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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Feb 19, 2017-Febuary in Vallarta

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Winter Fog

February is the middle of winter in Puerto Vallarta. The picture above even looks cold but actually the weather is great in February; we get cool nights and warm days. Rain is rare this time of year and fog is rarer still. Mostly the days are great.

During January we were racing at least twice a week, but in February it slows to once a week and that leaves time for other activities. One of those activities is whale watching. This year, after some reduction in recent years, the whales are back in numbers. Maybe it is the cold water; this year the bay is cooler than it has been. Everybody is seeing whales. We’ve taken friends out a few times to watch them, but whale watching is tricky; when you are trying to find whales they seem to keep their distance. On two trips we only got brief sightings; that was enough to call the day a success but not enough to give us the spectacular photo ops we were looking for. So we had nice days on the water with good friends but they were not much for whale watching.

On the other hand when we go out for a race the whales seem to frolic around us.

Mike Danielson organized a “Shake it Out” day on the water where anybody could go out sailing and Mike would give them trimming and tuning tips from his Cal 20. I had to pick up Phyllis at the airport so we didn’t take Wings, but Judy went aboard Nakamal. That day the whales put on a display that none of the “Shake it Out” participants will soon forget. The whales were everywhere and they were close.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wow, That was Close!

There were plenty of back and tail displays but also several breaches, one just yards away from Nakamal. Moments later a whale surfaced just feet from away. Judy, from her perch on the stern of Nakamal, thought she could have touched the whale. Elinore was steering and was a bit nervous about these large creatures swimming right alongside her boat but they didn’t really cause anyone much alarm and Judy was just totally excited. They were all still talking about it when the boats got back to the dock.

Of course the crews were busy sailing their boats and nobody had a camera ready. Can you believe it, no photos!

I watched from the beach and I had my camera and a long lens but I was looking the other way and missed the best shots, and besides the distance was too great.

brad redden
Practicing Alone with the Heavy Kite

We have also had some cloudy days and some with stronger winds. Three times during the Wednesday Night Beer Can races we’ve been tested by bigger winds than are usual in Banderas Bay. We’ve had 25 knots across the deck which is perfect Wings sailing weather but it gives the crew some new challenges. One of those challenges is spinnaker work. We’re pretty good in the normal 10-15 knots we get on most days but I can tell you that when we were beating to weather with the boat heeled over, in bigger waves, and with the spray flying, the forward hands were nervous as they rigged the 1.5 oz. kite. I could see some anxiety in their eyes. Nobody would have complained if I had decided against the set. But we needed to get some more practice in these breezes and when we turned down wind I immediately called for the hoist. I won’t say it all went completely smoothly the first time but we got through it, and now, as Paul, the bowman put it, “We’ve looked death in the eye and we survived.” Well that may be a bit dramatic but jibing a full size symmetrical spinnaker in 25 knots of wind is a bit scary. And the next time we were better.

Now I know, we all know, that we can do it, and if we get heavy air in the next races we’ll be better prepared and confident.

Some of our competitors have been skipping these Weds races. But we treat these races as practices and these practices may help us in the future, and that’s the idea behind practicing, isn’t it?
We’re feeling good about the remaining races of the season, which is over in early March.

So February passes along, we are sailing a lot, our lives are full and everything is pretty good.

We hope you are enjoying the snow where you are, we haven’t seen any.

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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