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With the season(s) of heat coming to Arizona, I squeaked in one more visit to Roosevelt Lake. The temperature on the boat never got much above 90 degrees, but I was in water-conservation mode nonetheless. Three gallons for 5 days wasn’t quite enough, so I re-used my melted ice from the coolers for cooking and other purposes. It’s nothing new to me. I still had my ancient PUR First Need filter aboard, if necessary.
Back at the Ranch in Tucson, we even collect the brine from the reverse osmosis water filter for all our greywater needs. It may be the one of the wettest deserts on Earth, but it’s still a desert.

I arrived at the lake on a Wednesday morning, just ahead of some fairly innocuous-looking storm clouds, and hurredly set up the boat. I figured I’d wait on putting the boat in until those clouds gave me some indication as to what they’d produce, but a local gentleman gave me some tips as to how the surrounding mountains will funnel the storms. Local knowledge is nice to have.

The electrical potential in the dry Arizona air was palpable. In fact, it was downright painful. While finishing the prep work, it started to spit a little rain, so I ducked inside the cabin to wait it out. Then I reached for the VHF radio to hear what NOAA had to say, and, POW!
The radio still worked, calling for gusts up to 25 later that afternoon. The winds I felt okay with, but electrically, this ain’t good. I touched my keel crank handle and was zapped again. I was creating 3/4 inch arcs off my propeller! That’s gotta be upwards of 50,000 volts! Any EEs out there who would like to chime in?
I found a roll of solder in the back of my truck, and tied one end to a port shroud, letting the rest of the roll drop to the ground alongside the boat. That stopped the shocks, thankfully. This experience happened to play a good-sized role in the logbook, and I’ll tell you about that in a bit.

I’ve been watching other boaters singlehand their launchings (after offering to help, of course), and had no problems launching my boat to speak of.
Out on the lake around noon, I headed over to the marina to see if my card-key was still working. Well, it wasn’t, so I left it with the nice lady so she could putz with it, then headed over to Salome creek to test out my new anchor, the Manson Supreme.

That’s 25 pounds of galvanized steel, and it’s probably a bit too large for my little boat, but it should have a spot on my next, bigger boat, also.

The winds had piped up around 10-12 knots by the time I entered the creek mouth, and I motored my way in.
Headed up into the wind, I went forward to drop the thing overboard that’s gonna make my nights at anchor _much_ more enjoyable. I was in 20 feet of water, so I let out about 120 feet of rode. It grabbed on the first setting, so I then set about making a little lunch. I’m batting a thousand on this new anchor!
The day was warming up pretty good, so I blew off the old wive’s admonition of waiting a certain amount of time after eating, and slipped into the chilly water with fins and mask. The water’s very silty, and I could barely see 3 feet, so I tried to follow my anchor line down to the bottom. This would have been much easier with scuba gear. Took a bearing of the position of the boat relative to the shoreline bluffs, swam out to about where I thought the anchor was lying, and made a few dives in the poor visibility. I found the anchor line only once, before needing to surface for air. The bottom is very soft silt, at least the first few inches I had touched.
The boat was still where I’d parked it, so I figured the anchor was still there, too.

Back aboard, I read a little Shakespeare to pass some time, but I don’t think the ploys used by Petruchio on Katherina would work in today’s world.

The wind had increased while I was reading, and that anchor just did not budge. I’m geeked. I took a couple photos of the building storm clouds off to the North and East.

So, let’s see what it’s like to haul in that hook, eh? 100 feet of wet rode got stuffed into the deployment bag, and that anchor was still latched onto the bottom, but good. Tie it off on the foredeck cleat and let the boat’s action work it free. It came up heavy, slathered in mud.
As the wind had become a bit too intimidating for my comfort, I fired up the outboard to make my exit from the creek, and when I got out onto the lake proper, HOLY CRAP. I think I’m gonna need a bigger motor. The creek was pretty well protected, and it may have been more prudent to just stay there, no?

Two to four-foot swells were bashing my cutwater, raising and dropping the bow with some pretty good energy. The main problem was how the motor’s propeller would rise out of the water when the boat rocked so. I could hardly make headway against the wind and waves running straight into them, so I headed down about 30 degrees or so in relation to the lines the waves were taking, sat myself on the transom, and that seemed to help keep the prop in the water a little better. As I learned in the hour-plus it took me to get to the windward side of the lake, there was a definite period to the waves, and I could tell when the prop was going to emerge, so I’d throttle back so it wouldn’t cavitate so much. Once upwind, the waves didn’t have the fetch they needed to get so large, and I was able to finally get my buttocks off the transom.

Got to the marina and headed in to my slip, nervous about docking in the crosswind, and flubbed the motor control at the last second, putting me about 1/3rd into the slip. Like an idiot, I stepped onto the dock with a cleated line in hand. I started pulling, but was making no progress in getting that boat any further into the slip.
Suddenly from behind, “You need some help?” Enter Ricardo, my newest hero!

My Man! Grateful, I offered him one of my best beers, and he graciously accepted it. Mmmmm, Mojo IPA.
Turns out that his wife Carol had noticed my attempt at docking, and sent her husband straight over to help. She’s right up there in hero status too, but she doesn’t drink beer.
I meet the nicest people. They’ve got their new-to-them boat slipped just on the other side of the dock, and said they were also a bit humbled by their first docking maneuvers earlier that same afternoon. I know how you feel.

Here’s their boat.

Thanking them again, I still had to run over to the office and get my card-key, which still wasn’t working, by the way. And without it, I can’t get back to my boat, but I pled indigent to another member and easily got back in to my exclusive marina. The exclusive bathrooms need a card-key, too. Okay then, porta-potty.

With the sun setting behind the hills, I checked my mast lighting for night running. Hey, no anchor light! I’ve got steaming, deck and nav lights, but no anchor light.
Flash back to the static dischargings earlier that day.
Looks like I’m staying the night here in the marina anyway.

Day 2-

It’s nice and calm when I motor back over to the ramp to haul out and drop the mast. I’d rather not have to deal with sliding the mast forward so my stepladder can reach safely, so I unhooked the trailer and drove the truck around to position it under the problem lamp, stepped up on the truck and opened the fixture. The bulb was blackened.
Easy fix, right?
Stick a new bulb in there, and without checking anything else regarding it’s operation, get that mast back up quickly, put her in again and motor back over to the marina. I’ve still got business with them.
The new nice lady there simply gave me the marina’s guest key, thank-you-very-much.
I got to strike up a conversation with Ricardo about anchoring, and he said that that was something he needed to check out on his boat. When I mentioned how deep this particular lake is, even close to the shore, Ricardo started wondering. He suggested we pull out his ground tackle and look it over, and I thought that was an excellent idea. He had around 115 feet of rode, attached to a smallish Danforth with about 15 feet of chain.
I recommended Sally Mae creek, over yonder, as a good place to practice anchoring with such short scope, but it was also a good morning to practice docking, too. It was a pleasure to meet you both, and thank you both again for your timely help.
Back out on the lake, I headed once again to Salome Creek in some very light winds. I’m always seeing some bits of trash floating around out there on the lake, so I practice sailing towards as much of the flotsam as possible, trying to scoop it up out of the water. It’s a skill worth learning, I think.
Plus, there’s less trash on the lake, your’s truly excluded.
I spent the rest of the day chasing light and variable winds.

Long about dusk, I checked my anchor light status, and again, nothing. Were the wires in the mast melted, or the fuse on the panel blown? The fuse looked good, but I still swapped it out with a new one(still no-go), so it’s a wiring issue. Back to the marina for me, again! It is nice to have options.

Day 3-

It’s Friday, and the lake’s population had risen, with jet-skiers and pontoons comprising the bulk of the traffic. The ramp was busier, and I didn’t feel like dropping the mast again to check the wiring. I had no test equipment to check the continuity of the circuit legs in the mast, anyway. I suppose I could have raised an all-around flashlight I’ve got up the mast, hoping the batteries would keep all night, but screw it. I’m here to sail, too. I’ll figure it out when I get back to Tucson.

Met a few more dockmates, one of whom happens to be an ex-olympian gymnastics competitor. She and her husband have a lovely Cape Dory named, appropriately enough, “Olympian”.

Check out the AC unit! What luxury! I’d consider just having a bimini on my boat luxurious enough. Dennis was messing around the boat for a good part of the day, preparing her for the weekend. Other dockmates included Dan and Jan, with their Catalina.

Most of Friday was again chasing light and variables, until late afternoon’s uptick made for another pucker-factor-filled docking attempt. This time the motor’s brain worked better.

Day 4-

In light winds, after challenging Dan and Jan to an impromptu race at the dock, I set off upwind for the Western side of the lake. Very nice conditions for most of the morning, then slightly improving over time. This was a perfect day to break out the spinnaker.

This particular spinnaker run was the longest and furthest I’ve ever been able to work that sail, travelling from West of the dam, through the pinch in the middle of the lake, and out East, all the way back over to Salome creek. Dan and Jan’s Catalina seemed to have found a patch of doldrums to the North, and Dennis intercepted my Mac out in the middle of the lake to exchange small-talk. As evident as it was, I couldn’t help but prattle; “I’ve got my spinnaker up!”
A flair for the obvious.
It was then that I noticed what looked like a fairly large column of smoke rising beyond the mountains to the West. The Sunflower fire, just discovered that Saturday morning, was one of three new fires now blazing in South-central Arizona. Here comes Summer.
After arriving at Salome, I motored on into the very populated cove, dropped the lunch hook, and proceeded to get thrown about the boat, due to all the wakes produced by the zoo that was a Saturday on the lake.
Some big ‘ol wakes, too. One huge powerboat dragging a kid or three was particularly conducive. I couldn’t figure out how the skipper could even see ahead of his boat, the prow was so high. Like taxiing a taildragger aircraft, one would have to veer left and right to see what might have been directly in front of the bow. I stuck it out until the cove was empty, except for some die-hard partiers who happily weren’t into making waves, then I up-anchored and headed back to the marina.
Heaving-to ouside the marina entrance, I was again troubled by my outboard’s fuel issues. I thought the new pump might have fixed the problem, or it could have been my conditioned response of squeezing the fuel bulb, but it was flooded. Pulled out the spark plug, and it was black with deposits, smelling of raw gasoline. I had a spare plug, so I installed it and tried pulling on the starter cord a few times. The motor started to catch, then died again. Still, I was heartened by the sputtering, so I put back on the cover, and proceeded to flood the engine out again. In the meantime, I was starting to drift into the lee shore just North of me.

No problem. Unfurl the rest of the big 150% genoa, and let it take me past the danger zone, where I continued to sweat and swear. Yank out the newly-installed plug, blow it dry and give the cylinder a little time to dry out. Gap looked good, and I put it all back together again. More miserly this time with the fuel bulb, the motor wheezed and coughed a few times, then finally fired up. A new outboard, with the power I feel I need for rough water, will probably set me back about 3/4ths of what I paid for the entire boat, motor, sails and trailer.
I think I’ll just keep working on this four-horse for now.

Here’s a photo of the setting sun, as seen through the smoke of our newest fires;

There was a live band playing at the marina bar that night. They weren’t bad, but I’m not used to paying marina drink prices at all. I still have my iPod, and a means of charging it now. Music, dinner and drinks back at my slip, reflecting on a good day afloat.

Day 5-

I’m outta there pretty quickly, just after squaring up my bill with marina management. An uneventful haul-out and stripdown and I’m on the road before the daytime heat kicks in.
Oh, when I removed the windvane and antenna for trailering, I found the cause of my anchor light woes. Right below the fixture, easily seen when I removed the zip-tie and electrical tape, was a failed crimp in one of the wiring connectors. Next time, more anchoring. Unfortunately, that may not be until Fall. We’ll see.


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