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Head (South)West Young Man

Bay sailing is great but Guy Sandusky wants to remind everyone that lake sailing is great too.

© Guy Sandusky

This is Heron Lake, located in northwestern New Mexico approximately 40 miles south of the Colorado border. Heron is a no-wake lake which results in few power boats, sits at an elevation of 7,200 feet and is approximately 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.  It is also the home of the New Mexico Sailing Club and its marina. While having diminished in size over the last few years due to the drought that has hit the southwest, the club still docks about 50 boats every summer including Catalinas, Hunters, J/24s, Cals and one Beneteau F235 – my La Paloma

Lake Heron is the treasure under the double rainbow.

© Guy Sandusky

And while elk are the stars of this show, it should be noted that during daylight hours, there are numerous other celebrities that make Heron an absolute joy on which to sail. Heron is home to a large bird population with the main attractions being bald eagles and ospreys, the latter which nest in sites around the lake. This cast also includes mergansers, western grebes, owls, turkeys, Canadian geese, various types of ducks and hawks, blue herons, (not the namesake of the lake – it was named for the gentleman who engineered it. Heron is manmade and is a reservoir for points south.), and a new, recent addition to the troupe – white pelicans. Other land-based players include black bear, deer, beaver, coyotes and fox.

La Paloma enjoys a sunset cruise.

© Guy Sandusky

Granted, sailing at Heron is not like pounding out the Gate or sliding by the City at night, both of which I’ve fortunately had the opportunity to enjoy. But after so many years of reading Latitude which continually, and correctly, extols the virtues of sailing on the Bay, it always strikes me how lucky I am to sail at a place like Heron Lake. It brings a different light to the stage – one which many don’t even realize exists.  While some anchorages are crowded with other boats, mine is packed with stars – both those on the shore and the millions up above in the coal-black New Mexico sky that scream almost as loudly as the elk on shore. I guess the point of this little screed is to urge west coast sailors to look in, as in inland, and explore the many sailing venues the west has to offer – those that have more than one visible shoreline. There’s a lot of players there waiting, ready to begin the show that never ends.

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"This time of year, every time the weather is good the marina fills up," said Scott Pryor of the Monterey Municipal Marina.