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Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21, 2016-Mike Danielson's Fish Prints

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Mike and a beautiful fish print

Mike Danielson, owner of PV Sailing and North Sails rep, is an artist as well as a sailmaker and a great sailor. He is well known among the deep sea fishing set for his fantastic art prints of large game fish.

I caught up with Mike recently at the annual La Cruz Sports Fishing Tournament where he was preparing to make prints of some of the largest game fish including one of the tourney winning Black Marlins. This giant fish, at 198 kilograms, was a beautiful specimen, and the fishermen who brought it in were justifiably proud. By creating an exact art image of the fish it's power and beauty can be retained for years to come.

Applying Paint

Check out the series of photos here to see how Mike and his helpers create these beautiful prints.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

October 15, 2016-Round Up-Update

New Spinnaker hits the loft floor for measurement and numbers

The saga continues:

John flew into town on Tuesday with our new spinnaker in his luggage, only his luggage didn't arrive with him. The spinnaker went to Los Angeles.


But Alaska airlines assured us that they'd collect the missing bag and deliver it to the marina on Thursday, which they did. So now we have it.

WOW! it is a very nice kite. We hauled it up to Mike's place for a measurement and a change in numbers. Mike says he will get us the original builder's certificate, all part of the great North Sails service. WOW again!

Now everything we have been trying to collect from the US has gotten here, Spinnaker, BBQ, Mail, boat parts.

It's like Christmas, early.

Next we'll put the boat in the yard and do the bottom, get the new rudder bearings, do a couple of through-hull fittings, and be back in the water by Tuesday or Weds next week, then we can go sailing with the new sails. That will be fun.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016-Round up all those Doggies

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
New Magma BBQ Looks Good, But...

We’ve got a round-up going, of sorts. That is, we’ve got a lot of stuff roaming around up in the USA and we’re trying to get it down here in Mexico. Problem is the shipping companies and the Mexican Customs just don’t work. If you send something via UPS or Fed Ex, it winds up in a Mexican Customs prison in Guadalajara and you will never see it again. So we are trying some alternate methods. We’ve pulled out all the stops to try to get all of our missing cows (stuff) to come into the coral (here on Wings) from out on the range (in the USA).

First of all, there is the new (used) spinnaker sold to us by Curt. “Just about new.” he said, so I sent him the money. Fine, money gone, spinnaker: nowhere. Then I arranged a drop. Son Ken met Curt at midnight near an abandoned railway station in Lynnwood, and after exchanging secret signals, Curt gave the kite to Ken. Then Ken met John, another midnight rendezvous, and John got the kite. John was supposed to bring it to Mexico, but somehow John missed his flight, for the last two months he missed his flight. Still no spinnaker.

Oh, did I say? John also has our mail package, which by now, is no longer the latest; there is another one looking for a courier to Mexico. (Hint: If you want your mail in a timely fashion, don’t try John.) Latest news: John will be coming in a few weeks. Right.

Then there is the new Genoa. Now this is a sad tale; the Genoa cost $5000. The factory delayed it for three weeks because they didn’t have the right color of cloth for the bag. See, I ordered light grey, which their up-to-date high end technical system said was, “In Stock.” Only it wasn’t. It was, “Out of stock”. OK I changed to dark grey, also, “In Stock”, only that wasn’t either. “Out of Stock”. But they had “RED”. I don’t want red! Oh alright, make the bloody bag in red, just send it already!

So the genoa and red bag got sent to San Diego, where Juan (not that John, another Juan) was going to pick it up and bring it to La Cruz. And since he was coming this way anyhow, please bring my new red bag, and my spare sail repair material too, OK?

“Sure” says Juan, and we did all the paper work, for Juan is totally legal. Great! But, you see, Juan’s truck is broken. But it will be fixed tomorrow. He will definitely head north with his truck and all of my papers tomorrow and bring all my stuff back straight away. “Tomorrow”. For two weeks, “Tomorrow.”

As of this day I have no idea where is Juan, or my paperwork, or my stuff.

Oh, also, the new Magna BBQ. Kelly agreed to bring that down. So I ordered it from West Marine with a delivery to Kelly’s neighbor. Yeah, I know, sounds dodgy, but Kelly, well, Kelly is pretty reliable. He DID bring me the new BBQ.

Thank You Kelly.

So how did that turn out? The BBQ is fine, except that none of the inside parts fit the outside. When I put it together it said, “Merry Christmas, our parts don’t fit.”

AND I BURNED MY FINGER trying to get all that ill fitting stuff properly aligned! DAMN!

Plastic Ice Cubes help burned fingers

So here I sit, no Spinnaker, no Genoa, no damned red bag, no mail, no repair material, but I DO have my BBQ and a burned finger.

Fortunately I also have some wine.

Welcome to the down side of Mexico, you cannot get stuff shipped here.


Don’t let anybody tell you the marina security guards don’t have a sense of humor.

Normally it is a big pain to find a dock cart. Let’s say you come home from the super market with a trunk full of groceries and you need a dock cart to get those groceries down to the boat. There are never any dock carts to be found. You can walk up and down all the marina fingers looking for a dock cart. You might as well be looking for baby Jesus; you never find one.

But they do exist.

Last week, one morning, as I walked to the bathroom, I saw this sight.

Dock Carts Galore

10 Dock Carts!

Now where have these 10 dock carts been hiding?

And who, with a twisted sense of humor, thought it would be fun to put them all together on dock 7?

It must have been the marina guards; they did it as a joke.

But later, when we came home with groceries, no carts!

I asked the marina guard. “I Dunno”, he said.


Fred & Judy, La Cruz, Huancaxtle, Mexico


Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 10, 2016-My Malecon

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Community Activity on the Malecon

On the top of the breakwater around our marina there is a promenade called the Malecon.

It is a place that is enjoyed by families of this community out for a walk in the evening, a run, to do some exercise, or just to view the Bay and the mountains beyond.

The Malecon is part of the scene where we live. It goes with the small town of La Cruz, the blue ocean, the mountains in the distance, the birds, sea life and the quiet docks where our boat is moored.

From the deck of Wings I can watch the activity on the Malecon. On some evenings, and there are many of them, I go on deck to use the BBQ and I watch the Malecon.

Three Girls on the Malecon

I take a glass of scotch, put on some music, and while my steaks cook I watch the chicas jogging with their ponytails flying and the kids zooming along on their skateboards, or the parents pushing a stroller and the fitness students straining their muscles while their kids play nearby.

There is something about watching the Malecon which I love.


I can see the palm trees gently waving, the birds circling, the tall mountains in the distance and all the people living out a rich part of their lives.

There is peace in this place.


Click here for the full photo essay.

Fred & Judy, La Cruz Huanacaxtle

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Sunday, September 04, 2016

September 4, 2016-Boat Work (Rigging-Hydraulics-Rudder)

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Rigging Jewelry

We've completed a few more boat work projects this summer. We've just now finished some rigging work, solved a hydraulics puzzle, and got a beautiful new rudder bearing.

Since this story is all about the pictures, we'll just send you to the wingssail images post.


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Friday, August 26, 2016

August 26, 2016-All About Mainsails

I made our first new mainsail in 1993.

1993, Home-made, Kevlar mainsail

I wasn’t a sail maker and I didn’t have clue about what I was doing, but I did it anyway.

I went to the library and checked out some books on sail shape. Library? Books? Yeah, I actually went to the Seattle Public Library in downtown Seattle and got some hard cover books. Can you believe that? Amazing! How yesterday! Then I wrote a Lotus 123 spread sheet to calculate the dimensions of each panel, there were 52 of them, based on the shapes I learned about in those books. That spreadsheet, wow, it was something (it got lost when a floppy disc failed years ago). With a design in hand I bought a Sailrite machine and a bunch of Kevlar and started sewing. I did it on the floor of the CYC yacht club. It took 80 hours. The sail turned out pretty good. It was dumb luck.

It caused a bit of a stir around Seattle; lots of people knew I was making it and when we showed up on the course with it there were quite a few eyeballs scoping it out. I don’t know if they were impressed or not, nobody said much about it, but they paid attention, I can tell you that.

There was a lot that was experimental about that sail, from the particular Kevlar and polyester laminates I used, to the graphite tapered round battens I made which had a habit of exploding without warning, to the Lotus 123 graph I used to model and view the sail shape before I started cutting cloth. There were other problems which required endless repairs over the years but the basic sail shape was good. I have now come to believe it was very good although I didn’t know it at the time. It had a large roach and flat and smooth in midsections where it needed to be flat and smooth. The draft was about right, and there was plenty of twist aloft. The shape was a success. It was fast out of the box and we won a lot of races with it.

Thirteen years later, in 2006, that mainsail was shot. That is a pretty long run for a racing sail but most of the time during those years it didn’t see much use; we were cruising and the Dacron cruising sails were hoisted, not the Kevlar racing sails. Still, after 13 years, it was toast. It had patches on top of patches. I had neither the time nor place to make a new one but both Judy and I had jobs and were making good money, so we decided to buy a replacement.

We got the replacement, our second new mainsail, from Shenzen, China.

2006 Main from CSF

There was a place there which our friend Jim Fernie told us about called China Sail Factory. China Sail Factory (CSF) made sails for sail lofts all around the world for a good price. The main they quoted was cheap enough so I ordered the sail, sent in the measurements and wire transferred the money. Some guy in New Zealand I never met or knew designed it. The sail arrived in Singapore soon afterward, as scheduled, but what a disappointment! The fabric and construction was beautiful but when we put it up I was horrified. The shape was bad. The sail was too deep aloft and the body wasn’t fair. Every seam looked like a ridge. The draft was all wrong. I didn’t see how we could win races with that sail but I was stuck with it. When you buy a sail over the Internet, from some factory in China, you don’t have much recourse if you don’t like it. Sail shapes are too subjective anyhow; they could just say it was fine, or fault my measurements. A recut was needed and again, I didn’t have the time or place to do it. I couldn’t do it. So we sent the sail to a friend in Perth with specific instructions for what we wanted and when it came back it was better. Not good, but better.

We used that sail, actually we had no choice, and in time we forgot about the shortcomings. Maybe the sail even got better as we used it. We also found that with skillful trimming we could make the shape acceptable. And we did win with it too. We were dominant in King’s Cup in 2006, and we used it all over the Asian region. Years later, in Colombia in 2014, it was still reasonably good and in 2016, 10 years after we bought it, we were still using it in Mexico and still winning races. In fact it seemed that the older it got the better it looked.

But 2016: that was the end of Mainsail #2.

At the finish line of the second race of the Banderas Bay Regatta that year our China-made Kevlar main totally disintegrated. There was a hole in the middle of it big enough to walk through.


We put up the Dacron cruising main and finished the regatta but we needed another new mainsail if we were going to keep racing.

So, what to do for a third new mainsail?

We went back to China Sail Factory, for price mainly, but I also thought I could have more control over the design, and I had some ideas about what I wanted. We had several email discussions with the designers in Shenzen, the CSF designers, and in the end they agreed to my ideas and they built the sail I wanted. You can see it here on the right.

Old and New Sails from China Sail Factory

It's not perfect, but it's better. It is a much flatter sail than the last one, more like the 1993 sail, but a little less roach. That reduced roach was an accident; I wanted more roach but I failed to communicate it properly. Anyhow, we didn’t get the extra roach. Otherwise the sail is beautiful. It has the same flatness and smoothness, more so even than my 1993 sail. Oh, we have some minor issues with the top, and we’ve only had it up once, but all in all it is probably the best mainsail we have ever had for this boat.

It is interesting to compare the photos of these three sails. Even an untrained eye can see the differences. We are really interested in seeing how we perform with this newest sail. In 1993, with the one I made back then, we had the best racing season ever with Wings. What will we have in 2017?

Fred & Judy, SV wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

August 4, 2016-Paint Job

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Masked and Ready

Sometimes I leave a story up on this blog even when I have a new one ready to post just because I like looking at the lead photo in the old one. The last story, about the new generation of sails, is one of those. When I connect to the internet that photo of the new mainsail pops up on my home screen and I love looking at it.

But we've now got a back-log of stories so it's time to move on.

Last week we finished one of the nastier jobs which are periodically required to be done on this boat: painting the interior. I hate that job, it has to be done about every eight years, and we just finished it for about the fourth time since we've had this boat. Well, we painted the main cabin. The forward cabin, head, and aft cabin were left to later, but the main cabin is what we see, and what visitors see, and it had gradually gotten really dingy. The white was almost yellow. The overhead was downright ugly.

So we ripped into it in late July. We started with sanding and filling, then cleaning and masking, finally, in a big push, we rolled on new paint everywhere in the main cabin in one frantic day. We moved off the boat that night and again the next night during which the paint fumes were intolerable, and while we touched up and put on a second coat in some areas that needed it.

So it's done now. It's not the best we could have done at it; we could have sanded more and used more of a premium paint, but that version of this project would have doubled or tripled the duration and the cost. Life is a series of compromises. We did the 80/20 job. That's OK. The boat looks very good now, and the last time we did the premium job it didn't last any longer anyhow.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Port Side

Even though I don't have the photo of the beautiful new mainsail at the top of my blog to see every day, when I lie back on my settee I can look at a bright, clean, overhead and that's nice too.

Click here for more photos.

Jred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanaxactle

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23, 2016-New Generation of Sails

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
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.


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


Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 2016-Watching the Surfers at Burros

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

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

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

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.


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.

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Pangas In Topolobampo, and Bahia de Ohuira

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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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Isla Carmen

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18, 2016-Climbing Isla San Francisco

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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.

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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.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Isla San Francisco

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Friday, May 06, 2016

May 6, 2016-Going Off The Grid

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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.

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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Baja California

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