Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Migration successful

Black Magic is now in her southern habitat for the winter (except for occasional voyaging elsewhere)

Sunday started tediously, with annual meetings for the Laguna Vista community center/volunteer fire department and for the landowners’ association. At least there was a good lunch to accompany said meetings, with barbecue provided by the community center and landowners’ association, and the side dishes and desserts potluck. Unfortunately, during the meetings and lunch, the only good winds of the day happened.

Sunday afternoon, we met with Bartender, whom we have sailed with a couple of times on his Thistle at Cochiti Lake. He brought steaks to grill up for dinner, and he came to sail with us and help us de-rig Black Magic for the journey south.

We set sail up the Narrows, where winds were light and shifty, but at least they existed. When we got out to the main body of the lake, there was very close to no wind at all. Then the wind got to doing the light and switchy thing that I have learned is followed in 15 to 20 minutes by a nasty thunderstorm blast. We heard thunder rumbling. We also knew that we would need to get back in time to de-rig the boat so we could drive south first thing Monday morning, and I didn’t like the idea of de-rigging the boat in a thunderstorm. So we sailed back through the Narrows to the marina. We got the conditions we have come to expect in the relative calm just before a thunderstorm hits – the direction of the wind changes, sometimes by 180 degrees, within seconds, and there’s the occasional blast from a random direction that lasts only a few seconds but that, while it lasts, can knock a boat over on its beam-ends. When I observed such blasts at Dillon, I called them Dillon flyswatters; now I see that Heron also has flyswatters, so perhaps it is better to call them mountain lake flyswatters.

When we got to the marina, Pat went to drive the truck and trailer around to the boat ramp, while Tadpole, Bartender, and I started de-rigging the boat, removing sails, taking the boom down, and disconnecting the halyards and spinnaker pole topping lift at the base of the mast. We ended up waiting around the marina for a while, since Pat had to wait for a couple of other boaters who were retrieving boats at the ramp, and he also took some time to chat with Ranger Grizzly (yes, his business card even includes that nickname, and he may be the strictest law-enforcement officer in the entire New Mexico State Parks system) about being sure our boat registrations are in order. Pat was able to impress Grizzly by producing a notebook that contained all of the registration information for Black Magic, Syzygy, all four of our Sunfish, and our rowboat. That put Grizzly in a good enough mood that he only gave a warning rather than a ticket to the fisherman and his son who were putting in a rubber raft – it had a little electric motor, and in New Mexico, even if it’s just an itty-bitty raft, if it has a motor, it has to be registered. So the fisherman and his son now have 30 days to register their raft, and then they’ll be all right with Grizzly.

Meanwhile, Tadpole, Bartender and I had done all of the de-rigging we could do without getting the boat onto the trailer and to a mast-hoisting pole. So Bartender drove his car around to the boat ramp while Tadpole and I took the boat across to the courtesy dock by the boat ramp. We tied up to the courtesy dock for a short time, and then Pat backed the trailer into the water – this time, he got it only a little too deep, and we were able to get him to bring it back up before we brought the boat on. That went wonderfully well, although in the future, we probably want to get a custom-made line, with loops spliced in both ends, to hold the boat on the trailer. Then Tadpole and I won’t be left tapping on the deck to sound out the bulkhead to figure out if the boat is far enough forward on the trailer. (Unlike most boats, the Etchells isn’t designed to go onto a trailer on a boat ramp, and so there isn’t a point at the front of the boat that can meet an upright bracket at the front of the trailer; we have a trailer that’s really easy to get the boat lined up side-to-side, but we’re still working out how to simplify the fore-and-aft positioning.)

We got the boat out of the water and to the mast-hoisting crane, and we got the mast down without any real trouble. Bartender, alas, had to return to Santa Fe without enjoying the steaks he had brought. But by twilight, we had Black Magic de-rigged and mostly ready to roll. A couple of tie-down straps had gone missing, but if we could find those, we could get rolling early Monday morning.

Sunday night, we enjoyed some of the steaks that Bartender had brought; there was plenty of extra meat, so we sealed it up extra-tight in freezer bags and put it in the deep-freeze to enjoy the next time we’re up north. We also found some additional tie-down straps.

Monday morning, we got an early start, going to the parking area above the boat ramp to retrieve Black Magic and apply the tie-down straps. We still need to do some things with the trailer, and I suspect the problem is with the connection. The trailer brake controller refuses to acknowledge that there are any brakes for it to control, and the left tail-light won’t light when it’s a tail-light (when the headlights are turned on), but it will work when it’s a turn signal or brake light. These are high-tech LCD lights, so it’s not just a burned-out bulb. I’m guessing there’s a bad connection somewhere (actually, probably, more than one bad connection), so I’ll be poking an ohmmeter here and there to find out where things are or aren’t connected.

So, as Monday progressed, we continued south. We kept trying to phone Zorro, since we’d told him to expect us Monday afternoon at the Butte. The idea we had was that if we arrived early enough, we’d get Black Magic rigged and ready to launch, and then we’d go sailing with Zorro. But all we got was the message that his voice-mailbox was full, so we couldn’t leave a message.

We got to Elephant Butte Lake, and we still heard nothing from Zorro. We rigged the boat and parked it above the launch ramp.

We got in touch with Cornhusker and Bassmaster. They were barbecuing some meat, and we were welcome to join in. We did. We had a good long conversation with them, and then we headed back to Albuquerque, stopping for dessert at Socorro Springs.

It’s now very late, and I have to teach a marathon schedule tomorrow, so I apologize if I’m cutting this story short. But I did want to give people an update on Black Magic’s progress.


Anonymous AdriftAtSea said...

Carol Anne-

Did the lights ever work properly? If not, you may have a bad wire or connection in the harness. BTW, I believe the lights are LEDs, not LCDs...


Tue Sep 12, 07:32:00 AM MDT  

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