Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Still alive...

...even though it's been a couple of weeks since the last post. A quick review of the calendar shows that we've been hopping here.

13 Pat served as PRO/race committee for Jack and Jill race (lost anchor in debris in 60 feet of water). CA raced with Zorro on Etchells USA 38 in Jack and Jill; Tadpole raced with Bonnie Blue on USA 125.
14 loan closing
18 Heron Marina; supported diver, positioned and attached cross-trusses.
Tadpole to Order of the Arrow conclave.
19 Anniversary Cup distance race and Etchells fleet race for Pat & CA with Penzance
20 more Etchells fleet racing; another three races. Then hauled out Black Magic, de-rigged, towed boat north 150 miles to Albuquerque.
24 towed Black Magic north to Heron Lake after Tadpole's final final exam
25 rigged & launched Black Magic, worked on Heron Lake marina, rigged gangway, worked on path
26 worked on marina, raced in Heron Lake distance race, first over line and first on corrected time
27 New Mexico Sailing Club potluck dinner and club meeting at marina, helped rig and launch another boat, worked on marina, drove south 320 miles to Elephant Butte
28 packed and removed furniture and personal items from rented doublewide mobile home, removed kayak, tools, boat supplies, fenders, etc., from marina slip, then sailed for three hours on Zorro's Etchells, "Constellation". Drove home to Albuquerque with utility trailer of household goods.

This coming week:
Dockmaster duty for Carol Anne and Tadpole. race committee volunteering at Carter Lake Open for Pat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Elephant Butte technical update and history

Flow at San Marcial Floodway as of 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, 15 May 2007:
1,950 cubic feet per second (1,860 to 2,020 c.f.s. in past 71 hours.

Flow out of Elephant Butte dam: 1,010 c.f.s. (994 to 1,050 c.f.s. in past 71 hours).

Lake as of 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, 15 May 2007:
4,344.32 feet above benchmark elevation, 562,590 acre feet.
Up .12' (1.4 inches) and 1,655 acre feet in 24 hours.
Up .36' (4.3 inches) and 4,970 acre feet in 71 hours.

Recent History (elev. 4,407 with approx. 1,950,000 acre feet is capacity)

4,344.32 562,590 May 15, 2007, 0900
4,343.26 548,050 May 5, 2007 -- lowest point during spring irrigation
4,343.84 555,970 April 30, 2007
4,347.62 609,050 March 31, 2007
4,347.76 611,060 March 26, 2007 -- initial spring high
4,346.88 598,460 February 28, 2007
4,346.00 585,997 February 20, 2007, 0400
4,344.02 558,400 January 31, 2007
4,343.98 557,894 January 31, 2007, 1200
4,340.82 515,350 January 1, 2007

4,343.98 . . . . . . . 557,894 . . . . . . . Jan. 31, '07 (1200)
4,340.54 . . . . . . . 511,683 . . . . . . . Dec. 30 (0800)
4,336.52 . . . . . . . 460,330 . . . . . . . Nov. 30
4,331.24 . . . . . . . 397,510 . . . . . . . Oct. 31
4,327.10 . . . . . . . 351,800 . . . . . . . Sept. 30
4,325.18 . . . . . . . 331,550 . . . . . . . Aug. 31
4,308.50 . . . . . . . 183,870 . . . . . . . July 28 low point
4,339.88 . . . . . . . 503,030 . . . . . . . March 5 high point
4,334.06 . . . . . . . 430,410 . . . . . . . January 1, 2006

2005 :
4,327.36 354,607 November 7, 2005
4,325.28 332,602 October 11, 2005, 7-9 a.m., fall seasonal low point
4,325.58 335,739 October 7, 2005
~4,327 ~350,950 September 27, 2005
~4,310 January 1, 2005

~4,297 low point for year (autumn)
~4,313 January 1, 2004

~4,304 low point for year (autumn)
~4,326 January 1, 2003

~4,321 low point for year (autumn)
~4,364 January 1, 2002

~4,362 low point for year (autumn)
~4,381 January 1, 2001

~4,379 low point for year (autumn)
~4,396 January 1, 2000

~4,394 low point for year (spring)
~4,396 January 1, 1999

~4,394 low point for year (autumn)
~4,405 high point for year (spring)
~4,402 January 1, 1998

~4,398 low point for year (autumn)
~4,400 high point for year (spring)
~4,398 January 1, 1997

~4,396 low point for year (autumn)
~4,407 high point for year (early spring) Spillway!
~4,406 January 1, 1996

~4,404 low point for year (autumn)
~4,406 high point for year (spring)
~4,406 January 1, 1995

Comparison to operating plan:

According to the Operating Plan, the lake should have been receiving about 377 c.f.s., releasing 1,350 c.f.s., and at elevation 4,341.74 with 527,618 acre feet, losing about 2,000 a.f. and 1.7 inches per day.

The actual numbers are 1,950 c.f.s. inflow, 1,010 c.f.s. outflow, with elevation 2.58 feet higher than projected and 34,972 acre feet more than projected for this date, with the lake gaining in water (1,655 a.f.) and surface elevation (1.2 inches).

Although the rate of discharge may soon increase to 1,830 c.f.s., the inflow is likely to keep up and allow the lake level to rise moderately during the next few weeks. The operating plan projection for June 30th of 375,308 acre feet and elevation 4,329.26 feet is likely too pessimistic; this is a level that may not be seen until late July.

The operations plan shows only about 100,000 a.f. of inflow through June of 2007 and thus is more conservative than the NRCS May water supply forecast of 255,000 acre feet of Rio Grande water at San Marcial through July of 2007 (45% of the 573,000 a.f. average).

Heron Lake Update...

Last weekend, a small work party (Ernie N., Pete B., John P., and dockmaster) installed five more knee braces and a winch base on B dock. The club is buying a new toy, whoops, tool, an electric impact wrench, for use in more rapidly bolting items together.

Heron Lake has a surface elevation of 7,144.50 feet with 197,360 acre feet as of 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, 15 May 2007. It is up .42' (5 inches) and 1,645 acre feet in 24 hours and up 1.06 feet and 4,127 acre feet in 71 hours. Depth in the marina cove is about 19 feet.

Willow Creek is running at 823 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.), ranging from 434 to 890 c.f.s. in the past 71 hours. The mouth of the Azotea Tunnel has a flow of 822 c.f.s. (460 to 943 c.f.s.).

This Friday, May 18, our diver, Mark, plans to connect the B-C trusses. With that task completed, and a bit more work on bolting long trusses and knee braces, the marina should be fully ready for summer.

The Rio Grande Sailing Club will host its next meeting on Saturday, May 26, 11:00 a.m. It will also be a potluck lunch and skipper/crew meeting for a long/fun/cruising race that will start at 2:00 p.m. off the southwest corner of A dock.

On the water

Etchells USA 125 "Black Magic" sailing up Elephant Butte Lake.

"Black Magic" tacking near the southern end of Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico. Photo probably taken in late April probably by "Captain Groovy", also known as George H.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bits and pieces, for the record

Last week was a bit of a blur, so here's a rough record.

Tuesday, "Tadpole" had a double-length cello lesson as he worked hard to prepare for a music audition on Friday.

Wednesday, he drove to his Scout troop meeting. Originally we'd expected Carol Anne to be at the Butte, to catch up on sailing practice, but those plans didn't happen. So, Carol Anne and I went to Popejoy Hall at the University of New Mexico to see "Pirates of Penzance". The Gilbert & Sullivan musical was performed by the Carl Rosa company of the UK and had some interesting bits of stage business and innovation and was well done. A couple of the co-stars may have found Albuquerque's altitude a bit of a challenge, but the Frederic, Mabel, Pirate King, and Major General had plenty of voice throughout, and a couple of the other characters came up to full range in the second act.

Thursday, Tad had a string bass lesson. Afterward, Tad and I went across town and bought (another) Sunfish sailing dinghy that came with a trailer.

Friday morning, Carol Anne caught a ride south to Elephant Butte with a fellow sailor. After school, Tad drove to his cello audition. Tad then got to tow a utility trailer south as we drove to Elephant Butte, where we picked up race committee gear and joined Carol Anne and "Penzance". Then we got to see the home that Dino had just closed on in Elephant Butte and eat sandwiches and help a bit with moving, though a couple of Dino's employees did most of the work. Sister Rosebia and her youngest son joined us, though we were surprised that Zorro didn't show up either for Friday sailing or to get to the Butte the night before the next day's racing.

Saturday was the day of the Rio Grande Sailing Club's Joshua Slocum regatta, in which each skipper single-handed his or her boat without benefit of crew. Four skippers and boats participated; Zorro on his Etchells (USA 38, "Constellation"), "Penzance" on Carol Anne's USA 125 ("Black Magic"), "Dumbledore" on the J24 "Kachina", and "Cheech" on the S2-34 "Cultural Infidel".

We started to tow the Etchells out, but just as we were tying on to Constellation the wind came up to about 5 knots (briefly even more) and the boats got a good sail out to the race course. Only one race was run in moderately light conditions; an "H" double-loop with the initial windward beat south to mark 8. Carol Anne and I ran the committee boat and the regatta from our MacGregor while a friend and crew member soloed Carol Anne's "Black Magic". Penzance had never helmed the Etchells in a race, and enjoyed the race in spite of finding his hands very full with a whole lot of sail controls that were hard to keep adjusted. Zorro had a very large margin of victory, beating Dumbledore by about 24 minutes in a two-hour race. Tad spent the day helping Dino and Sister Rosebia set up their new vacation home.

After the race, Carol Anne and I joined the racers in putting away boats, then we all wound up at Dino's compound, which comprises a fairly new Palm Harbor double-wide home and the adjacent original rustic vacation cabin. The home as a large screened porch or deck, which has a view of the lake. Dino cooked up burgers along with beef ribs that we had brought and we had salad, chocolate cake, and plenty else to share among hungry sailors and house-movers.

By midnight, we were ready to turn in and rest for the next day, which would be given over to the Jack and Jill his-and-hers regatta.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Heron Lake photos from Karen

Sunset view looking from the overlook point out beyond B dock to The Narrows and the main body of Heron Lake. Photos were taken during October, 2006, toward the end of the sailing and marina season at Heron Lake. During the winter of 2006 - 2007, the cove and the entire lake froze over.

Pavillion and A dock near the end of its first season. Beyond, at top right, is The Narrows, leading out from Willow Creek Cove to the main body of Heron Lake.

B and C docks at Heron Lake Marina, October 2006.

Heron Lake, view from the northeast corner of the main body of the lake during the early 1990s when the lake was all the way full. Hills to the west (center-right) are mostly within Jicarilla Apache lands.

False Alarm

For the past several months, Carol Anne had been looking forward very eagerly to the end of her teaching term. Part of her eagerness stemmed from one particular afternoon class, which had more than its share of immature students. Another part, however, was because the end of term would mean that she'd be free to get to know her boat better and go practicing with other sailors during weekends and weekdays at Elephant Butte Lake before the summer became too hot and the lake too crowded.

It hasn't worked out that way, however. Continued boat maintenance and repair issues, and other time intrusions have left us with little time for anything but to barely manage the racing schedule on weekends. And, each time Carol Anne or I have tried to go sailing during a weekday, either at Elephant Butte or Cochiti lakes, plans have fallen through, the weather has turned ugly, or people have been unavailable. It's all rather discouraging, especially when people don't always seem to realize how much trouble we go to or effort we put into being available to sail and how we have to make a lot of arrangements to have free time open.

Today I took an hour and a quarter away from work to swap vehicles with Carol Anne and help her find sailing and other gear and pack. Then, we found out that her plans had fallen through on the other end. So, we got to unpack the car of luggage, sailing gear, ice chest, snacks, etc. Now we've sort of been left hanging. Will Carol Anne get in a mid-week sail or not? Quien sabe.

Not having a tuning partner or mid-week crew might not be so bad if Carol Anne had regular weekend crew to depend upon. However, lately, even that has been dicey for her, with everything from teenage mutiny to losing crew to illness.

Of course, our inability to plan does have consequences and does affect our future willingness and ability to make commitments to others. If we can't count on people being available to sail with us in one venue, then other venues become more attractive. So, in the future, for a weekend such as this coming weekend with its specialty races at the Butte, instead of volunteering to practice and provide a committee boat, we might only come south for one day of racing or not come at all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Flashback: Embarrassing Sailing Moment

So many to choose from.

But, in terms of consequences, my worst sailing accident occurred in May of 2004, at the tail end of a day charter as we returned to the harbor in Marina del Rey and I made a "creative" jump for the floating pier at a dock just south of Palawan Way in D basin.

Our trip began ordinarily enough on Saturday, May 22nd, with a flight from Albuquerque to LAX, rendezvous with a rental car, and check in at the Venice Beach Inn. We grabbed a bite of lunch, then did some sightseeing, taking in the Friendship Bell overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We also went by the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club for their "Adventure to Mexico" dinner and a burgee swap and presentation in front of their membership.

On Sunday, we enjoyed an elaborate brunch aboard the Queen Mary and re-visited the ship, then walked off some of the calories at Point Fermin and admired the Fermin Lighthouse. Then we went to a casual grill-your-own cookout at the Santa Monica Windjammers YC, where the manager, Conrad, was a native New Mexican, and sometimes hard pressed by some of the membership. Another of the members had set up an elaborate computer workstation with sailing simulators, which was great entertainment for our boy, "Tadpole".

Monday was the day of our first-ever charter of "Alouette", a Beneteau 38 that we were considering for a week-long charter during the summer, when the Rio Grande Sailing Club would have its club cruise. The rest of the RGSC members in the cruise would trailer their boats to San Pedro, but we were interested in something bigger that could pamper us and let us have the "mother ship" for the cruise. Monday's day charter would be an easy introduction to the boat, so it wouldn't be a big surprise come the summer cruise. Alouette was nicely luxurious, with a wine rack, fridge, two staterooms, two heads, one with electric flush.

We'd done other day charters with the charter company before (Seamist Skippers, now Blue Pacific), so checkout was pretty simple. The sailing was also quite good and the day flew by all too quickly. After dousing sail in the south end of Marina del Rey harbor, we motored toward the boat's home basin with Carol Anne at the helm and me holding a dockline at the starboard shrouds. Coming into the slip, it looked to me as if the boat would be a little off-axis, so I was about to hop off the boat with the line to snub the line on a dock cleat.

That's when somehow I tripped, lost my footing on the toe rail, and fell.

Falling... and hit the pier with my right arm ... pain ...

into the water
time losing its meaning and slowing
opening my eyes underwater

checking out the underside of Alouette's bow
all looked okay,
but I didn't belong there,
popping up to the surface

splashing about
dockline still in hand

hat floating several feet in front of me
thought about swimming for it

decided not to

swum to the portside pier
flipped over onto the low floating pier while someone grabbed
... probably the broken arm
to help me over.

A strange combination of adrenaline and pain competed with dizzy nausea and wooziness.
So, I flopped down into a corner of the pier to lie down and rest.

Carol Anne had by then, with help, finished docking, after having sheered off initially to make sure she didn't run over me, getting a bit of a long scratch in the starboard side gelcoat that would later cost a few hundred bucks to make good.

When I got to my feet, one of the charter company's instructor/skippers was on his cell phone with the 911 emergency dispatcher. I tried to follow him and get a word in on the phone, but the instructor thought I was going to tell the dispatch not to send an ambulance. At this point, the instructor and Carol Anne were worried about hypothermia, and no one but me had an idea that my arm might be broken.

Eventually, I walked up the steep ramp at the base of the main pier up through the gate to the street, just before the ambulance and paramedics arrived to check me out. Carol Anne had to follow as best she could and find the hospital with sketchy directions, and then go through a lot of security before she was allowed to join me.

At the hospital, we learned that both of my right arm bones, the radius and ulna, had broken in several places near where they join at the wrist. The several hours at the hospital were a medley of pain and boredom, since the e.r. workers would give treatment as needed for a few minutes, then go on to tend to other patients, such as the bicyclist who broke his collar bone, the kid who got hurt at the birthday party, and the world's oldest cocaine addict. We also learned that my HMO would not pay for surgery in California, so all that could be done locally was to treat me for hypothermia, stabilize my pulse and other vitals, take x-rays, splint the broken arm, and dose me with pain killers. After a trip to a nearby late-night pharmacy, Carol Anne drove me to our suite.

On Tuesday, I was able to very slowly dress myself with one functioning hand and walk to a seafood restaurant near the Venice Beach boardwalk for a seafood lunch. That evening, I was able to drive to King Harbor for more seafood.

Wednesday we flew out of LAX after being very quickly waved through security after my splinted arm set off the metal detector.

Thursday I took my x-rays to the Lovelace orthopedic clinic (same location as the old Lovelace Clinic that briefly appears in the movie version of The Right Stuff), where the docs decided my right wrist was a job for a specialist. I then consulted with the orthopedic specialist hand surgeon, then was operated on that afternoon. Because of street repairs in our neighborhood, Carol Anne had to take a bus and didn't get to the hospital until I had gone into surgery. I was nauseous and feeling pretty bad upon discharge from the hospital that evening, so Carol Anne and I missed the Rio Grande Sailing Club fleet social that evening.

We did drive to Laguna Vista, near Heron Lake, the next day, and on Saturday morning we took the bus from Chama to Antonito and rode the Cumbres & Toltec scenic rr through the high mountain country of Colorado and New Mexico. Maintaining my balance in the swaying observation gondola while on pain killers was a bit of a feat. We also attended the Shroyer Center spaghetti dinner but didn't get in any sailing that weekend; this was the year when we had "Syzygy" at Navajo Lake due to the marina being closed at Heron.

Six weeks later, on July 8th, my cast came off and I began rehab. Eventually I would recover pretty close to complete strength and mobility, though it would take many months and the hand would still be a little stiff during cold mornings or after strenuous exercise.

A week after, on July 15, we drove to Needles, then on Friday, July 16, we drove to Marina del Rey and checked into the charter company offices and boarded Alouette again. That week we chartered Alouette again and sailed to Catalina, bringing Carol Anne's brother, Jerry, along with our family as an "extra hand". This cruise was relatively uneventful ... nothing more chancy than repairs to an alternator in Avalon Harbor, recovery of a padlock that went overboard at a dinghy dock, and surviving an infusion of "buffalo milk" at the Harbor Reef. A bit of stainless steel remains in my right wrist as a reminder.

Updates after a weekend in the Great White North

Carol Anne and I left "Tad" in Albuquerque, though, as it turned out, snow in the Gallup area resulted in cancellation of his Key club work party at Camp Kiwanis. That gave him extra time to practice cello for his mock audition on Sunday, where customers and staff at the Blue Dragon turned out to listen to the cello pieces and a cello duet finale.

The weather was cold enough, with a bit of snow and sleet, that we ran a roaring fire in the fireplace on Saturday night. Fortunately, the precipitation had mostly held off during the day Saturday, so I was able to join a work party at the Heron Lake Marina and make more progress on rehabilitating the marina and preparing for opening it.

Our group's main accomplishment on Saturday was strengthening "B dock" with the addition of four-foot triangular "knee braces" in a dozen places where finger piers intersected with the main walk. We also added a winch base, a heavier construction designed to support two winches with cables connected to heavy anchors, to be used to stabilize and adjust the position of the docks. To install the knee braces, we had to do a lot of work to prepare the piers and walkways, unbolting and unscrewing deck boards, corner gussets, cleats, and cutting and notching banding boards and vinyl trim strips.

We also positioned two cross-trusses on the outer and central piers of C south dock, so that a diver and work party will be able to install them, although one of the trusses needs a small repair before it or a substitute truss can be installed. I also put a bit more gravel on the lower end of the trail, which needs more work. We also have the idea of setting up another, gentler, trail, which would run along the north side of the point to near the parking area.

We also learned the hard way that some deck screws had been drilled with the heads below the surface of the deck boards; when this happens in green wood, the wood can subsequently swell into position over the screw head, making the screw hard to find and unscrew. "Highlander" and crew also moved a damaged piece of pier to the north cove, in spite of a breeze that made a challenge of maneuvering the work barge and tow.

Sunday I refilled two propane bottles at the Stone House and brought back the club's cordless drill with recharged batteries. T. J., the new dockmaster, and I cleared out a lot of space under the marina pavillion. We dragged another winch base to B dock and carrying out a couple more knee braces. We also launched the three club dinghies, and moved many of the large encased floats to the floating swinging gangway and to the floating pier south of the dockhouse. This let us unstack and place most of the picnic tables so they could be used; now all but two picnic tables are set out for use. We also set out life rings on each mainwalk pier, moved the gas grill to under the pavillion, and began a bit of preparation for installation of more knee braces. I also launched two sunfish dinghies and sailed the short distance from the Willow Creek ramp to the marina, doused sail, and paddled into a slip.

This coming weekend I'll be helping run race committee at Elephant Butte Lake for the Joshua Slocum and Jack and Jill regattas. I also hope to get some race results and articles for the RGSC "Foghorn" newsletter.

Lake Conditions

Elephant Butte Lake, after dropping about four feet during the past several weeks of spring irrigation season, has stabilized. As of 11:00 a.m. Monday, May 7, 2007:

Elevation is 4,343.30 feet above benchmark, with 548,606 acre feet.
The lake is up 1/4 inch and 274 a.f. in 24 hours, and down 1.4 inches and 1,640 a.f. in 71 hours.
The San Marcial Floodway is flowing at 1,230 cubic feet per second (488 to 1,230 c.f.s. during the past 71 hours). Water is being released from the dam at 1,510 c.f.s. (1,480 to 1,570 c.f.s.).

Heron Lake as of 11:00 a.m. Monday, May 7, 2007:
Elevation 7,142.52, 189,695 a.f.
Up 2.3 inches and 726 a.f. in 24 hours.
Up 8.3 inches and 2,030 a.f. in 71 hours.
Depth in marina cove is nearly 17 feet.
Willow Creek flow is 336 c.f.s. (336 to 643 c.f.s. in past 71 hours).
Azotea Tunnel flow is 325 c.f.s. (325 to 634 c.f.s. in past 71 hours).
Rio Chama flow is 1,210 c.f.s. (1,210 to 2,360 c.f.s. is past 71 hours).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Elephant Butte Lake:
4,343.68 feet above benchmark (add 43' for m.s.l.),
553,800 acre feet as of 1100 May 2, 2008

Down 3.6" and 1,633 a.f. in 24 hours
Down 4.5" and 5,198 a.f. in 71 hours
San Marcial floodway is running at 395 cubic feet per second (231 cfs min. in past 71 hours).
Water is flowing out of the Butte at 1,520 cfs (1,450 to 1,850 cfs).

Heron Lake as of 0900 May 2, 2008:
7,140.97 feet elev., 183,820 a.f.
Up 3.5 inches and 1,081 a.f. in 24 hours
Up 7 inches and 2,200 a.f. in 71 hours
Willow Creek flow is 969 cfs (434 cfs min. in past 71 hours).
Azotea Tunnel mouth flow is 860 cfs (458-939 cfs in past 71 hours).
All boat ramps are working.
The Heron Marina is partially open with dockmaster on duty and work crews completing final preparations for opening during the next two weekends.

Pat's year-to-date update as of the end of April, 2008:
8 days racing,
10 days other sailing,
1 day race committee signal boat,
1 day motor sailing,
1 day motoring,
4 days kayaking,
5 days in boat-related classes,
4 RGSC socials,
1 RGSC mtg.,
4 NMSC mtgs.

(20/120 days = 17% sailing; 25/120 = 21% boating)

Last weekend was pretty horrid, since Carol Anne practically had crew mutiny and/or sabotage that made her livid and almost wanting to chuck the whole sailboat racing thing. That's on top of Saturday's rough conditions, the long distance from the marina to the race course, and Sunday's flukey light air. And, we had a 2 a.m. ratpack invasion that further wore us out in the middle of the weekend, and also found out that Zorro had snuck up to the lake for sailing practice during the week without telling Carol Anne in spite of her pleas for chances to practice and making it clear she was available for practice now that she's done teaching. And, Zorro had bad news about Butte lake levels and revealed to her that her crew hadn't adjusted the shroud tension properly on Black Magic, which probably was one more piece of Sunday's bad performance. So, yet another good chance for sailing down south has been blown and Heron is looking better and better.