Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fish on Friday

Seen here is the vermilion rock fish, better known during my childhood as a red snapper. This fish is part of the catch of the week snapped at the aquarium in Monterey, where the folks remind people to order fish with the delicate ocean environment and sustainable, responsible fisheries in mind.

Anchovies are already packed close together -- just scoop them into the can and you're done. Actually, they put on a great show, coalescing into a compact mass, splitting off into small groups, swirling about, and re-coalescing.

Usually my sunfish pictures are of the sailing dinghies -- but here's an ocean sunfish seen at close range.

Creatures from the dark lagoon

During our visit to the aquarium, we found it hard to get good pictures through the glass and amid the crowds. Fast-moving creatures and dim light (flash was off to avoid reflections and be kind to our neighbors) also made for challenges. The south African penguins above were among the most visitor-friendly animals; they and the otters seemed to enjoy interacting with visitors.

At the beach

After all, life's a beach ... or was it a reach?

Santa Cruz Wednesday buoy racing pictures

I hadn't realized just what a big deal the Wednesday night beer can races around the buoys are off Santa Cruz, California. Several dozen sailboats took advantage of nice breezes, with many of them finishing the course just at the harbor mouth.

Concrete ship Palo Alto and the pier at Aptos, California

The Palo Alto was built of concrete in an attempt to supplement shipbuilding while steel was in short supply during World War I. But, it wasn't completed until after the war; eventually it was sold, put at the end of pier in Aptos, California, and used for two years as an entertainment complex and den of illicit activities during the 1930 -- 1932 portion of the prohibition era. Damaged by storms, now it works as a breakwater and fish habitat.

The rain it's plain falls mainly at Heron Lake

July 2008 and Heron Lake has seen more than its share of rain. As a result, I had to use a manual bilge pump to take half a foot out of the bottom of Black Magic on July 22nd.

Cabin in Laguna Vista

Not that there are ever traces of boat stuff now that most of the boats have been launched and are at the Heron Lake Marina....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

United Parcel Screw-up

Excuses for not sailing, and reasons for lack of participation in regattas are topics discussed elsewhere in the nautical blogosphere. We can add our excuse, courtesy in part of one of the world's largest shipping services.

I've not sailed much this summer. That's in spite of spending almost every weekend at the marina and being involved in all sorts of sailing-related projects, and having a small flotilla or herd of boats. Yet, except for a bit of time on Sunfish dinghies and on kayaks, I've not been on the water in several weeks. What gives?

Partly, we've been busy with other projects, such as working on the marina. And, our MacGregor trailer-cruiser has been down in the mast up lot at Elephant Butte and still needs a bit more work and clean-up preparatory to sale.

But, the big hold-up has been with Carol Anne's Etchells, "Black Magic". It's been unsailable since a major component broke. A fiberglass control pedestal, which rises from the floor of the boat just forward of the helm position, became uprooted and separated from the floor. This pedestal holds the mainsheet (line to the boom and which is the main sail control for the big mainsail) and several other control lines. It is subject to significant lateral and vertical pressures from the heavily-loaded mainsheet and is also used as a brace by crew members during windy conditions, so it must hold up against hundreds of pounds of force. It cracked along each side where layers of fiberglass came down the side of the pedestal and turned out over the boat floor.

The joint had failed a couple of years ago. Because the boat was at Elephant Butte and we were relatively new to fiberglass work, we took the recommendation of a fellow Etchells owner and took it to a fiberglass shop in El Paso that was said to do beautiful glass work. The fellow owner and we explained carefully what was required, and what loads would be put on the pedestal and from which direction. And, the shop did beautiful work. Twas much more beautiful work than we could have done.

Unfortunately, beautiful didn't mean strong. Within several weeks, the join failed and the boat was again unsailable.

So, Carol Anne, Gerald, and I re-did the job on our own. This time the repair lasted for nearly two years. But, during blustery conditions just before the Summer Breeze I regatta at Heron, a joint cracked open again. Carol Anne and Gerald completed the race, but then the boat has been sitting idle, awaiting repairs.

Part of the delay was in deciding how to make the repair; we decided on ways to make the joint stronger for this repair by using more fiberglass and by placing small triangular wooden blocks glassed inside the fiberglass to provide more of a bearing surface and a more gradual curve in the surface of the fiberglass joint, thus spreading the loading and somewhat bracing the pedestal laterally.

But, another delay has come in the quest for getting better materials. In New Mexico, we have no bricks-and-mortar sailing shops, so many parts and supplies have to be ordered by telephone or internet. That means delays in receiving parts, especially if a sailor can't afford to routinely pay high fees for overnight or expedited shipment. And, some supplies are considered hazardous and can't be expressed.

In this case, the delay has been multiplied by a stupid mistake by an employee of the parcel delivery service.

Nearly two weeks after my order for Kevlar (Aramid) cloth, fiberglass roving cloth, fiberglass matting, and a bundle of assorted fiberglass cloth had been accepted and approved, the package hadn't arrived. But, the parcel service tracking website had a rude surprise for me; when I checked it this Tuesday it claimed the two parcels had been delivered to me the Monday eight days previous. Had the packages been stolen from my doorstep? Would I have to re-order and face another week or weeks of delays? Frustrated, I called the vendor (Defender) and they put out a trace on the delivery, though that might not accomplish much since UPS claimed to have made the delivery.

But then, on Wednesday, the answer to all these questions came knocking on my front door. It was a neighbor, and he was carrying one of the packages under one arm and I went with him to fetch the other. It seems that UPS had delivered my packages to a neighbor. That's even through the neighbor wasn't home -- he was off vacationing in Florida -- and even though one or the other members of my family were home most of the day of the delivery. And, the address was correct on both package labels, and our street number is clearly marked both on the curb next to our drive and next to our front door a mailbox. It seems that the delivery driver must have been incredibly sloppy or careless.

As a result, we've lost yet more time in getting Carol Anne's boat, which is in a marina 160 miles from our home, repaired. And now, we have a travel commitment that will chew through the next couple of weekends, so it will be late in the season before all is well with Carol Anne's graceful boat. So, we've lived with week after week of delays. Rats!

Still, it could be worse; many fellow boat owners faced much worse damage when a sudden storm this summer damaged and sunk boats in southern New Mexico. A sailing friend, whose boat was in a slip shorter than the boat's length, had his bow amputated and a gouge taken out of his boat's lead keel as vicious waves slammed the boat into the marina structure while he and the marina owner looked on helplessly. As I tell my friends, "It could be worse. I could be singing." Oh well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Red Buccaneer 6011 at Heron Lake

A red Buccaneer and her crew of Red Raiders visited the Heron Lake Marina on July 3-5, 2008. These pictures show Buccaneer 6011 approaching the marina just after she was launched. Her owners had only recently bought and renovated the boat, and hadn't had many chances to sail her in the Texas panhandle. Heron Lake in the mountain country of northern New Mexico was a great cool-water escape from Lubbock and provided the boat and crew with a variety of winds and weather. Her crew also got to participate in a potluck dinner held at the marina on July 5th; more than forty hearty sailors enjoyed a large variety of dishes.

More marina pictures from July 6

The long gangway allows the marina to connect to a relatively level portion of the shore and for flexibility to accommodate changes in lake level at Heron Lake, New Mexico.

Gangway, pavilion, and A dock.

Heron Lake Marina pavilion, A dock, dinghy dock, and part of B dock.

A boat approaches her slip; her crew is ready with dock lines.

Heron Lake Marina pictures from July 6

The south side of the Heron Lake Marina is visible in this view.

Marina from the southeast, showing A dock and pavilion.

The pathway leads up from near the end of the gangway to the upper loading zone at the top of the marina point.

The graveled path leads down to the lower loading zone near the end of the gangway for the Heron Lake Marina. In the background can be seen some mooring buoys and a boat and courtesy dock moored to a couple of the buoys.

Forgotten marina treasures in Rutheron and marina pix

"Pandemonium" is visible in the right distance on her mooring in the cove southeast of the Heron Lake Marina. In front of her is a courtesy dock segment belonging to the Heron Lake State Park and at left is another row of mooring buoys. Recently, the usual wildlife at Heron Lake has been joined by some unwelcome visitors: a herd of cattle has been breaking through neglected fences almost daily and making a stampede for the shores of the cove.

Quality boats: The Bayfield 25 "Lady Bug" (red, left background) and Ranger 26 "Ciao Bella" (green, front right) are moored in the cove to the northeast of the marina. A floating dock structure can be seen between them.

Gerald, at the beginning of his term of dock master duty last Sunday, July 6, strings rope handrails between gangway sections at the Heron Lake Marina.

The black-plastic-covered styrofoam floats seem to be a precursor to the type of floats now used for the marina.

Treasures of the deep...

treasures of the deep ... or marina stuff in the meadow

At left are some plastic-covered styrofoam floats; at right are various small floats.

At left is a large spool of steel cable; at right is a dock cart. Behind are bits of framework.

Gerald stands beside two massive spools of steel cable for the marina.