Friday, November 30, 2007

Snow at Heron Lake Marina, New Mexico

Last Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, I checked on the Heron Lake Marina and brought down some work materials. The docks were covered in about 4 inches of snow. Interestingly, it looked as though someone else had visited the marina earlier in the day, in spite of the marina being closed. The marina is marked as closed with signs at the locked gate at the base of the point and at the top of the trail going down to the marina.

View to the south and southwest, with the boat ramp in the distance and the pavilion and gangway extension in the foreground. Little work could be done on Saturday, November 24, 2007, because of the snow that fell on the day after Thanksgiving.

Below can be seen A dock, the marina pavillion, and gangway extension, all covered in fresh snow from Friday's wintery blast.

To the west is The Narrows. A path has been shoveled along one side of the connecting walkway, but the rest remains buried in several inches of snow.

Thanksgiving at the Heron Lake Marina, New Mexico

As dusk envelopes the lake, the viewer can just make out the marina pavillion, portions of A dock, and the gangway extension to the left. The view is from the marina point to the southwest.
This view is to the west, looking down The Narrows. In the center can be seen B dock. The structure on the left side of B dock is the longitudinal truss that normally is about six feet below the water. It has been hinged upward and secured to floats to minimize damage in case the marina touches bottom before the spring runoff arrives. The other B and C dock floats are also buoyed up, but are lying about a foot below the water surface. A dock does not have a deep substructure and is designed to withstand grounding.

Windependent returns to the Lake; launching a large keelboat

Windependent follows obediently a hundred feet behind the truck driver on her way back to the water. Large sailboats are often launched professionally. With no crane or marine railway available, a heavy truck and a multiple-trailer setup provide the means get a 34-boat into water deep enough for launching.

Windependent reaches the water's edge after a year on land

Windependent was out of the water for a year. Finally, on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007, she was launched. But, even that last quarter-mile took all day, with various challenges and delays. Here Windependent is shown at the end of a long consist, with a commercial truck towing two long trailers. Because the lake doesn't have a marine railway or crane (lake levels fluctuate through a range of perhaps a hundred feet), there are few means to launch a big boat. Some boats are launched by dropping them down the ramp at the end of a long cable, as was shown in the posts about launching a keelboat on

Windependent was launched by using a long trailer in between the towing truck and the trailer that cradled the boat. This allowed the boat to be backed into deep water.

Windependent Launched, Elephant Butte Lake

On Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007, I was ferrying Carol Anne's Etchells, Black Magic, back from Rock Canyon to Marina del Sur. From near Rattlesnake Island on, I had enough wind to sail and got the bonus of sailing right next to Windpendent, the Hunter 34 that had just gotten back into the water after a year's absence for a mast replacement and other work.

Windependent is at rest after Twinkletoes, Dumbledore, and Tadpole did lots of work on the rigging. Soon she'll be motoring off to her slip at the Rock Canyon Marina.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Quick Update

This past weekend we (especially Tadpole) helped Twinkletoes and Dumbledore get the Hunter 34, Windependent, put back together and into the water. We also worked with Carguy and took a cruising sailor friend (Desert Blue) out sailing on Black Magic on Saturday in extremely light winds. We also enjoyed dinner with sailors at Tu Bull's place.

On Sunday, while I was ferrying Black Magic south from the Rock Canyon Marina to the Marina del Sur, I finally got some half decent winds to sail in, giving the Etchells a nice heel and bringing her to life while I sailed solo. Because I was sailing alone, I even had to do a little bit of depowering. Keeping an eye on the sails and trying to figure out approaching wind shifts, coordinating shroud and backstay tension, fighting a partially broken traveler car, and trying to get smooth tacks kept me plenty busy, but I did manage to get a few pictures. Unfortunately, Carol Anne and Tadpole were at lunch and never got to see it. In the meantime, Tadpole got to go up a tall mast and enjoy the view from about fifty feet above water level.

Weather forecast for Saturday, November 17, 2007, day 321 at Elephant Butte Lake:

70 degrees F high temp, 42 F low
04% chance rain
winds from the West at 2 to 8 mph
6:41 a.m. sunrise, 5:06 p.m. sunset
half moon rising around lunch time (12:47 pm) and setting at midnight (11:57 pm)

Lake Conditions:
Elephant Butte Lake, Monday, 12 noon, Nov. 12
4,325.16' above benchmark, 331,352 acre feet
... up 1 inch and 836 acre feet in 24 hours
... up 2.4 inches and 2,085 a.f. in 71 hours
... up 9 inches and 8,000 a.f. since Oct. 25 low point

Heron Lake, Monday, 2 p.m., Nov. 12
7,150.94' elev., 223,583 a.f.
down 1/8 inch in 71 hours, down 4 1/4 inches since Oct. 25.

NOVEMBER 17, 2007

10:30am Taco Casa 1stGun/Warning
1:00pm Buoy Racing

6:30pm To Be announced
later in week


A FLEET 9-22/23 10-13/14 10-27/28

HOLDEN 1332 44211 3111 26 -11 15
STRASIA 4244 12323 1323 34 -12 22
NMTECH 2123 33132 2232 30 -9 21
PILLARS 2412 CCCCC 5555 47 -15 32


BYRNES 2222 444 20 -8 12
DITTMAR CCCC 233 18.6 -6 12.6
HAWN 5555 321 26 -10 16


Monday, November 05, 2007

A Star Is Enshrined

In past pages of this blog and Carol Anne's, we've often mentioned "Zorro", the very talented and accomplished Etchells sailor who used to help out with tips and advice when Carol Anne was learning to helm her boat. The help was extremely much appreciated, more than we could ever put in words. We still have much to learn about the boat, which can be subtle and yet brutely demanding. I know I'm still mostly a beginner and very much at sea in a race on this boat.

Trying to sail and race a boat like this on one's own is a lot like trying to learn brain surgery out of a book. The attempt isn't very pretty and is hugely hard, painful, and frustrating. If a prospective Etchells sailor doesn't have a mentor or source of friendly advice, and doesn't have tons of time to commit to being on the water continually, day after day, year after year, he or she might be smart to give up the idea and go cruising or at least race a simpler boat.

In addition to being very likely the best sailor in our part of the world, Zorro is also a former track and field megastar, who established many records in his sport. He was previously enshrined in sports halls of fame in his home state of Ohio and in west Texas. More recently, he was enshrined in the sports hall of fame at his university.

We didn't have an opportunity to attend, so unfortunately this note doesn't have pictures. But it would take some good pictures, or better yet video, to give some appreciation of what a big occasion this hall of fame ceremony was. Several sailing club members who were close friends of Zorro were invited to the ceremony and found themselves in for a real treat.

The event was held in a posh athletic backers' facility adjacent to the university's football stadium, and participants were treated to a steak dinner catered by the Outback Grill. A lot of the local who's-who movers and shakers were said to be present.

One attendee reported that a crowd of a hundred and fifty or more got to watch the dozen or so attendees give their remarks. Some of the inductees were not especially good at giving a talk to a large group. But, a couple of the honored athletes engaged the crowd quite successfully. A woman racer did well in her talk. Yet, the most engaging, charismatic, crowd-pleasing, and successful speaker, the star of the show, was none other than Zorro himself.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

End of season, Heron Lake Marina, New Mexico Sailing Club

Marina pavilion and A and B docks at the Heron Lake Marina at the end of the season. The long trusses that normally lie under the ends of the finger piers on B and C docks have been raised to near the surface to be out of harm's way in case the lake level goes down too far before next spring's snowmelt runoff. A dock, which was replaced in 2006, does not have a deep substructure, so it doesn't have any underwater trusses and is able to lie on the bottom should the cove ever dry out again. Saturday's work party raised the last truss on C dock, completed the widening of the connecting walkway, prepared the gangway extension float to receive a gangway, and finished putting away the marina for the winter.
B and C docks at the Heron Lake Marina. The Marina is owned and operated by the New Mexico Sailing Club as a concessionaire of the New Mexico State Parks. Slips can be rented for the seasonf rom the club, and are generally available from May through October.


Eddie Dry and I finished the partial decking on the gangway extension float on Saturday and Rich Koch towed the extension over to the courtesy dock. On Sunday, I met with park staff, who brought our old gangway and placed it on top of the extension. That was the easy part. The hard part was getting it back to the marina. No matter which arrangement I tried, the combination of the big long float and the work barge, which has an 8-hp motor mounted on a corner, was completely unwieldy. Finally, I had to tow the extension with the motor in reverse, moving very slowly across the cove. It took a long time, and still had to be accomplished at a bit of an odd crabbing angle. Eventually I made the temporary hookup of the gangways and returned the work barge to an interior dock. At least we did a good job of using up just about all the gas in the external tank and of running the engine dry.

The gangway extension has been connected to the swinging gangway. Some work will be needed to be done to adapt the connections to fit each other properly and a foundation will need to be built under the new gangway to bring it to the proper elevation. Also needed will be some more strengthening of the float and a base for the bottom of the big 64-foot gangway. Topsides, on land, a retaining wall, grading, placement of a temporary skidway, and work on a path and loading zone will need to be completed before equipment can be brought in to place the big gangway in position.

Connecting Walkway

Eastern segment of C dock. At the top and right, the north truss can be faintly discerned, where it lies in about a foot of water. Near the bottom center is the final segment of connecting walkway that has been widened. Members of the work party built a frame and put decking boards on top to bridge the last six feet in the widened portion of the walkway.

The bridged segment of the connecting walkway can be seen near the bottom center of the picture. Now the walkway is seven feet wide for its entire length.

Scenic Heron Lake, New Mexico

View down the Narrows, on Sunday, November 4, 2007. This was a very uncrowded weekend at the lake. Next weekend will mark the beginning of Kokanee Salmon snagging season, so the lake will enjoy a brief resurgence of popularity.

View south toward Willow Creek boat ramp. A sailboat has just returned to the courtesy dock; afternoon conditions were ideal for a peaceful sail.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sunset at Heron Lake Marina

During the weekend of October 14, Jeff R. from Taos took this great view looking over the marina and down the Narrows.

CA on genoa trim, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2007, Elephant Butte

Carol Anne spent a lot of time at the helm of Sunkissed, a comfortable Newport 28 (even has cupholders!), whichis part of a flotilla owned by "Carguy". It was a relaxing day on the water, and, as a bonus, CA got lots of helm time as well as time on trim.

View from the Dam Site marina

Carol Anne, "Ross", and Ranger Ben talk after "Ross" launched his boat, Erebus, and moved it to the Dam Site Marina. Behind can be seen part of the Elephant.

Rags (Cap'n Groovy's Rhodes 19) at Elephant Butte

Rags is a brightly-colored Rhodes 19 owned by a local Truth or Consequences artist whom we've nicknamed "Captain Groovy". George is an instinctive sailor and has spent a whole lot of time on Elephant Butte Lake.

Halloween Regatta, Oct. 28, 2007, Elephant Butte Lake, NM

Oso with Kettletop Mesa in background.

Red Shift from the New Mexico Tech Sailing Club with the Elephant in background.

J24 no. 2845, the NM Tech boat "Red Shift", cruises along during the light zephyrs of the Halloween Regatta.