Pounding on the ocean

Don and I set out across a glassy SF Bay today, looking to learn more about the boat’s new electronics. With only a few knots of breeze we could focus on selecting navigation targets and pointing the autopilot in the right direction, given the strong ebb current and a big ocean swell coming in the Gate. (And yes, the radar works fine after that 90degree rotation last week). But out on the ocean, past the Pt Bonita lighthouse, we found some wind. We headed out to the Lightship buoy, where large ships pick up their bay pilot about ten miles outside the bridge. With apparent wind in the mid teens, a big northwest swell and a short period southerly wave train, a couple of the tacks were launch conditions! Kudos to Don for a) not freaking out when we slammed down off some waves, b) not barfing, and c) learning to drive in waves big enough to affect the wind angles on the sails. I did not test the autopilot in that sea; will need another session for that. Once we turned for home there was just enough wind for a bit of surfing. By the time I got this video rolling we were back across the SF bar and the seas had flattened out.

Jim, it was a really good confidence builder day for what’s ahead this summer. Except it was probably warmer, with a beautiful blue sky.

Got to use a new steering stick today, which worked great.

That’s a carbon 5′ model, but not the $325 one from Nacra. Instead, in cartersboat style, “ah we can make that much cheaper!”

First up, a $14 filament tube from Tap Plasticsthen a 6′ piece of tubular braided carbon from Soller Composites (easy find online) for about $10, and $13 of their tubular shrink wrap. Rough sand and alcohol clean the tube for epoxy grip, then slide on the carbon and zip tie the ends to hold it tightly in place. Make a big mess by hand messaging the epoxy in to the weave. Be very manipulative- remember my rant a few months back about properly saturating carbon cloth.

Slide on the shrink stuff and heat gun it. DON’T make my mistakes (ahem, Waltonsmith) Try with a broken heat gun then revert to a torch which burns holes in the plastic Or order a size too big so it doesn’t actually shrink quite enough. You’re supposed to simply peel away the plastic after the epoxy cures and have a fine finished shaft. Or around here, like everything else, you add an hour of sanding to your life.

The end fitting was repurposed from another stick, so that was ready to go. We then splurged on a sexy SF Giants orange baseball bat grip tape. You’ll just have to see it.

On Monday this week we traded in our too-heavy dinghy outboard for the shop owner’s personal (read really well maintained) 53lb, 9.8hp tohatsu. That’s an amazing power to weight ratio, and this is a game-changer for getting it on and off the boat, and into the car for local rides. Drew will note the very clean spray area (this is after taking out the wedge – mine did better without it but maybe because of no cav plate finds yet?)70lb Lola and I had the Takacat up to 17kts, so this feels plenty fast for Ravenswing’s excursion boat. I told Jeanne we finally had this item on the list properly sorted.

Got to race last Sunday on RickWS’ 44′ tri Round Midnight. The weather was ominous but we stayed mostly dry and kicked some ass. Rafi’s F31OneDesign looks great out there. Our boss in red, and Carlos the XO of the boat. I was very excited to finish a few seconds ahead of the new fully foiling tri. We have two of them here so far and hopefully SFBay becomes a showcase of this new tech. But this race wasn’t enough wind for them to fly away from the rest of us. (Check out the helmets!)We finished the day headed back to Rick’s Oakland dock with a close up of a huge container ship. The tugs are tucking it in between the others under the cranes.

Finally, thx to bro-in-law Joe who was working today on the Santa Cruz 50 but made time to snap Ravenswing just before the wind piped up. First time we’ve seen this perspective and we’ll look forward to action shots this summer!

Almost out of winter

It’s cold and raining again here in NorCal, but we can hear the lure of warm Mexican waters calling Ravenswing soon. Gotta get all these sea-going projects done!

The autopilot got an hour or so under sail on its second day. It was tested a little by the messy chop of a big ebb current and an out-of-balance sail plan with full main and no jib. So far, so good – this thing is making singlehanding the boat reasonable.

Note the nice straight track in the wake.

Sharp eyes will ask why the Raymarine logo on the radar is facing forward. Wouldn’t they want to advertise out to the sides? Seems the boat builder wanted the cord to exit the side of the tower, and the radar is round anyway, right? A month ago Charlie, Anton and Don wondered why the Bonita Channel buoy was on the wrong side of the radar screen. I Finally downloaded the Raymarine manual and the plug is supposed to face aft. Oops. That got rotated, and we installed the public address hailer / foghorn that day.

Today we finished a couple of very satisfying projects. First up is securing the cockpit area with stern lifelines. It’s all synthetics, and the two orange stanchions used to be the original steering connecting rod. That thing was overbuilt, and was the perfect diameter to fit the stanchion bases made years ago.

We needed just one piece of metal to anchor the lifelines at the beam/float hull joint. The stainless steel tabs that were the lower diamond wire connectors on the broken mast got a date with the drill press, cutoff wheel and grinder.

Then it was time for 8 dyneema loop splices done in place, dodging the rain.

Project 2 is a line-handling solution at the very busy cabin top winches stations. Now that the first and second mainsail reefing tacks and clews come back, there are about ten lines of each side sharing a single winch. I pondered a bank of clutches or jammers or cleats, but had fun going old-school instead. Belay-pins, but sitting in a carbon rack!It was supposed to be sexy exposed carbon weave, but the square tube shape was tricky to mold and there were various little wrinkles and gaps, so they needed fairing then paint like everything else. This all got started last June visiting Skateaway when Keith impressed on me the problems with leaving heavily loaded halyards in the teeth of rope clutches during ocean passages. So now the sails will be raised and trimmed with the help of the clutches, but once underway the lines get cleated on these new pins then the clutches eased off.

When the rain is falling we go in the cabin and pick up the electrical tools. Last time you saw the little lithium battery balancing boards. Now we have the CellLog which measures the voltage of each 400amp hour 3.5volt cell grouping.

This monitor is fed by the little red wires (yes Anton I fused each one) strapped along the battery-holder braces.We bought this fancy chartplotter system and I’m old enough to freak out that it didn’t come with a manual. The online version didn’t make it clear that the charts seem to require the microSD card to stay in the unit in order to be used. So again, to those of you who sailed with this thing, I figured out today we DID have the detailed charts in there. Just needed to switch the viewing source. I think we’ll step up to the Navionics charts that we’ve come to really like on the iPad/phone.

So, Mexico is on the mind because Jim is sailing the Banderas Bay Regatta today, and I had a great recon trip last week to visit his Puerto Vallarta house and check out where we intend to sail the boat about 11 months from now. Here’s the view from their front patio. We visited all the primary guest marinas, and I’m leaning towards the vibe at LaCruz / Punta Mita. There’s also a very good free anchorage with easy town access. Ravenswing got ‘cleared’ to enter the MexOrc races next March. Hopefully in a different class from the MOD70 tris!We even made time to visit the embroidery shop, and they did a great job translating the boat’s graphics to crew-wear.

OK, we can see the finish line in Mexico, but we’re going to have a great spring here…

RickH, if you’re home next week let’s get out the Gate late in the week. Anyone else wanting to join, give me a holler.