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Monday, February 10, 2020

February 10, 2020-Ups and Downs of Racing Season


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wings in Racing Trim

There are a lot of activities here in La Cruz in January and February but for us racing is at the top of the list. So when I stood at the trophy case of Vallarta yacht Club reading the names of the past winners of the Vallarta Cup and seeing Wings’ fourth place this year it was a bit of a shock, especially considering our first overall three times in the previous four years. We’ve been sailing hard this year and having fun doing it, and in the opening regatta of the year, as we wrote previously, we were first, dominatingly so, but this time the results weren’t there.

How do we explain that fourth place?

The truth is that we are sailing against a small group of really good sailors who all want to win as bad as we do. This year everyone has been sailing well and they deserve to win.

And this year we had some problems.

For one thing we’ve had some personnel issues. Four people are out for the year due to injuries, three shoulder injuries, a back injury, and another with arm injuries. None of these have occurred on the boat (it seems that walking around in Mexico is more dangerous than sailing on Wings) but we’ve had to find replacements nevertheless. Also we’ve had people take off to go cruising on their own boats, so we needed more replacements. And some of the replacements have not worked out. The net is that there has a lot of been crew turnover.

As for ourselves, Judy and I have remained committed to our workout regimen and think we are pretty fit, but even we have found that our old bodies are showing signs of stress. This week Judy has started treatment for a shoulder injury herself.

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Judy in the Dr's Office

Our constantly rotating crew is doing their best and they are pretty good; a few are real stars but some boat handling problems have occurred which cost us time and these can be traced partially to inexperienced crew.

A complicating factor is that our tactics and helming have suffered while we try to deal with on-the-job training of the crew. It is hard to stay focused on tactics while you are trying to watch what 10 other people are doing.

Putting it all together, facing tough competition, rebuilding our crew, and less than stellar tactics…it’s not surprising that we are behind the curve this year.

Still, in competition there will always be winners and losers. The good thing is that we love to get out on the water and always try to do our best.

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Judy and Kelly on the roof-top bar

Despite our racing performance sailing has been good with good winds and good friends aboard and otherwise life in La Cruz has been pretty nice too as it always is this time of year. The weather is glorious, the music scene in La Cruz is booming with great new bands and live music playing somewhere every night, usually at more than one place. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to cut back and not go out every night. Local activities have also been fun. If our sailboat racing has been less than stellar, the La Cruz Kids Club has been able to put on a terrific regatta with toy boats built out of scraps and trash.
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Boat work, car work: We’ve been making progress against our project lists and keeping up with occasional mechanical problems. Keeping our old Chrysler in good shape has required some investment. A total front end rebuild has helped with the speed bump issues, and we have some other fixes completed and more upcoming. The boat, of course always provides repair opportunities. At the moment we have two water tanks out and new ones being built. The good news on both the car and the boat is that the repairs cost less here in Mexico then they have elsewhere. We’re happy that we feel that we can keep our vehicles in good nick.

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Water Tanks


So that’s the update from La Cruz.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Dec 29, 2019-Racing Season Begins with a "Blast"


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Starting on Port Tack

With a “Blast” in December our racing season got underway.

On day one of the Banderas Bay Blast, after a pretty decent start (seen below) we sailed well on the first beat and controlled the small but competitive performance class. We rounded the windward mark first only to watch Olas Lindas sail past on a tear and extend their lead to the finish. We could do nothing to stop them, but we retained second place. It was not unforeseen; it’s happened before in this event, and as usual, it left the next two races to determine the overall score.


Day two, however, was our day; the long beat to Punta Mita is our favorite race of the year and the conditions were perfect this year, once again. The fleet set off one by one, slowest boats first. Over 30 minutes after the first boat got underway we started in pursuit of them, and, staying close to shore and out of the tide, we quickly began to overtake.

Over and over we tacked into the shore, twelve times, while our competitors stayed out. Each time, as we approached the rocks the tensions on board Wings became high. I called for the crew to be ready but I held the course steady; straight toward land. The depth gauge ticking down, 25, 20, 19…

Judy finally made the call, “Let’s get out of here, Fred!”

“TACKING.”

The boat turned suddenly, away from the shore, and we sheeted the sails in on starboard tack, heading out. The depth was 15 feet.

Other boats know this strategy too and we watched behind us to make sure none of them got inside of us, but how could they? We’d completed the tack as close as it was safe to go.

At the halfway point we were in the lead and then the big right hand wind shift began to show. Over the next half hour the wind rotated from 240 degrees to 330 degrees and it increased to over 19 knots. We were inside the shift which provided further gains.

We were being lifted towards the shore now on starboard tack and in fact we had to turn away from a couple of the rocky points. We were flying with the big genoa but becoming overpowered. It took a careful hand on the helm to stay in control but I didn’t want to lose the time it would take to change sails. I feathered up when the nearness to the shore permitted, and, nervous about the depth, closely watched the depth finder. The boat speed increased, we grew closer, and luckily we hit nothing.

We finished the 8.6 mile beat and the race at 2:35:14PM. 1 hour, 35 minutes, and 18 seconds. It was our best time ever for this race, 13 minutes better than last year, and two minutes faster than the previous best time, in 2016. And nothing on the boat was broken.

Obviously we were pleased.

Day three saw different conditions. This 12 mile downwind race started off fast with up to 25 knots of breeze and we set the spinnaker and flew at over 9 knots, pole to the headstay and barely in control.

At the mid-point of the race the wind died entirely.

The fleet stopped.

We scanned the ocean. Except for two catamarans which had gone far to the south, no one was moving.

Behind us two of our competitors coasted to a stop within yards of us. I could hear them talking.

Then I felt the slightest breath of air and somehow the sail filled. We moved ahead a little. The boats behind didn’t catch it.

More air came and we gained some speed. It seemed like only a few minutes but it must have been half an hour or more before I again looked behind us. There was nobody in sight. No one! A door had slammed shut.

The two cats were now just ahead and we worked hard to catch them, but to no avail.

We finished third, a minute or two behind the catamarans, but it was enough to win the regatta: a second place, first place and third.


More Social Events:

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Party on Wings

Jimmy and Robin came for a visit and we had a good time with them, including a dinner party on Wings with several of our common friends.

We enjoyed the “Sailor’s Splash Party” put on by Nayarit tourism and we saw Mexican folk dancing at the Sunday Market.

For Christmas Dinner we joined other friends in La Cruz.

All in all it was a good month.

Click here for more photos and another video.

Fred & Judy SV Wings

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019 La Cruz Social Events

The busy social life we fall into each year in La Cruz is in full swing.

Of course we’ll be sailing a lot now that sailing season is here and have already started that, and there is pool Volley Ball, and Mexican train Dominos. More on these later.

But there are also the adhoc events.

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Fred Finds a Halloween Mask

It seems like a while ago, but it was only last month, we dressed up and went to the Halloween Party at the Tree House Bar. The costumes were not prize winners but scary enough.

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Run! Judy, Run!

And Sunday Market has started, which is always a combination social scene and shopping trip, (if you can get out of bed early enough on Sunday Morning).

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Meeting Friends at the Market

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Mexican Fishermen Harvest Shark Fins

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Dona Marie

Then there are always opportunities to take a land trip or two. We drove with Deborah to Tepic. She had business at the couthouse there and we just wanted a ride.

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Road Trip to Tepic

These stories are best told with the photos, so click HERE and see all the shots.

Later on we’ll have photos of the sailing, volley ball, dominos,

AND reports from the busy Music Scene, which is always fun in La Cruz

Fred & Judy, SV Wings

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

November 20, 2019-Racing Season is Upon Us Again

Racing season is just kicking off here in Mexico; the temps are coming down from barely tolerable to wonderful and the air-conditioner is about to be stowed. We've taken the solar panels and the last load of cruising equipment to the storage locker, loaded the racing sails and bent on the carbon main. The big Bruce anchors and the chain are in the dockbox. The diver has cleaned the bottom again and tomorrow he'll wax the topsides (but that's just for looks).
 
One by one the crew have drifted back into town and stopped by to check in, and they each inspected the results of our summer's work. I have to say it's generally nods of approval I see as they stand on the dock and stroke their chins scanning the new hardware, running rigging, and fresh deck paint.
 
We've tested everything that can be tested, even the new navigator has been doing his navigation exercises with the tablet computer. Now we just need to get out of the berth and shake out the cobwebs.
 
Weds we'll put on supplies of beer and water and see if this ole' girl can still go.

Yahoo, it's sailing season again in Mexico

Fred & Judy, SV Wings

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

October 15, Visiting Family and Boat Work


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Saquoia, Josh, and Ashley

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Sewing a big sail

It’s been a busy couple of months since we got back from our cruise this year. Time flys.

People ask, “What have you been up to? Are you OK? We haven’t seen a blog entry!”

OK, but posting a blog takes some work and we’ve had priorities, like flying to Seattle to visit family, and like a big project list of boat work which needs to get done before we start racing.

So the blog post was put aside.

But I didn’t want to put it off forever, so here goes.

First of all, even though the blog has been quiet, we’re fine. We’re back at the dock in La Cruz (though not in our regular spot, that’s another story). We’re going to the gym, we’re playing pool volleyball, and Mexican Train dominoes.

I spent a week in Washington State and got some quality time with my family, that was terrific, even met a new great grand daughter, Saquoia.

And the boat work plugs along. Some new deck paint, big dingy fix, sewed on a sail, lots of small projects, and more to do.

I think the best way to tell you about it is to show you the photos.

Click here to see the newest family photos.

Click here to see some of the work we’ve been doing.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

August 8, 2019- Re-Entry

It was more like a space voyage than a cruise; we hardly ever left the capsule.

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Easy Sailing

After finally hitting escape velocity in May, and breaking free from the gravitational pull of Banderas Bay we travelled south to the Coasta Alegra (“Happy Coast”) which includes places like Chemala, Tennacatita, La Manzanilla, Cuastecomates, Melaque, and more. These are beautiful coastal towns, and bays, very quiet this time of year, and we enjoyed orbiting around this coast for a bit more than two months.

I say orbiting because we just went around and around from one place to another and back again, being lazy mostly, but when the beer ran low we had to go to town, almost any town. Otherwise we stayed at anchor and read books or worked on boat projects, of which we had several. We only put the dingy together once. In Barra we did go into the marina for a few days and hung out with Ted and Brenda on Firefly and saw a few other cruisers who were still out and about during this late-in the-season time of year. Mostly the anchorages were absolutely empty.

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Wings' Cockpit

It was peaceful. It was a very nice time, this year’s cruise.

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Judy on Watch

Now we are back in La Cruz and experiencing re-entry; re-entry into marina life, cars, shopping, dealing with marina officials. We have stuff to do. Can’t just take long naps every day.

I actually miss the lazy days anchored in Barra Lagoon or Tenacatia.

Of course there are also still boat projects to be done, a whole list of them await us. How far we get on that list nobody knows but we’ve started.

Then there is the marina staff to deal with. First of all they gave our slip to another boat even after confirming it was ready for us two weeks prior to our return. The owner of that other boat promptly left town and his boat can’t be moved. We got a back-up spot but it’s not really ours. Bummer.

Then they raised the marina rates on us for the second time this year and another rate increase is pending in November. Has the facility or the service improved? No. We just pay more.

Well, we’ll survive all of this. We’ll just settle down and get on with our project list.

Oh, one other item, we’re back in the gym and that feels good. We’re a bit off our pace from three months ago, but it’s coming back.

The travelers have landed.

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Re-Entry

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz

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Monday, July 22, 2019

July 22, Frozen Beer Headaches

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This beer won't pour

I didn’t get a headache from drinking frozen beer; it’s from trying to keep the beer from getting frozen in the first place.

We have a new refrigerator. New insulation, new liner, new compressor, new evaporator, new thermostat. It worked great for a day or two then it started freezing my beer (plus, it’s using too much electricity).

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New Refer

I started trying to figure out why and I found that the compressor wasn’t shutting off; it ran continuously.

Must be the thermostat.

So I changed the thermostat. It ran good for an hour then resumed freezing my beer.

That’s about when the headaches started.

I checked the control unit. It seems to work perfectly.

This was going on for about a month. We were turning it off at the switch panel and using the phone’s timer to remind us when to turn it back on. (That’s just what I needed, another alarm going off every 30 minutes.)

Persistence is as stubborn does. I dug into the manual. I searched the Internet. I read cruiser’s forum. I sent a support request to Dometic.

And I found something. It was a “maybe”. But the installation manual called for the thermostat sensing wire to be clamped to the evaporator box with half of a loop of the wire inside the clamp. I’d made one and a half loops. (If half a loop is good, one and a half is better, right?). I found some other references to the importance of the sensing wire not touching anything anywhere but at the end where it is clamped.

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Right and Wrong

It was worth a try, although getting behind the evaporator plate to change it was tough, but I did it.

Guess what? It worked. A miracle! The compressor is cycling at about 50% on 50% off.

So now the feezer is 15 degrees and the refer is 35-45 degrees, and the electricity usage is reduced by 50%.

I’m happy and my headache is gone. I think I’ll have a beer.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Barra de Navidad

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

July 14, 2019-Back to Barra

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Tucked in at Tenacatita

We spent a couple of few weeks bouncing back and forth between Tenacatita and La Manzanilla, going to Tenacatita if the winds were forecast to be northerly, and over to La Manzanilla if they were forecast southerly.

The problem is that neither anchorage is safe in all winds. In reality what we’re up against boils down to two things: We are cruising in Mexico during hurricane season and there are few good anchorages. During this season the winds can be northerly, southerly, easterly, and westerly, any direction, really, and we don’t like to be caught in a lee shore situation so we watch the weather closely to try to anticipate where the wind will come from and we move if we think we need to.

Despite all this we have enjoyed the peace and quiet of being anchored by ourselves in Tenacatitia. Our only company has been the wildlife. Recently we had a school of Jack Crevalle, which are pretty big fish, (36”) hanging out under our boat. When they took off after some of the smaller fish they made a lot of racket, splashing and sometimes running into the boat with a bang. There is also a pair of dolphins, big ones, who have been giving themselves back rubs on our anchor chain. Now that was startling!

We launched the dingy one day and did a river run, chased some birds, and visited the hotel at the end of the canal. We finished the day off with a great Rollo de Mar (rolled fish fillet with shrimps and almond sauce inside) at the La Vena restaurant.

After a few of weeks we ran low on provisions and we went back to Barra de Navidad. The marina is nice, sort of pricy, but the lagoon is the one great anchorage we know of around here. After doing provisioning and filling the water tanks, fuel, propane, etc, we went out to the Lagoon and anchored.

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Ready for the BBQ

Here we feel safe from winds of any direction.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Barra de Navidad

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Tuesday, July 02, 2019

July 2, 2019-Blast of Wind in La Manzanilla


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Anchored in La Manzanilla


The blast of wind hit at 04:30 am.

Judy and I were both up in a flash. We raced up the ladder onto the deck into the overwhelming noise of the canvas flogging, the rigging screeching, and the staccato on the backstay of the flapping American flag. I turned to Judy coming up behind me, and yelled, “Turn on the instruments!”

Reaching the deck our bodies were at once buffeted by the wind, and we hung onto winches for support. We glanced around in the darkness trying to get our bearings, which way are we pointed? What is the wind direction? How much is it blowing?

Then a lull came and everything became silent. The boat sat placidly. Not a ripple on the water. We could see the town to our left, the mountain behind us, and the rocks to our right. We’re not in immediate danger, but we’re pointing to the East, an unusual direction.

Soon another gust came in and again hit us hard. This time we could see it was from the SE; the glowing numbers of the B&G system answered most of the questions but immediately the answers went crazy. The wind was swirling around, coming from every direction and the wind speeds were all over the place.

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Numbers we need to see


Judy said, “Fred, let’s take down the awnings!”

I wanted to resist. In fact I did resist, but another strong gust changed my mind. We worked together in the howling wind, released the lines, and manhandled the awning.

“If it tries to take you away, just let it go!” I yelled to Judy.

The awnings came down. I took down the flag. The boat became quieter, even in the gusts.

Judy had been right. With the canvas down, things seemed more under control.

One of Judy’s concerns was if the wind got worse and we started to be in danger and we had to bug out then we’d need to be managing the boat, not struggling with canvas. Our anchoring spot was not a good one for this to be happening anyhow: Rocks nearby to the NW, a headland with reefs close by to the West, and a long sandy surf beach just to the SE of us. Only the NE was clear direction so if we had to leave that was the only way out. But we wouldn’t have much time and with the spinning boat it would be easy to get mixed up. A clear mind was essential. The boat had to be shipshape, ready for sea, and we had to be paying attention.

That was why we wanted the instruments on; the compass and instruments were our guides if we had to move. We knew what course to follow and the instruments would point the way. I was glad we had fixed the instruments the previous day.

After a few minutes the gusts seemed less and we went down below and sat on the settees but we were waiting nervously. We didn’t know if more wind was coming. We also didn’t know if this was a thunderstorm up in the mountains behind the town or what it was. There could be rain, even heavy rain if it was a squall. But no rain came and after a while the wind became steady from the ESE. There were no waves. Wings rocked peacefully. I fell asleep.

Later we decided that it was the SE wind which had been predicted for days and had finally arrived. That predicted wind was the reason we were anchored in this cove at La Manzanilla and we’d been there for two days waiting. La Manzanilla It was the only place around with protection from the SE, but the forecasts grew inconclusive; the SE wind might not even come. We stayed anyhow and we went ashore for some shopping and had a nice dinner there. It was a quiet town and very peaceful. We relaxed, and grew complacent. The wind woke us up out of our complacency.

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Boys everywhere by the sea


After this brief SE wind had passed through the weather forecasts called for a return to the typical NW conditions. La Manzanilla would not be good in NW winds. That day we went ashore and bought supplies. Then we set sail back to the Tenacatita side.

Wind Instruments

After being so proud of ourselves for fixing the B&G wind vane we were dismayed that once we got underway the wind direction was not working. The vane spun properly and pointed the right direction but the electrical signal did not get to the computer. We noticed it as soon as we got underway on the trip to La Manzanilla.
I had no confidence that I could fix whatever was wrong inside this sealed instrument, but I was determined to try. Back up the mast. Back down with the mast with the instrument.

I spent a day on the workbench with my meters and test probes. I checked for continuity between all the plugs and wires. I diagrammed the circuit. I finally ran some tests of each synchro path and confirmed, as best I could, that the instrument itself was working, but still, when it was plugged in no signal came through. So it had to be a bad plug connection. I carefully drilled some holes and put in some screws to secure the plug. This seemed to work. When we put the instrument back on the mast it did work. The wind direction readings came through. This was helpful that night when the wild wind came blowing through.

I have no idea how long this 40 year old B&G system will continue to work.

Water vs Power

For over 33 years we have cruised this boat. We’ve always had to run the engine to charge the batteries. Our solar power has never been, with few exceptions, enough to keep up with the electrical demand, primarily from the refrigerator. Even now with bigger solar panels we only generate about 60 amp hours per day. In the past our refer alone has used nearly 100Ah each day. Only when we’ve been in cold water and very sunny conditions has the solar kept up with the demand. The Sea of Cortez in January meets those conditions. On most days, while cruising, we run the engine each day until the batteries are full or nearly so. It has averaged between one and one and a half hours a day.

In addition to the electricity for the refer we’ve always run the watermaker when the engine is running, usually just enough to fill our water bottles for drinking water then we turn off the water maker.

Click here for more photos

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Manzanilla, Mexico

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

June 26, 2019-Evening in Tenacatita

Tonight we are, as my friend Jim Watson would say, “tucked in”. We’re behind an un-named headland in Tenacatita Bay. “Tucked in” means being as far back behind the point at you can get so as to obtain the most protection possible for any kind of wind which might arise and that’s where we are tonight: right back against the shore behind this headland.

Here we have protection from winds from the west or north or south, and SE as far east as 140 degrees, but not more east that that.

The forecast however included the possibility of SE winds, possibly strong (no exact direction given) and tonight the wind has gotten up and it’s from the SE. Right now the wind we’re getting is from 130 degrees, so it’s hitting us and has been blowing here behind our headland as high as 18 knots. But that 130 degree wind is a refracted wind. Outside the wind must be from around 150 and blowing 20 or more. Here, “tucked in” behind this headland, it curves around but loses its punch. The waves don’t come in with any kind of power here either. We can see them sweeping by out in the bay with whitecaps showing, but in here they are lame ducks.

So we’re sitting OK, at the moment.

Our bail-out plan is to leave this little corner of protection if the wind comes in stronger or it gets too rough. We can sail across to La Manzanilla town, 2.7 miles away, which looks to be protected from the SE, although we’ve never been there. We can see the lights of La Manzanilla tonight and earlier those lights were shrouded in clouds and mist and we knew it was raining there. Now it is clear over towards Manzanilla and the light rain we had here also has passed and the wind is dropping.

It’s good that the rain has passed and the wind is dropping. Going to Manzanilla in the daylight would be one thing, going there in the dark, for the first time, in a rain storm, would be something else. We’re hoping that this lull lasts.

I am on deck, writing this, and I smell the aroma of soap wafting up from below. Judy must have taken a shower. The wind has been cool but it is still humid and a shower would be refreshing. I might go down for a rinse off too, and if it remains calm here tonight we will both relax and have a good night’s sleep.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita, Bay, Mexico

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June 25, Barra and Tenacatita

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Friends in Barra

Today the wind went east of south for the first time this year.

We were a little surprised as it wasn’t in the forecast, but not shocked; there were storms brewing out in the Pacific and those storms could mess up the weather without trying and, after all, the summer winds should be predominantly southerly.

We shifted our anchor closer behind the nearby headland for more protection in case the SE wind came in stronger, which it might in the next few days. We circled like a dog getting ready to lie down, just to check out the surroundings before dropping the anchor in 15 feet.

It looked safe but if a strong easterly comes in we’ll move over to the bay at La Manzanilla. I don’t worry about that eventuality, I even relish it, as we’ve wanted to see Manzanilla for a while. An easterly wind would give us a good excuse.

All of this is taking place in Tenacatita where we arrived two days ago from Barra De Navidad, and we can see ourselves staying here, weather permitting, for a week or two. It’s quiet here; no other boats are anchored here and, other than a few surfers and some hotel guests walking on the beach, we are alone. We’re thinking of setting up the dingy and going ashore ourselves. There is a restaurant here which has a good fish roll with shrimp and cheese inside, Rolla Del Mar it’s called, and cold beer. Although with our new refrigerator our beer is pretty damn cold itself. Same with the cokes; one blew up yesterday so we turned the refer down from seven to four.

We’d been in Barra de Navidad for the previous few weeks. We spent a few days in the marina, but mostly anchored out in the lagoon. We were the only boat in the lagoon. It’s been OK though, it’s really quiet there. We love the birds, the solitude, and the scenery. We have friends on their boats in the marina so we take a water taxi and go in almost every day.

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Ted & Brenda at the pool

The friends in the marina at the Grand Hotel are all from La Cruz, people we know well and like. It has been fun to socialize with Chris and Monica from Sea Glub, Kelly and Deborah from Simpatico, and Ted and Brenda from Firefly. We’ve had a great time with them at various restaurants in Barra and going to the hotel pool and swimming laps with Ted and Brenda. The swimming has helped our bodies recover from the sedentary life at anchor. There are five other boats from La Cruz here for the summer but the crews of all of them were gone somewhere. I won’t be surprised to see more boats in Barra in the future. The summer prices are cheaper and the facilities much better than La Cruz. For us though, the community at La Cruz will keep us going back there.

Yeah, we got a new refrigerator. The old one was acting up for a few weeks but I kept thinking it was a wiring problem or some other thing I could fix. Then, boom! It went down for good.

I was depressed at first but in the end it wasn’t bad; we ordered new parts and started living on bags of ice which, other than not so cold beer, was fine.
It took two weeks for the parts we ordered to make it through Mexican customs and while waiting we refurbished the refrigerator box. The new refrigerator was costly but refurbishment was worth it; the new setup takes less power and has more room for frozen goods.

We’ve had other boat repairs to do, but they have been less expensive. A loose wire on the alternator needed to be refastened. The impellor on the engine finally wore out and we replaced that. There have been a few other repairs we needed to do but not too many.

But then the osprey showed up.

We’ve not seen this bird around here before, but coming back to the boat on Saturday night there he was, perched on our wind instruments. Holy cow! He could break them!
The osprey flew off as we arrived and I saw his huge talons knuckled under his belly as he flew away. That was an omen. Then I noticed the wind instruments: they were broken! That bloody bird and his huge talons had crushed the windvane and there was not nothing left of it. Oh Damn! The wire probe I put up to dissuade frigate birds was apparently no issue for the osprey. He simply pushed it aside.

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Judy winches me up

The whole way to Tenacatita I was thinking of how I was going to fix those instruments, but first I had to get them down and take a close look. Shortly after the anchor was down in Tenacatita Judy ran me up the mast to retrieve what was left of the wind instruments. I found that mostly they were OK but the vane, which provides wind direction, was simply missing. Gone! I looked all over the boat to see if it fell somewhere so I could repair it, but no luck. It was nowhere to be found. The bird must have knocked it off and it landed in the water and sank.

OK, I went to work. I found some aluminum in the lazerette which I could cut with tin-snips, and after making a paper template, I cut out a new wind vane. It looked a little crude but I thought it would work.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
New wind instrument

It did, and now we have wind instruments again.

Such is cruising. Unless you are lucky something will break every day. You just go to work and find a way to fix it, or you live without it. We don’t know what will happen next, but for sure, something will.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wings in Barra

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita, Mexico

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June 25, 2019-Refrigerator Repair

Our Adler Barbour Cold Machine failed after 9 years. We were unable to determine if it was the compressor or the control unit without testing it with a new control unit which I didn’t have. Anyhow, I suspected the compressor since all the functions of the control unit seemed to be working and it was attempting to start the compressor; however, the compressor frequently failed to start. All other tests, power supply, etc, showed normal. After a couple of weeks the refer went down completely and we were without refrigeration. Not a crisis but something we wanted to remedy, and quickly.

We ordered a new Dometic unit (which replaces the Cold Machine) from Defender Industries in Connecticut. We included a new evaporator plate with the order even though our existing one seemed to be OK because the gas fittings between the compressor and the evaporator were compromised back in 2010 when the old unit was installed and I knew that to reuse the evaporator we‘d have to replace the connectors, which would involve replacing the gas, meaning vacuuming the system, gauges, etc., etc.

The shipping was supposed to take 3-5 days (it wound up taking 8 days) so I used that time to refurbish the refer box. There were gaps in the insulation near the top of the box which I filled with spray urethane foam. It took nearly a whole bottle of foam and it was a messy job, but apparently it was worth it because we saw much better performance out of the new system after doing this. I also fixed several cracks in the lining using epoxy and micro balloon filler, and finally repainted the entire box with two part polyurethane paint. I was lucky that we had all of the needed supplies to do this job already on the boat.

We hoped that this refurbishment would make the box’s insulation more effective. We have nearly 6” of closed cell foam on all sides of the box, but until now, (for the last 10 years) it didn’t seem to be very good. We decided to run some tests after the new hardware was installed.

Finally the compressor and evaporator were delivered by FedEx and we went to work to get it installed. While it was still sitting on the workbench I tested the fan amp draw and determined that I could install a second, 4” 3.5 watt, fan to more than double the air flow over the condenser. I also reconditioned all the wiring, and then proceeded to do the installation.

The install went quickly and in two and a half hours after the arrival of the FedEx shipment I had the job finished and the refer running. Other than a bit of anxiety over the correct torque for the gas connections it all went smoothly. One last shot of spray foam to fill the hose conduit and it was totally finished.

Now over one week has passed since we turned the refer back on with the new hardware and the refurbished box. It’s been two days since we reprovisioned and filled the freezer section and the box itself. Everything is cooled down. Time for some tests:

Today, during the hot part of the afternoon, we timed the cycling of the system. Over three cycles we found it to be consistent. The compressor was running around three and a half minutes out of a 14 minute cycle. That was about 28% of the time. The amps while running were 5.6A. So the average power use in amps was 1.56A, or less than 40Ah per 24 hour day, assuming the cycling would be constant for the whole period. Previously we had measured the power usage by the old box at around 100Ah per 24 hour day, so this is a remarkable improvement. We’ll do some spot checks tonight. During the test the ambient air temperature was 89-90F (31-32C), the sea water temp was 82F (27.7C). The refrigerator box was 25-45F (-4-+7C) and the freezer section was 18F (-7.7C). This is on setting 4 out of 10, and actually is slightly colder than we need. The contents of the freezer were frozen solid and some of the beers outside the freezer were also frozen. We’ll play with the settings.

The good thing about the refrigerator’s 40Ah daily load on the batteries is that we are getting around 60Ah from the solar panels so that means we should be able to run on the solar power alone on most days. (Unfortunately we need about 1 hour a day of engine/water maker running to supply drinking water, so I guess we’ll have plenty of electricity.)

So, at this point we are very happy with the refrigerator. Other than costing about 75% more than it should have due to shipping and customs, it was a pretty painless and satisfying process.

Fred Roswold, SV Wings, Mexico

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 29, 2019-Making a Mop in Tenacatita


wingssail images-nikk white
We Depart Tomorrow, With the Breeze

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

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Pta Mita Fleet Play Mexican Train

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crossing Tacks

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

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

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

“Can we stay there?” she asked.

“Not to stay, just to look.”

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

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

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

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

Making a Mop

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

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita

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Friday, May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019 Sailing to Punta Mita



wingssail images-judy jensen
Fred Sailing

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

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

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

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

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

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing fast to Punta Mita


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

Let me tell you how it works:

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

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing Strategy


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

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

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

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

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

Next time we will discuss the spinnaker run back.

Enjoy.

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

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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May 15, 2019-Work of Art


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

It broke.

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

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

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

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Temporary Faucet

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

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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