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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

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

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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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Saturday, October 15, 2016

October 15, 2016-Round Up-Update

New Spinnaker hits the loft floor for measurement and numbers

The saga continues:

John flew into town on Tuesday with our new spinnaker in his luggage, only his luggage didn't arrive with him. The spinnaker went to Los Angeles.


But Alaska airlines assured us that they'd collect the missing bag and deliver it to the marina on Thursday, which they did. So now we have it.

WOW! it is a very nice kite. We hauled it up to Mike's place for a measurement and a change in numbers. Mike says he will get us the original builder's certificate, all part of the great North Sails service. WOW again!

Now everything we have been trying to collect from the US has gotten here, Spinnaker, BBQ, Mail, boat parts.

It's like Christmas, early.

Next we'll put the boat in the yard and do the bottom, get the new rudder bearings, do a couple of through-hull fittings, and be back in the water by Tuesday or Weds next week, then we can go sailing with the new sails. That will be fun.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016-Round up all those Doggies

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
New Magma BBQ Looks Good, But...

We’ve got a round-up going, of sorts. That is, we’ve got a lot of stuff roaming around up in the USA and we’re trying to get it down here in Mexico. Problem is the shipping companies and the Mexican Customs just don’t work. If you send something via UPS or Fed Ex, it winds up in a Mexican Customs prison in Guadalajara and you will never see it again. So we are trying some alternate methods. We’ve pulled out all the stops to try to get all of our missing cows (stuff) to come into the coral (here on Wings) from out on the range (in the USA).

First of all, there is the new (used) spinnaker sold to us by Curt. “Just about new.” he said, so I sent him the money. Fine, money gone, spinnaker: nowhere. Then I arranged a drop. Son Ken met Curt at midnight near an abandoned railway station in Lynnwood, and after exchanging secret signals, Curt gave the kite to Ken. Then Ken met John, another midnight rendezvous, and John got the kite. John was supposed to bring it to Mexico, but somehow John missed his flight, for the last two months he missed his flight. Still no spinnaker.

Oh, did I say? John also has our mail package, which by now, is no longer the latest; there is another one looking for a courier to Mexico. (Hint: If you want your mail in a timely fashion, don’t try John.) Latest news: John will be coming in a few weeks. Right.

Then there is the new Genoa. Now this is a sad tale; the Genoa cost $5000. The factory delayed it for three weeks because they didn’t have the right color of cloth for the bag. See, I ordered light grey, which their up-to-date high end technical system said was, “In Stock.” Only it wasn’t. It was, “Out of stock”. OK I changed to dark grey, also, “In Stock”, only that wasn’t either. “Out of Stock”. But they had “RED”. I don’t want red! Oh alright, make the bloody bag in red, just send it already!

So the genoa and red bag got sent to San Diego, where Juan (not that John, another Juan) was going to pick it up and bring it to La Cruz. And since he was coming this way anyhow, please bring my new red bag, and my spare sail repair material too, OK?

“Sure” says Juan, and we did all the paper work, for Juan is totally legal. Great! But, you see, Juan’s truck is broken. But it will be fixed tomorrow. He will definitely head north with his truck and all of my papers tomorrow and bring all my stuff back straight away. “Tomorrow”. For two weeks, “Tomorrow.”

As of this day I have no idea where is Juan, or my paperwork, or my stuff.

Oh, also, the new Magna BBQ. Kelly agreed to bring that down. So I ordered it from West Marine with a delivery to Kelly’s neighbor. Yeah, I know, sounds dodgy, but Kelly, well, Kelly is pretty reliable. He DID bring me the new BBQ.

Thank You Kelly.

So how did that turn out? The BBQ is fine, except that none of the inside parts fit the outside. When I put it together it said, “Merry Christmas, our parts don’t fit.”

AND I BURNED MY FINGER trying to get all that ill fitting stuff properly aligned! DAMN!

Plastic Ice Cubes help burned fingers

So here I sit, no Spinnaker, no Genoa, no damned red bag, no mail, no repair material, but I DO have my BBQ and a burned finger.

Fortunately I also have some wine.

Welcome to the down side of Mexico, you cannot get stuff shipped here.


Don’t let anybody tell you the marina security guards don’t have a sense of humor.

Normally it is a big pain to find a dock cart. Let’s say you come home from the super market with a trunk full of groceries and you need a dock cart to get those groceries down to the boat. There are never any dock carts to be found. You can walk up and down all the marina fingers looking for a dock cart. You might as well be looking for baby Jesus; you never find one.

But they do exist.

Last week, one morning, as I walked to the bathroom, I saw this sight.

Dock Carts Galore

10 Dock Carts!

Now where have these 10 dock carts been hiding?

And who, with a twisted sense of humor, thought it would be fun to put them all together on dock 7?

It must have been the marina guards; they did it as a joke.

But later, when we came home with groceries, no carts!

I asked the marina guard. “I Dunno”, he said.


Fred & Judy, La Cruz, Huancaxtle, Mexico


Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 10, 2016-My Malecon

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Community Activity on the Malecon

On the top of the breakwater around our marina there is a promenade called the Malecon.

It is a place that is enjoyed by families of this community out for a walk in the evening, a run, to do some exercise, or just to view the Bay and the mountains beyond.

The Malecon is part of the scene where we live. It goes with the small town of La Cruz, the blue ocean, the mountains in the distance, the birds, sea life and the quiet docks where our boat is moored.

From the deck of Wings I can watch the activity on the Malecon. On some evenings, and there are many of them, I go on deck to use the BBQ and I watch the Malecon.

Three Girls on the Malecon

I take a glass of scotch, put on some music, and while my steaks cook I watch the chicas jogging with their ponytails flying and the kids zooming along on their skateboards, or the parents pushing a stroller and the fitness students straining their muscles while their kids play nearby.

There is something about watching the Malecon which I love.


I can see the palm trees gently waving, the birds circling, the tall mountains in the distance and all the people living out a rich part of their lives.

There is peace in this place.


Click here for the full photo essay.

Fred & Judy, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Sunday, September 04, 2016

September 4, 2016-Boat Work (Rigging-Hydraulics-Rudder)

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Rigging Jewelry

We've completed a few more boat work projects this summer. We've just now finished some rigging work, solved a hydraulics puzzle, and got a beautiful new rudder bearing.

Since this story is all about the pictures, we'll just send you to the wingssail images post.


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Friday, August 26, 2016

August 26, 2016-All About Mainsails

I made our first new mainsail in 1993.

1993, Home-made, Kevlar mainsail

I wasn’t a sail maker and I didn’t have clue about what I was doing, but I did it anyway.

I went to the library and checked out some books on sail shape. Library? Books? Yeah, I actually went to the Seattle Public Library in downtown Seattle and got some hard cover books. Can you believe that? Amazing! How yesterday! Then I wrote a Lotus 123 spread sheet to calculate the dimensions of each panel, there were 52 of them, based on the shapes I learned about in those books. That spreadsheet, wow, it was something (it got lost when a floppy disc failed years ago). With a design in hand I bought a Sailrite machine and a bunch of Kevlar and started sewing. I did it on the floor of the CYC yacht club. It took 80 hours. The sail turned out pretty good. It was dumb luck.

It caused a bit of a stir around Seattle; lots of people knew I was making it and when we showed up on the course with it there were quite a few eyeballs scoping it out. I don’t know if they were impressed or not, nobody said much about it, but they paid attention, I can tell you that.

There was a lot that was experimental about that sail, from the particular Kevlar and polyester laminates I used, to the graphite tapered round battens I made which had a habit of exploding without warning, to the Lotus 123 graph I used to model and view the sail shape before I started cutting cloth. There were other problems which required endless repairs over the years but the basic sail shape was good. I have now come to believe it was very good although I didn’t know it at the time. It had a large roach and flat and smooth in midsections where it needed to be flat and smooth. The draft was about right, and there was plenty of twist aloft. The shape was a success. It was fast out of the box and we won a lot of races with it.

Thirteen years later, in 2006, that mainsail was shot. That is a pretty long run for a racing sail but most of the time during those years it didn’t see much use; we were cruising and the Dacron cruising sails were hoisted, not the Kevlar racing sails. Still, after 13 years, it was toast. It had patches on top of patches. I had neither the time nor place to make a new one but both Judy and I had jobs and were making good money, so we decided to buy a replacement.

We got the replacement, our second new mainsail, from Shenzen, China.

2006 Main from CSF

There was a place there which our friend Jim Fernie told us about called China Sail Factory. China Sail Factory (CSF) made sails for sail lofts all around the world for a good price. The main they quoted was cheap enough so I ordered the sail, sent in the measurements and wire transferred the money. Some guy in New Zealand I never met or knew designed it. The sail arrived in Singapore soon afterward, as scheduled, but what a disappointment! The fabric and construction was beautiful but when we put it up I was horrified. The shape was bad. The sail was too deep aloft and the body wasn’t fair. Every seam looked like a ridge. The draft was all wrong. I didn’t see how we could win races with that sail but I was stuck with it. When you buy a sail over the Internet, from some factory in China, you don’t have much recourse if you don’t like it. Sail shapes are too subjective anyhow; they could just say it was fine, or fault my measurements. A recut was needed and again, I didn’t have the time or place to do it. I couldn’t do it. So we sent the sail to a friend in Perth with specific instructions for what we wanted and when it came back it was better. Not good, but better.

We used that sail, actually we had no choice, and in time we forgot about the shortcomings. Maybe the sail even got better as we used it. We also found that with skillful trimming we could make the shape acceptable. And we did win with it too. We were dominant in King’s Cup in 2006, and we used it all over the Asian region. Years later, in Colombia in 2014, it was still reasonably good and in 2016, 10 years after we bought it, we were still using it in Mexico and still winning races. In fact it seemed that the older it got the better it looked.

But 2016: that was the end of Mainsail #2.

At the finish line of the second race of the Banderas Bay Regatta that year our China-made Kevlar main totally disintegrated. There was a hole in the middle of it big enough to walk through.


We put up the Dacron cruising main and finished the regatta but we needed another new mainsail if we were going to keep racing.

So, what to do for a third new mainsail?

We went back to China Sail Factory, for price mainly, but I also thought I could have more control over the design, and I had some ideas about what I wanted. We had several email discussions with the designers in Shenzen, the CSF designers, and in the end they agreed to my ideas and they built the sail I wanted. You can see it here on the right.

Old and New Sails from China Sail Factory

It's not perfect, but it's better. It is a much flatter sail than the last one, more like the 1993 sail, but a little less roach. That reduced roach was an accident; I wanted more roach but I failed to communicate it properly. Anyhow, we didn’t get the extra roach. Otherwise the sail is beautiful. It has the same flatness and smoothness, more so even than my 1993 sail. Oh, we have some minor issues with the top, and we’ve only had it up once, but all in all it is probably the best mainsail we have ever had for this boat.

It is interesting to compare the photos of these three sails. Even an untrained eye can see the differences. We are really interested in seeing how we perform with this newest sail. In 1993, with the one I made back then, we had the best racing season ever with Wings. What will we have in 2017?

Fred & Judy, SV wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

August 4, 2016-Paint Job

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Masked and Ready

Sometimes I leave a story up on this blog even when I have a new one ready to post just because I like looking at the lead photo in the old one. The last story, about the new generation of sails, is one of those. When I connect to the internet that photo of the new mainsail pops up on my home screen and I love looking at it.

But we've now got a back-log of stories so it's time to move on.

Last week we finished one of the nastier jobs which are periodically required to be done on this boat: painting the interior. I hate that job, it has to be done about every eight years, and we just finished it for about the fourth time since we've had this boat. Well, we painted the main cabin. The forward cabin, head, and aft cabin were left to later, but the main cabin is what we see, and what visitors see, and it had gradually gotten really dingy. The white was almost yellow. The overhead was downright ugly.

So we ripped into it in late July. We started with sanding and filling, then cleaning and masking, finally, in a big push, we rolled on new paint everywhere in the main cabin in one frantic day. We moved off the boat that night and again the next night during which the paint fumes were intolerable, and while we touched up and put on a second coat in some areas that needed it.

So it's done now. It's not the best we could have done at it; we could have sanded more and used more of a premium paint, but that version of this project would have doubled or tripled the duration and the cost. Life is a series of compromises. We did the 80/20 job. That's OK. The boat looks very good now, and the last time we did the premium job it didn't last any longer anyhow.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Port Side

Even though I don't have the photo of the beautiful new mainsail at the top of my blog to see every day, when I lie back on my settee I can look at a bright, clean, overhead and that's nice too.

Click here for more photos.

Jred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanaxactle

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23, 2016-New Generation of Sails

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
New Main

Sails don't last forever. Neither do sailors.

But while we can't do too much about our aging bodies, at least when our sails wear out we can replace them.

In March we reported that our Kevlar mainsail was finished. In the Banderas Bay Regatta it finally self destructed with a hole up the middle big enough to walk through. It could not be repaired. The genoa was not far behind it. We had been expecting this for some time but even so, it was not welcome. We loved these golden racing sails which we've been using since 2007. We knew that if we were going to continue racing we needed to get new sails, but they would cost us plenty. Too much in fact.

So the hunt began for an affordable solution. Here is a progress report:

We found a used genoa in California that matched our boat, not quite big enough to be a #1 but it would be a great a #2. It was old but it was a good North kevlar tri-radial in very good shape, and best of all, it was inexpensive. We bought it and had it shipped to Mexico.

We found an unfinished mainsail at a sail loft which a customer could not take and which was available. It could be finished for us and would fit pretty well. This too was a very good price. We bought this sail and had it finished to our specification and shipped to San Diego where we picked it up.

A friend from the old days in Seattle told us he had a good (nearly new, used in only one race) heavy duty spinnaker which he wanted to get out of his garage. The price for that was too good pass up so we bought that too. We haven't gotten it yet, but it's coming.

Replacing our racing genoa proved to be the hardest problem to solve. No used sails could be found. New ones were going to be very costly. We've been working with several sailmakers, trying to find an affordable solution, and we're getting close, but we still don't have a new #1 genoa.

And the #3, which is also pretty trashed, will just have to wait. There is a limit to what we can do.

Meanwhile, we've gotten the mainsail and the #2 genoa and been sailing with them. They look good. The main is pretty close to perfect. The genoa was close but needed some work. We had it recut by Mike at PV Sailing and we know it will be a good sail for as long at it lasts. Old Kevlar sails don't have a very long life, but we know we'll get our money's worth out of it, it was cheap.

By the time the racing starts again in December we should be in fairly good shape; we'll have a whole new generation of sails. We also have quite a few other projects going on this summer. Besides the sails we're replacing a lot of our rigging, including all the wire halyards, we're repairing some damage to the deck, we'll have new rudder bearings, and we're repainting the main cabin...the list goes on.

Altogether it's a big project list this summer and this is not the first big project we've done on this boat. It's about the 5th. It won't be the last. Boats, especially racing boats, require constant maintenance but we'll keep doing it and try to keep Wings in good shape. Wings pays us back by giving us a comfortable home and great sailing days like this:

image-rick taylor
Wings sailing with new sails on Banderas Bay

And you know what, great days of sailing like this do wonders for rejuvenating old bodies too.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Friday, July 08, 2016

July 8, 2016-Get That Wire Off My Boat!

Note to our readers: This is a story about a maintenance project. It isn't a sailing story or otherwise an entertainment piece. Just a warning, it might be a bit dull unless you just would rather be messing about in boats than doing anything else in the world.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Coil of New Dyneema Rope

Why are we talking about wire?

When Wings was built there were few rope options considered strong enough for the loads the boat often developed. Running rigging like sheets and halyards had to be strong and Dacron ropes that were strong enough were huge. Sheets and guys in Dacron had to be bigger around than a man’s thumb. When Kevlar rope came out it was smaller in diameter and stronger than dacron but it had a reputation for being brittle if flexed too much. In fact when we first tried Kevlar rope for jib sheets the Kevlar cores broke into short pieces and the lines failed. I remember cutting off a Kevlar line in the early 90’s and having short bits of the Kevlar core fall out on the deck. So, on Wings and similar boats, wire rope was used for most of the lines. Wire was strong and didn’t stretch. We had wire halyards, wire spinnaker guys, wire running backstays, and even wire jib sheets, all made out of ¼” stainless steel and all mated to Dacron rope tails for easier handling and to protect the winches. Let me tell you, working the foredeck with wire sheets flailing around was scary. Wire also often gets broken strands on it which poke out and which are called “meat hooks” for good reason. Not only do meat hooks terrorize the crew, but they can, and have, sliced sails like razor blades.

Everyone hated the wire.

Keeping up with technology

Not only that, but we wanted to keep Wings up to date so when more new rope types became available we wanted to avail ourselves to those new technologies. When the flexing and breaking problems of Kevlar seemed to be solved we started to buy these new stronger, lighter, ropes. By now we have switched out most of our wire running rigging to Spectra, Kevlar and Technora rope including sheets, guys and running backstays.

But some wire still remained

But we still used, for our halyards, up to this day, stainless steel wire with rope tails. For halyards the replacement technology was expensive and for that and other reasons, we delayed making a change. The urge to keep up with technology remained. Finally our wire halyards have gotten to the point where they really need changing and we either need to make new ones with wire or switch to the new ropes. (We also, by the way, have wire on the lifelines, check stays, and upper runner segments. These also need replacing.)

Selection Problems for rope

We decided to get the wire off of the boat, starting with the halyards. We wanted to use Dyneema, one of the newest ropes. Dyneema is an ultra high modulus polyethylene which is much stronger than the same size stainless steel wire. However, it is expensive. It is also a bit of overkill. The Dyneema ropes big enough for easy handling by the crew, (1/2”), had cores over 3/8” in diameter too big for our mast head sheaves and they were strong enough the lift the whole boat! Smaller Dyneema ropes were a better match for the loads involved but they would be hard to hold onto and they would slip through the line stopper clutches. Finally, buying enough of the lastest dyneema cored rope, of any size, to make a halyard would cost around $500, and we needed five of them (including the pole lift). We didn’t need and could not afford that these Dyneema lines.


What we decided to try

Our solution was to use very small diameter Dyneema for the parts of the halyard which goes over the sheaves and bear the loads and to use good sized rope where people would be handling it and where the stoppers needed to work. This is called “stripping” the cover off and we could do it for a major portion of each halyard. And we decided to go for the smallest diameter Dyneema that would carry the loads. The “brilliant” part of our solution was to use the old covers (the outside) from our existing halyards. We would replace the wire and the core (the inside) of our old halyards with smaller and cheaper Dyneema. I say “brilliant” but maybe it wasn’t, really, because we didn’t think it all the way through. It wasn’t so brilliant when all the facts were known. Sure, this would be a very up-to-date and a high tech solution and the Dyneema would cost us only about $140 per halyard, saving heaps of money, but the down side was that it would take a lot of work to insert the new Dyneema into the old covers. Then there was the issue of size. The Dyneema was smaller than the old Dacron core and when we finished making a new line with the Dyneema we would have a line which was still too small to easily handle and too small for our rope clutches. Ouch again! So then we decided to get in deeper. We thought of inserting another smaller rope inside the Dyneema prior to putting that into the covers. This would provide the bulk to make the finished halyard the right size and still use the small Dyneema core we wanted. It would solve all our problems (Ha Ha!) but was double the work and in fact we didn’t even know how to do it or if it could even be done. On the first two tries it turned out to be impossible.

But we persisted.

wingssail images-judy jensen
Fred "Milking" the cover over the core

How we did it

Finally we developed a technique that consisted of the following steps:

1. We took down the old halyards and pulled out the wire and rope cores, leaving a hollow cover.
2. We cut a 130’ length of Dyneema (1/4” diameter) to serve as the strength member of the new halyard, allowing some extra length because it would become shorter when we added the filler inside it to bulk it up.
3. We cut a length of small stuff (we used 4mm Dacron) to serve as a bulker (filler) inside the Dyneema.
4. We threaded a light string through the inside of the Dyneema (only the covered portion, not where it would have the cover stripped off). The whole halyard is 130’ in length but the covered part would only be 70 ft in length, so we put the string inside the 70’ foot section of Dyneema which would eventually be inside the cover. This was the most time consuming job. After we finally developed a method which worked it still took over an hour to do and that doesn’t count the two days it took to figure out how to do it. (We pushed a length of antenna wire with a round ball on the end of it and a string tied on the other end into the Dyneema core and worked it all the way down the length of the Dyneema core until we had the string all the way through.)
5. We pulled the 4mm filler into the Dyneema with the string and tying the string to the Dyneema involved another trick, a special streamlined knot (see Photo)
6. Finally, we pulled the whole Dyneema and filler package into the cover with another tricky knot.
7. To finish we put in some splices to bury the cover into the core where it ends and put eyes in both ends and put the shackle on before putting it back into the mast.
The pulling steps (5 & 6) were tough work. We had the whole package laid out on the dock (it took over 210 feet of dock space to lay out a length of Dyneema, a length of bulker, and a cover) and we wore leather gloves to “milk” one line inside of another, walking up and down the dock, pulling the lines, over and over. It did however produce a very cool halyard, which is light and strong, and saved us about $300 each. In fact it was satisfying work. We’ve finished 4, they look great, and we are just waiting for the delivery of some more Dyneema to do the last one.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
The shackle on the new Blue Halyard

What Next?

Our next “get the wire off” project will be to replace the lifelines, the check stays and finally the upper running backstay segments with Dyneema. There won’t be any need for covers or “milking” lines inside each other but I’m sure there will be snags in those projects too, but I know we’ll get through it. Then we will have all that nasty old wire off the boat.

Click here for more photos and notes on this project.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle


Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 2016-Watching the Surfers at Burros

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

On Saturday we heard that the surf was huge at Punta Burros, near La Cruz, so we took the Nikon and some beach accessories and headed over to check it out.

The surf wasn't huge; more like 10 feet instead of the 20 feet which was reported, but it was pretty exciting. Our friend Sam said the waves were steep and angry and lots of surfers were staying ashore, but some were out and we got some shots off.

We tried swimming but just got tumbled in the surf, and there were stones as big as potatoes being tossed around which hurt our toes, so we just stayed ashore and watched the action. The surfers were amazing.

But we had a nice jungle walk getting there, and we even avoided tearing out the oil pan on the rough road going in.

When you throw in a nice lunch afterwards, it turned out to be a great day.

wingssail images-judy jensen

Click here for several more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

June 4, 2016-Sailing, Sailing, and More Sailing

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

On June 1 we arrived back at La Cruz after a 1300 mile cruise to the Sea of Cortez. We did a lot of sailing on that cruise. You'd think we had enough for a while. But I have this funny thing about being tied up to the dock when there is a good sailing day going on just outside the marina. I feel like there are only so many good sailing days and I can't hardly stand to waste one.

But anyhow, it was Judy's idea to go out for a day sail, never mind that we just got back from the last one. She had her reasons. And I knew the breeze would be up, so even though I just put the sails away and washed the salt off from the last trip, I was ready.

Here's the excuse we gave: We needed to go out of the marina where the water is clean and check the bottom of the boat to see if the speedo is OK (because it was reading slow on the trip back from Topo). Then we need to sail a bit and see if it is corrected. So that's the plan.

C came along. C? C is our friend who has the shortest name on record. She is a sailor with a heart of gold and she loves to go out sailing. She didn't need to be asked twice.

We left at 10:00 AM, before there was any wind, and motored up past Punta Blanca and then anchored in the cove Rick told us about. It was tight. Judy said, "We should move". And C asked, " Why do we need to be here where there is such a small comfort zone?" I know when I am out-voted.

So we moved.

It was OK, we got a bit more room and re-anchored and then I dove on the boat and cleaned the speedo and checked the salt water pick up, and Judy and C swam to shore and then the wind came up so we raised the anchor got out of Dodge.

Judy and C

But that's when the day got really good. We put up the sails and headed upwind, towards the mouth of the bay, sheeted in. We sailed out to the Marietas, into the blue, into the hazy day, just easy sailing out into the Pacific Ocean. We had a beer. The dolphins cavorted. The sea was smooth and the boat was fast. The speedo worked. We had a nice sail and we talked and enjoyed each other's company.

Judy made lunch.

Then it was getting late and so we turned down wind and sailed back. C steered and she was fast; she hit 9.03 knots. But control was no problem. She said, "This is the easiest boat to steer I've ever steered on" and we never thought to be anything but relaxed. We sailed 21 miles and we all loved it.

So then we came into the marina with the main up and dropped it inside and got into the slip in time to put the boat away and go to the Mexican Train domino party where I had three giant margarita's.

Which ended another great day.

Click here for a couple more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28, 2018-Meat, Cheese, Bread, Wine

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy on the Foredeck

Part One

We were going to leave at 10:30 but since there is no wind. I decide to wait. I climb up on the boom with the binoculars and look around. What breeze I can see is spotty.

From my vantage point I notice the water around the boat. It is crystal clear, the clearest it has been since we anchored here. It looks inviting. I go for a swim.

Once in the water I decide to clean the propeller. If we have to motor to Topolobampo it would be nice to have a clean prop. I go back aboard the boat and get my mask and fins and a scraper and jump in again. The water is nice. I enjoy my work.

By 12:30 the wind is starting to fill so we decide it is time and we weigh anchor. We put up the main as soon as the anchor is stowed. We set the jib right afterwards. By the time we are clear of the harbor we have some wind and we are sailing. We sheet in and go close hauled. The boat heels and picks up speed. It feels good. I turn for one last look at the harbor and I can still see two boats anchored there.

I wonder if they watched our departure.

It takes three hours to beat around the top of Isla Carmen but the sailing is nice; flat water and enough wind. We watch the scenery pass slowly by and make our offing from Punta Lobos at 3:30 in the afternoon.

As we expected from the forecasts we find the wind is shifting steadily to the right. We settle in on starboard tack and sail the lift. The breeze is less than eight knots, we’re only doing four’s and fives. It’s slow, but it’s smooth, steady, and quiet and we are enjoying it. We relax. We watch the sunset and see the islands and Baja California slowly disappear behind us.

I bring up the ETA program and it says that at 4.5 knots we will be in Topolobampo at 2:30 PM the following day, Thursday. I think the wind will pick up and our speed will increase, but I do not run the numbers; it doesn’t matter. Anytime on Thursday will be fine.

The watermaker stops. This is the third time in a week. I go below to take another look at it. Judy does not want me to get into it right now; she sees a dark cloud and worries about the weather. She wants me on deck. But I think I can take a few minutes. This time I check the salt water supply pipes. They are good but the pump still isn’t able to pull salt water in. I’ve already replaced the filter. What can it be? I take off the fitting to the selector valve and look through it: Plugged! I show Judy. She nods her head. In a few seconds I have the blockage cleared and re-connect the pipes.

Now the water maker works. Judy says the output is the best it’s been is a long time.

The weather remains mild, the dark cloud went away.

It’s my night watch now. I decide I am hungry. I go below and rummage around in the refrigerator. I find a hamburger patty with melted cheese from the previous day. I get two pieces of bread, smother them with mayonnaise and make a sandwich. It seems dry. I am thirsty. I pour a glass of chilled white wine and go on deck with my meal. The wind has started to pick up. The boat speed has increased; we are doing six knots.

I am happy: Meat and cheese, bread and wine, and six knots of boat speed.


Part Two

The crossing has been uneventful. The wind has been mild. But as we close with the mainland the wind increases and it continues to go right. Our speed begins to pick up. Now we are doing seven knots.
We are one hour ahead of our ETA. That is good.

I observe that when we turn into the long shipping channel we will be going onto a close reach. The wind and waves will be ahead of the beam. The wind is already 18 knots. The shipping channel is nearly twelve miles. It will be fast and wet.

We prepare the boat ahead of time for this leg. We flatten the sails and clear the decks. We put on back stay and baby stay. We check below for loose gear.

As we round the sea bouy and head into the channel I have already disconnected the wind vane and taken over steering.

I bring us up onto the course and we sheet on the sails. The boat surges. The speed reaches eight knots, then higher. On some of the waves we surf. I love the feeling as I pull on the tiller and the boat accelerates. I am having fun.

In an hour and a half we are approaching the harbor. We need to think about getting the sails down. Judy will have to do the take-down of the jib. She puts on her knee pads and goes forward and prepares for the dowse. I see that there is a dogleg of the channel coming up which will give us an opportunity to ease the pressure on the sails and steering. I tell Judy, “I can put it on autopilot and go forward to take the jib down, do you want me to do that?”

She answers, “Yes”.

I connect the autopilot. “Auto.”

She touches the button and replies, “Auto.” The autopilot takes over.

I run forward and she releases the halyard. The sail comes down and I pull it to keep it onboard we have it bagged before the channel turns back into the wind.

Now the boat is slower; things are easier. Getting the main down is next. We look for some shelter to drop it.

There is a ship loading grain at the wharf and we cut behind it into the lee of its high sides. There is shelter there but grain blows on us like snowflakes. We ignore them. We quickly drop the main and fold it.

Now we just have to motor to the marina.

We have arrived in Topolobampo.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Pangas In Topolobampo, and Bahia de Ohuira

Click here for more images.

Fred and Judy, SV Wings, Sea of Cortez

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