Friday, July 31, 2009

How not to splash a new boat (forwarded photo)

Splash and bottoms up: Steve Hayner of Maverick Productions forwarded three pictures that gave a good example of how not to launch a 55-foot, 1.5-million-dollar yacht. Perhaps someone knows the original source of this photo, which shows what happens when a mega yacht meets bad rigging.

See Tillerman's comment below for the link to the incident verification and reference to; the incident seems to have actually happened in 2007 while the yacht was being loaded onto a cargo ship in the United Arab Emirates.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Elephant Butte Lake near Rock Canyon

Rock Canyon boat ramp at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Sunday, July 26, 2009. These pictures were taken while I was kayaking; almost no wind was blowing and what little chop was on the lake had been generated by motorboat wakes. Later on in the day enough wind would come up so we could sail with "Zorro".

View of south side of Rock Canyon Marina.

Hillside near Mallard Lane, Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Much of the land around Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico looks something like this area near Mallard Lane in Elephant Butte Lake State Park. In the middle distance can be seen the Rock Canyon mast-raising pole; beyond it is a portion of the lake with Kettletop Mesa on the horizon just to the right of center. The small building at right is a park service shower house and bathroom.

View to the northwest

Golly, a wet gulley

Intermittent rain and thundershowers drenched a few places in southern New Mexico while skipping others. On Sunday afternoon, we passed over a normally bone-dry arroyo (gully) that was roaring with runoff from an upstream cloudburst. A few hours later after our late afternoon sail, the water had slowed to a trickle.

View upstream

Twilight at Elepant Butte Lake

Weekend update

Last Saturday morning I was up early and drove to the training center at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. There, I joined marine enforcement officer Kevin and Coast Guard auxiliarist Woody to help teach a New Mexico Boating Safety Class. I need some more hours of practice teaching and observation to be fully qualified to teach the class, so they had me present the third and fifth segments of the class, which dealt with navigation (including Rules of the Road) and emergencies.

After the class, Carol Anne, "Cornhusker:, and I went to the Rock Canyon Marina and out on Cornhusker's Freedom 21 sailboat. We had a challenge, though; the outboard motor wouldn't start. It was not sparking. Fuel was getting into the engine from either the internal fuel tank or the external tanks (this engine has a selector switch) but the engine wouldn't try to start. So, we gave up on the big lump of metal and sailed out of the marina. On the lake we were able to play, sailing at times with "Zorro", who was out in his Etchells.

Sunday was almost windless most of the day, and was more of a day for sleeping in or working on boats (Zorro and Penzance, in particular, worked on Penzance's Etchells, trying to prep it for new topsides paint). I kayaked around the lake for a short while, then attempted kayaking in the river, but at its 2700 cfs flow rate the Rio Grande below the dam was too powerful for me to enjoy paddling upriver in the hot weather.

Finally, toward late afternoon, we got enough wind to sail with Zorro in his USA 38 "Constellation" and the winds were more or less consistent. We kept to within a mile or so of the marina in case the weather changed, but the winds remained very usable and Zorro had us do a spinnaker set and douse on one of our runs just to keep us in practice. The sail let us finish the weekend on a good note.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Viaje Seca update

On Wednesday I hitched a ride south with our club's treasurer to meet with folks at Elephant Butte Lake State Park.

The meeting went well and will result in the State Park making a project plan request and potential contract modification that will help us with boat storage. We should hear in a few weeks as to whether we've received all the approvals we need.

We also met with a couple of our treasurer's friends and then on the way back north introduced him to one of my favorite restaurants, the Socorro Springs brew pub.

It was a productive trip, although a dry one in the sense that I spent much of a day at the lake without going sailing or getting out on the water. However, there may be a lot of benefit for local sailors flowing from the meeting.

The State Parks department is hosting Boater Safety Classes, with one this Saturday in the training center at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, and one the following weekend in northeast Albuquerque. New Mexicans born after Jan. 1, 1989 are required to complete the course or an equivalent in order to operate a motorboat, jet ski, or sailboat.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bus service, San Marcos style

Tubing the river is an immensely popular recreation in the college town of San Marcos, Texas. A local service organization provides the tubular shuttle, picking up tubers and their tubes at the take-out point and ferrying them back upriver.

Interestingly, in these times of college cutbacks, Texas State University (formerly known as Southwest Texas State), seems to be expanding; its campus has expanded enormously during the past few decades.

More old school ties... Lincoln and McHi (McAllen High School)

Front view of Lincoln School. During my schooldays, students in McAllen might attend a public or private kindergarten, then six years of elementary school followed by two years of junior high school and four years of high school. I began kindergarten in Port Isabel, Texas (at Derry School), just across the Laguna Madre from South Padre Island, then finished kindergarten in McAllen near the site of today's La Plaza shopping mall. After six years at Victor Fields Elementary, I spent just one year of seventh grade at Travis, then two years at Lincoln. (Lincoln was sort of a transitional school; I attended it as an eighth and ninth grader to participate in the advanced math progression whereas most of my class mates remained behind in Travis school for eighth grade and about half of them went on the McHi for ninth grade. Advanced and college-prep students spent two years at Lincoln.

Front view, Lincoln Jr. High School, McAllen, Texas.

North entrance to McAllen High School. During my three years at McHi, I took German, science, ROTC, and other classes and was active in various clubs (German, ecology, jr. engineering, rifle, forensics, class rep, etc., at various times) and the DeMolay youth fraternity. (As a general policy, I was always active in enough clubs to have hall passes to let me wander around the otherwise somewhat overly regulated school as I pleased.) During my high school years, however, I spent most weekends and summers at South Padre Island where I worked on boats and went beach combing and shell collecting.

McHi stadium shown during a regional track meet. Football is the subject of great devotion in Texas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Old School Ties; Victor Fields Elementary and Travis Middle School, McAllen, Texas

Victor Fields elementary school received a whole new campus a few years ago; the old school building is long gone. It was closer to the street and was somewhat old even when I attended first through sixth grades there.

Travis Middle School, which was a junior high school during my one year there of seventh grade. During that year I played a bit of tennis, did a bit of drama, and annoyed my algebra teacher. During my first day of class, a classmate surprised us when he drove his car to school from Reyosa (ten miles away in Tamaulipas, Mexico) and I decided that playing tennis would be relatively more fun than baking my brains out in regular p.e. class.

Fourth of July Sailing at Heron Lake, New Mexico

Heron Lake marina pavilion with boats beyond

The Willow Creek boat ramp is visible at the south end of the cove.

Panorama of sail

Kayak and three sloops in Willow Creek Cove, Heron Lake State Park, New Mexico

Cloudscapes, Northern Rio Arriba County near Heron Lake

View up the Chama Valley toward Colorado from Tierra Amarilla, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

America's Cup Near Death?

Although the final nails aren't yet being nailed into the coffin, the America's Cup yacht race is dying as far as I'm concerned. True, there's always been some gamesmanship and unfairness, and clashes of big egos, but for the most part the history of the cup, until recently, seems to have been one of predominantly good sportsmanship.

In recent times, the lack of national focus and interest, apparent decline in sportsmanship, focus on money and greed, bidding wars for talent, and distinct lack of "corinthian" or sporting ethic have all been belaboured elsewhere. The whole sordid episode of billionaire Bertarelli's fake Spanish yacht club and the battalions of lawyers haven't added to the event's luster. Yesteryear's colorful characters such as Ted Turner and the more distant era of gentlemen such as Sir Thomas Lipton have faded from popular ken. Aside from some interesting faces and personalities among the less-favoured challengers, the interesting presences of the past have long since been replaced by super-rich mega-brats. I'd long ago lost much respect for this event or any great interest in going the least bit out of my way to watch it.

But, new elements seem to be making it worse. With the unveiling of boats came concerns that a boat may be using illegal technology to cheat on the traditional requirements that muscle and brains be used to operate the craft. And, only recently have come the charges and a partial revelation that the ISAF (International Sailing Federation) seems to be in secret collusion with billionaire Bertarelli to perhaps allow him to make up his own rules for sailing the match (adopting "SNG rules" whatever those are -- only Ernesto and his cronies seem to know since neither Mutual Consent nor the rulings of the court in New York had anything to do with this decision).

It seems that the Grinch is determined to not only steal the Cup, but also drive a stake through its heart and bury it. I really wish the Kiwis had won it last time; that would have given the event some chance of remaining meaninful to people who are interested in fair and sportsmanlike sailing.

minor update

This summer has presented frustrations, one of which has been a lack of sailing time. Some unfortunate interruptions, including a family illness, meant that, until this weekend, I'd not sailed since June 1st, the day after the Race to the Elephant at Elephant Butte Lake.

In the meantime, I'd been by the lakes a couple of times and had kayaked several miles at Heron Lake in northern New Mexico, been a passenger on a speedboat at Brantley Lake in southern NM, peeked at a couple of lakes in south and central Texas, and watched people sailing in Corpus Christi Bay, Texas. But, I'd not sailed. Not once.

This weekend though was a bit better; Saturday's winds were quite steady (for a mountain desert lake, running from 7 to 12 knots), and Carol Anne and I spent most of the afternoon with "Zorro" on "Constellation", his International Etchells. It was a great sail, though the spinnaker reaches gave me a workout, and we sailed until the evening light began to fade.

During the weekend I also visited with some state parks rangers on behalf of the Rio Grande Sailing Club and ran various errands.

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