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Original Issue

Some Ships of the Desert on a Long, Long Safari


Anyone who thinks a yacht club has to be near the water underestimates the enthusiasm and tenacity of a lot of yachtsmen. On prairies and deserts all over the U.S. ardent sailormen are proving that a trailer and a highway and the scent of water somewhere over the horizon are just as conducive to clear sailing as a cozy inlet and a handy mooring. One such group, shown above on Thanksgiving weekend as its members chart a course past an abandoned mining town in Arizona, calls itself Los Guajalotes (the Waterdogs) after a small desert lizard that often ends up in the water as live bait. Businessmen, plumbers and insurance agents, housewives, trained nurses and auto mechanics, the Waterdogs all live in and around Albuquerque and have in common a love for the water. Their semiarid surroundings have not halted their yachting activities for a moment. For the last five years, whenever the urge has struck, the Waterdogs have loaded their boats aboard trailers, packed the trunks of their cars with tents, provisions, and life jackets, baby nursers and other necessities of the seafaring life and headed out along the highway for a cruise on Shasta Lake, Elephant Butte Reservoir, Conchas, Lake Mead or any of a dozen distant bodies of water. Two weeks ago they puffed and panted across 550 miles of desert and mountain before arriving at the edge of Lake Mojave. There they pitched tents along the shore, hoisted their club burgee, ate a plump turkey dinner and got a good night's sleep. Next morning they launched the boats and spent their holiday fishing, water skiing and just plain zipping up and down the lake. Then they packed up again and drove the 550 miles back to Albuquerque. It was, they all agreed, a splendid day on the water.