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Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 5, 2018-Squeeze Play in the Boat Yard


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Re-Launching

We hauled out this month for bottom paint.

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

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

But there is a problem:

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

But they're trying.

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

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

The clock is ticking.

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

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

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

What about the other boat which is also waiting?

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

We wait.

We all wait.

People are standing around doing nothing.

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

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

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

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

"Stop!"

I show them. Nobody is happy.

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

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

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

It's my new phone.

A funk settles over the day.

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

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October 30, 2018-Twenty Five Years Ago

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Winning PSSC

Wings is sailing home to Shilshole Bay Marina on October 23, 1993, after winning the PSSC regatta. It was tough sailing that year with winds in the 24-30 knot range for the three races on Saturday, then light winds on Sunday and we battled it out with Bill Buchan’s Sachem, in the end beating them by .25 points. It was mostly crew work, including one glorious leeward rounding in the last race where we came into a big traffic jam at the mark in 6th place and did a perfect floater takedown keeping our speed up while the other boats were basically stopped and came out in 3rd then hung on to win the race and the regatta. We have a good crew now but we had a pretty good crew back then too, most of them had sailed with us for several years, some for eight years.

You can see who they were on our log book page for that day here.

That was our last season racing in Seattle and it was a good one; we got trophies in 35 out of the 48 races we did that year, including 14 first places. After this season we stopped racing for two years to completely remodel the boat for long distance cruising.

Those years were glory years of living full time aboard Wings and racing every week, going sailing or cruising whenever we were not racing, and still having time for jobs in the city (we had a 6’ hanging locker full of suits, men’s and women’s). We also loved the community we sailed in with all of our yacht club friends in Seattle, at the Corinthian Yacht Club, the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club and especially all of our crew, and racing 40-50 times a year. Those were the days.

Crew: As best we can remember the crew positions are as follows: Jim Bonnichsen, Foredeck, Jim Watson, Foredeck, Bryan George, Mast, Jennifer Wright, Halyards, Kathy Clotfelter, Halyards, George Harvey, Trimmer and Grinder, Mark Nuss, Trimmer, Robert Schuler, Trimmer, Scott Davidson, Mainsail and tactics, Carol Noel, Runners, Judy Jensen, Runners, Fred Roswold, Helm. They were family to us after eight years and we keep in touch with many of them.

Sails: The mainsail in this picture was one I made on the floor of CYC in 1993. This was its first season and it was a winner. It was Kevlar/Mylar, 52 panels, designed with a home-made Lotus 123 spreadsheet. Each of the panels were shaped before sewing. We used ultra-light graphite battens which had a nasty habit of breaking if we flogged the sail at all. It was last seen in Raffles Marina in Singapore in 2007 serving as an awning for a marine store. The spinnaker was the 1.5 oz runner that came with the boat and it was already old then. A wonderful sail which we used relentlessly for another 11 years, from 1986 to 2007, when it blew up two days in a row while winning the King’s Cup Regatta (with one all night sewing session between races.) We used a variety of headsails in this regatta, primarily the Fracker #1 and the Sobstad #3, both were paneled Kevlar sails, tough but heavy.

The Boat: There is not a lot of difference between Wings in 1993 and Wings today. It would look the same to you if you saw it back then however it was more stripped inside, back then, but Judy and I still lived on it, and we didn’t unload it to go racing back then either. Since 1993 we’ve added a bit of furniture, all of which is made of ultra light weight nomex and carbon fiber honeycomb panels we got from Boeing surplus. Plus we added tankage, ground tackle, wind vane, etc. Not a lot else.

Click here for a few more images (more to come later).

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

October 14, 2018-Back to San Sabastian del Oeste

Friends, Food, and Photos

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San Sebastian del Oeste

I said I would never drive to this place again. Road is too bumpy for my car. But John and Elinore said they were going, would we be interested? OK, I'll give it a go. We'll stay overnight so we can have dinner there. The hotel is very inexpensive. Off we went up the hill.

A couple of hours later (with time out to try a great Mexican breakfast joint on the way, Casuelas), we pulled into San Sebastian del Oeste, booked into our rustic hotel (Los Arcos de Sol) and set off the see if anything had changed since our last visit. Not much had, but the sidewalk café was still pleasant and the beer was still cold, and we found our favorite silver jeweler.

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Artisanal Silver

Then we meandered down to the Jardin Nebulosa to try some of their craft beers. They were good, and afterwards we needed a nap to prepare for dinner.

Everywhere we went I was on the lookout for photo opps. This trip was all about friends, food, and photos.

Dinner was fantastic, and the Raicilla cocktails were fun and entertaining. I am sure Elinore's Facebook page has a review of the restaurant, buT damned if I can make FB cough up the link to it. Good Luck if you try to find it. I hate FB.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Flowers

The next day, more photographs, and then the drive down, which was better, and once we got to the black top we swept through the curves with eyes on the road and a foot on the brake peddle, on the lookout for pot holes.

We loved the trip with John and Elinore, but now I am sure I'm never going to drive that road again, until next time.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico



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October 14, 2018-Bright Bags

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Bag Art

I call it "Bag Art". Oh, it's not all that much art, just something which I think is kind'a fun; making an attractive and colorful sail bag. You see, I got a couple of spinnaker bags from China, one more than I needed. (I guess ordering in Cantonese is not my strong point). Both were black. Boring. What is worse is that I knew it would cause my forw'd hands some confusion: "Go get the A3". If there are five to choose from, maybe you get the right one, maybe not. But if I gave the bags some distinctive colors and distinctive markings, well then it would be easier: "Get the A3, (black bag)" or "Get the black and yellow bag with the A2 in it".

So I bought some yellow sunbrella scraps from Mike and my white insignia cloth and we got out the sewing machine, and off we went, making new bags.

On top of that, we took some time to re-measure the spinnakers, just in case we needed to prove that they were legal size, and we put the sails into the bags with a nice fold, to make them pack smaller.

All in all it was a nice project for a couple of days.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October 2, 2018, Sailing Again

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John Trims the New Kite

We’ve been heads down working, not sailing, for three months. The boat has been laid up.

Now the boat is back together and though the work is not finished it is to a point that we can sail and we have some new sails to try so we will go out tomorrow.

Sitting on my settee, the Chicken Tikka and red wine still warm in my belly, I felt the cool bundle of battens for the carbon mainsail lying on the pilot berth next to me where I placed them earlier which must be mated with the sail and set for the first time along with a new jib fresh out of the bag and a new spinnaker, still unseen.

Oh Heaven, new sails, a refreshed boat, and a good breeze forecast. I trembled with anticipation.

The crew shows up on time and we strike the awning and single up the lines and then we head out.

Out of the marina, out to the Pacific Ocean, out into the breeze.

The mainsail unfolds from the deck and snakes skyward. It fills, we heel. Next the jib; it is stiff and hard to handle; the price we pay for a racing sail.

But when these awkward sails are aloft and their shapes reveal the power designed into them the boat starts climbing to windward. We love it.

The new mainsheet winches make sheeting the main seem effortless. We are happy that change worked. The new runner leads are good. The secondary winches are fine, and other sheeting revisions don’t even seem worthy of note.

It’s all good.

But this is a test run, to look things over, to find stuff which needs to be fixed. We see that the jib needs a strop because the shackles can’t fit into the small ring. That goes onto the list. Then the kite is set. What a foul-up! We hooked it up backwards, my fault, I’d told Kelly, “Red is the tack.” But it was green. So we took it down and reversed it, then there was a twist we had to undo.

But when the new spinnaker filled, finally, we had had some fun. It was flat and we sheeted it in and sailed high onto the wind. Up we went. The crew was amazed but I nodded, this is what I ordered and this is what I designed.

We jibed and some more items went on the list, a prod for the lazy guy, some chafe patches, new rings on the kite. The bags need some labeling; plenty of time for all of this, racing does not start until December.

And then we were back. We folded sails and sent the crew home; too hot to ask them to hang around any longer. Judy and I finished it off; we folded the kite after dinner.

Now we can focus on the smaller projects. We know the main things are done and the boat can still sail.

In December we will be ready.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle



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Thursday, September 27, 2018

September 27, 2018-Project Update

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Fresh Paint

Since our last project update we’ve been working hard on Wings. We had a long list of things to get done and by now many of them, all of the major ones, are completed or nearly so: inside the aft cabin repairs and repainting has been completed, the workshop and vanity areas have been repaired and repainted, the deck has been repaired, sanded, and repainted, the bow hatch has been completely refurbished, the toilet has been rebuilt and the toilet plumbing has been refurbished, the leaking water tank has been fixed, two new stanchion bases have been custom welded and the broken one was installed, four winches are refurbished and two additional secondary winches have been purchased (but not installed), and changes to the mainsheet system are completed.

Whew, it has been a bit of a drudge. Working on a boat in La Cruz in the summer is difficult. Humidity and heat wear you down if you are working outside, but we have persisted. We drink a lot of water.

A lot of work remains, lots of smaller projects, mostly ones we could delay if needed, but we’ll keep at it, and with where we are now, we know we’ll be sailing again soon.

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

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September 20, 2018-The Wreck of Alarife

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Morning After

Is This The End of the Line for Alarife?

Over the radio came the words any skipper dreads to hear, “Alarife is dragging, Alarife is dragging!”

Pandemonium broke out in La Cruz. It was 9:30 PM and a wild squall had just rolled through the area.

There was a path of destruction in the anchorage and marina. And now one of the boats was dragging towards the shore.

The first we’d heard before that was sound of rain. That is a sound which we rather enjoy because that means that the rain catcher is beginning to do its job. Then we heard the splash of water dumping onto the deck which means the rain is too heavy or the wind is blowing.

Then our whole boat shook as a big wind gust hit us. That was the beginning of the wild squall.

Immediately it was really blowing hard and howling. I turned on the instruments and saw the wind was mid thirties and increasing. I opened the hatch saw that the canvas was holding but the ropes needed to be re-tied. I knew I’d get soaked but I went on deck anyway to re-secure the awning.

By the time I got back below deck the wind was 36.5 knots and chatter had started to fill the radio.

People in the anchorage were checking on each other and the reports were starting to sound scary. Big winds, big waves, down pouring rain, and a night black as hell; it was not a happy time to be in the La Cruz anchorage.

That was when we call came in about Alarife. It was Dee Dee on one of the other boats.

“Alarife has definitely moved towards the breakwater!”

We knew that the owner was not aboard and in the conditions nobody could set out in a dingy to try to save it.

Mike Danielson came on the radio, “Is Alarife still dragging? Or has the anchor reset?”

“Well, the bow is into the wind, so maybe the anchor is holding again, but we can’t see in the dark for sure, but it is definitely close to the rocks”

About that time it was clear that the squall was over. The wind was dropping; 14 knots.

It seemed like Alarife had stopped short of the rocks.

But it wasn’t over. Alarife had already landed on the breakwater and nobody knew it yet. The waves had already pounded a hole in it.

When I got up in the morning the news was all over the place. Alarife had been wrecked and sunk just off the breakwater.

It breaks my heart when a boat is lost this way. This is so needless. Owners should not leave their boats un-attended, especially in this anchorage. It has no protection and squalls and thunder storms can come in from any direction. The holding is not good there. We all knew that and we all knew that Alarife was at risk. Alarife has dragged several times before. We knew it was just a matter of time and we told Jorge that. Still, I am sad about it. We knew the boat well, it was a beautiful boat, and Jorge, the owner; we knew him well too. He’s a good guy. We have raced against Alarife many times.

Now Alarife is gone. I saw Jorge that next morning and he told me that he was going to re-float Alarife and repair it, but I doubted that he has the skills or resources to do that. I thought that we won’t see it sailing again, ever. I hope I was wrong.

Click here for more of this story, and photos.

Fredrick Roswold, SV Wings, La Cruz

Comment:

This isn’t the first boat which has been lost here. It happens every year. Since we’ve been living in La Cruz there have been four or five boats wrecked here, most in similar circumstances. Even more boats have broken free and been rescued in time by other cruisers. I’ve been involved with those rescues on occasion. Interestingly these boats have all been owned by single men, most with meager resources, who left the boats at anchor because they couldn’t afford or didn’t want to keep it in the marina. In some cases the owners left the boats and returned to the United States, essentially abandoning the boats. Other just preferred to live ashore. I view this as irresponsibility and I’ve lobbied for the Port Captain to take a more pro-active role, but there is little interest getting involved on the part of any of the authorities. When there is no penalty for abandoning your boat or allowing it to become a wreck on the beach, and especially when you have little invested in it, people will continue to do this, and when the boat gets into trouble it becomes someone else’s responsibility to try to save it. That is really wrong.


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Sunday, August 05, 2018

August 5, 2018 Mid Summer's Project

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Boat Work

Our life in Mexico runs in a cycle synchronized with the seasons.

In the winter we’re racing; that’s when the racing season is. In the spring we take a cruise. And in the summer…

In the summer we work on the boat. We’re not doing much sailing during the summer time and we’ve got time to kill.

After racing and cruising there is usually a list of stuff which needs to be done on the boat. In fact there is always a list, but after racing and cruising the list gets pretty long and some things have become urgent.

This summer we have a long list with several urgent things on it.

We made it all into a Mid-Summer’s project.

We actually organized the list in Microsoft Project, a professional project management tool. We have phases, tasks, estimates, dependencies, resources, and a schedule. There are 164 tasks on this project and the total of all the estimates is 713 hours. The project started July 11 and right now it is scheduled to finish on December 24 but that date shifts as we add and delete tasks and get things done earlier or later than planned. At some point we’ll cut off the lower priority items, which fall at the end of the project, and call it done. What’s left over at that point will go back on the boat list.

There is always a boat list.

We’re working hard on this Mid-Summer’s project. We try to get each task done on time, or early, and to do that we really need to make some progress on something every day.

In the heat of summer we don’t work long hours, and daily siestas (naps) are high on the priority list too, but we keep at it and we’re making good progress. As of August 5 we are 26% completed. At that rate the whole project will take around four months. We’ve had bigger projects: we’ve had re-fit projects which required us to move off the boat for months and spend thousands of dollars. This one is much less than that, but it’s enough to keep us busy.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
MS Project


The funny thing is that when we’re finished the boat won’t look any different or work any better. All of this stuff is just maintenance items. We’ll notice the improvement but nobody else will. That’s the thing about boats, particularly old race boats: no matter how hard you work on it you’ll still have an old race boat when you get finished.

It won’t make the boat more valuable either. Not that we’re selling, but the value of a fixed up old race boat, or any used boat for that matter, isn’t generally higher just because it is in good shape. You can put $10,000 and 700 hours of work in a boat and you wouldn’t get a much better price if you try to sell it.

So why do it?

As most of our readers know by now, sailing, and this boat, are big parts of our life. Most people might be tempted to say it is our life. We can’t argue much with that. But since the boat is a big part of our life we like to take some pride in it and we want everything to work. We’re doing this project for ourselves, in other words.

And so, the cycle continues, and the mid-summer’s project goes on.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

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Monday, July 09, 2018

July 9, 2018-Booby Visit

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Boobies Arrive

Sometime a little before sundown the first night out, when the late afternoon light was at its most intense and the air was so clear that the mountains of Baja were still visible 48 miles to the west the first few boobies came rolling in to check us out.

I was on watch and I saw them coming and just because they are such beautiful fliers I turned to follow their flight. They came in high and circled the boat on the glide craning their necks to look back at me. I saw them jitter a little going through the backwash of the sails and then swoop down to the wave tops off to leeward and brush their wing tips along the crests and troughs of the blue Pacific swells as they circled back for another pass.

Within moments there were two more, and then ten. Before long there were 50 to 100 boobies circling around Wings and making passes at the rig and sails. I had no idea where they came from of how they all found their way to this spot in the ocean, or why they found us so interesting.

In the deepening shadows they were contrasted against the indigo sky and the swirling motion of 100 boobies was overwhelmingly beautiful and I watched, captivated. The boat was sailing quietly and the birds made no sound, it was all just visual. As I lay on the deck looking upward and the swell rolled Wings' mast, the birds seemed to lurch towards the mast and sail, then lurch away. It was only the movement of the boat but the image was astonishingly beautiful; it was magical. I needed a video camera but not having one I reached for the Nikon, but it just did not properly capture the spinning, wheeling, wild ballet over my head.

As suddenly as they came they all flew off, all together and in the same direction, to the South East, and I was left sailing alone again.

But it wasn’t over.

Within minutes, just before darkness set in, another group came and they repeated the whole thing, circling and swooping and checking out the boat and the sails. Some made passes as if to land but swerved away at the last minute.

So I watched the second group come and go, then a third, and then it was dark.

The next day a pair of boobies came during the daylight and proceeded to land on the bow pulpit. They tend to soil the boat so I tried to wave them off. It didn’t work; they just looked at me. Judy got the air horn and I blew that at them, which made them curious, but did not scare them off. Finally I walked to the front of the boat and when I got within a few feet of them they flew away, only to come back minutes later. Only by standing there could I keep them from landing. It was a stand-off, and I held out longer than they did and eventually they gave up and few away.

That night, the last night of that passage, boobies again came to visit and entertain us and each day pairs would try to hitch a ride. Not until we neared the mainland coast did they stop coming to us.

In many ways it was better than TV.

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

July 1, 2018-Return to La Cruz

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Sailing Into La Cruz

After 79 days in the Sea of Cortez Wings returns to La Cruz, in Banderas Bay on the Mexican mainland coast.

Most of our sailing days on this cruise were upwind days, tacking against contrary winds which were usually coming from exactly the way we wanted to go. Upwind or not we enjoyed it; Wings is great upwind and the weather was nice on those sailing days, cool and clear. The Sea of Cortez, especially on the Baja side during Springtime, is refreshing and rarely too hot. But coming back to La Cruz we left the clear, cool, dry, weather of the Baja and returned to the heat and humidity of Banderas Bay. In Baja, on the day we left, we could see land 48 miles away from us. In Banderas Bay land is lost in haze only 12 miles distant. But La Cruz is home to us now and we are happy to be returning, heat or no heat, haze or no haze.

And the wind was at last behind us. Coming into Banderas Bay we caught the afternoon thermal and we set the kite, our old and scraggly Eddie Fracker kite from 1990, but it still works. In 16 knots of wind, dead downwind, we marveled at the nice sailing conditions which we love in this place and the lush green jungle covering the land, and, yes, even the heat.

Welcome home Wings

We have not yet finished editing the photos, we'll catch up with that later.

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

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Monday, June 25, 2018

June 25, 2018-After The Hurricane

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After Hurricane "Bud"

The hurricane was a non-event. There were two days of clouds and puffy winds that culminated, as the eye moved past us, in a few stronger gusts and a couple hours of heavy rains. Then it was over.

The next day we had nothing but dramatic clouds and after that normal clear blue skies and standard Baja weather. Maybe later we’ll hear reports of more hurricane drama from other boats but we haven’t yet.

Anyhow, we’ve moved on.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Agua Verde

Today finds us at Caleta Lobo, near La Paz, some 100+ miles south of Puerto Escondido. We covered most of that distance under sail and we’ve had some brilliant sailing days and nice overnight stops. Three days ago we sailed up the San Jose Canal, tack on tack in flat water and a nice breeze past endless Baja scenery and that night anchored in Amortajada on Isla San Jose. We’ve never been there before and in southerly conditions it is a very nice place. Yesterday we weighed anchor at Amortajada at 8:00 and spent a fantastic day sailing to Isla Partida, great conditions and fast upwind sailing. We were able to tuck into our favorite little spot in Partida where there is some protection from Coromel winds. Today we sailed from Partida to Caleta Lobo and we had a chance to hook up with another sailing boat that we easily caught and passed. So these were great sailing days; we were outside all day in cool air and bright sunlight, working the boat, exercising our bodies and working together, just Judy and I, as we love to do and, after all these years, do so well.

But if you like sailing it can be frustrating this time of year in the Sea of Cortez. Often there is no wind or what wind there is can be completely contrary, or it comes in fits and starts and just when the wind fills in and it looks great and you put up the sails and it dies, a pattern which can repeat all day long.

When we tried to sail from Candeleros to Agua Verde it was like that. We worked at it all day and pretty much got nowhere for the first four hours. The wind just died every time we put the sails up. I guess most other people would just motor but we are stubborn, or I should say I am, Judy likes sailing too but I doubt if she would beat her head against a wall all day if I wasn’t there pushing it. Finally I gave up and went below, disgusted, to record the events in the log book. While I was below the wind came back up again! This time to 9 knots! When I went down the sea was glassy all around the horizon when I returned to the deck ten minutes later the water was dark blue and white caps were starting to form.

We set sail again.

Finally, that time, the wind held and we had some good sailing. For three hours, until we arrived at Agua Verde, it was magical. We sailed along close-hauled in total silence watching the amazing views of Baja and the Sierra Gigante Mountains unfold as we passed. We had nice steady breeze but no waves; the boat just heeled over and glided along with no other movement and no sounds, just smooth sailing and stunning scenery. This part of Baja is rugged, vast and empty and the awe inspiring scale of these tall mountains thrust up thousands of feet from the sea compared to the tiny scale of a human or a sailboat, makes us feel very insignificant and appreciative that we can be here and experience it.

But other times nature fools you. Sailing to Partida we stayed the right to take advantage of a forecast shift that never came. Just as we banged the right corner hard the wind shifted left 100 degrees and dropped to six knots. That little trick added 8 miles to our day.

Today the forecast and the conditions were the same so we knew what to expect. So this time, when sailing against that other sailboat, we stayed to the left when they went right and when the wind shift came we made a huge gain.

So that is sailing in the Sea of Cortez. We are starting to learn the local conditions here.

Tomorrow we’ll go into La Paz and do some shopping and maybe have dinner out. Here in Caleta Lobo we have Internet and we will in La Paz too so we can do our own weather forecasting and start planning for our crossing back to La Cruz.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing On

We expect to be back in La Cruz, weather permitting, by July 1

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Caleta Lobo

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13, 2018-In Puerto Escondido to Avoid Hurricane "Bud"

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Bar in Puerto Escondido

There is this bar at the marina in Puerto Escondido. It’s upstairs, totally open air, and here, as I sip my huge Pina Colada, I have a good view of Wings floating nearby and an astonishing view of the harbor and surrounding Baja scenery. The breeze is cool. The other patrons at the bar are mostly cruisers, many of whom we know, and are laughing and chatting quietly A couple of friendly bartenders are waiting on me. The fantastic Sierra Grande Mountains behind Puerto Escondido are slowly spreading their shade over us as the afternoon turns to evening.

I think this is paradise.

I could stay here forever except I couldn’t afford it. The reason we are here is because of Hurricane “Bud” which is coming this way. Puerto Escondido is one of the few hurricane holes on the Sea of Cortez. If it wasn’t for “Bud” coming we would be headed south towards La Paz, but the stretch of coastline between here and there is pretty open and none of the harbors offer good protection. It’s not that Hurricane Bud is so very scary, it’s rather a mild hurricane as hurricanes go (or will be as it hits the cooler water this far north), but “Bud” could fool us and turn violent. We’d rather be tucked inside Puerto Escondido than anchored in an unprotected place.

That’s why we’re hanging out here. And, since we’re here, might as well enjoy it. Hence the Pina Colada at the open air bar.

Humm, I wonder what this place will be like when the hurricane hits? My guess is that they will close it up and take everything inside. Drink on, closing time is coming soon.

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Puerto Escondido Marina

We’ve been here before. Twenty years ago, when it was an unfinished development with roads and little else (except clean, sweet, free, mountain water, which is why we came) and again two years ago when Fonatur had built a marina and finished some of the other infrastructure (and the water was still free). And we spent three days here last week. The place is pretty fantastic. There is a new owner and they’ve been on a serious upgrading binge. The facilities ashore are totally refurbished, everything clean, everything works, and there is a very complete and modern store and several shops. (And yes, the water is still sweet, cool, and free). The overall area is landscaped to perfection. It is all beautiful, very beautiful. And then there is the surrounding Baja scenery which is simply stunning. We love this place.

After our visit last week the threat of Hurricane “Bud” has kept us in a holding pattern at anchorages within a few miles radius of here and finally, today, we came back in just to be safe and, since several other boats are headed this way, to get a good mooring spot. Maybe the thought of a few more Pina Coladas had something to do with the decision.


Steinbeck Canyon Hike

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Rock Climbing

Since we first heard about Steinbeck Canyon, named for John Steinbeck who visited the Sea of Cortez in the 40’s, we wanted to hike it. Steinbeck Canyon is in the Sierra Gigante Mountains right behind the marina and the canyon goes straight up into those towering rock cliffs. We thought it would be beautiful to walk up a trail into the mountains so one morning we got an early start and headed west. A taxi took us back across the desert floor to the trail head. But it didn’t look too far, so we sent him back after he dropped us off, saying we’d walk back. Looks can be deceiving. What appeared to be a short distance from the marina to the edge of the mountains was actually a fair distance. Later, after our hike, when we walked back, it took over an hour.
It also turns out that the hike is really a climb. It goes straight up a boulder strewn gully.

After paying off the taxi driver, we started up. There was no easy going. It was climb up a boulder then down the other side, one after another. People who have gone the whole way said it took them 4 hours up and back. That’s two hours each way. Going that far rewarded those hikers with some beautiful pools of cool clear water way back up in the canyon. We didn’t make it that far. An hour into it we ran into a vertical head wall that looked passable but dangerous and besides, we were thinking, what about the abuse we were giving our aging bodies? An hour of vertical rock climbing was a lot for us and going down would be just as tough, so we turned back.

We got down okay and then managed another hour walk back to the marina. All in all a three hour hike in desert conditions was quite enough. Surprisingly we had no injuries or aches and pains. We did stop at the bar that afternoon.

It will take a couple of weeks to get to La Paz, assuming we can leave after Hurricane Bud clears out this weekend, and then we head back across to La Cruz.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Puerto Escondido

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Monday, June 04, 2018

June 4, 2018-South of Coyote

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Fred Driving

I was supposed to be cooking but instead I sat on my haunches in the gathering darkness silently looking at the waves which were rocking us. There was a northerly blowing outside and we should have been protected in the harbor but the waves were refracting around the nearby point into the bay and, not only that, they bounced off the rock wall behind us and right back to where we were sitting, making them doubly big. The motion was not dangerous but uncomfortable. I like my anchorages quiet and flat, like a mill pond. I often say, “I’ll go a hundred miles before I’ll stay in a rolly anchorage,” but here we were. We’d been tolerating the movement all afternoon, waiting for sunset when the wind would slack off and the seas would settle down. But that was an hour ago and no sign yet of a let down. In addition to that, the wind was coming over the hill at the head of the bay and flogging the awning. I hated everything about this.

I looked at the bowl of marinating pork in front of me and my cooking utensils, to say nothing of my glass of scotch. I was all prepared to BBQ. Judy was already doing her bit in the galley below deck.

“Fuck it,” I said loud enough for Judy to hear, “Let’s move to the other corner of the bay. Now.”

We could have done this at 3:00pm, in fact Judy had suggested it, but I said, “No, it’ll calm down at night.” Right.

“What about your cooking?” Judy asked.

“It’s right here in front of me, I haven’t started yet.”

“OK, I’ll turn off the potatoes and be right up.”

“Turn on the running lights and the instruments, please.”

I started the engine and Judy came up and went forward to raise the anchor.

Fifteen minutes later we were anchored in the other side of the bay. It was totally still, motion wise I mean, the wind still came in over the hill and gusted down on us. We struck the awning. Then it was really nice.

“This is heavenly,” said Judy as we finished our cooking and settled at the table for a beautiful, peaceful, meal.

This isn’t the first time on this cruise we’d been surprised by a strong northerly which wasn’t forecast. It happened a week ago in San Juanico. Nor was it the first time we’d decided to move just as night fell. Once in Phuket we already had the steaks on the grill when the wind switched and the waves rolled into our anchorage. We upped anchor and motored a couple of miles and found our way into a protected bay using the chart plotter and our GPS and anchored in the dark wondering what it would look like in the morning. It turned out to be beautiful and the quiet night made the tension of entering an unknown place after dark worth it.

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Point Mercenarios-San Juanico

We’ve been on the move south since we last reported. After we left Coyote Bay we spent a couple of days at Punta San Domingo which was especially beautiful. We then sailed to San Juanico, also gorgeous.

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San Juanico

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Baja Beautiful

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Anchored in San Juanico

We sailed on south to Isla Coronado for a night and the next morning motored over to the town of Loretto for a meal out and grocery shopping. Presently we’re in Balandra on Isla Carmen where we first anchored 20 years ago with Rovia and Far Niente and our friend Carl encountered a mountain lion.

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Dingy Repairs in Balandra

This time we haven’t seen any mountain lions, but there are Big Horn Sheep here. We found some hoof prints ashore and saw one on the beach, but none close enough to photograph, unfortunately.
In a day or two we’ll head to Puerto Escondito for water, fuel, and propane, and continue our trek south.

Other Topics:

Fuel Usage:
The fuel situation is interesting; we’ve kept track of our usage and the tank we’re on should have been dry days ago, but we’re still running on it. I’m going to let it run out just to calibrate my consumption calculation which has not been correct since we changed the propeller over a year ago.

Dingy Repair:
We’ve had to totally re-glue the transom of the dingy. It was a big job over a 3-day period and I have no confidence that it will hold. Still, one of the air tubes is leaking somewhere and I can’t find it. Damn Zodiacs, won’t keep the air in or the water out.

Electrical:
Oh, then there is the heat/electrical situation. Over the past week the temperature outside has gotten gradually warmer, (hotter, some might say) and with the extra heat our refrigerator has been running more often, almost constantly, which uses more power. That and the fact that the sun and wind have not cooperated to keep our solar panels pointed to the sun and out of the shade of our big awning means we’ve been low on power these days. To compensate we’ve been running the engine longer. That’s a drag.

Bees:
Finally, Bees. There are a lot of bees at Isla Carmen. They cruise around inspecting everything. We keep them out of the cabin with good screens and shoo them away if they do get in, but out in the cockpit they are a constant nuisance. They are always around and landing on everything, including us. They are not angry and not out to sting us, after all these bees assumedly have their own agenda and it doesn’t, also assumedly, include committing suicide and stinging us. They are just looking for something, water maybe. Beer cans are really inviting so be careful if you have an open beer. Otherwise, just remain calm and gently brush them away if they land on you. But I’d rather they go find some clover.

Again, that’s cruising.

We haven’t been doing much, but we’ve got a few nice photos, click here to see them all.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Isla Carmen

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018-Next Stop, Coyote Bay

Sailing.

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Sailing

The wind in the morning was right out of the west and blowing pretty good, 20 knots. As we got ready to depart I wondered where to put up the main and decided to do it in the harbor where at least there were no waves and the depth of the water was known. Outside who knew what hazards and difficulties we’d face.

“We’re going to put up the main in here. Drive straight to that wall opposite and then turn back into the wind when I’m ready or if you see any reduction in the depth of the water.”

Judy looked doubtful but took the helm and I want to the mast, pulling off sail-ties as I went.

“Turn now,” and I watched aloft for the windex to show we were dead into the wind. I pulled on the halyard and Judy tailed as she steered with her knees.

It didn’t go totally well; the wind blew the folded sail off the boom and the luff jammed.

“Down.”

She dropped the sail a few inches and I cleared the jam and resumed hoisting with all the speed I could muster. The jams happened twice more. The hoist was going slowly. I looked over my shoulder at the rapidly diminishing space left in the marina. I threw my back into it. Then the bow blew off the wind and the top of the sail caught under the check stay. We had to drop it again. Judy pressed on some power to bring the bow back into the wind and I resumed hoisting but it was too late; we ran out of room and had to bear away for the entrance of the marina with the main still not fully up. I’m sure it didn’t look very seamanlike but we got out of there and trimmed it up and then we flew out through the opening of Santa Rosalia Harbor at 7 knots. Good Bye, Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, nice stay, we’ll be back, although I don’t know when. Next stop Coyote Bay, 51 miles south.

“If we can go this fast with just the main I don’t see any reason to set a jib.”

So with the wind at our backs we set off to the SE on a course to clear San Marcos Island, the mainsail fully out, the wind vane steering and the boat surging.

The way the day was going to go quickly established itself; whatever breeze we had at the moment it seemed it was bound to change soon. The westerly of the departure turned within a half an hour into a north westerly and without a jib our boat speed slowed.

We adjusted to the changing breeze and put up the J2 jib, broad reaching. Our speed came back up.

But not long later, as we approached San Marcos, the wind changed again and by the time we swept by San Marco’s north point we had trimmed in and were close reaching.

And the then it began to drop, steadily.

By Punta Chivato we had only 8 knots of wind and our speed was a comparative crawl, 4 knots. It was already afternoon and we could stop at Punta Chivato for the night but the shoreline didn’t look inviting to me; too many houses. I didn’t want to turn in and anchor there.

I calculated our arrival time at Coyote Bay in Bahia Conception if we continued on. It would probably be after dark.

Not good.

“Ok, we’ll set the kite and see if we can get some speed out of this breeze.”

This time our set was tidy and we soon had the spinnaker up and drawing. After passing the island we could turn down toward Conception Bay. In the reaching conditions the speed went to 7.4. Outstanding!

But the wind was still veering and also increasing again. To try to make our course we came up onto a beam reach. We put the pole to the headstay and sheeted in. Now the steering was tricky. I took over kept the kite on a narrow edge.

“Gotta watch this closely, I don't want it to collapse.” It was 25 years old and tired. I could just see it blowing up in the next puff. The problem was sailing this close to the wind if we sailed too high it could instantly collapse and then refill and the shock of refilling with wind might blow it up.

The breeze didn’t cooperate. We kept the sail filled but the wind was still shifting. We had to keep turning. I watched our heading as it went from 190 to 198 then 203. We were going fast but the wrong direction. We were no longer making the entrance to Bahia Conception.

After an hour and a half Judy said, “I think we could do better with a jib.”

“Yeah,”

We doused the kite and reset the jib and then everything was good again. The veering wind had put us on a close reach and the wind speed still increased. Now we were going over 7 knots again and the right direction for a change. It looked like a daylight arrival might be possible.

At four miles out the wind dropped suddenly to less than 4 knots and we took down the jib and turned on the motor. It was 6:45 PM, no time to dawdle.

Almost instantly the wind refilled and shifted from NE to NW. We could have simply jibed if we’d been willing to wait 10 minutes but we didn’t know. Now the sail was already down and we didn’t feel like putting it back up.

We motored in to Coyote Bay and anchored at 7:36 PM.

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In Coyote Bay


The sun was still up.

Coyote Bay

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Posada Conception

Turns out we’d been here before. I didn’t remember but Judy thought we had. A look in the logbook confirmed that we were in on July 7, 1997. We anchored in the same anchorage, Santispac, for one night.
This time we stayed for four days, although we shifted to Posada Conception nearby.

Bahia Coyote is a really pretty place, we swam, cleaned the bottom of the boat, read a lot, met some new friends, and OF ALL THINGS, WE FOUND ANOTHER GLASSPAR SUPERLITE! I saw it in the binoculars.

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Glasspar Superlite in Posada Conception


I didn’t have our dingy put together but Ken, from the sailboat Linda Marie took me in and I met the Glasspar’s owners. Don and Nancy. Nice folks. They used the Glasspar to get out to their sailboat Bag End which was anchored in the bay.

You know, last thought I had about these Glasspars, a few weeks ago, was that it didn’t make sense to buy one, but now, after seeing a second one so soon, I began to wonder if someone up there was telling me something.

I talked to Don and Nancy about buying that boat (the Glasspar) and they seemed willing to listen, but there were problems: They still needed a dingy and how was I going to get the boat to La Cruz? We exchanged details and left it at that.

Another day or so we left Coyote Bay.

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End of the Day

Click here for more images.

Click here for the story on Glasspar Superlites.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Coyote Bay, Baja

PS Sorry if any communication from us seems sporadic; we only get Internet occasionally in the Baja.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17, 2018-Santa Rosalia

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Sailing Northward

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Santa Rosalia

We arrived in Baja, at the port of Santa Rosalia, on May 11 after a pretty decent 200 mile sail over from the mainland.

It was great to be back in Baja California, back in the hot, rugged, mountainous Baja, and great to be in historic Santa Rosalia which we have wanted to visit for years.

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Santa Rosalia

As Mexican towns go, Santa Rosalia is unique. Built by a French mining company around the turn of the century of wood frame buildings, with timbers imported for the purpose it has a look and feel of somewhere in Europe or Africa, certainly not Mexico. Compact, with narrow streets and covered sidewalks, scrupulously clean, and colorful, Santa Rosalia has a feel of its own.

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Judy in the park

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Eiffel's Church

We’ve walked all over Santa Rosalia, including up on both of the hills between which the town is pressed. The layout reminds us, on a slightly smaller scale, of Jamestown, on the island of Saint Helena, in the South Atlantic.

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Mining Machine

It’s quiet and cheap. We stayed for a week and mostly took a lot of photos.

Now we are heading south. We’ve got a month and a half to get back to La Cruz. We expect to have to plenty of time to enjoy a lot of nice anchorages in Baja and maybe some good sailing.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Santa Rosalia

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