Argh, wordpress “upgrade”

Sorry about recent typos, out of order photos and cut-off posts. This new version of WordPress has some nasty flaws in use-ability. 
Anyway, the steering gear replacement construction is done and now it’s fair & paint. This wide (4″+) turn-table bearing spreads the load out well. Plus we added at 3/4″ bolt underneath to help keep the whole thing in column. 
And now we’re official, courtesy of the USCoastGuard. Ravenswing got her number today so we’ll get busy making an ID plate / board to mount near the chart table. That was quick paperwork turning by the govt!

We’re planning the boat’s first sail for this Saturday in Napa. We have six people saying they want on – can take a few more, so contact me if you want to join the inaugural crew. Can you say EXCITED?

Full Hoist

7am muster at the boat today to bend on the mainsail and try the first hoist ever on this mast. Wow, is this a fantastic sail! Fits exactly as we planned and it’s so well made. 

Here’s the Skateaway Designs headboard with the rebate space for the 2:1 halyard block. I love how this gets more head of the sail up in the clean air. 
Ravenswing was dancing on the dock lines, ready to charge as a light breeze filled in. It was bittersweet to lower the sail and get back to a work weekday!

Also got the lazyjacks about 80% done yesterday eve – pics of those once finished next week (under ordered 25′ of line :(

The bow got finished up. Happy with the carbon and glass pulpit, color matched to the rig and beams. The grey dyneema nets kind of tie it all together. 


Tonight in the shop we finished fab and fairing work of the replacement tiller stub

Gone Fishing

Some of you are thinking we’ve gone a bit nuts for not yet sailing Ravenswing. Believe me, it’s not for lack of desire. There’s just a lot to do first. Such as… It wouldn’t be safe on a windy SFBay day to hoist the jib on that skinny bow with no nets or pulpit. This weekend we got the bow nets built and installed. This whole project turned out really well. Starts with dyneema fishing net from net-Sys.com up in the Port Townsend, WA area (also in AK). They sell it by the pound from a ten foot wide roll. Our 30’x10′ order was about $1,900 delivered. An F31 might use about $1,500 worth. That and twenty or so labor hours gets you the same nets as the Oracle Amerca’s Cup boats. (Yep, from the same people). Here’s the stuff:


We found step one is to transfer the measurements to the ground with nails/screws/pegs every foot along the outline. We subtracted two inches from each side to give lacing-to-boat room. 

The netting is cut with a hot knife. Get a good one for this, and heed the 15second current flow warning.   We subtracted the two inches all around but added back one row of squares/diamonds for capturing a bolt rope. Roll over that single row edge, like up the pattern, and weave the bolt through the net. 

(On the bows you don’t subtract that two inches along the diagonal run from main hull to beam). Start by tightening the bow to float cable 

Next we positioned the net with zip ties! (Great idea Dean and Carlos). 

We took two passes of the lashing line through each eye slot on the boat, which helps keep the bolt rope in the net fairly straight. 
The black line is a Samson 5mm utility double braid. We used up a 300′ roll for all four nets. Long continuous runs make each net easily adjustable. Great project for the ambitious DIY-er!
We fitted the boom and sorted out various fittings – gooseneck, outhaul, reefing technique, etc.  

Keith, we respliced the upper back stay terminal to match the end of the lowers – all good now. And here you can see our Leneman “Delta Vee” main sheet. The red is all one line with a cross-over leg (see the middle path of the left hand triple upper block feeding the double on the lower right). Essentially this setup combines the traveler and main sheet into one tool. You can tension either end of the line and pull on the crossover segment to travel the boom windward or leeward. We’ll find out of the traveling is possible by hand or not. 

By Sunday afternoon the rig was ready for sails. We unboxed the main (sat a year in the garage!) Holy Cow is this beautiful, heavy duty work. Huge thanks again to Skateaway Designs for engineering all this.

Charlie and I installed the battens and figured out the sail track. Look at these beefy Schaffer cars. 

That Allen wrench in the first photo is batten tension adjustment. Happy it’s at the mast easy to get to (our past sails have always been out on the leech). We were ready to hoist just as the afternoon land breeze kicked in. After a brief moment of “we can do this” reality of this 47′ tall sail set in and we wisely postponed til the next windless early morning I can get back to the boat. 

Another big item pre-sail is a steering gear change. Bottom line is I ‘over designed’ the tiller to steering arm connection and it resulted in some play in the steering. I could sense it slightlyin the shop but once underway (by engine last week) we knew this wasn’t good enough. After sleeping on it a brainstorm hit – the design could eliminate a junction by hard-fixing the tiller stub to the steering arm and turning the bearing surface horizontal (using a wide turntable style bearing instead of a boat rudder bearing). We need to make some new parts in the shop but the base on the boat stays the same. Did a dry-fit Sunday eve and this looks to be a big improvement. 

So, we didn’t hit the goal of sailing this weekend, but wth a good push in the evenings this week things should be good for sailing and moving the boat to a new end-tie slip in Richmond, CA for July 4 fireworks. As soon as she’s docked all attention turns to emptying and cleaning the shop for the July 7 handover to the landlord. That will be a huge relief but bittersweet loss of such a handy place to work. 

Sailin an enjoying soon. Right now it’s still a long punch list of small jobs to finish. 

1,000 words

A picture’s worth…

A peaceful sunset to celebrate the builder-now-driver’s first solo manuevers, docking Ravenswing back at CharlieJ’s after a big day getting the mast stepped at Napa Valley Marina. We again had a nice big crew starting at 8am, and by 3:30 the stick was upright and everyone else rolled home. I had a couple of quiet hours to finish standing rigging install chores, all the while fretting the wind pinning the boat up against the reeds and muddy bank beneath the crane. (How would we motor out of this tricky spot???)
But back to the top. The daggerboard “sticky wicket” emergency shop work led to an anxious Sunday re-install.

If that’s hard to see, it’s because it’s ALL THE WAY DOWN in this shop. Yea, the mast step can go back in over this trunk. This board is big. It floats, so moving it through most of its travel is pretty easy by hand, but the last foot or so up or down needs a winch. If we’re needing to pull it up fast because of an obstacle, simply freeing the down line will pop the board up three feet in a few seconds. 

With the dagger solved, attention turned to prepping the mast. ‘Dressing’ took about 3 hours by RickW, RickH and Dean. Holding the mast upright is highly dependent on one huge shackle on the front face near the top. Here’s the pin coming in from the port side into the Jesus shackle. (Yes we pray this thing never gives way)


And two years of making sure the halyard messenger lines didn’t get trashed in the shop or transport. So happy when all five halyards popped out the bottom. 

Now ready for the crane. We had to move about 500 yards to a stable crane parking pad with only the mud bank and reeds for the boat. (Sorry these are in backwards order)
The straps for walking it across the yard very different from the vertical lift, and we had transition time while the crane sat at the water and I went to fetch the boat. Standing it up was painless, especially due to the skill and equipment of the Napa Valley guys. 

Yard manager Mike had to stand there 15 mins holding the mast in the rotator ball while we struggled with lacing the 1/4″ spectra through the lacing eyes. But a couple of small trims, cussing and “just push harder!” Got it done. 

It’s amazing seeing a big mast rotating freely in the breeze – so foreign to the monolithic columns of seeming sturdiness that most associate with sailboat masts. A wednesday evening sail aboard Mile Leneman’s big fast cat Minette prepared me for today.

All shrouds and stays were set, so I had to call for the crane release. Now or never, don’t be shy about it… 

Step back a hundred yards and she looks like an F31.


Sunday night I had trouble motoring in close quarters. We need to sort out motor steering. This evening was a shot at redemption, and it worked. Holdin the motor makeshift turnin lines and respecting the transitions from forward to backwards made this go much better. 

A word to the other first time builders: 

That’s not a deck hardware photo; that’s the result of countless nights and weekends in the shop working one part at a time. The final install where this stuff begins to fit together is so worth it! Keep going. 

A few more glam shots here, then it’s back to the shop evenings this week for ladders, hatch boards, pulpit, etc. 

First cruise

The wind never backed off on Wednesday (launch day) so Ravenswing stayed at the ramp dock overnight. Yesterday Griffin, Charlie, his friend Larry and I took the boat off the dock for first forward motion.  Here’s to thousands of miles of bow wake. 

With just 18″ of dagger down and 2k rpm on the outboard the boat easily turned 180 in about its own length. The propeller and outboard are noticeably small but I think it will be ok – just have to be smart about it all the time. 


The yellow lines are makeshift motor steering. We’re going to figure out a permanent solution as this maneuverability aid seems important. The motor say nice and deep, but the stern is dragging a bit without the mast up front, so we’ll wait and see about trim. 

The weather was great for a 30 min shakedown, then docking at Charlie’s house on the Napa River. It’s a mile from the Napa Marina where the mast is waiting for weekend dressing. 


The bummer of day 1 was the daggerboard not lowering beyond the foot or so we were able to test last Friday in the shop driveway. Turns out the board gets a little bit thicker as it extends up from the bottom and this is enough to prevent deployment. Argh, one more back breaking pulling of the board and lugging it through Charlie’s wife’s yard to the pickup.  Which led to six hours late night of templating, grinding off paint and power planing away excess fairing buildup. We had worked to build in more curve last year, but I was out of synch with what Howard had built many years ago with the exit slot. Tonight the dagger hangs in the shop like a side of beef, except this one is getting thin primer and bottom paint coats Fri/Sat for relaunch Sunday.

New builders, don’t make my mistake of underappreciating the thickness of fairing, primer and paint. This has caused considerable pain over this weekend, first on the stuck starboard float and now the dagger in trunk. I should have painted samples with all the layers and measured with the caliper, and further adjusted the dagger core. The float problem was just being greedy about cleaning up the beam sockets before final paint. Pretty dumb, as no one will see those parts of the boat and they were already waterproof and solid. The price of rework is frustration. 

In between paint coats we’re trying to recover from the weekof moving   and assembling. The shop is worse than my room as a teenager. 


Now the trollies are gone and the trash pile grows. We’ll scramble to finish bolt-on parts including ladders, hardtop, pulpit, etc. before clearing it out over July 4 weekend. 

Here are the Kevlar and carbon hatch boards getting their edges rebated by Dremel. They’ll go to the boat this weekend to check before fairing and painting.   

Tonight let’s salute a talented sailor at the other end of the ownership spectrum. Captain Rick Holway is saying farewell to his beloved Newport 33 Pelagic Fantasy, as she gets her second owner now. Rick and Pelagic have been a force in the Gulf of the Farallons, winning racing classes, commodore-ing the Singlehanded Sailing Society and perhaps most importantly observing and counting the bird species of our coast. Rick, I thank you deeply for all the offshore mentoring you’ve invested in me this last decade. Boat ownership does not define a sailor  – I think it’s the pushing off from a dock each day. And I’ll be a little selfish here to say it’s good you’ll have time on your hands now to sea trial and cruise Ravenswing. 

Still planning the mast stepping for Monday morn at Napa Marina. Let us know if you’d like to participate. Somebody has to channel Keith Burrage onto the boat!

Five Sons

The assembly team had a good laugh last night after day five of putting this big boat together. The building manual suggests allowing six hours for final assembly at the water. We took six days. This amazing crew headed home last night and I got some quiet time on the brand new nets, same ones on the Americas Cup boats.

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Falling asleep was easy, but by 4am the anticipation of launching overpowered sleep. The mast base got assembled at dawn.

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Pretty happy with that piece, especially considering it was hunks of chop and table saw aluminum stock a few weeks back. Definitely all measure thrice, cut once, stuff.
The ‘core team’ started arriving by 8 and we were targeting the launch at 11 on the rising, near-high tide. The morning was consumed with numerous final clean up jobs and considerable angst about the building wind on the Napa River (actually more of a tidal slough at this location). This boat is SO much bigger than the F27 and we already know what a handful that is docking/trailering in higher winds.
The plan was solid, the dock lines stout, and the big crew well instructed. Carlos backed the pickup down with the beams and floats hanging free in the air, Griffin was on the ramp / in the water directing, and Mr/Mrs Carter were alone on deck (thank you, friends for giving us that moment together) to feel F36 hull #5 float for the first time. Pure magic.
Charlie skillfully commanded the line handlers to move us from the ramp to the primary side-tie dock. The wind kept building but the boat was tethered to pilings from trailer to dock and we were basically flying a big kite.
Once the dock lines were secured we could stand back and see what exactly just came to be:

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Those pictures are the product of 21 years, two families with five sons admonished by their fathers to “come over to the shop and help me lift the (insert heavy things here ) for too many years. It shouldn’t take that long to build a boat, but it has to be a balance with the life going on around you. So while this was a long build requiring patience from everyone involved, we now have an adventure platform we hope you all will come help enjoy. Yes, Phillip, we have lots more to post here as the work and sailing continues.

F36 #5 plans were delivered to California in 1995. And on June 15, 2016, Ravenswing became the Carters’ sailboat. Come on out to sail this summer. Just drop us a line.

I can’t wait for stepping the mast on Monday!!!

First sunset

F36 #5 became a trimaran for the first time today. Her assembly team struggled mightily on Sunday to bolt the beams in to their float sleeves and form the complete boat, but we ended the day with the starboard beams flanges 3″ above the float deck. Frustrating for everyone going home, and pretty much a freak out for the builder who crawled in to the cabin solo and quietly tried to figure out what went wrong. (Remember this had been put together in the shop two years ago so it was supposed to be easy this time). A fresh mind at 6am realized I must have added fairing and paint thickness to sleeves and beam ends that made the difference. Before anyone else returned to the site Monday morning, the float hull was pryed loose from its stuck position (thank you for that lesson Carlos) and lowered near the ground to give access to the sleeves / pockets. When the gang arrived we ground back all the added materials and greased the heck out of the parts. It was still a very tight fit but an hour of fiddling got the float properly mated to the beam. And the boat became a tri.

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Huge thanks in the journey to water to everyone who made their ways to Napa. Carlos, Don, Rick, Dean, Goose – you guys are so kind with your time and energy. Charlie and Jim, what can I say, except 3 f27 Amigos wanting a shower and fridge in our fboat, right? Carters&Joe, although I’ve been a bit crabby in spots I am loving doing this work with you. Thanks for devoting this time to finishing the long project that has cut out many other things.

So, we’ll use Tuesday to test the motor, install the nets and daggerboard and finish up some hardware and safety items. We’re planning on the Weds 10:30am high tide to launch. (Need the high water at this ramp), and stepping the mast hopefully Friday. Call or email for more details as you wish.

It’s a little stunning to believe we actually made this:

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