Wingssail Home Wingssail Images LogBookPages Map of our travels Index Email Fred & Judy

Thursday, May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018-Next Stop, Coyote Bay


wingssail images-fredrick roswold

The wind in the morning was right out of the west and blowing pretty good, 20 knots. As we got ready to depart I wondered where to put up the main and decided to do it in the harbor where at least there were no waves and the depth of the water was known. Outside who knew what hazards and difficulties we’d face.

“We’re going to put up the main in here. Drive straight to that wall opposite and then turn back into the wind when I’m ready or if you see any reduction in the depth of the water.”

Judy looked doubtful but took the helm and I want to the mast, pulling off sail-ties as I went.

“Turn now,” and I watched aloft for the windex to show we were dead into the wind. I pulled on the halyard and Judy tailed as she steered with her knees.

It didn’t go totally well; the wind blew the folded sail off the boom and the luff jammed.


She dropped the sail a few inches and I cleared the jam and resumed hoisting with all the speed I could muster. The jams happened twice more. The hoist was going slowly. I looked over my shoulder at the rapidly diminishing space left in the marina. I threw my back into it. Then the bow blew off the wind and the top of the sail caught under the check stay. We had to drop it again. Judy pressed on some power to bring the bow back into the wind and I resumed hoisting but it was too late; we ran out of room and had to bear away for the entrance of the marina with the main still not fully up. I’m sure it didn’t look very seamanlike but we got out of there and trimmed it up and then we flew out through the opening of Santa Rosalia Harbor at 7 knots. Good Bye, Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, nice stay, we’ll be back, although I don’t know when. Next stop Coyote Bay, 51 miles south.

“If we can go this fast with just the main I don’t see any reason to set a jib.”

So with the wind at our backs we set off to the SE on a course to clear San Marcos Island, the mainsail fully out, the wind vane steering and the boat surging.

The way the day was going to go quickly established itself; whatever breeze we had at the moment it seemed it was bound to change soon. The westerly of the departure turned within a half an hour into a north westerly and without a jib our boat speed slowed.

We adjusted to the changing breeze and put up the J2 jib, broad reaching. Our speed came back up.

But not long later, as we approached San Marcos, the wind changed again and by the time we swept by San Marco’s north point we had trimmed in and were close reaching.

And the then it began to drop, steadily.

By Punta Chivato we had only 8 knots of wind and our speed was a comparative crawl, 4 knots. It was already afternoon and we could stop at Punta Chivato for the night but the shoreline didn’t look inviting to me; too many houses. I didn’t want to turn in and anchor there.

I calculated our arrival time at Coyote Bay in Bahia Conception if we continued on. It would probably be after dark.

Not good.

“Ok, we’ll set the kite and see if we can get some speed out of this breeze.”

This time our set was tidy and we soon had the spinnaker up and drawing. After passing the island we could turn down toward Conception Bay. In the reaching conditions the speed went to 7.4. Outstanding!

But the wind was still veering and also increasing again. To try to make our course we came up onto a beam reach. We put the pole to the headstay and sheeted in. Now the steering was tricky. I took over kept the kite on a narrow edge.

“Gotta watch this closely, I don't want it to collapse.” It was 25 years old and tired. I could just see it blowing up in the next puff. The problem was sailing this close to the wind if we sailed too high it could instantly collapse and then refill and the shock of refilling with wind might blow it up.

The breeze didn’t cooperate. We kept the sail filled but the wind was still shifting. We had to keep turning. I watched our heading as it went from 190 to 198 then 203. We were going fast but the wrong direction. We were no longer making the entrance to Bahia Conception.

After an hour and a half Judy said, “I think we could do better with a jib.”


We doused the kite and reset the jib and then everything was good again. The veering wind had put us on a close reach and the wind speed still increased. Now we were going over 7 knots again and the right direction for a change. It looked like a daylight arrival might be possible.

At four miles out the wind dropped suddenly to less than 4 knots and we took down the jib and turned on the motor. It was 6:45 PM, no time to dawdle.

Almost instantly the wind refilled and shifted from NE to NW. We could have simply jibed if we’d been willing to wait 10 minutes but we didn’t know. Now the sail was already down and we didn’t feel like putting it back up.

We motored in to Coyote Bay and anchored at 7:36 PM.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
In Coyote Bay

The sun was still up.

Coyote Bay

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Posada Conception

Turns out we’d been here before. I didn’t remember but Judy thought we had. A look in the logbook confirmed that we were in on July 7, 1997. We anchored in the same anchorage, Santispac, for one night.
This time we stayed for four days, although we shifted to Posada Conception nearby.

Bahia Coyote is a really pretty place, we swam, cleaned the bottom of the boat, read a lot, met some new friends, and OF ALL THINGS, WE FOUND ANOTHER GLASSPAR SUPERLITE! I saw it in the binoculars.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Glasspar Superlite in Posada Conception

I didn’t have our dingy put together but Ken, from the sailboat Linda Marie took me in and I met the Glasspar’s owners. Don and Nancy. Nice folks. They used the Glasspar to get out to their sailboat Bag End which was anchored in the bay.

You know, last thought I had about these Glasspars, a few weeks ago, was that it didn’t make sense to buy one, but now, after seeing a second one so soon, I began to wonder if someone up there was telling me something.

I talked to Don and Nancy about buying that boat (the Glasspar) and they seemed willing to listen, but there were problems: They still needed a dingy and how was I going to get the boat to La Cruz? We exchanged details and left it at that.

Another day or so we left Coyote Bay.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
End of the Day

Click here for more images.

Click here for the story on Glasspar Superlites.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Coyote Bay, Baja

PS Sorry if any communication from us seems sporadic; we only get Internet occasionally in the Baja.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17, 2018-Santa Rosalia

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing Northward

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Santa Rosalia

We arrived in Baja, at the port of Santa Rosalia, on May 11 after a pretty decent 200 mile sail over from the mainland.

It was great to be back in Baja California, back in the hot, rugged, mountainous Baja, and great to be in historic Santa Rosalia which we have wanted to visit for years.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Santa Rosalia

As Mexican towns go, Santa Rosalia is unique. Built by a French mining company around the turn of the century of wood frame buildings, with timbers imported for the purpose it has a look and feel of somewhere in Europe or Africa, certainly not Mexico. Compact, with narrow streets and covered sidewalks, scrupulously clean, and colorful, Santa Rosalia has a feel of its own.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy in the park

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Eiffel's Church

We’ve walked all over Santa Rosalia, including up on both of the hills between which the town is pressed. The layout reminds us, on a slightly smaller scale, of Jamestown, on the island of Saint Helena, in the South Atlantic.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Mining Machine

It’s quiet and cheap. We stayed for a week and mostly took a lot of photos.

Now we are heading south. We’ve got a month and a half to get back to La Cruz. We expect to have to plenty of time to enjoy a lot of nice anchorages in Baja and maybe some good sailing.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Santa Rosalia

Labels: ,

May 11, 2018-Fred’s Little Dream Boat

All the boys at the beach where I spent my summers as a kid wanted boats of their own. We were too young for cars but a boat, well, that would be great.

One boy, Johnny, the coolest boy, already had one. Johnny’s Poky Dot was really a very tiny speed boat, hardly more than a bathtub, but a great boat with a good design and Johnny buzzed around that bay in it all the time, and usually with a teen age girl or two at his side. We had to have one too (the boat and the girl).

I got my dad’s old rowboat and converted it to a speed boat, a poor speed boat. The other boys followed suit with whatever they could put together, but the season was late and we barely got to use them before school was ready to start and we headed back to the city.

The next year we all worked in summer jobs in the Valley and the boats hardly got used. Mine even sank.

Glasspar Brochure
Glasspar Superlite in 1961

But I still lusted after a real cool speed boat like Johnny’s. I dreamed of a Glasspar Superlite, made in California, a 9’ 8” sleek beauty with a special hull shape (which few would appreciate but I did) which I would equip with a powerful motor and custom consol and seats just made to take a girl along. I sketched it on the cover of my school notebook many times.

I never got that boat. More summer jobs, then college, then marriage and kids. They all got in the way. I did eventually get a Glasspar boat, a bigger one for water skiing and camping, which was more practical and it was great; we used it all over Washington and California. But the dream of the Glasspar Superlite never left me even after the factory that made them burned down and they went out of production.

As an adult I searched the Internet for them but never found one for sale. I checked out every small white fiberglass boat I saw to see if it was a Glasspar Superlite. I found three. One on the beach in the San Juan Islands, tied to a log. I said, “I wish I could take that boat home and make my speedboat” but I didn’t. It was somebody’s dingy, I don’t know who. The next one was found, surprisingly, in Walvis Bay in Namibia, Africa. It was modified, but clearly a Glasspar Superlite. I thought, now this is strange, how did it get to Namibia?

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Glasspar Supelite in Altata

Finally, this spring, I found one in Altata, Mexico. It was beat up and two small boys were using it to toss a fishing net off the beach in Altata. I took some photos. It was definitely a Glasspar Superlite. Now this one called my bluff: This was one Glasspar Superlite which was definitely within my grasp. After we got back to La Cruz I could borrow a truck, drive up to Altata, and buy that boat. I am sure I could get it for a small price. Then I could take it back to La Cruz and do a full restoration, buy a good motor, and then…

Then what?

What would I do with a 9’ 8” speed boat? I’m no longer 15 and I am certainly not going to buzz around Banderas Bay and try to pick up girls. There aren’t even many places to buzz around to, not like Skagit Bay. And where would I keep it? Plus, I could better spend the time and money on maintenance on Wings, which always needs more work.

So, practicality wins out. I am not going to buy this Glasspar Superlite.

And I am going to stop dreaming about it. Sometimes we have to let our dreams go and anyhow, what is the good of a dream, which, when it finally can come true, you don’t act on it?

Click here for more photos


Labels: ,

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 10, 2018-The Second Sand Dune

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy and the Sand Dune

We lazed around in the anchorage at Isla Santa Maria near Topolobampo for three days, waiting for southerly winds before resuming our trek northward, relaxing and enjoying the quiet, sheltered, waters and happy to sit on the boat and do nothing. One day we motored into town to buy fuel and top up our Internet, but we returned to the same anchorage.

wingssail images-judy d jensen
Boy! That Sand is HOT!

Finally, on the fourth day we launched the dingy and drove along the shore, surveying the area with a lead line. We also went to the beach to explore the dune, running around on the hot sand until it burned our feet and we had to splash into the water to cool off. We watched our footprints being erased by the blowing wind. It was fun.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

But on Tuesday the wind came in from the South, unexpectedly a day early. The anchorage at Isla Santa Maria is protected from all westerly winds, including NW and SW, but it is open to the South where the wind was coming from and the waves grew big. We didn’t think the south wind would last all day, and I am sure we could have stayed and toughed it out, but we don’t like rough anchorages even for a short while. After breakfast we raised the anchor and moved four miles to Punta Copas, another sand dune. To my eye this anchorage is even more beautiful the Isla Santa Maria; it is a gently curving north-south sand bar with still, deep water right up to the shoreline. We’d seen this place as we passed at least four times and I always wanted to try it. It would poor in a northerly but perfect in winds from the southern quadrant. A fishing boat was there already and we anchored near them.

This was just an overnight stop as, we planned to leave on Wednesday, and we didn’t even go ashore, but we enjoyed sitting on deck that afternoon watching the peaceful surroundings. A pair of swallows immediately found us and started building a nest in our boom. I chased them off but they were persistent. By Wednesday morning there was a pile of stick and twigs on the aft deck where they dropped them if I was too close. This has happened in other harbors in Mexico during May. The swallows always find our boom with its good openings and cozy inside. Too bad for them we don’t stick around.

Wednesday the South wind was back and we departed at noon for Santa Rosalia, 197 miles away.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing North

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Night Running

Click here for lots more photos, including sailing onward towards Santa Rosalia

Fred and Judy, SV Wings, Santa Rosalia

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 06, 2018

May 3, 2018 Sailing to Isla Santa Maria

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing to Windward

We stand at the navigation station on board Wings and review the charts and the weather forecasts. We plan an 11:00 AM departure from Altata Estuary.

First we’ll motor the 5 miles to the Altata ocean bouy, then make our departure NW up the coast to Isla Santa Maria, 97 miles away. We want to be at the ocean bouy by 12:00 Noon.

We plan a 24-hour passage and expect good upwind sailing conditions.

The flooding tide, with current is over two knots, delays us more than we expected. We’re at the sea bouy at 12:40, forty minutes late, but it’s not a problem; we have extra time built into the other end. There is no wind despite a forecast of 7-8 knots. It is calm. We turn to our course and continue to motor up the rhumb line.

By midafternoon a light wind arrives and with it a strange choppy sea. We look at the sea conditions and the sky and we both think stronger wind is coming. We set the number 4 jib and start sailing.

We clear the decks and prepare for rougher weather. The awning is stowed below. A reef line is led to the winch. Everything is made ship-shape on deck and below. Within an hour we have 15 knots of breeze and bigger waves but the boat is making great time upwind, going 6.8 knots. By nightfall the wind is blowing 17-18 knots and the waves are yet bigger. The boat is sailing fast but we’re taking a pounding in the waves. The noise of the hull hitting the water as we fly off of one big wave after another is loud. It happens about once every 30 seconds. We don’t like it. Heavy water lands on the deck and washes over the dodger. It floods the cockpit and a hatch which was not dogged down lets water into the aft cabin. Our bed is wet. We dog the hatch and straighten things out. It’s been a while since we sailed in these conditions. We’re rusty.

Now we settle in for a long night standing three hour watches and wondering whether the wind will continue to increase. It does not. 18.6 knots is the peak. Later the wind drops to 12kts and the seas flatten. There is a full moon. We’re still going fast and we like the conditions better than earlier. At 3:00 AM however the wind returns with a surprising suddenness; Bang! 17 knots, and a shift to the right which favors starboard tack. We tack over from port to starboard and settle in again. Now we are back into the pounding. If anything it is worse than before, but at least the boat is not taking as much water over the bow. Perhaps the waves are just a little different. The off watch sleeps uneasily in the pounding.

On my watch I notice the dingy fuel tank on deck by the mast is moving around. I harness up and go forward to secure it. While forward I look at the mast. It’s pumping a bit much for my liking. I return to the cockpit and increase the pressure on the babystay to hold the mast better. I wish I’d noticed it earlier; it must have been doing this for hours.

Later I hear a sharp “Ping” and then something metallic hits the deck. I look aloft with a flashlight, then forward. I see the babystay connection has broken. The baby stay is swinging wildly. I go below and find a heavier bolt as a replacement for the pin which failed, return to the foredeck, reconnect the baby stay and go back to the cockpit.

Through the night we’re going 6.5 to 7 knots and pointing 36 degrees to the wind, which is quite good and we don’t know many other cruising boats that could do this. We don’t particularly like it but we’re happy the boat can perform like this in these conditions.

Daylight finds us 20 miles out from Isla Santa Maria, near Topolobampo, and we make a final tack. We have overstood and can to crack off a bit to the entrance. The boat speed is now over eight. It looks like we’ll be pretty close our projected ETA of 12:00 Noon at the sea buoy.

12:15 we sweep past the sea buoy going in excess of eight knots. The wind is 17 and above, same as the last time we sailed into this port. Does it always blow here?

As we come abeam of Isla Santa Maria we round up into the wind and Judy pulls down the jib and ties it off. She is stressed because she is on the foredeck instead of being back in the cockpit where she can watch the chart plotter and depth instruments. Plus, it’s hard work. I am thinking about that and I don’t know any other cruiser woman who can do what Judy does at age 68. Or any age.

The wind is 19 – 20 knots now. We are sailing under mainsail alone into an unknown anchorage. The chart looks wrong. Now we’re both a little stressed, but we are sailing slowly with the main and the water is 36 ft deep, so we’re OK.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Isla Santa Maria

We find a spot behind the big sand dune and drop the main. Judy pulls it down and secures it while we anchor under power. She goes forward and lowers the anchor. For 30 feet of water she lets out 150ft of chain. I back down hard, it holds. She signals that it’s good, we can kill the engine. I turn off the engine.

We are anchored at Isla Santa Maria, outside of Topolobampo. It was a hard sail, but a good one.

Click here to see more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Isla Santa Maria

Labels: , , , ,

May 1, 2018-Altata


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Morning Fog

No matter how many photos you see or how much you read in a guide book you never really know what a place will be like until you get there.

From what we had read about the town of Altata it was going to be a sleepy little Mexican beach town with a few stores and restaurants and a bunch of pangas pulled up on the sand.

Instead Altata is a very nice Mexican tourist town undergoing a total refurbishment. It has a wide and beautiful malecon, nicely paved (decorative bricks) roads, many restaurants, and very few stores. It also has no gringos, no tourist hotels, and basically no bars. You cannot find a margarita here, or even tequila, in a bar (but they are in the stores).

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Some mornings Altata it is quiet, but in the afternoons and on weekends it is packed with Mexican families and the scene often goes on all night. It seems like the Mexican tourists expect to hear music, loud music, all the time. Anyhow there is music, recorded and live, played at top volume, everywhere, all of the time.

Maybe it is worth it to describe the sources of the music here. First, some of the sidewalk stalls, of which there are dozens, have huge speakers set up, blaring Mexican music. Second, some of the open air restaurants, of which there are also several dozen, (in fact, this town seems like it is nothing but restaurants) have speakers set up with music playing. Then there are the panga tour boats which ply the bay taking tourists for boat rides. They ALL have loud music systems playing a variety of music at top volume. If you want to learn about loud music systems for a boat, come to Altata and check out the pangas. And finally, there are really wonderful sidewalk brass bands. They always have a tuba, trombone, a couple of trumpets and clarinets, and two drums. When they play, which is often, there is no melody or rhythm; they just pick up their instruments and wail away, blaring as loudly as they can, in total cacophony. It goes on for hours. It’s really all a very wonderful racket.

From our boat, while we were anchored off the town of Altata, we could hear it all, plus, it seems the voices of every person walking, talking, and laughing, on the malecon. And traffic noise, there were motor bikes and ATV’s cruising up and down the street every evening.

There are 6 or more cell towers in town and strong 4G cell signals, but only one puny church and no plaza and no taxis. This is one weird Mexican town.

Despite all of this noise and weirdness we loved Altata. Maybe we’d have liked it better if it was a sleepy little Mexican beach village, but we rather liked it the way it was. It has been one of our favorite stops. We liked strolling the malecon and watching the Mexicans relax and we liked going to the outdoor workout center in the park.

There is a marina, a small one, but it is way out of town, up a mangrove slough, and to us, there was no reason to go there and nothing to see or do. We visited by car.

Two other boats from La Cruz came here while we were here. They didn't stay in the town. They motored in, stayed one night in the marina, and motored back out.

We stayed 8 days.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Water Fun

Why is Altata so busy, and undergoing all of this development? It has become a main ocean and recreational access for the large city of Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa. There is apparently a lot of money in Culiacan, mostly agribusiness I think, although I’ve heard illegal drugs contributes some, For miles up and down the shoreline on either side of Altata there are holiday homes of rich Mexicans from Culiacan, which they use for weekends and vacations. Like I said, there is apparently some money around here. The Sinaloan government has decided to develop Altata and they are pouring funds into the town.

Altata Estuary

We sailed out the estuary from the town of Altata today and anchored inside the mouth in the middle of nowhere. It is 10 miles from town.

It was a wonderful sail inside the estuary, like a beautiful blue lake, with nice breezes and flat water. The breeze lifted us to the course we needed to follow and we did only two tacks all the way. It’s really a lovely place to sail. The thing is, there are no sailboats here, and no cruisers visit, and if they did, they wouldn’t be sailing, they’d motor.

Out here it’s pretty and it is quiet, a relief from noisy Altata, but it feels remote. We know we are alone. The shoreline here is a mile or more away from us. Where the two arms of this estuary extend a dozen or more miles up and down the mainland coast and out the mouth of the estuary to the ocean no shoreline is visible, just a blue horizon.

The entrance to Altata is daunting. It is marked, but it’s easy to get confused about the actual channel. We missed it on the first try and had to go back out when we got into shallow water with breakers nearby. Once we found the actual channel it was easy, but it required vigilance.The othe two boats reported the same problem with the entrance.

Tomorrow we move on.

So that is the report from Altata.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Altata

Labels: ,

NEXT Page (More) , or... GO BACK to Previous Page