Reaching for home

We’ve been asked why no posts lately; it’s just a busy August so far with some out of town volunteer work, college back to school, and numerous nights aboard the boat from whence WordPress won’t publish photos (anyone know WordPress well enough?)  The boat has sailed twice since the mast spreaders fix – two nice daysails. We’ll start you with a little Saturday late afternoon reach to Richmond – 

A big rigging question was peoples’ skepticism on our Vee mainsheet setup. See the red mainsheet behind DonK driving the boat yesterday. 

That’s one line, and each bitter end leads to a winch. Note how the final leg of the left-hand block set feeds the line over to the right-hand side. We’re learning how and when to pull that crossover line to travel the boom windward/leeward. You can do it by hand under lighter sheet loads. But 3 of the 4 sailing days so far have been 20+ knots breeze; for that trimming the windward winch is traveling the boom across the boat and sheeting the leeward winch pulls the boom down (mainsheet tension). The big Andersen ribbed winches hold the mainsheet very well, so if we’re wanting to sail on the edge and have a safety fast “blow the main!” I think two people could each hold an end with four winch wraps and no self-tailer grab. So far I’m really happy with this no-traveler deck arrangement. 

Next we want to figure out the reefing full batten jib. Here it is with the reef put in, but all the excess sail not gathered. It’s very high-clewed, forming a steep diagonal line foot of the sail. 

While it looks easy in the photo to just roll that stuff up, it’s very large and the spectra sailcloth is very stiff (a good thing!). Doing this at sea in deteriorating weather will be a nasty job to be avoided – take the reef way before things get sloppy out there. The horizontal zipper in the photo accepts a cover for the rolled/ folded excess sail when reefed. We’re very much inviting curious, patient sailors out over the next month to trial all these sailing control tweaks. 

Finish work continues. Companionway doors finally replaced the plywood version. 

Coco models the aft cabin entry while Lola’s snout points out the engine controls. 

Note the aft cabin hatch had no exterior hardware – we’re securing it from the inside instead with two barrel bolts

Last week we got our only mellow sail so far. Charlie, Leslie, Griffin and I headed up Racoon Straits for Sausalito. The boat glides upwind in the flatter water and we picked off every 40′ boat we could find. So fun to crawl up to their tails and wave. There was wind out past the Marin shore, but the skipper gybed the boat for home instead – just really wanted ONE zero stress casual sail after five years of F36 angst. I want more days like this. 

Yesterday was Ravenswing’s first “cruise”. Destination McCovey Cove, crew was the business owners from the shops surrounding our build shed of 2012-2016. 
Six aboard, BBQ rocked the 3-day marinade, Marcus’ air chair was a hit, we saw Denard Span’s home run actually splash (might go the rest of life and not be able to see that again – pretty great for lifelong Giants fans on deck). The best was flying the actual World Series 2014 Championship flag that was previously at city hall. Look at the size of our orange flag compared to the boats – it got the attention of the cameras, and thus a screen-shot of the tv broadcast

(Yea, the guy on the GrandBanks anchored way too close which was a problem when we swung in the wind). This gear worked well, and what a joy to push a button!

What we won’t show you was the steep learning curve, including anchor chain-to-rope-rode shackle that can’t go thru windlass (duh!), big billows of excess mainsail when reefing because someone hasn’t installed reefing gather lines, dragging anchor because we didn’t back down on it the first time, jammed up mainsail douse because we weren’t head to wind, and no dishwashing water because the same person who didn’t check the gas tank when we left Napa didn’t check the water tanks Saturday morn. All humble pie, and nothing damaging. 

Finally tonight a nod to Mrs. Carter’s vintage eye. Driving to the ballgame on a cold summer morning sporting a 30+ year old, like new Norwegian float coat in just the right colors. Where does she find this stuff? And at my kind of prices no less. Love ya

Nearby readers, let’s go sailing next weekend. Let me know which day works for you!

Aluminum trailer for sale

To the fans of Ravenswing, I beg your pardon here with a blatant advertising message. Go grab a snack and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming shortly…

Rick W’s fantastic aluminum boat trailer is now available for sale. It’s a 2009 MagicTilt, made in Florida and commissioned by Bob Gleason at The Multihull Source in Mass. to carry a Corsair 37 cross country. It was stored here in the bay area after Rick launched his boat, and then we borrowed it in 2015 to hold our floats and mast until gathering the parts at the launch assembly point. Before transporting the main hull in June we replaced the bunk carpets and installed LED taillights. In the photos you can see how our 40′ F36 hull extends well beyond the trailer, so an F32/33, or even an F31, would be very secure with the trailer out near the end of the boat. IMG_3193 IMG_3201 IMG_3203
The trailer has readily adjustable bunks to fit many types of boats, and the weight rating is somewhere up around 10,000 lbs (we will have to go over to Napa to read the ID plate if necessary). It cost $9,000, and the listing price today at $4,500. Contact Greg through replies to this site. Thanks!

Upright again

The KKMI project managers ended their week Friday with a quick lift of Ravenswing’s mast. We had it all ready to simply slide home the two cap shroud and one forestay big clevis pins and then the guys could release the crane. They only charged for 15 minutes of time (good thing, because it’s $300 an hour!)

So let’s rewind that a bit. Here’s the portable laminate repair shop;

First we did a layer of 9oz Doublebias Carbon, then 12oz uni straps crossing over/under the opposite side. These ended shy of the sail track in each side. Then another layer of the DB. 

At this point Keith / Skateaway Designs returned from an east coast voyage on his boat, and opined that these spreaders are putting undue strain on the mast wall by point loading in the center; the only real cure at this point was to extend the spreader root and better disperse the load through the new carbon laminates. So we scrambled at the boatyard to scrounge up some core cell foam and shaped triangle gussets with the little oscillating multi tool. 

Keith’s second point was that it wasn’t good enough to have stopped shy of the track; these really need to be continuous bands that tie the two sides together. Hmmmm, we’re not about to drill holes in our nice new Todes sail track! But there’s 2″ between each of the clips that hold the track to the mast, and about 1/16″ of play between the fitted track and the actual mast surface. Just enough to slide 6oz Carbon uni fabric underneath…

And slip a bit of plastic in there, hold that in place, then slide the carbon back and forth to wet it with epoxy and not have that cement the track to the mast! Thankfully that all worked as intended. 

A bit of fairing and painting (the yard gives a gate key so DIY’ers can stay late in to the night waiting to recoat) and it was soon all done. 

Note to self: it was starboard upper that broke away. That one got an extra 9ozDB layer to approximate the existing fabrics on the other three. Also remember we chose not to do a second fairing pass, so the surface imperfections at the spreader roots are only cosmetic. 

Boat build finishing with no shop looks like this. Bowsprit getting aluminum etched and primed by the side gate 

The Leneman Steps primed on a table outside the downstairs office

The hatch boards and aft cabin ladder being painted in the tent outside the kitchen window

And the first rudder in the garage getting a new leading edge 

This has been sitting 1.5years since Jim Antrim asked me why I made the water-entry point so narrow compared to the overall chord (thickness). The rookie heeded the master and set that aside to fix as the backup rudder. But living with the wind-vane trim tab rudder has shown that one should be saved for ocean passages work, and this first-built rudder should be the daily driver. So we’ll get it finished off in a series of evenings this month. 

While the mast was in the shed we took the boom home and upgraded the things our first heavy weather day pointed out. No photos taken, but we added cross bracing around the winch, at the first reef clew position, and at the mainsheet connection point. Also built a line guide for the reefing line exit sheaves at the outboard end of the boom. Another hit of black paint to obscure all that, and it was back on the car headed to Richmond. 

Where do they put the end-tie slips you ask? WAY OUT at the end of the docks! Not a good idea to carry the 17′ boom out there (about 50lbs with all the gear on it) alone in the 20kt wind. Wheels and workmate bench to the rescue. The locals looked at this like I was nuts. 

By Saturday eve the rig was all back together, main sail bent on, and the lashings tuned to rake the mast back just a little. I’m eager to sail it again and find out if standin more upright lightens up the heavy helm.  Kind of amazing how easy it is to adjust the tuning on this huge (to me anyway) 50′ carbon fiber  mast. 

As the big boat comes in, one of the small ones needs to go. We’re looking to sell our 11′ Topper, great Britain’s answer to the Laser. $500 for a complete, sporty little race and muck about sailboat. If not for you, tell your friends…

Ripping off the bandaid

Ever pull off the band aid too early and things just aren’t right yet under there? Well, looks like we did that with one of the spreaders during that heavy-wind first sail. Here’s the starboard upper spreader, which took the leeward pressure that day. 

Ouch – what you’re seeing are the too-thin Carbon uni laminates used to bond the spreaders back on after the mast rebuild last year. In retrospect I was too concerned about blending in those spreaders, keeping it light. This time we’ll beef up those corners. 

Charlie and Jim remember hearing a sharp crack sound as we sailed but non of us could find the source. But I did midweek as I used the solo TopClimber to go get the topping lift shown in the last post. It was spooky to be up there and suddenly realize the damage overhead. Thought about trying a repair in place, but that lasted about ten seconds. KKMI in Richmond was happy to pluck the mast with Herb Craen and we set it on rolling carts in a very handy huge shed.  

Repair day one was cutting and grinding away the wimpy laminate on the bad one, and sanding away the paint six inches back from the joints on the other three. All four will get two layers of 45/45double bias 9oz to make the bends, with some leftover 12oz uni (from the mast longitudinals) sandwiched in between, applied in a figure 8 to tie the two spreaders together across the front of the mast. 

Here’s where things stand this evening, with the spreader re-bonded and filleted in place. It was hard to guess which tools to throw in the car, so the painters tape was repurposed to hold the final position. Cross your fingers that nothing shifted after I left there today!

We expect the work to finish Thursday and we’ll sail this weekend. 

On the good news front, all the plumbing was finally finished up during the weekend, so the ladies get a proper restroom aboard. The flexible/rubber water tanks are working fine, and the grey water tank is in use for toilet flushing. All good so far. 

Ravenswing’s first weekend in Richmond was a full moon. 

The next big moon should have the boat out exploring. If you haven’t been full moon sailing on the bay, it’s pretty great when not cloudy. Drop us a line if you want to join Thursday or Friday Aug18/19. We’ll be practicing with radar, AIS ship identification and navigation software. We can touch n’ go at the dock to land those who don’t want to spend overnight on the water. 

PS – anyone see the F31 float on the trailer in the second photo above? That’s Race2Alaska now-veteran Ma’s Rover just now back home, about to get relaunched at KKMI. Pretty amazing coincidence to be using the same crane today. If you haven’t read up, go check out the wonderful sportsmanship of Ma’s owner Mark Eastham. After all the work and investment he put in to that race, Mark volunteered to help the F27 team sailed by a paraplegic crew who were approaching the event’s cutoff time. That crew was pretty exhausted but wanted to reach the finish. Mark and other racers didn’t just go home. I’m eager to here from him how he went aboard and helped that boat make it to Ketchikan. What an adventure. 

A man’s first sail

That’s Larry on the right. He and the missus just retired from Florida careers and they’re touring North America by motor home. They have no schedule, they can go where they please. This month they’re visiting Charlie’s house, which means they’ve watched the Boat People traipsing up and down the dock out back as we continue to fit out Ravenswing for sail. At midnight on Saturday the depth finder came to life as the last real must-have to navigate out the long river and through San Pablo Bay. Larry was happy to join F27 skippers Jim, Charlie and me for the F36’s first sail. A nice summer day outing and Jeanne would pick us up at the marina in Richmond. Larry’s never been on a sailboat before, but hey, what could go wrong? :)Woke up to a super minus tide. Boat lying in the weeds…

Once floating (and breakfasted) and bottom semi-scrubbed from the kayak, we pulled out at 9. The motor mount fix made a major (good) difference. We still need to try the higher pitched prop and get that aspect dialed in. Well, in all the excitement some unnamed boat builder forgot to check the two 3 gallon gas tanks. About an hour motoring down river tank 1 ran out, and guess what, tank 2 had less than a gallon. And the Vallejo gas dock is closed Sundays. 

Enter another Ravenswing hero, Goose. He had planned to intercept us as the photo chase boat once we hoisted sail in the Mare Island Straight. Good thing his West Wight Potter 19 can plane with it’s 50horse motor!

Thank you sir, for running a couple gallons upriver!!!  (And yeah, his coach roof is the entire sliding hatch section of a Catalina 30; wow can this guy mod a boat with gusto and results!)

Back underway, Ravenswing’s final obstacle to sailing was the Mare Island bridge. The flood was ripping, the wind on the nose, and our 60 ‘ bridge raise request held up cars for ten mins as we struggled for decent headway. 

After the bridge, 21 years of anticipation became the moment to set sail. But our fantastic looking lazyjack system completely fouled the main hoist on any point of luffing towards windward. What a mess, with Goose’s camera clicking away. More humble pie. 

We cut the lazyjacks free and in the building breeze set the main at the first reef. In the flat Straits water the boat took off like a scaled cat. A sailboat at last, hallelujah. 

Exiting the Vallejo reach at the Carquinez bridge with no jib yet, we just wanted a feel for the helm and boat responsiveness. In a few minutes the apparent wind was above 20kts and the helm too weather heavy. Hmmm, rudder angle or too much mast rake? But we’re moving too fast and we need to tack away from those oil wharves now. We’ll take a leg to weather and gather our wits for the jib hoist. Another minute or so to clear the wharf and we hit the infamous San Pablo Bay chop. Charlie and I (and a number of you) have raced the f-boats here and been pounded silly by that short steep chop water. The F36 is much bigger and she slammed through instead of lurching skyward. That’s fun. But somewhere in those opening minutes a wave came through that completely firehosed the full crew. Welcome to summer sailing in San Francisco, Larry, the place where we soaked your Levi’s and shoes with icy cold water to start a 30 mile sail. Bad manners from the boat host. And so glad Jeanne is not seeing her new boat this way!

We beat up to Marin without the jib. The boat was very unbalanced, the helm a struggle to keep from rounding up, and without any good plans to hoist and reef the new slab jib. Let’s just muddle through and not break stuff. (The open bottom boom needs more cross bracing where the reefing straps sit under the reefed clews). Near Point Pinole the water flattened out a bit and with reefed main only we were hitting 12kts upwind. This rig pulls like a freight train. 

Got the jib up, full hoist, at the Marin Islands. Took a bit to find a groove, but for a while just south of the Richmond Bridge, Ravenswing hit her stride for the first time. Complete magic as she rose up on plane and accelerated like crazy. This is one powerful cruiser/ocean voyager and I want to dial it in and see what’s possible!!!  There are race courses in her future :)

After a few minutes of fun we hung a left in to the Richmond channel. Jim steered around big tugs with, as Charlie said, the ugliest possible vessel (Asian car transporter), handed over the reins and we tucked in to Marina Bay’s office dock to begin a two month cruise-outfitting and shakedown period.

Today saw hours of 25+ apparent, and it’s the same story you’ve heard here. We’re having a very windy summer, and we’re being reminded to respect the weather as we bring this sailboat to life. But if the dodger had been finished today could have avoided a full frontal soaking.

Thank you Jeanne for handling the bad traffic and picking up the tired crew. Nothing broken, nobody hurt, and Larry a bit wide-eyed. So of course as my lovely wife walks up the dock to our first ‘grownup’ boat slip ever, her eye goes right to the rig and she says, 

Honey, why’s the topping lift way up in the rigging like that? Did somebody let go of it?”  Well, um, that would be me and it’s a long story back near Vallejo. Let’s go get a beer and burrito at LaCasa in Sonoma on the way home and I’ll tell you all about it…

NOT 1,000 square feet

Some of you were pretty surprised we got the shop emptied and turned over that quickly. The bad news is “all that stuff gotta go somewhere!” Ugh, don’t look around our small lot at home for a while please. We still have to finish making boat parts, mostly finish sanding, priming and painting. Here’s the new paint shed (code name for an old bug tent now on the back patio under our messy big trees)

The big work table and the large power tools get half the garage (miraculously the car is in fact parking inside now). That’s half the DeWitt Dinghy in the top of the frame – fun little 8′ solo boat!

And all the supplies and small tools go in the 8×6′ tin shed, which got a massive shelving system added on July 3. Still shoehorning stuff in.  

Back at Charlie’s dock this afternoon we removed the stern tower and fished 8 cables through. Anyone building something like this, please note to lay in messenger lines BEFORE sealing up a clamshell design, and make continuous internal conduits with gentle exit bends. My sporty exterior look required much contortion with wire fish tapes and bent fingers. Jim is down from Oregon right now and brought all his carpentry skills to bear on this one. The wired tower slide home and the guys bolted down the feet from the aft cabin while I stood out on the swim platform relaxing with a cigarette (just kidding Mom) Tomorrow is supply plumbing (drains and tankage are done), and finishing the reefing system before hopefully a full daysail on Sunday.  Perhaps we’ll get most of the tower electronics installed too. 

Enjoy the weekend!

Much to their surprise 

The shop neighbors just laughed and shook their heads as they closed up their businesses Friday afternoon for the holiday weekend… The boatbuilder had said this mess would disappear by the time they reopened!

Most of the tools were home already before that photo, but as usual we were trying to “multitask”; still building parts until the last possible moment. We were packing to the tune of the vacuum pump as this table full of cabinet doors and companionway boards came to life. 

No fireworks this year as the Fourth gave us new doors and a disgraceful amount of landfill waste

We will live ‘greenly’ on Ravenswing, but the construction left a debris trail that was a bit unnerving at the dumps this morning. It was pretty weird handling every scrap with all their memories of missteps, fixes and clever accomplishments over the years. But also a HUGE relief when the landlord snapped this photo with the keys in her hand and the Carters no longer the Piner Industrial Center boatbuilders!

Big thanks to Michael the woodworker for all the tool loaning and advice over the years. To Mark for wrenches and the forklift in a pinch. To David for painting advice and labor leads. To Marcus for Giants fanaticism and damn funny humor. The Piner guys get a McCovey Cove day Aug20 on the boat; we’ll be the ones on your TV with the huge World Series Champs flag that Marcus got from the steps of City Hall celebration in 2014.

Hey Griff, pool-cover Nevin traded his new portable air compressor for our old huge one, so I didn’t have to move the BigPig out of the shop and we have a nice beefy 2hp compressor in the garage now :)

We could not have finished the boat these past five years without this place. A note to current or contemplating builders: it’s easy to underestimate the costs of a rented or borrowed shop in a build budget. Mostly because IT IS going to take longer than any of us plan, and that rent check has to keep being written. For us, the extra 12 months rent devoured our electronics savings account, so Ravenswing launched without the Tesla-like lithium batteries, light weight 600 watt solar array or desired Furuno comms/nav goodies. But overall, choosing a workspace one mile from home was the best thing we did for this whole project. The proximity made getting to the boat work an easy thing, so more got done any given week. Do what you can to avoid commuting to your hobby job! Finally, go big. 48×24′ was really too small for this boat. If ever again, the shop would have to be large enough for the tri or cat to stay in its fully assembled wide condition. 

So now the boat to-do list gets tackled  from the dock. First up is solving motor cavitation (severe power loss due to poor water flow or air bubble entrapment). The protection leg in front of the motor is too long. Not sure how much, but it sits 3″ below the waterline and cutting 6″ is the common sense move. Pre-cut here:

Half a foot later

Then we took the offcut to Charlie’s table saw and salvaged the bottom cap, clean-up sanded the cap and the motor mount, and prepped a batch of peanut butter thick epoxy/cabosil paste. Loaded the kayak to continue the 6pm surgical reconstruction…

And plastered that cap up where it (hopefully) belongs

That seam will get cleaned up and covered with a bit of fiberglass next week after this current business trip. If I’m lucky, our boat dock host will have tackled some lazy Jack improvements this weekend :)

We’ll get her sailing for real very soon.