Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays and Fair Winds

We've been back in New Mexico the past week, and haven't really had time to get fully into Cat Herding Season, much less Christmas. Now we're briefly in northern New Mexico, in the "atomic city" of Los Alamos, which still has snow cover from a previous week's storm. Yesterday we met Carol Anne's brother Jer, and his sweetie TG/Harlean, at the Albuquerque Sunport and brought them up to Los Alamos, enjoying the late afternoon and twilight colors on the mountains.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Travel update

Here's a quick update. Gerald and I have journeyed south to a warmer place and are now in McAllen, Texas, not far from the Mexican border and the Gulf of Mexico.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Overview of Kris Kringle Regatta, Elephant Butte Lake

Starboard view of J/24 Kachina

J/24s and Grampian

J/24 in "pre-race" mode with genoa sail lowered

Grampian before J/24

A brace of J/24 sloops heads up the race course on Saturday, December 5, 2009, at Elephant Butte Lake. Breezes weren't too bad to start with, but later on softened to just barely enough for the J's to finish decently after they rounded Rattlesnake Island and returned to the start/finish.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Grampian at the Kris Kringle Regatta

Boat and crew return to the harbor at the end of a chilly late autumn day.

Constellation and Black Magic return to the harbor

Two Etchells class racing sloops in front of the Rock Canyon Marina at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico, at the end of the Kris Kringle regatta on December 5, 2009.

Racing sloop Constellation follows Black Magic into the harbor area at Rock Canyon

Constellation and Black Magic slip into the harbor

Black Magic turns the final corner on the approach to the slip.

Another snap from the Kris Kringle dinner

"Teddy Bear", who through his spouse's work with the local animal shelter has become a full-fledged Cat Herder, picks a gift at the White Elephant exchange during the Rio Grande Sailing Club's holiday party and dinner.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snaps from the Kris Kringle dinner

After Saturday's Kris Kringle regatta, the hearty cold-weather sailors put away their boats, took care of errands, and joined some other Rio Grande Sailing Club members at the Club restaurant in the Sierra del Rio golf resort at Elephant Butte Lake. There, they enjoyed a holiday dinner, caught up on club doings, received trophies and awards for the fall season, and participated in the White Elephant Gift Swap and Pirating.

Red or Green: Caliente?

Sunday wasn't nearly as chilly at the previous day, though a bit of snow remained in north-facing shady spots in Elephant Butte and Truth or Consequences. We returned race equipment to the club shed and to Dumbledore's garage and hauled Carguy's boat out of the water. Winds were almost non-existent, so I paddled to boat from the marina to the courtesy dock next to the Rock Canyon boat ramp while Carol Anne and Cornhusker prepared the trailer. After everything was ready, we had one obstacle with which to cope: a thick layer of sand had washed down the boat ramp, making it shallower than it should be. To deal with this, I used a rope tied to the rear of the trailer to drag it into deeper water as Carol Anne let the trailer roll down on the rope connecting it to the truck. With hard tugging, we were able to drag the trailer through the thick sand into deeper water.

After a break for lunch or a snack, we returned to the marina and saw that a nice breeze had arisen, so we rigged Carol Anne's Etchells USA 125, Black Magic. Unfortunately, just as we were raising the mainsail, the winds piped up enough to stir up whitecaps just outside the harbor. As we sailed out of the marina, the boat picked up enough heel that we all had to hike a bit and work the controls to flatten the boat more. With the weather getting rougher and gustier, and no other boats out on the water, we decided to make a short trip of it and return to the marina rather than get spray-soaked and chilled. I took the helm for the docking and we managed to get the boat put away and the sails rolled and stowed in spite of the breeze, which was probably a steady 15 mph gusting beyond 25 mph.

Then we turned our attention to boat chores, cleaning up Cornhusker's boat from its previous day's use be me as the race committee boat and tackling a tangle of non-optimally-run control lines in the "spaghetti factory explosion" region under the forward console. Under Carol Anne's direction we managed to particularly improve the run of the jib fine tune lines and get them much more out of the way of the mast moving and fraculator lines.

Sloop Black Magic at the end of the weekend, Elephant Butte Lake

Etchells sloop USA 125, Black Magic, at the end of the weekend, Sunday, December 6, 2009, at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

More Thoughts on Saving Sailing

Quite a bit of discussion in the sailing blogs has circulated around the topic of Nick Hayes' book and blog, Saving Sailing.

Junior programs have been criticized for the small number of participants who remain in the sport as adults. But the idea of individual mentoring, mostly within sailing families, seems grossly inadequate for keeping sailing from shrinking much less for growing the sport.

As the shrinkage of sailing participation has many likely causes, saving sailing and growing the sport also likely has many solutions.

Some more ideas to kick around as saving sailing solutions are:

Promoting an understanding within sailing and yacht clubs and other sailing groups that they have an obligation to welcome more people to the sport. Partly, this appeals to altruism as well as indirect self interest, but also clubs must realize that they or many of their sister clubs depend upon public goodwill for their existence -- in the form of leases or concession contracts from port authorities and municipalities, marine event permits, seashore access, favorable tax arrangements, etc. Without friendly voices in the community, some clubs may be forced off the water. Haul out the cat, or at least some wet noodles, and flog any nay-sayers who get in the way of keeping the clubs alive.

Offer junior programs that focus on fun and skill-building instead of competition as an alternative -- not replacement -- for the more competitive programs that sometimes alienate the "losers" or trun off kids who get no positive motivation for competition. Who knows, maybe the retention rate will be better for the "Cool Future Cruisers" group. Did you know that the Boy Scouts were born with a trip to an island?

Target the elusive teen and young adult market with easy-to-get-into-but-exciting activities such as boardsailing lessons and rentals, liaisons with youth organizations, and communication and support for groups such as surfers and high-adventure groups.

Target the tough young adult singles group with ready-to-jump-into but fun to sail boats, single social activities, etc.; bring single social activities under the club roof.

And, round up those young families with family sailing events that involve parents and younger siblings and combat the idea of junior sailing programs as the parent-taxi-drops-off-the-kids-at-this-week's-activity; hire creative day care as needed, etc.

Host nature cruises, lectures, and other activities to bring people into the club and make it a familiar, welcome part of the community -- and this is something that a few clubs already do well.

Be sure to welcome groups that may not have felt welcome in many clubs in the past -- such as kayakers, beach cat sailors, dinghy sailors, power boaters, anglers. Often, local yacht or sailing clubs are the best-positioned organizations to serve as a strong, unified voice for all water recreationists.

Host regatta viewing parties or package meals at the club with a cruise to watch racing close-up. And, do other semi-outrageous p.r. stuff such as challenging non-sailing local celebrities to be part of a sailing challenge.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fangs for the memories... one last little shot from the Viper Demo Day

One last view, taken by Gerald, while I was aboard the red Viper no. 31 during last Saturday's Viper demo day at Lake Pleasant.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Viva Viperas! (Ven y Vamanos Velas Viperas, Verdadamente)

View from astern of Viper 31

Viper 31 near yellow pin buoy.

Distant view of Viper 31 with crew on "recreational" trapeze.

Estos Viperos aqui son lanchas velas (rapidamentes, verdad!) que velan en el lago "Lake Pleasant" en Arizona en suroeste del EEUU (Estados Unidos del norte). Saco photos el Sabado despues de "Thanksgiving" (Dia de Gracias) 2009. With luck, since I'm posting from New Mexico, Sheriff Joe won't arrest me for saying something en mi Espan~ol muy mal (in my very bad Spanish)! These Vipers are fast-moving sailboats that sail on Lake Pleasant, Arizona; I took the pictures that Saturday after Thanksgiving, 2009. Lancha Vipera numbero 31 maneja baja del viento con vela globosa roja y blanca de tipo "spinnaker" en estos photos. Viper 31 drives downwind with the balloon-like red and white spinnaker in these pictures.

Viper Strike in Arizona

close view of Viper 31 with crew hiking into the breeze

One on the wire

Out on the wire. The trapeze isn't used during one-design races but is a fun "toy" for the crew to enjoy on a breezy day.

Two members of Arizona's Viper sport sailboat fleet kindly hosted guests for a "Viper Demo Day" at Lake Pleasant on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The shots above show Laurent's Viper no 31 playing on the lake with the asymmetric spinnaker deployed on a broad reach much of the time.

Viper 71 runs down with her blue chute

Viper 71 reaching with all sails drawing in a nice breeze.

Tortured Viper

Cell phone cameras can sometimes be tricked by fast-moving objects into giving an "artistic" or distorted image. The rig and hull of this fast-moving Viper sportboat has been tortured a bit by the nature of how the cell phone camera scans digital pictures. Be assured that this picture doesn't represent normal mast rake or boat trim!

More Viper Demo Scenes to Uncoil

Viper 31

Distant boats

Near aft starboard view of Viper 31

Starboard view of Viper 31

Panorama of Vipers and Lake Pleasant scenery.

Breezy, almost dry Monsoon

A passing front was forecast to perhaps bring some moisture to the Valley of the Sun on Saturday, November 28, 2009, during the "Viper Demo Day" at Lake Pleasant, Arizona. But, aside from a few clouds and a very few scattered droplets that sprinkled form the sky for a couple of moments, there was no real rain.

But there was a Monsoon -- that is, an F27 trimaran named Monsoon. It enjoyed nice breezes and even lifted a windward hull (ama) occasionally.

All aboard!

Crew change time at the Viper Demo Day at Lake Pleasant, Arizona.

One Viper crew is ready to go and another, in the background, is already hiking out in the breeze.

Scenic Lake Pleasant Sailing, November 28, 2009

Close view of O'Day 27 sloop, Melissa Kay enjoying a nice breeze on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 28, 2009.

"Melissa Kay" approaching

O'Day 27 no. 1223, "Melissa Kay", heeling in a small puff at Lake Pleasant, Arizona.

O'Day 27 and distant Viper

Port side view of O'Day "Melissa Kay" (1223).