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Sunday, October 17, 2021

B&G Instrument Project

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 

B&G Hercules 390: 40 years old

We’ve had these B&G Hercules instruments since we got the boat in 1986. They actually date from 1979, most of them.

We’ve maintained, fixed, upgraded and babied them for 35 years. They still work, but barely, and parts are getting thin.

We’d love to upgrade them to newer model instruments but the cost is prohibitive. 

Then I was given a box of slightly newer B&G Hercules gear which was taken out of a boat which was hit by lightning. They were not working and the owner said, “Replace them all”.

Opening them up I did find burned out circuit boards. 

But I thought they might be repairable so I set them up on the work bench and chart table and began an “bench test’. 

  wingssail images-fredrick roswold 

Bench Testing 

I found most of a complete system could be created out of the box of pieces but a lot of them were trashed. 

One of the most challenging parts was the wind sensor which goes on the top of the mast. It was broken and also, I wanted a newer vertical version (the new part lists for $4600, so that was out!).

It took several tries but finally I had even that wind sensor working and I engineered a vertical spar. 


wingssail images-fredrick roswold  Wind Data Works! 

Well, I still have to do some work, including a new mount must be made for the wind unit, and some other parts need to be fabricated to install the stuff, but it looks like we could have newer instruments for a pretty good price (fixer – upper instruments). 

Of course we don’t know if they will really work once they are all installed, or how long they will last, and honestly, I’ve been pretty proud of how long we’ve kept the old ones working, and I'll be sorry to see them go, but I think it’s worth it to try this. 

wingssail images-fredrick roswold  Nikon Down 

 Now if only I could get my trusty Nikon to work again. This month it died after 12 years of hard use. I’ll definitely miss that one. 

Click Here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17, 2021-700 Gallons of Free Water

wingssail images-fredrick roswold  Cooking in the rain

Right now it’s raining like hell.

That’s OK, we’re getting water in our tanks thanks to our great water catching system. Rainwater is sweet, much nicer to drink than the dock water we normally use to fill our tanks. That water is supposedly safe, and we did drink it for a few years, now we avoid it because it has a bad taste; we buy bottled water. But rain water…that is Sooo nice. Since August 1 when we got back to La Cruz we’ve collected about 700 gallons of sweet rain water and still counting! We have not had to buy water at all!

Yes, the season has been wet. We’ve had daily rains, often an inch or more. And we’ve had a near miss by a hurricane, which brought several inches.

But Hurricane Nora brought more than rain. It brought winds and waves. We were safe here in the marina but some boats had decided to weather the hurricane out in the anchorage. Two were lost.

La Cruz anchorage is not protected and not safe. Out of four boats out there three dragged their anchors. Two went aground and were wrecked. One was just dragged close to shore but in the end his anchor held. A fourth boat did not drag and held OK during the hurricane. We are glad we are not in the anchorage.

These boats were permitted to come into the marina for free but they declined. We don’t know why they choose that. Now two boat owners who lived on their boats are homeless. It is sad.

I am going to say this: In the last several years about seven boats have dragged ashore in this anchorage, onto the rocks, and all but one were total losses. Now here is the weird part, all were owned by single men, mostly men without much in the way of financial means. Guys without much money get boats on the cheap, they come to Mexico, and then they can’t afford to really take care of their boats, and too often, they lose them. I become disgusted when I think about that.

Other than hurricanes, rain, and boat wrecks,  things are pretty normal here. We’ve been doing boat projects, and gym workouts, not much else.

I think I’ll make some coffee and look outside and see how much rain is happening.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Mexico


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Saturday, August 07, 2021

August 1, 2021-Storm Clouds over Perula

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 
Storm Coming

On July 25, in the late afternoon, a dark cloud moved in over Chamela Bay. It was black and threatening; rain and wind were coming. On Wings we battened down our hatches and prepared for the squall as we watched the stormy sky move over ourselves and over the Cochinas Islands.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 
Cochinas Islands 

While storm clouds rolled over us in Perula out at the Cochinas Island there was a group of tourists on the beach. They had arrived by panga but now they were wondering where their ride home was.

A funny thing about the pangas in Perula is that they often leave their load of tourists on the beach at Isla Cochinas while they come back to town for another load. In the afternoon they have to make several trips to bring them all back.

So, at the darkest hour of this squall a lone, empty, panga went tearing out across the bay at breakneck speed towards the islands to do a rescue.

Then the rain came.

We were happy sitting in our warm dry boat as the pouring down rain landed in our rain catching awning and quickly filled our water tanks, but I’ll bet the boatload of tourists coming back in the panga a little later, barely visible through the murk, mostly in swimsuits or wet beach clothing, were all shivering and they were probably very happy to just get back to the dock. 

That is not the only episode with a squall we’ve had recently.

wingssail images-judy jensen 

Two days later we were sailing back to Banderas Bay on a very nice day of nice winds and beautiful blue skies and water. It was even pleasant as midnight approached and we were sailing towards Cabo Corrientes. But Cabo Correintes has a bad reputation. That night it lived up to its bad reputation.

I came on watch at 9:00PM and Judy told me there was a lot of lightning out west and some dark clouds. I sat in the cockpit for the next couple of hours mesmerized by a spectacular lightning. Bolt after bolt of lightning slammed down from the clouds to the sea, sometimes several at once. I noticed that behind my back there were other lightning flashes happening. We were surrounded.

We were sailing close hauled on the wind vane in 13 knots of wind with a full main and genoa but the wind began to build. First 15 knots, then 17, and quickly 22 knots. I wondered when it would stop rising. The genoa is rated for a max of 21 knots and I usually want it down if the wind gets over 14. But at that moment in that pitch black night, with waves getting bigger and the wind rising, I was not looking forward to going to the bow to take down the sails. I decided to stall and see what happened.

Judy called up from below, “Do I need to get dressed and come help?”

“Well, I’m not planning on doing anything right at the moment, so there is nothing for you to help me do.”

The next time I looked she was dressed, wearing her life jacket and safety harness, and just lying on her bunk. She was ready.

The windvane came to our aid. As the wind increased the pressure on the sails generated weather helm; the boat wanted to turn up into the wind. The wind vane only partially compensated for that weather helm and actually allowed the boat to steer high with the sails partially luffing. If I had been steering I’d have said I was feathering it. The wind vane, however, was holding a very steady course and the luffing of the sails slowed us down and took the pressure off. I thought we could manage this if things stayed the same.

After about 30 minutes the wind began to drop, quickly. Suddenly it seemed like the wind would go to zero.

At under 5 knots of wind we decided to take down the genoa and turn on the motor.

As soon as we did the wind came back up to 22!

Now, we can sail in 22 knots of wind. No problem. But to do it properly we couldn’t put the genoa up again, we’d need to set the jib and reef the main. The problem was I didn’t trust that the wind would stay at 22. The forecast and all of our previous experiences going past Cabo Correintes and into to Banderas Bay at night was that it would be light air sailing once we got past the Cape. I didn’t want to go the work of getting all set up for sailing in 22 knots only to have the wind drop again and then have to shake out the reef and change to the genoa.

So we motor-sailed.

I never like to motor-sail but on this night I decided that we could do it. We could sail on a close hauled course with the main up and fully sheeted in and the motor kicking over at 1500RPM and we could chug along at 5 knots, just waiting for the wind to go back down.

We did that.

At 0600 the wind did go down. When it got to 6 knots we put the genoa back up and turned off the motor for good. We had gotten far off our course while motor-sailing so we were faced with a long beat into the Bay. As dawn approached the wind began to lift us towards Punta Mita, our destination. It was a big, steady, lift. We didn’t have to tack at all until the final approach to the point, we just took the lift.

Oh, did I tell you that we had several dozen dolphins cavorting around us all afternoon and evening and again in the morning?

It was an interesting night!

wingssail images-fredrick roswold 

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz, Mexico

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

July 25, 2021-Magic of Punta Farallon and Playa Teopa

A few years ago, as we sailed down the coast of Mexico, we noticed a strange bowl shaped structure on a point of land between Chamela and Tenacatita. What was it we wondered? A radio telescope antenna? Or something else?

It turned out that the point of land was Punta Farallon and the bowl was a large work of art known as La Copa del Sol, The Cup of the Sun, which is part of Costa Careyes, a private community created by Gian Franco Brignone. 

As intriguing as that was the charts of the area showed something that was even more interesting to us sailors: there wasn't much detail but it showed a large, protected bay behind the point. We wondered if it would make a good south wind anchorage.

We found little written about that bay, nobody we knew had ever been there, it wasn’t in the guide books, and there was no detail on the charts. We decided that someday we’d take a look for ourselves.

So, on July 21, 2021, guided by a pair of dolphins, Wings rounded Punta Farallon and entered into a fantastical dream world of untouched beaches, rugged cliffs, mysterious sea caves, and, of course, that marvelous big cup.
We felt a little like Captain Cook, exploring the unknown.

What we found was a superb anchorage, a pristine two mile long white sand beach (Playa Teopa), plenty of crystal clear water for swimming, and loads of craggy cliffs and coves for exploring. We even found a turtle sanctuary. Of course we were the only boat there. What we didn’t find was a way to get to the Copa. Apparently Costa Careyes has closed access to it, due to COVID, we were told.

But never mind, we stayed for three days, went ashore, pulled the dingy up the beach and walked around a while. We met Roberto who runs the turtle camp, got to hold some turtles, met some visitors who were brought to the beach for a picnic from the house on the hill above the bay. We did some swimming from the boat, and explored the whole area by dingy. We could have stayed longer but the weather was predicted to turn to northerlies (it didn’t) which would not be the best for Punta Farallon. This anchorage would only be good in calm weather with wind and swell out of the south. In other words, summertime weather. Beautiful Beach
But that’s the beauty of our cruise this year, we’re doing it in the summer when the winds are light, the crowds are gone and we have all the time in the world.
And that includes time to discover a new paradise.
Click here for lots more photos.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

Sunday, July 11, 2021

July 9, 2021-Shopping Trip to La Manzanilla

wingssail images-fredrick roswold


“I’m getting out” announced Judy, as she leaped over the side of the Zodiac.

There are a few dozen Manzanillas in Mexico, not counting a bunch more Manzanillos, and we were in the dingy heading into the surf beach at one of them, La Manzanilla, in Tenacatita Bay, to go shopping.

The problem was we were a bit too far out from shore when her lovely body departed over the side of the dingy.

I couldn’t stop her.

Judy landed in water about thigh deep and just then a wave hit her from behind, and knocked her down.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Surf at Beach Landing in La Manzanilla

I was still rowing but I leaped out of the dingy myself and began to pull it up the beach.

Judy was down in the surf up to her shoulders. The next wave tumbled her under and washed her up the beach, then tried to pull her back down. It tried to pull the dingy down too and I struggled to get the dingy out of the water so I could help my poor wife, who by this time was half drowned and sputtering.

“Get away from the dingy I yelled!”

Too late. The next wave floated the dingy and pushed Judy right under it. All I could see of her was her left hand holding onto the back of the dingy.

Then her head popped up and I could see she was as happy as a wet hen.

By now I was in the water too and I pulled to her to her feet and we staggered up the slippery rocks to the sand.

A guy came down from the shore and helped us pull up the dingy.

Well, so much for a dignified landing.

But Judy is a tough cookie and once she stopped whimpering she changed her shirt and was ready to go exploring the town and looking for supplies.

God I love that gal.

So off we went, walking around La Manzanilla one of the quietest, cleanest little towns in Mexico. Our favorite store in was right where we left it when we were last here in 2019, and they had everything on our list, including sesame oil, imagine that. Soon we were shopped out.

Oh, did I mention there is a cash machine in this town and we got money too?

Now off to find a restaurant. This part of Mexico is famous for “rollo del mar”, which is a thin fillet of fish rolled around all sorts of goodies such as shrimp and cheese kind of like a burrito and fried crispy. The lady at the store suggested El Gato, right on the beach.

It was just across the street and from the table at El Gato we could see our boat Wings anchored off shore.

And they had Pina Coladas. What could be better?

After lunch we got back to the dingy and out through the surf without any problem and we weighed anchor and motored Wings back to Tenacatita.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold All's Well that ends well

Other than some bruises on Judy’s back and side, it was a successful day.

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Fred and Judy, SV Wings, Tenacatita

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021-Socked In

wingssail images-fredrick roswold Hurricane Enrique

At least the rain from hurricane Enrique has filled our water tanks.

That and being able to spend some time with our friends Kirk and Heidi from Due West are about the best things we can say about being socked in by a hurricane. At least we had fun with Kirk and Heidi (and their two super cool boat cats).

Otherwise it’s been a bit of a drag. We were planning on being out in one of the anchorages around here soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the clear waters of Mexico’s Gold Coast. Instead when we saw Enrique coming we scurried into the marina where we knew we’d be safe from it. Maybe we could get back out in a day or two, but no it’s been four days now and no let up from the solid rain. The winds are gone but who wants to get underway in solid rain?

This year’s cruise has been filled with interruptions.

When we were up north we had to return to La Cruz three times when we thought we’d be out kicking back. Those times were caused by things like doctor’s appointments, car appointments (yes, even while cruising our car, sitting under a cover back at our marina there, made demands on us) and boat repairs.

The boat repairs were shocking in themselves. For nearly a month we had breakdowns and failures every day, many times more than one. So even when we were not interrupting our cruise to go back to port we were working on the boat. Well, that’s boats I guess and finally it’s all sorted out, for now, thankfully (but stay tuned, there WILL be more! we’re sure of it). Most of our problems we were able to solve ourselves, and with spare parts we already had on board.

And, we’ve been subject to some shocking weather. Besides hurricane Enrique, we’ve had nighttime squalls which got us up and out of bed, usually at 3:30 AM. It’s like this, you’re sound asleep when all of a sudden a powerful wind hits your boat followed by pouring rain. And of course that wind is from a direction which you’re not prepared for. Like you’re in a bay with good protection from southerly winds and the squall comes from the North! So you get up, throw on some clothes (after turning on the instruments and the navigation computer) and hurry on deck to monitor the anchor. That’s because if the wind came in from the opposite direction than you expected now you have to worry that it will drive you ashore. If you are lucky the anchor holds and the squall blows over in an hour and you go back to bed.

The next day you decide to move to the other side of the island so you’ll be protected from northern squalls, AND THEN THEY BLOW FROM THE SOUTH!

But, weather, boat problems, etc, that’s cruising. We’ve been doing it for 35 years. I guess by now we should know what to expect when we leave the dock.

Still, we’re out here and even with all these challenges we’re relaxed and enjoying life, and still cruising after all these years.

Click here for more photos

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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Friday, June 04, 2021

June 3, 2021-Fast Sailing and other Cruise News

I first got an inkling that this was going to be a fast passage when we saw we could lay the white house  only 45 minutes out of La Cruz..

The white house on the beach is a landmark when sailing to Punta Mita. It’s there that we want to be close to shore in order to catch the most of the right hand shift. If we haven’t managed to stay close before we get to the white house that’s when we have to go in, hard. 

It surprised us when we first noticed where we were already and I doubted it. Could we really be there now? Sometimes it takes us two hours to get to the white house.

I guess there were other clues. We had strong breezes and a bit of southerly showing when we set sail in La Cruz, and right shift appeared early. 

But we had been relaxed and just having fun; finally out of the marina with no obligations to get back anytime soon. I was steering and working the waves and actually enjoying the salt spray which was coming back and we weren’t really paying attention to where we were. The J4 and full main had us just on the edge of too much sail for21kts true and I was feathering slightly, traveler down and we were pointing high and sailing fast, in the sixes.

Judy was enjoying the sail too and smiling.

Then we saw the white house. We were already sailing past it. Now we started to pay attention. This could be a record for us. We tacked and sailed way in towards the beach, to under 40ft, and the surf was breaking just ahead. Judy, as usual, got nervous when we got so close. She called for the tack back out and I ignored her. On the third call I relinquished.

“Ready About”

Her answer was instant, “Ready!”

We tacked.

Now we were on starboard tack in the offshore wind. There were no waves and we had the steady right hand shift. We footed along the shoreline, staying just outside the reefs and surf and the boat speed went up.

Great sailing!

So in that way we arrived at Pta Mita in 1 hour and 50 minutes from La Cruz, a new record for Wings when sailing without the racing sails and without the racing crew.

This is the third “get-away” attempt this season. Twice before we left La Cruz this year to go cruising, but both times we had to go back. Once after the Mexican health authorities called us to come get our second covid vaccination shots and once when we were notified that the new windshield for our car had arrived and we had to take the car in to get that installed.

But now there were no more expected recalls. We were free.

Free except for possible boat problems and weather issues. The boat has been keeping us pretty busy since April. We’ve had dozens of minor and not so minor issues and it seems like every day we’ve been fixing something or the other. Luckily we’ve managed to get it all sorted out but the reliability of the boat this year has not been comforting. The next failure could be something big. Let’s hope not.

And weather…This is the time of year the weather picture starts to change as systems roll by off shore and southerly winds appear. One day we had a southerly wind and uncharacteristic waves at Pta Mita which caused Wings to rock and roll wildly. It was miserable. More southerly winds would result in a repeat of that. We might find ourselves hoping from place to place to find calm anchoring conditions.

But today it is calm and we’re again relaxed. Judy got out a steak for the BBQ tonight and we have ice for the cocktails and nothing new broke on the boat.

Cruising can be great.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Punta Mita

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Sunday, May 09, 2021

April 28, 2021-Racing Ends with a Bang and a Fizzle

It was a wild beer can race, lots of wind, but we rounded the weather mark well ahead and were in first place. Now we were having trouble with the gybe. I stood on the aft deck with the tiller in my hand and I watched impatiently as the foredeck crew struggled to get the kite around.

The conditions were gusty and the gusts came from every direction; not weak gusts either, they were in the 20’s.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the leech of the main take an odd shiver.

I yelled, “Gybing!”

The main was caught aback and commenced a sickening swing across the boat, like a scythe, with the full force of the wind behind it.

It came like a car crash.

People ducked, but some of them not enough: Judy, up by the mast, was caught on the hip and knocked aside. She grabbed the shrouds and hung on. The boom went over Richard but the main sheet hit him on the shoulder and threw him onto his face on the side deck, right over Mike who was in the cockpit grinding. Geronimo, the tallest man on the boat, bent at the waist and was missed, thank God.

I didn’t see any of this, I myself ducked; I just heard the huge “BANG!” as everything hit the stops on the far side of the boat. I looked up and would not have been surprised to see some breakage but in that instant everything seemed OK. I breathed a sigh of relief and focused my attention on the front of the boat, the sails and the trim and on the status of the foredeck and the spinnaker. I hadn’t seen the human carnage at my feet, before my very eyes. I shouted, “Sheet in!” and turned the boat. I was going after the competition who had gybed instantly and slipped by while we were having our problems.

But things weren’t fine. Now I saw blood on the deck. There seemed to be blood everywhere. I pondered for a second about who was hurt, then I saw Richard’s Covid mask, it was bloody, blood was dripping from it. Other people were struggling to get to their feet. I looked around, people were in shock.

“Ok folks, we’re going in, get the spinnaker down”

I picked up the radio. “Race Committee, Race Committee, this is Wings, we have an injury, we are retiring.”

 The winds in April are good. We’d tried to extend our racing this year because the winds are so good in April.

At this moment it didn’t seem like it was that much fun; my friends were injured and bleeding.

The next week we came back for another try but the injuries kept some people home. Others had other reasons, maybe after a long season they just didn’t feel like pushing it any more. Whatever, we really didn’t have a crew. Eight people were gone.

I said we’d go with whomever we had and just take it easy, after all, Judy and I can do this by ourselves if we have to, I said.

Wrong again.

Lynne and Rene came, and Mike and Judy, our neighbors came, so we went out, two old men and four old women, and I love them all, but it wasn’t enough. We had no mainsail trimmer, no foredeck, no grinder, and no navigator. I would do those jobs, all of them, Judy could steer.

And it was another windy day.

We got the sails up, but in 21 knots the big racing sails, even with the J3 Jib, made the boat into a handful. Judy said, “I can’t do this.”

What she meant was, this is dangerous and we shouldn’t do it.

Just then Race Committee called on the radio, “Wings, Wings, you guys OK, can you get back for the start?”

I looked around at the crew, my friends and neighbors. They’d do anything for us.

But Judy was right and she’d made the decision.

“Race committee, race committee, this is Wings. We’re too short handed and we can’t handle these conditions. We’re retiring.”

When we got back to the dock we began to fold up the racing sails.

We’ll get them out again next year.

Sorry, no photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Thursday, April 01, 2021

March 27, 2021-Banderas Bay Regatta

john pounder - jldigitalmedia

Twenty knots of wind, the biggest kite up, time to jibe. 

The bowman yells “Made!”. 
The afterguy is attached, good, but it needs to come in. 
“Grind, Larry!” 
But Hell! Why did the old sheet get tossed off the winch? I don’t know why but there it goes. 
I grabbed the errant sheet just as it began to run out. Holding the sheet in one hand, the tiller in the other, the boat is oscillating, someone is yelling, “Who has the sheet?” 
I could feel the sheet slipping. 
“I do, and I could use some help.” I answered. 
Richard turned to me but I could see he didn’t see what to do. 
“Put some turns on that winch please, right now, and grind it in.” 
There is tension in all of our voices.
 But by now the afterguy is coming in, I regain control of the boat, the kite is pulling like a runaway freight train, we are surging, the power is on. 
In this way we made a big gain on the asymmetrical boats. This is our wind, our point of sail. We are flying. 
Bottom mark, early take down, jib and main in, come up to weather for the last time, the boats from the class ahead are right there, seconds ahead of us. We get a first. 
The next boat is minutes behind; we owe him only seconds. 
This is how we won the Banderas Bay Regatta. Strong winds, strong boat, strong crew. It was a fantastic regatta, we all felt it. 
On the ride home after the finish we were jubilant, we drank Champaign. Some of the crew broke into song. It was a beautiful song. God why didn’t I capture that song? But those voices are in my head. They will stay there. 
 As will the memories of this race. 
Click here for more photos
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Banderas Bay Regatta

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

March 14, 2021-New Paint

Peter Vargus was not too surprised when I told him to mix up a custom color for Wings' bottom paint, two gallons black and one gallon blue. After all, we've asked for that before. It's been over two years since we did a bottom job but the Comex paint has been holding up pretty well. But it was time. Now, in a little over a week we'll go racing in the Banderas Bay Regatta and maybe the new paint will help. The effect was quite nice we think. Meanwhile we attended a party at Deborah and Kelly's Beach house and it was fun.
Life in Mexico goes on. Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Monday, February 08, 2021

Feb. 08, 2021-Wreck of the Monkey

edwina images-john matejczyk

Wave Coming

There was a radio call, one of those which you hate to hear:

“Attention the fleet in La Cruz, a boat in the anchorage is dragging anchor. Can we get some help, someone in a dingy, to go get a line on it and pull it back to the anchorage?”

A chill went through my heart with those words. The anchorage at La Cruz is dangerous. Rocks and reefs lie just to leeward. When a boat drags there isn’t much time to save it. The community always responds quickly and usually someone gets there in time, often more than one person, and the boat is saved. But not always. Every season boats drag and sometimes they are not saved. Over the years we’ve had several wrecks on the reefs near the La Cruz anchorage.

The next voice I heard was someone answering; people from the boat Noeta.

“This is Noeta, we are in the dingy and heading that way.”

I relaxed. I couldn’t help anyhow. I don’t even have a dingy, but at least somebody was on the scene.

But a little while later, maybe 10 minutes, another call came through,

“Attention the fleet in La Cruz, this is Noeta, the yacht Monkey is still dragging and we haven’t got enough help to rescue it. It’s heading for the rocky breakwater

Now I had to act. I couldn’t just sit at home and listen on the radio while Monkey, the boat owned by my friend Ralph, or any boat, actually, got wrecked. I hurried down the dock looking for transport.

Ten minutes later I had commandeered a fast powerboat with a driver and was out on the water. It didn’t look good. The sailboat Monkey was aground on the rocks and a big surf was pounding it. How did this happen so fast?

We arrived on the scene. There were two dingies with cruisers in them and Ralph was there in a small panga. We were all just off-shore outside the surf line but that was nearly 300 yards from the stranded Monkey.

edwina images-john matejczyk
Monkey on the Rocks

Nothing had been accomplished. The boat Monkey had moved too fast. Now it was unreachable. Ralph was beside himself, wanting to get to his boat. Eddie rowed up in his Walker Bay plastic dingy.

He said,” I already got in there once with this boat, over behind those rocks. It’s pretty wild in there.”

Ralph said, “Let me try it” and they traded boats. Ralph began rowing towards the surf.

I got into the panga with Eddie and sent the powerboat back, there was nothing he could do, the distance too great, the waves to big, and it was shallow.

We watched Ralph make his way through the surf and then pull the Walker Bay up on the beach. He hurried along the shore to the Monkey. Soon he appeared on the sailboat’s deck. He had a radio. Eddie and I had Eddie’s radio. We had comms.

“Ralph, this is Fred on Sara Mar mobile. We need to try to set a kedge anchor to hold you from going farther up on the rocks.”

Ralph came back, “Yes, come in and I’ll give you my anchor.” I wondered how that would work, the waves were big. I didn’t think we could get near the Monkey in our panga in those conditions.

“How much line do you have?”


edwina images-john matejczyk
Directing the Rescue

We tried to get in there but we could not get Ralph’s anchor into our boat, and then the rope on it broke.

John from Edwina showed up in his dingy and brought his own big anchor and a lot of line. Maybe we could use that as a kedge. Another boat came with more line. Then two men in a red panga from the Chica Loca arrived and their boss Gill in his center console. For the next hour we all worked to set the kedge and get a line to Ralph on Monkey. It was tricky because we had only a few moments at a time to work between wave sets. Get in as far as you can, work fast keeping an eye out for the next set of waves, then when we saw them coming, speed out before they got there. We knew we had a total of 450’ of line but how far was that out in the surf? Eddie used his phone to get a GPS position and we had the red panga drop the kedge right at 450’ from Monkey. Twice we got in close enough to catch a line from Ralph. Once it broke. The second one was 20’ short. Finally we joined it to another long line from the kedge anchor and Ralph pulled it to Monkey.

It was tricky out there. Gil found a large boulder in the surf when he bounced his center console off if it. And all of us cut it close escaping from the waves a few times and launched off the face, but luckily we all landed right side up.

Now we had an anchor set and a good line to the Monkey. But the tide had been going out and the boat was stranded. There was no way to use the kedge to pull Monkey off the rocks. We had to wait until the tide came in.

While all this was going on several people were listening in on the radio, including Judy, who was not happy about my being out there in these waves, and Greg Raume who was monitoring the situation from his high rise condo and warning us about incoming breakers.

Mike Danielson told us on the radio that he had arranged another powerful panga to try to pull Monkey off at high tide, at 10:00PM.Right now there was nothing we could do but wait.

Ralph was still aboard Monkey and now he reported that he’d been knocked around some and hurt himself.

I said to Eddie, “Can you get in there and help him?”

Eddie didn’t hesitate, “Yeah, sure.” We took Eddie in as close as we could and he swam through the surf to reach shore. I kept Eddie’s radio.

It was getting dark. The panga I was in was low on gas, I didn’t realize how low but I knew it was low, and we had no oars or anchor. In the dark we couldn’t see the breakers coming. I needed to get out of there. So we told Ralph and Eddie that Mike was coming and we left the scene.

Our panga ran out of gas about three minutes after we left, before we’d gotten very far. Fortunately we were out of the surf zone. I tipped the gas tank and got it running again and we made it back to the marina in the pitch black. That was a close call. If we’d run out in the surf there would have been two boats to be rescued.

The tide was coming in. We heard Ralph and Eddie report that the surf was bigger and unrelenting. The Monkey was really being battered. It was hugely dangerous to be on that boat at that time. Mike Danielson had sent a guy, Waz, down to the beach to help but he couldn’t get close to the boat. The surf on the rocks was too dangerous.

Sometime after 10:00PM Mike and the rest of his guys arrived in their bigger panga and they managed to pick up the kedge anchor line which we’d left buoyed and they began to pull Monkey.

Ralph’s voice on the radio was weak and the radio was fading out. He sounded like he was far away.

“I’ve got water inside, it’s up to my waist. I’ve got to abandon ship.”

Then his radio went dead.

Mike reported that were stopping the tow, the boat would just sink if they pulled it any farther. They could do nothing and they stood off for a while then they started back towards the Marina.

Waz on the shore found Ralph in the surf. He was OK, and they collected his ditch bag which was floating nearby with his valuables. It was all he saved from the boat. They said they were taking him to get dry and warmed up. There was nothing that could be done with Monkey, it was now a wreck.

But I was worried about Eddie. Where was Eddie?

On the radio I called out, “Anybody seen Eddie? He was on the boat with Ralph.”


“We have to find Eddie.” There was fear in my heart. I was so worried he might be in the surf somewhere, in the darkness, alone, hurt, or worse. I had sent him in there, then I left him.

Mike’s panga team said they would go back and look for him. Waz and the guys on the shore turned back to the beach.

A few moments later we heard another radio call, “We have Eddie, He’s OK, he was rowing around by himself in the dark.”

Thank God.

So we lost a boat, the Monkey was wrecked, but we didn’t lose any sailors.

edwina images-john matejczyk
The Yacht Monkey

Click here to see more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle, Mexico

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Sunday, February 07, 2021

Feb. 6, 2021-Fixing the Lowrance

Screen Burn

Our Lowrance GPS plotter was losing it’s screen. LCD Burn.

The machine worked but numbers were barely visable. I found a used one on Ebay. It came with a 30 day guarantee. $139.00. Cheap. 

Today it arrived and in a few minutes I had it hooked up and running. It looked fine. But I wanted to keep all of our data, including waypoints from our circumnavigation. So I thought I would try to put the LCD from the newer one into our old unit. 

I took the old one apart, thinking I had done this once before and it was doable. 

It wasn’t. I broke the LCD connectors. Now I had only the newer one. 

But stubbornly I decided to try something else. There was a memory chip which was removable. I thought to try swapping these chips. Pretty easy, I thought, but maybe some risk. I wondered if I was being foolish, but I plowed ahead. Judy watched me dubiously. 

With the chip from the old one in the newer unit I turned it on. Nothing! Well, not nothing: It flashed once then went dead. 

OK, Maybe I have ruined two of these things in a short 15 minutes. Still trying, I disassembled it again and put its rightful chip back in. Turning it on, another flash and then dead! AGAIN! 

One more try, maybe I had the chip backwards, it could go two ways. Another disassembly and I turned the chip around. THIS TIME IT WORKED! Hurray! 

But not willing to let well enough alone, I dissembled it another time and tried the old chip again, this time I turned it around too. AGAIN IT WORKED! 

Well, the waypoints weren’t there but some of the settings were. 

I could do no more and was actually totally happy to have a working GPS with a good screen. I completed the installation and called it good. 

Click here for more photos of the project.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Mexico

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Jan 27, 2021- Racing in Banderas Bay-FANTASTIC!

edwina images-john matejczyk


Sailing in Banderas Bay these days is better than ever. The blue skies, flat water, and steady winds have reminded us how much we love this place. Saturday (pictured) was fantastic. Sunday was challenging (to say the least) but we survived. 

Today, Wednesday, the Beer Can race was so good we stayed out for an hour afterwards having cold drinks and being amazed at how stunningly beautiful it is here. The crew is great, the boat is fast, and the competition is as tough as ever. 

That’s the way we like it. 

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Friday, January 01, 2021

December 29, 2020-Blasting Out of 2020

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Happy Crew 

The crew was unusually jubilant after the 2020 Banderas Bay Blast.

I mean, how often do they hang around for an hour after the race draped over the boom drinking Irish Whisky and laughing about how good it was?

And it was good: not only did we get first place finishes in both of the two days (three, if you count the Mita and Back Challenge which we also won the week before) but on this race we put time on all of the boats, even the fastest of them. Some would call it a horizon job.

But it was not just the winning. This crew is working hard and doing well and they feel it. Sailing on this boat requires team effort. Ten jobs, ten people, and they all must work together. When they do the boat just clicks. That is what makes sailing great. Of course winning is the best fun, but having good team work feels good whether we win or not. When you do both, it is really satisfying.

Then there is the experience level of this team. This year when several of our regular Canadian crew couldn’t come to Mexico we found ourselves short.

We put out the call,

“Wings is looking for crew.”

People started walking down the dock, “I hear you’re looking for crew?”

“Yeah, we are, come on aboard.”

And in that way Judy and I picked up five more experienced sailors to add to our strong core of Richard, Lynne, Rena, Kelly and Terry. Several of the new people (scroll down) have solid racing experience. We’ve done well in past years with people we’ve trained from scratch, but now we’ve got more people who know what they are doing and, more than that, they aren’t afraid to speak up about how we can improve. Sometimes those suggestions come out a little sharply but we love it.

valkyrie images-david eberhard
Trimming In

Let’s talk about the Banderas Bay Blast. There are lots of races here each year but the Banderas Bay Blast is our favorite one and the one in which we typically do the best. We’ve been sailing it every December since 2015. Usually it is a triangle race here in La Cruz on day one, then a sail to Punta Mita on day two, a stay over, and a sail back to Nuevo Vallarta on day three. This year we did all three legs in two days. If you add the Mita and Back Challenge we also did this year, that is 18 individual races. We won 10, got 6 seconds, and 2 thirds. I guess it is a pretty good record and we’re proud of it. This year, with the increased competition and the huge margin of victory, we feel especially good about it.

We’ve also gotten faster over the years. Our times, all carefully logged, have simply gotten better and better. The longest it’s taken us was 1 hour and 48 minutes (other than 2017 when the wind died and it took 5 hours) and now we are down to 1 hour and 33 minutes.

cayuse images-jill peterson
Wings and the Bay

What about next year? Somebody may come out and beat us. That will be OK. If they do it because we screwed up, then we’ll have a lesson and hopefully we can learn from it. If we sail well and still lose, we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that we did the best we could.

And anyhow, it’s all sailboat racing, and it’s all good.

wingssail images-bernard saggest

Click here for all the photos from several photographers. 

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Mexico

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Saturday, December 12, 2020

December 12, 2020-Making the Red Dragon

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

The Dragon

 Sometimes we get these ideas that are really dumb. We don’t exactly know where they come from and if we’re smart we just let them pass.

But when Luis pulled the Red Dragon out of the bag onto the grass I was inspired, I had to have that spinnaker. It was so…stunning.

But it was a dumb idea.

Who in God’s name needs a 2.2 oz blood red symmetrical spinnaker with a giant dragon on it. Especially since we never have the kind of strong winds here in Mexico where you would need such a sail, and if we did have those kind of winds we wouldn’t be flying a spinnaker, and anyhow I already have a heavy duty symmetrical spinnaker, which is also nearly new.

And what’s with the red color and the Chinese dragon? I have no connection with China.

But this sail was so beautiful! And, while second hand, it was apparently unused (no surprise, who would ever use it?).  And the price was right, very right. Oh I wanted that sail.

Then I had an inspiration: What I did need was a heavy duty asymmetrical spinnaker to fly on those windy reaches we have here so often. Why not recut this sail into an asymmetrical? With its weight it would be bullet-proof.

So I bought it.

Now recutting a symmetrical spinnaker into an asymmetrical might be a bit tricky I thought, especially if I want it to work well enough for racing, and what did I know of such things? Nothing.

But no harm in trying, and actually, I was sure it would turnout all right, I never believe that things won't turn out OK when I start a project. I just plow into them, you could call it over confidence. Any anyhow, if it doesn’t work, Luis wants it back to make kites out of it. I’ve got nothing to lose.

First we had to take a look at it.

We got some of the crew one day and went out to put it up and see what shape it had.

The Dragon, in symmetrical form

Everybody likes it

It was big and a bit flat (OK) and it had narrow shoulders (also OK) and a narrow head (also OK, really OK). It was also pretty. I took some photos. Now I was really encouraged.

Back home I did some research into asymmetrical spinnaker dimensions, and played around with Photoshop until I could create an image of what it would look like as an asymmetrical.

Cut out on the white lines

Next Judy and I hauled it and the Sailrite sewing machine up to the VIP room and tore into it. We measured and cut and taped and sewed. Seven hours later we had an asymmetrical. Retaining the dragon logo in the middle made the job a little trickier, but I found a way around that.


Now to try it out.

We were scheduled to sail on in the Beer Can Race on Wednesday so when the crew arrived I told them we were going to again use the Dragon, but now it was an asymmetrical. They shrugged, “Whatever you say, Fred.”

But it worked!

Terry sets the Dragon, asymmetrical mode

Oh I saw some flaws and the leech needed some re-shaping, and we had trouble jibing it, but it definitely worked as an asymmetrical. The crew thought it was fine.

Back in the “loft” for a second re-cut. This required less time.

And back on the boat for the next Wednesday’s race we gave the dragon a real workout. We still had trouble jibing, but the sail worked even if my steering didn’t. After the race, in which we were last, we went back upwind for more practice. We got the jibes sorted out. Then we decided to see what that sail could do.

In 15 knots of wind we came up onto a reach. No problem.

Then a tighter reach. Still no problem.

Then a really tight reach. Apparent wind at about 45 degrees. WOW!

Flat Sail, Hard Reaching

That Dragon transformed itself. Downwind it was full but when strapped tight it became flat. It really was gorgeous! And the power was forward, where it was needed. Wing’s rudder had no problems holding that sail in that wind, It was Fun! Everyone was grinning. What power, what speed!

Hard Reaching Fun

So we don’t know if it will really be fast (compared to other boats, I mean) but we’ll find out soon enough, and in the meantime, we had some real fun doing it.

Sometimes dumb ideas work out.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Mexico

PS. Where did this sail come from?

There was a boat here for a few years with an absentee owner. He’d gone to China, apparently (funny, so there was a China connection with this sail) and some say he met a girl there and wasn’t coming back. He stopped paying his berthing fees, we were told, He also stopped paying Luis to maintain the boat.

“Sell the sails and get your money that way.” He wrote to Luis.

Then the marina foreclosed on the boat and sold it, but Luis still had the sails. I helped Luis flog the sails and when it came to the red one, he gave me a good price.

windcharmer images-don deil

Coming In

Click here for more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz, Mexico

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