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Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23, 2016-New Generation of Sails


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New Main

Sails don't last forever. Neither do sailors.

But while we can't do too much about our aging bodies, at least when our sails wear out we can replace them.

In March we reported that our Kevlar mainsail was finished. In the Banderas Bay Regatta it finally self destructed with a hole up the middle big enough to walk through. It could not be repaired. The genoa was not far behind it. We had been expecting this for some time but even so, it was not welcome. We loved these golden racing sails which we've been using since 2007. We knew that if we were going to continue racing we needed to get new sails, but they would cost us plenty. Too much in fact.

So the hunt began for an affordable solution. Here is a progress report:

We found a used genoa in California that matched our boat, not quite big enough to be a #1 but it would be a great a #2. It was old but it was a good North kevlar tri-radial in very good shape, and best of all, it was inexpensive. We bought it and had it shipped to Mexico.

We found an unfinished mainsail at a sail loft which a customer could not take and which was available. It could be finished for us and would fit pretty well. This too was a very good price. We bought this sail and had it finished to our specification and shipped to San Diego where we picked it up.

A friend from the old days in Seattle told us he had a good (nearly new, used in only one race) heavy duty spinnaker which he wanted to get out of his garage. The price for that was too good pass up so we bought that too. We haven't gotten it yet, but it's coming.

Replacing our racing genoa proved to be the hardest problem to solve. No used sails could be found. New ones were going to be very costly. We've been working with several sailmakers, trying to find an affordable solution, and we're getting close, but we still don't have a new #1 genoa.

And the #3, which is also pretty trashed, will just have to wait. There is a limit to what we can do.

Meanwhile, we've gotten the mainsail and the #2 genoa and been sailing with them. They look good. The main is pretty close to perfect. The genoa was close but needed some work. We had it recut by Mike at PV Sailing and we know it will be a good sail for as long at it lasts. Old Kevlar sails don't have a very long life, but we know we'll get our money's worth out of it, it was cheap.

By the time the racing starts again in December we should be in fairly good shape; we'll have a whole new generation of sails. We also have quite a few other projects going on this summer. Besides the sails we're replacing a lot of our rigging, including all the wire halyards, we're repairing some damage to the deck, we'll have new rudder bearings, and we're repainting the main cabin...the list goes on.

Altogether it's a big project list this summer and this is not the first big project we've done on this boat. It's about the 5th. It won't be the last. Boats, especially racing boats, require constant maintenance but we'll keep doing it and try to keep Wings in good shape. Wings pays us back by giving us a comfortable home and great sailing days like this:

image-rick taylor
Wings sailing with new sails on Banderas Bay

And you know what, great days of sailing like this do wonders for rejuvenating old bodies too.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Friday, July 08, 2016

July 8, 2016-Get That Wire Off My Boat!


Note to our readers: This is a story about a maintenance project. It isn't a sailing story or otherwise an entertainment piece. Just a warning, it might be a bit dull unless you just would rather be messing about in boats than doing anything else in the world.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Coil of New Dyneema Rope

Why are we talking about wire?

When Wings was built there were few rope options considered strong enough for the loads the boat often developed. Running rigging like sheets and halyards had to be strong and Dacron ropes that were strong enough were huge. Sheets and guys in Dacron had to be bigger around than a man’s thumb. When Kevlar rope came out it was smaller in diameter and stronger than dacron but it had a reputation for being brittle if flexed too much. In fact when we first tried Kevlar rope for jib sheets the Kevlar cores broke into short pieces and the lines failed. I remember cutting off a Kevlar line in the early 90’s and having short bits of the Kevlar core fall out on the deck. So, on Wings and similar boats, wire rope was used for most of the lines. Wire was strong and didn’t stretch. We had wire halyards, wire spinnaker guys, wire running backstays, and even wire jib sheets, all made out of ¼” stainless steel and all mated to Dacron rope tails for easier handling and to protect the winches. Let me tell you, working the foredeck with wire sheets flailing around was scary. Wire also often gets broken strands on it which poke out and which are called “meat hooks” for good reason. Not only do meat hooks terrorize the crew, but they can, and have, sliced sails like razor blades.

Everyone hated the wire.

Keeping up with technology

Not only that, but we wanted to keep Wings up to date so when more new rope types became available we wanted to avail ourselves to those new technologies. When the flexing and breaking problems of Kevlar seemed to be solved we started to buy these new stronger, lighter, ropes. By now we have switched out most of our wire running rigging to Spectra, Kevlar and Technora rope including sheets, guys and running backstays.

But some wire still remained

But we still used, for our halyards, up to this day, stainless steel wire with rope tails. For halyards the replacement technology was expensive and for that and other reasons, we delayed making a change. The urge to keep up with technology remained. Finally our wire halyards have gotten to the point where they really need changing and we either need to make new ones with wire or switch to the new ropes. (We also, by the way, have wire on the lifelines, check stays, and upper runner segments. These also need replacing.)

Selection Problems for rope

We decided to get the wire off of the boat, starting with the halyards. We wanted to use Dyneema, one of the newest ropes. Dyneema is an ultra high modulus polyethylene which is much stronger than the same size stainless steel wire. However, it is expensive. It is also a bit of overkill. The Dyneema ropes big enough for easy handling by the crew, (1/2”), had cores over 3/8” in diameter too big for our mast head sheaves and they were strong enough the lift the whole boat! Smaller Dyneema ropes were a better match for the loads involved but they would be hard to hold onto and they would slip through the line stopper clutches. Finally, buying enough of the lastest dyneema cored rope, of any size, to make a halyard would cost around $500, and we needed five of them (including the pole lift). We didn’t need and could not afford that these Dyneema lines.

Ouch!

What we decided to try

Our solution was to use very small diameter Dyneema for the parts of the halyard which goes over the sheaves and bear the loads and to use good sized rope where people would be handling it and where the stoppers needed to work. This is called “stripping” the cover off and we could do it for a major portion of each halyard. And we decided to go for the smallest diameter Dyneema that would carry the loads. The “brilliant” part of our solution was to use the old covers (the outside) from our existing halyards. We would replace the wire and the core (the inside) of our old halyards with smaller and cheaper Dyneema. I say “brilliant” but maybe it wasn’t, really, because we didn’t think it all the way through. It wasn’t so brilliant when all the facts were known. Sure, this would be a very up-to-date and a high tech solution and the Dyneema would cost us only about $140 per halyard, saving heaps of money, but the down side was that it would take a lot of work to insert the new Dyneema into the old covers. Then there was the issue of size. The Dyneema was smaller than the old Dacron core and when we finished making a new line with the Dyneema we would have a line which was still too small to easily handle and too small for our rope clutches. Ouch again! So then we decided to get in deeper. We thought of inserting another smaller rope inside the Dyneema prior to putting that into the covers. This would provide the bulk to make the finished halyard the right size and still use the small Dyneema core we wanted. It would solve all our problems (Ha Ha!) but was double the work and in fact we didn’t even know how to do it or if it could even be done. On the first two tries it turned out to be impossible.

But we persisted.

wingssail images-judy jensen
Fred "Milking" the cover over the core


How we did it

Finally we developed a technique that consisted of the following steps:

1. We took down the old halyards and pulled out the wire and rope cores, leaving a hollow cover.
2. We cut a 130’ length of Dyneema (1/4” diameter) to serve as the strength member of the new halyard, allowing some extra length because it would become shorter when we added the filler inside it to bulk it up.
3. We cut a length of small stuff (we used 4mm Dacron) to serve as a bulker (filler) inside the Dyneema.
4. We threaded a light string through the inside of the Dyneema (only the covered portion, not where it would have the cover stripped off). The whole halyard is 130’ in length but the covered part would only be 70 ft in length, so we put the string inside the 70’ foot section of Dyneema which would eventually be inside the cover. This was the most time consuming job. After we finally developed a method which worked it still took over an hour to do and that doesn’t count the two days it took to figure out how to do it. (We pushed a length of antenna wire with a round ball on the end of it and a string tied on the other end into the Dyneema core and worked it all the way down the length of the Dyneema core until we had the string all the way through.)
5. We pulled the 4mm filler into the Dyneema with the string and tying the string to the Dyneema involved another trick, a special streamlined knot (see Photo)
6. Finally, we pulled the whole Dyneema and filler package into the cover with another tricky knot.
7. To finish we put in some splices to bury the cover into the core where it ends and put eyes in both ends and put the shackle on before putting it back into the mast.
The pulling steps (5 & 6) were tough work. We had the whole package laid out on the dock (it took over 210 feet of dock space to lay out a length of Dyneema, a length of bulker, and a cover) and we wore leather gloves to “milk” one line inside of another, walking up and down the dock, pulling the lines, over and over. It did however produce a very cool halyard, which is light and strong, and saved us about $300 each. In fact it was satisfying work. We’ve finished 4, they look great, and we are just waiting for the delivery of some more Dyneema to do the last one.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
The shackle on the new Blue Halyard

What Next?

Our next “get the wire off” project will be to replace the lifelines, the check stays and finally the upper running backstay segments with Dyneema. There won’t be any need for covers or “milking” lines inside each other but I’m sure there will be snags in those projects too, but I know we’ll get through it. Then we will have all that nasty old wire off the boat.

Click here for more photos and notes on this project.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 2016-Watching the Surfers at Burros


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Surfers

On Saturday we heard that the surf was huge at Punta Burros, near La Cruz, so we took the Nikon and some beach accessories and headed over to check it out.

The surf wasn't huge; more like 10 feet instead of the 20 feet which was reported, but it was pretty exciting. Our friend Sam said the waves were steep and angry and lots of surfers were staying ashore, but some were out and we got some shots off.

We tried swimming but just got tumbled in the surf, and there were stones as big as potatoes being tossed around which hurt our toes, so we just stayed ashore and watched the action. The surfers were amazing.

But we had a nice jungle walk getting there, and we even avoided tearing out the oil pan on the rough road going in.

When you throw in a nice lunch afterwards, it turned out to be a great day.

wingssail images-judy jensen
Fred


Click here for several more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

June 4, 2016-Sailing, Sailing, and More Sailing


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing

On June 1 we arrived back at La Cruz after a 1300 mile cruise to the Sea of Cortez. We did a lot of sailing on that cruise. You'd think we had enough for a while. But I have this funny thing about being tied up to the dock when there is a good sailing day going on just outside the marina. I feel like there are only so many good sailing days and I can't hardly stand to waste one.

But anyhow, it was Judy's idea to go out for a day sail, never mind that we just got back from the last one. She had her reasons. And I knew the breeze would be up, so even though I just put the sails away and washed the salt off from the last trip, I was ready.

Here's the excuse we gave: We needed to go out of the marina where the water is clean and check the bottom of the boat to see if the speedo is OK (because it was reading slow on the trip back from Topo). Then we need to sail a bit and see if it is corrected. So that's the plan.

C came along. C? C is our friend who has the shortest name on record. She is a sailor with a heart of gold and she loves to go out sailing. She didn't need to be asked twice.

We left at 10:00 AM, before there was any wind, and motored up past Punta Blanca and then anchored in the cove Rick told us about. It was tight. Judy said, "We should move". And C asked, " Why do we need to be here where there is such a small comfort zone?" I know when I am out-voted.

So we moved.

It was OK, we got a bit more room and re-anchored and then I dove on the boat and cleaned the speedo and checked the salt water pick up, and Judy and C swam to shore and then the wind came up so we raised the anchor got out of Dodge.

Judy and C

But that's when the day got really good. We put up the sails and headed upwind, towards the mouth of the bay, sheeted in. We sailed out to the Marietas, into the blue, into the hazy day, just easy sailing out into the Pacific Ocean. We had a beer. The dolphins cavorted. The sea was smooth and the boat was fast. The speedo worked. We had a nice sail and we talked and enjoyed each other's company.

Judy made lunch.

Then it was getting late and so we turned down wind and sailed back. C steered and she was fast; she hit 9.03 knots. But control was no problem. She said, "This is the easiest boat to steer I've ever steered on" and we never thought to be anything but relaxed. We sailed 21 miles and we all loved it.

So then we came into the marina with the main up and dropped it inside and got into the slip in time to put the boat away and go to the Mexican Train domino party where I had three giant margarita's.

Which ended another great day.

Click here for a couple more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28, 2018-Meat, Cheese, Bread, Wine


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy on the Foredeck

Part One

We were going to leave at 10:30 but since there is no wind. I decide to wait. I climb up on the boom with the binoculars and look around. What breeze I can see is spotty.

From my vantage point I notice the water around the boat. It is crystal clear, the clearest it has been since we anchored here. It looks inviting. I go for a swim.

Once in the water I decide to clean the propeller. If we have to motor to Topolobampo it would be nice to have a clean prop. I go back aboard the boat and get my mask and fins and a scraper and jump in again. The water is nice. I enjoy my work.

By 12:30 the wind is starting to fill so we decide it is time and we weigh anchor. We put up the main as soon as the anchor is stowed. We set the jib right afterwards. By the time we are clear of the harbor we have some wind and we are sailing. We sheet in and go close hauled. The boat heels and picks up speed. It feels good. I turn for one last look at the harbor and I can still see two boats anchored there.

I wonder if they watched our departure.

It takes three hours to beat around the top of Isla Carmen but the sailing is nice; flat water and enough wind. We watch the scenery pass slowly by and make our offing from Punta Lobos at 3:30 in the afternoon.

As we expected from the forecasts we find the wind is shifting steadily to the right. We settle in on starboard tack and sail the lift. The breeze is less than eight knots, we’re only doing four’s and fives. It’s slow, but it’s smooth, steady, and quiet and we are enjoying it. We relax. We watch the sunset and see the islands and Baja California slowly disappear behind us.

I bring up the ETA program and it says that at 4.5 knots we will be in Topolobampo at 2:30 PM the following day, Thursday. I think the wind will pick up and our speed will increase, but I do not run the numbers; it doesn’t matter. Anytime on Thursday will be fine.

The watermaker stops. This is the third time in a week. I go below to take another look at it. Judy does not want me to get into it right now; she sees a dark cloud and worries about the weather. She wants me on deck. But I think I can take a few minutes. This time I check the salt water supply pipes. They are good but the pump still isn’t able to pull salt water in. I’ve already replaced the filter. What can it be? I take off the fitting to the selector valve and look through it: Plugged! I show Judy. She nods her head. In a few seconds I have the blockage cleared and re-connect the pipes.

Now the water maker works. Judy says the output is the best it’s been is a long time.

The weather remains mild, the dark cloud went away.

It’s my night watch now. I decide I am hungry. I go below and rummage around in the refrigerator. I find a hamburger patty with melted cheese from the previous day. I get two pieces of bread, smother them with mayonnaise and make a sandwich. It seems dry. I am thirsty. I pour a glass of chilled white wine and go on deck with my meal. The wind has started to pick up. The boat speed has increased; we are doing six knots.

I am happy: Meat and cheese, bread and wine, and six knots of boat speed.

Perfect.

Part Two

The crossing has been uneventful. The wind has been mild. But as we close with the mainland the wind increases and it continues to go right. Our speed begins to pick up. Now we are doing seven knots.
We are one hour ahead of our ETA. That is good.

I observe that when we turn into the long shipping channel we will be going onto a close reach. The wind and waves will be ahead of the beam. The wind is already 18 knots. The shipping channel is nearly twelve miles. It will be fast and wet.

We prepare the boat ahead of time for this leg. We flatten the sails and clear the decks. We put on back stay and baby stay. We check below for loose gear.

As we round the sea bouy and head into the channel I have already disconnected the wind vane and taken over steering.

I bring us up onto the course and we sheet on the sails. The boat surges. The speed reaches eight knots, then higher. On some of the waves we surf. I love the feeling as I pull on the tiller and the boat accelerates. I am having fun.

In an hour and a half we are approaching the harbor. We need to think about getting the sails down. Judy will have to do the take-down of the jib. She puts on her knee pads and goes forward and prepares for the dowse. I see that there is a dogleg of the channel coming up which will give us an opportunity to ease the pressure on the sails and steering. I tell Judy, “I can put it on autopilot and go forward to take the jib down, do you want me to do that?”

She answers, “Yes”.

I connect the autopilot. “Auto.”

She touches the button and replies, “Auto.” The autopilot takes over.

I run forward and she releases the halyard. The sail comes down and I pull it to keep it onboard we have it bagged before the channel turns back into the wind.

Now the boat is slower; things are easier. Getting the main down is next. We look for some shelter to drop it.

There is a ship loading grain at the wharf and we cut behind it into the lee of its high sides. There is shelter there but grain blows on us like snowflakes. We ignore them. We quickly drop the main and fold it.

Now we just have to motor to the marina.

We have arrived in Topolobampo.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Pangas In Topolobampo, and Bahia de Ohuira


Click here for more images.

Fred and Judy, SV Wings, Sea of Cortez

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Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23, 2016-Sailing in the Sea of Cortez

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy Gets the Most Out of the Wind

We are on the foredeck, Judy and I, folding the jib. We’ve just arrived at Carmen Island after a brisk sail and the boat is the typical mess it is when we’ve sailed into an anchorage: the mainsail is in a pile partially over the boom and partially piled on deck, and the jib is strewn all over the foredeck where we’ve pushed it out of the way in order to let out the anchor. There are ropes everywhere and a partially deflated dingy on deck adds to the mess.

This could be easier. Most sailors don’t fold sails anymore; they have jibs and mainsails which either roll up or automatically drop into a stack when they are lowered. We don’t have any of those labor saving devices but folding the sails, coiling the lines, cleaning this up all this mess and putting on sail covers and sun awnings is, for us, part of the fun of sailing. Yes, it’s a bit of work, but we’ve done it a thousand times before, we know how, and we don’t mind it; it’s a price we are willing to pay for having a good sail.

Sailing itself, in the Sea of Cortez, has been a bit of work too and often a challenge but it’s always been rewarding. Some days there have been light winds and we struggled all day to keep the sails filled. Other days we have had fresh breezes from the right direction and the day turned into a romp. And then there have been those days when the wind got a little too strong or the waves a little too big, and we had to work hard just to hang on. But when we got to our destination we felt we had accomplished something and when we spent those few moments afterward putting things away and tidying up the boat we could reflect on the day and feel good about it.

There has been competition too. We’ve been sailing with a few other boats which have sailors aboard. We all head out each day when the wind comes up and race to the next anchorage, watching each other like hawks, trying to find a way to get in front. When we make it to the beach that night we have something to talk about. It’s fun; the Sea of Cortez has been good for sailing.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Puerto Escondito

The scenery here has been fantastic as well. We enjoyed the Baja when we were here last, 19 years ago, but this time we are, quite frankly, blown away by the beauty. The mountains, the islands, the stunning bays, all of them, have kept us enthralled each day as we sailed along the coast. In the evenings when we are anchored, the boat is put away, and we are enjoying that refreshing sundowner, we’ve found each of the anchorages to be magical. How did we ever forget how beautiful this was?

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Aqua Verde

We have done a little photography and while some of the shots are good, they show but do not quite convey the total majesty of the Baja or the stunning aqua waters of the bays and coves. One of the most spectacular places in Baja, and one which we do remember from before, are the Gigantes, the mountains behind Puerto Escondito. This massive escarpment rises straight up from the coastal plain and forms a backdrop that clearly establishes how miniscule is the human scale and is impossible to forget. Somehow the photos I took of the Gigantes, except the one below, got deleted and I cannot find them anywhere. Well, now that we’ve already moved on I guess there is something to come back for.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Gigantes


One day, as we sailed slowly the last half mile into Aqua Verde under mainsail alone, looking at the background of the Gigantes and the hills around Aqua Verde, we knew that everything was perfect. The air was cool and clear, the sun was brilliant, the sky and ocean were as blue as lapis, and as Wings moved silently along we knew that nobody in the world, no matter what they were doing, was having a more perfect day than we were.

In a few days we will set sail for Topolobampo, on the mainland.

We expect new adventures there.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Isla Carmen

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18, 2016-Climbing Isla San Francisco


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Isla San Francisco

Isla San Francisco is popular with cruisers because of its beautiful semicircular bay and great walks ashore.

We anchored there after sailing in company with Alert from Espirito Santo. The bay was gorgeous and we all went swimming in the clear waters. Later we walked across the island and found salt ponds where we picked out large crystals of pure sea salt.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
On top of the Mountain

The next day we organized an outing to climb up to the top of the ridge behind the bay. There were five of us: Judy and I and Anastasiia and her two kids Oliver and Emily. It was a nice hike, and the views were stunning, but my heart stopped when eight year old Oliver ran ahead of me to the top of razor thin ridge which had a 200 foot sheer drop down the other side. I made him sit down and not move until we were all there. From that point onward neither of the kids could stand nor move about unless they were holding one of the adult’s hands, the drop off was just too scary. Maybe it was just me.

We sailed on after that, to the North, but Alert is a “Kid Boat” and they turned back to La Paz to meet up with some other boats with kids aboard. We may see them again next season or maybe not. We’ve been friends with the Alert bunch since La Cruz and we’ll miss them.

Part of cruising seems to be constantly parting with friends.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Alert

Click here to see more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Isla San Francisco

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Friday, May 06, 2016

May 6, 2016-Going Off The Grid


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Pool at Puerto Bonita

Two days ago we left La Paz and set sail north, just a few miles to Caleta Lobo, where we were to meet Alert, with Anastasiia, Oliver, Emily, and Nate, our friends from La Cruz. The sailing was really nice and we were engrossed in it, especially after I noticed another sloop beating the same way ahead of us. The wind was light and we were not powered up with our #4 jib but we were still making ground on that boat. I have to credit Judy, however, for selecting that #4. Even though it was smallish for the light stuff at the beginning when the wind filled in it was certainly the right sail and soon we had 18kts of wind and were sailing high and fast. That boat we saw was Compass Rose and when the wind built they changed down to a smaller, hanked-on, jib, during which time we got quite a ways ahead. That sail change looked tough, sails were flapping for a long time. Wings is easy to sail and we really love sailing it, and when we compare it to many other cruising boats it does stand out. Here we are effortlessly sailing higher and faster with a small headsail which Judy and I can easily handle and which doesn't have to be changed when the wind builds from 6 to 16. Nor do have to compromise with the shape of a partially rolled in roller reefing genoa because we don't have roller furling. Maybe we should, but, as it is, this boat suits us well. Most cruising boats have a lot of compromises to make operating them less effort or more convenient, but many of those compromises affect the sailing ability. With so many compromises which affect their sailing ability, even to the point of making it difficult to set sail, many cruisers must find it just too much trouble. I can understand that and so I can understand why so many cruisers don't sail much, but then why have a sail boat? Our Wings might be ordinary on the race course surrounded by other racing boats, but out here on the cruising circuit, because it is really easy to sail, it stands out, sailing is fun for us, and we do often.

It is so unusual to see boats sailing that we take note of it when it happens. Anchored in Caleta Partida we noticed a tall sloop outside the harbor beating south. Then it tacked towards the opening. Now that is really unusual, nearly all cruising boats motor everywhere, and never go to windward. We watched the big blue sloop as it came nearer, tack on tack. An older boat, but nicely sailed, except that the jib seemed slow to come in after the tacks. Then we realized it was being single handed. That makes it hard to get a big genoa in, so we had more admiration for the skipper, who we met, Brant. The boat is Carina, a 43' Sparkman and Stevens from the mid 60's. It shows a lot of influence from the 12 meter boats they were designing back then, down to the trim tab on the end of the keel. But the story should be more about the sailor than the boat. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of Brant; I'll do so next time, but he is a nice guy and real sailor.

This may be our last stop this year in La Paz, but we enjoyed being back here for the first time since 1997. It hasn't changed much. Maybe we can come back in future years.

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Jock Budelman talks to us, with Pat

But in other news, we took a ferry (and bus) trip to Mazatlan to spend a week with Jim and Pat Slosson at the beautiful Puerto Bonita Emerald Bay resort. We had a wonderful time chatting with Jim and Pat for a week. Jim and I go way back, to college, and we covered a lot of ground in our talks. We also had lots of good food and drinks, and the pool (one of four) was fantastic. Thanks to Jim and Pat.

That trip was interesting, particularly the overnight ferry each way and even the bus from the ferry to Mazatlan and back was an adventure. While in Mazatlan we went to Old Town to hear Jock Budelman play at Pedro and Lola's. We met Jock in Mazatlan in 1997. He and his then girl friend drove us around town in a ford Van with the side and back doors open and we shared the back with some cruiser friends and a big Harley. Jock was a sailor and a biker and a musician (his boat then and still now, was Chaunson, now based in the NW) and he played in clubs around Mazatlan. Now 86, he's still at it, and he still drives a van with a big bike in the back.

But a real highlight was the dawn arrival in Topolobambo, where the ferry lands. The water was sparkling and the sun was a huge yellow ball. I'm sorry I didn't have my camera because the views of the hills and water and the rising sun over the inland sea there were stunning. We plan to go back there in Wings in a couple of weeks so then we can do some photography.

But now we are off to go cruising on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez, in the company of the Alert family, and we'll be away from Internet and email for a few weeks. Don't worry, we'll be back.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Baja California

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17, 2016-Beating towards Baja

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy looks at Isla Cerralvo

It is morning, we're at sea, and the day is beautiful. The the sun’s warmth is welcoming after a cool, damp, and windy night, although I know it will feel hot soon, after all this is Mexico. But right now it feels good.

We are sailing towards Baja on a cruise into the Sea of Cortez. The wind is out of the NW and our course is also to the NW, so we are beating. First we took one long starboard tack to the west, out into the Pacific Ocean, and then an equally long tack on port, north toward the Baja peninsula and the Sea of Cortez. We could have short tacked up the middle, along the rumb line, but instead we chose to bang the left corner. Our weather analysis indicated a persistent right hand shift for the first two days and then a subsequent shift back to the left starting on the second night. We timed our tacks to take advantage of both shifts and were lucky that they worked out as planned. I wish we were racing; we’d have done well by hitting those two shifts.

The sailing has been great. It feels fantastic to be charging across a deep blue sea under clear blue skies, sails stark white in the brilliant sun, spray flying, and the wind vane steering while we just sit there watching the water flow by the sides of our hull and daydreaming about whatever we want. That is, other than the fact that we have been hard on the wind for two days in choppy sea conditions.
There have been 1 meter wind waves on top of a 1 meter ocean swell, making for lots of holes in the ocean and frequent steep 2 meter waves. The boat has been fast but it has been pitching and slamming and we’ve been thrown around quite a lot. Plenty of sea water has also been flung about, drenching anything not under cover. And we’ve dropped off some of those waves hard enough the make us think the bow of the boat is going to break right off if we take one more like that. It sounds like a fiberglass bathtub being dropped 10 feet onto a concrete parking lot. BANG! This kind of motion is tiring and it reminds us why we avoid passages these days. But Wings is fast and strong and safe in these conditions and we wonder how many other boats could do as well. Probably few sailors would want to.

During the worst of it, last night, we finally eased off a bit by depowering which relieved the motion at some sacrifice in speed towards the destination. It made sleep easier for the off watch.

The boat has performed well in these fresh conditions with a full main and a number four jib. Those are our Dacron working sails and both are quite new and look rather nice. With this sail combination we’ve been consistently hitting high sixes and we’ve been sailing very close to the wind. During the peak wind speeds last night we considered reefing but instead I depowered the main by dropping the traveler and putting on the flattening reef, which I have used only rarely in the past, and I also sheeted in the jib, flattening it too. This worked well, the main became flat as a board, as did the jib, to a lesser extent, and the boat depowered and slowed down. In this way I avoided putting in a reef in the main which is a bit of hard and wet work in the middle of a dark night.

Our predicted route (blue, with diamond way points), and the actual track (sort of purple)

One astonishing (at least to me) event was that on the crossing we hit exactly one waypoint we had placed some 194 miles west of Punta de Mita. We had set that waypoint in the OpenCPN for 1900 Saturday, where we expected to be based on the grib file assessment etc, and where we figured a wind shift would make it a good time to tack. After sailing 36 hours, all of it on the wind-vane, we arrived exactly at that spot exactly at 1900 Saturday. Our track looks like the track of a sidewinder missile tracking a target. Look at the image: the line with the blue diamonds is our predicted course, the squiggly line is our actual track. You can't zoom in on the image and see the detail but we hit that point exactly, couldn't have been closer in time or distance. Astonishing coincidence. Of course, the wind did shift as predicted and we tacked.

The boat is basically fine but... the toilet pump broke and dumped yucky water in the bilge and some got on one Persian carpet, the alternator controller decided to limit the output based on fictitious temperature settings, the SSB decided to go silent, the hydraulics decided to belch fluid and stop applying pressure to the backstay, a couple of windvane lines broke, and some other things happened, and we found out that we left quite a lot of important cruising stuff in the storage locker which we now miss. Also, we didn't eat for three days. But everything broken which is fixable is now fixed, mostly due to judicious and expert wire wiggling, and we are eating well.

Update:Monday Morning.
Now the wind has died completely, which was also in the forecast, and we’re motoring but we expect it to come back and we’ll have a bit more sailing before arriving in Los Muertos, on the Baja side, this morning.

Update:Tuesday
We are in Los Muertos, in Baja California. We arrived yesterday morning. It's great to be back in the Baja after 20 years.

We've met good friends on three other boats who all just happened to sail in here and drop the hook right next to us. Brain Waves, Vela, and Gene Butler are each crewed by great sailors who just faced the same rough crossing we did. But they all sailed hard on the way and got here in excellent spirits and good shape and we had a lot to talk about. All of us all had our dingys disassembled and stowed for the crossing, which partially accounts for the good trip we all had, and is a sign of good seamanship in my opinion, and we had to negotiate who was going to rig up a dingy and ferry the rest of us in to shore for the ad-hoc party which we have planned. David and Grant from Gene Butler got it done and we all rode in their dingy, except the Vela crew who decided to rest up. They left on this morning and I think they got a smacking; we're seeing 26 knots at noon and it's bound to be more in the channel. We were supposed to take off today too, but at 0700 it was already blowing 18-19 knots and we decided to stay.

Our planned schedule, other than that one waypoint, is a bit messed up due to our three stay at Punta de Mita and our aborted departure from here this morning, but we will soldier on. Next stop, La Paz.

Update:Saturday, April 16
Now we're in Caleta Lobos, a delightful little cove just North of La Paz. The day is pretty with blue skies and bright sunshine but wind has been fresh and B'rrrr cold and we're glad to be tucked into this protected, place. It this Mexico? It's supposed to be hot.

I shouldn't skip over the sailing we've done in the last couple of days. After leaving Muertos we sailed up the Cerralvo Channel, which was another 35 mile beat, but it was a fantastic sail on a gorgeous day and we made excellent time, and anchored at Espiritu Santo Island that afternoon.

Caleta Lobos, at Sunset

After Espiritu Santo we visited La Paz, met up with more friends, bought groceries and made arrangements to take the ferry to Mazatlan later in the month. Wow! Busy. Now we've left La Paz again and we're back in the islands.

Life is good, even if it is a bit cool here.

Update: Later that day
Oops, four catamarans and two monohulls, all filled with "Women who Sail" just motored in and filled the anchorage. It's still pretty here, but it's a mite crowded.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, The Sea of Cortez




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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 2016-Catching Up

jldigitalmedia images
Working the Beach in BBR
We've been busy the last few weeks with races, practices, sail repair and work on the salvage of our friend's boat. Now we're catching up with four new stories.

Click here to read about the loss of Rage, Barry Ruff's beautiful Wylie 39. A sad day.

Click here for a report of our intense practice days.

Click here to read about the end of our great old golden racing sails.

Click here for an 'end of season' racing report.

We'll try to keep up with the news this summer.

moonshadow images-john rogers
Fred & Judy

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

March 17, 2016-Season Finisher: Banderas Bay Regatta


jldigitalmedia images
Working the Beach in BBR

The racing season is over in Banderas Bay and we’ve done very well. We sailed in three regattas and won two of them and got second in the third which was Banderas Bay Regatta, last weekend. There were also several Wednesday night beer can races this season of which we won several.

Even though we didn’t win that last race we are thrilled with the season. Since last year we’ve made gains in several areas including crew work, tactics, starts, sail shape, and even our efforts to improve the rating situation has helped.

The Banderas Bay Regatta was interesting. We sailed hard but the competition was tough and the courses didn’t suit us. However, after two days the fleet was totally scrambled. There were five boats which were tied for first place, all with 7 points. Wings was one of them.

It came down to the last day. Whoever won that final race would take the regatta. A friend was talking to us before the race and he said, “Well, when you are up against really good competition it makes you better, you have to up your game.”

I despaired. I wondered what I could do to “up our game”. Our starts had been perfect, our tactics had been flawless, and our boat speed was already the best it had ever been. What else could we do? We had no more rabbits to pull out of the hat.

There was one chance. Maybe the race committee would set Course 7. Part of Course 7 went up the La Cruz shoreline, which is a tricky little place, and we were masters of it. If they set Course 7, and if we could stay close until we got there, maybe we could pull out the win.

Well, they set course 7. We had a chance.

But things don’t always go as planned. After getting the course I wanted we blew the start of the race. We blew it bad. Worst start all year. Then the radio got switched off and we missed the announcement of the bearing to the first mark, consequently went the wrong way and wound up over-standing. When we got to the La Cruz coast we were in fifth place.

But there was still that beat up the coast. It’s only 1.7 miles but we knew how to make the most of it and we did. The four boats ahead were clueless; when they tacked out in search of better breeze I just thought, “YES!” Outside there was a lovely wind, and the four boats ahead found that wind and heeled over and accelerated. They didn’t notice that the tide was strongly against them.

They didn’t notice the lifted breeze in on the shore. They didn’t realize that even though they were going fast they were falling back.

We stayed inside, close to the shore, and worked our magic. Our wind was lighter and came in fits and puffs. There were nerve wracking lulls. Sometimes we just barely coasted ahead to the next little puff. Often we seemed just yards off the rocks and the surf, but we moved. We knew when we had to tack and when we could hold on a little longer. We worked the beach. The other four boats romped outside in the nice breeze which had lured them there, and they got screwed. When they finally tacked back towards the mark they had a bad course, well below the mark. We got one last puff which took us speeding in on a big lift. We rounded the mark in second, close behind the first boat. We had passed three boats and closed up with the fourth boat in that short 1.7 mile leg. Fantastic, what a comeback!

Now we just had a spinnaker run to the finish and it was a drag race. The crew was excellent and we closed in more on the first boat. The wind shifted on that run and we changed spinnakers, a tricky move, but we did it and it helped even more.

jldigitalmedia images
Racing to the Finish

At the finish we checked our time and saw that we had corrected out over the first boat. That was good, but one boat behind us had maintained their position and they, in turn, corrected out over us. The difference was a little over a minute. They won. Winning the race also won them the first place in the regatta. We got a second place in the race and second for the regatta.

So that was the way we ended up, a good race and a great season. We drank three bottles of Champagne on the way home.

Click here for more photos.

You can also see more photos of the Banderas Bay Regatta on John Pounder's web site.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16, 2016-Sail Damage


wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Mainsail Repair

Racing sails have a limited lifetime. We know that. It’s been said they will last three years, and ours are eight years old, a long time for a Kevlar/Mylar sail even if they haven’t been used much over 5 seasons. Last season I wasn’t happy with the shape but I thought the cloth was OK. The problem is that the Mylar shrinks and gets brittle. But still, we’ve been hoping ours would hang in there. The replacement cost is prohibitive. New laminated racing sails go for $5,000 to $10,000 each. We can’t even think about that.

Boy was I wrong about them lasting. We had them in the loft for a couple of months and did some reshaping, and that’s when we noticed the Mylar was breaking down. We slapped a bunch of high tech tape on and wondered if we’d get through the season.

Well, the reshaping worked. Those old sails were faster than ever, but right away this season we started to have failures: holes appeared in the panels, cracks showed up on the edges, and seams started to pull out. I was repairing sails after almost every race. The handwriting was on the wall, we’d need new sails, sooner rather than later, at least a mainsail and a genoa.

I got a lot of quotes for new sails. No surprise, we couldn’t afford them. We bought more repair material and spent more time patching them.

No dice, they were toast.

The genoa and the main got to where they looked like they would blow up the next time we used them. I saw a used genoa sail listed at Minney’s, a used sail store in California. It was 18 years old but barely used and the price was right, $347.00. A sail maker went over there and checked it out. “Nice sail”, he said, and it would fit Wings. Surprisingly the Mylar was still good. We bought it and had it shipped to La Cruz and put away the old genoa we’ve had since 2007. Then the #3 jib blew up, disastrously; tore in half with a pop. That was a shocker since that sail was barely used, but I had been worried about it; the cloth seemed tired. We got it fixed but we have no faith in it. Finally the mainsail, shown here, completely disintegrated. We had already started using the Dacron cruising main for practices but we wanted the racing main for the Banderas Bay Regatta. I spent another evening slapping tape on it and sewing. We went out for the first day of Banderas Bay Regatta flying that main. It lasted to the end of the race, and then ten minutes later it disintegrated.

Well, that’s racing.

We will somehow find some replacement sails and be ready for next year.

I wonder how many times we’ll have to go through this.

john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Remembering the golden sails We won races in Singapore, Thailand (King's Cup), the Caribbean, and Mexico with these sails. They have been great.

Click here for a couple more shots of the sail repairs.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016-Practice Makes Perfect



wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Practicing Jibes

The crew is good, we’d already won a few races this year but we’ve had some turnover and if we wanted to be hot in the Banderas Bay Regatta we needed some practice time.

The Beer Can Races on Weds nights make good practices and to get more time on the water we went out on a Saturday as well.

They didn’t all go well.

One night the wind blew like stink and we put up the #3 jib, only to have it blow exactly in half. The #4 was in the storage locker and it was too windy for the #2, so that was it. We sailed around with the mainsail alone and drank beer. We decided that on race day we’d better carry the #4.

Another night, after we’d gotten the #3 jib repaired (and it looked like shit) we did a little better, at least we got as far as the weather mark. The wind was strong, in the mid-twenties. I wanted some heavy weather spinnaker work so I called for the ¾ kite and the crew had it ready when we rounded. The kite up fast despite the waves, flying spray and tilting deck. OK, this is good, I thought.

But the sheet did not come on. The big sail luffed and flapped like some big white angry bird.

“Get the sheet in.” I yelled. But it didn’t come. Then we realized the sheet wasn’t even on the sail, it was lying on the foredeck.
The longer that sail flagged the more worried I got about it. “Pull it in with the afterguy.” For a second nobody knew what that meant. Then John found the winch and the afterguy started to come back, but it was snagged by a loose sail tie on the bag and we couldn’t pull it in without ripping the bag in half.

“Kelly, get that sail tie off.” He gave me a confused look, “What?” I pointed and by now everyone on the boat was focused on getting that sail under control and three other people yelled at him and he yanked the tie off the afterguy and John ground it in. The sail came filled. It filled with a bang.

The worst was yet to come. The minute that sail filled we rolled suddenly to windward and I saw the spinnaker pole head for the surface of the water, the boat was going into a hard round down. Even without the spinnaker filled we’d already been doing 8 knots. If that pole hit the water going that speed we’d have some serious damage.

I pulled hard on the tiller and gave the boat a big swerve to the right which stopped the roll before the pole hit. But just then Carol fell backwards over the traveler and into the aft cockpit. I saw her hand on the mainsheet but it was loose and gave her no support. Actually I guess the main had jibed and maybe that tossed her. Apparently the windward runner stopped the jibing mainsail because I hadn’t even noticed the jibe.

Instead I was thinking about Carol, “What she doing?” But she was as startled as I was. The trouble was that we were still turning right and the boat would soon roll the other way. I needed to push the tiller back to the left and steady the boat but Carol was right in the way; I couldn’t push the tiller anywhere. Somebody grabbed her arm and yanked her out of there and I corrected the course. The main flew back to leeward.

“Man, I am glad this rudder works” I thought.

The wind wasn’t through with us yet. Once I got the boat straight it slammed right back into another windward roll and the pole headed back towards the ocean. Another yank on the helm straightened us out again and this time nobody fell in the way of the tiller so I was able to regain control quickly. But now several people had fallen down. The main cockpit was filled with fallen bodies! About four people tumbled around on the cockpit floor trying to regain their footing.

“OK, folks, I don’t want to play this game anymore, get the kite down.”

We struck the spinnaker and sailed to the finish with no headsail. If it was a real race I’d have probably tried to keep going, but this was all new to this crew, and I thought that they’d had enough. I had. Besides, when things happen so fast, things you aren’t expecting and aren’t ready for, you get behind the curve. If I pushed these folks further at this rate somebody could get hurt, or something broken.

But the value of that session, those two sessions really, was that we had now been exposed to heavy air sailing. They had a taste of it. Let them absorb it a bit before we do it again. Next time we get into 24 knots they’ll know what it’s going to feel like. They will be ready. Not totally practiced in it, but ready.

The next practice, on Saturday, went perfectly. I pushed the team hard for two hours. We did sail changes, spinnaker sets and jibes and takedowns, asymmetrical and symmetrical, rounding’s upwind and down, everything, and it went well; very well. Everyone was bushed but happy. Their faces were flushed. We couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was.

I thought “Who needs racing if we can get practice sailing like that?”

Click here to see more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, la Cruz Huancaxtle.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Febuary 14, 2016-Loss of the Sailing Vessel “Rage”


magic carpet images-greg
JLDigitalMedia: Vallarta Cup Jan 24 2015 &emdash; Rage

We came face to face with Connie. She was distraught.

“Fred, Fred, Can you help us? It’s Barry, he’s aground!”

“Where is he?” I wasn’t overly concerned, after all lots of boats touch bottom once in a while.

“Just outside the marina, next to the channel”.

“Ok I’ll see what I can do.” Connie ran off.

I walked, in no particular hurry, down to dock 11 where I could see the entrance channel. What I saw then struck me in the heart like an ice cold knife blade. There was Rage, in plain sight, completely on her side in the surf to the east of the channel. This was not a grounding, it was a wreck.

Now I moved. I whirled around. Nikk was there. I said, “We have to get out there, Barry needs help.”
“We can take the electric dingy,” he said.

Better than nothing. We ran to his dock and took off in the little Avon with the electric fishing motor on the back. It was painfully slow. In 5 minutes, 5 very long minutes, we got to the scene. Rage was in the surf. Two Mexican boys were on the bow trying to get lines attached and two fishing pangas were standing by to try to tow it off. There were three of four other dinghies hovering around, outside of the surf line. I could not see Barry on board his boat.

“I’ve got to get in there but not in this Avon,” I said. No way could it negotiate the surf with its pitiful little electric motor. “There’s Eddie, take me to Eddie.”

“Eddie, Eddie,” I yelled, “how is that motor? Is it strong?”

“Yeah, it’s good.” He asked, “Why?”

“Eddie, I have to get to that boat, will you take me?”

Eddie looked skeptical, but he said, “Well, I have to get rid of this anchor.”

There was a 75lb plow and about 500 feet of heavy line in his dingy. We transferred it to Nikk’s boat, and I gave Nikk my phone and wallet, and Eddie and I and headed into the surf.

“Do you think we can make it Fred?” Eddie was looking at the white water.

“Yes, we can do it.” The force of my will was irresistible; there was no way Eddie could stop me from going there. It was as if my intensity moved his hand on the tiller. All I could think of was Barry on that boat, in trouble.

“Wait until a wave goes past then gun it in there, just don’t get caught sideways to one. If a wave comes, turn into it.” We roared off toward Rage.

We got along side Rage between waves and I jumped onto the foredeck. I turned to Eddie said, “Now get out of here and if a wave catches you, jump onto the bow tube.”

Just then a good sized breaker came rolling in and as his boat stood on its end I saw Eddie leap to the front tube and he got his boat over it then floored the engine. Before the next wave came he was well out past the breakers waves and going like hell.

But I’d already turned away.

Rage was grounded on its side and moving in the waves, there were rocks, big rocks everywhere. Things didn’t look good, but I didn’t see Barry. The boat was unmanned except me and the Mexicans who were soon to scamper off. (Once the cavalry had arrived they were happy to depart, anyhow, it was clear that no pangas were towing this boat anywhere.) Then Barry came wading out through the surf and climbed aboard. He couldn’t row his Redcrest through the surf. Tomiko, from the yacht Landfall, was right behind him. Barry unlocked the door and he dropped into the leaning boat’s interior. Tomiko followed him. There was sea-water inside and it rushed in and out with each wave.

“She’s a goner,” Barry said.

I asked, “Is it holed?“ Of course it was.

Tomiko looked up at me and said, “I’m standing on a couple of big rocks, there is no side here.”

She handed me her handheld radio and I climbed to the top of the overturned boat and keyed the mic.

“This is Fred on Rage. All you boats in the vicinity who can get here we need a lot of help.” By now more people were wading out. Mike Ferguson came in through the surf with his kayak.

I said, “Watch out for that rock,” and he swerved just in time to avoid getting dashed on a big boulder which was next to Rage. Then he climbed aboard.

Mike Danielson, of PV Sailing showed up on the beach and came up on the radio, asking for any boats that could help to come to the beach.

“Mike, this is Fred. I’m on Rage, I’ll coordinate from here on the radio.”

Then I turned back to Barry, “Barry, you have to start thinking about what you need to get out of this boat before it breaks up.”
Barry just muttered, “Shit, shit, shit.”

“Mike, we need people out here to carry stuff off, maybe buckets to put things in.”

Mike relayed that. Now there were several people making their way out through the surf. It was about waist deep, but the waves were two feet higher than that.

“Barry, we have to get stuff off the boat.”

“I heard you the last time!” He shouted, but it was like he was paralyzed. All he was doing was turning this way and that, looking at the destruction.

Barry’s big red kayak was on the foredeck and Ferguson launched it. Somebody threw some bedding into the kayak. I realized that was a good idea.

“Form a line, like a bucket brigade, and pass that kayak to shore then send it back out.”

“Mike, we need more kayaks, see if you can get some kayaks here.”

“Right, Fred.”

Soon there were four kayaks being passed back and forth and piles of stuff from Rage were accumulating on the beach. Nobody though was even thinking that there was any way we could save the boat. It was two hundred feet from shore and two hundred feet inside the surf line the other way. You couldn’t get to it with a barge or a land based crane. Dragging it across the rock would pulverize it even further.

But we worked hard, probably 50 people were helping and a few trucks and ATV’s were on the shore, having come down through the resort properties. Mike D was sending loads of stuff offsite. I stayed on Rage working the radio. I kept looking down inside to see how people were doing. They were in the gloom, standing in the surging sea water, pulling things out of drawers and cabinets, which they passed out the hatches into the waiting kayaks. Ferguson was unscrewing electronics. Barry was working now, harder than anybody.

One of the dinghies offshore rigged a long line and a big kedge anchor to hold the boat. Barry’s anchor was already there but obviously it was fouled in its own chain and wasn’t going to hold anything. That was how the boat got here in the first place. Somehow, on what was a pretty normal day with winds under 15 knots, Rage’s anchor just let go and she just took off down wind. It’s happened to me; they go fast when they go like that. Nobody got to it before it was in the surf. We didn’t know what happened. The anchor was good, the chain new, there was plenty of scope for 20 feet of water, and Barry was on the boat most days checking it and he re-set the anchor often. On the day it was lost his friend Ferguson had been there 30 minutes before it started to drag. It was fine.

Then it was gone. The chain must have wrapped around the flukes.

This anchorage is bad, the holding isn’t particularly good and the wind shifts direction about 180 degrees twice a day. Every month somebody’s boat drags here, but someone always grabs them before they get shore. Not today.

By 7:00PM the light was starting to fade, I radioed Mike, “Mike, we’ve got to start getting people off this boat, it will be dark soon.” A few kept working but mostly people started to turn away and wade back to shore.

I had been there since 4:30, I was the first guy on the boat, and now I was the last to leave at 7:30, after everyone else got off. I had to drag Mike Ferguson out of the interior where he was still removing electronic equipment.

In my bare feet I could not walk across the boulders and rocks. Somebody grabbed each of my arms and helped me ashore. Barry was already gone, I didn’t know where, but Barry was shattered, I was to find, and he could not face this scene. He left that night and was not to come back to the beach where Rage lay wrecked. I guess I understand that, after all, he built the boat by hand and it was his home. It would take Barry a lot of time to come to grips with this loss.

Over the next few days we had several work parties and removed all of Rage’s equipment, everything, including the engine, and finally, after the surf had washed the hulk all the way up to the sand, we got a crane close to it, and after we removed the keel and mast, the hull was lifted up the beach and dropped gently onto the sand in front of a house. It was still precious.

Finally one day we went back to carry the mast away, 12 men hoisted it onto our shoulders and carried it the mile down the beach to the road. That was when the tragedy of this loss finally struck me.

I walked through the hole in the side of Rage. It was like a cut-out for some kind of morbid display, her bones open for inspection. I looked in the forward cabin; it was littered with sand and debris. I’ve seen wrecks before, you look at them and they seem so ruined and discarded. It is usually hard to imagine them in better times. But this was different. I knew this boat. Rage was, just a few days before, a beautiful, living, creature, all varnish and shining wood. It danced lightly at its mooring, ready to go sailing, wanting to go sailing. Now it was just bones in the sand.

I cried.

magic carpet images-greg
JLDigitalMedia: Vallarta Cup Jan 24 2015 &emdash; I cried

Click here for more photos.

Fred Roswold, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jan 31, 2016-Vallarta Cup Wrap Up


john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Heading for the finish

There have been three more Vallarta Cup races. We won all three although one entire race was tossed out over a race instructions flap. That was race two.

Race three went our way from the beginning. The line was heavily favored to the pin end due to a wind shift in the last ten minutes before the start. We saw the shift and decided on a pin end start on port, even practiced it once. Even though our practice run should have showed the whole fleet what we were going to do most of our competition stuck to their normal bargy starts at the boat end. It cost them around a minute and a half. We crossed on port, sailed well, and led from start to finish.

Race four was also good for us. Another pin favored line and another start on port (the race committee hasn’t been able to put enough mark boats in the water to be able to shift the pin when they need to) although this time we weren’t alone. Four boats started out there and we were a bit slow out of the gate. Rounding the weather mark third we protected the right side expecting a shift back to the right, which came eventually, and we took advantage of a big lull in the middle of the long first reach to pull into the lead. Then we fought it out with Olas Lindas the rest of the way around, finished second behind them and corrected out to first by 7 minutes over our toughest competition, Olas Lindas, and 2 minutes over Brain Waves who got second. That’s when we popped the champagne corks.

The most excitement of the race however was the last half mile to the leeward mark down by Puerto Vallarta city front. We were leading Olas but they had wheels on us and were trying to pass. I told my crew we’d hold them off as long as possible, but we expected them to get by. They actually never did on that leg. Three times they tried. First they went below us but got stopped by our wind shadow. Then they tried to go over us but we sailed high and they gave that up. Another aborted attempt below us, with the same result as the first one, and finally they got really serious and came at us hot, attempting to take our wind and roll right over us. When they became overlapped they were very close and I saw that I could probably throw a luff at them enough to hold them off one more time. I turned to them and hailed, loudly, “Coming up, Coming up, Coming up!”. Then I pushed the helm down and carved a nice turn right up into the wind to block them, which the rules allow us to do. They responded with an equally sharp turn, as I knew they would. In fact I wouldn't have done this type of maneuver if I wasn't confident of their helmsman's skills but never the less I am sure she was a little startled by how far and how quickly I took them up. When their spinnaker brushed against our rig I turned our boat away and yelled, “You fouled us, do your 360". You know, they weren’t the only people who were shocked at my maneuver. The experienced hands on our boat knew what to expect, because we been quietly talking and expecting Olas to make a run at us, but the others hadn't caught on. Our tactical conversation was quiet and the boat steady, until I hailed “Coming up.” Then, in a second all hell broke loose and there we were, two 40+ foot race boats, side by side about 10 feet apart, and nearly head to wind, with spinnakers flying and mains flapping. Then I turned the boat down and it all got quiet again. What fun.

Olas sailed away to weather and we got to the leeward mark in front of them and I think they will never try to sail over us that close again.

It was all in good fun however, when we realized we would win on corrected time we withdrew the protest. Why risk getting disqualified in a protest hearing, and anyhow, the yacht club doesn’t like protest hearings. At the awards party Linda and her crew were smiling and gracious, a far cry from what they would have been if we forced them to go the table and spend an hour arguing about who was wrong and who was right.

wingssail image-deby mantis
Happy Crew

Now we have a month of Weds night beer can races before the Banderas Bay Regatta comes up in March. We hope to have some new sails by then.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle.

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