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Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, Chiapas to Huatulco

Judy Works the Pole

We left at noon and set sail on port tack in a light sea breeze, holding our course up the coast all afternoon. The wind veered and dropped a little as the sun got low and we tacked out looking for a starboard lift but actually we expected it die altogether, which it did, and we started the motor.

Four hours later the ongoing motor problems reappeared and the oil pressure went to zero. We had to shut down the motor. This time, however, the oil level was up, not down as before, and it was thin. Fuel dilution? This new symptom was familiar since it has happened before when an injector failed, and gave us a new clue, but added to all the other symptoms, the diagnosis was still unclear and we hated to be heading across the Tehuantepec without a reliable motor. However, we were convinced that Huatulco was a better place to get work done than Chiapas. We just had to get there.

But we had some wind; the nightly offshore breeze came up and we set sail again and sailed through the rest of the night, worried about the motor.

The next day we changed the oil and the motor seemed OK for the moment, and we had enough oil for three more oil changes, so we felt better. We could use motor if we had to.

During the morning the wind came more from the east and in perfect conditions we set the spinnaker. It seemed surreal to us, and we felt it must be a rare event, sailing east to west across the Tehuantepec under spinnaker, but with a good weather forecast we were not expecting any problems and we had none; we sailed across the Tehuantepec without issue.

Huatulco

On Wednesday we arrived in Huatulco, which, as Judy wrote, was the actual crossing of our outward path and marked the completion of a circumnavigation, which we feel good about. Even though it wasn't what we had necessarily made as the focus of our cruising life this past eighteen years, getting around the world is an accomplishment, and most of all, it has been a wonderful experience. All the beautiful countries and people we've encountered have given us a rich life.

On Thursday night we headed back to Chiapas by bus to collect the car and we drove here on Friday.

Road Block

It was an interesting drive, that one to Huatulco from Chiapas. At a place just over Oaxaca state line the local motortaxi group blocked the highway, right on a bridge. We think it was a protest over the motortaxi rates. Anyhow, we were stuck for 2.5 hours and traffic got backed up about 2 miles in both directions. Some people turned around and went back, to where I don't know, but a big double semi truck driven by a guy sympathetic to the motortaxis came in and blocked both lanes, so we were blocked from getting out that way. The State Police came, with lots of guns, talked to the taxi guys, then left. Then the Armada de Mexico came, also with a lot of guns, talked to the taxi guys, and also left. Finally two Federales came, with fewer guns, and there was some announcement which made the taxi guys cheer, ( I heard "cinco pesos") and ten minutes later the blockage broke up. In the three months we've been driving in Mexico we been in three roadblocks, two in Oaxaca.

The roadblock delayed us by 2.5 hours and we wound up driving into Salina Cruz in the dark, to Judy's total dismay, and so we stayed in a hotel there that night and came the rest of the way here the next day. It's beautiful country, all the way from Chiapas to Huatulco, sensational, but we don't feel like driving it again; lots of curves and too many humungous speed bumps and machismo Mexican drivers. The wind when we were on the bus east of Tehuantepec, at Chivela Pass, was strong and gusty and we saw trucks blown over on the side of the road. The bus itself was swaying mightily, but that didn't prevent the bus driver from flying at 70MPH on what was a very narrow and dark highway, with oncoming swaying trucks doing the same. Geez! Thankfully the wind didn't affect us as much when driving the car but the trucks and buses still scared us.

Now we are enjoying Huatulco while Wings' engine is temporarily out of order without a fuel pump, which we inspected and found to be defective, so that is good news: at last we have a definite problem which we can address. A new pump is on the way from San Diego and due in a couple of days. Then, just maybe, we'll find out if it fixes the multiple oil problems we've been having since June. If not, next we'll check the injectors and injection pump.

Next stop, whenever we're ready to go onward, is Acapulco.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Huatulco

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

November 12, 2014-Arrived in Huatulco

Today we sailed into Huatulco, Mexico, crossing the track we laid in March 1998. Officially, we have circumnavigated the world, but our journey has encompassed so much more than counting the miles. This is an amazing planet. Humans around the globe are generous and loving and have the very same desires of freedom and opportunity to pursue their goals as ourselves. We are so much more alike than we are different.

Judy & Fred, SV Wings, Huatulco

(Fred will post a story soon, with photos, of the Tehuantepec crossing, obviously, we made it.)

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

November 9, 2011-Anticipating the Tehuantepec

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Waiting

It’s just that we’ve been hearing about this one for twenty years. Even the word itself, Tehuantepec, has sort of an evil rhythm: "two wan to peck". I can hear the soft southern voice of our friend Kathy from the yacht Tumbleweed, talking about those awful “Tehuantepeckers”. She shuddered some when she said that and she was a little throaty, not quite a laugh, not quite a choke. It must have been, oh, about 1996, when she told us about the Tehuantepec. She said it was scary and they was glad when they got across it.

The problem is that the Tehuantepec has scared a lot of sailors, us included. It’s not that we haven’t faced rough crossings before: the passage from Fiji to New Zealand was a fearful one which we survived. Sailing the Agulhas current off of Africa’s East Coast was another. And Cabo de la Vela on Colombia’s north coast is a leg that sailors just about universally dread, such is its reputation, and we sailed that one.

In each case we just swallowed our fears and set out. In each case we made it through.

But this one...

Bad Day for Tuhuantepec Crossing

I have to say I’ve been stressed out about it.

Like a huge malevolent back draft, the Tehuantepec seems to pulse and roar with evil intent. So says NOAA. When NOAA personifies a weather phenomenon, then you wonder.

Even so, we need to cross. I sat at the computer and studied the weather maps, the web sites, the NOAA models. I sensed Judy behind me, looking over my shoulder. She didn't say much, but she was watching. Finally I managed to find a weather window; a period of time when the winds should be manageable. Not a period with no wind at all, we must sail. If the motor quits when you are out there without any wind you are a sitting duck for the next pulse. No, we want a window with wind between 10 and 15 knots, out of the north; that would be fine.

We’d leave around 6 AM Friday, noon at the latest. I know what they say about Friday sailings, but we don't pay that any mind, and we'll cross the Tehuantepec by noon on Saturday and be safely into Huatulco by Sunday morning. It was a tight window, because we had to be off the water by Sunday when the next pulse was due, but we could do it.

We swallowed hard and got the boat ready. More than ready, we did everything.

Then Mexico screwed up the plan: they couldn’t complete the paperwork in time to make the weather window. Just one little clearance paper. That’s all we need. It isn’t even an international clearance, just a zarpe for our next Mexican port. They couldn’t do it on Thursday, couldn’t tell me why, so we started on it at 8:30 Friday morning, already late. Then I wound up sitting for hours in one office after another while people typed on their old Underwoods. By 1:30PM we still weren’t cleared to leave and the Port Capitan wanted to bring his drug sniffing dogs to search the boat, so we scrubbed.

We told them we’d leave on Monday.

If everything goes a little better than it did on Friday we’ll get out of here on Monday night. The window isn’t as good, the winds will be light and from a contrary direction, but we’ll have more time, so we’ll go.

Meanwhile, we wait, and after all the stress about deciding when to go, then not going... it put me into a really foul mood. I sat in a funk on my settee berth and thought about all people I’d like to kill. I drank some Tequila. Nothing helped.

But, I’m over it now, and Judy is OK, she thinks if plans get changed it all happens for a reason anyhow, so we’re fine.

Monday, unless the weather changes dramatically, we'll try again to cross the Tehuantepec.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Just Posted-Blast from the Past-New Zealand Airshow

We've just posted a story and photos from our South Island trip in April 2000, including the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow.

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Bleriot at Wanaka

Click here to go to the story, or

Click here to go right to the photos.

We've got a quite a few more old stories to put onto this blog but give us time, they are sometimes hard to find.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

Friday, October 31, 2014

November 1, 2014-Getting Ready to Go.


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Working on the B & G

“Why is the wind speed showing zero?” I thought, “There’s obviously a little breeze, we’re sailing in it.”

I looked up at the mast head and the wind speed cups looked back at me; they were stationary.

Houston, we have a problem.

I walked forward and shook the head stay, giving the mast a good jiggle, the equivalent of hitting it with a bigger hammer. The cups rotated about half a turn, then stopped again. This time nothing moved them.

When you have thirty year old instruments you are not surprised to see them break. Not happy, but not surprised. A trip up the mast and back down with the recalcitrant mast head unit in my hand revealed nothing in particular; the cups seemed to turn fine. Maybe the bearing was a little loose; after all it’s been up there spinning for thirty years. The anemometer was the one part for which I had no spare

I wrote Myles, in Florida, who has been faithfully sending me B&G parts for about 20 years. I wasn’t even sure if he hadn’t retired by now, but he did reply a year ago when I had the last problem, and, sure enough, he wrote right back to me yesterday too.

“No, I don’t have an anemometer to sell you but I might be able to put a bearing in that one of yours, if the screws still turn, and if you are in the US where we can send things back and forth.”
Wrong on two counts: The screws seemed pretty stuck to me, and anyhow, I wasn’t going to be in the US anytime soon.

But I dove into it. On the workbench I laid out all my parts. I replaced what I could and cleaned and serviced the rest. The thing was, when I got finished, it seemed to work fine. The slightest breath would make the cups turn. OK, I’d still love to find another anemometer, but meanwhile, we’ll put this one back up, which we did, and it works perfectly.

How did this happen? Judy provided a possible clue: She said she noticed that there were a bunch of cobwebs all over the cups when I brought it down. Yeah, I noticed that too. Do you suppose a spider lashed that thing to a stop?

We also tried out the new mainsail. In fact that was the purpose of the trip. There wasn't much wind, but enough to see the shape. The guys at Fareast Sails in Hong Kong built a nicely shaped main, but it’s small. Not so small that we can’t use it, but small enough to aggravate me every time I look at it. It clearly does not match the dimensions I sent them and that is disappointing, but, I guess when you buy from a Chinese company, and they already have your money, you don’t have much leverage. I’ve been writing to them and they say it’s fine, and anyway, they seem to think, through some twisted logic, that if it isn’t fine, it’s my fault. Their emails skipped completely over my point that it does not measure to the specs. Well, we didn’t pay much for this sail, so maybe we got what we deserved.

We also worked on the dingy, trying to fix some leaks but when I mixed up the epoxy the mix went off and started fizzing and smoking. Funny, I thought I had the portions right. Next thing I knew it was hot and hard and had melted the plastic cup. Good thing it didn’t catch fire. The next batch was better.

Tehuantepec

So that's life in the marina; other than fixing things and socializing with the other cruisers who have finally started to show up here, we’re just waiting for the Tehuantepeckers, those strong winds which are blocking our path north, to die down. When they do, we’ll head out, ready or not.

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014-Boat Work in Chiapas


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Quiet Day in Marina Chiapas

We’ve been back in Mexico for more than a month. It has been an enjoyable time of tranquil days mostly spent working on boat projects.

While boat maintenance can sometimes be viewed as tedious drudgery, it can also be an enjoyable pastime depending on one’s attitude and approach. Our approach has been to have a relaxed routine with some time for work each day but also with time for daily exercise, for preparing and enjoying home cooked meals and with evenings free for a little good tequila and our favorite TV show.

The days run together as we tackle the boat projects one after another at a gentle but steady pace. If the work it takes to complete some minor task often seems disproportionate to the result, we don’t mind, our satisfaction comes from the time spent doing it and knowing that, in the end, our boat will be a little better.

When we are involved in a project there is a zone we can enter where we shut off the outside world and just putter along, focused entirely on the work, and where neither schedules or objectives matter. The activity becomes an end unto itself. Before we realize it we come to the end of the day and maybe we have accomplished something or maybe not, but we knock off feeling good for having done it. And anyway, the tequila calls to us.

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Now the cleaning task begins

Take winch servicing for example. Our eight Barient sail-handling winches were made 35 years ago by a company no longer in existence, so parts and repairs are not readily available, and they live in a salt-water, sun-drenched, and dirty environment. We use them for all everything, in all kinds of conditions, and they take a real beating. It would cost a fortune to replace our winches, so we try to take care of them.

To keep winches operating smoothly requires periodic cleaning and oiling. We disassemble each winch and inspect every part. There are many gears and roller bearings and a lot of other bits and pieces, each of which must be scrubbed in solvent with a brush or scraped to remove the grease and dirt. When I have finished cleaning I inspect the pieces closely and often I find it is still not clean; it needs more brushing or scraping. Sometimes I just start over. It doesn’t matter. It’s the doing it that counts.

When everything is ready the parts are and oiled and greased and we reassemble the winch then spin the drum to test our work. If it whirls effortlessly and nice clicking sounds come from the pawls we are happy. Then we put in a winch handle and see that everything turns the proper way and works perfectly. When it does, which it usually does, it is nice. It takes a day to do one of these winches, but it’s worth it.

At the beginning of this month we had a long list of projects, mostly little things but a few major items. Hammering away at them every day we’ve managed to get the list pretty much checked off. In addition to the winches we had many small electrical repairs to make and several mechanical items to fix. We also had several sewing projects. Judy worked a week making new bug screens for our hatches. We made the old ones when we in Mexico 15 years ago and they needed replacing. Fortunately, and amazingly, we still had netting and material left over from the first job to make new ones. She got into the task and did a great job and we know the new ones will last another 15 years.

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Ready for Re-launch

We also did a haul-out this month. We just finished the haul-out and re-launched the boat on Friday. It involved some keel work and replacements of through-hulls and sea-cocks, as well as the normal sanding and painting of the bottom. The project went well; while we tackled the repairs, the workers at Marina Chiapas did the sanding and painting and we were happy with their cheerful and steady progress.

Much is going well but we do have our problems. Our new mainsail, which we ordered from Fareast Sails in Hong Kong, has disturbed our tranquility. When we put the sail on the boat and measured it we found it did not match the design specifications. We’ve been communicating with Fareast Sails to understand why this happened and what are going to be the consequences of the discrepancy. At this point they are giving us a bit of double talk and basically denying responsibility. They say we asked for a custom shape and that caused any problems there might be, and can only suggest to us that we ship the sail back to them so they can look at it. Then, if they don’t agree that there is a problem, we have to pay for the shipping both ways, plus, presumably, the import duty to get it into Mexico again. Meanwhile we would be without a suitable mainsail which we need to sail north. Will we ship it back? Probably not. So far, from how they have responded to us, we have no confidence that they will acknowledge the problem. We think the sail, while not optimal, will be usable. In the next week or two we will go sailing and check it out more thoroughly. If it is not usable we’ll have to look at our options.

Was it a mistake to buy a sail from China? We saved a lot of money by going that route and if the sail turns out to be usable we’ll just consider it a lesson learned but not too much harm will have been done. Otherwise, I don’t know.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy at Casa Mexicana, Tapachula

Meanwhile, what else has been going on? While the boat was in the boatyard we moved off and stayed in a delightful little boutique hotel in Tapachula. Called the Casa Mexicana, it was filled with art and had a virtual jungle in the inner courtyard. Casa Mexicana was a haven of peace and quiet. We enjoyed it.

But we are back aboard now and we will work towards finishing off our list and getting ready to set sail again. The hurricane season is drawing to a close, and like migratory birds, we will soon be on our way.

Click here to see more images.

Click here to see the whole work list.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014-Coffee Country


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Coffee Beans

The State of Chiapas is mountainous and from our berth in Marina Chiapas we can see some of those mountains and even two volcanoes, weather permitting. One volcano we can usually see is in nearby Guatemala, and the other one, closer, visible even more often, towers over the town of Tapachula where we go to do our shopping. That volcano, Tacana, is only about 75 kilometers from us, and closer by far to the town of Tapachula than Mount St Helens is to Seattle, if that means anything to you (so maybe if we don’t have to worry about hurricanes, at least we should pay attention to seismic activity).

We thought that a nice Sunday drive would be to head up into the mountains and see if we could get some shots of the volcano, take a little hike or two in the cool mountain forests, and maybe buy some local coffee beans from one of the fincas for which Chiapas is well known.

It didn’t seem too hard; the roads are reported to be good, the Chrysler had a full tank of gas and seemed to be straining at the bit, and we had all day. Off we went. We took the bypass around Tapachula, stopped at the Izapa ruins to see what is left of one of the most important pre-Olmec, pre-Mayan and pre-Aztec cities in Mexico, dating from a few centuries before Christ, and found it interesting but steaming in the humid lowlands, then hopped back in the car and headed up hill towards the cool mountains.

Getting to the mountains from Marina Chiapas is pretty easy: it’s about a 50 mile drive from our dock up the slopes of Tacana, to the town of Union Juarez, where the hiking trails start, the coffee fincas abound, and a nice restaurant lies waiting to serve us lunch. Easy, as long as you stay on the main drag. We made the mistake of turning off the highway to visit a small town, Tuxtla Chica, on the way, which was nice, but at that point our Google Maps navigation program decided we wanted to take the local route and pretty soon we were on a one lane road paved with loose boulders. Five miles per hour was way too fast, we were bottoming out the car, and the locals were giving us funny looks. This can’t be right, we thought, let’s get back on the main highway, but the main highway seemed to have disappeared from the database. It wasn’t on the map anywhere. According to Google, this was THE ONLY route. Boy, was that fun. But anyway, we followed the donkey track, or river bed, whichever it was, and finally made it to the next town, Cacahoatan, where the highway mysteriously reappeared, and continued to Union Jaurez.

Tuxtla Chica Market

Problem number two, which wasn’t a problem really, but it did change our plans a little, is that Tacana was completely socked in on that day, and in fact the whole mountainside was drenched in steady rain. We never saw the mountain. Never took a hike. But the restaurant was nice, we had a great lunch and the damp mountain air was cool, chilly actually. While there we also enjoyed the work of a wonderful Mexican photographer, Dasha Hornita, which is on display in her mother’s restaurant, Donde Morayma, where we had lunch. Later, on the way back down, while we knew there must be a better route, Google again insisted that we take to the back roads. That we refused to do, instead followed some nice Mexican road signs, (who would have thunk?) and found our own way to the main road, which was smoother and faster. If you ever go to this place, for God’s sake don’t get off the road at Tuxtla Chico, or if you do, turn off Google Maps and ask a local for directions.

Oh, the coffee beans? It turns out you have to get them at the Walmart store in Tapachula.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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September 23, 2014-Hurricane Hell, Hurricane Safe

Latitude 38 images-2014 Shelly Ward
Hurricane hits La Paz

The community of cruising sailors is surprisingly small and when a storm hits somewhere and devastates a fleet, as they too often do, not only do we hear about it though friends on the scene, but sometimes, too often really, someone we know is touched, not usually in a good way.

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Our friend Venus, Safe in Chiapas

So last week when Hurricane Odile tracked Baja like a sidewinder missile and made direct hits on Cabo San Lucas and La Paz we heard the terrible news immediately; neighbors of ours here in Marina Chiapas were in touch with cruisers from La Paz. Venus on SeaRenity gave us the first report: Twenty or more boats were on the rocks or sunk. People were missing including her friend Guenter Trebbow from the yacht Princess and his dog Fritz. His boat was sunk and Guenter had not been seen. His body was later found in the sunken boat. Venus recounted how they had walked their dogs together and how she will miss Guenter, as will many in the cruising community. Paul and Simone of the ketch Tabasco also went missing after their yacht went down too. They have not been seen. Another friend of Venus’, Tim Nobbs, lost his boat, Rock Bottom, (what a name!) on the rocks of the Mogote which bounds the anchorage of La Paz. It is holed and filled with water. Venus told us Tim had just finished paying the boat off. Now he will have to start over but at least he is alive. The likelihood of recovering Tim's boat and others is not strong. We heard that the Mexican Navy, which has been on the scene helping and even pulling boats off the rocks, will now focus on missing people and boat owners will need to organize further salvage efforts themselves. It will be a long haul for many. Boats were also lost in Puerto Escondito and across the Sea in San Carlos. All in all the news was not good. But in general, boats in the marinas were OK. Boats which had to ride out the storm on anchor got the worst of it.

Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Hurricane tracks

But we’re lucky: we are in Chiapas Marina in the far south of Mexico and hurricanes don’t generally hit here. In fact, there has been no recorded strike of a hurricane here since records have been kept. Look in the lower right corner for the red "X" in the image above (that’s where we are and that's why we have stayed here during hurricane season). So, while Baja has been through hurricane hell, we have been safe. We are thankful. Next year, when we have moved north, we might be closer to the hurricane areas. We hope our luck holds.

Click here for a couple more photos.

Click here , here and here for the 'Lectronic Latitude stories.

Click here and here for our 1997 hurricane reports when we were in the Sea of Cortez.


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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Friday, September 05, 2014

September 5, 2014-One lap of North America


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Somewhere East of Bakersfield

Somewhere East of Bakersfield in the Mojave Desert lies China Lake Naval Air Station and there we slid our Chrysler to a stop in front of a red stucco apartment where our granddaughter Candace answered the door and offered us an orange flavored craft beer. More importantly she gave us each a big hug and as we sat down to chat we were delighted to find that in the previous four years she has turned from a sharp navy boot to a confident and composed 29-year old woman.

Family in Twin Peaks

This has been the story of our 7500 mile loop in America; at each stop we have found that our family and friends have grown up, matured, and changed from the wonderful people we remembered into delightful people even more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. And our timing was good, for family events and tourism too. We got to Seattle just in time for the birth of our newest granddaughter, Helena Anne, we made it to Oregon for Jenny and Gabe’s wedding, we were in San Diego in time to be with the Waldrups as they celebrated the life of Aunt Levis. We even hit Sturgis South Dakota for the great motorcycle rally.

Gabe & Jenny's Wedding

So, so far, the trip it has been a success; we’ve spent quality time with my brother and sister, son and daughter, and all of their families. We’ve been together with most of Judy’s family, and we’ve reconnected with many of our friends, particularly ones we missed last time we were in the US. The car is running well, and we completed all of our shopping and bought everything on the boat list. Even the weather has been great. From Oregon south we’ve barely had a cloud in the sky, but it’s been hot; in San Diego it was over 100, and in Indio, California we had temperatures over 112. Never mind that, in the low humidity of the southwest desert, it didn’t seem too bad.


Now we’re back in Mexico. We drove through the Sonora Desert and it was stunning. We visited Mazatlan and boy has it changed; the marina area has been totally built up and then been run down. Now there is a tacky air about the marina which might cause us to reconsider whether we will bring the boat there. We’ll see.


We stopped in small towns like Tecuala, and in old cities like Cuidad Obregon, Morelia, which was historic and gorgeous, and Oaxaca. We had great meals in outdoor restaurants on centuries-old plazas. We dropped into the Valley of Mexico and struggled through Mexico City traffic for hours. We had been in Mexico City before and could have by-passed it but we wanted to experience the size of hemisphere’s largest city by driving through it and we did. Whew! Big!


Yesterday was the toughest drive. After the hours of Mexico City we finally broke free of the gridlock and climbed from the city’s 7500 ft altitude up into higher Sierra Nevada on a four lane freeway with sweeping curves and traffic moving faster than we were comfortable with, but you have to go with the flow, right? Then down the other side into Puebla with more curves and even higher speeds. The driving was tense and definitely tended to focus the mind. But too, it was exciting.


Oaxaca

Because of the traffic jams in the Valley of Mexico we were behind schedule and to get to Cordoba where we had reserved a room we had to drive into the night. In the last set of mountains we had fog, rain, road construction everywhere, poorly marked lanes, and darkness. It was exhausting, but we arrived safely in Codoba. Today we had another exciting day in the mountains with more stunning scenery and arrived in Oaxaca this afternoon.

Sturgis

Tomorrow we hope to be back at Marina Chiapas and back onboard Wings.

We have been driving long days and stopping rarely so there are few photos of the trip, but we have some of the people we stopped to see.

Click here to see photos from our lap of North America

Click here to see Gabe & Jenny's Wedding

Click here for photos from Sturgis.

Fred & Judy, Oaxaca, Mexico

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

August 03, 2014-On The Move Again

Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City

We loved Chiapas so well...

We left.

Monday we took a bus to Tuxtla, (great 6 hour bus ride and crummy dinner in Tuxtla Guiterrez.)

Tuesday we flew to Mexico City, (great dinner in Centro Historico, and stayed where I always do, for the last 32 years, at the Ritz; they gave us a suite for our loyalty.)

Wednesday we flew to Cleveland, Ohio.

Thursday we bought a used car, (Chrysler 300) and got USA phone cards.

Friday we drove to Iowa, where we are now (at Judy's niece Angie's house in Cedar Rapids).

Looks like we will drive to Seattle on Monday, or start anyhow, and visit relatives and friends in Washington State, then later in August go to Jenny’s wedding in Oregon.

Finally, after we pick up the new mainsail somewhere on the West Coast, a drive to Mexico and down all the way to Chiapas.

You can cover a lot of ground if you take to the air, and even by land you go faster than a sailboat

We’ll check in along the way.

Our New Ride

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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Monday, July 21, 2014

July 17, 2014-Mexico Again

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
In Chiapas, Mexico

Today at 3:00PM we landed in Chiapas, Mexico, after a 3 day passage from Nicaragua, which pretty much gets us around the world.

How did that happen? We didn’t set out to go around the world; we just wanted to go sailing and live in some different places. We did that; some wonderful places. But in the end we got around.

It was the westing. We thought we’d go west, so west we went; west across the Pacific, to Bora Bora, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, and others, where we saw dancing girls and met the Frangi Pangi blossoms. Then west again to the land down under, New Zealand and Oz, and of Kiwi and Roos, where sailors are kings. Finally we went west again until we got East. We arrived in China and stayed in the Far East for years, in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, and other exotic ports. Chop sticks became as familiar as fork and spoon, and spicy food became our staple. The East was nice. Friends of ours never left that place, in each of these remote corners there are ex-cruisers who dropped out of the line and they will never leave, but the need to go kept us itching for west.

So we left again and headed further west, crossing the Indian Ocean, and landed in Africa, where there are lions, and we stayed for there for a while, but there was more west to go.

Next we crossed the Atlantic and got back to the Western Hemisphere where we found the West Indies and all things Carib, and we drank the lime in the coconut and heard the Reggie but still the westing wasn’t finished.

There was Colombia and the Panama Canal, and Central America.

Through it all we kept on the move and we kept heading west.

And here we are, Mexico; back after 16 years. It feels good.

Now we look back on this voyage, and we think it has been pretty amazing, and we have more memories than we can ever tell, but are the travels over?

Maybe, maybe not, but west? No, we’re finished with west. Maybe we’ll try east.

Click here for other photos of Chiapas and Puesta Del Sol, Nicaragua


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014-Sailing to Mexico

What about the trip?

We planned three plus days to get from Nicaragua to Mexico. The forecasts, all of them, said light winds.

Or no winds. So we took fuel and went in a funk.

But there were some surprises.

There was wind. Not much, but we could sail.

And when the wind failed we could motor.

Until the motor problems reappeared. After two months of no motor problems, of no oil consumption, all of a sudden, 12 hours into a three day passage, the oil disappeared. Like that.

So we shut down the motor. We had enough oil to run for nine hours, at the rate which it seemed like we were losing it, so we decided to wait. When there was wind we'd sail. No wind? We'd sit. When we were nine hours out of Mexico we could motor if we wanted.

We had some really pleasant sailing after that. Days of light winds and calm seas. Blue ocean under blue sky. Close hauled: Wings' best point of sail. The off watch slept, like babes. The standing watch? We sat and enjoyed the best sailing we'd had for a long time. Glorious.

The wind vane? Great! Silently keeping us on the best angle. Who could steer that well? Not me.

Tacking? We did some. We beat up the coast. Past Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala. Long port tacks up the Central American Coast, short tacks off shore to get some sea room, then back at it. There was a moon, the light was nice.

That was the plan.

Some highlights? The Gecko reappeared. On a midnight watch he ran over my arm and hid under the dodger. Hadn't seen him for a month or so.

Welcome back.

Then my lifejacket inflated. I was shutting a hatch before the rain and PFFFT! My lifejacket filled and choked me like some kind of Boa Constrictor. What a surprise. I ripped it off and put on the spare. Need to get a new bobbin and bottle I guess.

Then, that was the night the oil alarm went off. So it was a night of drama.

We had some breeze on the last 20 miles into Chiapas, but the motor was already on, and we'd folded the sails, so we motored in.

You know what?

No oil consumption.

Now that has us baffled.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014-Papagayo Update


The Papagayos are behind us!

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Judy enjoys a nice sail.


We rode at anchor in San Juan Del Sur, in Nicaragua, where the Papagayos were blowing, for a week, and watched the weather patterns. After noticing that the winds were strongest from midnight to noon and that in the afternoon and evening each day they got lighter, and that the strongest area where they blew was over Popoyo, a surf town about 20 miles west from San Juan Del Sur, we resolved to leave on an afternoon, hoping on that day to get past Popoyo during the evening lull, and we waited for the best day to leave.

By Monday the breeze was down a little and we were ready so at 4:30 we set out for Corinto, expecting to get there by about 7:00 in the morning and, based on our strategy, hoping for minimal problems. Even with a good plan in mind we were nervous; it was still gustier than we wished for and the big mainsail we were carrying scared us a little.

But we went.

The sailing, however, was good. We reefed the main and set a small jib and had winds mostly in the low twenties, though at times higher, and they came from a good angle; a broad reach. With the good wind and some long surfs from the SW swell we were hitting 8's and 9's and at 8:00PM we flew past Popoyo. By midnight we were well west of the worst area and the wind got lighter, which we expected, and in the morning it died and we motored into Corinto right on schedule.

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Wings at Paso Caballos

Corinto

Getting into Corinto, Nicaragua wasn't totally uneventful; the navy chased us down after we passed their base and told us to "Go Back! Go Back!" and to stop at the main port and clear into the country, which we had already done in San Juan Del Sur, but there is no resisting men in a speedboat in combat boots and armed with AK47's, so we turned around. But that was nothing, really, the officials in town agreed we were legal, and sent us back on our route, again past the navy base, but this time they let us go, to Paso Caballos, where we anchored under the watchful eye of the San Cristobal volcano.

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Corinto, Nicaragua

The next day we walked in the small town of Corinto on brick paved streets, where traffic was mostly bicycles and a few cars, listening to music of a different culture coming out of the open doorways and seeing people in white aprons busy sweeping the streets; we were greeted with a friendly smile and incomprehensible Spanish by everyone we met. We found it delightful; Corinto is a great town. Totally absent any sign of tourism or tourists. Too bad most cruisers skip Corinto; we loved it. It's a seacoast town and seafood is a staple, so we had ceviche for lunch at the restaurante la playa and each of us had a fried whole Red Snapper at the upscale place on the estuary for dinner. The restaurant staff insisted that they drive us home (back to the boat) rather than let us walk, ("Peligroso" , they said; dangerous, but it didn't seem that way to us, however we accepted the ride).

Maybe we should have stayed at Corinto, but we wanted to keep moving, so the next day we sailed to Puesto Del Sol, which is only 15 miles, to a "fancy marina" but found a slightly run down, expensive, and mostly empty marina built by and run by an expat American, with high prices and not much to do but spend money in their bar and restaurant. Even the pool is too small to swim in. Oh well, tomorrow we'll check out the nearby village, and on Saturday maybe we'll take a 2 hour chicken bus ride to the nearest town and get some more money so we have enough to check out of the country.

We'll give you a report.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Nicaragua

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

July 6, 2014-Papagayo Winds


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Judy Sailing

In the winter time, wherever there are gaps in the mountainous spine of Central America, east winds blow through from the Caribbean Sea across Central America and into the Pacific. Around here they are called "Papagayos" and they can be fierce, as can the "Tehuantepeckers" in the Gulf of Tehuantepec and northerlies in the Bay of Panama. They are all known, collectively, as the "Gap Winds".

We're finding they can happen in the summertime too.

A combination of high pressure in Texas and some low pressure systems on the Pacific side have got the Papagayos pumping. We are hunkered down in a small bay in Nicaragua off a town called San Juan del Sur, where there exists some protection but not much, happy to be here and waiting for the gap winds to subside so we can move north.

We had been in the northern part of Costa Rica, a rugged, remote, and unpopulated area that was stunningly beautiful with blue water sailing, wide open bays surrounded by forested mountains, and no signs of other boats, civilization, or even humanity itself. It was fantastic, but tense at times. The Papagayos were often gusty and wild and the water was white capped and dark. Squalls came up suddenly. We often found ourselves looking at the horizon ahead, and beating into it for all we were worth to make it to shelter just before it got really bad, hoping the sails would hold together and the anchorage we’d picked was a good one, which luckily they all were.

That was when the weather was nice.

But the forecasts we were receiving told us the weather wasn’t going to stay nice; the Papagayo was going to howl. So we dashed across the Golfo Santa Elena and into Nicaragua, and just got anchored before the blast of wind hit.

So here we are: Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur. We been here a few days and have enjoyed the funky town, the restaurants, the stores, and the bar where we have been watching the soccer matches, but we're looking at our weather windows, trying to find a shot at crossing the Gulf of Papagayo, (which gives those winds their name) on our next leg north. We have to say we are a bit nervous about it, mainly due to not having a good cruising mainsail; the racing main is huge and only has one reef point. Even reefed it is huge. If we get caught out with that sail we will have a tough time reducing sail area. We might have to take it down completely, not much fun in high winds. Well, whatever happens, we'll deal with it.

Meanwhile, as long as we're here, we'll enjoy Nicaragua and we'll just let the Papagayo winds blow.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Nicaragua

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014-Up the Mast and a Party in Paradise

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Fred at the Mast Head

I made a new windex, sort of primitive, works a little bit, and went up the mast to install it. Got some shots, click here. Maybe it will serve until we get a new one; we can order one as soon as we get to some place where we'll stay long enough to receive a shipment, probably Chiapas, Mexico. We'll also order a new mainsail from Hong Kong and have it delivered to the same port.

We have been watching the soccer world cup in the town of Playas De Cocos, where we are anchored. Today Costa Rica won the their third game and they move up to the quarter finals. The bar, the town, the whole country probably, went ballistic with this win. We enjoyed it too, but the party looked to last all night, might have been fun, but when they started to turn over cars we went home.

Ticos Celebrate

Tomorrow we will check out of Costa Rica and prepare to depart for Nicaragua.

Click here to see some more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Costa Rica

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