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Saturday, June 18, 2022

June 18, 2022-Coromel Winds and Puerto Balandra

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Protected by Punta Diablo

The incessant Coromel winds have tired us. For the two weeks that we’ve been in the La Paz area these night time winds have howled and Wings has rocked and rolled so that we could hardly get any sleep. And that has been in the supposedly “good” anchorages which aren’t really very good.  Anchorages which are actually calm when the Coromels blow are hard to find around here.

We tried Playa Pichilingue, but the waves looped around the corner and it was rough all night. We lasted four nights there trying different spots. None worked.

We looked at Caleta Lobo but we knew it was too small to offer any good protection.

Then we considered Puerto Balandra.  It looked pretty good on the chart.  We could see that the point on the south side, Punta Diablo, would give excellent shelter from the southerly Coromels and figured it would be calm.

What about Internet? There wasn’t supposed to be any coverage in Balandra, but I thought there might be. We like anchorages that are calm and also where we can also get Internet (for weather forecasts, mostly), so we decided to go to Balandra, find a calm spot under Punta Diablo, and check out the Internet once we got there. Even without Internet we might enjoy a calm place for a few nights.

We motored the 3 miles from Playa Pichilingue to Punta Balandra, tucked up behind the point and set the anchor. The bay looked gorgeous and there wasn’t any wind at all.

In the afternoon, however, the Coromel did come up and it came right over Punta Diablo onto us. By 7:00 pm we had 20 knots and before midnight there were nearly 30. It never slacked off. There weren’t any waves to speak of, so that was good, but the wind gusts were pretty horrendous. I kept my clothes on and slept on the settee just in case I needed to run on deck for any reason during the night, which I didn’t.

It was still blowing in the morning with a cold, brisk, south wind. It was a classic Coromel but in the crystal clear morning light the place was indeed beautiful. We caught a couple of hours of Internet, surprisingly, and updated our weather information. So, except for the night time winds we were pretty happy with Puerto Balandra.

(I should point out that once we got out of La Paz town itself we have not been able to get weather other than with an Internet connection. The La Paz cruiser’s radio net forecasts have been, except for the hurricane forecasts, worthless for a sailor, the regular guy who gives it is out of town and the substitute guy’s forecast is all about how hot it’s going to be in town every afternoon or what the hurricanes are doing, but not much about the wind, and anyway we can't hear the morning net out in the islands.  Other boats have satellite set-ups to get weather but we don’t, so we need Internet.)

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Judy on the Dune

There was a French boat anchored a bit farther in and they seemed to have less wind so we thought we’d move next to them and try another night but first we explored the bay in the dingy. We took one of our computers so we could test the Internet connection in case some location was better than the others in that regard. There weren’t any but before heading back to the boat and repositioning Wings, we went ashore to look at the sand dunes, which was really fun.

That night was better. The wind was less, still no waves, and again in the morning we got a bit of Internet.

The views here are so stunning we have decided that despite the wind we really like it. Puerto Balandra is now one of our favorites; it is such a beautiful place, and with the prospect of calm nights, we are loving Puerto Balandra.

But tomorrow we need to go back to La Paz and start preparing for our return to La Cruz so well have to cut short our stay in Puerto Balandra, and we’ll see you in La Cruz soon.

Click here for lots more images

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Puerto Balandra

Post script:

We thought there were going to some calmer nights. Well, there wasn’t. The next night after I wrote this post we got pasted again. The Coromel wind started at 5:00PM and by 8:00PM it was in the twenties. It never slacked off all night and I saw steady to high 20’s after midnight. The gusts, however, were the worst, they hit with sudden force from many directions. This time we had damage, minor damage, but damage. At 1:30 am the dingy blew off the deck. I already taken off the motor, gas tank and oars but we’d left the dingy itself upside down on the foredeck. A racket at 1:30 AM awakened us. What in blazes was that? It repeated itself. I ran on deck wondering, “What the hell?”  I saw our Zodiac dingy over the side of the boat hanging upside down by the ropes I’d tied it with. Apparently not well enough. Judy came up and we horsed the dingy back onto the deck and this time tied it securely. Then I noticed the solar panel. It too had been caught by the wind. Instead of spreading its wings out to the side where it could catch the sun (in daytime) it was now vertical. Obviously the wind had blown that too. And our flag which we’ve flown on the backstay since we left La Cruz was flapping violently, torn to shreds, but still making a terrible noise. With the howling of the wind and the flapping of the flag sleep was going to be impossible. We took the flag down.

In the morning the wind was still blowing and we saw several boats which had ducked into the bay around us during the night. Apparently it was worse outside.

At 9:00 AM the wind shut off like someone threw a switch: 20 knots to zero instantly. Around us our new neighbors were upping anchors and heading back on their way to whereever they were going when the wind interrupted their plans the night before.

At noon we left too, we’ve had enough.


Friday, June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022-Kids Achieve Critical Mass

A young girl squealing with delight suddenly leaped from the newly arriving boat and started splashing towards the nearest other boat among the small fleet anchored in Aqua Verde. At the same time a second girl, on the other boat, also squealing with delight, jumped from her boat and started swimming towards the first.

They met in the middle and shrieked and hugged. It was clear that they were happy to see each other.  

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Kids Swarming

This was our introduction to the gathering of cruiser kids, soon to achieve critical mass, which was happening in Aqua Verde.

Before nightfall there were 10 boats anchored in the northern lobe of Aqua Verde and most of them were “kid boats”; boats with kids aboard. They had been travelling around Mexico for weeks and had met at anchorages where they had established many close friendships. What happened when they got together was a joy to watch.

After launching their kayaks and paddle boards they all migrated towards one or the other of the boats. When four or five kids got together things were sort of quiet, but when there got to be about six or more things exploded and invariably there erupted a flurry of gleeful and excited voices and frantic splashing, the sounds of which echoed off the rocks surrounding the anchorage. The gatherings turned into spontaneous water based versions of King of the Mountain.

Aboard Wings the screaming and squealing that echoed off the rock walls surrounding the bay was amazing and we loved it.

One day, on the beach, they had a Pinatta for a girl’s birthday and when the stuffed donkey was finally bashed to the ground the mob just swarmed on it. The adults just backed away. On another occasion they had a scavenger hunt where they had to get clues from each boat in the anchorage, including Wings, and the paddling and squealing as they went from boat to boat seemed like an aquatic Oklahoma Land Rush.

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When the kid fleet resumed its journey north Wings sailed south, to Isla San Francisco and then on to Evaristo, both favorites of ours, and finally to La Paz. As we neared La Paz we started to encounter a mob of a different kind: Party boats for charter. In each anchorage we were surrounded by large powerboats which came from La Paz for a couple of days or nights loaded with party goers. They were all intent on having a grand time, and we were subjected to loud music, jet skis, and the all night running of gen-sets. Each yacht had uniformed crew as servants and fancy dinners were served on the upper decks to owners and guests who all dressed for the occasion. We watched as plates and trays of food and fine Champaign were carried up and down the yacht’s stairways.

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Isla San Francisco


Now we’ve made our way to La Paz itself, the home base for all these charter boats. At first it seemed like La Paz hadn’t changed very much from when we first visited here in 1997. The dusty streets were paved over and the small houses replaced by towering condos, but it was recognizable. Now we see that suburbs have popped up and there are shopping malls and more traffic. The marinas have been populated with rows and rows of those big fancy powerboats, and the marinas are full. It is a good thing that we are not looking for a marina berth now, they are all taken. La Paz is absolutely the busiest port we’ve ever been in. The radio traffic from boats to the Port Captain fills the airwaves all day and into the night. But we’re happily anchored out in the Mogate and we can go ashore whenever we want in our dingy. Of course we can’t wash Wings so the grime from three month’s cruising is just accumulating, and the crowds and prices in town seem to be increasing, but we can survive all of these things, and the multitudes of pangas which whizz by each morning and night, as well.

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Parked in Panga Highway

So that is our routine now: Stay anchored in La Paz, or nearby, relax, ignore the hubbub, and fix some boat projects (we could tell you some stories). There has been some socializing, we’ve met some of our cruising friends here and made some new ones, but it’s all been pretty relaxed.

We’ll be back in La Cruz soon.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Paz

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

May 15, 2022-Ballandra and Beyond

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Sunset in Ballandra


Life on Wings has been as tranquil these days as the Sea of Cortez where we’ve been cruising. We haven’t been worried by storms or rough seas; our anchorages have been calm and, since we completed our frantic race to get here back in April, have been quite pleasant so we haven’t been in a hurry to move from one to another

We’ve been in these waters before, going back more than 20 years, and we know where our favorite bay and harbors are. To those favorite places we have returned this season and when we have glided into their quiet waters we’ve just dropped our anchor and stayed. As always we’ve been awed by the majestic beauty of Baja and the peace and quiet here which surrounds us has invaded our souls and we, in turn, have become peaceful and quiet.

And that is why we came here.

Since arriving we have maintained a gentle routine which has included doing almost nothing other than taking care not to miss our daily naps.

That is not to say that we actually have been doing nothing. We’ve found boat projects to work on and we’ve made trips to town for shopping. We’ve met new friends and, when the mood strikes us, have socialized with other cruisers.

For three weeks we stayed at Caleta Ballandra, on Isla Carmen.  We sun bathed on the beach and attempted to swim in the clear waters but found it too cool. We took a tour in the dingy to another beach, our secret beach, to hike around and explore.  

Then, one day, lacking wind to sail, we motored to another favorite spot, Aqua Verde, and where we sat out a rare for this time of year weather event, a cold northerly. The harbor at Aqua Verde offers protection from northerly winds if you get there early and can find a spot. We did but we shared it with nine other boats that squeezed in after us.

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Roca Solitaria

Neither Ballandra or Aqua Verde have changed much in 22 years. In Ballandra bees are still there and still looking for water but they didn’t bother us much. In Aqua Verde there are still goats, however the lady who runs the El Faro Restaurant there told us there is less water these days and the goat herds are diminished.  We shared with her our fond memories of 25 years ago when we anchored here there were large herds of goats roaming the hillside, and how a farmer put on a banquet of barbequed goat for several cruisers, including ourselves. Her eyes brightened and a smile came to her face and while she crossed herself, she said that it had been her father who often would prepare a feast of goat for the cruisers.

Another big change is WiFi. The little store in Aqua Verde now has a satellite dish and offers WiFi, for a price. Our WiFi antenna can pick it up from where we are anchored. It’s slow, and we have to rotate the antenna when the boat swings, but it works. Back at Ballandra there was no WiFi but we had cell service from Loreto, 9 miles away, so we were able to get Internet there too.

So I guess, besides protection from winds and peace and quiet, we like to stay where we can get Internet.

Times have changed.

wingssail images fredrick roswold
Judy Waits Her Turn at Bache Ball

The next afternoon, after the winds passed from our “wind event”, we went to the beach here at Aqua Verde with several other cruisers and played Bache Ball until it got too dark. A man named Joaquin whose family has occupied that cove for more than 100 years lives in a shelter on the beach as caretaker. Apparently Bache Ball is often played on his well kept stretch of sand and he often must join in because he was clearly the best player amongst all of us.

Judy did OK, but I was the worst. I have never played Bache Ball before.

We are not watching a calendar; we have plenty of time before we need to head back to La Cruz, but we are keeping an eye on our provisions and when they get low we’ll be on the move again, to more beautiful Sea of Cortez sites, and maybe one with a good store.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

April 20, 2022-Venturing Into the Sea of Cortez

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Sailing Into Caleta Partida


They say that having a “schedule” is the worst thing for making sailboat trips.  Our effort to get to La Paz by early April and meet Jimmy and Robin, on their chartered boat La Marvela, proved the truth of that old saying.

That dash to get to La Paz came to a screaming halt on April 3 when we entered the Cerralvo passage at midnight and faced a black night with big waves and a cold north wind of 24 knots. There was no moon or stars, the wind was freezing cold and right on the nose, we were taking spray everywhere and we were dead tired.

 “Nope, we’re not going.” I said to Judy.  We turned Wings back toward Los Muertos, a protected bay just over 6 miles south.

Even that little trip of six miles was stressful.  It took over an hour to get there and neither the wind nor the waves gave any sign of abating. We donned life jackets and planned how we would get the sails down and secured and get the boat anchored in those conditions.

In the end it was easy; the wind did drop and the seas calmed down and by 02:00 we were safely anchored among a small group of other boats whose welcoming anchor lights guided us in. We were happy to be stopped. We had a shot of rum and crashed into our bunks and stayed in Los Muertos for two nights.

Judy and I had worked at a frantic pace after the finish of the Banderas Bay Regatta to get Wings converted from race boat to cruising boat so we could take off.  Meeting Jimmy and Robin on La Marvela in La Paz was to be the beginning of a three-month cruise in the Sea of Cortez.  Rene and Denny helped us get ready and in four days we completed what would normally take a week or more. Then we set off on the pursuit.

It was a joy to sheet in Wings’ sails, just the two of us, and head out into the Pacific Ocean, the blue Pacific. The crossing from Banderas Bay to Baja it is 340 miles, the way the crow flies. Of course we can’t often sail the way the crow flies, direct, and the wind was against us, so we began to tack, and it was shifty, so we found ourselves changing course often and sailing on which ever board was favored. But it was nice sailing and even the occasional tacks didn’t bother us. One of us on watch and lazing in the cockpit, gazing at the ocean, and the other, likely as not, napping below. When the wind changed whomever was on watch woke the other.

“It’s time to tack.”

And we threw off the sheets and turned the boat.

But shifty winds were not the only challenge Nature presented. The wind was not consistent in strength either. Sometimes it was blowing 10 knots, which was beautiful, other times 14 and we wondered if a sail change was going to be needed. Then, unsurprisingly, the wind would drop all together and we had to take down the sails and turn on the motor.

Later the wind would come back and we had to turn off the motor and put the sails back up. This cycle repeated itself and it became tiring. Pulling sails up and then down is a lot of work.

After three days we weren’t exhausted but we were tired. Then came our encounter with the Cerralvo Channel. We took a rest.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Wings Moored in Ellipse at Puerto Escondido

After we resumed the charge we moved fast. We had three long days on the water, sometimes motoring, sometimes sailing, (and the sailing was often a heavy weather beat with lots of tacks) up the Baja coast past tall mountains and stunning scenery which we’d love to have stopped and enjoyed, but the time for which we just could not afford. We caught up with La Marvela  in Puerto Escondido. They were impressed that we overcame their three-day head start. We reached Puerto Escondido 4 hours after they did.

Sitting with Jimmy and Robin at the bar at Puerto Escondido looking down onto Wings moored peacefully in the Ellipse in I felt we’d achieved our objective and that we could finally relax. Margaritas for everybody.

Jimmy and Robin image Jimmy and Robin

Two days later we said our goodbyes and La Marvela reversed course and began its trek back south.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Judy Handles the Halyard as Fred Works Aloft

Since then, with no schedule and no particular objective, we’ve been really cruising; going where we want, meeting new friends, finding nice anchorages, and taking long naps.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Wings Anchored in Ballandra, Isla Carmen

The sailing has been terrific, not too much motoring, the boat maintenance projects have not been too arduous, and even the bees at Isla Carmen are not too aggravating this year.

 In a few days we’ll go into Loreto for provisions and begin planning the next leg.

Click here for many more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Sea of Cortez

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Sunday, April 17, 2022

April 17, Banderas Bay Regatta

jldigital media Leading
(Thank you John Pounder for the loan of your image, I'll buy it from you when we are back together.)

In our preparations for the Banderas Bay Regatta we practiced hard and prepared hard. We pushed the boat, we pushed the crew, and now I was pushing the yacht club, and they were pushing back. It was about the racing class we wanted to be in and it was too much; they weren’t having it.

“Fred, would you just shut up!”

That was the yacht club commodore talking. He’d had enough.

I decided to chill out a bit. I agreed to stay in the class where they wanted us and that was that.

Then came the racing.

This year we had some crew issues. We were constantly trying to recruit new crew to replace people who had boats of their own and wanted to go cruising. To make it worse the other skippers who were planning to compete in Banderas Bay Regatta were also scrambling for crew. It seemed like every good sailor was taken.

We did manage to put together a crew, a good one, and we practiced and practiced, including racing in the Beer Can Races. We also managed to address all the boat issues we’d experienced on the lead up to BBR.  By race day we were ready.

This year’s Banderas Bay Regatta was exceptional. There was wind, plenty of it, and the races were long, longer than usual. We had exhausting days on the water but we never let up on the boat or ourselves in these long windy races.

That practice and preparation paid off. On day one we placed second. It was our friends on Edwina who came in from behind and beat us by a minute and 11 seconds. It was clear that they were going to be tough but we were not giving up.

Then came the second race.  I urged the crew, “OK folks, here we go. We can win this one if we all, every one of us, really concentrate. And Shawn, my man, it’s up to you to keep that genoa perfectly trimmed the whole way. That’s what will win this race.”

They did it.  We won the second race.

Shawn was the star. A new guy on the boat, but a power house. He stayed focused on the jib like no one I’ve seen. He never lost his concentration. We beat Edwina by 18 seconds.

The fleet was having problems though. Two boats withdrew, and then in the third race Edwina blew out a sail and they were struggling.  We got another first.

On day three it was windy, over twenty knots. The race committee decided to run two races. When they announced the second race I groaned, “Geez, another one?” We were tired.

But we stuck with it. “OK folks, one more.”

Again, we pushed everything to the limit. When we got to the top mark and the wind was howling we never hesitated to set the spinnaker. At the bottom marks we sheeted the in sails rock hard. Sometimes it took two men to winch in the jib. And we hiked hard. Stefan urged us, “All the way out, get your cheeks over the side.”

On the last windward leg as we were pounding upwind, Richard said to me, “This is a tough boat Fred, all this punishment and it’s still taking it.”

“It’s a tough crew too, Richard.”

We were flying on the downwind leg. I looked down at Jim who was grinding the spin sheet.  He was grinning like a kid.

We won again.

So, it was a great regatta; three first places and one second place. We were jubilant.


Everybody contributed. On the foredeck Denny and Eddie were fantastic always getting set up for the next rounding even as the boat tried to throw them off. Rene grumbled about not having enough winches to do everything at once, but she managed it. The trimmers and grinders, Shawn, Luis and Stefan, put everything into it and never quit. Shawn, for his stellar jib trimming, was awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Player), and got to keep the first-place trophy. In the midst of all the chaos, Judy, Rena, Gloria and Dennis, at various times, went below and packed wet spinnakers faster than I’ve seen.

Jim Brainard joined for this regatta and, in addition to trimming and occasional grinding, was a great coach and tactical assistant.

Richard, as he always is, was a rock on main and tactics, plus assisting Gloria on runners. Richard said later that that last day’s races were the best ever.

Gloria handled the running back stays, normally a two-person job, and Judy, my wonderful Judy, was navigator par excellence. She kept our starts perfectly timed, our laylines exact, and kept us pointed to the marks. She has taken real ownership of the on-deck navigation computer and no one has come close to what she can do with that machine. Plus Judy went forward to assist Rene, helped with the spinnaker take-downs, and went below to repack them.

Even I did a good job; the whole crew kept me focused on my driving by nagging continuously if I didn’t keep the steering perfect.

Oh, one more crew addition: Eddie brought his dog Charley. Charlie stayed below while we were racing but he was part of the team.

It was definitely a team effort, three days, four races, and 10 people with total concentration.  I love them all.

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Fred and Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Saturday, April 16, 2022

April 16, 2022-Catching Up With Febuary

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Wings and Jazzy II

February was even more hectic than January.

We were looking forward to some peace and quiet in February. After all, the racing schedule was reduced and there was not much else on the agenda.

But the Wednesday Beer Can Races continued. We had wind, wind, and more wind. On the windiest days we had breeze into the 20’s and it didn’t seem to stop. Pushing the boat hard in that wind on those short courses was exhausting. We wore out our sail trimmers, actually experienced loss of control at times, blew out a spinnaker and, to top it off, we had engine and other boat problems.

The boat problems included broken blocks, broken battens, bent stanchions, plugged fuel lines, blown out exhaust mixing elbow, of course a totally blown spinnaker and minor issues. I was fixing things every Thursday.

As for control problems, in the strong gusts of wind the boat became unruly as the wind took over and I had to fight to keep the boat under control. Our crew had to scramble to stay on the boat and at their jobs. That included me.

In one strong puff I lost my grip on the deck and slid dangerously close to the edge of the boat while hanging on to the tiller! Of course, my death grip on the tiller while I fell caused the boat to round right up into the wind AND RIGHT TOWARDS THE SIDE OF ANOTHER BOAT GOING THE OPPOSITE WAY! It was a T-Bone between two boats going 6 knots in opposite directions about to happen. All I could do was pull the tiller farther which caused the boat to do a sudden tack and put us out of danger. Whew! Dodged that bullet. The crew on the winches never even noticed my pratfall; they just frantically completed the tack and wondered why I didn’t call for it ahead of time.

But we got through those tough races and afterwards thought they were fun. One thing about it: it turned out that they were good practice for the windy Banderas Bay Regatta which came later (we’ll write more on that soon.)

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Beach Party

Also in February, spontaneous social activities kept us entertained and busy.

Beach parties were organized and we attended some of them. Dinners out, dancing in the moonlight. Yeah!

We had an opportunity to actually sail on other boats, including John and Lynn’s 54 foot EDWINA and Peter & Eileen’s APPLESEEDS, and spent time on various other boats with friends we’ve become close to in Mexico.

In all, February, instead of being quiet, was a very busy month, but a good one for the Wingers.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Jan. 29, 2022-Good Crew Work Wins Vallarta Cup

wingssail images john mangata Crew Work

“Four minutes to the layline”

It was Judy’s voice from the back of the boat. She was getting data from the “brick”, our navigation computer. She was telling us that in four minutes we could tack and sail directly to the windward mark which nobody on the boat had caught a glimpse of yet.

We were sailing off to the right of the course with our arch rivals off to leeward. We were ahead of them and nobody wanted to tack away and let them go to the new wind everyone expected from the right-hand side. But if Judy was correct then we had them; we could tack and if they continued off to the right they would overstand.

But if she was wrong and we tacked away they could get a bit more of the new wind and might catch up.

Where is that bloody mark?

We couldn’t see it yet.

The hell with it, I thought, Judy has been all over her new job as navigator, it’s time to trust her. “OK. Let’s tack” I called.

“Ready”, from the genoa crew.


We made our turn and then, as if by magic, the mark appeared right on our bow. I looked behind; our rivals had tacked right on our course. We had them.

That was the way it went for the Vallarta Cup this year: Judy did her job; everybody did their job. We had excellent all-around crew work and the results showed it: four races and three first places and one second place. We won the Vallarta Cup.

Actually, we probably had the best crew we’ve had for years. Foredeck was Terry and Dennis: hot shots on the bow. At the mast and feeding tactical information back to the afterguard was Jim Brainard, magician of the yacht Brainwaves. Rena held down the halyards with Cristine helping. John from Mangata and Russ from Jazz were trimming and Pat tailing made a solid center of the boat. In the back, Richard excellently trimming main and calling tactics, Sherri doing runner and all-around assistant, me steering and Judy navigating. Superstars all!

So the boat was hot, the crew was hot, and the racing was great. In the end when we had two wins under our belt and one second place it all came down to the last race. Our rivals had one win and two seconds. Whomever won that race would win the regatta.

We were right on their tail, meaning we were winning, as we charged towards the finish line of the last race.

Then the wind died. I mean completely died. They drifted across. We had about four minutes to finish to be able to beat them, but we were stopped.

We dropped off the heavy spinnaker guys and manually jibed for the line, barely moving.

I watched the clock and I watched the committee boat. What would come up first, the line or the time limit? There was not a sound on the boat nor a movement. We caught a slight puff and crossed the line. It was 22 seconds to go, just soon enough.

wingssail images fredrick roswold Happy Crew

So it was a happy boat onboard Wings as we sailed back to our berth in La Cruz. The second big race of the year and our second first place. We’re doing well and it felt great.

wingssail images fredrick roswold Trophy

Click here for more photos. Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Mexico

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Jan 21, 2022-One Cowhide Over the Moon

Norma, from the gym, told me about the tapiceria in Bucerias. 

 A tapiceria is a upholstery shop and we'd been searching all over Puerto Vallarta for a tapiceria which could fix the leather seats in our car.  Not having much luck either! 
Then Norma told us about the shop right across the street from the gym. 
Same old story: when you can't find what you're looking for, look closer to home. So I walked over to the tapiceria and met David, the main guy. And I met his mom Zanaida, who runs the desk, and Ceasar, David's brother. I met the whole family. 
I showed David our ripped upholstery. 
wingssail images-fredrick roswold

He said he could fix it. His mom gave me an estimate, "Not bad",  I thought. But their leather selection was not what I wanted. "Can I bring my own leather?" I asked. "Sure." 
Next I searched for leather in Mexico. That should be easy, I figured, Mexico is rich in leather. 
I found a shop n Guadalajara and ordered a whole cowhide, black, fine finish, $73. 
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
One Cowhide

I took my cowhide to David. "Looks fine" he said. We made an appointment and on the designated day I took my car to his shop and pulled it into the back yard. 
When it was supposed to be ready I went back. The seats were perfect, like new, but there was a problem: the electric seats didn't work! 
Well, I knew they were bad before but when David and Ceasar worked them over they stopped working. 
David's English wasn't good. 
We talked with Google translate. He said, "He fixes the engine and I fix the upholstery" meaning the electric seat motors were my problem.
No problem, I found a used seat adjuster in a wrecking yard in Ohio, near the town where we found the car itself several years ago, and ordered it. 
Now I have replaced the seat adjuster (big job, actually) and the electric seats work and the leather is very nice. 
All good. 
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
New Seats
We're over the moon with it.
Click here For more photos.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Mexico

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Dec 26, 2021-Christmas Dinner with G to G Windward

wingssail images-Sherri Wilkinson

Fred & Judy 

  wingssail images-judy jensen

Greg & Gloria in the Kithchen

We were invited to a wonderful Christmas Dinner at Greg and Gloria's (G to G Windward) condo with some other cruisers. We had lots of fun.

Click here for more photos. Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz, Mexico

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Monday, December 27, 2021

Dec. 22, 2021-New Racing Season

wingssail images-judy jensen

Richard turned to me with a smile on his face, “It wasn’t much fun sitting there for an hour with no wind but it sure was nice when the wind filled in and we won!”


We’d just come in first on the first day of the Banderas Bay Blast, the kick-off race of the season but it wasn’t easy.

Oh yeah, we got a good start but all the smaller or slower boats had already gone before our start was called. So we started behind. 

But we were fast and we immediately started passing them. That was fun. 
 Then the wind died. 

I mean zero wind. Everyone stopped including the one boat still ahead of us, a Gulfstar 50, and several fast boats who were close behind. Whoever got the wind first would win. We tried our lightest spinnaker. So did the Gulfstar. So did a couple of boats behind. Our the ancient ½ oz kite sort of filled. Same with the boats behind, their kites filled slightly, looking like deflated balloons, but nobody moved. 

Boats started to withdraw. There was a parade of boat motoring past, headed for home. 

“It often is flat calm like this for a while then the wind springs up all of a sudden.” I tried to cheer up the crew, and maybe I was reminding the wind gods that we were still out here. 

But it worked! The wind came in; we all got it at the same time and we were off. It was a northerly and that meant it was a beat to the finish; our strong point. We pulled out from the boats behind and closed in on the Gulfstar. They tried to cover us. Finally, we broke out of their wind shadow and passed them from leeward, pointing on them and sailing faster. Soon they were directly behind us. 

wingssail images-judy jensen
Happy Crew

First place was very sweet. 

That was day one of a three day regatta, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. 

After Saturday’s race the following two days looked to be repeats. We would start behind all the boats (except a few which were deemed to be faster than us, but weren’t; they started behind.) and then try to pick them off one by one. On Sunday we did just that. We sailed well and were first by a mile, literally. We’ve sailed that course before and this wasn’t a record but it was close. We finished in one hour and 41 minutes. The best we’ve done was 1 hour and 31 minutes. Comparing the tracks for that day in 2019 and this race we could see what cost us the extra 10 minutes. It was a little less wind and much less of a right hand shift. The Gulfstar was second. 

On Monday the Gulfstar stayed ahead all the way to the finish but we won our class and won overall and that sewed up the regatta: First in class and first overall. 

After that we’ve been racing Beer Can Races and doing well, so the season is off to a good start. 

I give a lot of credit to the crew and a lot to Judy who has taken over the navigation role and she is doing great. Judy needed to move off of running backstays and while she didn’t want the navigator job it was the right move for her and she stepped up. It's more work for her because she still has to do her old role of being crew boss. She's a busy lady but she's handling it well. 

From now on however, the racing gets tougher. 

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Dec 19, 2021-B&G Instrument Project-Part II

We said good bye to a long time friend this month and it was sad. I escorted the B&G Hercules instrument system off the premises, in a box, and wished him well.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold How I'll Remember B&G

For nearly 40 years, like a loyal employee, B&G served quietly onboard Wings providing accurate and timely wind and boat speed information. We did have our ups and downs; I had to work hard at times to keep B&G operating smoothly, but I was proud that the teamwork was successful, that we had our forty year old instruments still going! And even though it was 40 years old, B&G gave us information and flexibility that few modern systems could equal. I loved that system.

But there were signs that its time was drawing near. Accuracy was becoming questionable and, some functions were unreliable. I’m sorry to say so but it was clear that it was time for B&G to go.

I brought a replacement system, a newer B&G Hercules system, onboard for a tryout. The old B&G must have seen the handwriting on the wall, retirement in a box? What an ignominious end he faced ; but what could he do? Nothing.

One day at the gym when I knew I was going to go home that day to disconnect B&G for the last time I actually had a tear in my eye. But all good things must end.

Now the newer B&G Hercules 2000 system is in place. The old B&G Hercules 390 is gone.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold New B&G H2000 system in place

Things with the new instruments are not completely smooth, and at times I still miss the old system and wonder if we made the right decision, but we had to move forward.

It wasn’t cheap though either in terms of time or money. The new system came in a couple of boxes filled with used pieces with no guarantees that they would work. I spent about 100 hours testing and installing it all. I still needed quite a few pieces, so I was on Ebay most days.

Some of the software was out of date and though I had the latest versions of it stored on my PC, they have to be burned into Eprom chips and physically installed to be useful. I bought an Eprom burner and learned how to use it.

The mast head unit I built works, but I have doubts about the 40year old cable to it which we still have installed. I may need a new one of those. The performance CPU is not outputting data and even a new Eprom didn’t help it, so I had to find a another one on Ebay and it’s now on the way. Then there is the issue of spares. For the old system we had boxes of spare parts. I now have to find some spares for the new system. Keep in mind that while it is 22 years newer than the one it replaces, it is still an old system, and spare parts are rare.

But in the end we should have a better system at a pretty substantial cost savings. A new B&G Hercules 5000 system would cost over $10,000. We’ve got one a little bit older (but still an improvement over our previous system), at a fraction of that cost.

Now if only it will be as loyal and reliable as old B&G.

Click here for more photos

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz, Mexico

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Oct 17, 2021-B&G Instrument Project

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 

B&G Hercules 390: 40 years old

We’ve had these B&G Hercules instruments since we got the boat in 1986. They actually date from 1979, most of them.

We’ve maintained, fixed, upgraded and babied them for 35 years. They still work, but barely, and parts are getting thin.

We’d love to upgrade them to newer model instruments but the cost is prohibitive. 

Then I was given a box of slightly newer B&G Hercules gear which was taken out of a boat which was hit by lightning. They were not working and the owner said, “Replace them all”.

Opening them up I did find burned out circuit boards. 

But I thought they might be repairable so I set them up on the work bench and chart table and began an “bench test’. 

  wingssail images-fredrick roswold 

Bench Testing 

I found most of a complete system could be created out of the box of pieces but a lot of them were trashed. 

One of the most challenging parts was the wind sensor which goes on the top of the mast. It was broken and also, I wanted a newer vertical version (the new part lists for $4600, so that was out!).

It took several tries but finally I had even that wind sensor working and I engineered a vertical spar. 


wingssail images-fredrick roswold  Wind Data Works! 

Well, I still have to do some work, including a new mount must be made for the wind unit, and some other parts need to be fabricated to install the stuff, but it looks like we could have newer instruments for a pretty good price (fixer – upper instruments). 

Of course we don’t know if they will really work once they are all installed, or how long they will last, and honestly, I’ve been pretty proud of how long we’ve kept the old ones working, and I'll be sorry to see them go, but I think it’s worth it to try this. 

wingssail images-fredrick roswold  Nikon Down 

 Now if only I could get my trusty Nikon to work again. This month it died after 12 years of hard use. I’ll definitely miss that one. 

Click Here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17, 2021-700 Gallons of Free Water

wingssail images-fredrick roswold  Cooking in the rain

Right now it’s raining like hell.

That’s OK, we’re getting water in our tanks thanks to our great water catching system. Rainwater is sweet, much nicer to drink than the dock water we normally use to fill our tanks. That water is supposedly safe, and we did drink it for a few years, now we avoid it because it has a bad taste; we buy bottled water. But rain water…that is Sooo nice. Since August 1 when we got back to La Cruz we’ve collected about 700 gallons of sweet rain water and still counting! We have not had to buy water at all!

Yes, the season has been wet. We’ve had daily rains, often an inch or more. And we’ve had a near miss by a hurricane, which brought several inches.

But Hurricane Nora brought more than rain. It brought winds and waves. We were safe here in the marina but some boats had decided to weather the hurricane out in the anchorage. Two were lost.

La Cruz anchorage is not protected and not safe. Out of four boats out there three dragged their anchors. Two went aground and were wrecked. One was just dragged close to shore but in the end his anchor held. A fourth boat did not drag and held OK during the hurricane. We are glad we are not in the anchorage.

These boats were permitted to come into the marina for free but they declined. We don’t know why they choose that. Now two boat owners who lived on their boats are homeless. It is sad.

I am going to say this: In the last several years about seven boats have dragged ashore in this anchorage, onto the rocks, and all but one were total losses. Now here is the weird part, all were owned by single men, mostly men without much in the way of financial means. Guys without much money get boats on the cheap, they come to Mexico, and then they can’t afford to really take care of their boats, and too often, they lose them. I become disgusted when I think about that.

Other than hurricanes, rain, and boat wrecks,  things are pretty normal here. We’ve been doing boat projects, and gym workouts, not much else.

I think I’ll make some coffee and look outside and see how much rain is happening.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Mexico


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Saturday, August 07, 2021

August 1, 2021-Storm Clouds over Perula

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 
Storm Coming

On July 25, in the late afternoon, a dark cloud moved in over Chamela Bay. It was black and threatening; rain and wind were coming. On Wings we battened down our hatches and prepared for the squall as we watched the stormy sky move over ourselves and over the Cochinas Islands.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 
Cochinas Islands 

While storm clouds rolled over us in Perula out at the Cochinas Island there was a group of tourists on the beach. They had arrived by panga but now they were wondering where their ride home was.

A funny thing about the pangas in Perula is that they often leave their load of tourists on the beach at Isla Cochinas while they come back to town for another load. In the afternoon they have to make several trips to bring them all back.

So, at the darkest hour of this squall a lone, empty, panga went tearing out across the bay at breakneck speed towards the islands to do a rescue.

Then the rain came.

We were happy sitting in our warm dry boat as the pouring down rain landed in our rain catching awning and quickly filled our water tanks, but I’ll bet the boatload of tourists coming back in the panga a little later, barely visible through the murk, mostly in swimsuits or wet beach clothing, were all shivering and they were probably very happy to just get back to the dock. 

That is not the only episode with a squall we’ve had recently.

wingssail images-judy jensen 

Two days later we were sailing back to Banderas Bay on a very nice day of nice winds and beautiful blue skies and water. It was even pleasant as midnight approached and we were sailing towards Cabo Corrientes. But Cabo Correintes has a bad reputation. That night it lived up to its bad reputation.

I came on watch at 9:00PM and Judy told me there was a lot of lightning out west and some dark clouds. I sat in the cockpit for the next couple of hours mesmerized by a spectacular lightning. Bolt after bolt of lightning slammed down from the clouds to the sea, sometimes several at once. I noticed that behind my back there were other lightning flashes happening. We were surrounded.

We were sailing close hauled on the wind vane in 13 knots of wind with a full main and genoa but the wind began to build. First 15 knots, then 17, and quickly 22 knots. I wondered when it would stop rising. The genoa is rated for a max of 21 knots and I usually want it down if the wind gets over 14. But at that moment in that pitch black night, with waves getting bigger and the wind rising, I was not looking forward to going to the bow to take down the sails. I decided to stall and see what happened.

Judy called up from below, “Do I need to get dressed and come help?”

“Well, I’m not planning on doing anything right at the moment, so there is nothing for you to help me do.”

The next time I looked she was dressed, wearing her life jacket and safety harness, and just lying on her bunk. She was ready.

The windvane came to our aid. As the wind increased the pressure on the sails generated weather helm; the boat wanted to turn up into the wind. The wind vane only partially compensated for that weather helm and actually allowed the boat to steer high with the sails partially luffing. If I had been steering I’d have said I was feathering it. The wind vane, however, was holding a very steady course and the luffing of the sails slowed us down and took the pressure off. I thought we could manage this if things stayed the same.

After about 30 minutes the wind began to drop, quickly. Suddenly it seemed like the wind would go to zero.

At under 5 knots of wind we decided to take down the genoa and turn on the motor.

As soon as we did the wind came back up to 22!

Now, we can sail in 22 knots of wind. No problem. But to do it properly we couldn’t put the genoa up again, we’d need to set the jib and reef the main. The problem was I didn’t trust that the wind would stay at 22. The forecast and all of our previous experiences going past Cabo Correintes and into to Banderas Bay at night was that it would be light air sailing once we got past the Cape. I didn’t want to go the work of getting all set up for sailing in 22 knots only to have the wind drop again and then have to shake out the reef and change to the genoa.

So we motor-sailed.

I never like to motor-sail but on this night I decided that we could do it. We could sail on a close hauled course with the main up and fully sheeted in and the motor kicking over at 1500RPM and we could chug along at 5 knots, just waiting for the wind to go back down.

We did that.

At 0600 the wind did go down. When it got to 6 knots we put the genoa back up and turned off the motor for good. We had gotten far off our course while motor-sailing so we were faced with a long beat into the Bay. As dawn approached the wind began to lift us towards Punta Mita, our destination. It was a big, steady, lift. We didn’t have to tack at all until the final approach to the point, we just took the lift.

Oh, did I tell you that we had several dozen dolphins cavorting around us all afternoon and evening and again in the morning?

It was an interesting night!

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz, Mexico

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

July 25, 2021-Magic of Punta Farallon and Playa Teopa

A few years ago, as we sailed down the coast of Mexico, we noticed a strange bowl shaped structure on a point of land between Chamela and Tenacatita. What was it we wondered? A radio telescope antenna? Or something else?

It turned out that the point of land was Punta Farallon and the bowl was a large work of art known as La Copa del Sol, The Cup of the Sun, which is part of Costa Careyes, a private community created by Gian Franco Brignone. 

As intriguing as that was the charts of the area showed something that was even more interesting to us sailors: there wasn't much detail but it showed a large, protected bay behind the point. We wondered if it would make a good south wind anchorage.

We found little written about that bay, nobody we knew had ever been there, it wasn’t in the guide books, and there was no detail on the charts. We decided that someday we’d take a look for ourselves.

So, on July 21, 2021, guided by a pair of dolphins, Wings rounded Punta Farallon and entered into a fantastical dream world of untouched beaches, rugged cliffs, mysterious sea caves, and, of course, that marvelous big cup.
We felt a little like Captain Cook, exploring the unknown.

What we found was a superb anchorage, a pristine two mile long white sand beach (Playa Teopa), plenty of crystal clear water for swimming, and loads of craggy cliffs and coves for exploring. We even found a turtle sanctuary. Of course we were the only boat there. What we didn’t find was a way to get to the Copa. Apparently Costa Careyes has closed access to it, due to COVID, we were told.

But never mind, we stayed for three days, went ashore, pulled the dingy up the beach and walked around a while. We met Roberto who runs the turtle camp, got to hold some turtles, met some visitors who were brought to the beach for a picnic from the house on the hill above the bay. We did some swimming from the boat, and explored the whole area by dingy. We could have stayed longer but the weather was predicted to turn to northerlies (it didn’t) which would not be the best for Punta Farallon. This anchorage would only be good in calm weather with wind and swell out of the south. In other words, summertime weather. Beautiful Beach
But that’s the beauty of our cruise this year, we’re doing it in the summer when the winds are light, the crowds are gone and we have all the time in the world.
And that includes time to discover a new paradise.
Click here for lots more photos.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico
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