Friday, December 14, 2007

New Mexico Sailng Club 2007 Retrospective

Pearl anchored in a moonlit cove; photo from Jeff R.

The 2007 season overall was a good one for the New Mexico Sailing Club. We welcomed new members, and increased the number of boats in the marina. Water levels rose such that the marina cove had about 30 feet of water and was within about 30 feet of normal full levels. Recent snow storms have gotten the snowpack that feeds our lake off to a good start, in spite of predictions of a possible weak La NiƱa year.

We have a good relationship with Heron Lake State Park and participated in the Osprey Festival and Heron Lake Town Hall, both of which were sponsored by the Friends of Heron and El Vado Lakes. It's in our interest to work with the park and the Friends to make the lake a more enjoyable place and to bring more sailors to the lake and the marina.

Improvements to the marina also continued; in addition to enjoying the new A dock that had been installed in 2006, members helped attach knee braces to strengthen B dock, and widened the connecting walkway from four feet to seven feet.

We held several successful social events in the pavilion during the season, and in Santa Fe and Albuquerque during the off-season. The grill that we'd purchased in 2006 was well used and appreciated. We saw more young people around the marina, with two scout troops and a large church youth group visiting the cove and sailing out of the marina. Racing participation increased, with 9 Buccaneers from three states and 11 other boats participating in the Rocky Mountain Buccaneer Rodeo on Labor Day weekend. We also tried a new event; though participation in the "dinghy day" was modest, people had lots of fun kayaking and sailing around the cove. I have very much enjoyed working with our members to try new events, improve the marina, and work to make the future more secure for the club.

Much remains also to be done to continue the success of the club and to provide for our future.

Paramount is the need for more members and more member involvement. Club burdens must be spread among more people. Additionally, more people mean more activities that can be held, more participation in events, more competition, more voice with local authorities, and more fun.

Another pressing need is to continue to rehabilitate the marina and extend its working life. We bought knee braces and floats to rehabilitate B dock. Almost all of the braces are in, but next year's work parties will need to install floats, set anchors, and perform routine maintenance. A great need is for more people to turn out to join the work parties. New docks cost a great deal of money, and we need more income so we can set aside funds to replace the older docks as they wear out and become harder to maintain. That means we need to implement higher fees or recruit more members to put boats in the marina. So, would you rather see fees go up steeply or would you rather welcome new members to the marina?

Financially, we can improve our position by creating a reserve fund, which could be applied to marina improvements as well as for getting the club through dry years. Finding a more competitive price for our single largest fixed expense, insurance, would also be a big help. Also, should we be given the opportunity to manage the mast-up storage lot at the lake, that would give the club a steady source of income. That would be especially life-saving if the marina has to close or re-locate during a drought. Our treasurer, George Soto, will be proposing options to the board and membership in the coming year. One possibility to be discussed might be giving members the opportunity to invest and receive an equity ownership position in the club.

Related closely to recruiting new members, but also important for enjoyment of the marina and safety, is marina access. Improvements to the trail can only go so far, and navigation of the trail in the dark, after a rain, or while carrying burdens, is unpleasant at best and hazardous or prohibitive at worst. Re-installing gangway access would help with recruiting, retaining, and re-enlisting members and in encouraging more use of the marina. It can be done, although it's a pretty good-sized project that will require some engineering work and lots of member support. Work has started and a thirty-two-foot gangway extension has been placed on floats and is being connected to the swinging gangway.

No doubt many other projects will want to be accomplished in 2008 to extend the life of the marina and make it more useful and enjoyable. One proposal is for a "comfort station" that would also house the pumpout and generator. Another useful idea is for installing a security gate at the gangway, which could help short-handing docksitting crews and improve security and safety when the marina is unattended in the off-season.

We also want to have plans in place for whatever the future might bring. Whether the lake goes up or down, we want to be prepared and able to keep sailing. To that end, we should have plans approved and in place to cope with whatever comes our way.

Yet, in doing all the marina work, we don't want to lose focus on the lifeblood of the club, which is its activities. Certainly I hope we continue the club-supported potluck dinners that brought lots of people to the marina. As well, I hope we can attract and host more events such as the Buccaneer Rodeo. We need to get more people out racing, which I think will happen in 2008. We need to train race committee volunteers to run regattas well and make Heron Lake the sort of place where sailors from other clubs will really want to visit. I will request that the board formally approve a reciprocity policy, to offer hospitality to visiting sailors from other clubs, and to improve potentially our reception when we visit other clubs. I hope members will come forward to Rich and the board with ideas for new events, such as a regatta during the Osprey Festival, which the Osprey Fest organizers have asked that we consider hosting, and perhaps use to encourage youth sailing.

All of these things require people to step forward to make them happen. So, I want everyone to consider WHICH job(s) they want to take on ... and have the answer ready when the new commodore and his board come calling.

Speaking of which, this is the time of year when we recognize and introduce our new officers. Rich and Bonnie, of Highlander, are much appreciated fixtures at the marina and they frequently have just the right cure to administer if the weather gets a bit chill or gloomy. The 2008 watch will comprise

Rich Koch, Commodore
Ernie Newman, Vice Commodore
Lisa Carlson, Secretary
George Soto, Treasurer

Thanks are also very much due to our outgoing board members,
Bob Hopper, Dan Hoyer, Ken Mitchell, and Tom Riggs.

New board members will be
John Davey, Mac Jordan, Ed Knop, and Clif Meyer.

They will join continuing board members
John Polk, Rich Strasia, and Roger Vinyard.

We'll have a nice mixture of experience and should be well represented in 2008. I expect the members to give strong support to the board in the coming year. Please recognize and welcome your chosen board members and officers.

Snug lines and see you out on the water soon,


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