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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 29, 2019-Making a Mop in Tenacatita

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We Depart Tomorrow, With the Breeze

For over two months we waited for the Mexican residence permits, for Immigration to finish the paperwork. On any day of those two months could have come the call, “Please come to the office now…”, so we were stuck; we couldn’t really leave Banderas Bay, our plan to go on a cruise was on hold. We accepted the delay, after all, this place is as good as any other place for us to enjoy the peace of the Mexican Spring when most of the tourists and migratory cruisers have departed and the streets of the town are quiet.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Pta Mita Fleet Play Mexican Train

We made the best of it by sailing along the coast to Punta Mita a few times, only a couple of hours away. We could always get back if we needed to. The fresh spring winds made sailing the rugged and beautiful coast a joy. We anchored at Punta Mita and friends anchored nearby, their boats a welcome sight rocking gently in the swell. When the surf permitted we all went ashore and played Mexican Train Dominos and drank margaritas at a Punta Mita bar. We had a good time.

At least four trips we made along that coast, and we sailed hard each time and then took two days to recover our aching bodies, but they were aches we relished. Sailing muscles were used, and they felt good.

Finally the day came and Immigration was finished with us. Free! Free! Free!

Do some last minute shopping, put away the car, pay the marina bill (oops, we forgot that one!) and cast off all lines.

Sailing out of the Bay to go to Tenacatita can be a great trip if there is wind and you do it right. Leaving first thing in the morning doesn’t cut it; no breeze then.

But that’s what most people do, leave at the crack of dawn and motor all morning. We left at noon when the thermal winds started to kick in, stayed high of the rumb line, and then raced across the bay on a loose starboard tack towards Cabo Corrientes, sailing in the high 7’s. Another boat was out, a bit to leeward, I saw them in the distance, and they tacked towards us. It looked like they would almost cross us then they tacked back onto our lee bow. I don’t know the name of the boat, but I know the boat, it is a bigger Benneteau, sail number MEX777 which I believe is owned by the Montemayor family from Mexico City, well known in sailing circles. Our two boats sailed together, side by side, for nearly an hour, exactly pacing each other. It was a good match. I watched the crew on that boat and I saw them watching us, both crews trying to judge who was gaining, who was losing.

Crossing Tacks

Little by little we worked out to weather of them. Finally they tacked over and crossed well behind us and I watched them sail off on port tack towards Punta Mita. They hadn’t needed to sail so far to the south if they were going to Punta Mita and I wondered if they went that far out of their way just for the challenge of sailing against us. I watched the white triangle as it grew smaller against the Banderas Bay shoreline in the distance. I wondered who exactly was sailing that boat that they were so keen as go out of their way to match up with us. I understand it though; they are my kind of sailors.

The wind died as we neared Cabo Corrientes, as it often does. We turned on the motor.

I said to Judy, “Since we’re motoring, and the sea is calm, let’s take a look at that cove out here called The Corral”.

“Can we stay there?” she asked.

“Not to stay, just to look.”

So we motored into the small cove and took some photos. I’ve always wanted to see it. We found it deep, even close to shore, and crowded with Pangas. Might be room for one boat, but it would be tight, and open to a northerly wind or swell. Anyhow, information to keep in mind.

We doubled Cabo Corrientes at 6 PM and motored south waiting for the evening wind to come up, which it did and we sailed through the night. It was gentle sailing, on the wind vane and we used only the mainsail so and our speed was only moderate, 5-6 knots, but it was easy and we could rest.

The following afternoon, under full sail, we charged into Tenacatia and had our usual disagreement about where the entrance was, resolved peacefully when Judy’s view proved right, also as usual.

Now we’re anchored in Tenacatita, with one other boat which we don’t know. Kelly and Deborah are in Barra but we think we need to hang out here for a while; going to Barra would mean more partying and we need to give our livers a break.

Making a Mop

So what do you do when you finally get out of town? Well, basically nothing, except that we made a mop. Not that exciting but you can see for yourselves. Check out the photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita

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Friday, May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019 Sailing to Punta Mita

wingssail images-judy jensen
Fred Sailing

The forecast was good for an afternoon thermal and when we came out of the marina we saw ripples on the bay that looked promising so we put the small jib on deck and set first the mainsail and then the jib.

The thermal never came in and the wind stayed light but we were sailing and we enjoyed a slow and pleasant sail to the west, tacking along the rocky coast in the warm sunshine. Some other boats were out and not doing much either and even with our small jib we soon put them behind us except one which we decided was Southern Cross, the Westsail 42 owned by our friend Steve. He and Janet had a huge genoa out and a full main and they were making surprisingly good time up the coast in the light air but they were sailing outside, away from the coastline. We preferred to sail inside, close to the shore, which usually gives good results against boats outside.

Each tack we made I thought would put us ahead of Southern Cross as there was a right hand shift and current too which was against them but their wind was a little stronger and they kept their distance ahead. Finally I told Judy we had to tack out and catch the breeze even though the best strategy here is normally to stay in. We’ve won a lot of races by staying in close along this coast but today it looked like going out would pay and so we tacked onto starboard and held on until we passed behind Southern Cross. When we felt the wind increase we tacked back.

Soon, however, the thermal came as forecast. It was late, but it came and we then had a nice, building, west wind. Soon it was 20knots. With our small jib and everything tight we started to climb out to weather of Southern Cross. Meanwhile with their big genoa they were soon over powered. As we made distance to weather on them we also benefitted from the right hand shift which occurs along this shore.

Southern Cross was far to leeward when we finally tacked into the bay at Punta Mita. I think they might have beaten us if they had sailed closer inshore. Anyhow, it was a good sail for all.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing fast to Punta Mita

Going up the coast here, from La Cruz to Punta Mita, is one of my favorite sails. We race this route several times each year, sometimes to one of the Beer Can marks which can be placed along the way, sometimes all the way to Mita and we quite often beat other boats who are sailing against us. By now we know each rocky outcrop and each cove and bay and where the wind always shifts and where the current runs. We know the best strategy for sailing it and I never tire of it, and still after five years here doing this, almost every time we learn another subtlety or little trick. It’s really fun.

Let me tell you how it works:

In this chart image I have made notes about what works best.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing Strategy

First of all the route is about 9 miles and the wind almost always is westerly when we first sail out of La Cruz, or Southwesterly to be more accurate. Going to Punta Mita, therefore, is a beat. There is always a choice one can make on this beat. You can sail long tacks far out into the bay or you can short tack the beach. Because the wind, which starts out southwesterly, consistently shifts to the north the farther along you go, which presents as a right shift, it pays to stay to the right. You can see our track (in yellow) on this chart. I’ve put the starboard tack headings on each tack. You can see we start out sailing 198, then 220, then 254, and on the final starboard tack we get a huge lift from 254 up to 284. (I didn’t show the headings after point “E” because there we were taking down the sails as we approached the anchorage.) This is a 90 degree shift and occurs on any day when there is a thermal wind. If you are racing, staying to the right side is essential. Boats that go outside sail a much further distance. Even on the track we took there were places we could have saved more distance and time. Note the blue lines, one set at point “B” and the other set at point “C”. If we had tacked back in at both of those places, following the blue lines, we’d have cut significant distance off the course. The extra tack from point “C” to “D” and then to “E” would have saved nearly ½ of a mile alone. Since we were not racing that day we just took it easy and didn’t do all the tacks we could have.

How far in do we go and how soon should we tack back when going out? Mike Danielson knows this strategy too and he just likes to stay on the “shelf” which extends out to about the 70’ depth line so he tacks back when he reaches that depth. We prefer staying in closer than that. Going out we always tack back towards the shore as soon as we have a good line to clear the next rocky point. There are several of these points and they have off lying rocks lurking under water as extensions of what you can see. We tack in when we know that we can clear the next point and sail into the cove beyond it. You should stay away from the points but you can sail quite far into the bays and we often go into 20 feet of water there, which seems very close but there are no dangers. The water is clear enough and you can see the color change as you approach the shallow areas.

Also, going out puts you into the current. There is a clockwise flowing current in Banderas Bay which seems to be present regardless of the state of the tide. On this beat from La Cruz to Punta Mita you are sailing against that current. The current is less close to shore and at some places there are back eddies which actually help you go against the prevailing flow.

When we race here there are almost always some boats which try to go outside. It’s understandable because often the wind is stronger outside and when they hit that wind the boat speed goes up and they heel over and it feels really great. But when it’s time to tack back in they see that they will come in behind the boats which didn’t go out.

Finally, the best part of this wind shift is the final leg to Punta Mita when your starboard tack is one long lift which can actually carry you right up into the anchorage. You must be in close to get the most out of this lift. On the shore just west of where I have marked “56 Beer Can X” there is a square white house right on the bluff behind the beach. You must be in close at that house. Be careful to stay out of the surf line but go in close on port tack at this point and then when you go onto starboard you will have the best of all worlds: Nice lifting breeze and a flat water.

Next time we will discuss the spinnaker run back.


Click here for more photos (and a repeat of the sailing strategy.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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May 15, 2019-Work of Art

We have a faucet at our galley sink (one of three) for salt water which we use for washing when we are out cruising.

It broke.

I took it out and tried to fix it, but decided it was not repairable.

But we still needed to have some way to run salt water in the sink; it’s an important way to conserve fresh water while away from the dock.

After rummaging around in the plumbing parts bin I was able cobble together this work of art.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Temporary Faucet

Then I ordered a new faucet which arrived in La Cruz a few days later, and we picked it up when we went down there for a couple of nights. That was a week ago. We’re still using the temporary one.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019-Fun Sailing in April

jdl digital media images
Wings Sailing

Over the VHF radio a call to the fleet is heard, “This is Wings, the rabbit, we are five minutes from the mark. To all you racers out here, be prepared to turn around in five minutes when you see Wings heading back.”

That is the sound of fun on Wednesdays these days, impromptu pursuit races where the fleet chases whoever is in front until the boat in front reverses course and chases them.

It sounds silly and sort of useless, but we love it.

That is because when we are coming into La Cruz in our car and we get a view of the bay and it is filled with whitecaps and green water the urge to get back to the boat and out on the water is strong. That happens a lot, so we love it when we get to go out. While officially our racing is over for the year there are still many great sailing days in March and April. We just cannot give them up. We have this feeling that in our lives there are only so many good sailing days allotted to us and we regret missing even one.

Too often, however, we let these great sailing days slide past, unused. We stay tied to the dock, doing our boat chores or just passing time. Sometimes Judy and I will take a walk around to the beach to watch the waves. Usually, though, we are just looking forward to the next time we can get out there.

“If not today, then how about next Wednesday?”

So, lately, we’ve been going out on Wednesdays for these impromptu races. We call these sessions beer can races, the same name we used for the slightly more formal Wednesday races we had during the season.

But they are hardly races. We do have a start line and a timed start. But after that it’s just sailing.

Because these “races” are so silly we all just have fun and since we all go one way for a while, then turn around at the same time and come back, it hasn’t taken long for us to figure out that the slowest boat on the outbound leg has the least distance to go on the return. There is even the suspicion that one could sandbag a little on the outbound leg so as to have less distance to go to get back. But we don’t think anyone is doing that. Just sailing is so much fun, why waste it going slow?

On Wings we have been very casual about these Wednesdays. Whoever shows up gets to go. We’ll go with five people or ten. We’d even go if it was just Judy and I. But the crews have been fun and we sail pretty well. Often we wind up being the “rabbit”. And usually someone else is first back to the finish line. Who cares? It gives us a chance to congratulate them. Everyone gets to feel good.

The winds have been terrific this month. We’ve been getting nice westerly’s in the high teens and low 20’s. The racing sails are already in storage, and the only spinnaker we have is a 25 year old, beat up, ¾ oz sail Eddie Fracker made for us which was retired as a racing sail years ago. Even sailing with a reduced size Dacron mainsail and a small jib we’ve been able to go fast, and since the only spinnaker sail is pretty tired we don’t put it up in strong breezes; it wouldn’t last. Besides, these races are so short that there isn’t much time on the return trip to get a spinnaker up, the jib down, and do a jibe before we’ve already finished the race.

Well, we did it once, last Wednesday, and it was tight. I told the crew, “OK vacation is over, today we will set the spinnaker.” Which we did, but we barely got it up when it was time to take it down. It was still fun, though, and that is what Wednesdays are all about these days: Fun.

So, soon we’ll be into summer, hopefully Wings will be somewhere out cruising in Mexico, and the racing will truly be over for this season, but at least we’ll know we didn’t waste too many of the great sailing days.

Click here for a few more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

March 29, 2019-It's a Wrap

jdl digital media images
Wings Sailing on Banderas Bay

We finished the racing season in March with the Banderas Bay Regatta.

The crew were in high spirits as we sailed home from the third and final race despite the fact that we were disqualified in that race due to a protest and finished third in the regatta.

We’d sailed well anyhow and the sailing in Banderas Bay was excellent and the racing closely fought.

BBR Results

In three races we finished first, third, and sixth (for the disqualification). The boat was sailing fast, the crew work was excellent, and if it wasn’t for a couple of mistakes I made, (for which I take complete responsibility) we would have been second. First place was out of the question. The beautifully prepared and well sailed J145 Double Take was unbeatable. They got first place on day two and three. Second was the J130 Sirocco, who sailed well but we could have beaten them and we would have if I had not underestimated them and backed off on the last downwind leg of race two.

Instead, in that race, we had our focus on Olas Lindas and once we knew we had them in the bag we sailed conservatively. Too conservatively, and we unknowingly let Sirocco correct out. We only needed to have gone .4 knots faster on that one last downwind leg to have beaten them. A spinnaker would have done the trick but with the breeze up and with the tight angle it was a bit dicey and we stayed with the genoa instead of risking our kite. My mistake.

The last day Double Take was well ahead but we had both Sirocco and Olas Lindas until the protest situation with Olas.

We were in close quarters with Olas and there was quite a bit of yelling about who had the right of way and Olas Lindas filed a protest. In the hearing after the race both of us were disqualified. That bumped us down to third. It was little satisfaction that Olas Lindas was also disqualified and wound up last in the regatta.

To have avoided that disqualification I would have only needed to yield a bit to Olas during the confrontation, but I didn’t. Honestly I don’t know why I didn’t. I will next time.

That night the whole crew, plus spouses, came to the awards party on the beach at Paradise Village. We received our third place award and we had a great time. Some of our crew were still dancing on the beach after the band left and the party had thinned out.

About the Conservative Call

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

On Day two the race was all the way to Vallarta then back. On the way back we had a long close reach then a shorter downwind leg. At “S” we rounded and turned downwind, or rather onto a broader reach. Olas Lindas was still just ahead. We still had them on time. The question was, do we set the kite or stay with the jib? Olas hoisted. We should have.

We debated it. Someone said, “We’re already going 8.5, how much faster will we go with the spinnaker?”

“Ok,” I decided, “We’ve got Olas close enough, we don’t need the spinnaker, no need to blow out a sail, let’s sail conservatively.”

That was correct; we did have Olas Lindas. But Sirocco was up there too and we didn’t have them. We missed that and therefore placed third, not second. That was a point lost that we later needed. And I learned a lesson: Don’t be conservative. The whole crew felt bad. They thought they had talked me out of it and it cost us a place.

The next day the opposite happened. On this day we sailed a beat to “W” then down to “S” and back and this time we were overly aggressive.

The beat was OK, we were leading, but the long leg south to “S” buoy was tough for us. It seems like everyone on the boat but me knew that there would be big breeze on that leg. Judy was calling for the #3 jib to be moved off the rail to the port side and the spinnaker bag pulled off and put below. I didn’t get it. I kept asking “Why?”

Well the reason she suggested that was that she saw that there was big wind down to the south. They all saw it, just not me. I was concentrating on the tell-tails. If someone had said, “Fred, We’re going to get twenty knots on the next leg!” well maybe I’d have OK’d the preparations. But I never got that message. I think they were still remembering the conservative call of the previous day and didn’t want to repeat that mistake. Instead, we were overly aggressive.

So when we rounded the top mark and set course for “S” and the wind came in like a solid force we were unprepared. The boat with a #J1 and a full main was instantly overpowered.
“Don, we’ve got the change to the #J3.” I made the call, belatedly.

But nobody was ready. It was an outside set. It took forever. Meanwhile I was trying to feather the boat and keep the main under control. Richard and I worked together; not easy. The foredeck struggled.
We finally completed the change and got the #J1 down right at mark “S” From then on we were fine. We set the S3 kite and charged. If it hadn’t been for the protest we’d have gotten second in that race, but the overpowered leg wasn’t fun. I’ll remember that.

About the Protest.

We were battling Olas Lindas all week. On the final day, on the first downwind leg, we converged with them under spinnaker. The wind was light. We were on starboard, Olas on port. They jibed, then, while to windward of us, tried to force us to go down, calling “Proper course, proper course”. Well, we had rights to maintain our course. We did. They collided, if you can call a spinnaker brushing on our rig a collision. That would disqualify them.

Shortly after we jibed to port. Olas Lindas also jibed, and now to leeward of Wings, as the boats drew near again, they called for us to “come up, come up”. I judged that I was staying clear, as required of a windward boat. I didn’t move. They kept yelling. I yelled back: Profanity.

No contact was made but Olas Lindas filed a protest. In the protest meeting both boats were found to be at fault and disqualified from that race. More points were lost. Now we were in third place in the regatta not second (or first). So I learned another lesson: Give way and stay out of the protest room.

So, my two mistakes cost us second place. But, I learned some things. It’s funny that after 50 years of racing I still have room to learn such basic things. But I do.

All Aboard for Hamburgers

wingssail images-lisa diel
Wings Sailing on Banderas Bay

The following Wednesday there was a Beer Can Regatta on the schedule. We planned to sail in it and host a hamburger BBQ on Wings afterwards. Well, there wasn’t a race. Only Wings and Olas Lindas came out.

Mike called off the race and we just went sailing but what a great sailing day it was. The wind got up into the 20 knot range once we sailed up the coast a ways and we sailed together with Olas into the new breeze.

Then we turned down wind and put up the A-3 spinnaker for a close reach back to La Cruz. The boat was steady in the high 8’s to high 9's and was over 10 knots at times. That is good speed for an old IOR boat. Everyone loved it.

wingssail images-judy sawyer
Hamburgers on Wings

Back at the dock I cooked hamburgers on the grill and we welcomed aboard some friends and neighbors. Together with our crew we chatted about the successful season and the great sailing we had that day.

So that is how the season ended. Twenty three races, first in two regattas (Banderas Bay Blast and Vallarta Cup) third in Banderas Bay Regatta, and first in several Beer Can races. Not a bad season.

Our crew has really gelled and are quite good now. We constantly get recognition for our great crew work. Further, they have become like family to us. Breaking up at the end of the season was a bit sad but we hope we’ll get the whole team back next year.

So that’s the wrap-up.

Click here for many more images and two videos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, March 03, 2019

March 3, 2019-Beer Can Racing against Olas Lindas

wingssail videos-lisa diel

The start was fun but the finish was better.

The last two Wednesdays we've pretty much been racing against Olas Lindas and no one else. The other boats have either stayed away or are a lot slower so we don't see them after the start.

But racing against Linda and Patrick Sweet and Mike Danielson on Olas Lindas has been fun. Close starts, good tactics, and photo finishes.

This week we had gotten behind, as we often somehow do, and had to play catch up on the beat to the finish. There was a big wind hole ahead and Olas Lindas was in it stuck a quarter of a mile from the finish. We were another quarter of a mile behind that. Then we spotted some breeze coming off the shore. I hailed Mike on the radio, "Is this the finish? Can we cross anywhere?"

"Yes, the whole line. You still have a chance Fred." I didn't think he believed it but I was determined to try.

We tacked towards the shore in search of that wind. It was there, right on the beach. We had to go close, 15 of water. Caught the wind, great! But need to tack out NOW!

We tacked out. I looked over to where Olas was slowly ghosting towards the finish. We still had some time.

Go out just a little ways then tack back in. At fifteen feet (and about 100 feet from the shore) we caught another puff, but were forced to tack out again.

This is tense: going in looking for wind but when you find it you're almost ashore

Now the breakwater drew near. The water should be deep there but the rocks looked deadly. I decided to chance it.

"I want to go close here", I said.

"There are no rocks", said Richard, "other than the rocks of the breakwater itself."

We tacked again, and we had breeze. We were moving. Quickly. I looked over towards Olas, they were ever closer to the finish line, but at the other end of it, and moving slowly. It would be close.

In 15 feet of water we made one final tack towards the pin then I punched it up and crossed.

TIE! No onw could actually tell who won.

The previous week we caught up with Olas Lindas when they had a problem with their spinnaker. We crossed the line 10 feet ahead.

Every week it is like that.

So now we get ready for Banderas Bay Regatta. That is the last race of the year, three days, and then racing season is over.

We hope to be able to duke it out with Olas Lindas three more times and have close finishes then too.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Feb 24, 2019-Women Who Sail on Wings, The Fitness Center.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Going Sailing

The first tack was hilarious!

We had ten women aboard who had never been on a sailboat and they were all lounging around on the port side deck. I got everyone’s attention and then explained to them that when Judy yelled, “Tacking” they all had to move to the other side of the boat.

“Through here” I said, motioning under the boom. There didn’t seem to be any questioning looks so I nodded to Judy.

“Ready About?” she shouted.

“Ready,” answered Kelly and I, manning the winches.

“Tacking!” and she turned the boat.

That’s when it got real for the 10 passengers. Suddenly they realized that the sails were flapping, the winches were spinning, the boat was turning, and the side deck they were on was tipping way over towards the ocean. Like the flock of startled pigeons, they shrieked and flew through under the boom to the other side, laughing, scrambling, and giggling the whole way.

“Well done,” I said, “now next time who wants to help work the boat instead of just being along for the ride.” A few doubtful glances to each other than about 4 hands went up. And we started training.

I don’t know where the idea came from that we should take Norma and the women who run our gym out sailing on Wings but it just occurred to me one day and I mentioned it to Judy.

“That would be fun” she said so the next day I presented Norma with an invitation for a day on the water. I said it was for the whole crowd; Norma, her co-workers, her sisters, and their families, all of whom we know from seeing them at the gym three days a week. Norma quickly accepted but I have to say I don’t think she knew what she was getting into. It would be their first time on a sailboat.

That is how it came to be a week later that 10 gorgeous and excited women trouped down the dock and climbed aboard Wings for what they expected would a fun day lounging around on Wings’ decks in the sunshine with cold beverages in their hands and munching snacks and plates of ceviche (which they brought). Little did they know.

But Wings is not really a pleasure cruiser and anyhow, Judy and I had in mind a different type of sail, the kind we typically do when we have a boat full of guests: full sails, lots of tacking, spinnaker flying, and plenty of action. We brought Kelly and Deborah to help out.

After that first tack our new crew started to pay more attention. Kelly and I assigned jobs, Deborah translated, and we got everyone into their positions and we had some fun. Up the Punta Mita shoreline we tacked and then we turned down wind. Kelly said, “We need to put up the spinnaker!”

“OK, I’m game,” and up it went and down came the jib with some new forward hands pulling it in.

I showed Ana how to trim the spinnaker and I put myself on the winch to grind it. She soon got into the swing of things, letting it out until it folded and then yelling, “Frederico!” at me to grind. Boy, they all thought that was hilarious too.

We even jibed the spinnaker and that went smoothly too. Norma was interested in everything and did everything as you would expect of a woman who drives a Jeep, rides a Harley, drinks whiskey, and owns a gym. Ana, too, was everywhere. Alize and Adela pitched in, Ariadna and Carolina steered. I think I’ll keep this bunch. We handed out beverages. Well, some of the teenagers, I guess like a lot of teenagers, got bored. Never mind, we all had fun.

wingssail images-deborah webster
Five on the foredeck

Click here for lots more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Febuary 3, 2019-Superbowl Tamale Party

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Making Tamales

Deborah and Kelly invited us to their house for the Super Bowl and everyone pitched in to make Tamales. Well, then Kelly had to go to the USA so he missed it, but never mind we had fun making tamales and eating them at half time, plus, the Super Bowl was fun, even without Kelly.

We always like going to Deborah and Kelly's place, it is almost like being outdoors, the kitchen is open to the outside patio and the colorful walls inside makes everyone as happy as Deborah always is. Maybe her house makes her happy. Plus Kelly always has plenty of good stuff to drink and he even left it for us when he couldn't be there.

But that tamale making! That is a project. Judy and Elinore and Janet and Lynne and Deborah all worked on it making ingredients the day before and then putting them all together on Super Bowl day. We had four kinds of filling but once the tamale is wrapped in the corn husk you can't tell what's inside, so they tied the tamales with different numbers of knots. The we couldn't remember if three was chicken or veggie, well you know, there was some tequila going around.

But it was all good and with two big screens to watch the game on we all had good seats.

Click here for more pictures.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 26, 2019-One Great Regatta

wingssail images-nikk white
Wings' Crew

We’re a team, those of us who sail on Wings. Judy thinks of us as a family and she is right, but it’s a family which works together towards a goal. That goal is to sail this boat as well as we can.

January was a busy month for the Wings team. We sailed in 9 races; every Wednesday, every Saturday
Wednesdays were Beer Can Races. Like beer can races everywhere they are supposed to be casual, short races, no formal handicapping or results posted, and people drink beer.

Try telling that to the handful of boats which came out each Wednesday for our races. Truth is our Wednesday Beer Can races were hard fought. Nothing casual. No beer cans to be seen any Wednesday, not until the race was over.

Wednesdays were tough for team Wings. Our competitors were all faster boats. Without a handicap to level the playing field we knew we had little chance to win.

But win we did.

In the five beer can races we got one first, one second, and three thirds. Not bad.

We worked hard for those results. Our crew was still not the fine tuned machine we wanted it to be, and we had our problems. Those problems cost us a couple of first places. There was a lot of noise on the boat, you could call it yelling. Uncharacteristic yelling. Constructive, but yelling none the less.

We hated that. This is not us.

wingssail images-lisa diel

But by the end of the month though we’ve largely put that behind us. We’re working better as a team. The boat is much quieter and fewer problems are tripping us.

And we are happy about the Beer Can races even if we didn’t win every race; we were a factor; we’re the boat they all have to beat.

But this story is not about the Beer Can Wednesdays.

It’s about the Vallarta Cup; the four race series run by the Vallarta Yacht Club on each of the four Saturdays in January. In this series we did pretty good.

In fact we were dominant in the Vallarta Cup. We got three first places and one third place. On cumulative points nobody was close.

A lot of that success was due to preparation. Our Beer Can Races helped. We considered them to be little more than practices (they were). For the Vallarta Cup we also studied the weather forecasts and knew ahead of time what probable conditions we would face on Saturday and we made sail choices based on that analysis.

The crew was good. They were solid. Richard, John and Judy (our afterguard) got us to the starting lines on time, and in the right place. I just took their direction. It worked. The trimmers and grinders wailed on the winches; they were tireless. I was amazed at what energy they put out.

The halyards went perfectly, and that is even with Carol doubling as the genoa tailer on every tack. Wow!

The foredeck kept ahead of the game. It wasn’t easy for them, but they never held us back or failed to get the job done. They’ve come a long ways.

We made few mistakes. Each Saturday John gave pre-race briefings and the crew knew what we would face, and they were ready. Tacks? We never missed one. Sail handling? Perfect. That is what we need!

Plus, the boat was fast. On each race we came out of the blocks sailing faster and pointing higher than any of the competition. We usually made it to the first mark in first place, and then, as the faster boats inched past we just had to hang on to get the win at the end.

The last race, the fourth and final race of the Vallarta Cup, will, however, stand out for a long time in all of our memories.

It was a windy race and it had tough upwind and heavy downwind legs, exactly what we needed. We are a tough boat and that is what you need in a race like that. And you have to push yourself hard. It was a serious race. A big wind race.

We were ready for it.

In that race they sent the slow boats ahead first and the fastest boats were started last. Each boat’s start time was determined by its handicap rating. We were right in the middle; five boats ahead of us and five boats behind. Whoever got to the finish first would win. For us to win we had to pass all the slower boats ahead while not letting any of the faster boats, which started behind, pass us.

But that race was our race. It was the course and wind conditions which suited us best. And we knew it. We were excited.

We got a perfect start, which might seem easy since it was just us, but I could hear the beeping of the clock counting down and the start line was right there and there were still seconds to go and I thought it could be close, we might be early, but it was perfect. Thanks John and Richard.

On the first leg, 4.5 miles, we gained on the boats ahead but caught none of them. The speedier boats behind gained ominously but did not catch us. Tension!

Then we got to the La Cruz mark and turned upwind. The breeze was up. We came around the mark and sheeted in; power. This is Wings’ weather. The boat heeled over and we pointed higher. Ten of us climbed to the high side and lined the rail lending our weight to offset the pressure of the wind. We played the beach closely as this was our home ground and we knew the way. We made our tacks crisp and well timed and we started to reel in the boats ahead. By the time we rounded the top mark 2.5 miles later we had passed 4 of the 5 boats which had been in front of us. The fifth one was close ahead.

But the bigger, faster, boats behind were charging too. We looked back and saw them ever closer, gaining.

Now came our ace in the hole. The last leg, 6.5 miles, was directly downwind, and the wind was up: 19 knots. This is what Wings was made for.

We rounded that mark, bore off to downwind, and set the big symmetrical kite. The boat surged. With that sail we could go almost directly to the finish. The boats behind us carried asymmetrical kites. They could not sail as deeply downwind as we could. They needed to reach high to keep the assyms filled.

We watched them round behind us and start charging. But they charged the wrong way! They are sailing high of the course, they had to! A warm feeling started to come over us. This could be good.

Still, it was early. They are sailing high but fast. We didn’t know if they could catch us or not. We trimmed and worked the boat but otherwise the crew all sat there, tensely, quietly; nobody speaking, no small talk going on. We looked behind us. The asymmetrical kites looked bigger. The boats looked faster.

Could we hold them off?

One by one the boats behind jibed over and crossed our wake. They had not gained! We started to think we might be able to do it.

Meanwhile we flew. The pole was back, the main out, the boat heeled to windward by the force of the wind. Every line was bar tight, the rudder hummed. We turned to the stern and watched behind.

This is the part I will remember: The spinnaker is way out there, the boat is straining. The sky is blue, the ocean is blue, the sun is bright, we are flying. But we are going a little by the lee, Kelly has to hold the main from coming across, and the boat was rolling to windward; usually not a good sign. We are on the edge.

Someone on the crew asks, ”Should we try to balance the boat?”

“No”, I answered, “I can hold this, and it is fast this way.” The boat rolled further, but I held it.

We could see that now with just a mile to go that those boats back there would not make it.

“They won’t catch us.” said John.

But one boat, Mony, was still ahead, barely. I worked the tiller, and edged us forward. We came up to Mony, side by side. They were to weather and that was good for them because we had to get through their lee if we were to pass them.

I told the trimmers, “When we hit their wind shadow I’m going to turn up fast and cut in front of them, you shift the pole forward and sheet the kite in.”

“OK Fred.”

That move worked. In just a few seconds we got through and now had a clear path ahead.

But we’d never really been sailing exactly towards the finish line; just a few degrees above it. On this course we wouldn’t actually make it to the finish line. A jibe was needed.

Now the crew got ready for the jibe towards the line. It would have to be timed right and there was a possibility of a foul-up. The forward hands were on the foredeck practicing the dip pole.

I said, “Hold off on that jibe, I think the wind is going to shift left, in fact I feel it already, it will take us down to the finish. No Jibe!”

The wind did shift and came almost on the beam. We put the pole foreword and swept across the line, first.

We beat the rest of the boats by at least ten minutes except for Mony, who was just a few yards behind us. So they were second. But before the rest of the fleet finished we’d stopped counting. We had already popped the corks on our Champaign.

With this win, this dominating win, we locked up the series.

It felt great.

wingssail images-lisa diel

Click here for a few more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Friday, December 21, 2018

December 21, 2018-Good Teamwork Produces Satisfying Wins

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Fred & Judy

We started off the racing season with some great performances due to really good teamwork.

It's funny how winning and knowing we all worked well together made for a happy crew.

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Hi Jinks on Wings

The boat must have liked it too, we felt fast on all points of sail.

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Going to windward with the new A-3

The competition is good however, and we know that the racing this season will be a challenge. But we also know it will be fun.

Click here for photos of all the crew.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huacaxtle

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December 19, 2018-Old Friends Show up In La Cruz

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Sixteen years ago Wings anchored in beautiful anchorage in Vanuatu in the South Pacific. It was called Asenvari, on the island of Maewo.

There we met a beautiful family whose boat Noason was anchored in the Bay, Gene Mim-Mack, Robbie Springs, and their daughter Allison.

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Gene Mim-Mack and Robbie Springs and their daughter Allison, 2002

They were completing a wonderful project on Asenvari and I wrote a story about it, here.

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This year Gene, Allison and Robbie, on a different Noason, showed up in La Cruz and we were happy to be reunited with them. They are still a beautiful boating family.

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Gene Mim-Mack and Robbie Springs and their daughter Allison, 2018

A lot of water has passed under their keels since 2002, much of it on land, and if you meet them I'm sure they will enthrall you with their story.


Click here to read the original story.

Click here for more images from Asenvari.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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December 13, 2018-Is This a Car Repair?

Aire Condicionados Alaska-image
Bomb Went Off?

What happened to our car? Did a bomb go off inside?

No, just an air conditioner repair. When the evaporator had a leak and all the gas came out we took it to the local shop, Aire Condicionados Alaska, where Hugo, Eduardo, and Armando said they could fix it, "Come back Monday, we'll have the part, and pick it up Tuesday".

Then I got these photos on Whats App. OMG!

They said, "It's ready."

When I got there it was all done except for the wash job.

The Bill:
Parts $200
Labor $25
Wash Job, Free

Their father (also Armando) liked our car so much he tried to buy it.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Eduardo washes up, or was it Hugo?

We love Mexico.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Friday, December 07, 2018

December 5, 2018-First Practice

wingssail images-lisa diel
Wings Sailing

Racing rolls around each December. The crew, those who summer up north, drift back into town and the rest of us who summered here put away our boat projects and start puttering with rigging and sails and daydreaming about the sleek hulls of the racing boats gliding to windward in Banderas Bay. Our hearts beat with some excitement at those thoughts.

I am one of the latter. I don't leave the bay each summer, and I am here all year, and as the season begins to turn from summer heat to winter coolness each day I spend more time thinking about the sailing; about when we start.

Our first race will be "The Blast", Dec 12 to Dec 14. The crew would be rusty even if we didn't have some new folks. But we do. A few changes, some rotation, and we have a fresh mix-up on the boat. Not the best for a race.

So we scheduled a practice. Weds is good. Everybody has Wednesdays reserved for sailing so even though Mike didn't plan a race we went out.

I pushed the crew a little, we set sail immediately after leaving the harbor and started throwing in tacks. People were startled at the suddenness of it and shook themselves, as if to get the cobwebs out, then they got into it. Judy watched everyone like a hawk and stopped the foul-ups before they could happen. But the sailing went well. Rod and Carol and Pete, the new guy, worked like they'd been together for a decade. Dick had the main flying. The new forward hands, Don and Glenn, scampered around the front and spent time looking aloft so I said, "Set-up the A2 kite, we'll hoist it in 50 meters". I knew it was already set up, I did it before we left the dock. But to them, this was real.

"One boat length!" there was no mark to round but I imagined one, and the kite went up and we turned downwind but it was good that Lynne threw herself on the bag early because that sail almost came out too soon.

Bang, the spinnaker filled and I called for the jib to be dropped. It came down. Minor problem: Judy was caught outside of the spinnaker sheet. I saw her grimace as she yanked her left leg out of the way and she dragged her leg behind her as she regained the foredeck.

"You OK?" She nodded and inspected her leg. A little blood. A rope burn and a scratch. She'll be fine.

"Standby to jibe!".

It happened remarkably smoothly. I thought, that went nice.

"Shift the jib, we have a leeward mark coming up". They dragged the jib to the other side, preparing to re-hoist it.

"Hoist. OK drop the spinnaker." It came down but got wet. If it had been a real race we'd have lost time.

"Let's get that kite packed" and two hands went below deck to deal with a lot of yards of wet spinnaker cloth.

More tacks, again the jib crew was smooth, the tacks fast. We got back to the weather mark and the spinnaker bag came up the bow hatch and flopped on deck. Don hooked it up.

Another set, another jibe. Perfect.

This time we called the finish line and dropped the kite on deck, none of it went into the water.


Rod hauled the beer chest on deck.

"Good job you guys, great practice."

So next week we race. We're ready.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

Wings' track

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

November 24, 2018-Thanksgiving

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Winch-Under Construction

Things are winding down on our 2018 project list. Most tasks are done, a few have been moved to phase II (this is a trick I learned from 20 years of professional project management: How do you always get done on time? As the end date draws near anything which is not yet finished you simply remove from the project and put it into phase two. Phase one is finished, and all is well.)

Here we are servicing the winches. It is a annual task, but I have to say, they didn't need it. I found all the winches were still clean and still had grease in all the parts. But I did it anyhow. Once you have the winch apart enough to know it's OK, you might as well clean it up a little and put in new grease. Six major winches, 10.5 hours. Task complete.

We also this week replaced the stereo amplifier for the outside speakers. That might not sound like a critical task but the old amp was really getting under my skin. It cut out every few seconds. Played for a few bars, then cut out, then came back in. When I was BBQ'ing outside I really wanted nice and steady music, not Off, On, Off, On, etc; The new one cost $63 and had twice the power, and never cut out. I'm happy. Oh, the other reason is that the racing crew wants us to play a fight song when we go out. Well, now we can ROCK IT!

I bought a new MFD sailing display. We have four but one of them is getting weak. I saw one at the swap meet, a brand new unit, and the guy wanted $50 Pesos, which is $2.50 dollars. A USED MFD costs $250 USD so this guy obviously didn't know what he had. I took it and I already have it installed. Beautiful. It's like Christmas.

So today is Saturday. Next Wednesday is the first race. With all of our projects done, and a good crew lined up, we'll be ready.

Unleashed images-cirilo from la cruz inn
Thanksgiving Dinner


With no family around most of the cruisers in Mexico have Thanksgiving dinner with others, like us, who are away from home and family too. Here we are in the quiet street of La Cruz, our village, having a fantastic Thanksgiving at La Cruz Inn with several of our best friends. We had Turkey and dressing, and all the trimmings, and even pumpkin pie. Seconds were included so I over-ate. Isn't that part of Thanksgiving too?

We went around the table and each of us told the group what we were thankful for. This is a Judy initiated tradition. Her idea. She tells people they have to stand up and say what they are thankful for. Everyone does.

I said, "Thanksgiving is when families back home get together and share a traditional dinner with their loved ones. But we are here and we can't always join them. Sometimes I feel left out of that family get-together but here we join together with our dear friends and we have hugs all around and we share our own Thanksgiving dinner and though we may be missing all of our family back home, we are thankful for being with friends on this day."

Judy said, "I am thankful that we have the family we have formed with our crew from Wings and our friends from this community and that we can share our meal with them in health and happiness, once again this year."

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 5, 2018-Squeeze Play in the Boat Yard

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

We hauled out this month for bottom paint.

We've hauled Wings, oh, probably 35 times. It never goes totally smooth but this time we thought we'd gotten away with it. Four days into the job and we'd finished about everything planned and a little bit more.

"We're done," we thought, "it's 1:00 pm and the yard is doing to pick us up, we'll do the last bit of painting, and then they'll re-launch us".

But there is a problem:

They've just put a big catamaran next to us, and guess what? They didn't leave enough room to get the travel lift in and pick us up.

But they're trying.

Four hours later and they are still trying to squeeze the travel lift in between the catamaran and the building. They try, they stop. They go back out. They try again, they stop. I think they should have just picked up the cat and moved it a couple of feet and that would be it. But no, now they are invested in this attempt. They have even been disassembling the catamaran's rub rail to make room. I can't believe they are taking that boat apart instead of just moving it.

And there is another boat waiting to be moved after us. They want to be launched today too.

The clock is ticking.

Finally the travel lift is squeezed into position and they are ready to lift us. The patches still need to be painted. Our painters are standing around waiting. It's after 5:00PM.

I hear that the yard wants to lift us, immediately launch us, and then pick up the other boat. That won't work, we need at least an hour after they lift us for the remaining sanding and painting.

I talk to the operator, "You can't. It's too late, it will rush the painters who still have to finish my hull after you lift us. How about you lift us and leave us in the slings overnight, and launch us in the morning?"

What about the other boat which is also waiting?

We go to talk to the other owner but he's not there and the boat captain can't commit without talking to the owner.

We wait.

We all wait.

People are standing around doing nothing.

Meanwhile my painters are getting nervous. They want to finish the painting and go home but I don't want a rush job.

We still wait. I don't know what is going on. The travel lift is still positioned but the straps are not on and the workers have disappeared.

Peter comes up to me, "They won't put you in tonight, you should go home". But I think I will wait until I see the workers either hook up the straps (meaning they will lift us) or they shut off the machine and go home themselves.

Finally the workers return. The other boat owner agreed. They will launch him in the morning. The straps are hooked up on Wings and they lift us. The painters move towards the hull, but Judy sees another problem: the forward strap has shifted and it is bending the speedometer fin.


I show them. Nobody is happy.

The boat comes back down and they move the strap. Maybe it is OK now and the boat goes back up. The painting starts. Meanwhile Oscar and I try to straighten the fin.

The painting is done, the fin is sort of straight and it's late. We will re-launch in the morning.

Everyone else has gone and just as we get ready to head out I notice that during the confusion my phone has been broken; the screen is cracked. The phone does not work.

It's my new phone.

A funk settles over the day.

I shrug my shoulders, maybe next year our haul out will go smoothly.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings

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