It’s good to be fabricating again

This week we made a run up to the Lost Sierra for some Trails Stewardship work.(after meetings, 7 of us did a great ride on brand new SantaCruz Heckler e-bikes – now I gotta raise some cash to get one – wow).

Indian Falls Ridge above Quincy, CA

Connected with crewman Cosbey at the right time, because a boat-builder friend had just brought him extra carbon-skinned foam core panels. Cozmo graciously put a couple in our pickup. And we’re going to town with this stuff!

During the Scott family’s time on Ravenswing we cracked the painted particle board transom plates on the TacoCat. Drew had already noted this was the Achilles heel of the excellent Takacat line. Perfect first use of the 3/4” carbon foam board…

Tomorrow we’ll seal up the edges, router-out the notch where it fits into the steel bars, and add a fiberglass abrasion resistance skin. Or maybe Kevlar just because we have some extra :)

DanM will be relieved that we’re getting serious about a real swim ladder. (The one built pre-HaHa, to hang next to the rudder, was too weak)

This is our existing boarding step that ties on to the starboard float deck, helpful at low docks.

Now we’re making an extension that will bolt on to the sides of the orange one, and serve as steps down in to the water.

The messy stuff on all the edges is leftover bonding glue being used to seal up the raw foam edges where the panel was sawed. That’ll be a quick flush-sanding before painting.

Went back to Maggie today and was satisfied with yesterday’s layup of final floor skins. Today we taped the new sole to the original edges. That’s under the peel-ply you see at the perimeter. And we spread a first coat of fairing compound. Tomorrow it gets real fairing, and hopefully painting on Monday. Weather turned cold today, so we’ll see how this goes. Might need some heat lamp tenting this week. We’ll take Dad to his boat tomorrow to inspect the work and get him to help me clean up the construction mess :)


You guys know we love a good trimaran, but yea we started out on one hull too. Mom has pictures of baby Greg in a wicker basket, plopped down on the cockpit sole of Grandpa Marshall’s Chris Craft 37’ sloop (yes CC made some sturdy cruising boats in the early 60’s). That boat’s name was perhaps an omen? Trio. I loved sleeping in that aft cabin, looking out at the small gauge salt train near the Redwood City Marina. When grandpa Marshall (Dad’s dad) died, his Newport 28 Juno became Dad & Valda’s. Chris and Dad sailed Juno up to Sausalito in 1985 and had to find Richardson Bay Marina in the very dark night (another example of overly optimistic time estimating, or as Jeanne says, Carter-time). Juno was a pretty sporty boat, not really suited to the folks’ Delta cruising plans. So in 2000 they traded up to Dad’s beloved Catalina 30, Maggie. It’s been a great 20 year run. My best day aboard was anchoring her in McCovey Cove during the 2002 World Series for a game the Giants beat the Angels. There were 100+ boats crammed in there alongside the packed stadium. Hell of a party.

But today, Dad can’t care for his boat and it’s time to sell. Joe and I have many hours in to her, going after a few years of ‘deferred maintenance’ stuff. Engine and trans are back up to snuff, various running rigging replaced, and two decades with of ‘spring cleaning’ done. A big shout out of thanks here to DonK for tending to Maggie while I’ve been off sailing Ravenswing. Don, that’s been a huge relief.

So, we finally advertised Maggie last Friday and got a flurry of emails & texts. The first shopper stepped aboard and felt the squishy cockpit sole. We had grown used to it and frankly Joe and i didn’t want to deal with it. But it’s a deal breaker.

We made an agreement over the weekend to sell Maggie to a very excited rookie sailor Wendy, with the promise of a new sole job. Here was my Monday morning. The softness underfoot lies between the tapes.

Put a cutoff wheel on the angle grinder and cut a perfectly good looking Catalina floor. Oops – water damage underneath!

Scraped & chiseled away all the rotted plywood and prepared the surface for new pressure treated core.

Bonded the new stuff in place

And use water-weight to press it all together during epoxy curing. Also there’s a car jack and blocks in the cabin, pushing the floor up in to original shape. All of that cured for two days. Today I’ve laid in four layers of glass and am now babysitting the vacuum pump, writing to y’all.

The new core and glass aren’t quite flush with the rest of the sole yet, so tomorrow we’ll peel away the bagging consumables and fill in low spots with chopped strand mat fiberglass. Then we’ll fillet around the edges so we can wrap glass tape 3” up the side walls. This should make the new floor stronger and more damage resistant than the original.

It was hard to get motivated to tackle Dad’s boat problem, but the excitement of our buyer certainly lit a fire, and I can’t wait til next Friday’s handover date when we get to take Wendy sailing and show off Maggie’s bay skills. We’ve got a week to get her all buttoned you for her new family!

I spoke to the marina manager Ken this afternoon, confirming the transaction. He said the Carters are the longest running customer at 35 years; this placed opened in spring 1985, and we were continuous with Juno and Maggie here. And Dave the Diver surprised me with the news that Ted Carter was his very first customer account! Same guy has been scrubbing these two boats also for 35 years.

Do sailboats get in our bloodstreams, or what, good people? Wow.

A Whale of a Time

no pictures or video yet, as we’re only sneaking out updates over the international phone plan! So use your imaginations, good people…

Ravenswing comes to you tonight from the LOVELY anchorage off La Cruz, in Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta). Carlos, Rick and I made the crossing from Cabo in about 52 hours, with 292 nautical miles sailed.  By turning around and waiting out that big blow from the north, we set ourselves up for a slow ride behind that system. And in this case, that’s not a bad thing. The ride across from Baja to mainland Mexico was all done under full mainsail, and back and forth between the big blue reacher and the working jib. The wind models showed we’d have some good reaching, but mostly it was heading upwind in light breezes. We had about ten hours of dead calm, and found our motoring groove with the outboard at 3800 rpm, main sheeted down tight, motor sailing at about 4.5 to 5 kts. It’s very fuel efficient, and the shallow-pitch propellor won’t really push Ravenswing much faster. The last 30 miles in to Punta Mita were painfully slow this morning, but once inside the bay the wind came up for a glory reach for the ten miles to the anchorage.

Rick and I are kind of food snobs, and this was a pleasure cruise. So we ate well. He baked fresh cornbread and cinnamon rolls. I cooked a delicious orzo / grilled chicken / multi-veggie pilaf, etc etc etc. Carlos had said PBJs would be fine, but we scoffed at that and he ate like a king. There was plenty of time to do the dishes.

The welcome was warm here, featuring a great reunion with west coast sailing star Paul of J-World. Some of you know I’ve been a big fan of his F31 Sally Lightfoot, then Contour 34 Orange, then the awesome Vanishing Girl he stole off of Sunsail :). But tonight we saw a beautiful thing… Paul sailing up to us on his new Wharram cat, effortlessly single handing, anchoring up for a night aboard. Can’t wait to paddle board over and check out that boat in the morning. He kayaked over with Geronimo, a boat dog that really needs to meet Brizo’s Bella. Kinda jealous of these guys figuring out the ocean dogs!  And we’re so proud of Paul’s expanding sailing career, including a recent stretch of sailing 7,000 ocean miles in just three months covering major ocean race events and deliveries. Very lucky to have this guy willing to show Ravenswing the ropes in Banderas Bay.

I’d say the best thing about the past ten days afloat has been the wildlife. Whale sightings have become ho-hum. Oh yea, there goes another humpback. Yes her tail is fabulous. And that one that just spyglassed up and made a huge splash a quarter mile over. At one point you didn’t bother looking if someone called one out on the other side of the boat where you’d have to sit up or turn around. While I slept yesterday the other guys saw a large dolphin pod. We were going too slow to entice the swimmers in to bow surfing, but still just being among them is cool. I have to make a report to the Turtle Girls from the HaHa, as I counted a dozen turtles across four species this week. The birds have been amazing, especially the blue footed boobies who are very curious around the sailboat rig. Off Punta Mita today they were dive-bombing fish right next to the boat. quite exciting.

No fish caught this leg. We lost one lure, a smaller one, so Carlos sleeps well thinking the big one just got away.

Knowing it was going to be a mellow, light wind trip I asked the guys to go against their preference for two-on-deck and instead take single-person 4 hour shifts. On this short passage, Carlos had 8am & 8pm, Rick had 4am & 4pm, and I took midnight and noon. So we each had 8 hours off at a time, and basically zero sail change awakenings, which felt like a luxury cruise to me. Coming on at midnight last night, I found the boat doing 4-5 knots upwind in perhaps 5 knots of variable breeze. With a huge full moon and mostly flat sea, it was an amazing opportunity to creep around the boat doing everything possible to squeeze another knot of boat speed. Lots of sail trim experimentation, and things like moving gas and water jugs to leeward, trying to roll the windward hull up out of the water (yea fboaters, we were going that slowly). I know we’ve got doubters out there, but our Leneman delta-vee mainsheet / traveler single line setup was fabulous this trip, both in controlling the huge apparent wind Thursday and tweaking in light airs this weekend. This was the first time to really work on her light air sailing and that was a lot of fun. Even at 3am.

JoeS commented on Friday about his Seawind cat experiences in heavy wind going down a small jib and heavily reefed main. My mistake Thursday was staying in the cockpit too long, getting soaked. We could have dropped the main, reefed the jib and sailed from the cabin (autopilot doing fine). There will be a time to do this, and we’ll practice in medium wind sometime soon.

Since we left San Francisco, and even before, a lot of people asked where the boat is headed, and I’ve been saying Through the Canal and on to Europe. Well, not so fast. The Pacific side of Mexico is pretty fabulous, and there’s just no need to rush all this. We’re going to call the insurance guy and figure out an extension for the MX coverage. Looks like Ravenswing has much to explore in this country. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Sea of Cortez by sea, we’re looking for crew. Drop me a line.

The rising full moon just crested over vee-berth hatch edge. Time to stop typing and start gazing. Waves are breaking on the beach – with that sound sleep will come very soon. Goodnight all.


An About Turn

Ravenswing pulled out of Cabo San Jose at 11:30am, rearing to jam down the track towards Puerto Vallarta. Mainsail with single reef and working jib, with reacher out on the sprit, rolled up and strapped down on deck like sausage.

North breeze was stiff out of the harbor. And kept building as we cleared a headland. Weather software had us expecting 15-20 kits and 1 meter waves. We progressed through dropping the jib and then 2nd reef on main. At that point we saw apparent wind gusting to 40 (we were doing 10 kts+) and short steep seas. Splashes doused the cockpit. All rather snotty. Carlos and Rick suggested either bare poles, or turning back. So we executed a 180degree tack and smartly got back to a slip in Puerto Los Cabos. Tonight we’re studying more weather info and make a decision on trying again, perhaps looking like Saturday. Actual reports had the true wind gusting over 30kts while we were out there. During dinner we agreed we’ve handled those winds back at home daysailing and racing, but the prospect of bashing like that for 24+ hours is a whole new ball game, especially when you don’t have to. Instead we’re choosing a weekend run that will likely include motoring across windless stretches. And that’s the right call here. Yet another day of big learning on Ravenswing.

Big thanks to the crew for keeping level heads and being prudent.

And I’m so proud tonight of the boat. Zero boat drama today and she handled the conditions very well. The right amount of weather helm when needed and the rig performed as intended, especially the new reefing lines sheave box.

Stay tuned. Now we know what a MX Pacific coast Norther looks like. Not particularly fun.

Hola from Bahia de los Muertos

You guys have waited quite a while to find out what’s up with Ravenswing now in Mexico. After that sprint to La Paz, the boat was left for two months while we did family stuff and started in to a backyard makeover. Don’t ask me about hitting the septic tank and water main lines with my rental Bobcat, and getting it bogged down in the winter rains’ mud…

I got to the boat last Saturday, and immediately removed the boom to install the new reefing clew-lines sheave box and upgrade the way the mainsail headboard interfaces with the mast track. Also got the prior rudder repairs faired and primer painted. These new padeyes are obviously a big improvement for barber hauling and other float-deck tweaking tasks. Numerous other little tasks over two days, and we were ready to receive crew extraordinaire Cosbey. Yes, the Sierra Buttes mountain man also has a long history of seven Americas Cup campaigns across three decades as shore crew, boat builder and ocean crossing sailor. But his primary Baja challenge was to be this boat’s first Fish Slayer. In our travels from La Paz to Espírito Santo and on to Los Cabos, we fished many days and threw back a lot of wrong species. (Both too lazy to marinate skipjack!). On the last possible fishing hour, just off the Pulmo reef, Cozmo caught us an amazing dinner fish and we taco’d up like kings. We caught the SuperBowl in a palapa bar at Bahia de Los Muertos, and the nice people found us an English broadcast that wasn’t Joe Buck! That plus Shakira shaking her stuff for the Mexican waitresses was pretty funny.

In the end I had to put Coz on the plane because I couldn’t afford the cerveza bill anymore. I figured 4 twelve packs was plenty for six days, but we made it to Cabo by the skin of our aluminum teeth. All good fun, and now with yesterday’s arrival of Rick and Carlos, Ravenswing is fueled, watered and provisioned to cast off towards Puerto Vallarta as soon as I hit send on this post. Go to our tracking page on to follow the Iridium tracker map.

Also click through to the Videos page and grab the first YouTube link to see our exit from LaPaz. I’m still learning how to get video uploaded from the new GoPro. If anyone can comment back to help me make the file sizes smaller, please do so. I can’t upload 1gig+ video files in these remote spots. Need a way of compressing / lower rez video on the computer before attempting the YouTube load. It’s easy from the iPhone but can’t figure out GoPro yet. So you guys will have to wait a bit more for coming stories.

Be well and wish us luck today. Strong winds off our port stern quarter should mean a good ride to Isla Isabel…