Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hasta La Vista, El Caballero

On Sunday afternoon at the Rio Puerco bridge near mile marker 174 of I-25, "Tadpole" received an up-close-and-personal experience with how an airbag deploys during a collision. When El Caballero's front-right tire blew, the car went out of control, battering along the right guardrail, then careening over to the left guardrail, then caroming back to the right guardrail, where the car became wedged with a portion hanging outside the rail over the river bed. Part of the right hand fender was crumbled like tinfoil, the hood became completely disconnected and broke part of the windshield, and thick metal struts and pieces of steering column were snapped like twigs. Interestingly, the engine appears mostly undisturbed in spite of the massive damage to the suspension and steering systems and the large collection of assorted car parts that were severed or smashed from the Cavalier.

Tad's weekend had been interesting enough up to that point with a Scout camping trip to Fenton Lake State Park, where Tad and the other Scouts all caught fish. Then it was time for a We The People meeting (constitutional law) before heading for Socorro.

Fortunately, Tad escaped serious injury, receiving bruises, scratches, "seat belt rash", and "rug burns" from friction as the airbag scraped Tad's chin and flung one hand against the headliner. Tad received a ride to the Socorro hospital, where he was treated before he could eventually get a ride to Wal-Mart to replace some personal gear and continue to New Mexico Tech. There he is spending the week in a mineral science program. One remaining challenge for Tad is eyesight; although the airbag didn't break his nose, it did break his glasses and neither Tad nor the sheriff's deputies could find the left lens. The deputies and emergency medical technicians thought Tad had been extremely fortunate to get off with such minor injuries.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Sailing scorecard update

Through June 14, 2007

11 days racing,
11 days other sailing,
1 day motor sailing,

5 days on-water race committee,
1 day motoring,
4 days kayaking,

5 days in boat-related classes,
4 RGSC socials, 1 RGSC mtg., 5 NMSC mtgs.

23/165 days = 14% sailing;
33/165 days = 20% boating

2 credentials acquired in 2007:
boating safety instructor, National Assn. of State Boating Law Administrators
principal race officer (club-level PRO), US Sailing

1 boat (Sunfish dinghy) purchased

improvements and repairs underway on 2nd Etchells

Fleet Disposition

2 Etchells, USA 125 "Black Magic" and USA 438 "Intrepid"
. . . . USA 125 at Heron Lake Marina.
. . . . USA 438 to be brought to Elephant Butte from El Paso
1 MacGregor 26, "Syzygy".
. . . . In storage in Albuquerque; to be prepared for sale.
5 Sunfish
. . . . 3 at Heron Lake Marina, remainder to be launched
1 Snark
1 Classic Marine fiberglass rowboat
2 1-person kayaks
. . . . 1 at Heron Lake marina, other one to be brought down to marina

So far this week:

Coordinated with Zorro on USA 438 re-fairing and ordered VC 17 bottom paint
Returned gauge for exchange
Cut rough replacement rudder blades for Sunfish
Corresponded with potential sailing club members
Corresponded with Etchells class secretary and US co-chair, fleet members
Send draft of "Foghorn" newsletter for review

This weekend's projects:

Put new spin sheets on USA 125.
Complete sanding and finishing of replacement rudders for two Sunfish, install.
Launch remaining two Sunfish, work on Sunfish.
Work on marina; widen connecting walkway and begin work on gangway extension.
Work on bid quote for encased floats for marina.
Work on path and survey path for upper gangway stage.

Better get myself back out on the water.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

So long to one lake, hello to another

Beyond Zorro's partially covered boat is an empty slip where Black Magic had spent the springtime lying alongside. Now that Black Magic is north at Heron for the summer (and a trip to Dillon, Colorado), there's only one Etchells at the Rock Canyon Marina.

Big changes are afoot however, with the marina passing soon to new ownership. The existing Dam Site Marina is scheduled to move north several miles to the old Rock Canyon site, providing again a marina near the Rio Grande Sailing Club's improvised Olympic Circle racecourse. The RockCanyon Marina will then move across the cove to become the new Dam Site Marina.

Carter Lake Open, 2007, Carter Lake Sailing Club, Colorado

Ultimate 20s take off on Saturday at the Carter Lake Open.

During the regatta, I assisted the PRO, Tom Ruwitch, on the race committee signal boat. The CLSC owns its own small flotilla of motorboats. Tom, Doug and Dana, and I ran the starts from a good-sized Bayliner cabin cruiser, while another team took finishes downwind while aboard another cabin cruiser, and yet more r.c. team members operated a Boston Whaler as a mark boat, and a jet-powered rigid inflatable boat (r.i.b.) that was our chase boat and general utility boat.

PHRF (Pacific Handicap) fleet copes with a modest breeze.
Light, variable, switchy air is the bane of lake sailors, and especially of race committee members who hope to get off a regatta that will be a fair test of sailing skills – and won’t leave the competitors stranded in the middle of an airless lake and force abandonment of a race. In spite of sometimes uncooperative weather, we got all the boats to complete three races, with a fourth race for the Star Class.

Three Catalina Capri 22s join the PHRF fleet for a Sunday start.
We used a variation of a rolling start for the three classes entered in the regatta – Stars, Ultimate 20s, and a PHRF (Pacific Handicap Rating Formula instead of the Portsmouth Handicap typically used in New Mexico) mixed fleet which contained three Catalina Capri 22s and various other boats. The last few seconds of each start countdown was broadcast on VHF radio.

Enough wind fills in for some nice spinnaker runs.
At the beginning of each day’s racing, once we were satisfied that a fair start could be achieved and that we had the likelihood of completing a race, we would lower the AP (postponement) pennant. Precisely a minute later, we would raise a colored flag for the first class to start, marking the beginning of its five-minute sequence. Exactly a minute after the start for the first class, we would raise the flag for the second class to start and begin their five-minute sequence, and then similarly for the third class to start.

A Star passes by PHRF fleet boats.

Later in each day, the starts would be more spread out, with typically each class starting separately and apart, as the effect of different boat speeds and lake weather had its effects. And, with light air on each day, there was always a certain amount of waiting around as Tom and the rest of us tried to outguess the wacky and sometimes frustrating mountain lake weather. This was also a good opportunity to learn some of the idiosyncrasies of weather on Colorado’s Front Range lakes.
Although I didn't get any souvenirs of the visit to Carter Lake, I took plenty of photos and met a lot of nice people. I also took advantage of the trip to replace my frayed gloves at a chandlery in Denver and to learn a great deal about the community sailing program in the Denver area.

Despite light winds, I enjoyed the trip and the warm hospitality. On Saturday evening we were treated to a fine and generous barbecue dinner by a professional caterer who urged us to eat heartily. The organizers did a great job of hosting, and produced a lot of great prizes for the racers and for a fund-raising raffle.

Carter Lake Sailing Club, Colorado, June 2-3, 2007

On Friday, June 1st, I drove to Colorado to help out at the Carter Lake Open regatta. En route, I stopped in Aurora (Denver), to visit with Steve Frank at the Colorado Community Sailing program at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Then I drove north, about an hour beyond Denver, to find a room and connect with the Carter Lake Sailing Club folks. Shown above are the two piers of the CLSC marina. Beyond it is a public commercial marina.

Another view of the Carter Lake Sailing Club marina, taken Sunday morning.

Not far away from Carter Lake is Loveland, Colorado, which is blessed with a couple of decent-sized lakes of its own. View to the west, in the general direction of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Following up on the US Sailing Advanced Race Management class that Carol Anne and I completed at the Houston Yacht Club last February, I accepted the Carter Lake Sailing Club’s (CLSC) kind invitation to help out at their big annual race, the Carter Lake Open. My idea was to gain more experience with how different groups organize and run their regattas, which will also help me in eventually becoming certified as a regional-level principal race officer (PRO).

Carter Lake is in a park operated by Larimer County and is about an hour northwest of Denver, not far from Rocky Mountain National Park, and perhaps a half-hour drive from Boulder. The lake is perhaps ¾ mile wide by 2-1/2 miles long and has two marinas; one commercial and one operated by the CLSC. Each marina has its own boat ramp, and the CLSC marina has a mast-raising pole. A short walk uphill from the marina and mast-raising pole is a simple, rustic, but comfortable clubhouse with a large covered deck, which is the Carter Lake Sailing Club’s home.

Interior view of the CLSC clubhouse, which was built by one of its founders. Behind where the photo was taken in the other end of the clubhouse is a kitchen. Outside is a large and mostly covered deck, with a view through the trees to the lake.

Proper and Improper Display

The boat above displays legible numbers with spacing between the groups of numbers, followed by a current registration number. What's different on the below boat's registration number?

How Aggies Sail in the Desert

Actually these are pictures of a pool session for a sailing class the New Mexico State University. "Mother", "Dumbledore", and "Ranger Ben" taught the class during six evenings and then took the students sailing during two weekends this spring.

But, it's almost fun to cater to those who think there's no place to sail in New Mexico, so imagine what it would be like if a gym pool and a big fan were all we could use for sailing.