Return to boat-building

Well, this post is dedicated to the folks who wrote when we launched Ravenswing they were sad the build-blog was over.  The silver lining of losing our first mast turns out to be an opportunity for a fresh crack at “getting everything right”. I watch (via the web) other builders meticulously keep their boats in the workshops until they are truly complete; our path was different – we had enough boat to go sailing, and by mid 2016 we wanted out of the $925/mo shop rent. In retrospect it would have been a crazy push to get to Mexico last October. Here in early 2018, the boat-builder hat is back on and things are getting done with as-professional-a-job as we can muster.  When we finally step that new mast, Ravenswing will be ready for adventuring.

I apologize for leaving you hanging back at the boat yard!  Here’s what happened when we put that calibrated scale in-line under the launch crane:IMG_5143That 9,300 INCLUDES about 500 lbs. of liquids (water, gas and sewer) that were not able to be removed due to weather just before the haul out. Most everything else was aboard – full galley, all sails, boom and rigging, uninstalled wind vane and furnace. So we’re looking at 8,800 + 300 for the new mast + an autopilot, water heat exchanger, solar panels, 100 lb. dingy & motor.  So we’re in the 9,500-10,000lb. range “dry” all equipped.

The bottom job looks sharp! That’s two coats of Trinidad Pro back bottom paint. And we paid the experienced hands to re-do the boot stripe. All better now. IMG_5145IMG_5141IMG_5146

I’m happier with the way the stripe & bottom wrap from bow to stern. A little hard to tell from the second photo, but the aft end looks good now. IMG_5147IMG_5148

So what does “actually finishing the boat” mean?  This will be the story for the next few months.  Here are the cabinet / locker doors that were built in Santa Rosa then sat in storage all through our house moves, etc. Just need latches still. IMG_5186IMG_5184

About the mast:  we awarded the fabrication job to Composite Engineering in Mass. back in October. They had hoped to start by Thanksgiving week. But here in February our mast is still down their list a bit. Conversations re: timing are happening; stay tuned. Meanwhile, we have some parts that are being re-used so stripping what’s left of the old mast required some ugly butchery.


A half hour of careful angle-grinder work finally yielded the permanently-embedded mast rotation ball receiver cup:


This’ll get bolted to the bottom of the new mast, then the white plastic (delrin) cup inserted and greased to sit atop the mast step ball.  We’ll spare you photos of the mind-numbing job removing all 150+ Tides Track mounting brackets which we had painstakingly tapped into the mast mid-2015.

With apologies to those of you suffering severe winter, but it’s been pretty glorious in sunny CA. We set down the boat tools for a weekend of pruning the fruit trees and creating a new bed for raspberries and boysenberries (pretty sure Pop smiled down on us) IMG_4944IMG_4943

Colin got a brief break from his (fantastic) Raleigh, NC Paramedic job to come see the new home base. IMG_5155Just a bit after Ravenswing got back to her slip after the boat yard, the elder two hit the road in the travel trailer for five weeks. Spent Christmas in Raleigh (Griffin flew out), and  for New Years the boys tried their hands at some anti-aircraft duty on the USS North Carolina. IMG_5283

But I was most impressed with the helmsman’s job – seems one must have command of all the faculties when this is the view from your wheelhouse!IMG_5281

The USS NC played a significant WW2 role in the Pacific and is a really interesting museum – worth the drive.

So yes Ravenswing missed another Three Bridge Fiasco, but that was a wind-bust for most of the 350+ entered boats. Only three finishers, I think, two of which were our bay’s quick F25Carbons.  At least we still get to sail while Ravenswing awaits her spar. Thanks to Dad and his good ‘ol Catalina 30. A mellow November day aboard Maggie; sure beats shoveling snow. IMG_5140

5 thoughts on “Return to boat-building

  1. Thanks, I missed your precious contributions to my trimaran addiction already.

    Hmm, you wrote:
    “I watch (via the web) other builders meticulously keep their boats in the workshops until they are truly complete”

    Well, I always thought you were one of them …. ;)

    Decades ago I sold my first self build boat. But not before I finally finished the galley and the application of a vinyl covering against the still unpainted ceiling of the cabin. This after a period of 10 year extensive sailing with her (and my girlfriend who became my wife later on). On every occasion my wife tells this story together with my promises that Fram will be truly complete before launching..

    I am afraid that the story will repeat itself and that also in a superlative form. I am compelled to break my promise to my wife, Please Help!

    I still have not enough boat to go sailing, but it is just enough to get her wet. Stay tuned on as it will become a very special Easter. :)


    • Henny, my good man, your bolted-together boat is MASTERFUL! I had not looked at your site through the holidays, but today I’ve learned you have found a new “overdrive gear”. So much uncomfortable work you have done to move these huge pieces around, and make all the inside-the-float laminations happen. I think that was the worst part of my six years! You have accomplished so much in the past few months, and your followers are very proud of your results.

      As to your spousal dilemma… I would “split the baby” (a horrible American saying); I’m learning now how inconvenient it is to finish fabrication things with the boat in the water. Our house is a half hour’s drive away from the marina, plus the very long walk from the carpark to the boat (of course at the very end tie due to 9 meter beam!) I assume Noreen is moving and Fram will be right behind your house, but I still vote for finishing anything that truly requires serious tools before launch, in that spacious workshop. That includes mounting all sailing & docking hardware. But interior finish work and some wiring would be postponed. Of course you have all the wiring needs of the engine, but perhaps some of the house and accessory wiring can wait, as those items don’t prevent sailing. I am worried we are all getting old too fast, and we need to be out sailing these boats sooner rather than later.
      Perhaps the real question, which only you can answer with a soul-searching look in the mirror, is how likely are you to pick up the tools once Fram is sailing? Are you a different, more evolved boat builder now, decades later than when that cabin top wasn’t painted? A man who will have the discipline to continue going down to the floating boat and work through the punch-list. And Fram is such a masterpiece, that Leonardo DaVinci’s spirit will haunt you if you don’t finish within a year or so after launch!
      In retrospect, I’m glad we made the June 2016 deadline and launched even though numerous things weren’t 100%. Mostly we have frustrated OTHER PEOPLE who expected Ravenswing to be ocean cruise ready upon launch. I underestimated the shakedown / outfitting time, mostly because the only frame of reference I had was on production boats. These custom builds take so much longer to get dialed in, I suppose.

      Godspeed to you for whatever you have planned for early April. May your boating Easter be glorious!


  2. What do you mean by water heat exchanger? To cool the outboard motor? To heat shower water with the outboard?
    Either way, should be cool. No pun intended.


    • A few years back we bought a new-old-stock military surplus Espar diesel hydronic furnace for warm forced air plus hot water. It was purchased before the decision to switch from an inboard diesel to the outboard. But I still plan to install a 5 gallon diesel tank to fuel the little heater unit.


  3. Hi Greg Thank you very much for the update of Ravenswing .The Tri .is looking great and all the concerns that were addressed will pay off for a more seaworthy boat. Have been enjoying sailing down here on Bandaras Bay with Jim and having a ball All the best and thanks again Saludos Bill


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