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Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014-Chiapas to Huatulco

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Judy Works the Pole

We left at noon and set sail on port tack in a light sea breeze, holding our course up the coast all afternoon. The wind veered and dropped a little as the sun got low and we tacked out looking for a starboard lift but actually we expected it die altogether, which it did, and we started the motor.

Four hours later the ongoing motor problems reappeared and the oil pressure went to zero. We had to shut down the motor. This time, however, the oil level was up, not down as before, and it was thin. Fuel dilution? This new symptom was familiar since it has happened before when an injector failed, and gave us a new clue, but added to all the other symptoms, the diagnosis was still unclear and we hated to be heading across the Tehuantepec without a reliable motor. However, we were convinced that Huatulco was a better place to get work done than Chiapas. We just had to get there.

But we had some wind; the nightly offshore breeze came up and we set sail again and sailed through the rest of the night, worried about the motor.

The next day we changed the oil and the motor seemed OK for the moment, and we had enough oil for three more oil changes, so we felt better. We could use motor if we had to.

During the morning the wind came more from the east and in perfect conditions we set the spinnaker. It seemed surreal to us, and we felt it must be a rare event, sailing east to west across the Tehuantepec under spinnaker, but with a good weather forecast we were not expecting any problems and we had none; we sailed across the Tehuantepec without issue.


On Wednesday we arrived in Huatulco, which, as Judy wrote, was the actual crossing of our outward path and marked the completion of a circumnavigation, which we feel good about. Even though it wasn't what we had necessarily made as the focus of our cruising life this past eighteen years, getting around the world is an accomplishment, and most of all, it has been a wonderful experience. All the beautiful countries and people we've encountered have given us a rich life.

On Thursday night we headed back to Chiapas by bus to collect the car and we drove here on Friday.

Road Block

It was an interesting drive, that one to Huatulco from Chiapas. At a place just over Oaxaca state line the local motortaxi group blocked the highway, right on a bridge. We think it was a protest over the motortaxi rates. Anyhow, we were stuck for 2.5 hours and traffic got backed up about 2 miles in both directions. Some people turned around and went back, to where I don't know, but a big double semi truck driven by a guy sympathetic to the motortaxis came in and blocked both lanes, so we were blocked from getting out that way. The State Police came, with lots of guns, talked to the taxi guys, then left. Then the Armada de Mexico came, also with a lot of guns, talked to the taxi guys, and also left. Finally two Federales came, with fewer guns, and there was some announcement which made the taxi guys cheer, ( I heard "cinco pesos") and ten minutes later the blockage broke up. In the three months we've been driving in Mexico we been in three roadblocks, two in Oaxaca.

The roadblock delayed us by 2.5 hours and we wound up driving into Salina Cruz in the dark, to Judy's total dismay, and so we stayed in a hotel there that night and came the rest of the way here the next day. It's beautiful country, all the way from Chiapas to Huatulco, sensational, but we don't feel like driving it again; lots of curves and too many humungous speed bumps and machismo Mexican drivers. The wind when we were on the bus east of Tehuantepec, at Chivela Pass, was strong and gusty and we saw trucks blown over on the side of the road. The bus itself was swaying mightily, but that didn't prevent the bus driver from flying at 70MPH on what was a very narrow and dark highway, with oncoming swaying trucks doing the same. Geez! Thankfully the wind didn't affect us as much when driving the car but the trucks and buses still scared us.

Now we are enjoying Huatulco while Wings' engine is temporarily out of order without a fuel pump, which we inspected and found to be defective, so that is good news: at last we have a definite problem which we can address. A new pump is on the way from San Diego and due in a couple of days. Then, just maybe, we'll find out if it fixes the multiple oil problems we've been having since June. If not, next we'll check the injectors and injection pump.

Next stop, whenever we're ready to go onward, is Acapulco.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Huatulco

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

November 12, 2014-Arrived in Huatulco

Today we sailed into Huatulco, Mexico, crossing the track we laid in March 1998. Officially, we have circumnavigated the world, but our journey has encompassed so much more than counting the miles. This is an amazing planet. Humans around the globe are generous and loving and have the very same desires of freedom and opportunity to pursue their goals as ourselves. We are so much more alike than we are different.

Judy & Fred, SV Wings, Huatulco

(Fred will post a story soon, with photos, of the Tehuantepec crossing, obviously, we made it.)

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

November 9, 2011-Anticipating the Tehuantepec

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

It’s just that we’ve been hearing about this one for twenty years. Even the word itself, Tehuantepec, has sort of an evil rhythm: "two wan to peck". I can hear the soft southern voice of our friend Kathy from the yacht Tumbleweed, talking about those awful “Tehuantepeckers”. She shuddered some when she said that and she was a little throaty, not quite a laugh, not quite a choke. It must have been, oh, about 1996, when she told us about the Tehuantepec. She said it was scary and they was glad when they got across it.

The problem is that the Tehuantepec has scared a lot of sailors, us included. It’s not that we haven’t faced rough crossings before: the passage from Fiji to New Zealand was a fearful one which we survived. Sailing the Agulhas current off of Africa’s East Coast was another. And Cabo de la Vela on Colombia’s north coast is a leg that sailors just about universally dread, such is its reputation, and we sailed that one.

In each case we just swallowed our fears and set out. In each case we made it through.

But this one...

Bad Day for Tuhuantepec Crossing

I have to say I’ve been stressed out about it.

Like a huge malevolent back draft, the Tehuantepec seems to pulse and roar with evil intent. So says NOAA. When NOAA personifies a weather phenomenon, then you wonder.

Even so, we need to cross. I sat at the computer and studied the weather maps, the web sites, the NOAA models. I sensed Judy behind me, looking over my shoulder. She didn't say much, but she was watching. Finally I managed to find a weather window; a period of time when the winds should be manageable. Not a period with no wind at all, we must sail. If the motor quits when you are out there without any wind you are a sitting duck for the next pulse. No, we want a window with wind between 10 and 15 knots, out of the north; that would be fine.

We’d leave around 6 AM Friday, noon at the latest. I know what they say about Friday sailings, but we don't pay that any mind, and we'll cross the Tehuantepec by noon on Saturday and be safely into Huatulco by Sunday morning. It was a tight window, because we had to be off the water by Sunday when the next pulse was due, but we could do it.

We swallowed hard and got the boat ready. More than ready, we did everything.

Then Mexico screwed up the plan: they couldn’t complete the paperwork in time to make the weather window. Just one little clearance paper. That’s all we need. It isn’t even an international clearance, just a zarpe for our next Mexican port. They couldn’t do it on Thursday, couldn’t tell me why, so we started on it at 8:30 Friday morning, already late. Then I wound up sitting for hours in one office after another while people typed on their old Underwoods. By 1:30PM we still weren’t cleared to leave and the Port Capitan wanted to bring his drug sniffing dogs to search the boat, so we scrubbed.

We told them we’d leave on Monday.

If everything goes a little better than it did on Friday we’ll get out of here on Monday night. The window isn’t as good, the winds will be light and from a contrary direction, but we’ll have more time, so we’ll go.

Meanwhile, we wait, and after all the stress about deciding when to go, then not going... it put me into a really foul mood. I sat in a funk on my settee berth and thought about all people I’d like to kill. I drank some Tequila. Nothing helped.

But, I’m over it now, and Judy is OK, she thinks if plans get changed it all happens for a reason anyhow, so we’re fine.

Monday, unless the weather changes dramatically, we'll try again to cross the Tehuantepec.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Just Posted-Blast from the Past-New Zealand Airshow

We've just posted a story and photos from our South Island trip in April 2000, including the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Bleriot at Wanaka

Click here to go to the story, or

Click here to go right to the photos.

We've got a quite a few more old stories to put onto this blog but give us time, they are sometimes hard to find.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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