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Saturday, June 03, 2017

June 3, 2017-Sailing is an Outdoor Activity


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Nikon Selfie

Sailing is an outdoor activity. We love that part of it; we love being outside.

When we can sail on the open ocean in the sunshine under a clear blue sky with the wind in our face and with salt spray flying...we love that most of all.

Like today
.
The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, the ocean is gorgeous, its warm but not hot. It's fantastic. Judy is off watch. She is sleeping on the settee. I think Judy is missing out by being below deck.

But me, I'm having a great sail.

The wind vane is steering. I am sitting in the companionway. I scan my instruments which are right in front of me. I look around, I have 360degrees of unobstructed visibility. The boat is going fast (we're going 6.4 knots upwind in 14 knots of breeze) and the windvane is locked onto a great 15 degree lift. We are already sailing a beautiful course up the Mexican coast and the wind looks to be lifting more. Most of all, I am outside, on the water, on a wonderful day and it is great to be alive. This is the kind of sailing I love.

Not every cruising sailor feels this way. In fact apparently few do. Most boats have complete canvas covers over their cockpits. They are walled in on all sides from the wind and the sun, from all the elements really. I don't get it. I wonder how much to trust a sailor who is OK with never feeling the wind in his face. As far as wind goes, many sailors are as good at avoiding wind as we are about finding it. Yesterday two boats arrived in Chemela from Barra after motoring the whole way even though there was a nice SW wind blowing which would have been a beam reach for them. They both left today before daylight headed for Banderas Bay, the same destination as we have. I heard them discussing it on the radio.

"If we leave before daylight maybe we can get past Corrientes before the wind comes up, and anyhow, Banderas Bay will be calm by then too."

So why have a sailboat?

We left at 1:00 in the afternoon. It had been blowing all morning at about 12 to 13 knots, and we usually leave when the wind comes up, but we want to arrive tomorrow in the daylight, so we delayed our departure a couple of hours.

The wind was westerly and our course made for long tacks up the coast on port and short tacks out on starboard. We expected the wind to shift to the right and so we stayed on the right side of the rumb line and played the beach. Close some times. Once Judy took us in to 60 feet, just outside of the surf line before she called me on deck to tack. That was unusual for her, she usually sails more conservatively than that.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Making Speed

This afternoon the wind has been building. From 13 knots of true wind speed it has increased to the 18-20 knot range. That means up to 26 knots over the deck; quite enough I think. The boat speed is up too, to 6.6. I check the chart plotter and on the last 60 second average we have been sailing at 7.2 knots over the bottom. (Later I see 7.8, maybe we have some positive current.)

To deal with the stronger wind I've changed gears. By adjusting the sail trim, flattening the jib, flattening the main (but not too much, we need the power to drive through these waves) I've reduced power of the sails. I also cranked on more backstay and eased the runner. We've already been carrying the mainsheet traveler below centerline and now I ease it way down. At this point the boat is optimized for the heavier breeze and bigger waves. If the wind goes up much more we'll put a reef in the mainsail but right now we are fine. It is only the waves which are bothersome. They are bouncing us around quite a lot; we are in constant motion. It's hard to hang on even below decks. There is the danger of a fall down below; we try to be careful. Sometimes we hit a big wave and the boat pounds pretty good. It's not a good sound.

We are expecting conditions to ease off after dark. We are hoping the wind will drop and the waves will flatten but so far the wind stays in the same range, or at least it is staying over 16.

We are again approaching the shoreline. I shudder as I think about what would happen if I fell asleep on watch. The boat would sail right on relentlessly until it hit the beach. I am not confident that the depth alarm would wake us up. There are some risks in this type of sailing.

I watch the land as we draw closer. In the late sunlight the long sandy shoreline and the brilliant dunes in front of the dark green low hills is quite beautiful.

I can't tell how far off we are; the charts show us on land already and the breakers are pretty close. There are no rocks or reefs on the charts but these charts are notoriously inaccurate. The bottom is coming up steadily it's now under 78 feet.

It's time to tack out again.

I put my head down and peer into the companionway.

"Judy", I say softly.

Judy opens her eyes and asks what time it is.

"7:00 O'clock" I say. "It's time to tack out".

Judy comes up and she surely wants to tack out, the shore looks too close to her.

She sets up for the tack and calls, "Ready".

We tack. I release the windvane and turn the boat. Judy throws off the jib sheet, puts on the new runner, then turns to the other side of the cockpit as the boat rolls to the new angle and her arms flail as she tails in the new sheet. I release the old runner and reset the wind vane. She finishes off grinding the jib with the big double winch handle. It is smoothly done. We're good at it, but I guess after thirty years we should be.

On the new tack the solar panels need to be changed to face the low sun now on the other side of the boat. I adjust the windward one then swing across back of the boat, hanging on the backstay like a monkey, thinking about what happens if my hand slips, will I fall off? Maybe. I hold tight and rotate the other panel. This will keep the voltage on the batteries up for another hour.

This will be a short tack, just enough to clear Cabo Correintes up ahead and then we will tack back. By midnight we should be around the cape and into Banderas Bay. If we do we will have averaged 6.75 knots along the course we actually sailed (longer than the straight line due to our tacks) and a VMG of 5.25 up the rumb line, which is very good.

It has been a great sail and we're close to the end of it now, but there will be more.

Click here to go to wingssail images for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, on passage

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 30, 2017-Stops on the Way North

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Barra de Navidad

We’ve finally turned around and are headed back towards La Cruz. For the last month we have been cruising alone on what is called the “Mexican Gold Coast”; all the other cruisers who were on this coast over the winter months, and there were many, have all departed northward. It has been a good cruise for us, the weather has been spectacular, and the anchorages and towns have been fantastic. We think the boats that have gone north already have missed out on a good thing but maybe they got their fill of cruising this coast during January and February while we were up in La Cruz racing.

Whatever the reasons, we haven’t seen a soul for weeks, so coming to Barra de Navidad on our way north was like arriving into a small frontier town after being in the wilderness; seeing people was pleasant for a change.

There is a lagoon in Barra de Navidad where we like to anchor. The lagoon is one of the few places on the Mexican coast which we’d consider a “bullet proof” anchorage. It can get windy in the afternoon but it is safe from storms. The very nice little town of Barra de Navidad sits on the sand spit which separates the lagoon from the Pacific Ocean. This is where we shop, get laundry done, and enjoy good food and drinks. We don’t put our dingy together when we are anchored in the lagoon; instead we call “taxi aquatica” on the radio and get a ride to town from one of the pangeros (the Mexican men who drive the panga water taxis). During the winter months we can also call “the French Baker” who comes around the lagoon in his boat every morning with fresh bread and goodies. Umm! Delicious! Too bad the French Baker is not here this time of year either.

There is also a marina, largely empty by the way, which is part of the Barra de Navidad Grand Hotel, where we occasionally get a berth for the night but we prefer to save our cash by anchoring in the lagoon. We did however come into the marina for one night to wash the boat, fill our water tanks and play in the hotel pool. The pool is awesome with different levels and waterfalls and water slides and, of course, a pool bar. We had a great time, loved the pool, and the next morning we even got up early and went back to swim laps for exercise. We really miss having a pool like this in La Cruz.

video
Water Sliding in the Grand Hotel Pool

Leaving Barra, and getting totally frustrated trying to sail to Tenacatita in light, light light winds and lumpy waves, and getting only half way of a 10 mile trip in 3 hours, the motor went on for the rest of the way. At least that way we did get there that afternoon and anchored near Nakamal.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wings at Chamela Islands

The sailing the next day, however, was fantastic. We sailed to Chemela Bay, and upwind sail of 25 miles, and we had moderate breezes, wind shifts to play, a lot of tacks to do, and we arrived at the islands of Pajarera and Cocinas tired and sunburned, but happy. These islands are home to thousands of Pelicans, Frigate Birds, Boobies, Sea Gulls, Vultures, Ibis, Ducks, and many more kinds of birds, and they are all flying overhead all day and making a racket 24 hours a day. We anchored right in front of Pajarera Island and it really feels like nature there.

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At least the Vultures were quiet

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Punta Perula

Now, after four days at Pajarera, we have moved to Perula. This is another nice anchorage with more wild scenery, a quiet little town with a few bars and restaurants, and a great beach where you can walk for miles and miles if you want to. At night, however, the anchorage is rolly.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
On the Beach at Perula(Chamela)

To be honest, except for the Barra Lagoon, all of our anchorages on this trip have been rough. We can take it, but sleeping is sometimes difficult when you are getting rolled around all night. It will be nice to get to La Cruz and back into our berth in the marina there.

Tomorrow we will set sail for La Cruz.

Click here for many more photos and even another video.

Fred & Judy, s/v Wings, Chemela

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 18, 2017-Manzanillo, Revisited


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Manzanillo

We are back Manzanillo this week wandering around old town after being gone 19 years. It feels like we'd seen these streets before. We have.

We took a bus to “Centro” and got off the bus and headed into the neighborhoods. We looked in shop windows and went up and down streets turning corners left or right wherever we felt like it. For my part, I knew what I wanted to spot in old Manzanillo: the same stairs up the hillside that we saw and photographed in 1998. I was following my nose with nothing more but instinct to guide me and the memories were distant, fuzzy, but something led me on.

“Let’s go this way”, I said, pointing down a side street.

Judy answered, “That’s what I was thinking.”

We both realized at that moment we were on the same quest and we laughed.

But things quickly began to look familiar. We became surer of ourselves and we quickened our pace. Finally we found ourselves in the same neighborhoods looking at the same buildings as we had all those years ago, and we saw the same stairway and the same jumbled hillside.

Nothing much had changed.

The Last time we were here we stopped in this neighborhood for lunch and a drink and again this time we had the idea that a pina colada would be nice. There was only one place, then and now, for a drink around here: the Colonial Hotel. We went in. Yep, it’s been remodeled but it was the same establishment. We also realized that our previous visit had another similarity with this one. As we sat in the bar sipping our drinks we recalled that then, as now, there were no other cruisers with us on our exploration, it was just us, Judy and I, wandering alone in an interesting and different Mexican town.

But Manzanillo has changed. Suburbs have grown up in the valley behind the beaches between Santiago and old Manzanillo. Instead of a sleepy interurban road fronted with seedy old beach hotels, now the divided highways of the colonials of Savagua and Brizas are all strip mall modern with big box stores, franchise restaurants, and miles of housing developments. Old Manzanillo remains but the town has moved on.

The Port facility has also grown up and Manzanillo has become Mexico’s largest container port. Freeways and elevated bypass roads carry traffic around the port to and from the old town and the suburbs. We took the bus along Avenue de La Madrid and the bus was packed with city workers returning home. We stopped by Walmart and shopped, it’s the same as Walmarts everywhere.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Las Hadas

Back on the boat we gaze at Las Hadas. Wings is anchored in the same spot as it was before on the far left side of Manzanillo Bay, 5 miles from old town, in front of Las Hadas resort.

We’ve always liked Las Hadas; it has the feeling of a Greek or Moorish hillside town gone a bit crazy. It’s sort of a Disneyland. In fact the whole Point Santiago peninsula where it is has a feeling of an ancient Mediterranean town overlooking the ocean, like it ought to be on the island of Corfu or something, just slightly carried away in its wild exuberance. We also realized after our revisit to the old town that the Las Hadas look and feel was actually a reflection of the old Manzanillo look and feel.

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Inside Las Hadas

The Las Hadas condominiums are actually bizarre. They are a jumble of white boxes and dark hallways and short connecting elevators climbing back up the rocky hillside. As I walked around I saw that the condos are mostly empty, with padlocked doors and broken light fixtures, the hallways were dark and the buildings quite run down although my photos don’t really show it (I was looking a different set of images and I did not try to capture the neglect). I felt like I was almost in a ghost town, and I wondered if I’d run into Bo Derek around the next corner, but I didn’t.

I wandered there for half an hour before a security guard started to follow me and finally asked me to respect the privacy of the owners and leave. However I didn’t see many owners. Looking out one balcony I did notice a couple lounging on a patio a few levels below me. When the woman saw me she waved excitedly and I wondered why she was so outwardly friendly. Then I decided that her excitement was just that there might be a neighbor in the building. At night only a handful of the 200+ units had lighted windows.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Hotel

The hotel, By Brisa, on the other hand, is gorgeous, busy, and alive. The paint is fresh and the staff alert and friendly. Too bad they changed the rules and no longer allow a marina customer like ourselves to utilize the pools or other facilities, although we didn’t know that and we used them anyhow until the security guards finally noticed we didn’t have the proper wrist band and kicked us out.
The marina is in a serious state of disrepair, but that apparently is normal for Mexican marinas, and they charge us $15 a day to park our dingy there, which seems too much. We could take more time to explore Manzanillo, but we don’t need to spend any more money and, besides, now it’s time for us to head north.

We wonder if it will be 19 years before we return again, and what we’ll see when we do.

Click Here for more images.

Click Here to read our original post, Feb 20, 1998.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Manzanillo



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Monday, May 15, 2017

May 12,2017-Wild Carrizal


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Ensenada Carrizal

We’ve been anchored in Ensenada Carrizal for a week. It is a wild place. I mean it has a wild feeling. Here the wind and rocks and the trees and the sea around us remind us more of some remote place on the West Coast of Vancouver Island than a small bay in Mexico.

One thing is the sound. The crash of the ocean as it rises against the rocky shore and then hisses as it runs back into the sea and the moan of the wind through our rigging are constant sounds. They are wild sounds, untamed.

Swell hits the Shorline

The sea here is a restless sea. It is like a living creature whose breast we watch rising and falling against the rocky points of land at the mouth of our bay, and whose breath we can hear, a long whooosh, from the blow holes. The water around Wings undulates with the swells, always in motion but seemingly with no direction, just moving, and on top of it the wind waves, sparkling silver in the sunshine against the indigo blue water, sweep past towards the ocean behind us.

The gusts roll down the bay, off the hillside, and come towards us like a dark shadow on the water and the moan increases as they hit the rigging of the yacht, which turns and rolls away from the wind then rights itself. The moan dies as the wind passes.

This sound and this motion: they are eternal and it is clear to us that we have no part in it. They would and will go on the same if we were not here, and they have done so for countless centuries. We have just arrived here to observe for a short time and Ensenada Carrizal ignores our presence. When we leave it will go on as it was before and never remember we were here.

High rocky cliffs surround the bay. They tower over us and cut off the sun in the mornings and evenings. At their bases the shale is broken and dark and the water reflects that darkness. A white bird wheels and turns and stands out in contrast against the cliff, and plunges into the sea, then rises flapping. Above there are steep hillsides covered in jungle growth, a mixed jungle of leafy brush and dense, stark, dry white trees and shrubs bereft of any greenery. But it is dry season and I think that when the rains come the hills will blossom out in green with a startling suddenness. But now the hillsides of dry tangles seem to add to the impression of wilderness.

And the air here is cool. We sit on deck, in the cold sunlight, the cool wind blowing and the sea constantly moving, looking at our surroundings, and we feel the wildness of it all.
The waves also hit the rocky beach at the head of the bay and wash up high, white, then slide back with astonishing quickness. That beach you can hardly walk on due to its large gravel and steep angle. It is a difficult beach on which to land a small boat; the waves carry a power, and there is no sand over which you can drag up a boat. We’ve landed our small boat here twice, and both times we were nearly upset. Once Judy was thrown out and swept under the boat, but that was on the other side of the bay, where there is sand, and she was only doused and not hurt. At the main beach we had a different strategy: I stayed at the controls of the motor and approached the beach, whereupon Judy jumped out with our duffel bag and scrambled up the steep shore while I backed out quickly before the next wave came. Then I anchored the dingy off shore and swam in.

To leave we reversed this: I swam out and got the dingy, then I came close enough for Judy to jump in between the waves, and we roared out before the next big wave came. Still it was a close thing, and that was a very calm day. Today the waves are much bigger, and the white wash from each of them extends 30 feet up the rocky beach before receding. I would not try to negotiate that surf with the dingy today.

There is wildlife here, mostly birds, but not many. I see some small white terns or gulls flying in circles near the cliffs, and diving into the water, and there is a red tailed hawk we see each day, patrolling the hill side. A few pelicans have flown by but I don’t see them diving, or in the numbers of, say, Bahia Tenacatia. Nor frigate birds; once in a while one soars overhead. Some other bird screes from the trees but I don’t see it. There are also some animals on the land. We saw tracks of a large cat or perhaps an otter and nearby there were scraps of crabs, legs pulled off, where some creature was eating. When we walked up the hillside and found the road, which we followed, there were beautiful magpie-jays and other birds.

But this is a remote place and there are no swarms of birds here or people. No houses or signs of humanity on the land around the bay other than the road which comes down the hillside and ends just above the beach at the head of the bay. We saw a man come in a pick-up truck and he parked and then raked the area at the end of the road, some landscaper perhaps, then he left. So maybe the remoteness of this place is an illusion. But it seems real.

Now the sun has dropped behind the hillside, it is late in the day, and we’re running our engine to charge batteries. We have retreated to the cabin where it is warmer. Once the sun goes down the air is even cooler. Again, it seems like Canada, not Mexico. Soon I will pull on some jeans and a long-sleeved sweatshirt to go outside and BBQ our evening meal.

We’ve come to like this place. There is peace in wildness.

We are at peace here.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Ensenada Carrizal


Note: We were last here on Feb 25, 1998. It was windy then also.



Next Up: Las Hadas

Arriving at Las Hadas

We'll update the blog soon with a report of our return to Las Hadas, in Manzanillo, after 19 years.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

May 9, 2017-Ensenada Carrizal


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Wings in Ensenada Carrizal

The gusts rip through Ensenada Carrizal; from ten knots to twenty, then over twenty. The boat swings and pulls on the cable and the awning flogs. We let out more chain and we listen to the awning flogging. Should we take it down? The shade is nice, and it looks solid. We leave it up for a while. Then, just as quickly, the gusts pass and it is momentarily calm.

Two days ago when we motored here from Barra de Navidad there was no wind to speak of, maybe four knots at best. We didn’t even set sail. The wind came up after we got here. Now the is wind frequently strong and coming from the head of the bay but it does keep the seas in here flatter and lessens the rolling, so we don’t object.

We think our anchor is well set but we left the anchor alarm on to alert us if we move at all.

We wanted to get out of Barra and Tenacatita where we’ve been for over a month. We came here because it looked interesting on the chart and we had heard good things about it. Well, the scenery is nice and the snorkeling here is good. After swimming along the rocky reefs yesterday when the wind was down we were amazed at the coral and fish and again we wished we had an underwater camera to capture the beautiful fish. Maybe next year.

Yet we wonder why people rave about this bay. Yes, it is sort of pretty, in a dry sort of way, and the crashing swells surging along the rugged shoreline are stunning to watch, but it is not a quiet place to anchor. In calm weather outside it is rolly in here due to the refracting swells bouncing off the rock walls. When the wind comes up from the north outside it is gusty in here, as it is today. In a south wind it will be untenable. We like calm anchorages better and Ensenada Carrizal is rarely calm.

We were the only boat here when we came in. Last night another boat arrived, Vicarious, from North Carolina. We talked on the radio and then I visited with them at the side of their boat, and asked if they had any coriander which we needed for our pasta sauce, but they didn’t. Vicarious has come up from Panama and are headed for Alaska, a long way north in all of the strong northerly winds which are present in this time of year. They came in for shelter, tired already of bashing against the northerlies. I think that 3000 miles more to the north is going to take them a long time.

At this time of year, when almost all the other boats have already turned north, we’ll be alone in most places down south here so we make friends quickly when we encounter another boat. This reminds us of our time in Vanauatu when all the other boats were headed back to Australia but we turned instead towards Papua New Guinea. That was a very lonely feeling for us then, and we felt it for weeks as we followed our own path going north among the isolated and rarely visited islands seeing no other boats. When we did encounter another cruising boat, and there were a couple, we stayed together in anchorages even though our schedules beckoned us onward and we clung together like lost strangers meeting unexpectedly in the wilderness.

This is not like that. Now it’s just part of doing our own thing. Whether or not this is a good anchorage it is a good season to be here, the weather is still cool and, obviously, crowds are down. We are not sure why everyone else heads north so soon; probably it is just a mob reflex, but we have never been followers. Anyhow, we are only two days away from La Cruz, one day in a pinch, so it’s not like we have ventured into a new hemisphere.

Finally we take down the awning. We will sleep better if it is not making a racket all night, and we’ll put it back up tomorrow if we need the shade. We have already put the dingy on deck after a gust nearly blew it upside down on the side of the boat where it was hanging. With these two preparations the gusts don’t seem so daunting.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wreck of Los Lanitros

On the passage here we passed the wreck of the Los Lanitros, a 700plus foot cargo carrier which was driven ashore off the headland at Barra de Navidad in Hurricane Patricia in October, 2015. There is little I could find about how they came to be driven ashore there, just some speculation that they were late to leave Manzanillo when the port was closed just before the hurricane, and that the vessel was unable to make headway to sea and instead ran north along the coast. Maybe the captain hoped he could weather the rugged point at Barra and find some shelter in the bay, which I doubt he could have done anyhow since the bay is not large enough or protected enough to shelter a large ship.

At any rate they did not clear the point; they missed it by about a quarter of a mile. It must have been terrifying for the crew to realize that, against all hope, they were converging with the shore, and then to strike the rocks at the base of a large mountain.

The 27 persons on board survived and were airlifted off after the hurricane and the ship remained largely intact.

One writer noted with astonishment that the Mexican authorities took no action after the wreck to protect the environment or remove the vessel. He noted that their official position seemed to be it was the affair of the owners and they were satisfied to watch from afar. This is pretty similar to how the local authorities in La Cruz deal with shipwrecks in their jurisdiction. For example in April when the sloop Atoz went adrift the Port Capitan appeared mildly concerned but simply stated that it was the owner’s problem.

Jody, from the yacht Pickles, and two of her teenage boys and attended by the cruisers from Katie G, streaked over the rough waters in their dingies with their own anchor and rode, and in the rough seas, somehow got onboard, secured the vessel, and set the new anchor close to the beach in Bucerias. I thought this was an act of amazing seamanship, the waves were big and even coming alongside must have been exceedingly difficult, but they got it done. Mike Danielson pleaded with the Port Capitan to be permitted to go to rescue the vessel before it went up in the beach in Bucerias, fearing the temporary anchor wouldn’t hold. Finally, after an hour, they gave Mike authority to do so. I went with Mike in a borrowed a launch from the sailing school (while the Port Captain’s panga remained idle at the dock), and along with Jody and Guy from Pickles we rescued the Atoz, towing it into the marina. The point of this is that the Mexican authorities, whether by culture or policy, seem shockingly reluctant to step in even when an environmental disaster threatens. I don’t know, maybe it is the same in other countries, but it seems odd.

Since we have been here in Ensenada Carrizal we had one interesting problem aboard Wings: We were awakened during the evening by the sound of water sloshing back and forth in the bilge. We are not currently equipped with an automatic bilge pump (that is another story) so the sloshing water was our first warning that we had a leak somewhere. Pulling up the floorboards we found about an inch of water in the bilge and were mystified about how it got there. Reluctantly (because bilge water is always foul stuff) I tasted it and found it to be salty. OK, it was not water leaking from our water tanks; it was coming from the sea. But where was it coming in? We checked all the through-hull fittings, and they all looked OK. We pumped the bilge and went to bed. In the middle of the night the sloshing was back. There was another inch of water, which I pumped at 03:30 AM. We were not panicked, but there was obviously a leak and it needed to be found and fixed. After breakfast we dug into it. I methodically checked every opening in the hull. All were secure and no water was seen running in from any of them. Then I noticed a drip under the sink in the head. Pulling some pipes out of the way I found the problem: a plastic pipe nipple in the sink drain was broken, and with each roll of the boat in the waves of Ensenada Carrizal, the water level in the drain system rose up enough to flow out of the broken pipe into the bilge. Well, no harm done and it was an easy fix since we had spare parts on board, but we don’t know how it became broken or how long it’s been that way. When we left the boat last week to go to Vallarta we closed all the through hulls, including the sink drain. Glad we did that since the automatic bilge pump is out of action. It’s fixed now.

That is cruising life. We don’t know how long we’ll be in Ensenada Carrizal, or what we’ll do next.

We’ll let you know.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Ensenada Carrizal

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 23, 2017-Morning Ritual


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Waiting for the sun

The daylight awakens me and it starts my morning ritual.

When the ports and skylight over my bed turn into purple blue rectangles and the surroundings in my cabin change from soft dim shadows to solids my day begins and I slip out of my bunk without awakening Judy and I turn on a flame under a pot of yesterday’s coffee.

I pull on my jeans and a warm shirt for I know that even in Mexico it will still be chilly at 8:00 AM in April.

With my favorite starbuck’s cup filled with steaming joe I go on deck and watch the sun rise.

I shift the solar panels to face the rising sun and I sip my coffee and see the day begin.

When the sun’s rays on the panels are generating enough electricity and my cup is empty I go below and turn on the computer.

The world’s news stories flash across my screen, and I look for mail and messages. I read whatever interests me and relax in the quiet of the morning.

When Judy stirs I go to the galley and make a new pot of coffee so it will be fresh for her.

That is how we do it at anchor. At sea I choose a watch schedule so that I am on watch when the sun comes up and my ritual then is similar: I want my first cup of coffee in my hand when I go on deck to watch the sun rise.

Judy, on the other hand, gets her best sleep when the sun comes up, so this works for both of us.

We are now in Barra de Navidad, anchored in the lagoon, and life here is peaceful.

Things are going well for us on the boat, the systems are all working. One very good development has been the electricity situation. For the first time ever, in thirty years, we are nearly self sufficient electrically without using shore power or running the engine. The combination of bright sunlight from 9:00 AM until after 6:00 PM gives us over 90 amp-hours of daily power. The fact that we change the angles of the panels in the morning and afternoons to get the most out of the sun’s rays helps. The cool air and water that surround us keep the boat cool and the refrigerator electrical load down and this helps as do our efficient LCD lights. We’ve also been more careful to turn off devices when not in use and we’ve refurbished some of the wiring and serviced the batteries. It all helps, apparently. The bottom line is that rather than running the engine for an hour or more each day, we get by with 30 minutes or less, or we can skip it entirely.

One thing we haven’t done much of is swimming. The water in the lagoon is not clean and we don’t want to go into it, and in the other anchorages it has been cold. This has been a surprise to us. We did take a trip to the “Aquarium” while we were at Tenacatita, and we were glad we had our shorty wet suits. What we didn’t have was any underwater photo capability, which we have never had, and we decided this year that we will solve that void before we cruise next year. I don’t know what we will get but next cruise we’ll have some sort of camera for underwater shots.

Next week we have the chore ahead of us of taking a bus ride to Vallarta to attend to a visa issue. We’d hoped to put this off until our return to La Cruz in June but it was just too impossible. Well, maybe we could have worked out something locally but the logistics and red tape were daunting. So we’ll park the boat in the Barra Marina and spend a few days going to Puerto Vallarta and getting everything handled.

Now day is nearly over and the shadows grow long and the evening activities begin.

Since I have fixed the stereo’s outside speakers and put a bunch of music on thumbdrives so I don’t have to run the computer to play music, and I have some ice in the freezer and some good scotch whiskey, I am looking forward to lighting the BBQ, which is my nightly job, my peaceful joy, and my other private ritual. Judy has defrosted a steak and it is time to cook. I go on deck again and watch the sun fade away, listening to some blues, sipping my whiskey, and I think about the day as the steak sizzles.

The cruising life for us is good, it is mostly very peaceful and quiet, and we love it.

Drinks at the bar with John and Elinor

Click here for more photos.

Click here for shots from the snorkel trip.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Barra de Navidad

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

April 2, 2017-Tenacatita


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Tenacatita River Trip

Wings rolls gently to the swell at anchor in Tenacatita. Music plays softly on the outside speakers. The sun is bright but the breeze is cool and the air is clear. It is a grand day in Tenacatita.

This is one of the good days.

This cruise was supposed to be sort of a vacation; find some peaceful places, find some beautiful places, places where the water is clear and the birds sing in the morning, and relax. Days like this morning in Tenacatita.

The problem has been that we've had too few of those days.

For one, we've been dealing with boat problems. Some problems, like the broken head bolt, which we fixed miraculously in a few hours after worrying about it forever, went rather smoothly. The toilet problem was also solved in a straightforward manner due to the fact that we've done it many times before, so that turned out OK too. Still, it was a dreadful morning when we realized that the toilet needed work, that day. We hate that job. On the other hand, the battery charging problem was tough and chewed up about five days in which we worked on every sort of wiring issue we could find, changed out the regulators for the spares (which had problems of their own), and even created a jerry-rigged solution. In the end we ordered a new part which cost a few hundred dollars, only to find, in the end, we didn't need it. The problem was a bad temperature sensor, which we disconnected.

Did I mention the inflatable dingy which won't keep the air in or the water out? Well, we had that too.

So, we've been working on boat problems for most of the last three weeks.

Oh, then there was the Mexican Immigration issue which popped up and which has us anxious as hell in fear that they will deport us or something. Maybe we've solved that issue, we're not sure, but it all weighed down on us when we should have been relaxing.

So, in actuality, we've been stressed out. Sometimes it seems like cruising is not so easy. Maybe not even worth it.

But we're here, and we'll persevere.

Back to today. We are anchored in Tenacatita with twelve other boats, most of whom we know. I enjoy being here with them. They are generally fine looking boats manned by young and enthusiastic crews, all of whom seem to love sailing, which is a happy change from the usual cruisers crowds we find in Mexico who apparently have little interest sailing and rarely put sails up. But the sailors on these boats here in Tenacatita do like to sail and the boats show it. These boats are trim and clear and when they come or go they do it under sail.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Luna Azul beats out of the bay

We also had had some fun ashore. Yesterday we took a dingy cruise up the river to the lagoon and there we went snorkeling in the "aquarium" like 19 years ago and it is still a great place for looking at colorful fish. We spotted a big octopus swimming and looking at us. The river trip itself is great fun too and I ran it full throttle sliding through the narrow, jungle covered, channel until Judy brought some sense to the situation and convinced me to slow down. Same thing she did 19 years ago.

Today I see a sloop sailing hull down on the far side of the bay. When I put the binoculars on it the I see in the foreground the curvature of the earth and the swells which rise and fall in my view. I can't make out what boat it is but it is a nice sight on starboard tack and making steady progress along the shoreline and out of the bay.

Now Luna Azul, the pretty S&S ketch flying an Australian flag, is getting underway; they have the main and mizzen up while they get the anchor aboard, then they fall off and the sails fill and they make their way out of the bay as well.

So it is a nice day for sailing and several boats are taking advantage of the conditions.

Stan and Sally Honey's beautiful Cal40 Illusion lies at anchor nearby. I've been meaning to go over and say hello, and I do, but it is late in the day and I pause for only a brief time next to their side to chat. It is good to see them; world class sailors.

The next morning Cat-2-Fold, Scavenger, and Shawnigan all leave, all under sail, and after that Illusion follows.

And we like to sail too, so probably, if the breeze looks nice, we will also.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Underway from Tenacatita

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 25, 2017-Cruising to Tenacatita.


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Still Life in Tenacatita

On Sunday we set sail on our 2017 cruise, two weeks to the day after we finished racing.

That was two weeks of shifting sails and loading the dingy, anchors, life raft, installing cruising equipment and doing provisioning. I thought we could get ready faster than that but the time flew by. As it was, in our haste to get away, we neglected some preparations and would have to make them up underway or when anchored somewhere south. Those included checking the water maker and the batteries, and both were to later give us problems, but we were in a hurry.

We departed fully loaded, ready for three months away from La Cruz, at 11:00 with the first hint of the afternoon thermal and the breeze built and we crossed Banderas Bay close hauled on starboard tack under a glorious blue sky. It was a good start to the trip and we and made excellent time, rounding Cabo Corientes in the afternoon.

And it got better.

By nightfall the wind filled from the north and by 9:00 PM we had a 20 knots behind us and it was pure sailing joy, sliding down swell after swell with the water rushing by the side of the boat and the white caps barely visible in the darkness as we swept them behind. The Southern Cross appeared in the sky ahead of us and that warmed our hearts as we thought of the passages we’d made in the southern oceans when that constellation was our constant companion. We clicked off the miles hitting high 7’s and low 8’s, and seeing occasional 9’s; the sails were filled and the sheets taut and untouched as the wind vane steered us arrow straight. It was joyous and very easy sailing. We had nothing to do on our watches but peer at speedometer and contemplate the fine life of a sailor.

On Monday we sailed into Tenacatita Bay on Mexico’s Gold Coast. It was a landfall which we last made in 1998 and it was then and still is stunningly gorgeous. But after 19 years things looked slightly different than what we held in our memories. We looked for familiar landmarks and saw only a few. Then we rounded Punta Hermanos and Punta Chubasco and arrived in the Bahia Tenacatita anchorage and it looked just like we remembered it. We jibed around Roca Centro and dropped the jib then glided under main alone to a quiet spot to drop the anchor. When Wings settled to the hook in Tenacatita it all came back and it seemed like we were just here last year.

Cruising is great again.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 10, 2017-Racing is Over

john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Circling Before the Start

This year the racing ended Saturday with the Banderas Bay Regatta. Banderas Bay Regatta is the big race of the year. It is intense with more competitors, more boats on the start line, and more PR. Several teams added professional sailors to their crews.

Maybe we were ready for the season to be over. After three months of weekly, sometime daily racing and many days of special preparation for this event, maybe we were a little burned out. We sailed hard for those final three days and we partied hard every night culminating with the big party Saturday night. We had fun but we didn’t do very well. After winning almost everything during the season we ended up only 5th in the Banderas Bay Regatta.

It was great sailing, glorious conditions, but we made mistakes. They say that in sailboat racing he who makes the least mistakes wins. So that explains it. We had problems every day. We made mistakes, so we didn’t deserve to win. Still, that’s racing. It gives us something to shoot for next year.

On day one, after a fantastic start and leading around the first mark, we headed off in the wrong direction to the second mark. We went .3 miles out of our way and that cost us 160 seconds (navigation error). Then on the last mark rounding we had a problem with the luff of our jib and could not set it for the short beat to the finish which cost us another 40 seconds (equipment failure). There were no miracles with wind shifts that we could play to get it back. We lost the race by less than 200 seconds, so our mistakes and problems took us from first to fourth.

On day two we had a less than stellar start and got caught in a situation with Olas Lindas which caused us both to go slow, probably lost a minute there. Next we had a bad spinnaker set and while that sail was flogging the sheets shook off and it took two attempts to reattach them. I’d guess that cost us 1:30 minutes, so again we had over two minutes to make up. The race was basically a parade and we had no chances to regain the lost time. Instead of second we corrected out to 4th place.

On day three we had another sloppy start, behind Bright Star and we couldn’t get our air clear until after the weather mark, and then it was a parade. We wound up 5th.

Yes, we can gripe about the courses which didn’t favor our boat, but the bottom line was, we screwed up and so we ended up in 5th place in the regatta, and we deserved that.

But the sailing was glorious; beautiful blue sky, flat water, and nice breezes. We worked well as a team and we’ll be back next year. Other than my bad starts, for which I have no good solution, I have fixes in mind for all the other issues. I’m working on them already.

Meanwhile, Sunday morning we were well into the switch-over from race boat to cruising boat. The racing sails come off and after multiple trips to the storage locker the dacron sails on, solar panels, wind vane, dodger, awning, dingy, outboard motor, spare parts. Not a moment to be lost. Maybe once we get everything ready and untie the dock lines we’ll be able to relax. Right now we’re still running hard. It’s what we’ve been doing since December. It must be habit.

john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Going to Weather

wingssail images-nikk white balance
Crew Work

For two more sailboat photos, Click here

Click here for more crew photos.

Fred & Judy. SV Wings, La Cruz Hauncaxtle

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Feb 19, 2017-Febuary in Vallarta


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Winter Fog

February is the middle of winter in Puerto Vallarta. The picture above even looks cold but actually the weather is great in February; we get cool nights and warm days. Rain is rare this time of year and fog is rarer still. Mostly the days are great.

During January we were racing at least twice a week, but in February it slows to once a week and that leaves time for other activities. One of those activities is whale watching. This year, after some reduction in recent years, the whales are back in numbers. Maybe it is the cold water; this year the bay is cooler than it has been. Everybody is seeing whales. We’ve taken friends out a few times to watch them, but whale watching is tricky; when you are trying to find whales they seem to keep their distance. On two trips we only got brief sightings; that was enough to call the day a success but not enough to give us the spectacular photo ops we were looking for. So we had nice days on the water with good friends but they were not much for whale watching.

On the other hand when we go out for a race the whales seem to frolic around us.

Mike Danielson organized a “Shake it Out” day on the water where anybody could go out sailing and Mike would give them trimming and tuning tips from his Cal 20. I had to pick up Phyllis at the airport so we didn’t take Wings, but Judy went aboard Nakamal. That day the whales put on a display that none of the “Shake it Out” participants will soon forget. The whales were everywhere and they were close.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wow, That was Close!

There were plenty of back and tail displays but also several breaches, one just yards away from Nakamal. Moments later a whale surfaced just feet from away. Judy, from her perch on the stern of Nakamal, thought she could have touched the whale. Elinore was steering and was a bit nervous about these large creatures swimming right alongside her boat but they didn’t really cause anyone much alarm and Judy was just totally excited. They were all still talking about it when the boats got back to the dock.

Of course the crews were busy sailing their boats and nobody had a camera ready. Can you believe it, no photos!

I watched from the beach and I had my camera and a long lens but I was looking the other way and missed the best shots, and besides the distance was too great.

brad redden
Practicing Alone with the Heavy Kite

We have also had some cloudy days and some with stronger winds. Three times during the Wednesday Night Beer Can races we’ve been tested by bigger winds than are usual in Banderas Bay. We’ve had 25 knots across the deck which is perfect Wings sailing weather but it gives the crew some new challenges. One of those challenges is spinnaker work. We’re pretty good in the normal 10-15 knots we get on most days but I can tell you that when we were beating to weather with the boat heeled over, in bigger waves, and with the spray flying, the forward hands were nervous as they rigged the 1.5 oz. kite. I could see some anxiety in their eyes. Nobody would have complained if I had decided against the set. But we needed to get some more practice in these breezes and when we turned down wind I immediately called for the hoist. I won’t say it all went completely smoothly the first time but we got through it, and now, as Paul, the bowman put it, “We’ve looked death in the eye and we survived.” Well that may be a bit dramatic but jibing a full size symmetrical spinnaker in 25 knots of wind is a bit scary. And the next time we were better.

Now I know, we all know, that we can do it, and if we get heavy air in the next races we’ll be better prepared and confident.

Some of our competitors have been skipping these Weds races. But we treat these races as practices and these practices may help us in the future, and that’s the idea behind practicing, isn’t it?
We’re feeling good about the remaining races of the season, which is over in early March.

So February passes along, we are sailing a lot, our lives are full and everything is pretty good.

We hope you are enjoying the snow where you are, we haven’t seen any.

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017-Close Racing


john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Approaching the Jibe Mark

We were over early at the start and had to go back. That cost us two minutes and every other boat got away clean and they were gone. So much for a safe race, I thought.

We restarted and settled in on what seemed like it would be a slow slog back through the fleet.

Judy spotted the shift first. “The wind is now, 190” she said. She’d felt the lift and she looked at the numbers. It had been 228, now it was 190, a huge shift to the left; unexpected. It was only momentary but it was a harbinger of things to come. It swung right back to 220, but then returned to 208 and stayed.

“Then I’m staying to the left of the fleet”, I spoke to nobody in particular, “we need to protect the left side.” I looked over my shoulder to the right to see if anyone was coming our way. They weren’t.

When we tacked back to port the whole fleet was down to leeward. We were lifted up over everyone.

I felt some returning hope. After being over early at the start and losing that 2 minutes to every other boat this is what we needed to get back in the game.

As we went further up the beat I saw that Olas Lindas was still ahead but closer, and Bright Star was also nearby but the others were behind, well behind. I watched Bright Star as they came in on starboard and I saw we probably would cross them. We’ll be second to round I thought, that is great. Beautiful come back.

Olas rounded ahead of us by 2:35, still leading by a safe margin, and Bright Star was right behind us and they dogged us all the way through the jibe and down to the leeward mark. When we got there Olas was still only 2:30 ahead, so they hadn’t gained. Good. We needed a clean rounding inside of Bright Star, who was still right on our tail, and got it. We dumped bad air on them and they tacked away to the left, which was fortunate for us, it turned out.

Again Judy saw the shift. At the top mark the wind showed a big oscillation the other way. It touched 250 degrees. She mentioned it. That shift was more expected; it was what we thought would would happen as the afternoon went on. It would be permanent, and persistent.

“So this time we protect the right” and after re rounded the bottom mark we stayed on port until Olas Lindas and everyone else behind us tacked, and a little longer.

We sailed into the knock and when we tacked to starboard we were again lifted and everyone else was again to leeward of us, only on the opposite side. Sweet.

We were now into the race over an hour and the wind was building. It got to 17 true, or more, on that second beat. We had 24 knots over the deck and we plunged into the waves. The forward hands were doused as they hooked up the spinnaker. I wished I’d called for the heavy kite but there was no time now, just a few minutes to the mark. I prayed that the ¾ oz kite would take it.

“OK folks,” I called out, “we’ll go deep as soon as we round and we need to jibe ASAP, so get the jib down and prepare for the jibe.” I knew Olas Lindas would be reaching off to the right and I wanted to cut the corner on them.

“2:30” called Dick as he timed Olas’ lead. Oh, that’s great, I thought, we have a chance in this race.“They will owe us about 5 minutes at the finish, we can win this.”

The set went well and the jibe did too until the pole seemed to fail: Paul couldn’t get the jaws to work. Shit. Strong winds and the pole wasn’t on. The boat was rolling and the spinnaker was swinging around uncontrolled and everyone’s eyes were on Paul standing at the bow struggling with the afterguy. But he somehow got the pole to work and the guy in and the jibe was completed. I looked at Olas Lindas, they were barely ahead of us.

Now just hang on to the finish I kept thinking.

That last leg seemed to take forever as I watched Olas’s transom and tried to guess how much time separated us from them.

They finished and we came through 1:48 behind. No one else was close. We surely had the race and that meant we had the whole regatta. Fantastic!

So the Vallarta Cup was over and we had it. Four races, 58 miles total. We had three first places and a second place. But the racing was closer than it sounds. We traded the lead back and forth with Olas Lindas and at the end of the regatta our total corrected time difference with them, over all four races, was just one minute and seven seconds after eleven hours of racing. That is .17%. Less than a quarter of one percent of the total time.

Now we have a breather, just some Wednesday races, before Banderas Bay Regatta in late February.

We can use it.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 14, 2016-Tequila is the New Champagne


wingssail images-judy jensen
Race to the Finish Line

Tension was high among Wings' crew as we watched the boats closing in on our right, side by side with us. The two boats were screaming towards the finish line and they were looking hot. It was hard to tell if they were faster or if we were holding them off. The racing was already tight; in just the last minute we'd passed two others on our left, barely, but now these two on the right were coming on fast, maybe too fast. They could be gaining. Were they gaining? It was hard to tell. We were still ahead but would the finish line come soon enough?

No one onboard was speaking, there were no sounds other than the sheet running in and out and the periodic, soft but urgent, "sheet" whispered from the trimmer, followed by the sudden answering rattle of the winch drum spinning, then, "OK", and then silence again. No one dared move lest the spell be broken; hold on, we might do it.

The ten people aboard Wings were all trying to will our boat faster. Myself, I was confident. As I watched the relative angles of the three boats it was clear to me: our nose was out in front, we'd cross first. We held our course steady, soaking down towards the finish while our main competitors sailed higher, toying with each other, destroying their chances.

OK with me, I thought and then the radio call came: "8986". We'd done it, first in the race and therefore first in the regatta.

Two first places and a second.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Yeah!

The crew was jubilant, euphoric. We broke out in a loud, triumphant, spontaneous cheer, "Yeah!"

I spun the boat downwind and we dropped the kite.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Tequila is the new Champagne

Now we needed some champagne but, silly us, we had no champagne on board. We had plenty of Tequila so we celebrated with that. It worked. Tequila is the new Champagne.

The Banderas Bay Blast not really a grand prix race, it’s even called a “rally” by some, but the racing over three days was serious and intense so we were quite pleased to win convincingly.

Sunday’s triangle race started off well enough for us; we scorched the fleet up the coast to the first mark and led the way down to Nuevo. But behind us, moving well on the light air reach, was Vanishing Girl, a Beneteau 40 we haven’t raced against before. They are rated 40 seconds a mile faster than us but we held them off most of the first reach and then after they got by at the gybe mark, stuck closely to them on the final leg, and we knew we had our time on them. Disaster hit when the breeze failed completely 1 mile from the finish. We were at that time about 1/3 mile behind Vanishing Girl but it took us 10 minutes to finish. We had to settle for second place.

Monday’s race was a nine mile beat from La Cruz to Punta Mita featuring a reverse start where the slowest boats go off first and the faster boats start later. Again we scorched the fleet. Starting 58 minutes behind the first boat we passed all of them by the half way point and finished the race in first place 8 minutes ahead of the next boat, Bright Star. Since Bright Star started 2 minutes before us, it meant that we gained 10 minutes in a 9 mile race. We only owed them 9 seconds a mile but we beat them by 60 seconds a mile. Our new sails are sterling upwind. Vanishing Girl was fourth.

Tuesday found us facing a 14 mile run from Punta Mita to Nuevo Vallarta and another reverse start. We waited around the start line while all but two boats set their spinnakers and headed off towards Nuevo before we were allowed to go. But then it was our turn and the chase was on. We sailed aggressively after the leaders, slowly grinding down boat after boat, while constantly watching over our shoulders for the fast boats behind who were chasing us. It was no surprise that Vanishing Girl was back there creeping up on us but it did shock us to see Alarife as well hanging in there with us; they were remarkably fast. At least two times they tried to pass by sailing higher and taking our wind. A couple of firm luffs discouraged them from coming to close to windward of us and then when they sailed farther to windward to keep clear we took advantage of a slight shift and bore away. It was a gain for us. Finally the race came down to the five boats closing in on the finish under spinnaker, virtually overlapped.

What tension, what fun!

We had fun celebrating our victory.

That night there was a big party at the yacht club and we relived all the good moments from the racing with our competitors and danced until we were too tired.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Friday, November 25, 2016

November 12, 2016-Family Visit


wingssail images
Six of us at La Cruz Inn

Since we left Seattle to go cruising 20 years ago our family visits consisted of Judy and I flying or driving to the homes of family members at various locations around the USA.

Over the years we have had wonderful visits and we have always enjoyed tremendously the times we’ve been able to spend with family back home (Click here for photos. Be sure to click “Next Page at the bottom to see all of them) but we have always wanted them to come to see us at one of our stops around the world.

Up until now that has not been possible (except for Granddaughter Candace who came to Thailand to sail with us in 2007, and that was really great
here and here).

This year however sister Jan and brother Tom and their spouses Howard and Kim flew into Puerto Vallarta for 10 days and we had a fantastic mini family reunion.

We even went sailing.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Howard Steers



For all these years, as we’ve lived our adventures, we’ve wanted to share them with our loved ones. I can’t say how many times I have said to Judy, “I wish Jan could be here to see this.” Or, “If only Tom could be here now.” Of course that includes Howard and Kim. So when Jan asked me if they could come in November we were thrilled and said, “Of course”. A day later she informed me that Tom and Kim were coming too.

Now we had the making of a great party.

Just to be clear, they didn’t stay on the boat with us. Too small and too intimate. Jan and Howard stayed in La Cruz Inn and Tom and Kim stayed on their timeshare points at Marival and Bel Air in Neuvo.

Of course we got together every day for fun and games which included pool times, visits to attractions around the Banderas Bay area, and lots of really excellent meals out in addition to the great sailing trip. Most of all we had a lot of quality time with our family and we loved it.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Jewelry shopping at San Sebastian

We are all showing our age a little I guess, and maybe we should be slowing down, but during this visit we went full speed, at least as much as the Mexican heat would allow, and somehow we came away a little younger and a little rejuvenated.

We hope we can do this every year.

Click here for more family images.

Click here for more Botanical Garden images.

Click here for lots of family photos (be sure and click "Next" at the bottom, there are lots more)

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 29, 2016-Changing Seasons


wingssail images-nick white
Reaching with the new kite

October in Banderas Bay brings the change of season. September is still summer and is hot and sweaty. We continue to swelter even into October but the nights start to cool down and by the end of the month the seasonal change is upon us; the cool and wonderful winter weather is just around the corner.

The other change which happens in October is that we start to convert Wings back to a racing boat.

During this last summer we did a lot of work to complete our project list; amazingly we got them all done, but at the end of it we were still a cruising boat. All the cruising equipment was still fitted and we had our cruising sails on board; that wouldn’t do on the race course. The racing season is almost upon us so we must hurry to get the boat ready for the competitive season. It’s time to get down and dirty.

First, the annual haulout: One Friday morning in mid October we took the boat over to the La Cruz Shipyard and Alexandro’s crew placed the slings under us and lifted us out of the water. Because we wanted to take the rudder out for a bearing replacement I stayed aboard while the travel lift had us up in the air to unbolt and drop the rudder. That was a first for me, being on the boat while it was in the slings, but it went smoothly and we lowered the rudder out before setting the boat down on the stands. When they finally placed a ladder against the hull and I could climb down the rudder was on the ground and the workers were already sanding.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Looking up the rabbit hole

What a pretty bearing

Doing the thru-hull replacements was hard but after a few hot and sweaty hours with both of us slithering around together in tight places getting knuckles skinned and muscles strained the job was done. The rudder bearing replacement also went reasonably smoothly, other than the difficulty of getting the old bearing out and other than the doing final fit of the new bearing. I expected to get the old bearing out by simply sliding it down. Instead I found it completely stuck and I spent several very hot and exhausting hours with a 4lb sledge in one hand and a chisel in the other banging over my head trying to cut it out. In the end I was knackered and it still wasn’t out. I asked the boat workers to finish the job for me and Judy and I retreated to the coolness of the La Cruz Inn.

By next morning the bearing was out and I took my measurements and ordered a new one. Unfortunately we couldn’t test the exact fit of the new bearing until I could work the rudder and bearing assembly back up into the boat, and that required the boat to be lifted again for the return trip to the water. Then we found it didn’t fit as well as we’d hoped: it was a little loose, better than the one we took out, but not perfect. We decided to go with it. To halt the project at that point and get another new bearing made would almost double the cost and time of the whole project, and besides, we weren’t sure how it would feel when we went sailing. Maybe it would be OK.

We launched on October 19th and spent a few days cleaning and putting racing sails on board.

On the 25th we collected some crew and went sailing. The main goal was to test the new sails, test the rudder, and see how everything worked.

Ahh, Carbon Fiber Flat

I have to say that the sail testing trip was a complete success. The weather was perfect for a light #1 and after an hour the wind increased enough to test the #2. We put new marks on the deck for the jib cars for both sails. We sailed back to the marina with the new S3 1.5 oz spinnaker and it reaches like a bandit.

The sails looked good and the rudder was smooth although we still won’t know for sure about it until we get into some heavy weather upwind work and we don’t know when that will occur. For now it’s fine. Everything else, with the exception of the new halyards, worked perfectly.

The only problem we had was that the new Dyneema halyards seemed to creep or slip. This was not totally unexpected but it was still disturbing that after a few minutes of sailing the luffs of both the main and jib seemed to slack off a bit. Mike warned us about that and it seems he was right. We’ll work on pre-stretching them a bit, which he said would be needed.

All in all we had a great sail and we are totally pleased with all the work done and the new sails. By the end of the day when we sailed back into the La Cruz Marina we were all hot and tired from a day on the water but very happy. We are looking forward to the new racing season.

Click here to see tons more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21, 2016-Mike Danielson's Fish Prints


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Mike and a beautiful fish print

Mike Danielson, owner of PV Sailing and North Sails rep, is an artist as well as a sailmaker and a great sailor. He is well known among the deep sea fishing set for his fantastic art prints of large game fish.

I caught up with Mike recently at the annual La Cruz Sports Fishing Tournament where he was preparing to make prints of some of the largest game fish including one of the tourney winning Black Marlins. This giant fish, at 198 kilograms, was a beautiful specimen, and the fishermen who brought it in were justifiably proud. By creating an exact art image of the fish it's power and beauty can be retained for years to come.

Applying Paint

Check out the series of photos here to see how Mike and his helpers create these beautiful prints.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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