Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flames, Dynamite, and Death in the Chama Valley

Very little remains of the Rutheron Store, which was still smoking three days after the fire.

This Friday afternoon, travelers trying to reach the Chama Valley via US 84 from the south faced long delays and enormous traffic jams followed by many miles of detours. A state police lieutenant, head of the department's explosive ordnance disposal squad, was traveling south after taking care of explosive business in Chama, when his vehicle rolled and he died. There may have been a concern about explosives in his vehicle, which may have made vehicle recovery and the accident investigation much more difficult, hazardous, and time consuming.

This past Wednesday, we lost another local landmark. The hard winter storms had already damaged homes and other structures, including collapsing the roof of the local grocery store and a local church. Now we've lost another building, one that might not every be replaced. The Rutheron store had been a local gathering place near Heron Lake for many decades. Wednesday night it had been the sight of a social card game. Later that night, the structure burned and was a complete loss. The store was on the property of Bill Ross, a long-time supporter, member, and officer of the New Mexico Sailing Club and the Friends of Heron and El Vado Lakes. This was a multiple loss, because Bill had been battling the effects of a stroke and had been hoping to get his Ericson sailboat in the water this summer. But, the boat was directly behind the store and it was burnt and ruined. A large part of the New Mexico Sailing Club's library had been stored in the Rutheron Store and some of it may be irreplaceable, though this is the least of our worries.

One better piece of news is that it appears the Chama Valley Supermarket, whose roof collapsed during the heavy snows this winter, has gone ahead with demolition and site clearing. This might mean that re-construction, which had been delayed by paperwork and bureaucracy (FEMA, not known for its efficiency, and other agencies), is back on track. After the heavy winter storms, the area had been declared a disaster area by the state's governor, Bill Richardson.

The remains in the back center of the photo were once Bill and Elaine's sailboat, the Ericson 25+ "Sarah Nelson".

A few days ago this was a gorgeous Ericson sailboat. The resin burnt, leaving only scorched fiberglass and twisted and broken metal.

Sunset Sail on Heron Lake

Black Magic heads out from the marina on Friday evening, May 30, 2008. Although the water's surface was flat, the Etchells rig was tall enough to catch enough breeze for steerage.


Sunset Sail, Heron Lake, New Mexico

Ghosting along in the barest of breezes, Black Magic captures enough pressure to maneuver around the marina cove and the Narrows at Heron Lake on Friday, May 30, 2008. No other boats were out, but the sail was a great way to begin the weekend.

Black Magic points toward the Narrows and the main body of Heron Lake beyond.

Gerald was out in a kayak and shot these pictures during the last moments before dark descended upon the lake.

Coronado Optimist Sailing Club at Cochiti Lake

One crew takes off on a Laser.

High-school sailors rig and launch a boat on the Wednesday, after Memorial Day.

A J/24 speeds downwind toward the western shore.

Somebody's missing the boat!

The day after Memorial Day, 2008, 32 high-school students spent the day upstairs at the Coronado Grill in Bernalillo, New Mexico, to take a New Mexico Safe Boating Class. The class was taught by rangers Ben and Stephen from the NM State Parks; I also assisted with the class, which was sponsored by the Coronado Optimist Sailing Club. The club is recruiting potential sailing instructors and will provide training, probably later during July or August of 2008.

The next day, a group of young sailors took to the waters at Cochiti Lake, north of Albuquerque. I got to participate in some of the fun as breezy conditions made sailing a bit challenging. But, the young men and women enjoyed their outing, spending time on a J/24, Lasers, and in the water.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Diary and Heron Lake Adventures

Friday, May 23 -- Towed Etchells "Black Magic" to Heron Lake State Park in northern New Mexico. Despite ominous clouds and predictions of rain, the weather mostly held off and Gerald and I were able to rig and launch the boat. I sailed the boat to the marina, brought down the sails, and coasted into the slip, though switchy winds that went behind us made things tricky. We delivered some lumber and a large crate of solar lights to the marina. We noticed that the lake had risen substantially. Although it hardly counts, this was the 19th day I'd been sailing so far in 2008.

Saturday -- This morning we cleared out food that time had forgotten from the fridge) then went to the state park and the lake. We then got a late breakfast at the Stone House Lodge, where we were joined by Lisa and Mike. At the marina, we worked on setting up the solar lights (mostly Gerald) while I and some other folks re-built the trail, which had been submerged. I cut about 30 feet of trail and had help with the trail, especially with folks who brought rocks to keep it from becoming muddy. I also moved Rhino floats out of the way, set up picnic tables in the pavilion shelter, and did other marina stuff. I think we're now close to having 20 boats in the marina. (Black Magic was around the 17th boat in for the season. Although I didn't sail today, I got in some rowing, using the dinghies to get to tall t-bar posts that were about to go completely underwater, and remove them.

We then went to the spaghetti supper. One of our part-time neighbors is working on an interesting project; he's started working on building a round tower. He has a rock saw and special diamond-coated tools for polishing rock. The Shroyer Center newsletter that I produced seems to have gone over well. Gerald and I got some extra spaghetti to bring here (although the stove and oven don't work since we're without propane, we can heat items in the microwave or heat water with the electric kettle). And, I got some milk today at Henry's ($5.79 per gallon, which is another reason to miss the Chama Valley Supermarket) along with bread and tortillas.

We did get some sun today, and essentially no rain, and I had left the blinds up, so we got some decent solars. The cabin is several degrees warmer than yesterday, so things aren't too bad. Overall, it's more comfortable than camping in a tent, especially since the ground outside is still a bit muddy.

Sunday -- Today was the day of various activities at the marina and sailing club, starting with a New Mexico Sailing Club meeting, the first we'd had in the past couple of months. Dockmaster duties, marina maintenance and improvements, racing, and social activities were covered. A new plan is being made for setting up the gangway. Discussion of the porta-potti was canned for now. After the meeting, Gerald and I did some more marina work. Gerald and I also had a good visit with one of the state park rangers, who has bought a couple of "Hobie Islands", which can be kayaks or trimarans.

In the early afternoon, I ran the start for the four cruising boats that were racing in our long race (which, with good winds, turned out not to be so long), then took a break, went over to Black Magic, which was the only A fleet (spinnaker/racing) boat entered and chased after the rest of the fleet. Winds were outrageously variable, light at times but gusty and switchy at others, which made single-handing really challenging and frustrating at times. Not being able to find the tiller extension and having a broken tiller tamer were also challenges. Coordinating tacks was work, especially in the Narrows, where tacks came in quick succession. Also a lot of work was keeping the boat balanced and moving, especially when winds would cycle between 5 and 25 knots. Because I was singlehanding, one hand had to be kept on the tiller almost all the time, leaving only the other hand for coordinating the backstay, outhaul, cunningham, traveler, jib luff, and other controls. Oh well -- it was a good learning experience. And, I was able to catch and pass a couple of boats that had started 26 minutes before me, so that was sort of fun.

I did try running the spinnaker, but the downwind sail turned into more of a reach, the winds were switching quite a bit and strong at times (10-25 mph), and trying to run back and forth between foredeck and helm on a boat without a tiller extension or tiller tamer proved to be rather much of a challenge. So, after several minutes, I gave up completely on the spinnaker notion and hauled the kite down, which restored some much-needed sanity to the whole downwind sailing process. Returning down the Narrows, I had to watch out for more wind switches in order to keep the gybes under control, but that was relatively easy to handle after surviving all the hassle with the chute earlier.

After finishing the race, I ran into a bit of mud (100 yards from visible land) but got helped off very quickly and used the tiller to scull very neatly into the dock in spite of a cross wind.
Then it was time for the New Mexico Sailing Club's potluck dinner; the club provided basic burgers and dogs and fixings, and members contributed a constellation of savory side dishes and desserts. I then worked on calculating race scores before we finally called it a day.

Heron Lake -- update
Inflow into Heron has slowed, but that may be a temporary effect of the cooler weather that's likely reduced the rate of snow melting in the high mountains.

Heron Sunday, 05/25/2008 1500
7,159.63’ elev., 262,121 a.f.,
past 24 hours: +0.23/2.8” +1,066 a.f.,
past 71 hours: +0.98’/12” +4,526 a.f.
[AZ 559 cfs, WC 509 cfs]]
EButte  05/25 1700 
4,346.52’, 593,369 a.f.,
+0.14/1.7”, 1,987 a.f., +0.28’/3.4” 3,966 a.f.,

3120 cfs
Heron   12/30 1800  7,144.51’ elev.,  197,398 a.f., –0.27/3.2” –1,058 a.f., –0.79’/9.5” –3,110 a.f. [–6.79’, –27,713 a.f.]
Heron   11/23 0600  7,150.93’ elev.,  223,542 a.f., 10/25 1100  7,151.30’ elev.,  225,111 a.f., 


Monday, May 19, 2008

Frustrating But Satisfying

Plans for this past weekend began to take more solid form once we’d ransomed our Expedition, Babe, for the service department at the dealership. After working Friday morning and the first part of the afternoon, I returned home to finish loading the truck, replace the air filter, and drive south to Elephant Butte Lake with Carol Anne and Gerald. We found a small obstacle at the marina; the rising lake waters had outpaced movement of the gangway to the marina, so we had to hop on boards to cross over the water.

The three of us were able to join Zorro on his Etchells “Constellation”. We sailed around to the south and east of the Rock Canyon Marina, then turned north past Long Point Island. There the winds left of for a while, but a wind line to the west and another to the north soon merged and gave us a good sail some miles north past the Monticello campground and boat ramp on the west and the entrance to Barney’s Cove on the east. Southbound, Zorro gave me work to replace viewing the scenery by giving me the chute to trim. Eventually, after more sailing around, we glided into the dock just before dark after some very nice sailing.

With the remainder of the evening we brought one of Dennis Connor’s old mainsails down to the boat, grabbed dinner at Big Food Express/Club Bossa Nova/Two Bulls’ place, and admired the new replacement tiller for Carol Anne’s boat. Gerald went back to Rock Canyon with Zorro and we checked into our motel and got a weather report.

Saturday: Tiller-Taming and a Surprise Blow

Saturday morning the winds were slow to appear, so Carol Anne and I did a bit of light shopping (athletic shoes and ear buds for Carol Anne, a couple of screwdrivers for Black Magic). We got breakfast in Truth or Consequences at Barbeque on Broadway, leaving Gerald and Zorro to try to sail in a brief window of morning wind. We brought Gerald a breakfast burrito; while he ate I removed the old, decrepit tiller from Black Magic. The new tiller didn’t fit within the bracket at the top of the rudder post, so we had to take the tiller ashore and use a jigsaw, grinder, sanding disk, and drill to match up the parts before I could install the tiller. With the gangway still sunk in the water (the marina’s work barge had been diverted south to do storm repairs at another marina), we relied on the water taxi provided by the marina staff during most of our trips back and forth between shore and marina.

By then, the first part of the afternoon was passing, but we had plenty of time for sailing. So, Zorro shoved off in Constellation and the rest of us took off in Black Magic with the new tiller and with a relatively new mainsail. We had a lot of fun doing some sort of loose tuning or mock racing around some buoys, doing mostly well though there was one beat where we went too far out to the lay line and missed a good wind shift. The winds picked up, making the sailing all the more exciting as Black Magic shouldered into the waves and the pace of the action accelerated.

After a couple of hours of good sailing, we noticed that Zorro was headed back for the marina, with mechanical difficulties as it turned out; a cleat or shackle had failed. We followed a bit later so we could help him with his boat work and take a break. But, the break was delayed because the powers of nature had other plans. Just as we arrived at the marina, the winds began to rise from the east-northeast, allowing a swell to build up through an exposed passage that wasn’t protected by the breakwater of floating tires. The winds quite quickly became fierce, slamming against our boat and Zorro’s in the exposed easternmost row. Soon the boats were jumping wildly and some boats were straining their tethers and hitting the marina. Our boat was being pushed toward Applegal’s Etchells, and a wildly jumping cruising sailboat was threatening Constellation. Waves were washing over the piers. A boat, and then another boat, and then yet another broke docking lines. A peak gust of 55 mph was recorded in the marina office. Marina workers and some of the rest of us worked quickly to tie boats up better and replaced broken docking lines. Gerald was a big help to the marina folks. I spent a lot of time during the melee adding more docking lines to protect Black Magic, but took time to jump on board a bouncing Catalina 22 and haul it away from Zorro’s Constellation, which it was trying to gouge with its motor and transom as it bounced about.

Although our Etchells had escaped the brunt of the storm by coming in to the marina, one sailboat and its crew were intrepid enough to take on the blow out on the open lake… our commodore’s MacGregor X, Aquanaememity, of all boats. Buzz and Kari managed with motor power, but found the going tricky because the waves would periodically pop the boat’s stern and propeller out of the water. As the storm subsided, they returned to the marina and Gerald helped them dock. Now it was time for a break. Soon I was leaning against the cushions on Buzz and Kari’s fine sailing machine with a refreshing beverage in hand, with Gerald and Carol Anne joining us soon.

But the break wasn’t long to last; with the winds subsiding to a pleasant level, Zorro was ready to go sailing. Gerald was content to remain ashore, but Carol Anne and I were game for another go. I helped turn Zorro’s boat into the wind and gave her a shove, then we went out for what turned out to be some excellent sailing, with more spinnaker trimming practice for me. It was again quite late by the time we returned to the marina and land, with just time for dinner at Hodge’s, to which the originally planned “raft-up” potluck had moved, so we joined Zorro, Kari, and Buzz at the “special” corner table in the restaurant (the one with a specially-labeled shovel resting in the corner). Finally, it was time to pick up a like-new mainsail that we’d bought through Zorro and turn in for the night.

Sunday: Parting is such sweet sorrow

Sunday morning dawned slowly for us. We got a weather update and called the state park weather recording, “Wendy the Weather Wizard”, which told us that winds were averaging 0 mph for the past 20, 40, and 60 minutes, and ranging from 0 to 3 mph. That was actually somewhat pessimistic, since Zorro and Gerald had enough wind for an early morning sail close to the marina, though the wind had since faded.

By the time Carol Anne and I arrived around 10:30 that morning, Zorro and Gerald were on their second sail. We pushed off from the pier, did a downwind hoist in the light air, and sailed out on Black Magic to rendezvous with Constellation a quarter mile out from the marina. There, Carol Anne crawled onto Constellation, leaving me to sail Black Magic south toward the boat ramp at the Marina del Sur, which was steep enough for our launch rope and trailer to work well for hauling out Carol Anne’s boat.

The sail south started out slow but the breeze picked enough for me to enjoy a leisurely sail south. En route, a pontoon boat passed by close to allow one of its crew to shoot camcorder footage of the pretty sailboat and I had to put up with a lot of boat wakes. Sunday was sunny and warm, so power boats and jet skis had come out by the dozens, unlike earlier in the weekend. Most of the sail was restful and relaxing, yet I had to keep alert to the wakes and power boats, as well as responding to some moderate wind shifts.

My thought had been to beat upwind until I could finish the last half mile to the marina on a spinnaker run. However, the winds had other ideas, becoming very shifty, squirrely, and sometimes non-existent as I passed Rattlesnake Island. Twice I was ready to hoist the chute, with the pole ready to go and the spinnaker ready to go, when the wind shifted, vanished, and did strange things. Between the flakiness of the wind (or non-wind) and the frequent powerboat wakes, I decided the chute wasn’t going to work. The wind vanished, went east, went southeast, went southwest, went north, went northeast, went south – and did some more vanishing between some of the shifts. Yuck. Oh well, that too is part of a sailor’s life. And even though the winds were far from optimal (or even sufficient all too often), I did enjoy the challenge of making the boat go, keeping it going, and picking up on subtle changes and variations in the breeze. That’s the part that I came to call “frustratingly satisfying”.

Nearing the marina, I lowered the jib and sailed into the floating breakwater, passing close between the marina and power boats that were coming and going. Maneuvering into the close confines of the space between the marina and the boat ramp, I passed within eight feet of a monstrously huge (about ninety feet long) houseboat, where a young girl exclaimed excitingly about the passing sailboat, then tacked back out among the swarming power boats.

As it turned out, Carol Anne and Gerald hadn’t been able to park near the boat ramp and get the trailer in the water because the area was too crowded. Not only had the warm, sunny weather brought out lots of powerboats for cruising, skiing, and sightseeing, but a big bass tournament had been scheduled for the weekend; 30 bass boats were finishing hauling out as I approached the marina. So, while Carol Anne and Gerald hiked up the hill to fetch the truck and trailer and launch the trailer into the water, I got in some more close-order sailing drill under mainsail only, sailing within a few feet of the marina and not far from the swarming powerboats, tacking within a few yards of the breakwater and marina at times.

Once the trailer was in the water, I was able to sail to the ramp area. By then, however, the wind had shifted and strengthened, so I would have been trying to sail dead downwind onto the trailer in a very tight space in the middle of a bunch of powerboats, with no time or room to coordinate getting the mainsail down while trying to steer for the mostly submerged trailer and avoid other traffic. A mistake under these conditions, and with Carol Anne watching, would have had nasty consequences.

So, it was time for a new strategy. I tacked away from the crowd, around a corner of the marina, and hauled down the main. Then I used the boat’s momentum and some tiller wiggling to steer around the corner and down a bare-pole broad reach to the trailer, lining up and “sailing” the boat onto the trailer under bare poles. Attaching lines to hold the boat securely on the trailer, I then signaled Carol Anne and Gerald to bring the boat partway out of the water so I could make sure the boat was centered on the aft trailer pads. Then, I remained aboard and started putting away sails as they finished bringing the boat out of the water, chocked the trailer wheels, and backed the truck down to hitch it to the boat trailer. I was still rolling up sails and doing housekeeping as they drove to the mast-raising pole.

At the mast pole, we had a lot of work to do, because it was the time of year when Black Magic makes her summer migration to Heron Lake in the cool, high mountain country of northern New Mexico. So, we had to disconnect the rigging and remove the boom and mast to prepare for trailering. The process is somewhat involved on a thirty-foot racing boat with its many lines and controls. This time, Carol Anne stood by the winch, Gerald did much of the work on deck, and I spent a lot of time down below in the cuddy space to disconnect halyards, the topping lift, and the mast moving system.

Eventually we were done with packing the boat for moving north, with the mast cushioned and strapped horizontally to the deck and the boat strapped to the trailer. We stopped at Pat’s Chevron to top off the air in the tires and top off the fuel tank. Unfortunately, while I was backing around to maneuver and make room for a fifth-wheel trailer and giant motorhome, the trailer backed down off a curb and I had to do some tight maneuvering to free the trailer.

By the time the trailer had been freed, it was time for a break. We had a late lunch at Hodge’s Corner, parking the boat right in front where everyone could admire it, including a state parks marine enforcement officer who dropped in while we were enjoying our food. After the lunch, we then drove to Socorro to refill Carol Anne’s half-gallon growler jug with ale, where the proprietor admired the boat. Just as night descended we parked Black Magic at home in Albuquerque.

Now our plan is to take the boat north to Heron and launch sometime mid-week, so the boat will be at home in her northern berth in time for Memorial Day weekend. We have an immense amount of boat work to be done, as well as all the things that need to be done at the Heron Lake Marina, Shroyer Center (community center), and out cabin, where we still need to replace the water heater. It should be a busy week.

Tally for the weekend: Three days of sailing (16th, 17th, and 18th days sailing this year for me). Replaced a nasty old cracked tiller, bought a like-new mainsail, fitted and worked with another sail, sailed on two boats, spent around 12 hours on the water, rode out a storm, got in a few hours of spinnaker trim and a solo sail.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mallory Cup Photos from Elephant Butte Lake

Finishing the last leg of the last race, Wild Thing and Coyote charge to the line.

Coyote takes a really big puff and...

Summary for the Mallory Championships at Elephant Butte

Mallory Cup Men’s Championship
Quarterfinal Eliminations for the
Sailing Association of
Intermountain Lakes,
May 2–4, 2008

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico

Regatta results

The Mallory eliminations for SAIL were conducted on borrowed J/24 sailboats, with teams rotating among the boats between races. Winds were mostly medium in strength, typically 8–14 knots. Courses were windward-leeward with four or five legs per race, with each leg 0.4 to 1.1 nm long. Several support boats and a large cast of volunteers helped run the races. Barbara Hawn was event chair, Pat Byrnes was principal race officer, and Gary Sander chaired the protest committee.

Place Captain Points, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, total points

1 Jessee 3 1 1 1 1 7

2 Perry 1 2 2 3 3 11

3 Meins 2 3 3 2 2 12

Regatta Summary

With four bullets out of five races, Larry Jessee, Dave Ampleford, Marty Stevenson, and Chuck Arasim won the first place and the right to advance to further levels of competition. The final race on Sunday had a spectacular finish, with the NM Tech team and helmsman Brent Meins edging out Team Perry by about a foot after four legs of racing in brisk winds.

On Friday, May 2, 2008, boats were made available for practice beginning at noon. A practice race was held at 4:00 p.m., followed at 7:00 by a competitors’ meeting, registration, weather briefing, and reception.

Races 1–4 were completed on Saturday. Race 1 was WLWLW in a modest, dying wind from the ENE. The first four legs went well enough in 2–6 knots of breeze, but partway up the final leg the wind just about vanished, leaving boats to inch their way up the last several hundred yards of course. A bare hint of breeze filled in just enough to keep the boats ghosting along, and all boats were able to finish the course within two hours. Races were postponed for boats and crews to be sent back to the marina for lunch and to await afternoon breezes.

Race 2 was WLWLW in medium winds from the SSE. Races 3 and 4 were WLWL in medium-heavy winds from the SSE to SSW. Boat swaps were held at the marina due to the heavier winds between races 2, 3, and 4, and because of an equipment breakdown that had to be repaired between races 3 and 4.

On Sunday morning, competitors were greeted by a light, variable wind of two to five knots from the north and northeast. Based on forecasts and local knowledge, the wind was expected to fail later on in the morning, then fill in from the SSE and S during the early afternoon. The drainage-type winds from the east were not forecast to hold steady, and did eventually drop away to a dead calm that lasted for about two hours. Accordingly, the race officer kept the boats in the marina, then began to sortie support boats out in the early afternoon as the first bits of breeze began to fill in from the ESE and SE. In hindsight, we probably could have squeezed in a light-air morning race, but any error in timing could have turned it into a miserable drifter without assuring fair sailing for the competitors.

The initial sailing of race 5 was abandoned at the end of the second leg because of radical wind shifts that exceeded 40 degrees. The race was re-sailed and completed with winds that ranged from 10 to 16 knots, with some stronger gusts. Gusts in excess of 30 knots were recorded at the marina, but were not so strong on the race course, where they were only about 24 knots maximum. In these heavier conditions, the lead boat was able to keep flatter and get a lot of separation. The two trailing boats, however, made a very exciting race for second place, crossing the line in a photo finish with one boat about sixteen inches ahead of the other.





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Lessons Learned from the Mallory Championships at Elephant Butte

Mallory Cup Men’s Championship
Quarterfinal Eliminations for the
Sailing Association of
Intermountain Lakes,
May 2–4, 2008,

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico

Lessons Learned

Summary of Lessons Learned

In hindsight, race 1 should have been shortened before the last leg. We did learn that club members needed to learn more about the current rules for shortening and changing courses.

One slight surprise discovery: I found some of the race equipment that had been needed on the finish boat when I was cleaning out and removing gear from the windward mark set boat (Buzz's dad's ski boat). Apparently, the items had been loaded into the boat when it was launched Thursday morning, but when we asked some people where the items were on Friday, the people we asked didn't know. Oh well -- live and learn.

We likely should have had a separate bo'sun for all the support boats (start, finish, mark set, etc.). Originally, I think we had in mind someone to do that sort of thing, but he wound up not being available for the weekend.

Another learning experience arose from the extra buoy anchors/weights being left on shore when they turned out to be needed, after all, on Sunday afternoon. Each anchor sufficed to hold the inflatable marks in up to 20 mph winds, but a few of the weekend's stronger gusts were able to shift buoy position. Although the weights were perhaps twice as heavy as what we usually use, the inflatable marks probably had several times more surface area than the smaller round pin buoys we typically use.

For the future: In an ideal world, we'd have separate training for specific boat functions and race committee jobs, i.e. mark set, scoring, line sighting, etc. We had to do a lot of that sort of training on the fly.

More Details of Lessons Learned

Boats and Equipment:

– Need inspector/wrangler for support boats to make sure that equipment doesn’t wander from one boat to another (line flag, marker board) or get left behind at the marina (spare mark buoy anchors). Also need to inspect support boats for basic equipment such as anchor and rode (finish boat had to get these supplemented before the regatta). Inspections need to happen before the regatta weekend.

– The club needs to make or buy the more specialized flags and duplicate them; finish boat needed red/green plus/minus, for example. If the club hosts a Prince of Wales match racing event, for example, then specialized match racing flags will be needed.

– Radios and communication: Some cell phones didn’t work on the lake and some key cell phone numbers weren’t initially known.
No easy means of contact with some volunteers.
One volunteer delayed by local parade.
PRO’s personal radio had limited reception and finish boat had no fixed radio.
Club hand-held radio has quirk about working at some power settings.
Some volunteers didn’t hold radios at proper distance from mouth (not close enough to be heard above wind). Club needed more radios.
Club needed to have more GPS units with volunteers trained to use them.

– Communication about the availability of some volunteers was not passed on initially to the PRO, resulting in awkwardness in trying to confirm assignments and difficulty in contacting the volunteers..

– Finish boat, in addition to initially lacking adequate anchor and rode, had non-working windlass and engine starting/electrical trouble; this imposed additional work/worry on the regatta volunteers and diverted some resources. Finish boat lacked spare small lines. Duct tape on finish boat had to be given to another support boat.

– Having flags already made up on staffs was absolutely necessary and a very good thing. For future reference, having some flags made up on the mark set boats and a brief guide posted on how to use them would be useful.

– Purchases of equipment went far to allowing the r.c. to run proper races. Now, the challenge will be to organize, track, maintain, and secure the equipment. Perhaps a locking locker would be a big help.

Volunteers and Training:

– Need separate boat wrangler for support boats – having PRO getting equipment for support boats at the last minute is a big diversion of time, focus, and energy

– Need for volunteers to get boat pump-outs, fuel, etc., should have been anticipated in scheduling and planning.

– Volunteers on all boats needed to be equipped and trained to use GPS to establish relative positions.

– Volunteers would benefit from training so they have knowledge of current race management practices and recent changes to rules. Training should consist of (1) pre-season general training for new volunteers, (2) on-going refresher training for all volunteers, (3) regatta-specific training one to two months before a major regatta. Training needs to cover rules, roles of different boats and team members, and actual physical practice in different roles, especially in support boat work. There was not time for (3), so only a general session was done.

– Whenever r.c. volunteers are trained, and especially before a major regatta, the r.c. must coordinate training with a US Sailing race officer or judge who is familiar with local conditions as well as current US Sailing practices and requirements.

– Local practices and NORs/Sis should be harmonized with current rules and practices so volunteers and competitors aren’t surprised when participating in events run according to national or international standards. This can best be done by consulting with race officers and judges, especially those familiar with local conditions as well as the RRS and national practices. The NORs/SIs should not conflict with the RRS and must be made available to all competitors (i.e., at every regatta).

– There was no problem with too many volunteers; more could have been used, and they would have been especially more valuable and more comfortable in their roles if more of them could have been given role-specific training in advance of the regatta weekend.

Support boat volunteers
– Separate training is needed for support boat operators and mark setters (don’t put up confusing flag, don’t confuse boats trying to find finish, know how to move marks rapidly). Mark boat operators needed to be trained so they could say “YES” when asked to move a mark quickly.

Start boat volunteers
– Timer on start boat should have been using GPS time coordinated with the GPS on the finish boat. Finish boat GPS should have been set to local time zone. Timer needed to be calling out time louder and facing signalers and sounders. Finish boat volunteers needed to be trained for line sighting. One loss of time count appears to have happened between AP down and 1st warning in 1st race during timer’s countdown. One course flag was forgotten, causing a postponement. One class flag nearly didn’t go down at a start. An individual recall flag was slow to go up.


– Having extra boats and a few extra people available was handy when some volunteers and boats didn’t appear,

Thoughts About Things Done Right and Wrong

– Although in hindsight we could have run a race on Sunday morning, I stand by the decision to postpone the racing until the afternoon winds filled in.

– One thing I would have done differently would have been to have shortened the first race (dying wind on Saturday morning) at the end of the fourth leg.

– As always in any group effort, communications were a big challenge.

– Although we did do some training, and did more training than we'd done previously, much more should have been done.

– The event did help make a case for improving training and resources and bringing them up to a national standard.





Data from the Mallory Championships at Elephant Butte

Mallory Cup Men’s Championship

Quarterfinal Eliminations for the

Sailing Association of Intermountain Lakes,
May 2–4, 2008,

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico

Technical Data and Notes:

Boat Rotation and Points
Kachina blue flag 4441
Wild Thing yellow flag 44
Coyote brown flag 2514

Team R1 R2 R3 R4 R5
Meins Kachina Wild Thing Coyote Kachina Wild Thing
Perry Wild Thing Coyote Kachina Wild Thing Coyote
Jessee Coyote Kachina Wild Thing Coyote Kachina

Scoring Summary
Team R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Total
Jessee 3 1 1 1 1 7
Perry 1 2 2 3 3 11
Meins 2 3 3 2 2 12

Friday, May 2, 2008, Practice Race
22:21:15 Prep flag up
(times reflect GPS set to GMT –1,
subtract 6 hours for local time,
6:02:39 adjustment for start boat timer)
22:25:15 Start
22:43:14 Start
22:58:21 Kachina 1st to round windward (1st) mark
22:49:50 Wild Thing rounded windward (1st) mark
23:00:08 Coyote rounded windward (1st) mark

Saturday, May 3, 2008, Races 1–4

Race 1 Start 9:04
9:04 NE 5 kt
9:16 NE 4 kt
9:16 Kachina 1st mark rounding,
9:16:55 2nd boat to 1st mark rounding
9:23 wind at 355 degrees
9:25 Kachina 1st boat at 2nd (leeward) mark rounding,
9:26:08 Wild Thing, 9:26:40 Coyote at 2nd mark
9:29 wind shift, 3-4 kts
9:42:36 Wild Thing 1st boat at 3rd (windward) mark rounding,
9:44:38 Coyote rounded 3rd mark,
9:44:44 Kachina rounded 3rd mark
9:51 wind 2.5 knots, 55 deg.
9:58:30 Wild Thing 1st boat at 4th (leeward) mark rounding,
10:00:06 Coyote, 10:01:30 Kachina
10:03 wind 2-3 kts
10:24 wind 0 kts at windward/finish
10:42 lead boat 150 yards from finish
10:49:40 Wild Thing 1st boat to finish,
10:54:48 Kachina, 10:58:19 Coyote finished

Request for redress from team Jessee
Jury: Gary Sander, Barbara Hawn, Ken Murata, Dan Holden

13:50 finish boat fouled prop in anchor line of start boat
Russ Jellison dove on line and unfouled it
14:18 wind 10-12 kt

Race 2 Start 14:18 (6:02:12 correction to finish boat GPS time)
14:31 approx. time 1st boat rounded windward (1st) mark
14:36 winds 10-12 kts 175 deg.
14:38:10 Kachina 1st boat to round leeward (2nd) mark;
14:38:44 Wild Thing rounded 2nd mark,
14:39:54 Coyote rounded 2nd mark
14:44 power boat ran into windward mark
14:49 approx. time 1st boat rounded windward (3rd) mark
14:57:50 Kachina 1st boat to round leeward (4th) mark;
14:59:48 Coyote rounded 4th mark; 14:59:56 Wild Thing
spinnaker in water during takedown
15:00 winds 19 kts at 190 degrees at finish boat
15:14 approx. time of 1st boat to finish (5th leg)
15:15 finish, winds 12 kts at 170 degrees at finish boat
15:09:48 Kachina
15:11:24 Coyote
15:11:43 Wild Thing

Finish times as reported by finish boat:
51:48 Kachina, 53:24 Coyote, 53:43 Wild Thing

15:31 165 degree wind bearing (345 reciprocal)
15:40 winds 15-17 kts at 170 degrees at finish boat

Race 3 Start 16:01:02
16:10 winds 7-8 kts at 165 degrees at finish boat
16:12 approx. Wild Thing 1st boat to round windward (1st) mark,
16:12 Kachina 2nd to 1st mark,
16:13 Coyote 3rd to 1st mark
16:18:55 Wild Thing 1st boat to round leeward (2nd) mark,
16:19:15 Kachina 2nd, 16:20:43 Coyote 3rd
16:20 winds 8-10 kts at 165 degrees at finish boat
16:25 winds 16-18 kts at 175 degrees at finish boat
16:30:27 Wild Thing 1st boat to windward (3rd) mark,
16:32:20 appr. Kachina, 16:32:40 appr. Coyote to 3rd mark
16:34 approx. race shortened to four legs with S flag
16:37:40 Wild Thing (Jessee) 1st boat to finish (4th/leeward) mark
16:38:55 Kachina (Perry), 2nd to finish (4th/leeward) mark
16:39:52 Coyote (Tech), 3rd to finish (4th/leeward) mark

Tiller extension on Coyote reported came off by helmsman

16:54 winds 12-13 kt on race course at signal boat
16:54 35 mph wind gust reported at Rock Canyon Marina
16:55 19 kt wind at windward mark/finish boat
16:55 19 mph wind speed reported at marina
17:08 20 mph gust reported by windward boat
17:15 18 kts. wind speed at 160 degrees at start boat,
halyard on competitor boat reported repaired
17:40 start line pin observed drifting,
starting sequence postponed, pin double-anchored
17:42 jet skier attempted to steal windward mark

Race 4 Start 17:58 (17:57:34) Race started as four-legged race
18:05 wind 19-20 kts from 175 degrees at finish boat
18:10:30 Kachina (Meins) 1st boat to windward (1st) mark,
18:10:40 Coyote (Jessee) 2nd boat,
18:12:00 Wild Thing (Meins) 3rd boat
18:15 wind 14-16 kts at 175 degrees at finish boat
18:17:19 Coyote (Jessee) 1st boat to leeward (2nd) mark;
18:17:49 Kachina (Meins) 2nd boat to 2nd mark,
18:18:40 Wild Thing (Perry) 3rd boat to 2nd mark
18:29:11 Coyote (Jessee) 1st boat to windward (3rd) mark;
18:29:36 Kachina (Meins) 2nd boat to windward (3rd) mark
18:30:16 Wild Thing (Perry) 3rd boat to windward (3rd) mark
18:36:23 Coyote (Jessee) finish (4th mark)
18:37:12 Kachina (Meins), finish (4th mark)
18:37:45 Wild Thing (Perry), finish (4th mark)

Sunday, May 4, 2008, Race 5

AM: winds light from NNE to ENE cycling between 0 and 5 kts. Decided to postpone given prediction that drainage wind would fade and die at some point before a long period of calm preceded wind filling in from the expected southern direction. Began to sally support boats out at 1:10 p.m.

13:41 wind 4.5 kts. at 130 degrees at finish boat
13:48:34 initial race start (later abandoned)
13:52 winds 3.5 – 6.5 kts at 125 degrees at finish boat
13:57 Kachina, Coyote, Wild Thing to 1st mark (windward)
14:02 winds 7-9 kts. at 145 degrees at finish boat
(shifted 20 degrees right from 13:52)
14:10 winds 8-10 kts. 170 deg. (additional 25 degree shift)
14:12 winds 8-10 knots at 195 degrees at finish boat
(50 degree shift from 14:02)

Major wind shift, Race abandoned
Windward mark repositioned rapidly
Postponement to get course flag up and reposition dragging leeward mark
No extra anchors on mark set boats – had been left at marina
No marker board on finish boat – later found on windward mark set boat

14:21 winds 14-14.5 kts at 185 degrees at finish boat

14:23 race started (14:23:34)
14:30 called bo’sun boat by cell phone to stand by
14:31:30 Kachina 1st boat to 1st (windward) mark;
14:31:51 Wild Thing 2nd boat to 1st mark (inside boat at rounding),
14:32:00 Coyote 3rd boat to 1st mark (outside boat)
14:35:35 winds 14 kts at 190 degrees at finish boat
14:36:38 Kachina 1st boat to 2nd (leeward) mark;
14:36:38 Coyote (Perry) 2nd boat t0 2nd mark;
14:37:46 Wild Thing (Meins) 3rd boat to 2nd mark
14:43 winds 13-15 kts at 180 degrees at finish boat
14:45:20 Kachina (Jessee) 1st boat to 3rd (windward) mark;
14:46:20 Coyote (Perry);
14:46:26 Wild Thing (Meins)
Finish order: (1) Kachina (Jessee), then close photo finish between (2) Wild Thing (Meins), and (3) Coyote (Perry)

Weather history from internet source

Sunday, May 4 NOAA/Sierra Country Airport
Time Wind Visib. Conditions Cond. Temp.
14:53 S 22 G 28 10.00 Fair and Breezy CLR 82
13:53 SE 14 G 21 10.00 Fair CLR 81
12:53 S 7 G 17 10.00 Fair CLR 76
11:53 S 3 10.00 Fair CLR 71
10:53 Vrbl 3 10.00 Fair CLR 67
09:53 Calm 10.00 Fair CLR 64
08:53 Calm 10.00 Fair CLR 59

Saturday, May 3 NOAA/Airport
18:53 S 18 G 26 10.00 Fair CLR 75
17:53 S 18 G 29 10.00 Fair CLR 76
16:53 S 20 G 30 10.00 Fair CLR 76
15:53 S 17 G 28 10.00 Fair CLR 74
14:53 S 16 G 28 10.00 Fair CLR 72
13:53 S 18 G 25 10.00 Fair CLR 70
12:53 SW 8 G 20 10.00 Fair CLR 67
11:53 Vrbl 5 10.00 Fair CLR 63
10:53 E 10 10.00 Fair CLR 61
09:53 NE 6 10.00 Fair CLR 56
08:53 N 14 10.00 Fair CLR 52






Barbara Hawn, Event Chair

Gary Sander, Protest Committee Chair, Consultant

Pat Byrnes, Principal Race Officer


A huge round of thanks needs to be given to all of our volunteers, without whom we’d have simply not had the event:

Russ, start boat captain (and diver!)

Maria, Jen, Eric, start boat crew – signalers, sounders

Marilyn, Timer/Recorder

Buzz, finish boat captain

Carol Anne, scorer, deputy PRO

Lisa, Eric, Laura, finish boat crew

William, John, Ken; windward mark set boat crew

John, Susie; leeward mark set boat crew

Dan, Will; bo’sun boat crew

Stan, Fred; spectator boat crew

Jodi, Leigh; photographers

Craig, Dave; reserve/stand-by boat

Vicky, Sue, Trent; on-shore crew

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Retrieving an Etchells Sailboat up a boat ramp with a boat trailer

Steps to prepare the the trailer to retrieve the International Etchells "Black Magic" from the water:
(1) Check trailer, pad positions, launch wheel, launch rope (wire, cable, or strap if used), lug nuts, lug nut wrench, chocks, boat restraining lines, paddle, boat hook, boat motor if used.
(2) Bring boat trailer to boat ramp and park it just above the water's edge.
(3) Disconnect electrical connection between truck and trailer.
(4) Ensure that on-boat crew doesn't have truck keys.
(5) Place chocks slightly behind trailer wheels.
(6) Tie launch rope between trailer frame and truck frame. Make some extra loops around the frames to prevent over-tightening of the knots when the rope has to pull the boat and trailer.
(7) Jack front end of the trailer up to release the trailer hitch from the hitch ball on the truck; allow the trailer to rock slightly backward (two or three inches, perhaps) to clear the trailer hitch from the ball.
(8) Pass a couple of loops of line from the truck frame end around the bumper hitch.
(9) Remove the safety chains.
(10) Remove the launch wheel from the storage position and attach it to the launching hub. Lower the front end of the trailer as needed to bring the launch tire into contact with the ground and tighten the lug nuts to secure the launch wheel to the launch hub. Note: Some trailers use a drop-down launching wheel, which is typically freed by removing a pin that secures it to the trailer frame for storage, then inserting the pin through a lower hole when the launch wheel is in the launch position.
(11) Raise the trailer jack and stow it out of the way. Check to ensure that the launch wheel is in position and that the safety chains and electrical connection are disconnected. Tuck chains and the electrical cable out of the way.
(12) Drive the truck (launch vehicle) forward up the ramp to take up tension on the launch rope, then continue to drive forward slightly (one to three feet) to free the chocks.
(13) Remove the chocks from behind the trailer tires and place them to one side or in the launch vehicle.
(14) Drop the trailer into the water to the appropriate depth.
(15) Steer the boat onto the trailer, using the ladders or other guide marks to center the trailer laterally and longitudinally (side to side and fore n aft).
(16) Attach lines from the stern ring of the boat to the side ladders on the trailer. Place them so that, after the lines stretch under load, the forward bulkhead of the boat will be over the bulkhead support bunk on the trailer.
(17) Check to ensure that the trailer pads are properly positioned under the boat. Signal the truck driver to drive the boat and trailer slightly up the ramp if needed to check pad position.
(18) Smoothly drive the truck up the ramp to bring the boat and trailer out of the water.
(19) Place chocks behind the trailer tires when the boat and trailer leave the water.

Trailer ready for attachment of the third/launch wheel to the forward hub.

The trailer is ready to be dropped down the ramp, with the truck beginning to drive forward. After the rope becomes taut, the trailer will be brought a short distance (a few inches to a couple of feet) further up the ramp so that the chocks can be removed from behind the trailer wheels. Then the trailer will be dropped into the water...

The trailer begins to roll down the ramp into the water. The length of launch rope needed depends upon the angle (steepness) of the boat ramp; 70 to 100 feet (24 to 30m) is typically sufficient.

The trailer has been dropped to almost the proper depth for retrieving the Etchells "Black Magic", which lies behind the trailer at the Elephant Butte Lake state park courtesy dock. Beyond is the Marina del Sur. The trailer will be allowed to back down so that it's about 6 to 9 inches (0.25 m) deeper in the water than it is in this picture.

Retrieving an Etchells Sailboat up a boat ramp with a boat trailer

The International Etchells, USA 125 "Black Magic", begins to emerge from the water as "Babe" hauls the trailer up on the end of a 24-m (80 foot) rope.

Black Magic continues to climb out of the water and over dry land.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hitching up the Etchells and her sailboat trailer

Chuck stands by the trailer, which is just about ready to haul Black Magic up the ramp and into the mast-up storage lot. Note the cross-brace jack wrench perched on top of the third/launch wheel, which is out of the way in its storage position on the trailer.
Detail of trailer beams.

"Husker" stands by as final details of hitching the trailer to the truck are completed.

Etchells sailboat trailer details

The ladders on either side of Black Magic's trailer serve varied functions:
With different rung spacings, they give crew convenient options for securely boarding the boat from the ground;
They reinforce the bunk support structure and trailer;
They protrude well above the water when the trailer is sunk to the proper depth in the water to launch and retrieve the boat, allowing the crew to aim the boat into the trailer (reflective tape placed near the desired waterline position further helps with daytime or nighttime retrievals);
They gently brake the boat if it tries to go too far forward;
They provide a place for crew to catch, grab, or push off from the trailer when it is in the water;
They enable the crew to locate the correct fore-and-aft position to place the boat on the trailer so that the forward bunk support lies under the forward bulkhead of the boat;
They provide a convenient place to tie lines to keep the boat from sliding back off the correct position on the trailer as the boat is initially raised out of the water on the trailer.

How to retrieve an Etchells sailboat up a boat ramp with a trailer

In this view, the International Etchells USA 125 "Black Magic" is all ready to go up the boat ramp to her space in the mast up lot. After hauling the boat and trailer up the ramp on a long rope, we chocked the trailer wheels, backed the truck down to within a few inches of the trailer and attached safety chains. The launch rope was removed from the trailer frame and truck frame and stowed in the truck.

Then we jacked the front end of the trailer up enough so we could remove the third, launch wheel from its axle and stow it on the trailer. Backing the truck up the last few inches, we then connected the trailer hitch to the hitch ball on the truck and moved the trailer a few inches forward so that the chocks could be removed readily.

International Etchells "Black Magic" in space number one at the mast-up storage lot.

Black Magic's neighbor, "White Lightnin", which has a somewhat different style of trailer.

Trailer Sailor images -- Chuck's trailer

Profile view of the modified Triad trailer used for Chuck's Freedom 21 sailboat, "Wind Rush".

View from left of front of trailer with drop-down third/launch wheel.