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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

June 26, 2019-Evening in Tenacatita

Tonight we are, as my friend Jim Watson would say, “tucked in”. We’re behind an un-named headland in Tenacatita Bay. “Tucked in” means being as far back behind the point at you can get so as to obtain the most protection possible for any kind of wind which might arise and that’s where we are tonight: right back against the shore behind this headland.

Here we have protection from winds from the west or north or south, and SE as far east as 140 degrees, but not more east that that.

The forecast however included the possibility of SE winds, possibly strong (no exact direction given) and tonight the wind has gotten up and it’s from the SE. Right now the wind we’re getting is from 130 degrees, so it’s hitting us and has been blowing here behind our headland as high as 18 knots. But that 130 degree wind is a refracted wind. Outside the wind must be from around 150 and blowing 20 or more. Here, “tucked in” behind this headland, it curves around but loses its punch. The waves don’t come in with any kind of power here either. We can see them sweeping by out in the bay with whitecaps showing, but in here they are lame ducks.

So we’re sitting OK, at the moment.

Our bail-out plan is to leave this little corner of protection if the wind comes in stronger or it gets too rough. We can sail across to La Manzanilla town, 2.7 miles away, which looks to be protected from the SE, although we’ve never been there. We can see the lights of La Manzanilla tonight and earlier those lights were shrouded in clouds and mist and we knew it was raining there. Now it is clear over towards Manzanilla and the light rain we had here also has passed and the wind is dropping.

It’s good that the rain has passed and the wind is dropping. Going to Manzanilla in the daylight would be one thing, going there in the dark, for the first time, in a rain storm, would be something else. We’re hoping that this lull lasts.

I am on deck, writing this, and I smell the aroma of soap wafting up from below. Judy must have taken a shower. The wind has been cool but it is still humid and a shower would be refreshing. I might go down for a rinse off too, and if it remains calm here tonight we will both relax and have a good night’s sleep.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita, Bay, Mexico

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June 25, Barra and Tenacatita

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Friends in Barra

Today the wind went east of south for the first time this year.

We were a little surprised as it wasn’t in the forecast, but not shocked; there were storms brewing out in the Pacific and those storms could mess up the weather without trying and, after all, the summer winds should be predominantly southerly.

We shifted our anchor closer behind the nearby headland for more protection in case the SE wind came in stronger, which it might in the next few days. We circled like a dog getting ready to lie down, just to check out the surroundings before dropping the anchor in 15 feet.

It looked safe but if a strong easterly comes in we’ll move over to the bay at La Manzanilla. I don’t worry about that eventuality, I even relish it, as we’ve wanted to see Manzanilla for a while. An easterly wind would give us a good excuse.

All of this is taking place in Tenacatita where we arrived two days ago from Barra De Navidad, and we can see ourselves staying here, weather permitting, for a week or two. It’s quiet here; no other boats are anchored here and, other than a few surfers and some hotel guests walking on the beach, we are alone. We’re thinking of setting up the dingy and going ashore ourselves. There is a restaurant here which has a good fish roll with shrimp and cheese inside, Rolla Del Mar it’s called, and cold beer. Although with our new refrigerator our beer is pretty damn cold itself. Same with the cokes; one blew up yesterday so we turned the refer down from seven to four.

We’d been in Barra de Navidad for the previous few weeks. We spent a few days in the marina, but mostly anchored out in the lagoon. We were the only boat in the lagoon. It’s been OK though, it’s really quiet there. We love the birds, the solitude, and the scenery. We have friends on their boats in the marina so we take a water taxi and go in almost every day.

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Ted & Brenda at the pool

The friends in the marina at the Grand Hotel are all from La Cruz, people we know well and like. It has been fun to socialize with Chris and Monica from Sea Glub, Kelly and Deborah from Simpatico, and Ted and Brenda from Firefly. We’ve had a great time with them at various restaurants in Barra and going to the hotel pool and swimming laps with Ted and Brenda. The swimming has helped our bodies recover from the sedentary life at anchor. There are five other boats from La Cruz here for the summer but the crews of all of them were gone somewhere. I won’t be surprised to see more boats in Barra in the future. The summer prices are cheaper and the facilities much better than La Cruz. For us though, the community at La Cruz will keep us going back there.

Yeah, we got a new refrigerator. The old one was acting up for a few weeks but I kept thinking it was a wiring problem or some other thing I could fix. Then, boom! It went down for good.

I was depressed at first but in the end it wasn’t bad; we ordered new parts and started living on bags of ice which, other than not so cold beer, was fine.
It took two weeks for the parts we ordered to make it through Mexican customs and while waiting we refurbished the refrigerator box. The new refrigerator was costly but refurbishment was worth it; the new setup takes less power and has more room for frozen goods.

We’ve had other boat repairs to do, but they have been less expensive. A loose wire on the alternator needed to be refastened. The impellor on the engine finally wore out and we replaced that. There have been a few other repairs we needed to do but not too many.

But then the osprey showed up.

We’ve not seen this bird around here before, but coming back to the boat on Saturday night there he was, perched on our wind instruments. Holy cow! He could break them!
The osprey flew off as we arrived and I saw his huge talons knuckled under his belly as he flew away. That was an omen. Then I noticed the wind instruments: they were broken! That bloody bird and his huge talons had crushed the windvane and there was not nothing left of it. Oh Damn! The wire probe I put up to dissuade frigate birds was apparently no issue for the osprey. He simply pushed it aside.

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Judy winches me up

The whole way to Tenacatita I was thinking of how I was going to fix those instruments, but first I had to get them down and take a close look. Shortly after the anchor was down in Tenacatita Judy ran me up the mast to retrieve what was left of the wind instruments. I found that mostly they were OK but the vane, which provides wind direction, was simply missing. Gone! I looked all over the boat to see if it fell somewhere so I could repair it, but no luck. It was nowhere to be found. The bird must have knocked it off and it landed in the water and sank.

OK, I went to work. I found some aluminum in the lazerette which I could cut with tin-snips, and after making a paper template, I cut out a new wind vane. It looked a little crude but I thought it would work.

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New wind instrument

It did, and now we have wind instruments again.

Such is cruising. Unless you are lucky something will break every day. You just go to work and find a way to fix it, or you live without it. We don’t know what will happen next, but for sure, something will.

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Wings in Barra

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita, Mexico

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June 25, 2019-Refrigerator Repair

Our Adler Barbour Cold Machine failed after 9 years. We were unable to determine if it was the compressor or the control unit without testing it with a new control unit which I didn’t have. Anyhow, I suspected the compressor since all the functions of the control unit seemed to be working and it was attempting to start the compressor; however, the compressor frequently failed to start. All other tests, power supply, etc, showed normal. After a couple of weeks the refer went down completely and we were without refrigeration. Not a crisis but something we wanted to remedy, and quickly.

We ordered a new Dometic unit (which replaces the Cold Machine) from Defender Industries in Connecticut. We included a new evaporator plate with the order even though our existing one seemed to be OK because the gas fittings between the compressor and the evaporator were compromised back in 2010 when the old unit was installed and I knew that to reuse the evaporator we‘d have to replace the connectors, which would involve replacing the gas, meaning vacuuming the system, gauges, etc., etc.

The shipping was supposed to take 3-5 days (it wound up taking 8 days) so I used that time to refurbish the refer box. There were gaps in the insulation near the top of the box which I filled with spray urethane foam. It took nearly a whole bottle of foam and it was a messy job, but apparently it was worth it because we saw much better performance out of the new system after doing this. I also fixed several cracks in the lining using epoxy and micro balloon filler, and finally repainted the entire box with two part polyurethane paint. I was lucky that we had all of the needed supplies to do this job already on the boat.

We hoped that this refurbishment would make the box’s insulation more effective. We have nearly 6” of closed cell foam on all sides of the box, but until now, (for the last 10 years) it didn’t seem to be very good. We decided to run some tests after the new hardware was installed.

Finally the compressor and evaporator were delivered by FedEx and we went to work to get it installed. While it was still sitting on the workbench I tested the fan amp draw and determined that I could install a second, 4” 3.5 watt, fan to more than double the air flow over the condenser. I also reconditioned all the wiring, and then proceeded to do the installation.

The install went quickly and in two and a half hours after the arrival of the FedEx shipment I had the job finished and the refer running. Other than a bit of anxiety over the correct torque for the gas connections it all went smoothly. One last shot of spray foam to fill the hose conduit and it was totally finished.

Now over one week has passed since we turned the refer back on with the new hardware and the refurbished box. It’s been two days since we reprovisioned and filled the freezer section and the box itself. Everything is cooled down. Time for some tests:

Today, during the hot part of the afternoon, we timed the cycling of the system. Over three cycles we found it to be consistent. The compressor was running around three and a half minutes out of a 14 minute cycle. That was about 28% of the time. The amps while running were 5.6A. So the average power use in amps was 1.56A, or less than 40Ah per 24 hour day, assuming the cycling would be constant for the whole period. Previously we had measured the power usage by the old box at around 100Ah per 24 hour day, so this is a remarkable improvement. We’ll do some spot checks tonight. During the test the ambient air temperature was 89-90F (31-32C), the sea water temp was 82F (27.7C). The refrigerator box was 25-45F (-4-+7C) and the freezer section was 18F (-7.7C). This is on setting 4 out of 10, and actually is slightly colder than we need. The contents of the freezer were frozen solid and some of the beers outside the freezer were also frozen. We’ll play with the settings.

The good thing about the refrigerator’s 40Ah daily load on the batteries is that we are getting around 60Ah from the solar panels so that means we should be able to run on the solar power alone on most days. (Unfortunately we need about 1 hour a day of engine/water maker running to supply drinking water, so I guess we’ll have plenty of electricity.)

So, at this point we are very happy with the refrigerator. Other than costing about 75% more than it should have due to shipping and customs, it was a pretty painless and satisfying process.

Fred Roswold, SV Wings, Mexico

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