 98% (though I think it should have been 96% and a couple of the questions and answers triggered some debate after everyone's test had been scored), but in any case my numbers were comfortable above the 80% passing score. Most of the test was about general boating safety, but ten of the questions were about national standards and teaching methods.

Carol Anne and Tadpole made it to the marina as I was preparing "Black Magic" to go out, so we were able to enjoy an hour of sailing. After being frustrated by being cooped up in a room just a couple of blocks from the lake, getting out on the water was a huge relief. At the time, it seemed like a good beginning to the weekend's sailing ... and it was to be, for everyone in the family but me.

Elephant Butte Lake conditions:
4,347.38 feet above benchmark, 607,061 acre feet
(add 43 feet to derive elevation above mean sea level)

The dam has been opened part way to provide downstream irrigation water.
However, early runoff has been almost keeping pace with the outflow.
So, the lake has gone down only 1/4 inch and 287 a.f. in the past 24 hours.
It's down 1.7 inches and 1,723 a.f. in 71 hours, and down only 4.3 inches since it reached its maximum elevation of 4,347.74 feet a week ago, Monday, March 12.

As of this Monday morning, March 19, 9 a.m., water was flowing out of the dam at 743 cubic feet per second (cfs) and in the past 71 hours the flow had ranged form 723 to 1190 cfs. During the same time, water upstream was flowing through the San Marcial Floodway at 966 c.f.s. (595 c.f.s. minimum in the past 71 hours).

So, it looks like the lake level will remain roughly the same for now, perhaps giving up a bit more water if the outflow increases, but then rising again when the peak of the spring runoff hits in May.

Friday, March 16, 2007


After passing the test and making a presentation (and watching myself afterward on tape), I've become a Safe Boating Instructor. With the beautiful spring weather, sitting in a classroom with a view of the lake for two days was a bit of a challenge. The class was paid for by the New Mexico State Parks and presented by a team from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the National Safe Boating Council. We had a variety of participatnts, including parks rangers, US Coast Guard auxiliarists, a local teacher, a Boy Scout merit badge counselor, a boat shop owner, a local boating volunteer who is a wildland fire-fighting incident specialist, and a Navy Jr. Reserve Officer Training Program chief instructor.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A busy year ahead

A busy year ahead seems to be in Tad's future.

Today he signed up for his senior-year classes.

His choices were

English 12 (Honors)
German IV
German V
We The People (government/economics credit)
We The People (gifted elective credit)
AP Honors Calculus A/B
Physics II

His alternate choices, in case some classes don't make or fit in his schedule, are

Orchestra (2nd term)
Small Engine Mechanics
Calculus B/C
Recent Middle Eastern History
CAD/Architecture 2

Sailing, cello and string bass performances, his Scout project, camping, and helping out at the marina will also keep him busy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Melting Ice at Heron Lake -- N.M. Parks Presss Release

For Immediate Release: March 13, 2007
Contact: Erica Asmus-Otero (505) 660-7017/

Heron/El Vado Lakes Temporarily Closed Due to Melting Ice Conditions
Doors Remain Open for Other Recreational Opportunities

LOS OJOS, NM – New Mexico State Parks has closed Heron and El Vado lakes temporarily due to unsafe conditions resulting from melting ice. However, both parks will remain open to visitors interested in other recreational opportunities including hiking, wildlife viewing and camping.

“As always, we want to ensure that the public is safe,” said Anthony Marquez, Superintendent of Heron/El Vado Lake State Park. “This is a temporary situation because of the spring thaw.”

Rising temperatures have caused ice at both lakes to melt, creating unsafe conditions for fishermen and boaters. The lake ice has thinned, making ice fishing dangerous, and the boat ramps are also partially iced over, creating difficult conditions for launching.

Melting ice is raising lake levels by about two inches per day; lake levels are expected to rise further with spring runoff. Heron Lake is currently at 162,300 acre-feet (7,135 feet elevation) and El Vado is currently at 110,000 acre-feet (6,859 feet elevation).

Marquez expects visitation this year to be high, especially with the many recreational opportunities available at the two parks, including boating, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. Half a dozen bald eagles have been seen in both parks recently and osprey are also expected to make their seasonal return.

Heron Lake State Park is located 11 miles west of Tierra Amarilla via US highways 64/84 and NM 95. El Vado Lake State Park is 17 miles southwest of Tierra Amarilla via NM 112.

For more information, contact Heron Lake State Park at (505) 588-7470 or log onto


Oh no not another learning experience!

Reflecting on what went right and wrong during this weekend's regatta, I have plenty upon which to ruminate. Many things went right and wrong on "Black Magic" during this weekend's regatta:

We started well. We even had the fleet leader covered for a while in one race, until he managed to tack away from us and we didn't follow ... to our loss.

We did have to protest one boat that fouled us, but it was a decent learning experience for all involved. We managed to be alert enough to avoid fouling other boats, including during some close pre-start maneuvers that required us to maneuver pretty precisely.

We were able to control the boat during heavier conditions than we normally sail in, and we flew the spinnaker in more wind than we've ever flown it in before, without any serious problems.

We managed to be second to the finish in all of our races, including one race where we had to catch up and pass a boat. We are generally getting a bit better at "saving our time" against the boats that have been correcting over us.

Despite heavier conditions on Sunday, we sailed better and applied some lessons learned the previous day.

And, on Sunday, for the first time ever, we did shroud re-tuning while under way out on the race course in heavy weather and our jib trimmer achieved good lower shroud tension by feel.

Several things did go wrong, and we have some possible solutions:

Some of our bigger problems this past weekend were

1. Our spinnaker guy broke during Saturday's second run, and our skipper decided to not try to have us re-tie the line. A few lessons from hindsight: We shouldn't have worried about the re-tied line not fitting through the twing, since the Etchells has a foreguy and even a free-floating spinnaker is a lot better than no spinnaker. And, the sheets that came with the boat probably weren't the best choice and should have been replaced. And, we should have had some spare line on board. We need to do even more preventive maintenance and replacements than we have been. Particularly, we should inspect for non-UV-resistant lines that may be weak.

2. During Sunday's final leeward mark rounding, a sloppy, slow jib hoist led to the jib wrapping itself around the forestay. Instead of being able to beat up the course, we had to sail off the wind, losing distance rapidly as we sailed away from the race. By the time we'd sorted out the problem, we were a few hundreds yards away and one boat had passed us and other boats had us on corrected time. Crisper, more practiced, more athletic jib handling is needed.

Skipper's comment:

On #2, part of the problem was that we didn't start preparing to round the mark soon enough -- we should be getting the jib up BEFORE dousing the spinnaker, which will help to avoid the wrapping problem we had. But we were already practically on top of the mark and had to douse the spinnaker first.

3. On Sunday, the t-bar bracket attached to the mainsail halyard didn't click into its receiver on the mast. We cleated the mainsail as best we could, but during our sailing and racing the sail slipped down, costing us some power and pointing ability. We should have worked harder to click the bracket, and, failing that, re-cleated the mainsail as needed. The lack of full mainsail power was a handicap that cost us separation from the fleet and probably quite a bit of time.

4. Our boat had too much weather helm, in spite of generally good rig tuning. Two solutions: 1st: Middle/main trimmer should have dumped traveler more quickly/further for medium-heavy conditions. 2nd: Boat needs ability to have mast butt and rake adjusted. Installation of a forestay adjuster and a mast-moving system should allow crew to prepare boat when heavier conditions are predicted.

5. On Sunday, crew inexperience in heavy conditions, the novelty of the reach legs, and the lack of a third Etchells with which to compete, may have been reasons for the skipper to delay our initial spinnaker hoist. However, this delay let other boats begin to catch up with us.

Smaller snafus:

Topping lift tangles delayed one spinnaker set, costing us some time. Crew need to be more alert to housekeeping.

Skipper comment:

Actually, the topping lift caused problems not just once, but three times. It got wrapped around the forestay on the first leeward rounding, delaying the jib set. It got tangled up with the spinnaker halyard during the second spinnaker set, delaying that. And it ended up somehow wrapped around the starboard shroud, creeping upward, on the final windward beat.

Solution: Foredeck crew needs to leave topping lift clipped to the pole or to the spinnaker ring at all times. When the pole needs to be dropped, the topping lift must be uncleated by the middle crew so it can remain attached (and foredeck and mast crew need to say more than just "Topping lift!" in order for the middle crew to know what to do with it; e.g., "release" or "uncleat").

Jib trimmer lacked physical strength to trim jib to close-hauled and had to get assistance from middle crew. Only one crew member had physical strength for some heavy-air tasks.

Forward crew used imprecise language such as "give me some topping lift". What does "give me" mean? Trim? Ease? Release? Raise? Lower? How far?

Crew was a little slow to learn when to square back pole for running on Saturday but did better on Sunday. We can likely set the chute better in the future as we get more practice with it and get more comfortable with it. We should think about and practice what to do should things go foul with the chute.

Mainsheet sometimes kinks and requires policing; sometimes trimmer has to delay sheeting out or in to untangle the sheet. Mainsheet tends to stick to or get caught in skipper's hair or PFD. Tiller and extension sometimes get caught in cuddy opening or traveler lines. Solutions: Better lines or more housekeeping??

Skipper comment:

The mainsheet has never been tangled up with my hair, but it does indeed sometimes catch my PFD.

I've been lifting the tiller up over the coaming on tacks, so it doesn't foul on the traveler lines any more -- the two times it got stuck this weekend, it snagged on the strap of my PFD. A new tiller with a higher arch would at least be easier to handle -- but also right now remains on a wish list.

Spinnaker guy flew out from spin pole, leading to a chute collapse and an early spinnaker takedown on a run. Was this caused by a pole problem (test it and fix it) or a crew error (incomplete insertion of guy or closure of jaw) or something else strange, such as maybe the knot bumping the jaw?

Skipper comment:

We'd replaced the original spinnaker pole with one that was in better condition, but it has a quirk. One jaw sometimes is reluctant to close on its own.

Solution: Foredeck crew needs to check to make sure jaw is fully closed. Crew should be briefed on quirks of the pole and other equipment and given time to practice before a race. Peculiarities of a specific spinnaker pole and conditions on the race course may affect the skipper's response to the "jaws up" or "jaws down" debate. Note: The pole jaws were lubricated before the race.

We did have a couple of near-misses on boat control when the chute was flying. Practice, practice, practice.

Spinnaker bags are tucked away under the side deck coaming, which makes it harder and more time-consuming to deploy the spinnaker and increases the chance of the spinnaker getting snagged. Solution: Replace bags with bins attached to cleated release line so bags can be brought into the cockpit to make hoist easier.

Traveler cleat doesn't always hold. Solution: replace cleats when we can afford to do so.
Various cleats are mounted loosely, or have bad bearings, or damaged jaws, or other problems. Solution: continue to replace hardware as our budget allows. Relocate cleats and lines to better positions when possible.

Mast is old and soft. Solution: We need to learn how to adjust the rig, mast blocking, and other controls to get the most we can out of our mast and match mast and sail shapes.

Sails are mostly older and our inventory is limited in some areas. Some sail seller's catalogues and labeling are inaccurate. Solutions: Now that we've been inventorying our sails to find out what we really have, we can try to buy certain types of used sails to fill some of the voids in our inventory. We also need to learn how to adjust the rig, mast blocking, and other controls to get the most we can out of our mast and sails in different conditions.

General comment: Lots of rigging and hardware needs to be replaced; all we can do is replace items bit by bit.

Skipper’s additional comment:

Being fouled by another boat during Saturday’s first race, first beat, caused us to be driven away from the windward mark. Although we protested the other boat, and their crew said they took their penalty, we wound up suffering more than they did as we were driven into a wind hole and the other boat got ahead of us at a critical point in the race, gaining a significant advantage. It took five minutes to get out of the wind hole, during which time most of the fleet passed us. Although we later passed all the boats except for the fleet leader, we lost to some of them on corrected time. In a more formal regatta we likely would have had grounds for requesting redress from a protest committee.

Estimated cost of various mishaps or "opportunities for improvement" in Sunday's race:

90 to 120 seconds Jib wrapped around forestay and big detour
60 to 90 seconds Mainsail not clicked and sagging halyard cleat
45 to 75 seconds Too much weather helm; traveler trim, mast rake, mast butt
20 to 30 seconds Slow to deploy spinnaker for first reach leg
20 to 30 seconds Topping lift tangles delaying jib and spin sets
15 to 20 seconds Lack of full jib trim
10 to 15 seconds Spinnaker trim and control
??? Crew coordination and crew strength
??? Tacking
??? Limited ability to find wind

Monday morning pictures of Heron Lake, New Mexico

Photos taken on Monday, March 12, 2007, showing a still-frozen Heron Lake in far northern New Mexico. However, as of Tuesday late morning, news is that Willow Creek is flowing at a respectable 371 cubic feet per second, with a flow of 143 c.f.s. at the mouth of the Azotea Tunnel. As a result, even though contractors are still withdrawing water, Heron Lake has risen slightly in the past 24 hours.

Fun and Mayhem on the Lake

The Rio Grande Sailing Club's spring series started off Saturday with great conditions. After some very light initial breezes, the wind filled in nicely from the south at about 10 knots and remained at around the strength, with some occasional gusts, for most of the day. Twelve boats competed on Saturday; 3 Etchells in their fleet; 2 J24s and 2 J22s in the A fleet; and 5 boats in the B fleet, including a Newport Mark II 30, C&C30, Newport 28, and a couple of MacGregor X's.

Our boat did reasonably well, despite a broken spinnaker sheet and a couple of other minor mishaps, consistently finishing second over the line in each of the three races on Saturday and in the one race Sunday in which the Etchells fleet participated. Of course, we need to eliminate some mistakes and sail faster, as is evidenced by a few boats that corrected over us to place better on corrected time, and by the "horizon job" that Zorro did on us and the rest of the fleet. Particularly well sailed was the C&C 30, which kept up just fine with the A and Etchells fleets. (Of course, the owners of LunaC had a secret weapon in the guise of a British sailor who sailed on our lake for the first time ever.) We believe that, for every percentage point faster that we can sail, we should pick up about one place in the race standings .... assuming we improve faster than most of our competitors this spring!

On Saturday, the Etchells and A fleet racers completed two "full sausage" G courses and one half-size H course. Sunday's first race was a C course consisting of a triangle followed by a windward-leeward-windward finish ("Charlie Morgan" or Olympic/Gold Cup course).

Heavier winds had been predicted for Sunday. As a result, some of the cruising boats decided not to race that day. One of the other Etchells (White Lightnin') and a couple of the cruisers appeared on the course, but didn't race. At first the winds seemed reluctant to appear, and the two Etchells based at the southern end of the lake (Carol Anne's Black Magic and Zorro's Constellation) considered getting a tow out to the race course. But, the winds did appear, and how! We had winds of 20 to 25 knots prior to the race start, with gusts in the thirties. Fortunately, the winds settled down a little for the start and most of the first race and were only blowing about 18 kts, with stronger gusts.

During the race, we had some small mishaps, including an initially slow spinnaker hoist, overstanding a mark by a few boatlengths, a spinnaker guy flying out of the jaws of the spinnaker pole, a halyard fitting that didn't click and a halyard cleat that slipped, a topping lift tangle, a torn jib batten pocket, and a couple of near-misses when the spinnaker and the boat considered going in different directions.

Our worst snafu was at the final leeward mark, when a bad jib hoist resulted in the jib wrapping around the forestay. We couldn't point up the final beat, but instead had to sail far off the wind, losing distance rapidly as we sailed away from the race. Finally, the jib was set right, after we'd sailed a few hundred yards away from our course, and we could beat the final 3/4 mile or so to the finish. By this time, once of the J24s, Kachina, had passed us and was well on its way to the finish, and other boats were close enough to easily beat us on corrected time.

We sailed as well as we could to get back into the race, and were somewhat encouraged when, after a few tacks, we were only a few boatlengths behind Kachina. However, we kept on stretching our legs with each succeeding tack, and managed to cross the finish line a few seconds ahead of them. Even though we were well behind on corrected time, it was still a hoot to catch up with and pass the other boat in the final minute of our race.

After that race, Zorro, knowing the forecast had stronger winds predicted for the afternoon and having to take his crew to the marina in time for an appointment, ended the racing for the Etchells fleet. A second race was held for the remain boats, but likely should have been cancelled, given the strong winds that did build up, along with the wind chill and frigid water.

In that second race, one of the cruising boats had a halyard go off on a jaunt of its own, wrapping itself around a prop and causing some damage and overheating. One of the J24s got a bad tear in a spinnaker and a very difficult, time-consuming takedown, and the other J24 had a frightening spinnaker broach.

Worse was yet to come; Zorro on his way south had a serious car accident but fortunately had his seat belt on and escaped severe injury.

Spring Runoff Begins in the High Country

Despite a recent dry spell, a reasonably wet winter in New Mexico and Colorado is good news for area sailors who depend upon the snowmelt runoff to fill area lakes. Last Friday's Albuquerque Journal published a cautionary story in which the runoff estimate for water flowing into Elephant Butte Lake was revised downward to 440,000 acre feet, or 77% of normal. However, even this amount is much better than what we've seen in recent years and will result in a rising lake during May and June.

The dam gates have been opened partially at Elephant Butte Lake to add more water to Caballo Lake for spring irrigatation. Water is flowing out of the Butte at 633 cubic feet per second (cfs). The flow began at 9 a.m. Monday, with an initial outflow of 401 c.f.s.

However, this flow is being mostly balanced by early spring runoff and other natural inflows; the Rio Grande at the San Marcial Floodway is running at 702 cfs (458 cfs minimum in the last 71 hours). So, the lake level is remaining almost unchanged for now.

The Butte is at 4,347.72 feet above benchmark elevation with 610,508 acre feet.
It has lost 1/4" and 287 a.f. in the past 24 hours. It gained 1.2 inches and 1,723 a.f. in the past 71 hours. Its maximum level was 4,347.74 feet, 610,795 a.f., mid-day Monday.

Meanwhile, up at Heron Lake, recent visitors reported that the lake remained entirely frozen, with just the first few hints of thawing, even as of the beginning of this week. However, for about the past week, Willow Creek had been flowing at a modest rate. Now that flow has increased, and although most of the flow is local basin water that must be passed on downstream, a noticable portion of it has come from the Azotea Tunnel.

Although the water contractors are still removing their allotments, the early appearance of the runoff water helps increase the chance that the marina won't go fully aground this spring. We very well may not see mud after all.

Heron is at elevation 7,135.30 feet, with 163,377 acre feet.
Heron is up 2.1 inches and 623 a.f. in 24 hours and up 3.6 inches and 1,073 a.f. in 71 hours. The marina is in about 9 feet of water (and still likely quite a bit of ice).

Willow Creek was flowing at 371 c.f.s. as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, March 13. The Azotea Tunnel mouth had water flowing at 143 c.f.s. as of 12 noon Tuesday, 108 c.f.s. as of 9 p.m. Monday, and 40 c.f.s. as of 1 p.m. Saturday.

With this new development, work parties should be able to perform useful work on the marina by mid-April at latest. A preliminary work party should go there sooner to tie a cross-tie brace which fell off the A-B connecting walkway to the marina and cut off the piece of truss that damaged the A-B walkway. It should be possible now to open the marina in early May, assuming a diver can assist in repositioning cross-tie braces and cables.

Friday, March 09, 2007

new picture of Heron Lake, March 2007

Here's a photo that Giles P. just took of Heron Lake from his neighborhood in Laguna Vista. Except for a slight crack he saw the other day near the Narrows, the entire lake remains frozen, even though it's now mid March.

Scott and Daria's beautiful Etchells, USA 667

The most recent addition to Etchells Fleet 31 is USA 667, which journeyed from San Francisco to Colorado just a couple of weeks ago. When the lady who was the previous owner moved to Florida, her loss became Scott and Daria's gain; they got a great deal on a beautiful boat.

A A-B Walkway Culprit

Photo from Rich Koch:
Attached is a picture of the connecting walkway last April 22. Note the undertruss sticking up on the left. When we moved the docks to the west in August, the bottom end of this piece of truss must have stuck in the mud andthe movement of the docks pulled the end of the truss under the walkway, sowhen the water went down, up it pushed through the walkway. In retrospect,we should have removed all those stray pieces of broken undertruss....-- Rich

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pete's pix of the Heron Lake Marina, March 4, 2007

Shown is some bending of floating gangway between base of C mainwalk at n.e. corner of marina and the point and trail.

The connecting walkway appears to be bent, twisted, sheared, and showed upward between the base of the B dock main pier and the marina pavillion. The cross-brace truss, at right, had originally been on top of the connecting walkway and will need to be tied in place before the ice melts and the marina again beings to rise.

Damaged segment of connecting walkway where a protruding piece of truss and pressure from other parts of the marina has cuased some damage. At right are pieces of floating piers that can be used to help repair the connecting walkway.

Overview from the point, showing part of the pavillion and B and C docks.

Overview showing A dock along with the dockhouse and pavillion. We hope to be able to connect the swining gangway, front left, with another section of gangway to allow for easier access to the marina. Work parties will probably be held during most weekends beginning in April so that the New Mexico Sailing Club season can begin sometime in May .

----------Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 22:16:52 -0700

MARCH 10-11, 2007,
B FLEET (84.1+ DPN)
trophies for top two yachts in each fleet

1:00 pm 1st warning/gun
6:30 pm Social AT CASA TACO
preceded by board meeting

A and B Fleets scored on Portsmouth with wind modifiers/
B Fleet with the addition of headsail modifiers.

Series awards :
Etchells Class - top two/
A fleet - top three
B Fleet - top three
OVERALL - top two yachts ( overall scored on D-PN only)

Larry Jessee

April 26 -- fleet social at Perry and Barb Abernethy's home

Don't forget ... dues were due Feb. 28th and any unpaid dues are now overdue.
RGSC, PO Box 13953, Albuquerque, NM 87192.


Lake conditions as of Wednesday, March 13th

Elephant Butte Lake at noon was at elevation 4,347.38 feet above benchmark and had 605,624 acre feet of water. It was up 1.2 inches and 1,436 a.f. in 24 hours, and up 3.1 inches and 3,727 a.f. in 71 hours. Spring irrigation has not yet started, with only 12 cubic feet per second trickling from the dam. Rio Grande flow at San Acacia is 651 c.f.s. (621 cfs minimum, 709 cfs maximum within past 71 hours).

Heron Lake is at elev. 7,134.99 feet with 162,304 a.f. as of 10 a.m. this morning. It lost 241 a.f. and 5/6" in 24 hours and lost 2.6 inches and 762 a.f. in 71 hours. The marina is in about 9 feet of water (and ice).

E-mail from Buzz.
(a couple of editorial notes: since the time of the survey, the Elephant Butte Inn has asked for a fee of $87 for us to have either skippers meetings or dinners there. The DamSite patio has been torn up for renovation, and the Dam Site is unable to host our skippers' meetings at this time. Also, were the club to dissolve, our by-laws provide that our assets would be given to US Sailing or a suitable nonprofit.)

Hello Everyone!

A couple of months ago I sent out a survey to members. I needed to know what you felt about things and that would give me guidance for the direction to lead the Club. The results of the survey are below. We are at a critical junction for our Club. We have several directions that we can go, including continuing with Status Quo. I have tried to remove all the names of the respondents to protect some anonymity. I included all responses and they are in random order. Please take a few minutes to read them.

This weekend, per our By-laws, there will be a Board Meeting and a General Membership meeting after the Spring Series 1 Race on Saturday night. The meeting will take place at Casa Taco in Elephant Butte. The Board will meet at 5:30 and the General Membership meeting will take place at 6:30 during dinner. If you would like to attend the Board Meeting, please feel free to do so.

Please try to attend the dinner, the majority of the meeting will be discussing the survey and your input is important to me and the other members of the Board. If you won't be able to attend and you have any feedback on the survey, please feel free to email, or call me!
The weather looks good and it should be a great weekend for sailing and racing!
Hope to see you Saturday!

Survey Results:


* No. I think one of the points of the club is that we have boats or have access to boats. If we have a boat, it would be more like the flying club we used to belong to, where we owned part of the planes. I, for one, have no interest in arguments over club-owned boat (we have issues right now as is) or maintaining a boat thru the club. We have enough taking care of our own boat.

* To me it seems that the Club needs something now. Real Estate would be great, that's a big commitment. A boat on the other hand would be a much smaller commitment. Now that the Club has a mast up storage area and has done fine with it, a larger commitment seems to be in order. A boat could be kept at the mast up storage easily accessible. And while it is true a boat does require maintenance, not nearly the amount that a property and building would require

* I don't think we need a boat. I think most people would like to do committee boat work on their own boat. Initial price, docking costs, maintenance, insurance, and damage by multiple operators would weigh down the club and suck energy from other projects. Often it is not a question of whether an idea is good or not, but how the idea fits in with all the other ideas, projects, and obligations that the club serves.

* A good committee boat would be a plus. One that could move marks and provide assistance if needed.

* Why does the club need a boat, every body in the club should own their own boat. Also the club may find it difficult or at least an added expense to cover the Insurance liability of a club owned boat loaned out to others. Who will store and maintain this boat? Not knowing why the club would need a club owned boat my vote would be NO.

* I am against buying a boat for several reasons. Having been in a club situations ( Albuquerque Soaring Club, and a couple of air plane clubs) that were different but at the same time similar, I know first hand (having been president) the headaches that go along with such an enterprise. First, only a small % of the club will use it - these folks usually are the "takers" of the world and more apt to tear up things and not fix them. Secondly the liability that goes with it is too great a risk, and even though the club members would be protected, the club could lose all assets. Thirdly, a great % of the members would be subsidizing a few ( people break things and don't own up to it). Fourthly, scheduling is an ever present pain. Fifthly, once a club buys anything, it literally becomes the property of the state. If ever the club is disbanded, the State of New Mexico becomes the proud owner

* Sure. Make it the committee boat for races and rent it out in between. How about getting one of the rental places on the lake to provide a committee boat (flag pole and buoy hoist) based on our guarantee of renting it a certain number of times?

* If anything, I think the club should wait for something to be donated. Under the right circumstances, I would donate my Etchells #438 and my Oday 15’.

* Yes

* I don't believe the Club should buy a boat. I'm not certain if anyone knows what the purpose of a boat would be. There are many who would gladly make their boat available if it is to be use in races; to give those not sailing and opportunity to experience the thrill of sailing; whatever

* My thoughts it seems it would be great to have a building/yacht club. That would be my vote. Of course it would have to be close to the water or at least a lake view! Need some where to have a cold beer after the regattas. Or better a House Boat on the water.

* Possibly but the total cost needs to be considered. To include insurance, maintenance, liability, who will in charge or the boat. Will it benefit the entire club and how... I am for this under the right circumstances..

* Depends upon what you would use it for, the price, location, etc.


* As far as to what kind of boat the Club gets, I don't think it really matters much there will be a lot of opinions on that later if it comes to that.

* Ideally, the club should have a power boat (pontoon) for committee and socials, a large racing sailboat (Etchells), and maybe a couple training dinghys. Obtaining the boat is the easy part. At this point, it seems there is always availability for people to crew on someone’s boat. It would be real easy for these boats to be abused, and may prevent someone from investing in their own boat.

* I think that if the club is interested in a boat it needs to one that promotes/supports the club activities. Therefore, if it were to be a sailing boat, it should be one that would promote class growth, currently j24's or Etchells. If the club was interested in buying a power boat, it needs to be one that could/should be used as a committee boat like they have at the Arizona yacht club (pontoon type). This could be supported by the use of a small fishing/ski type boat that could be used to set the inflatable marks that the club already owns.

* Houseboat (just saw one for sale that is licensed for up to 40 people - more than we usually have at any event - and has a 115 hp outboard) Rich & I are going to look at it this coming weekend.
Advantages: cheaper than a building; if on a mooring, is readily accessible to all sailors & less accessible to non-sailors; could support a power boat for races and emergencies; could be maintained by club members and their collective knowledge; can be moved, if necessary, due to lake conditions. There are probably more but those are for starters.
Disadvantages: no parking - you actually have to have a boat or a dinghy to get there; some maintenance on pontoons, locks, motor will be required, but that would also be true for any facility.

* If purchase of an appropriate "learning boat" would work toward that end, then I'd support purchase of a boat.

* If you were to buy a mine! Just kidding...depending upon why the Club needed a boat would result in the type of boat purchased. If for racing or training folks to race...a racing boat. Otherwise, get a boat like you and I have....again....mine is available for the right price as I'm sure yours would be too.

*Maybe a small sailboat which could be used for racing, and teaching. Then, who is certified to teach. More questions about insurance and Liability.

* One that could be used for training or teaching potential sailors.


* Not interested in this right now either. And what would happen if many people decided to drop out of the club, who would be left paying for the building?

* I suppose if the financial base were such that a building and property were feasible for some time to come, it would be worth it to go that way. However since I have been here not much has happened in that direction ( I think because the financial base may not be here yet.)

*The issue of a building is a much big issue, I think that the club needs to figure out a way to work with the state parks to establish a club facility. This could be the expansion of the mast up storage, club owned docks, hoist, club house ect... I believe that until the club has the ability to "offer" a benefit for club dues there it will always be difficult to grow the club. As the club stands at this point, the club membership is aging and membership is declining with fewer members actively involved. Now it is true that there have been a few new comers but in my 13 years of attending club events there has been a significant decline. I attribute this to two major reasons. First the club has nothing to offer other than a few boats racing (and I am a die hard racer). The boats that do race often engage in bickering that does little to encourage newcomers and when newcomers need help I see no one other than Rich Strasia lending help.

* To bring this back to the issue of a building, I think that if the club actively promoted jr sailors, power boats and multiple types of sailing craft we could approach the state parks as a non-exclusionary club that was truly "friends of the butte", we could gain the ability to have docks, mast up storage, a club house, hoists ect... We might need to be viewed as a concessionaire or perhaps we would qualify as another type of entity. I think that Richard Ditmare did a great thing in getting club control of the mast up, but lets not rest on our laurels there is much more work to be done.

* I'm "brand new", and therefore lack perspective on degree of involvement, age composition of membership, available time of members, etc. So, I'm reluctant to express anything more than the following: A building which is less than optimally utilized is a drag on the resources of the owner. Unless there are enough "active" members who will both use and maintain the facility, its acquisition would be dubious.

* A 'Yacht Club' house would be a good foundation for the RGSC in that we then would build on it and gain substance in the sailing community. This also would bring the club together in a more meaningful way other than a paper club with a box of Fog Horn news letters as our legacy.

* I don't think we need a clubhouse. Unless things have changed under the new owners, the Damsite has virtually been our clubhouse. The Damsite has food and drink, and it has a dock. Those of us who are trailersailers can have dinner and a pitcher, and stumble down to the boat. If we withdraw our business from the Damsite, it makes them less likely to supply the freebees that they have given us in the past

* What might be the pros and cons of some sort of floating clubhouse, as a sort of part-way step toward a permanent on-land clubhouse?

* In years far long past, the club had a couple (one and a half?) of small improvised houseboats that blew away in storms. But, the NMSC has had its floating shed and pavilion for about 18 years at Heron, and people such as Bob Ellsworth have kept floating houseboats at the Butte for many years. The cost of a marina mooring would be reasonable, and perhaps we could keep at least a few small dinghies on a rack or tie a small club keelboat alongside, or even have raftups.

* One potential disadvantage is that a floating clubhouse would not have the life expectancy of an on-land home, and would not likely appreciate in value or be as salable. And, houses on land are typically less likely to sink, even though they suffer from other problems. But, if the floating clubhouse were cost-effective, it could serve its purpose for long enough to help grow the club for quite some years.

*When the club has access to the restaurant and hotels as well as other places to meet, then I do not see the need for a club owned building. What would we be doing that is not permissible in these places? Before the club buys a building why not rent one of the vacant spaces at Elephant Butte. How about working out an alliance with the Moose lodge, American Legion or other organization that could see a benefit as well.

*As long as the Strasia’s are happily sharing their home, there doesn't appear to be a need. It seems the club should contribute $ towards things at their home (i.e. paying for Internet, phone, and possibly some utilities). If we had bought a couple years ago, the property would have almost doubled in value. I'm not sure we can expect that anymore. I think if an opportunity arises, we should take it, but not just buy something to have it. I really haven't seen a big need for a clubhouse

* Be sure to buy cleaning and maintenance service contract to go with the club house (and the boat). Will the club house have a kitchen, bar, cook, bartender and waitresses? Will it be smoke free?(slipping only slightly into sarcasm mode) I think the Damsite is the perfect location, maybe we ought to run the whole resort and marina? We're a Yacht Club after all.

* No (see above)

* Buying a building is easier to agree with than purchase of a boat. If we are truly a sailing would be nice to have a place to go and relay, hold potlucks, invite non-club members too. However, this is one heck of a commitment and raising the membership fees (while I wouldn't mind the increase to $100 annually -- it would still be a bargain) it might -- in fact I think you could expect -- that the membership would drop by at least 25 to 35%. So, you need to keep that in mind.

* My thoughts it seems it would be great to have a building/yacht club. That would be my vote. Of course it would have to be close to the water or at least a lake view! Need some where to have a cold beer after the regattas. Or better a House Boat on the water.

* Not at this time or in the near future. This raises all the other question above. Cost, insurance, maintenance, and who will run it. Did I mention COST. A $100 a year would not touch the costs involved. There was a survey of most of the member, which I have the results. The majority thought it was a good idea, or they needed more info... However, the large major would not support it thru and increase in Dues. There are other comments which I will share with you, if you want.

* Sounds like a good idea if there are enough club members who would use it on a regular basis and if the money for purchase was available. It may help to recruit new members, and increase the interest in sailing.


* Not interested in $100 dues!

*The dues would then be a support toward an investment and therefore would be very acceptable at anything in the $100 or $200 per year range.

* As a very casual member of the club I will not be a member if the due’s go up that high.
* As for raising dues, I would balk at $100 a year. I try to support both clubs here in the state even though my sailing time is limited.

* I've saved $thousands from reciprocal privileges. Any reasonable amount is fine, however, I'm not sure there is still a need to raise dues with the new mast-up income.

* I'd probably just sign up for a membership that would let me race but not provide clubhouse rights. Maybe just pay "Non-member rates" at the races. But that's just me. I've got other outlets for socializing.

* Not enough money.. many would drop out. Who would maintain it? who would fix meals? clean up? Before and after events?? In my opinion we are not San Diego, La or the such. Therefore I am not in favor at this time.

*I would certainly not object to the increased annual dues.


* Powerboaters? What the…………? My vote is HELL NO.

* Could be interesting, but they aren't sailing. I think we should encourage sailing. We should also encourage education for powerboats on how to safely share the water with sailboats.

* No. I believe the membership only states that they own a boat, not sailboat. I see no need for a separate designation if they desire to be a member of a “sailing” club.

* Isn't this kinda like a private firm "going public" to raise cash? Might have to please shareholders that have very different fundamental values than sailors. Then again, you might have to recruit power boaters if you must have more facilities.


* I don't think creating a powerboat associate membership is feasible. It would be like trying to combine "oil and water". We're different! What advantage to powerboat owners would it be to be part of the sailing club. Now, perhaps if we had a might work...but I'm not certain that it makes sense.

* Power boater is a different breed, and the By-Laws would need changing.

* I would need to think about this question - pros and cons.

* As for the power boat people. Why??? Sorry to be so callus, but that's how I see it.

* No - power boaters bring noise, drunks, and other associated problems. No thanks!, but we could raise it to $50 to support the houseboat.

* I don't think creating a powerboat associate membership is feasible. It would be like trying to combine "oil and water". We're different! What advantage to powerboat owners would it be to be part of the sailing club. Now, perhaps if we had a might work...but I'm not certain that it makes sense.

* If we are a secure and recognized member of the sailing community, than a power squadron would be acceptable within the RGSC.


* As long as there are interested instructors and kids. I see burn-out in a lot of clubs from the members being asked to work too much. I really think that extra work from membership should be compensated in some way, not necessarily with money.

Very much for! The younger they learn, the better.

* Does the lack of junior/family style events exclude families and juniors?

* Yes

* Absolutely! I think a "Junior Sailing" program is highly advisable and needed. Widespread publicity to get juniors to participate by contacting the 100 or so school systems throughout the state would be a great way to secure the future membership of the club.

* Again how would this work? Who would Be in charge? What are the costs involved??

* I am in favor of donations and other activities with any not-for-profit organizations. But I am not sure what specifically you are thinking about.

* Good idea providing you can find qualified instructors.

*The JNROTC is a good example of where our efforts should be directed. This will be especially important if there is a Maritime Academy started up here in Albuquerque and we are in association with it.

*JRROTC/Collegiate sailing programs -- haven't seen much interest from these two other than the presentation a couple of months ago on JRROTC. I think the club has had difficultly getting NMSU students to get involved in sailing -- that's my recollection. Now, can we initiate a more effective involvement...perhaps!

*The club needs a strong focus in the promotion of sailing and youth programs. This will brings us up to the expected standards of a real sailing club and one that supports the sailing community instead of riding the shirttails of others

* Yes

Other Comments:

* In another vein, recently we have had several past members pass away, ie John Bristol, Darold Rhodes, and others. Some before my time, never the less, their effect is still felt by the club. Here is a suggestion, Rather than having the "Governors' Cup" (Who incidentally could care less as to how much water we have) or some of the other generic named or seasonal acknowledged racing events, the events or races could be named after them. These individuals who have done much for the sport of sailing in NM could be honored, as to having a Race Cup named after them.

* If the Rio Grande Yacht Club restaurant is no longer working, we should secure the RGYC and keep the name in reserve for the future.

* I think a concern should be that only a few people are doing most the work. We are now financially capable of growth, but I haven't seen much effort from most the membership. Basic things like the Ship’s Store, web site, treasurer’s position, race committee, etc. should be looked at long term before additional commitments are added. Do most the members want to contribute anything? Do they just want to show up occasionally and go sailing? What would happen if the Stracia’s and Byrne's’ weren't around? If we're spread too thin, everything will suffer.

* Here is my concern....I think we need to take some giant steps in expanding the activities of the club. Some of us (ME) have not been as active as we might like because of other family concerns and events taking place. My BIGGEST concern over sailing at Elephant Butte is the lack of overnight slips for those of us that might show up on a Saturday morning, setup our boat, sail in the afternoon and then have to take everything down and do it all over again on Sunday. If there were "visitor slips" available at the existing marinas for a decent rate $5 to $20 a night; if the club had a section of a marina dedicated to its members so that those members not having a slip could use a slip overnight (perhaps for two or three nights at a time -- perhaps limiting use to a sailor to no more than three consecutive nights at a fair rate), this would result in more of us going to Elephant Butte. I would think that all the marinas would have vacant spaces that could be used for this purpose -- especially during the season that the sailing club races (late fall to April/May).

As a matter of fact Buzz...the underlined comments would probably benefit the club more in terms of membership, etc., if it could be accomplished. As an alternative, having 3 or 4 spaces in the mast up area for overnight guests would certainly make it more inviting for me and other club members to show up and participate. As it is now, I don't want to spend 1 1/2 hours putting up the mast, pull the boat out of the water at night and then spend time taking down the mast, only to go thru the whole thing the next morning and evening. That's what is so inviting about the Herron Lake group...they have spaces that can be rented for $10 a night.
That's my 2-cents worth!

* My thoughts it seems it would be great to have a building/yacht club. That would be my vote. Of course it would have to be close to the water or at least a lake view! Need some where to have a cold beer after the regattas. Or better a House Boat on the water. Really, I'm happy with the club putting on races…. Anything else is bonus.

* In summary I have found there are a lot of good ideas, that are not practical for our club at this time. Many suggested idea do not get support from the club. i.e. participation. It has been difficult to have board member and officers show up for board meeting. Creating a non-profit sister organization, might help in many of the things, you are considering.

* Here's my $0.02 worth. (amazing what two cents can buy these days).
I have experience with another club that was in a similar state that RGSC seems to be. We were an official University Climbing Club that acted like a small group of friends that got together every couple of weeks for some climbing and went on trips during vacations. We were very close and for the past 20 years the club had been able to provide all the climbing service that the UW needed (a few lessons and comradery). Turns out that lots more folks wanted more service (lessons), and one of the other clubs (the Outing Club) started giving lessons to anyone who asked. The climbing club lost it's source of new members and is now dead. No meetings, no trips, no people. just shriveled up and blew away because we weren't willing to modify the club to meet the needs of the group it serviced, EVEN THOUGH the individuals in that group changed every year.

I think that you ought to think about the RGSC from a "fundamental issues" perspective. Sure we've got some additional cash now from the mast up and we could just up and spent it, but that is micro-managing the club. As lordhighmuckymuck I think that you ought to be looking at the big picture first (a "Vision" if you will), then move towards executing that vision by doing small tasks like building a clubhouse or buying a boat. Yes these are the small things. The big difficult task will be getting long-time members to buy into the changes. Keep in mind that the Commadoragrande may need to do some unpopular things that are in the best interest of the club as a whole.

So, I think you ought to start here: The real underlying question really is "What kind of growth do we wish the club to have and at what cost ($$ and social/personal costs)?"

You might get folks thinking about it by outlining four different conditions the club could be in, or growth phases the club could go through, in the next five (ten?) years.

1) Dissolve - Shut the club down. Let Rich run the mast up to his profit. (this option is usually included in this sort of chartering just to keep folks remembering the full range of possibilities).

2) Status quo - Small group of friends that get together every couple of weeks for some messing about in boats. Hope that enough folks seek club to maintain census.

3a) Slight growth - More friends involved, more races, more cruises. Actively seeking to increase census.
3b) Slight growth - More toys, more services. Providing an increased but low/basic level of facilities/services.

4) Moderate growth - More friends and some more service available. Actively seeking to increase census plus providing an increased but low/basic level of facilities/services

5) Large growth - Lots more friends and service/facilities available, like a big-city ocean-front Yacht Club, compete with Dam site resort and the Butte motel, Get Dennis Conner to join.

Once you reach a consensus on which "Vision" is appropriate (this could take months) then the answers to your questions below may already be answered. but basically you still have to develop a plan to achieve the Vision. Take into account that you need to ensure the longevity of the club by exercising lots of prudence. If the club takes a giant leap, there must be mechanisms (not just persons) in place to support the changes several years in the future. (fyi...I've heard that the club used to have a boat)

* I believe powerboat owners are already entirely welcome to join the RGSC and we don't really have anything in the by-laws that excludes them. One of our southern fleet captains was a powerboat owner several years back (Lee Attaway and Art E.). We do say single and dual (full) members need to own a yacht as defined by US Sailing ... but then I've searched and can't find anywhere in US Sailing's web site where they define a "yacht", and US Sailing doesn't require yacht or boat ownership for US Sailing membership. All I have is the dictionary definition of a small water vessel, owned privately and used exclusively for pleasurable purposes including racing, cruising, and other recreation.

What we could do for powerboat owners is create a fleet for them, design activities to appeal to them, and invite them to help us with our other activities, such as raft ups, committee and safety boat service, etc.

The closest example of a club that's somewhat like the RGSC that has gotten a clubhouse that I know of is the Dillon Yacht Club. It has a modular building that's about 40 x 24' and is adjacent to a privately operated bar and marina on land owned by the Denver Water Board. I imagine the land is leased from the Water Board.

Differences and similarities: medium-sized club, seasonal operation, moderate population in-county but huge population an hour and a half away. Marina slips are much more expensive (partly due to short season). NM State Parks might or might not be as supportive of a yacht club as the Denver Water Board is. DYC membership dues for full resident members are $180. Social members pay $100, non-state-resident members $75, jr. members $25, plus new member initiation fee of $50 (waived in 2006). Race fees can be paid at $250 for the whole season (about 10 weekend regattas plus some mid-weekers). The DYC pays $300 for a yacht club directory listing for reciprocity purposes.

The Arizona Yacht Club does not yet have a clubhouse. It charges $115 per year member dues, and a $140 initiation.

Buzz Biernacki
Realtor, Allstar Realty Office 505.934.7253 Fax 1.888.249.7614
P.S. if you know of anyone who would appreciate our services, please call or email me with their name and number and I will be happy to assist them.