Crew this week?

Hey locals, we’ll start using these posts / outbound emails to let you know when Ravenswing is headed out, welcoming you aboard. There are too many of you now interested for me to do individual contacts. So if you haven’t hit the Follow button on this website (to turn on the automatic emails), please do so. 

Let us know if you’d like to join this Tuesday afternoon 2/14, or next Saturday 2/18.  Call or text if you already have my number, or reply via this site or email. It all works :)

No photos today. Still prepping parts for paint, and cleaning up those cabinet doors seams is dragging on. Nothing to see here, folks, move along…

Dodging the rain

Yikes, it’s been a month since you’ve seen any Ravenswing news. Dealing with the house damage and a 12 day Asia business trip meant the boat didn’t get a lot of love in January. Thankfully we’ve had some crisp clear days to enjoy on the water.

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But above-average winter rainfall has THOROUGHLY tested cabin waterproofing, with a couple of minor fails. Should have used rubber washers under the heads of the window pane screws, and one of the windlass footswitches apparently didn’t get enough bedding compound, so a little trickle yielded a soaking vee-berth.

We had some EagleRail work in the bay area, and we hustled to finish up by Saturday afternoon so CEO Scott and his grown kids could get out on the boat in a rare sunshine moment. We sailed through the tail-end of the Three Bridge Fiasco fleet, and Scott found a new calling…

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(yeah, I know, the revamped tiller and rudder cassette aren’t painted yet – too much humidity in the air all month!)   After months of the window-less windshield frame on the boat, we finally had the right VeryHighBond 3m tape roll and a clear afternoon. With the frame prepped and everything test-dry fitted, we applied the tape to the windowpanes first.

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Press them in place, and push hard with a soft towel to force good adhesion. We left the protective film on the outside, and masked the frame, leaving a narrow slot for the Sika black adhesive rubberized seam caulk (same stuff we used to install the cabinside portlights)

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We let it sit like that for 20+ hours, and the next afternoon upon peeling away all the masking we were thrilled with the results. This whole windshield idea was inspired by a Halberg Rassey at the boat show 3 years ago, and it’s worked out great. The center panel is hinged to let a breeze in under the (coming) hardtop dodger.

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Interior finish work continues. The lid for the fridge/freezer was made by planing some oak down to 1/8″ and veneering it to foam core and trimming with mahogany. Then some thick foam was added with a light glass layer for the section that “fills the hole” in the top of the compartment.

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Still need to sand and paint the underside, glue a nifty handle on top, and configure some hold-down latching. With that, the fridge is ready to fire up, just awaiting the big battery bank install. (more on that in the next edition).

Those of you who’ve been aboard have seen all the exposed shelving in the various cabinets. Soon we’ll have those cupboard doors installed. Doing the finish work now, with four layers of Arm-R-Seal oil & urethane from Don’s mobile woodworking supply truck.

img_4088 It’s been a while since we wrote a “don’t make the mistake we did” notes, so here goes. These doors are solid wood frames with foam core center panels and a very thin cherry veneer over the foam. We vacuum-bagged these all in one step, but the result was a little bit of movement and poor alignment of the edge of the cherry veneer up against the mahog. frames. Notice some messy join lines in this photo.

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The learning is, the cherry veneer should have been laid down and bonded to the full sheet of foam core as a finished unit, and then that large single piece should have been cut to make exact-size panels for the solid wood frames. The epoxy finish would have been applied to the frame surface and the veneer surface after they had been joined and glued together. It all would have turned out much cleaner. The do-it-all-at-once method gave some lumpy finishes in the veneer, a bunch of extra sanding, and now the need to add some surface trim to hide these gaps. Darn.

Can’t remember if I’ve reported this already to Drew and Keith, so just in case, tacking the full jib down much lower to the deck has solved the diamond-wire interference at the top of the sail. In the light winter winds, it’s coming through the tacks just fine and flying free up there.

Jeanne and I are living out of a rental cottage 15 mins from the house, and our garage is still the boat-build shop. But repairs from the Dec 15 tree fall have not begun. Insurance work removed the big tree and we had the guys leave the bottom 25′, with the hopes of getting these huge logs slab-milled (really hoping for some beautiful dining tables out of this disaster). The ground-to-14′ section weighs over 9,000lbs, and this Mack truck couldn’t get it last Sunday:

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The Empire Tree driver suggested Steve Turner who owns a regular logging truck, and I realized he’s the same guy that hauled Ravenswing’s main hull from Fremont to Santa Rosa five years ago. So he rolled it at 5:30 Monday evening to do this:

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We unloaded them in the pitch dark way out in Occidental where new-friend Matthew is setting up a chain-saw slabber, and we’ll go out for a cutting party soon. Then the wood sits for a year or so before we consider table-making. At least the back yard is clear for demolition and construction now (except the huge stump 1/2 in the ground).

About that 12 day work trip; it started on a sober note. On the way to SFO, I stopped at the boat to prep it for absence. Walking out E-dock, I was shocked to see the big orange QingdaoChina BACK IN RICHMOND. We all just assumed the rescue crew had sailed her back home to China, but now of course it makes sense they made the incredibly sad 700 mile trip back here.

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She sits at our docks looking forlorn, with the nasty winter weather beating down. And all I can think of is how this should be Guo Chuan’s time to celebrate his accomplishment.

The business trip was first to Hong Kong, and I had some free hours to look up the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Got to chat up the events manager about bringing Ravenswing over for their China Sea race to Subic Bay, Philippines at some point. It was fun poking around the very dense urban club. With weather similar to ours, they too sail year-round.

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The middle of the trip was the port of Rizhao, on the Yellow Sea sort of between Beijing and Shanghai. And to get there, we fly to Qingdao, in Shandong province, China. So after finding the QingdaoChina boat at my home dock, five days later we were standing in THEIR home port, the site of Olympic sailing in 2008. Eerie.

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A female windsurfer won China’s first-ever Olympic sailing medal, obviously a source of great pride. Inside the museum I was telling the story of Guo to my colleague Frederick, and we came across this commemoration of his earlier achievements. img_4002

In typical “go big” China fashion, the whole center was huge and over-built, meaning that the venues have many empty storefronts and just not enough business to justify all the infrastructure. But it does look like there’s a thriving scene of day-sail charters, thanks to these simple-but-effective under-rigged catamarans. Go multihulls!!!

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In the morning we drove 2.5 hours down the coast to the working port of Rizhao, but our hotel was a few kilometers north, in the recreational boating center. Although Sunday morn was -2 degrees C, we took a brisk walk to look at the all-wood fishing fleet. Quite a juxtaposition of these working vessels anchored so close to million dollar yachts.

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I spent the last two years of my marketing career flying United Airlines 2-3x / month, trying to but never getting a ride on a new all-carbon fiber Boeing 787. What a surprise to get off the tarmac shuttle at Qingdao for the flight to Singapore, with the chance to walk around and lay-hands (quickly!) on this 787 Dreamliner:

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Apologies to EagleRail Mike for putting up with some airplane geeking-out. Certainly wouldn’t have gotten to walk around the new plane in the USA :)   But if you haven’t seen footage of Boeing building these things with huge carbon fiber spiral spinners, search it on youtube and see if it reminds you of making giant spider webs. Light and strong = fast.

Seeing the results up close of China’s urbanization program, the immense scope of building housing and transport to bring millions of people in to the new middle class, is stunning. Every airplane fly-over, bus ride or train through these cities is amazing. The smog and pollution is rampant, and all one can do is wish to be back home, out on the bay or ocean benefitting from that big Pacific breeze. Let’s figure it out planet-wide, please!

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A heavy year

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It’s been fashionable lately to bash 2016, and I think all those satirists have it right. Charlie the standard poodle. Dan Corchero. Alzhiemers. David Bowie (yea, up yours, cancer!). Cracked spreader on Ravenswing’s first windy day. Americans disgracing ourselves in Presidential politics. To cap it off, in the wee hours of Dec15 our beautiful 100+ yr old back yard Valley Oak with no warning fell on the house. We THANK GOD that its trajectory hit the back wall of the master bedroom where Jeanne slept, and not the sidewall that faced the tree. Eight feet to the left and it could have been lethal. I was asleep at Dad’s house, and Jeanne’s phone call at 2am was so painful. 90+mph up the 101, to find SRFire in our driveway. Daylight revealed five big holes in the roof and most of the rear wall damaged. Subsequent inspection found 12 roof trusses will have to be replaced, plus removal of subfloor in the kitchen to fix broken floor joists.

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By 8am a heavy rainstorm moved in, making the tree removal and tarping work dangerous. And those holes let a LOT of water get in to the interior walls and flooring.
Anthony from Bartlett Tree Service is fearless. This shot is him roped to our “other oak”, hanging over the edge of the damaged second story roof, nailing the tarp in place.

img_3914The insurance company initially tried to cut Bartlett’s bill in half, but it all got properly compensated. All four bedrooms, one bathroom and the family room / kitchen have drywall and flooring damage, plus those 12 trusses mean over half the roof is coming off this winter. Yuck.img_3927
The small shed housing all the boat build tools and supplies was caved in. Amusingly we had built total overkill shelving in there this fall, from the deconstructed hull trollies. The massive shelving protected everything while the shed roof and walls failed. One big boat part – the boarding ladder / staircase was on a table outside the shed, awaiting final paint. The tree directly crushed that table so we assumed the boat stairs were now smashed below grade. A few days after the storm we set out to pick through the rubble.
Amazing – only a minor dent on one tread, and that’ll stay as a momento.

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We have to empty and vacate the house for 4-6months. So the holidays were all about cleaning, sorting, donating and packing. Thankfully there have been a couple of nice sailing afternoons worked in. Colin’s first time aboard was a cold, crisp day with enough breeze to get Ravenswing moving nicely. We very much look forward to warm days sailing as a family in 2017.

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Recall from last month the issues Drew found with our big jib. A good phone call with Keith pointed out the importance of tacking the sail way down at the deck, and using the full width of our jib car tracks. Making all of these tweaks significantly fixed the problems and we’re confident proceeding as-made with the sail. Basically, when it gets bad enough to be an interference issue up at the top diamonds, it’s probably time to reef that sail anyway. (Keith – I owe you a call back; your message was right after the tree fell!)  This works much better…img_3880img_3948

 

All the house drama trumped any holiday break progress on the boat’s electrical supply and dodger systems. They’ll be Jan/Feb work now. Stay tuned.
A few days after Colin and Griffin’s sail, Vanessa, Joe, RickH and I took Dad for his first cruise. I have a photo of him from 60 years ago where his parents launched their SoCal built John Alden sloop Vela. Six decades later it was great to hand him the tiller to the second ‘cartersboat’. He was thrilled at how light and responsive the boat steers. (Dad, now I’m glad I didn’t have you aboard in the summer when the helm was scary heavy to operate!)

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Colin is on the plane back to Virginia now; Griffin has two more weeks of college break time, and we’re all so thankful to be healthy and safe with 2016 closed out. Come sail with us in ’17 – just holler.

And because after all, this is the internet, we’ll end with a gratuitous kitty shot. The very best cat in the world, Miss Frida, is angling to be the boat mascot. With whiskers like these, who can resist?

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Look Ma, no hands!

As kids in Sonoma, we’d try riding bikes with no hands on the bars all the way down Denmark street. It helped if the tires were pumped up firm and your core was tuned up (from pulling weeds). Fast forward a few decades, and Charlie’s demonstrating what we finally got right with the rudder balancing! We’ll do some by-millimeters shim adjustments on the water this weekend to bring back just a touch of weather helm, then take the cassette home one more time for bonding in the new part. Phew.

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Also in that photo note the radar is missing. The stern tower is working out great, but the radar was too low. Joe the electronics guy immediately scoffed, noting the radar beams that would hit us in the cockpit. So it’s getting a 4′ extension pole made from VA Bob’s windsurfer mast offcut he kindly sent over. img_3870

That’s the top plate, sitting on the table a few evenings back. Tonight we bonded on the lower disk that will bolt on the tower where the radar used to mount. The top plate has an extra lip on the front to mount a couple of LED deck lights.

The jib deck bag got it’s final sewing job; recall that it didn’t quite button up around the forestay because someone (the builder) didn’t allow for enough sail bulk up there. So it got these earflap looking things:

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and now it’s fine. We’re happy with the open mesh bottom, especially now that it’s been raining and this is free to drain.

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Electricity supply in the boat is still the tiny lawnmower battery, but we’ve finally called-the-ball to begin the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery pack build. The order went to EVtv.com, an electric-car conversion company in MO. This topic is extensive, and a lot of people are interested in just this, so we’ll do some dedicated posts coming up on the battery system install. For now, it’s the physical challenge of mounting the 16 cells in a spot that was originally built for just a couple of car batteries. This tray mold was done based on dimensions provided by the battery dealer, before the crate arrived.

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And yesterday just before closing time, UPS Freight called to say our crate had arrived at their dock. Y’all can guess what Greg got for Christmas this year!

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Took two of these blue cells and the tray to the boat last night, and it’s not going to fit standing up as planned – just not enough clearance on top for the wiring. But it’ll work with the tray tilted back about 40 degrees, with the battery back edges resting against the curve of the hull. So tonight was also some surgery to trim away the front of the tray and add height to the back side for this new mounting configuration. That’s enough to whet your appetite on LiFePo4…

Now, back to that sail the other day with Charlie smiling. After five months in the water, I FINALLY got an actual performance sail-tuning, get to know the rig day! Carlos was aboard, and it was a joy to get F27 Papillon captain Drew Scott out for the first time. Drew is a talented racing sailor with an intense eye for sail trim, and I really needed to get him aboard to help assess this new boat, new mast, new sails combo. we’re all in love with this big, powerful, easily adjusted main (and so far the Leneman Vee mainsheet / no traveler hardware ROCKS!)  The Hydranet fabric (spectra & dacron weave) is holding shape like a fixed wing.

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The jib had been sailed reefed through the summer and fall because of high winds and the mast & steering issues we were sorting out. So here was it’s first real use day. We’ll start with Inspector Scott checking things out.

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The sail appears to be cut to allow for a big full belly in light winds.

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I’m concerned the transverse mounted cars aren’t far enough aft for this size sail. Here are the light wind shots (around 5 kts as we were leaving the Richmond breakwater area)

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In the third photo, as we start to point higher, the sail is rubbing on the upper diamond wire. A half hour later we’re out in the main bay, with wind up in the 10-12kt range.

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The headstay tension is light and it’s bending off to leeward, which helped keep the sail off the diamond wire, but that’s not a real solution. The second shot shows the effect of the jib car placement – the sail is not balanced top to bottom in terms of airflow. So we tried various temporary sheeting angles to get the sail drawing equally at each set of telltales. img_3866img_3867 In retrospect, I’ve realized there’s more overlap of the mast with this sail than I had wanted, and we have to solve for the diamond wire interference. Hopefully we’ll be able to solve this with local support, rather than the jib having to travel cross country again. Stay tuned.

CALL FOR CREW = local folks, would you like to sail Ravenswing this Sunday?  Weather forecast is down to 20% chance of rain, and 10kts of wind from the west. We’ll aim for a late morning start. Please call, text or reply back here if interested. 707.486.3954

You wanna be like this guy. He knows the drill :)

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Different paths to death

A month or so back we had the great fortune of meeting Chinese pro sailor Guo Chuan as he scrambled to prepare the massive ocean race tri QingdaoChina for a solo record attempt SF to China. The big orange boat was guest docked at our marina, so Vanessa, Joe and I got to step aboard and look about. Guo and crew needed some the next day with sail handling help, so Drew and his son were able to spend part of the day getting to know this brave, bold and humble man and the amazing boat he pilots.

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The weather window opened, he left the Golden Gate with a head of steam, passed Hawaii on a better pace than the fully crewed Volvo 70 Maserati, and then went silent. You can read the full story online, but it seems there was trouble with a huge headsail and he was thrown from the boat. They found the severed end of his lifejacket tether attached to the boat. A tragic death and our hearts ache for his lovely wife we met briefly on the dock. Guo was the same age as me, and dies a hero and inspiration for achieving his dreams.

Or, you live your life to its full chronological measure. This is Jeanne’s pop, Dan, during his brief tenure in his new home (moved in to our house) this month:img_3778

Dan is the most stoic and strong-willed man in my life. As his eyesight diminished, he reluctantly moved from his San Jose house of 40+ years to a retirement center apartment near us. He kept up the morning hour long walks, with a white tip cane, to the amazement of the staff. We brought him over the boat shop a few times, and the scope of that ‘big whale in the room’ entertained him. We regret he wasn’t quite well enough for a boat ride after the launch, and now it will be left undone. 89 years of Bay Area living, military tours in the Pacific and Europe, 36 years at PG&E, one of 8 siblings in a strong family of Spanish immigrants (three OLDER siblings live on!), husband to Mary for 50+ years, and most thankfully father to two amazing kids. Dan died here at home last Sunday, and our hearts are broken. A tribute to his stubbornness – Jeanne, Leslie, Griffin and I took Ravenswing out Wednesday afternoon for a head-clearing short sail. Bah-humbug, as we cleared the breakwater the wind shut down and we drifted around in the sunshine. At least the boat proved to move very well in the tiniest of breeze – that was a nice first proof point. Had to laugh; it wasn’t time yet in Dan’s eyes for an enjoyable sail. But it was just right anyway. We miss you Pop!!!

Bottom line, these gentlemen remind me we should all live the lives we aspire to. Let’s not waste our moments together, nor squander our intriguing solo pursuits. There are infinite “ways to go”, but let’s depart at peace with what we’ve accomplished or experienced.

Doing hospice nursing work at home was challenging. For mental relief during those two weeks I would step out to the attached garage (often with the baby-monitor to Dan’s room) and tackle making the sail covers. The main’s is 17′ long, and we quickly learned why sail and canvas makers have huge clean floors or massive worktables. The project became a dance of rolling trailing edges of patterns and fabric. We bought the instruction book from Sailrite, and it proved a very good step-by-step. We were quoted about a thousand bucks for the main cover and a 12′ deck-bag for the jib. Spent about $200 instead on the book, fabric, thread and fasteners. We won’t write out the details here, just some photos. But email or comment if you have questions.

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The mainsail cover fit as-advertised. Although Keith with appreciate that this still-new Hydranet sail is so stiff that it’s rather unforgiving for being folded down tight under the cover. Time should make that easier.  img_3817

(yea, we still haven’t bonded the dodger windows in… too much else going on!)

The jib bag is a trial-and-error job. It proved difficult as a beginner to measure the unwieldy lump gathered at the forestay, and of course it was raining when Charlie and I did the trial fit. img_3811Got the overall length right, but the girth around the first yard is tricky. Let’s just say there will be another extension panel added this weekend. Notice the netting along the bottom. We closed the underside 10″ width of the bag with leftovers from the main nets; the idea is to let the sail breathe while in the bag. Also, we’ll use the halyard to keep it up off the deck. img_3813

With the sewing machine set up, we’re hitting the odds and ends too. Thanks to RickWS for this idea – the boom and main are so much bigger on these boats, and we can’t get arms around them. So your sail ties need weight on the end to throw them over and catch underneath. Sewed some rings on, just like what I saw on Rick’s Round Midnight. Works great!img_3814

OK, I said there wasn’t wind to test the new rudder angle, but we did experience how light and responsive the direct-tiller approach is. At first it was startling how easily the rudder turns, but I think it’s all in keeping with the “it sails like a big dinghy” sport-boat thing. The tiller ended up at 8′ long, and although the sweep for tight turns goes across the whole aft cabin, it’s quite manageable and feels just like the aggressive tiller throw needed to tack the F27. Here’s the finish of the Frankenstein ‘grafting’ of old to new:img_3801img_3802img_3816The tabs sticking up are a catchment for the Forespar steering extension handle that Jim gifted to the boat. It swings around and stows very securely back here. The tiller shape and length turned out just right, but it had a bit too much vertical flex. So today it’s getting a bit of reinforcement, especially where it makes the turn down from the cassette angle. img_3818

Good rainy day work.

Next up you’ll be reading about electricity storage. We’ve chosen the source for the Lithium Iron Phosphate cells, tested a cardboard shape mockup to make sure the 16 cells will fit as intended, and we’re reaching for the credit card…  stay tuned.

Steering redo

Last time we saw the wooden tiller mockup strapped to the boat. This weekend was time to make the tiller stub attachment for the rudder cassette. It’s 2.5″ thick, so first up was five layers of 1/2″ foam. 

It’s all carbon; an inner wrap of 12oz double bias, then four layers of 15oz unit on the sides, and last a other wrap of the db. The skinny end gets a 3rd db wrap – that’s where the actually tiller bears on it. Anton and Charlie saw how the previous one cracked on the little “strap” at the bottom end, so for this we added a U of 30ozs uni 1.5″ wide where the tiller will apply its downforce if someone falls on it (or just presses down too damn hard)



Quick side note – we bought some of the red strip Dacron peel ply that I see other builders using. It held up much better than the Econoply J nylon; took a lot more pulling to get it off but it didn’t tear apart into aggravating little pieces. Should have tried this stuff four years ago!

Next was making a paper pattern around the cassette for the big scoop cut, then trimming for the tiller and removing the foam core where the tiller bolts in. 


That hole in the top becomes obvious on the next photos 


On Sunday afternoon the cassette went back on the boat and a proper wood mockup was made up. Tonight in between Trick-or-Treaters we transferred that wood plan to foam core, and tomorrow night we’ll vac bag a layer of leftover 12ozDB from the tiller stub. 

Since the original tiller got a bunch of work to get the hand-feel  just right, and the extension stick mounted, we chopped off the good 18″ end to graft that to the new tiller. The shapes are different but a little creative glue gunning and foam shaping should make for a decent looking transition. 

So far, so good on this project. Should be done and ready for sailing this weekend. 

It took 25 men…

Thanks for your patience everyone while things went quiet over here. Ravenswing has made various short daysails but we’ve had a lot of business and family commitments this fall. In mid September we convinced Charlie to tow his F27 TriChi to theSummer Splash multihull gathering in Southern Cal. After racing to Catalina, the skipper gets to anchor in a whole fleet of fast-movers.

It was a great weekend – thanks again Charlie and Jim. It was bittersweet to NOT have that be Ravenswing’s first coastal trip, but the boat was not at all ready for ocean work. In Marina Del Rey, walking thru the trailer yard Jim said, “hey, there’s a little MacGregor powersailer like yours in the ’90s”. I got a few steps closer, and dang if it wasn’t our own time capsule! Kind of sad that it’s sitting there neglected, but also a trip to see it exactly as we sold it 20 years ago. Weird. 

From LA it was ‘more west’ … at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum I was reading about the first Chinese junk that sailed to England in the 1840’s. 

And we thought Ravenswing has some heavy helm issues – imagine their nights at sea:

We don’t know how far sailing will take us, but the Hong Kong Yacht Club would not be a terrible stopover. 

Finally after 12 days in Asia humbled by the scope of port automation projects like this in Quingdao

attention came back to the boat. Thinking more about the heavy-effort steering, we realized that in building the rudder cassette we didn’t compare the F39 plans’ for gudgeon height above the water to our custom F36 stretched stern. The result is not enough forward rake ahead of the pivot point, so all the water force is transmitted through the tiller. See the red line drawn on the rudder here – that’s how much surface area in the water should be ahead of the pivot.

Here the straightedge shows how much we actually created (the left edge)

So now we will make a permanent shim inside the cassette that tilts the rudder to achieve this

Good news for the folks who’ve helped on this – there’s enough room in the cassette to make the needed insert, and hopefully not cut in to the amazingly strong and complex carbon work. 

The other major change is to walk away from the linkage & pivot steering system. We reported 2+ years ago about not believing a simple straight tiller to the rudder would work.  But we haven’t been totally happy with the gear, and decided to mock up a simple tiller approach:

Charlie and I strapped this junk in place and pulled off the dock to find out if the tiller can swing far enough side to side between the tower legs. Yea! The boat can still spin in its length and is sufficiently agile at various engine / hulll speeds. The existing gear actually lets the rudder turn too far, causing stalls or being a brake. We’ll set up the new tiller for soft landings on the tower legs to safely limit the rudder travel. That’s the new theory anyway. 

A question for the engineers / experienced out there- what shape will make the strongest tiller that is narrow side to side ?  We want the maximum distance throw up against the tower, so a skinny tiller is important. Charlie’s suggested some type of carbon I-beam configuration. Square tube? Round tube? What do you think?