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Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 24, 2017-Merry Christmas

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From Fred & Judy

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Dec. 23, 2017-December Round-up

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Birds on the mast

Just woke up from a nap. Maybe I should write a blog; it’s been a while.

Holy cow! I haven’t written since October. Where did November and December go?

I guess we’ve been busy with boat projects and guests.

How about a short round-up?

Bad Bad Birds

In November the little birds return. We get swamped with these little birds, swallows, I think. They flock to the marina every morning during November and December. Hundreds of them. One thing they like to do is land on sailboat masts. Like this bunch on our mast.

I don’t like them on our mast. It’s not that they will damage it like the bigger ones do, but they poo-poo on our boat. In fact they poo-poo on the shade awning which we also use for a water catcher. One thing you don’t want on your water catcher is bird poo.

There is a way to get rid of the birds. You just go outside and, with the flat of your hand, sharply hit the shrouds which makes a big noise and a sudden vibration which scares the birds. So, each morning, when I get up, I look out the bathroom hatch to see if there are birds on our mast. If so, and in November and December there usually are, I go outside and whack the mast. They all fly away.

(Try Full Frame)

The birds are actually pretty smart. If you do this tactic for a few days they learn not to come to your mast. In fact I’ve watched them come flying in for a landing on our mast then swerve off at the last minute. However, if you go away for several days they learn that too and then they start landing on the mast again and you have to train them all over.

But, in the meanwhile, we’re drinking bottled water.

San Blas Haul-out

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Boat Work

This year we decided to do our annual bottom job in San Blas. The prices are better there than in La Cruz and it’s only 60 miles away. So, to save a $1000 we’ll take a little trip to San Blas, and have a holiday there as well.

Some really good friends of ours, Jimmy and Robin from Orcas Island, said they would come with us for the sailing and hang out in San Blas. That was great news!

So on Dec. 5 off we went to San Blas. The sailing was great (but sadly, we took no pictures of that) and on the morning of Dec. 6 we hauled out in the Fonatur Marina in San Blas and promptly got going on the bottom job.

There were two complications on this trip: One, we misunderstood the racing schedule back in La Cruz and we only had 5 days to finish the bottom paint and get back for the first race. Whew! We had to hurry. The other was that we found the water depth coming into the river in San Blas was quite a bit shallower than expected. We got in OK but getting out wasn’t going to be easy because of a lower tide on the day we expected to leave.
The first problem we solved by hiring a fast worker and encouraging him to get done according to our schedule, which he did.

For the water depth issue Jimmy came up with a good idea, “Lets hire a boat and go out to the river mouth and survey the channel. Maybe we can find a deeper route.”

That’s what we did. For $600Pesos we hired a panga and driver for an hour and we set out on a little Lewis and Clark style (updated with modern equipment) survey. Jimmy had his GPS and a notebook and I had my leadline. Forty minutes later we’d checked out the whole entrance and had our deep water channel located. Back on Wings (in the boat yard) we updated our electronic chart with all the new soundings.

Two problems solved.

Nothing left to do but hang out at the hotel pool and do some exploring.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Hotel Hacienda Flamingos

San Blas is a historic Mexican colonial town and once was one of the most important ports in the Mexican galleon trade. Some of the old structures still exist, such as the “Contradura” or fort at the top of the hill. We went there and looked at the old buildings and the view. We also saw the old church (from 1773).

And we sampled most of the restaurants and bars in the town. It was lots of fun and re really enjoyed re-connecting with Jimmy and Robin. Robin was a great hostess in their hotel suite, Jimmy was a huge help on the bottom job, and there were some fun scrabble games in the garden each night. The trip home was uneventful except that while the river channel we surveyed was deep enough, the travel lift was not. We stuck our new bottom paint in the mud when they let us down. Shoot!

Click here for images of San Blas from our previous trip.

Monster Spars

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Monster Spars

There is a shortage of racing marks in the La Cruz area so for our local races we have to use temporary marks. Sometimes an inflatable mark is set but this has to be taken in after each race, and that, plus setting it, is an onerous task. Often a home-made spar buoy mark which can be left on site for a few months is used and both last year and this year I made some spar buoy marks for that purpose.

To make a spar buoy like this you buy a long piece of PVC pipe, 200cm (10 inches) in diameter and 4 meters (12.5 feet) long. You fill the bottom with concrete and hang a anchor chain off the bottom of that, put foam in the top, and slap in some red paint. Eureka! You have a spar buoy. However, a 12.5 foot, 200lb spar buoy is really pretty big. So we call them, “Monster Spars”. I made them bullet proof tough and they should be unsinkable, but as we’ll see later, there must be some design flaw. Read on.

As soon as I finished these two I donated them to PV Sailing and told Mike Danielson they were his now.

But, just as last year, the first one he set only lasted a few days. In less than week it disappeared. We have no idea where it went. Did it sink, get stolen, or drift away? We just don’t know. But for sure, it is gone. Well, we have one more and if that one goes, I’ll make more.

Racing Season

I’ll do another story soon about our racing season which kicked off the day after we got back from San Blas. Suffice it to say however, that we’re doing OK so far. We’ve had four races and got four first places. (Well, four first-in-class finishes. For overall, we’ve got three firsts and a second. Still, not bad.)

We’ve been sailing with an older Dacron mainsail because our new mainsail got lost in shipping. We’re hoping that is resolved soon.

So, stay tune for an update.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas

Click here for more photos from December.

Fred & Judy, S/V Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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