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Monday, July 21, 2014

July 17, 2014-Mexico Again

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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


Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014-Papagayo Update

The Papagayos are behind us!

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
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.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wings at Paso Caballos


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.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
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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