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Friday, October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020-Three Legged Gecko

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Gecko Looks for BBQ Sauce 

There is a gecko in this photo, can you find it? 

When we last shared our gecko storywith you our big geckpo pet was eating a banana on our chart table. Cheeky little devil! But after that night the gecko disappeared, maybe forever! We were so sad. We wondered if it was just carbo loading before a long walkabout. 

However, since then another gecko has showed up. This one is “suction cup challenged”. It has only three feet. Its right rear leg has no foot. How can a gecko climb around with one foot missing?? 

This gecko is smaller and lighter skinned. It has appeared all over our boat. Apparently having only three legs does not prevent it from going where it wants. 

I once watched it creep along the bottom of some teak trim from one side of the boat to the other. The Gecko Highway! 

This is a favorite route for geckos to get from port to starboard. They all go that way when crossing across the salon. But how can one hang upside down and go along with only three feet? Magic Gecko! 

Once it jumped down from the ladder ONTO THE CORK OF OUR WINE BOTTLE! Geez Gecko, You are sort of cheeky. 

But when we got close it ran down and went behind the table leaf. 

Last night’s appearance really shocked me. 

I went outside to BBQ some pork and the three legged gecko showed up my cooking table which is really a solar panel.

This little three legged gecko was clearly sniffing around my bowl of BBQ sauce. I touched my finger in the bowl of BBQ sauce and then dropped some on the solar panel. The gecko then came over and licked the BBQ sauce. It likes it! I got my Redmi phone out and shot some clips. It was a game. When I got close for the shot it ran out of view. When I backed off it came back. 

I was worried when it ran off the side of the solar panel; what if it falls into the water? But three legs or no, it seemed quite capable . 

When I finished my cooking it sort of followed me into the cabin, like a puppy, but stopping just outside the door. 

I don’t know when or where it will show up next, but nothing will surprise me, and I am looking forward to it, because I like this little guy. 

Click here for more photos and a video

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

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Sunday, October 04, 2020

Oct 4, 2020-October Restart

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Taco Sunday

Covid-19 isn't over in Mexico, not by a long shot. But the people here, like everywhere I suppose, have grown weary of the precautions. So they are sliding. 

What it means is that La Cruz is going through a restart. Restaurants are re-opening. Bars too. 

We now begin to hear live music around town. 

And the streets are filling up with people again. No Masks, no distancing. It's not the same in the major stores. The regulations are being followed there, but in the local shops...not really. 

The silly thing is that the danger of catching Covid here is just as bad as it was in May, worse maybe. 

People are still getting sick, still dying. But the population has just decided to take the risk. 

We've been going out occasionally the whole time, since we got back from our cruise. Shopping once a week, and we've had a couple of nice meals at La Pesca too. 

Today we decided we wanted Tacos. It was Taco Sunday we heard. So we went to Tacos On The Street. Prime Rib tacos Mexican style. 

We got a table on the side walk. It was good. 

So maybe there is a restart of life in Mexico this October. We hope it does not end tragically. 

 Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz
wingssail images-fredrick roswold Taco Sunday

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

September 12, 2020 Varnish-Paint-Programming

wingssail images-judy jensen
Varnishing in the Galley

Since many of our normal summer activities are off the table this year we’ve turned to boat projects to fill the time.

That’s not unusual; summertime is when we usually catch up on “the list” but this year is different, of course. It’s Covid-19. Because of Covid-19 we’re for the most part stay-at-homes (as is almost everyone around the world I guess) so we have an opportunity to do more boat work. We started off the summer with a pretty long list and we’ve been going at it for a couple of months. Now I’m over it, I just don’t want to anymore.

I’m like the little kid, “Mom, there’s nothing to do.”

Of course there is plenty to do, but I’m inherently lazy. Nothing on the list strikes my fancy. The easy things, or the fun things, or the things we just couldn’t avoid, they’re already done. Now we’re down to the ones we don’t want to tackle. It’s easier to take a nap or look at the Internet than to start sanding on the teak trim.

I’ve got a brother-in-law who has more ambition in his little thumb than I have in my whole body. When he gets bored he remodels a house somewhere.

Me? Not so much. I’m not as industrious as him and I know it.

So I’m guilt ridden, and therefore I force myself. Each morning I wake up and start to think, “What productive thing will I do today? What item on the boat project list can I do?” I review the project plan, as I have done 100 times, searching for that unfinished item that looks easy.

It’s only mid-September, we still have at least a month and a half of boat project days left. Oh God, if it is tough to find something today what will it be like in October?

But the good news is that we’ve got a lot already done.

Last week we (Judy) varnished the galley (I helped by opening the can of varnish thinner). I refinished a bulkhead which had water damage and peeling paint which involved removing and then reinstalling the water maker. So I sanded and repaired and painted, and since the water maker was off, I rebuilt that.

Then I caught up on my log book project. We’ve had an ongoing project for years to digitize our paper log book but we were behind in it. The last trip we’d put online was in July 2019 so there was a year of trips to catch up on, plus I wanted to update the index for all of our blog posts as well as the log. This is truly a project just for ourselves. The log book is part of our online blog and anyone can view it but to everyone in the world but us it is a boring piece of trivia. But for us however (or me anyhow) it is a labor of love.

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Log Page for Dec 12, 2019

We sailed a brilliant race that day

Google Blogspot made it tougher by changing the user interface and I needed to do some HTML programming and a lot of excel spreadsheet manipulation. That actually made it a fun project because I like programming, and it also had a deadline since Google has announced that the UI was going to be changed again on September 1 and the upcoming change would make my index updates impossible. But I got it accomplished and now we are completely up to date on the Wings Log Book Pages. 1497 separate trips on Wings are recorded and posted online along with several indexes such as location, date, significant events, mechanical breakdowns and maintenance, and even who was on board. If you have sailed on Wings your name is in the index, how many times you’ve been on board, and what each of the trips were, as well as your shipmates. This goes back to 1986. What fun it is to look back on some of those early years and see where we went and who came with us (and to see what broke and how we fixed it).

Now I’m working on fixing our car. Mostly, that means taking it to various shops to get one thing or another done. When you are trying to keep a 19 year old car in good condition this is required,

As for the rest of our boat projects? We have more boat painting to do, and some water tank work to finish, and several broken boat parts to repair or replace, and so the list goes on.

Writing this blog entry was one of the items on my list, and now I can cross that off.

Click here for a couple more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Mexico

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Saturday, August 08, 2020

August 8, 2020-Dr. Anthony Faucet

wingssail images-Judy jensen
Dr. Anthony Faucet

Big crisis in Wings’ galley on Wednesday: our faucet broke, suddenly and finally. Well, we could still use the manual foot pump (cold water only) but no water in the head or shower.

Not something we wanted to endure for long.

On the other hand, going under the galley sink to undo the broken faucet and pipes was not a job I relished tackling. Nor the unlikely chance that we’d find a replacement we liked in the Vallarta area.

But, no choice really. So off we headed in the car to find a new faucet. Every plumbing store or fancy kitchen shop was on the list, Home Depot included.

Ah Ha! A ferreteria (hardware store) at the Light House Plaza strip mall had quite a few, and one which we sort-of liked. I asked the clerk if they had them in stock?

“Yes”, he said, and went into the back room. When he came out it was not with that model which was on display at all, but a totally different one which was very much more acceptable to us. And cheap. It was cute. We named it Dr. Anthony Faucet.

But not being positive, and having many more shops to visit, we said we might be back and went on our route.

Well, we found nothing we liked as well, and most that we thought might work were four times as much money.

Back to the Light House Plaza where we dished out the required pesos and adopted Dr Faucet.

Now, back at the boat, we had to install the bugger. Oops! Too late in the day. We put it off to the next day.

Good thing too, because it took all day to do it, and almost every tool I had. Cutting was involved. Metal cutting. Wood cutting. Lots of working on my back under the sink, stretching my arms up at full length into a tiny space which I could not see into. UGH!

I took hourly breaks to shake the stiffness out of my arms.

Final tightening was the hardest. I could only get about 1/8 of a turn at a time and knuckles were skinned frequently. Judy stood at the sink.

I asked, “Is it tight yet?”

“Nope, still wiggles.”

“Oh God, When will this be over?”

It makes toilet pipe jobs seem easy.

Finally Dr Faucet was standing proudly over the sink, which now looks slightly small but, never mind, he’s staying.

I never want to do this again. The last one lasted for 10 years. I am moving off this boat before 10 years rather than do that again.

Click here for another photo.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

Oh! During a break we replaced the oil pressure sending unit on the engine. It’s been a busy three days.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

July 16, 2020-Storm Brings Rain, and Mercury Gets Check up

The humid tropical air settles over Banderas Bay and and in the afternoon thunderclouds rise to the troposphere. Those thunderclouds beget thunder storms. Lightning and wind and rain follow. This is the summer.

When we hear the storm coming we make sure the boat is secure, the awning lashed well enough, and the pipes to fill the water tanks are ready.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Lightning cracks and thunder roars, then the rain comes and our big awning collects the clear cool rain water.

Meanwhile, down in the cabin we do our boat work projects.

Today Fred is giving the Mercury a check up. Some items on this wonderful motor, after 20 years, can use a little attention: The pivot needs grease, the kill switch doesn't kill anymore, and the "in-gear lock out" for the starter needs adjustment. So while the weather outside roars Fred is happily fiddling.

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Mercury gets Check up

This is our summer: thunder storms and boat projects.

Click here for a couple more photos

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

July7, 2020-We have a Gecko Which Likes Bananas

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Gecko Visits me at the Chart Table

We have a Gecko onboard Wings. He/she has been here for months and we see it often, just about anywhere on the boat.

We actually love this little gecko and we're quite happy it stays with us.

Lately it has gotten very comfortable about approaching us closely.

Today it showed up on the chart table as I was looking at email.

I had just eaten a banana and the peel was on the chart table by my busily typing fingers, and there was Gecko!

While I typed he/she proceeded to eat what was left of my banana.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz, Mexico

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

July 1, 2020-Coming Home

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Hanging out at Punta de Mita

For eight days Wings lay at anchor in the lee of Punta de Mita, protected from the prevailing westerly winds and also from the shifts to WSW, which happened regularly, but not from true SW winds. Those blew right into the anchorage but they were rare. And anyhow, this was the best anchorage in the area for all of these winds. The best in a wide area. So they stayed.

The winds were one thing, the waves were another. The waves turned around the corner and into the bay where they lay. Tucked up against the point, for the shelter it afforded of course, Wings yet sat perilously close to the surf but the crew watched the waves in the evenings as they sat in the cockpit and savored their happy hour drinks and they didn’t even think of any possible danger from those waves.

But on the ninth day, in the late afternoon, the surf came up.

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Waves Building at Pta Mita

On that afternoon they watched as the surf piled up angrily outside their bay. It was stormy, coming from somewhere far away, and jumbled as it grew white and turbulent and sent bigger swells into the bay.

They watched as the big waves came in and turned the corner. First the waves seemed to head directly toward them, then they swerved further, back toward the Punta Mita shore.
The mate was worried, “Those breakers look pretty close”.

The skipper said, “See that rock? The waves are breaking inside that rock. If they start breaking outside of that rock, towards us, then we should pay attention. Until then, we’re OK.”

They both watched the rock and the waves. The waves all broke inside of that rock. They relaxed.

By nightfall the waves were down and they went to their berths and rested easily.

For the next two days the surf stayed up and the waves came around the corner and spent themselves on the shore inside the rock. Some surfers found these waves and came out. See, it is just a playground.

There was no danger to the sailboat.

By day twelve it was time to leave. They were due back.

They raised the anchor and motored slowly into the wind to put up the mainsail. Suddenly they were at the rock. THAT ROCK. It was 12 feet deep, too shallow. The waves were breaking very close, truly close. The main was quickly topped and they turned away putting the wind and that rock to their backs and watched the depth sounder inch higher; 12, 14, 16, 20. A sigh of relief came from both.

Now a different challenge presented.

There was a boat. A boat also going back towards the city.

A boat with a spinnaker. A blue and white spinnaker: A challenge.

They set their own spinnaker, red white and blue.

The other boat had a mile head start, but they felt confident.

Only, they didn’t gain.

The other boat, with the blue and white spinnaker, kept working away to leeward. They thought, "We’re not gaining, we’re losing!"

Perhaps working the shore down there was advantageous. It was, after all, their preferred tactic on the race from here each winter. Today they had let that blue and white spinnaker own that lane. Foolish, over confident.

OK, “We must jibe.”

The jibe was rough, but in the end they pulled it off.

Now, converging on opposite jibes, they closed quickly with the boat with the blue and white spinnaker, but they could see that it was still going to be ahead.

The crossing was not even close.

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Blue and White Spinnaker Crosses Us

Yet it wasn’t a mile, so they had gained.

Then the wind built. They were on the correct jibe. The other boat was on the wrong jibe for the new wind and then had some trouble and the spinnaker. It collapsed and stayed collapsed.
Now, with an advantage, they charged.

The other boat fell behind, then bore off again on the wrong jibe. Maybe they were going somewhere else.

Race over.

Only now they were quickly approaching the Port of La Cruz. They were on a beam reach and sailing fast and the anchorage zone was just ahead. The spinnaker had to come down. NOW.
The mate went forward and the skipper turned the boat down wind and released the halyard.

Only it was the wrong halyard.

The mate cried, “Let it down, Let me have it!”

Chaos for a moment then the correct halyard was released. The sail was dowsed.

They looked behind, at the boat with the blue and white spinnaker still wallowing back there, and they looked back towards Punta de Mita and its surf, long ago left behind and out of sight, and they felt good, they had vanquished two foes.

And with that, they closed off a successful cruise.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

Cruise Statistics:
Start Date: March 31, 2020
End Date: July 1, 2020
Anchorages: 8
Total Miles Sailed: 353nm
Farthest Distance reached from La Cruz: 61.5

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

June 21, 2020-They Paved Paradise and put up Punta de Mita

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy Reading-At Pta Mita

We are again anchored at Punta de Mita. It is a nice place and is the most suitable anchorage for the westerly to northwesterly winds we’re getting on this coast right now. In a southerly it would not be our choice.

It’s nice here but not as nice as it would have been not too many years ago before the entire point was developed and covered by 5-star resorts, hotels, and private houses. It used to be jungle, palm trees, and pristine shorelines.

A man in a kayak paddled by and said, “Hello”; nice enough.

He asked if we were from Seattle. I said. “Yes” and I asked if he was from one of the hotels.

“No”, he replied, “I’m from one of those houses right over there”.

“In fact your beautiful boat is part of my view.”

I thanked him for that, and he paddled off.

What I was thinking was, “Your house is part of my view and it is not so beautiful.”

Not nearly as beautiful as before the very wealthy bunch of you turned it into a housing development for the rich and famous.

Not nearly as beautiful as before all those mansions were erected, most of which stand vacant most of the year. How do we like that? Take a beautiful place and ruin it with houses that are not even occupied?

And, not nearly so beautiful as before the local people who lived there were moved off to make room for the development. Now they are not even allowed to walk on that point, guards keep everyone but the owners out.

Later a man came around on a motorized hydrofoil surf board. I am sure they have a name for those boards but I don’t know what it is. He whirred by, circled around, then stopped and said “Hello”; nice enough. He said his machine was so wonderful. He loved Mexico. He loved to go right into the wind.

Then he whirred off, did a circle around us, and went back to the dock.

I thought his machine looked like fun, for about 10 minutes. Then what do you do with it?

At least it was quieter than the jet ski which came by next. There was, of course, a handsome young man on the front driving and a pretty young woman clinging tightly on behind. They circled around us too, then roared off, doing splashy slalom turns which made the girl cling tighter.

So the quiet anchorages and closed beaches and hotels around here which we’ve enjoyed for the three months of lockdown are reverting back to the noisy playgrounds they normally are.

It’s OK. We’re still on our own boat in a still beautiful place and still enjoying mostly quiet and peaceful days.

But it does make me think of Joni Mitchell’s song.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Punta de Mita

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Sunday, June 07, 2020

June 7, 2020-Something is Happening

Credit to Stephan Stills

We’ve had a little bit of southerly in the weather these last few days.

Never mind, it was expected and we’re in the perfect anchorage for it, tucked under the bluffs behind a nice high point of land where the water is smooth and the holding good.

Let the South wind blow.

Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Quiet Spot in a Storm

We’re happy here.

Then the engine spit the dummy.

During our afternoon hour of battery charging, it's time we stop, but, hey, what's that sound?

There's something happening here, and what it is ain't exactly clear.

The alarm’s a chirping then a solid whistle. Low lube oil pressure! Not exactly a man with a gun, but not something we want to hear. We shut it down.

OK, let’s look what's going down: The oil pressure on the gauge is fine, but the low pressure alarm is going off.

“Paranoia strikes deep”. We’d better head for home, with our tail between our legs if need be. We could stay, but “nobody's right if everybody's wrong”. If the engine blows up, well hell, it’s gone.

So we’re coming home, in fact we got there, nice sail today.

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Wings in La Cruz Marina

But meanwhile, in the real world, far outside our little cove and our itsy bitsy little engine problem Stephen Stills’ song comes to mind, there really are battle lines being drawn. “Young people speaking their minds”, hell, old people too, a thousand people in the street, (and some which fell down) crying “enough” and “I can’t breath” and carrying signs, mostly they say, “it's time we stop”, hey, what's that sound, the sound of police boots hitting the ground. Into your life it will creep, (if you’re black). It starts when you're always afraid and they must be, because there really is a man with a gun over there, tellin' them they got to beware. And meanwhile, from the big house they’re gettin' so much resistance from behind. Fuck that man.

There are some years when the emotions rise, when so many feel the pain that they must express themselves. This year it’s the Covid, the economy, and most of all, the killings. So people take to the streets. It happened in before, in 1971. Stephen Stills was there too, with Neil Young, four dead in Ohio. But the oppression has been there for years, decades, maybe a couple of century’s or more, but it is time to stop, and maybe this is the tipping point. We hope so.

We’ve been here in our own quarantine. We are not really going to get caught up in it all, we can’t. But the world is changing, we can see it, maybe from afar, and some people know something is happening and maybe they don’t know what it is, but they will.

Click for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

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Friday, May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020-Sometime After Midnight

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Wings in Boca de Tomatlan

Sometime after midnight the wind came down the mountain and breathed softly on the bay where Wings lay anchored.

The boat turned to face the breeze and swung into deeper water.

That set off the alarm.

I woke and rolled off the starboard settee where I had been sleeping, fully clothed, ready for just such a moment and climbed the ladder to the cockpit to see what the commotion was all about. This was the fifth time that night that one of the alarms woke me. Usually they had been the shallow water alarm, less than 60 feet, meaning we could be getting closer to shore. This time as I climbed up the ladder I noticed the depth: 97.5 feet. Good, we’re in safe water.

Then I smelled the dirt in the air and I knew the downflow from the mountain had reached us and I could relax. For the rest of the night that downflow would keep our bow pointed into the valley and our stern out to sea and over deep water. It would also align our length with the sweep of the swells, and reduce the rolling. We’d sleep better.

I undressed and got into my bunk.

But I left the alarms activated, just in case.

All of this because we’re anchored on the edge of a deep underwater canyon, in a place called Boca de Tomatlan (the mouth of the Tomatlan River). The anchor is placed on the only spot in the Boca where we could place it, in 70’ of water right near the shore on the west side, a spot about 25ft square. The rest of the Boca had depths of 100-200ft or, if shallower, were within inches of the rocky shoreline. Even the 70’ spot was close to the shore. We could only put out 2:1 scope on our anchor chain because we were within about 100 ft of the rocks and with more chain the boat could possibly swing into the shore and touch.

But we’d been looking at Boca de Tomatlan from the road above as we passed by for years and always thought it looked enticing so this year we decided to give anchoring here a try.

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Boca de Tomatlan

Now, since we made it through the night without having to bail out and leave, possibly we can stay for a few more days.

Boca de Tomatlan really is lovely and it reminds me so much of the small villages at the end of so many roads on Vancouver Island or on the Canadian mainland. The terrain is similar, high hills and a small village at the foot of them with a wharf around which most of the action centers. You see, for commerce or travel out along the south shore of Banderas Bay, Boca de Tomatlan is the end of the road. From here on you have to take a boat. So all day pangas come and go with people and goods. Oh, and yes, there is more to the village. There is a bus stop up on the highway, and some palapa restaurants on the beach and some stores, and perhaps more to be discovered.

We’ll put the dingy together today and go ashore, and report more after that.

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Judy at the town wharf

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Boca Lagoon

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Judy in the companionway

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Boca de Tomatlan

Anchoring in BocaTomatlan (the details)

There is one big challenge to anchoring in Boca Tomatlan: it is impossibly deep here.

For years I was interested on this beautiful and quaint inlet but all the information I could find told me, “No Way, too deep!”
But this year I got some Navionics charts which showed a lot more detail including soundings for the whole bay. But I saw some areas along the west shore where the contour lines indicated a high spot or two in the bottom. As we arrived and cruised the shoreline the lowest number we saw was seventy feet? Could we manage that? Well yes, we had plenty of chain, but with only 120’ from the rocky shore to the spot we wouldn’t be able to use normal 3-1 or 5-1 scope. But if 2-1 would hold maybe it would be OK.

It took a few tries to find that 70’ spot again, it’s not very big, but eventually we got right over it, backing down slightly, and lowered the anchor. We put out 150’ and pulled on it, but not much. With 2:1 scope it wouldn’t hold very much, but it seemed to stop us. We pulled a little more. No movement.

OK, we’ll try this, we thought.

To solve worries about swinging into the shoreline or dragging we set three alarms on our instrument system:
1. We set a shallow water alarm for 65’ to alert us if we swing towards the shore.
2. We also set a deep water alarm, for 100’ to alert us if we drag of into the middle of the bay or out of it.
3. Finally we set an anchor watch for 300’, meaning that if we moved 300’ in any direction that alarm would go off. This third alarm was rather useless since 300’ was quite a long ways to go before sounding an alarm, but that’s the best our Lowrance can do.

Now we’ve been here for 5 days. We’ve had a few (several) alarms which woke us during the night, mostly because swinging towards the shore, but we’ve never gotten too close or dragged. I have changed the settings to reduce false alarms. I still set the alarm but it only goes off occasionally.

Where is the spot?

So here is where we found the 70’ patch to anchor in:
Lon 20 30.805
Lat 105 19.069

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Boca de Tomatlan Chart

Blasting out of La Cruz

There was a strong thermal which had resulted in over 22 knots of true wind on the day we left La Cruz to come over to this side of Banderas Bay.

As soon as we got out of the marina and hoisted the mainsail we were subjected to that breeze. I decided to put off setting a jib. We didn’t need it.

Judy was on the helm and I gave her a rough heading to follow and left her to it and went below to do a more careful navigation, finish the log book entries (for fueling, water top up, and departure), and to tidy up since the fenders, lines, and other dockside detritus were still scattered around. This is actually a typical approach for us, and admittedly it is due to my impatience to get going. I rarely want to hang around at the dock or inside the marina until everything is shipshape and put away. “Never a moment to lose, let’s get going”.

Because of that we always have these tidying up details to complete at the beginning of a passage or trip. Judy would rather steer than go below when the boat is jumping around so she steers and I go below.

So, while I was below decks Judy was blowing through the crowded anchorage at high speed on a close reach and dealing with all that wind and some good sized waves and a handful on the tiller at times. She is good but I am sure it was a little tense for her. Wings is a powerful boat and in 22 knots it does power up pretty quickly. I stuck my head up when she called and helped grind in the main and I noticed we showed a boat speed of over 7kts, not bad for just a mainsail.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“Yeah, just get your stuff finished please” she answered.

I did finish up, and while doing so I heard quite a few good sized waves slap on deck as Wings sliced the tops off of the waves kicked up by the wind and the long fetch.

When I went on deck to relieve her I took the windvane blade and set it. From then on the sailing was easier.

Judy was ready for a nap.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

May 17, 2020-Cruising Closer to Home

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Judy Sailing

The need to get moving and get to the next place is an itch which has to be scratched.

It doesn’t matter how nice it is where you already are, you still wonder about the next place.

It doesn’t matter how many pictures you’ve seen or how many guide book descriptions you’ve read, you never know what that next place will really be like until you see it for yourself.

And when you have been wondering about that next place for so long that you just have to get going, it has already become an itch.

So you scratch that itch and you get going and when you are finally on the way and the destination draws near there is an excitement and a thrill that you’re finally going to see it.

That excitement and thrill becomes addictive, and even if some of the places don’t turn out to be all that special; they are still new and there is a sense of wonderment at actually being there.

We’ve had that addiction for many years. It was one of the drivers that kept us going all the way around the world.

In fact, we were already hooked back in the 90’s when every year we went on a cruise into Canada and each year we ventured farther to see another new place.

Finally we realized that going 200 miles north into Canada and back in a three week vacation just to get to some place we haven’t seen before was getting a little extreme.

That was when we decided to try a new approach.

We thought, “When there is nowhere else to go, why not go closer to home?”

We realized that for years we had been travelling on our way to those famous distant paradises without stopping at some interesting and nice places nearby.

When we started to cruise closer to home we found many of those little spots that we had been passing for years. Places like Bowman Bay, Mystery Bay and over in Canada, Sooke Harbor, Beecher Bay, and Port Renfrew (a destination all by itself). Of course there were places in the San Juans, the Gulf Islands and even in Puget Sound we visited that we’d never before seen. They were lovely, interesting, and close.

And they were best enjoyed when we stayed longer than just overnight.

Now we are living in La Cruz, Mexico, and we’ve been to all the great places up north in the Sea of Cortez or down south past Barra. They are wonderful places to visit and for sure we’ll go back to Tenacatita and Loreto and other favorites in the years ahead.

But what about going closer to home?

This year we decided to stick closer to La Cruz. Partially it was Covid-19 that influenced our decision, but we also wondered what was nearby that we’ve been missing. So we took a look.

We’ve been out here now for six weeks exploring within 60 miles of La Cruz finding neat anchorages and we still have not been to all of them.

We spent weeks in Punta Mita, then finally we set sail northward.

We visited the Marias islands and found them stunningly beautiful and wild (and protected, we got kicked out) and we look forward to seeing new anchorages there when they are opened to visitors. We stayed for weeks at Matanchen Bay and that was peaceful and beautiful and we took a dingy trip into San Blas for shopping. In Matanchen we had a long running battle with some little birds who were insistent that they were going to build a nest in our boom. (This also happened a couple of years ago in Santiago Bay.) We grew to like these little birds who always tweeted (really tweeted, with their beaks)their daily arrival for nest building, and they in turn became comfortable with our presence and would fly in and out of the boom within inches of our heads as we sat in our chairs in the cockpit. They only gave up on home building when Wings sailed away.

Nest Building

wingssail image-judy jensen
Going Shopping in San Blas

Next we went to Chacala, where we’ve stopped on previous trips but we never stayed long and we never went ashore there. This time we stayed for several days and we took the dingy in and walked all over town. It was quiet.

Morning in Chacala

Two other boats, Summer and Kognita, were in Chacala and we anchored near them. The view from the beach was of three similar boats, all performance cruisers with fin keels and Monitor windvanes on their transom, anchored bow to the waves with stern anchors set. That was an interesting coincidence.

Chacala was beautiful and quiet, and we enjoyed the sounds of birds ashore each morning, though thankful that none tried to move in.

The crews of Summer and Kognita were surfers and each day they dingy’d up the coast to a point break at La Caleta where the waves were big.

John and Jenna

One day we took our dingy there and got some photos. It was a good thing that I have a long lens on the Nikon because Judy would not let me get close to the waves.

The season has a lot to do with our ability to do this cruise. In April and May the northerlies have stopped and on this coast we have only light SW winds and daily light thermals. This makes some north facing bays into good anchoring spots. Our stays in these places have been times of relaxing and enjoying the scenery. We haven’t been on the move every day and it’s been nice.

The afternoon thermals though have given us some great sailing. We’ve used very little fuel going from one place to the next and the ocean has always been blue and calm.

After Chacala we spent a few days at Las Ayalas in Jaltembre Bay, the first time we were ever there and we plan to go back. Now we are again in Punta Mita. Tomorrow we’ll go back to La Cruz for supplies, but in a few days after that we’ll head out again for some more “closer to home” exploring.

Sunset in Chacala

Click here to see more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Punta Mita

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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

April 26, 2020-Well, That was Fast

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Buenos días Capitán, We are the Mexican Navy

We’d planned to spend a month or more away from civilization, away from people and boats; away from the Internet.

We went to The Marias Islands, hoping the authorities would let us stay, or just leave us alone. For five days that plan worked. The first four days we were undisturbed where we anchored in South Cleofas Bay. It was beautiful but wild. We grew tired of the huge Pacific swells which hammered the island and on day four we moved to Cleofas Hook on the east side of Maria Cleofas Island.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Time to Relax

That anchorage was much more peaceful and equally beautiful, but just one day after we anchored there the Mexican Navy came and informed us that we’d have to leave; it was a protected environmental zone, no one was permitted within 12 miles.

So we weighed anchor and left.

Ten hours later, after a nice spinnaker run directly to the East, we reached Mantanchen Bay and anchored there.

And connected to the Internet.

So that’s where we are now slowly working through our supplies and thinking about when and to where we’ll move again.

Click here To see more images from Cleofas Hook.

To read about our adventure in the Marias, click here and to see the photos, here.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mantanchen Bay

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April 26, 2020-Wild Cleofas

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Raising Cleofas

At sun-up we raised the island, tall and silent, and shrouded in clouds. “That could be Tahiti.” But, of course, it wasn’t. The old sailor and his wife were sailing northward in the Sea of Cortez not westward across the Pacific.

Each year as the “puddle jumpers” set off across the Pacific bound for Tahiti and the South Seas I always felt wistful seeing them depart; but I am always torn, not wanting to be left out yet not wanting to cross the ocean again.

This year that migration to Tahiti didn’t happen. The plague, that virus, struck. The South Sea Islands closed their doors; not allowing boats to come. Maybe some early departees got away before the closure, but most puddle jumpers were stymied, couldn’t go.

So the puddle jumpers, many of them, headed north into the Sea Cortez to various marinas where they could have their boats hauled and cheaply stored while they headed home to wait out the virus and wait for another season. However, the marinas and storage yards filled up and they also became closed. The cruisers piled up in the anchorages around La Paz and Loreto.

Some wandered aimlessly.

Judy and I weren’t puddle jumpers but as we usually cruise somewhere each spring, this year we’d planned a trip north ourselves. But instead we idled for weeks close to our home marina where we would be allowed to return if we so desired. The talk of port closures and crowded anchorages up north worried us.

However, a magic island beckoned, one that wasn’t too far north and wouldn’t be crowded.

The island was Cleofas, in the Marias group, which for years had been a federal prison and forbidden to all visitors. Recently the prison closed and the Marias had become a national park. Not officially open but nevertheless some cruisers had anchored there last year. The authorities had been lax and might be again we reasoned, or they might not.

The old sailor and his wife were quiet about their plans, slipped out in the middle of the night and set sail for Cleofas to time their arrival for mid-morning when the sun was high and the uncharted hazards would be the most visible, because Cleofas was basically uncharted.

And in the morning they sighted Cleofas and they soon discovered however that Cleofas was wild. Pacific swells rolled towards it and turned into crashing waves which pounded the island. The bay on the south side which offered shelter from a north wind was open to the south and there was a southwest swell which came in unimpeded.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Cleofas South

As we cautiously entered the bay on the south of Cleofas, feeling our way, looking for a calm spot, I watched the maelstrom on either side wondering how long we’d be there if we were wrecked by one of those waves. How long would it take for someone to find us? We had come there un-announced and no one knew we had come to Cleofas.

I kept these thoughts to myself.

At first we went deep into the bay to anchor for protection from any winds which might arise, but the beach was a lee shore and the swells were breaking just behind our stern. The holding was not good either. It was rocky and the anchor rumbled ominously.

The old sailor was uneasy, and his mate more so.

I said, “Well, what do you want to do? Stay or go, and if we go, where? Or should we just shift anchor a little and move away from the beach?”

“You decide.”

So they shifted, twice; closer to the waves outside but farther from the beach. Finally it looked OK. Then a south wind came up, 12 knots, then 15. In their position they were exposed to this wind. That was a new worry: what if the wind continued to rise and the whole bay became a lee shore?

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Cleofas was beautiful alright, but its wild beauty was not comforting.

But things got better. The wind eased off. The bay got calmer; the swells didn’t look so threatening. We could relax and enjoy the remote beauty. We made cocktails.

For two days it was OK.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Huge Swells Comings

On the third day the swell was up, way up. Huge mountainous rollers came into the reefs just outside of the anchorage, and crashed in a fury against the rocks on either side of the bay. The bay itself became turbulent and the long swells lifted the boat as they rolled towards the beach and they spent their rage pounding the island. The bay was a virtual washing machine.

When this happened it was too late in the day to leave unless we wanted to spend a night at sea waiting for daylight, which we didn’t. We decided to stay the night in the bay. But in the morning, after a restless and uncomfortable night with the boat constantly rocking and pitching, we’d had enough of wild Cleofas. We quickly got underway.

Once out of that bay things got a lot calmer. There was no wind and once away from the island, no big waves.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Motoring North

We motored northward again, hoping the next place would be better.

Click here to see more images.

Fred & Judy, Isla Cleofas, Mexico

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

April 22, 2020-Setting Sail

Banderas Bay is nice and all that but we're ready to move a little. Tonight we're sailing north into the Sea to find some remote anchorages where there is no Corona virus. There also won't be any Internet for a while, so you might not hear from us. Don't worry, we'll be OK.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailor Girl Judy

Two Whales

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Underway

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

April 11, 2020-Activities during a Corona Virus Breakout

There was a bug in the sailor’s wine. He dipped it out with his finger and found it was still alive. He placed the bug on a paper napkin and watched it stagger drunkenly in circles.

That midnight he spotted the gecko that lives behind the coffee cups. He and his wife, his crew, occasionally during the night saw the gecko lurking on the wall behind the galley, watching for bugs. The gecko’s company was welcoming to the old sailor and his wife; "Hey! We’re all friends, ship mates on a happy ship."

The sailor, thinking of his own experiences with drink, didn’t know if the bug would have a hangover or if, in the morning, it be deceased due to alcohol poisoning.

Later the wine bug sobered up and flew off.

Wings is in voluntary quarantine anchored in the bay, but Judy and I are not alone; we are co- quarantining with a gecko and some wine bugs. image
The Plague Breaks Out

It is a strange time we are living in right now. This seems like some dystopian science fiction movie where a plague from another planet has landed on Earth and spread like wildfire across the human population. In this science fiction movie we would see newscasters from around the world daily announcing the spread of the plague and the increasing death tolls. Fear runs rampant among Earth’s inhabitants. The plague has made it dangerous to go outside so they cower in their houses. City streets are deserted. Businesses are shuttered. Governments are found to be helpless to stop the onslaught and they impose draconian restrictions in hopes of slowing it, but it is too late; the plague has escaped far ahead of any preventative measures and is running wild. Within weeks over a million cases have been confirmed and the trajectory is straight upward.

But this is not a science fiction movie, it’s real. The apocalyptic scenario took all of us totally by surprise, even though the science fiction writers and the movie script writers have been describing it for years. Who would think that one day we’d wake up and it would be real.

And where is our boy hero and his beautiful scantily clad sidekick from the movies whom we need to discover the weapon which will save the Earth?

The old sailor contemplates the world on the quarter deck of his ship. He sways as his ship rolls in the gentle swell as he has done for decades, if not for centuries. From his rolling vantage point it seems still and peaceful in the world. The shore is distant, the plaque may be lurking there but it lurks silently. He thinks the gecko ate the wine bug.

Night falls and the moon rises. It is a “Pink moon”.

The shutter of his Nikon clattered as he “shoots the moon”.

Then the tumbler of amber liquid waiting near his right hand called to him. The cool Scottish whiskey was soothing even if the world’s situation was not.
The sailor’s thoughts turned elsewhere. The past few weeks had not been filled with sailing.

Am I really a sailor? He wondered. I have hardly sailed for 2 hours in the last two months. I am but a engine room flunky with grease on my hands and tools to put away every night. The toil on a sailboat these days never ends. It is not the virus which constrains me, but the engineering.

First it was the water tanks. Two were leaking and the welder said, “Can’t be fixed.” So take them out and put some new ones back in. Hard work, took four days. Peter came around and lent a hand.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Engine Lifted

Then an engine oil leak manifested itself, not that it was previously unknown. But by now it was too much to ignore. So the engine had to be pulled and all sorts of falderal must be removed to get to that silly leak, which was actually simple to fix once exposed to the light of day.

A New Oil Seal!

Makeshift table in a work zone

But it took four days; four hard days, and in the process the oil pan was shattered, and had to be repaired. Both the sailor and his mate worked hard on that project, and they worried that they wouldn’t get it all back together in time the big race, but they did.

Anyhow, that deadline evaporated when the plague struck. Racing was cancelled for the rest of the season.

And a family visit was also cancelled; the plague.

Thinking about that made the old sailor reach again for his drink. How plans can be tossed about like a dingy in a storm, he thought. So now the old sailor and his mate had nothing else to do but finally go sailing. Not how they envisioned March and April, but that’s how it comes down.

They had to provision the ship.

In reality many people were stocking up on food and supplies at that time. But for the old sailor and his wife this was nothing out of the ordinary. They stocked up like this every spring in preparation for an extended annual cruise. To see them packing carts of food down the dock was nothing new. They did it every year. The others might be provisioning to weather out the viral storm but the old sailor and his wife planned a cruise away from people each spring, and even though now being away from people was essential, it was ordinary to them.

This time however, going cruising felt different. There was an underlying anxiety in their hearts. It came from not knowing what would be going on ashore when they came back, and certainly they wondered about what would happen when they thought about stopping somewhere.

The scotch was down to the dregs. The sailor reflected on the fact that the the cruise they had embarked upon had been cut short; more engineering problems.
The charging system crashed and the cause bedeviled him. For five days he worked on it, and made countless calls to tech support back stateside. But each night the system was still down. A work around was found, but only a temporary one. Parts must be ordered. The ship must return to port.

And the water maker failed and a spare had to be installed. The old one was rebuilt.

Still, with all that, the sailor was rather enjoying himself. His work days were pleasant and he hummed tunes. Zen and the art…

After all, in our real life science fiction disaster movie many people have it a lot rougher than we do. We are lazing about on our comfortable boat anchored in a beautiful place, trying hard to enjoy a wonderful Mexican cruise while people back home are dealing with body counts and shortages of protective gear.

Deaths are mounting.

So, I guess we have it pretty good.

I wish others did.

wingssail images-judy jensen

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Punta Mita, Mexico

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Full Moon

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