Puerto Backyarda

(Title courtesy of Cap’t Holway ;)

Yeah, this is going to be a stretch but I know most of you are sitting at home in the evenings wishing there were better movies or at least a sports event to watch. I’m supposed to talk about the trimaran in nice places or doing risky things. But how about we follow the project of making over our Novato yard to make it boat-work friendly? Cartershouse here is a mid-80’s two story sited at the street-front side of a one acre lot. We have a huge yard but there’s no vehicle access to it. The old wood fence and narrow gate off the garage are slowly falling down, and the space outside the garage isn’t wide enough to park anything bigger than our tiny utility trailer. All this room, but no where to work on a trailer boat. A travesty of lot layout! Plus it means our land-yacht (26’ travel trailer) can’t live here so we pay a storage fee monthly and a 30-40 minute drive each way to fetch the trailer. We want that to come home.

So, the fence and old gate need to come out, retaining walls get torn out, plumbing work, grading done, an RV & boat parking surface, and new gates built.

To be honest, we actually started back in January when I rented a bobcat and began tearing out the rotted wood retaining walls. That was tremendous fun until we learned why you don’t tractor-work NorCal clay in the winter.

And that would be the sticky mess that jams up the drive sprockets and tracks. We got about half way done moving earth, did the needed concrete sawing of the driveway edge, then gave back the powertoys and went to Mexico instead.

Here in April and COVID-19 time, we’re getting back to the yard.

When I was home in late February, having left Ravenswing in the LaCruz marina, we got these ranch gates installed.

It was no fun boring the corner post hole through the driveway cement, but a mix of numerous small-bit holes drilled as a perimeter circle, then cold chiseling, finally got it done. The center pole between the two big gates is removable, as it’s seated in an underground sleeve. This all will swing open to make a 16’ wide access to the yard. Even I can back the trailer through that without hitting the sides!

Those ranch gates are the skeleton. Now we’re going to clad them with hopefully tasteful looking ‘skins’.

We’re winging it here on the design, and one drizzly day we headed to the AMAZING scrap yard of


in Petaluma. So much fun to wander 7 acres of old building materials and get ideas. By the way, are any of you following YouTube stars SaltAndTar.org as they hand-build the wood ship Rediviva over at the Napa Valley Marina? In one of last year’s videos you’ll see Salt’s Garrett cruising around Maselli’s finding parts for their boat’s driveline. When non-essential travel is OK, go check it out!

Back in late Feb we drug 25 of these purlins home. Nice 18 gauge steel from an old building.

The price was right because of surface rust. As of tonight I’ve done 4 hours of cleaning with the angle grinder and flapper disks, resulting in about 40% of the job done. I’m afraid the stay at home neighbors are pissed about the noise so I’ll space it out over a couple more days of short-ish sessions. They are cleaning up nicely though.

Should be ready for primer this weekend with the HVLP gun.

I haven’t left the compound since Jeanne brought me home from the airport last Friday, and we’re thinking I’m clear for a paint store run (with mask) on Thursday. But tomorrow eve I’m going to the Northwest Multihull Association April meeting at 7pm, because it’s by videoconference! Speakers include whoever is finishing up the build of a Marples 38’ tri, also in Napa (how did we not know about this???) and a cruiser’s report from LaVentana, exactly where Ravenswing was during the SuperBowl weekend. If anyone wants to join that meeting, find the Zoom link of the NMA site or hit me up for an email tmrw.

Ok, go look at those Salt and Tar YouTube videos and if you like what they’re doing, sign up on Patreon to support their build. Trust me, it feels good ;)

5 thoughts on “Puerto Backyarda

  1. Just interested to know if you are happy with your windlass choice as I’m in the market for a windlass for my 38′ trimaran.


    • Hi Matt. You have good timing. After four years, I just had an issue with the Lewmar 1000. The ProFish freefall element isn’t working right. But, that’s actually OK with me and I removed a part to disable the freefall capability. It sounded good as an energy saver but in reality this is not a good way to anchor a tri in shallow water. I’ve found you want to let the anchor down in a controlled manner and be able to accurately count the rode length. Doing it again yes I’d get another lewmar 1000 ‘regular’. I single hand a lot, so the little bit of extra wiring to add a up/down switch back at the helm has been great. Or go with the wireless remote. Foot switches at the skinny bow of a tri didn’t work out. I took them out and moved them into a little box on a pvc flex conduit wand. Much easier now to operate the windlass from various physical positions, sometimes stretching out over the pulpit to see down, with the handheld switches. Finally, i wish i had somehow moved the windlass aft. Seen other tris lately that moved the weight of the windlass and stored chain aft. Consider mounting on the beam instead. Doesn’t really have to be at the pointy end, does it!?


  2. Hey Greg! Welcome back. Last year we used similar livestock access gates at our rental in Benicia, which is my boatyard is. We skinned it with lightweight cedar fence boards. If you get a chance, come on over . Goose 707/2975440


    • Goose, I’m over here holed up, chickenshit to go out anywhere. Not sure how long that feelings gonna last. One of the factors on the replacement gates/fence is no wood near the house. We’ve been working on fire-safe measures on the property. Our other big worry. But I agree, as I’ve cedar clad metal gates before and it looks great!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s