Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Etchells sloop "Caliente" enjoys good New Mexico breezes

The Etchells sloop "Caliente" heads north back toward Rock Canyon Marina after a couple of hours of good sailing on Elephant Butte Lake.

A first good look at USA 438 as her crew enjoys good sailing conditions under sunny desert skies in New Mexico.

After dropping one boat off for storage in C D Crouch's lot in Elephant Butte, I retrieved the boom on which "Zorro" had repaired the outhaul and installed it on Carol Anne's USA 125, "Black Magic". I'd arrived at the marina just in time to see another Etchells, USA 438, "Caliente", sail south from the marina, but not in time to get any pictures.

Closer view of "Caliente"

Starboard view of "Caliente"
But, after I finished my boat chores, visited with folks on the marina patio, got a copy of Latitude 38, and enjoyed an ice cream cone, "Caliente" began to peek over the horizon as she and her crew returned toward the marina.

"Caliente" in sparkling desert sunshine. That gave me time to hop into the kayak with a camera and paddle out into the lake. Conditions were great for sailing; at the time I rendezvoused with "Caliente" the wind had settled down a bit from about eight knots to six or seven. The lake had few enough powerboats that the chop was mainly from the wind and the well-ballasted Etchells could easily ride through the small, perhaps foot-high waves... though on the kayak I had to paddle carefully to keep my equipment mostly dry.

Aft view as "Caliente" approaches Rock Canyon Marina. As "Caliente" approached her mooring behind the partial shelter of the marina and its floating tire wall, the wind settled down yet more, to just a handful of knots (about 5-7 mph) -- perfect for picking up a mooring.

Back at the marina at the end of a gorgeous day at Elephant Butte Lake

Black Magic tucked away for the week

The Etchells sloop USA 125 "Black Magic" in her slip at Rock Canyon Marina in southern New Mexico. I had just re-attached the boom and boat cover. Shortly thereafter I visited with folks at the marina office and patio, got a copy of Latitude 38, and then went kayaking to visit with the crew of the Etchells "Caliente".

Caliente approaches her mooring

Etchells USA 438 "Caliente" approaches her mooring. Rock Canyon Marina, Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico, afternoon of Monday, July 25, 2011. This was also a father and son reunion, as Nat's dad, Nick, was on a visit from Maine.

Monday afternoon was a relatively quiet time at Elephant Butte Lake, even during mid-summer. Caliente's sail happened after most of the anglers and skiers had returned to shore for the day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

house pictures from Arizona

Scratch the cat enjoying one of his pieces of furniture. The set-up of the house in Mesa, Arizona, has been very gradual, but now the master bedroom and living room are mostly done. The living room could still use a few pieces, but the house is getting there.

Master bedroom, finally furnished fairly completely

Dresser with mirror

Corner of master bedroom

sitting area in north end of master bedroom

laundry sorter next to gas-powered dryer

New lawnmower assembled -- people in this neighborhood enjoy having rather large lawns in spite of living in the desert, though we do plan to replace the front yard with Xeric desert landscaping.

pile of cardboard recycling in the garge, with not enough room in the recycling bin to handle the backlog. Americans use a lot of packaging.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Learning to sail: a cautionary note

Maybe most sailors agree that people learn in different ways, one-size-fits-all advice does not, and most people learn best from a variety of sources, practice, and feedback. Beyond that point, it seems we lose consensus very quickly.

-- Some people do well learning mostly on their own mostly on small boats; yet some don't do so well on dinghies or have their own reasons for starting on something bigger.

-- Some people find pleasure in being in a structured learning environment and some people detest being in a classroom or structured learning situation.

-- Some people find lessons expensive, and some people find that cramming a bunch of lessons together without lots of practice time in between shortchanges them on an opportunity to digest the lessons, experiment with different techniques, and come up with questions and ideas. Others get a good feeling out of "drinking from the firehose" and seeing how fast they can come up to speed.

-- Some people can sail by themselves in uncrowded, protected areas on inexpensive boats where the cost of a bad experiment is minimal. Others have panicky families, challenging sailing environments, expensive boats, judgmental spouses, or even more expensive neighbors' boats very close to hand, where the cost of a mistake can be much more than the cost of lessons.

-- Some people are blessed to have friends and neighbors who are good teachers and live close to lots of resources for improving their sailing (community sailing centers, racing associations, clubs and co-ops, boating safety groups, community colleges with boating programs) and are easily able to find a good skipper and talk their way onto a boat. Others are not so fortunate.

-- People vary in their tolerance for failure, courage/foolhardiness, need for excitement, sociability, common sense, mechanical ability, health, disabilities, coordination and balance, confidence, language and listening skills, budget, patience, time available, learning styles, and other life and boating skills. They have very different reasons for being attracted to sailing, and their interests are likely to evolve and grow as they learn more about the sport, are exposed to different kinds of sailing, learn more about what they do and don't like on the water and in boats, and learn more about themselves.

So, what are we going to do with that one-size-fits-all advice? Where's Procrustes' bed when you really need a nice peaceful nap? (Προκρούστης, son of the sea god Poseidon, a nice sailing examplar)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Still too dry

Although a few rain showers have finally reached New Mexico and brought relief to fire fighters, it's still frightfully dry.

Heron Lake in far northern New Mexico is still receiving some runoff, about 200 cubic feet per second and rising almost an inch a day,with 301,395 acre feet and 7,167.77 feet elevation above sea level (2300 Fri. night 8 July 2011). That's three-quarters full, which is not too bad for a drought year.

Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico is not doing nearly so well.

The Butte fell a foot in the past three days with only about an eighth of its nominal capacity and its elevation is several feet below operating plan predictions. With 257,384 acre-feet of water and an elevation above benchmark of 4,318.47 feet (0200 Sat. am 9 July 2011), the lake is getting to a point where park managers can advertise a great deal of beach -- but not as many places for sailors to explore.

Our reference point for really low conditions was around 2004. At one point, the lake got down to about 4294 feet elevation and around six percent of capacity. That was a low enough level to impact some of the boat ramps and make navigation of the lake challenging. We're hoping the lake stays well above that level this year.