Night work

The Sonoran Desert has had a cold February and early March. Mainly the temps drop a lot at night. But this evening was different, an invitation to work outside. After dinner I pulled out a spare Suzuki water pump kit, a headlamp and toolbox. Spent 8-11pm pulling the lower unit off the main engine for a water pump and gear oil change. Found a bit of pump housing damage so it took a little longer than normal. The boatyard rat hunting felines Dulce and Pantera were quite amused by a human with funny headlight during their busy hours.

I had spent the afternoon rigging the engine with electricity, gas, throttle and transmission cables, plus general cleaning up. This install came out really well. This photo was before the water pump night job.

Something is wrong with my WordPress app here, as I can’t upload more photos for you. So imagine…

Marvin on catamaran GenM graciously offered his paint spray equipment for my orange bits. Bowsprit, rudder cassette and 8’ long steering stick looked amazing this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll brush on the orange accent stripes at bow and stern.

The daggerboard was supposed to be a simple drop in job Thursday. The yard guys lifted it to the deck via forklift, but when we slid it into the trunk it was too wide. Or rather the trunk was too narrow because my added shims were too thick. And I had added too much on the forward bumper section (the part that doesn’t go down into the water). I figured there might be a bit of trimming, but it ended up being a two day job, including about three hours where it was completely stuck. It’s amazing how a 7’ tall, 100 lb, 3” wide barn-door like thing can wedge itself in so badly we needed the crane to free it. After that I used our ladder up on deck as a derrick with block and tackle to fine tune the fit. I think I finally have this thing set up so it won’t bang in the trunk during sloppy cross seas. I also had some end-of-run orange paint and decided to paint the board. That’s for the unthinkable: the boat has flipped and we’ve put an orange and black emergency flag, formally known as daggerboard, into the air.

The under-beam braces got finalized Wednesday. It was terribly windy with sand blowing. Pretty awful conditions. So I kept eye and ear covers on all afternoon and cut away then end-polished all those big 3/4” thick bolts so it’s all tidy. Removed a few pounds of unnecessary washers and bolt thread offcuts, so that felt great.

Lots of little detail work has come together this week and we’re nearing the end of what’s turning out to be a solid two months project (spread over five calendar months). Last push for this round is to step the mast Monday morning. Sail track is repaired and boom looks great. I’m eager to hoist the main again and get proper measurements to the sailmaker so we can figure out what went wrong in the 2018 recut (made the sail match the longer new mast), and test out a spinnaker that’s available here from a friend’s performance catamaran.

I’ve been shooting more video footage and will get YouTube going once I get home.

… and be warned, this boat blog is in jeopardy of high jacking by a ball of canine cuteness very soon. Do you like chocolate?

Wet Paint!

“Hey, careful where you touch!”

That’s a good thing, finally getting some topcoat paint down.

Boom is looking good. A bit of the carbon fabric upgrades are slightly showing through so this will get a second coat.

I think the cleanups on the mast won’t need it though.

Here’s the masthead standoff for the windvane (yes, Keith, I made sure it stands clear of the elevated sail head ;)

Many hours over the past few days went in to stripping, repairing and prepping the under-beam support braces. The ten removable bars went through the Cabrales sandblasting station. On the hull, there was a bit of cracking in the rigid fairing; ground all that out and replaced with 5200 flexible but permanent adhesive caulk. These areas were painted today and the braces are ready for install.

Lots of parts continue on the paint path.

Do you guys remember what that disc piece is?

The daggerboard is ready for trial fit tomorrow, pending its paint drying. Might wait until Wednesday now that I think about it. Stood it up on the sharp trailing edge and painted both sides at once.

Light grey is the finish paint. Dark grey is the portion that remains wet when the board is retracted but this section rests below the water level. That’s a second primer coat and it will get bottom paint once it’s re-installed.

Anton asks about why the daggerboard needs a trial fit. Recall that coming down the coast there were sea states that made the board bang around in the trunk. We temporarily (for over a year) handled it by shoving sticks with wedges on the ends down between the deployed board’s head and the trunk walls. Today we’re filling that gap with the 1/8” ply shims discussed last time. Plus we added a 1/2” thick plate on the front of the head rectangle, the section that deploys against the front of the inside of the trunk. These are a lot of precise-fit changes, hence the new 65” deep hole under the boat so we can test deploying the board. I need to get it exactly right this time, which is impossible from the water. Once it fits well, I might take the time here to reshape the exit slot at the bottom of the trunk. Because the board was modified in 2018, that opening is too big now and not efficient.

The engine was permanently installed. It fits and looks good back there. Spent Sunday morning mocking up a connection between tiller and motor so the prop will track with the rudder when motoring. This should make a major improvement to our low speed, close quarters maneuverability. Ravenswing gets sideways quickly in a windy, crowded harbor and we will take any handling upgrades we can get.

Didn’t photograph the solution, but for Carlos and Rick… we’re starting with simple strings, like a 40’s lake runabout ‘wire cable and pulley’ steering. No need to get fancier yet until we try out the new motor position.

Long hours, and I’m grateful the daylight is letting us work outside until 7pm now. gotta get done. Tomorrow is grey paint, coat 2. Orange paint prep. Install under-beam braces. Finish motor steering mounts. Maybe tackle the needs-a-repair windlass. Or rig the engine – yikes, both very important!

Working on all fronts

Realized today this haulout and work session is so complex because we’re tackling all the primary motion parts of the boat. Engine, steering, foils (daggerboard and rudder), boom, mast, energy (solar panels) and some sail handling (upgrades to bowsprit and adding third reef gear).

Monday morning we unstepped the mast.

Here at Cabrales you have to hoist a yard man up to set his choker and hitch to the crane. So I started my day on the main halyard winch. The mast is now on saw horses alongside the boat, the boom nearby, and I had the crane lift out the daggerboard for work too.

Our mast issue is the Tides Marine mainsail track pulling away from the mast at the top. When Anton spotted this underway coming down the Baja Pacific coast we immediately reefed the main. I’ve been thinking about the cause, and the fact that our sail is too short. We haven’t been hoisting it all the way up, so the headboard has not been aligned with the extra reinforcements area behind the sail track. So it was time to measure for real and figure this out. Yes, Carter spreads his junk even more around this yard!

Pressure from the head of the sail in the areas without enough attachment clips behind the track resulted in shearing the heads off the screws. Look under the black plastic track to see broken screws.

The gaps are where we need to refasten the track clips by drilling and thread tapping new holes.

I’ll be adding 30 more of these Tides clips but, of course, I only have about 20 of the very specific screws this takes. So we’ll await a McMaster-Carr delivery to the border gas station up in AZ, and I’ll set the mast aside for a few days.

The boom modifications finished up this morning. Here’s the third reef sheave box going in.

The box is a piece made back at home by using a piece of wood, just slightly bigger than the sheave (pulley) as a mold and wrapping it in the wet carbon fiber. I think I filmed that for you last month? Here I drilled to holes in the boom top, spanned between the holes with the jigsaw to make a pass through slot for the third reef clew line that will come down from the sail, into the boom, down to the deck and back to the winches.

We also beefed up the reinforcements where the mainsheet wraps around the boom, and filled in the first attempt, now unused, lazyjacks attachment holes, and cleaned up a few dings.

The boom will get primer tomorrow and be crossed off the ‘fabrications or repairs’ list!

Today I attacked abuses to the daggerboard. Remember the video from LaPaz where Colin dove down to apply underwater epoxy? That temp repair held up very well, and today I smoothed it in plus cleaned up other minor damage. The board has been moving around too much in its trunk, so that will be tackled here as well. The dagger bottom is prepped and fabrics cut for tomorrow to get a Kevlar and fine-weave glass layer as grounding protection. Because yes, with a super shallow draft explorers boat, the captain has touched the bottom a couple of times. I need to pull the dagger up before we hunt for those shallow anchorage ideal spots.

Much work has gone in to new mounting positions for the framed, glass solar panels. Removing the flexible panels, filling old holes, making reinforcement points, positioning and bending the new aluminum feet have taken many hours. Ready for final paint on that now.

It’s been just a bit too cold to paint. 60’s here while most of USA has been freezing and/or wet. I’m optimistic about tomorrow morning for finally getting white paint at least where the solar panels, radar and engine need to be mounted. Soon we’ll finally start painting the grey stuff.

Interior spiff-ups continue in the evenings. Loving the new day-gear shelf and what do you think of the recently sewn cords organizer?

Also, how are these photos working for you? WordPress told me I was uploading too high-resolution and needed to pay a bunch more money to maintain the website. Or choose lower res. They look lousy on the phone as I type this but hope it comes out clear enough when I hit Publish? If not let me know I’ll argue with them.

Come on 70 degrees Fahrenheit!

Happy Birthday, Mom. Thanks again for following through once you decided to try for your first child!

Work progress report

Yea! New opening port lights. It’s really nice inside with the breeze blowing through the boat. This installation was a big project with the cabintop side panel rebuild, but oh so worth it. I just have the interior cosmetic trim rings to install, as soon as I can ask Colin how he did this for the same ports in the aft cabin last September.

The aft end of the refitting is now complete. Radar tower, swim platform / ladder and new engine mount are in the multi-day painting cycles. Minimum of five days, 2 primer coats and 3 finish coats. Weather can add more time. Today was a bust because a commercial crew was sandblasting a shrimp boat in the next yard, and a huge cloud of dust descended on this place. I worked on the new solar panels placement, and within 30 mins the panels had a couple mils dust layer. Hopefully I can paint tomorrow (Sunday). Also I’m running out of white, and Svendsens in Alameda is shipping a quart UPS to the gas station / mail stop at the Lukeville, AZ border. At some point I have to take a break and make the four hour round trip up there. Having trouble getting the piston rings for the Tohatsu dinghy motor rebuild; hopefully they also get to Lukeville in a few days.

I’ve been fitting in the small projects around the big ones, trying to piggyback epoxy and paint work efficiencies. Things like the dinghy motor mount and steering stick extension get the leftovers of fairing compound or paint until they too are complete.

The next big one on the list is the removal of the beam braces for stripping and redo in epoxy and paint. Our use of the west systems aluminum etching kit failed us and all that paint is bubbling off. Looking at all this, I should stop and get these 3.5’ big pieces anodized. No one has that equipment here, so it would mean searching in Phoenix or Tucson, plus probably two driving trips up there. Anybody want to make some phone calls on this?

Also need to figure out a realistic way to clean minor rust staining off the 3/4” diameter attachment hardware. Please comment back any chemical solutions ideas. Thanks!

In the evenings I work on the interior jobs. The “pilot berth” extension is coming along nicely. The wood face joint was facilitated by getting a few minutes on an old chop saw from the landlord of the temp apartment rented by our yard neighbor. Me cutting 22.5 degree angles through 4” tall trim by hand wasn’t going to work … but resourceful scrounging pays off.

So when you find a ferreteria (hardware store) to get a quart of acetone and some sandpaper, I suppose you shouldn’t be surprised by random buckets of turtles. These poor little guys sit in sad barren buckets next to the plumbing aisle. They looked right up at me with begging little, “wouldn’t a pet turtle be grand?” eyes. But I’m holding out for a Labrador puppy in March instead.

Back in the writing groove

Well good people, I offer a big thank you for the patience in the long gap of these updates. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the Ravenswing videos on YouTube. Turns out they are quite consuming to make, and I ran out of energy to come back to this blog.

But, that’s “old thinking” because it’s too difficult to get video stories done quickly, and some of you guys want to know what’s going on NOW! So I’m thinking we’ll still work to capture Ravenswing adventures for sporadic video releases, but get back to the quick iPhone photo hits here on the website. So here goes…

I departed home Monday Feb 1 towards Puerto Penasco. Made it to the Salton Sea that night and slept six hours in the back of the pickup. This was timed to get to the Calexico US border patrol office for a 7 am “hearing” about being reinstated for Global Entry. My $100 hard to get card was confiscated on the prior trip because i shouldn’t have taken the passenger Marvin through the special lanes at Mexicali. Things can be rather tense on the southern border. Got the card back quickly as the hassle to retrieve seems to be the designed penalty.

February is dedicated to finishing all the upgrades and ‘shoulda dones’ from the boat build. The (Covid partial) year of voyaging showed what needs to be different.

I’ve had five work days here now, getting a ton done daily. The new motor mount, radar tower and swim platform all got final fairing yesterday and first primer coat today.

The holes with blue tape are the new conduits to pass the engine controls, wiring and fuel from the cockpit through the aft cabin and out to the new engine placement. The new swim ladder is a major upgrade for Veterans Dan and Rick!

The anchor has come up quickly a few times with its heavy pointy end bashing on the boat. So we beefed up that area with extra glass and a Kevlar layer.

Alongside the stern-end projects has been the huge job of replacing the fixed “dead lights” with opening ports. That was in the prior video. It’s finally warm enough to paint, so the white cabintop was done and the new portholes cut yesterday while y’all watched the SuperBowl. The Vetus ports fit great, but await install until the black accent goes back on.

We’re also mixing in small tasks during these days to combine batches of epoxy or fairing compound or paint. For example, the old through hull that passed engine rigging was below the starboard aft beam. That was plugged and glassed back in yesterday.

Before sunset tonight the version 2 dinghy engine holder got roughed-in. No metal fasteners; all composites for light weight and zero maintenance.

Yeah, that string and clamps nonsense is improvising to ensure the block doesn’t slip down while the epoxy sets up. What can I say, it was the end of a long day.

I type this tonight from the Cabrales customer lounge. There’s a slightly intimidating task, as each crew is asked to sign the wall before splashing their boat again. How are these people copying their boat graphics here? How will i get our Ravenscript done with my lousy art skills? Do you know any of these other Penasco travelers?

And I just realized I never sent out the link to the most recent YouTube video. So if you haven’t seen that one yet, here you go.

Puerto Penasco boat work, part 2

The funny thing is, I left home for this trip telling Jeanne I’d be back in ten days, including the drive time. Did I actually think this was 7 days of boat work? 15 days in to it, it sure is looking like 30+ days. And that’s the same reality that took our imagined fall 2013 original launch in to June 2016. Some day I’ll learn, “it is what it is”.

In this video there’s a first. First time since launch of cutting away part of the hull for something more than a planned thru-hull fitting. I had subconsciously organized the first week in MX to avoid starting on the engine project, because I was dreading doing this surgery. But it was pretty magical on that cold Monday morning to once again have the amazingly strong smell of the cut Western Red Cedar. That wood needs to stay entombed between the fiberglass skins for the life of the boat, but getting a fresh hit of that aroma right before Christmas was a lightning bolt. Also thinking here that Ravenswing is fairly unique – an old-school technique wood core boat with the latest carbon fiber, poly foam core, and synthetic fiber cordage for her fittings and upgrades. Not a big race boat, but not a houseboat either.

Here you get to watch more days go by, all of the hours consumed by the many steps of composites fabrication work. Blending the new flat-planes into the curved cabin sides, in order to get a fair and watertight mount of the new port lights, was painstaking work. That’s all done now, sitting in MX waiting for painting weather. It’s not explained in the video, so the issue is that below 70 degrees F, it’s “iffy” that the two-part linear polyurethane (the toughest, best wearing) marine topsides paint will ‘flash’ fully enough to result in the hi-gloss finish. If it doesn’t get warm enough, it will still harden over time, but the surface goes matte / dull. This is what happened in Nov 2018 back in Sausalito when we did the cosmetic damage repairs from the dismasting. It never got warm enough, but we had to paint anyway because Ravenswing was blocking the Spaulding Boat Works wharf / crane and they just couldn’t keep other customers held up. So I had an insurance-paid repair that had an inferior paint result. We’ll finally be fixing that here in this haul out.

Enjoy the show, and meanwhile we’re busy again back in the home workshop getting more parts ready to take back to the boat.

A shipwright on the road

It’s time to be a boat builder again, this time in northern Mexico, to make some major upgrades. The Cabrales yard in Puerto Penasco seems like a good place to tackle projects that solve stuff that we’ve found less than ideal during the year+ out cruising around. The first wave of work happened over 15 days in December. I had figured on ten days total. That was a big underestimation. It’ll probably take another 15 days or so in January to finish the list.

This first video shows the first week of work. In the second week, the new engine mount was built and I’m really happy with it. I didn’t originally put the motor on the back of the boat because of concern for it being subjected to waves coming from behind. That will be a risk now, but it’s rare. The existing side-mount subjects the motor to wave hits between the hulls, during choppy seas. This has been a danger because sea water has hit the powerhead hard enough to sneak around the seals. The other big advantage we’re going for is the ability to steer the engine with the main tiller. Turning the motor thrust will be a big help in low speed, tight quarters maneuvers like backing into a dock.

The big project in the video is changing out our on & off leaky deadlights, ie the polycarbonate fixed windows in the main cabin. They fit around the curved cabin sides, but didn’t stay sealed well enough. Living in the warm climate, there’s not enough ventilation, so we decided to cure all of this with six opening, screened ports. They have to be mounted on flat surfaces, so that means a big job to create flat planes in the curved cabin top. When I left the boat the other day, all of the prep work was done, with the interior complete and the exterior in primer. I decided not to make the cuts until the painting is done, to minimize the time with open holes in the boat. So that will be a big motivator to get back to Cabrales.

Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope we can keep you entertained for 26 minutes here…

Swimming with Seals

Isla Garda got even better on the second exploring day, as the sea mammals came out to play. We hope you all enjoy this final installment in the 2020 voyages series.

Where you see the boat at the end of this video is also were I just drove back to last Friday. Our pickup is a moving workshop / tool shed, and I’ve moved back aboard Ravenswing with a very busy weekend starting the upgrades projects. This is going to take a couple of weeks of non-stop work. Get up with the sun, work til it’s dark and too cold. Clean up, eat, sleep, and do it over again. The camera is helping, so you’ll get a good summary of the work.

In the mean time, please enjoy the favorite paddle boarding and 100-mile beat to weather of the year!