Sunday, February 15, 2009

And then there were 12

...days of sailing so far this year. Today's plan was for us to borrow a swaging tool (ours was back in Albuquerque) to re-swage the main halyard to its shackle and replace the damaged mainsail with a heeavier-weight main. We also caught up with people at the marina and I discussed plans for the Anniversary Cup, a bigger-than-usual regatta that we'll host on May 30th of this year.

Eventually I wound up on Black Magic as Carol Anne lowered the boat and trailer on the drop line and I then paddled the boat to the courtesy dock and got the boat ready to sail. Carol Anne parked the trailer and Expedition and hopped on Zorro's Echells.

Winds were extremely light when we met out on the lake just a few hundred feet from the marina, and didn't improve much in the next half hour. Gradually, though, the breeze built up to something tolerable and we crossed the lake and got in some generally good sailing in breezes of 2 to 6 knots, flying spinnakers for a bit and doing various maneuvers. The skies were becoming dark and cloudy by the time we sailed the boats back into the slips at Rock Canyon Marina and we just had enough light to put the two Etchells away for the night.

Tomorrow is a holiday for some people in the United States (Presidents Day). The wind forecast is quite decent with maximum sustained winds from the south at 5 to 10 mph in the morning and from the SSW at 10 to mph in the afternoon (possible gusts to 25 mph).

Weather history for Presidents Day weekend 2009 at Elephant Butte Lake
Sunday (KCTS Sierra Co. airport, about 6 miles from lake)
time wind
1353 variable dir., 5 mph max. winds
1453 variable dir., 5 mph max. winds
1553 from South, 5 mph max. winds
1653 calm
1753 from Southeast, 3 mph max. winds

1153 SE 8 mph
1253 SW 10 gust 20 mph
1353 W 18 gust 28 mph
1453 W 17 gust 23 mph
1553 W 23 gust 31 mph
1653 SW 20 gust 26 mph
1753 W 13 mph

Rio Grande at San Marcial floodway, 644 cubic feet per second
Elephant Butte Reservoir, 4353.29 feet elev. over benchmark, 681,460 acre feet, 5 cfs outflow, 2100 February 15, 2009

Snow pack -- snow water equivalents
Upper Rio Grande, 22% above average
San Miguel/San Juan basin, 17% above average
New Mexico
Rio Chama basin, 36% above average
Upper Rio Grande, 20% above average
Sangre de Cristo, 23% above average
Gila Basin, 54% of average

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Update: Team Chute-Out Weekend at Elephant Butte Lake

Sometimes the message gets garbled...

The plan for the Rio Grande Sailing Club team chute-out on Valentine's Day had been for a hybrid between regular fleet racing and team and match racing. Pairs of matched boats would race each other, with each boat representing either a north team or a south team. We would have two pairs of J/24s, two pairs of Etchells, and two pairs of cruising boats. The J/24s and Etchells would race level one design, whereas the cruising boats would race on base Portsmouth handicap.

Originally we'd planned to send each pair of boats off to start separately, but with the prospect of a short-handed race committee, the plan changed to start the racing boats together, followed five minutes later by the cruisers. Numerous e-mails went out and I met with two of the folks who'd be on the committee boat in the middle of the week before the event.

However, the composition of the on-the-water race committee changed, and one of the members was late getting to the skippers' meeting, so some of the plans got garbled.

In addition, brisk winds were forecast, and some last-minute boat substitutions came and went, including one boat being told to go ahead and race by a club member, but without anyone telling the race committee chair or event organizers. Then, some crew were late showing up as well, so there was a bit of last-minute confusion.

The day before, Friday, Carol Anne and I had launched her Etchells and I'd sailed the boat north from Marina del Sur to Rock Canyon Marina, mostly in nice breezes of 4 to 6 mph. En route I'd encountered "Zorro" on his Etchells, and we traded some tacks and maneuvers on the way north.

As a result of the weather, crew showing up late or not at all, and consolidation of boats and crews, I wound up on Zorro's boat and "Applegal" wound up helming Carol Anne's Black Magic. Coordination on Constellation wasn't quite seamless, especially on spinnaker sets and douses, and the rough conditions and reach-leg courses made controlling the chute a real challenge, with the boat trying to broach a couple of times and Zorro teaching me to pump the guy line as a means of getting control back.

Still, despite all the hard work and mutterings from aft, it was a pretty good day on the water with lots of good sailing action. Although the fetches and reaches prevented the sailing from being very tactical, the 20-30 mph winds kept crews working hard.

And, between ferrying Black Magic north on Friday and racing on Saturday, that makes for 11 days of sailing so far in 2009 -- not bad for February in the northern hemisphere.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Kilo Whiskey, April 24, 2004, Anniversary Cup

Another bit of a visit down memory lane: The MacGregor 26x Kilo Whiskey catches a big puff at Elephant Butte Lake. "Ross" was near the finish line for the Anniversary Cup race on April 24, 2004, in a protected cove near the Dam Site Marina at Elephant Butte Lake when the puff caught him. When it's breezy, the area near the "Elephant" can experience strange wind swirls, downdrafts, reversals, and eddies. Kilo Whiskey covered a lot of territory, being towed to southern California and the Pacific northwest, even being part of a solo circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. "Ross" sold the boat about a year or so ago and replaced it with a twenty-eight-foot Hunter; the Mac is now somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

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A phtographic stroll down memory lane; the 444 photo

The Hunter 25 Gypsy Soul ambles along during slack winds at Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico. Adam's Messing About in Sailboats blog had challenged readers to dig up the fourth photograph in the fourth folder in their 2004 photos and this sunny picture (down-sized for an easier upload) is what resulted from the search. The breezes filled in later in the afternoon, as can be seen other pictures from that weekend.

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