Proper consolation

After Ravenswing’s mast came down, Jim and I sat at the kitchen table that night lamenting that cruising to Mexico was shot for 2017. We’ve said it before, “there’s always next year”, but everyone’s getting older and the time is now. So how about a September trip to Washington’s San Juan Islands, and maybe a bit of British Colombia, aboard F27 Origami?  Jim went back to Oregon and got his boat ready for the road, and we met up again at his place on Sept. 15 to start a 9 day trip north. (Should have borrowed Dad’s new self-driving Acura, last seen on Tiburon Blvd!)

IMG_4843Origami tows well behind Jim’s big pickup, but we did need to replace some rotting trailer tires in Salem, OR. Amazingly we pulled in to a new tire shop that fit us in immediately with all four tires removed, new ones mounted, balanced and installed in 20 minutes. And on we drove to the Washington Park boat ramp in Anacortes, gateway to the San Juans. We were greeted with that northwest liquid sunshine. Once “at sea”, the first stop was Friday Harbor, docking just in time to take cover from a windy rain front.

IMG_4857The only other sailboat to visit that day was another F27! We met Jan from Wyoming who had bought his boat in San Diego three weeks earlier. His hull number was up near 450, one of the very last F27s built. We buddy boated on Monday out to Fishermans Cove on Lopez, then parted ways as Origami anchored in Blind Bay on Shaw Is.

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Don’t the steaks taste better when they’re cooked outside?

IMG_4864Across the channel lies Orcas Island, with a great little grocery store of quality foods. We got distracted and missed the opportunity for good looking deviled eggs (hold that thought).

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Around the corner from the ferry landing, up the West Sound, is the home port for the F36 that kept us alive in our build shop on many long winter nights. On Farrier’s website you’ll see MaxQ built and owned by the Websters. Mr. Webster apparently didn’t use the boat very much (just 150 hours on the engine!!!) and it was finally sold to John on Orcas. He recently married Melanie, and this charming couple was at the very end of refitting the boat for extended world cruising. They welcomed us to their dock for a look around, and John was a great sport about handing over a couple of must-get-done projects to us. There’s something about this very small community of F36/39 builder-owners; complete strangers feel perfectly ok trusting each other with these boats. For me it’s easy – if this other person was nuts enough to spend thousands of hours building it or hundreds of thousands $ choosing/buying it, you know they are “invested” and caring. Thank you John and Melanie for allowing two sailors to descend on your boat moments before your voyage began, and we will see you out there.

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Before we departed Orcas, John had us aboard while a professional navigation instruments caretaker inspected the boat’s primary manual compass. Cap’t Keith arrived by ferry, carrying this:

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The compass was spot-on, but did need to go home with the Captain for some physical smoothing of its rotation axis point. Jim and I just stood in amazement at the old-world maritime craftsmanship like this one can find throughout these islands. And as a bonus, John let me pilot his boat a bit to feel the steering and diesel-inboard performance. Interesting to feel the differences from Ravenswing’s smaller outboard and direct-steering tiller. John’s boat will behave much better around the crowded ports.

Just as we grew fairly sick of the rainy weather, the sun appeared at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Chris and Dad, I trust these cabins will bring back good memories from 35 years (?) ago!

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We skipped the $58 overnight docking fee and anchored out in the quiet bay instead, but did spend the $1.50 on the nicest “boat showers” possible. Each one is a private suite – such luxury for a marina!

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RickWS insisted we hike to the island benefactor’s mausoleum, which is an outdoor structure in which the man’s immediately family has their ashes interred in the cement seats at their round table. Quite striking.

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We also strolled through the 20 acre sculpture garden, on the hunt for one of Rick’s installed pieces, and were successful in our search. Nice job, sir!

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Thursday morning we got passports ready and (motor)sailed to Canada. Destination was the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club, for that weekend’s CRASH Regatta. We heard about it from F-boat forum friends, and were enticed by the free entry for American boats. Their club is a pretty old building in a beautiful setting.

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With only a small guest dock, the SNSYC hosts this regatta at the nearby large muni marina of Port Sidney. Origami enjoyed three nights at the docks and a very well run regatta (with excellent food, we might add!). Our first night arrival was just as the office closed, so they let us stay next to the event tent, effectively making us party-crashers for a wedding rehearsal dinner. Once we offered up Origami’s big moveable stereo speakers to their iPods, we found ourselves meeting the bride’s family, telling stories and drinking their margaritas. Not a bad evening. And we re-learned how to tie a halyard hitch from the bartender / boat rigger, as we had done an emergency purchase of Origami’s new main halyard just in time for race weekend.

The best part, though, was being in BC meant we were just close enough to attract brother-in-law Stephane to drive over from Revelstoke for his first sailboat race. He knows Origami from some fantastic 16knot spinnaker sailing on Tahoe, so he was excited…

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Unfortunately that photo smacks of LIGHT wind, and on Saturday we had periods of 0.0 on the knot meter. In our multihull division of four, (2 F27’s, an F24 and an F25) we managed an uninspired last place, which we conveniently attributed to excess cruising cargo weight and our heavy air sails. The spinnaker was back at home, and the other boats had big light kites (and of course excellent light wind boat handling). To Tim, Eric and Greg, nice job guys and we loved hanging out with you at the parties. For the Sunday morning races, we saw more light forecast, so Origami retired as the reality of our long trip back to Anacortes sunk in. It was a fantastic 1.5 days with my favorite bro-in-law, and vows to get together again soon. And maybe next time he won’t have time in a sailboat race to actually fall asleep on the nets. 0.0 knots, geez.

We navigated this trip with a printed guide Jim’s daughter gave him 10+ years ago, and Navionics on the i-pad. It was fun to watch Jim fall-in with the new technology, especially since this will be used on Ravenswing as he co-pilots next year :). The ferries are frequent and fast, our primary watch-out through the islands.

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The final night at sea was spent squeezed onto the float at James Island state park, just across the Rosario Straight from Anacortes. What a great little stop if you’re going up that way. Nice little challenging hiking trails with great views.

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To get to James Island, we passed by Orcas again, which led to another stop at that market. Deviled eggs for pre-dinner that night!

Skipping the Sunday races meant we could afford a Monday evening in Gig Harbor to visit F39 Alice’s Restaurant. Builders Howard and Alice say this was the first F39 launched (story is on Farrier’s site). The boat is great, as is the F9a he built first and now owned by their son. These people are fantastic. Another F39’r welcoming perfect strangers aboard to compare notes. And then we spent a long evening eating their home cooked meal and polishing off way too much good scotch. Howard and Alice, you have impeccable taste!  And great kids. We foolishly declined their gracious offer to stay in the bayside cottage, and instead pushed the lama and goats out of the way to park Origami in their pasture, as a rolling condo.

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This is the view framed by the windows of their waterfront home; the three most recent boats Howard has built. Not bad.

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Alice’s Restaurant is well documented on the Farrier site, so I’ll just add two shots of his great little boarding ladder, so i can remember to build one this winter.

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And for those thinking about electric propulsion for your f-boat, wow does this boat have a prime setup. They’ve had quite the project going for a couple of years. We very much look forward to getting Ravenswing north to buddy-boat with these fine folks. PS – Garrett’s hunter green paint job on the F9 makes that boat look fantastic. I’m sure you PNW sailors see this one flying around.

We waved goodbye to our new Gig Harbor friends, and hit I-5 southbound. It was another excellent Fboat adventure, and we offer continued thanks to Mr. Farrier for designing these craft that continue to impact our lives so positively. Makes us even more anxious to get a new mast stepped and point Ravenswing’s bows out the gate soon.

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It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

We’re quoting Dickens this time, to summarize a recent weekend on Ravenswing. Saturday was a great sail with Griffin home during a short college summer break, Jim visiting from OR, and Charlie aboard. We had a great day outside the bay in the SF Approach shipping channel area, practicing navigation software stuff and watching for whales.  Best of Times. IMG_4774IMG_4775IMG_4778

 

Sunday morning we finished up the new bowsprit attachments, loaded up the big reacher sail and furler, and headed for the south bay for “speed trials”, aiming to push the boat hard and test performance. New crew of three aboard, with winds forecast in the 10-15kts range. Nearing Angel Island, we had 25 knots across the deck and we ducked in the island’s lee to reef the main. It was a handful, particularly with three people who hadn’t sailed this boat together before, but the reef was taken and we headed towards Point Blunt, the bay’s windiest spot at the south end of Angel Island. The full jib was sheeted out too powerfully, and I went down to that winch to spill off wind. A much bigger gust hit just as we buried the leeward float bow into a ship/ferry wake wave; I felt the rig load up badly and looked back up to see the windward running backstay not set after the reefing maneuver. As I began to climb up and around the driver there was a shotgun-sounding crack and within an instant the whole rig was in the water. Worst of Times.

Ravenswing dismasted in a relatively safe place, and the three crew were completely unhurt. But we were certainly rattled. After a quick ‘taking stock’, we realized the sails appeared undamaged and I called for all efforts to go into getting the main and jib back aboard. Numerous local boats came to our aid, and a Coast Guard motor life boat was nearby, and they responded. The jib was recovered easily, and we secured the upper section of mast (in the water) alongside the windward (port) hull. The lower half of the mast was still aboard, as the halyards exiting the bottom of the mast were holding it close to the deck organizers. I decided to get in the water, as necessary to finish removing the pins holding the main’s batten pockets to the sail track slides. This meant standing on the floating mast, in about a foot of water. The sea state was choppy, so this was tricky. And of course the fancy new Spinlock deck vest got wet enough to fire, which did a great job holding my head away from the work. Hold the recovery for a few minutes, climb aboard and go get a regular lifejacket. Then resume. It took about a half hour, but finally the main was free of the mast and bunched up on deck. We then waved over the Coasties, and the boat captain agreed to put two crew aboard to help us lift the mast up on deck. Huge commendations to that man as he deposited and retrieved crew with the utmost care not to bash that big 44′ powerful boat into our leeward float topsides. The whole ordeal took about an hour, and we “left no trace” in terms of losing any debris overboard. The motor run back to Richmond was surreal. Weather was fine and I went through various states of shock and grief. Here’s how things looked late that day:

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The deck and topsides (port float hull side) have some cosmetic-level damages, and hopefully the insurance company agrees it can go to KKMI next week for repairs. A new mast is going to take a long time. IMG_4836IMG_4835IMG_4831

Now we’re working on quotes for a new mast; the old one was deemed beyond repair, and suffered an ignominious fate… scores of thousands of dollars chopped up and carted off via the Marina Bay dumpster. We don’t wish this on ANYONE! But Ravenswing will recover and be out sailing again in 2018. Just no Mexico this season anyway. IMG_4837

Summer sailing

IMG_4706This is why Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. When that central valley convection machine revs up and the fog backfills, we head out in to COLD breeze. Charlie and I saddled up in warm jackets for a mid July afternoon.

IMG_4710IMG_4711IMG_4708Grey whales were in town; every day numerous boats headed for the Golden Gate Bridge area. We had 20+ sightings, some very near the boat over by Baker Beach, and some with big fluke flapping activity. Very humbling to be around the biggest of beasts.

 

A few days later dear sister Allie came to visit. Leslie joined for a warm afternoon sail between Richmond and San Rafael / Tiburon. Jeanne practiced her tiller steering, Leslie focused on sail trim, Allie soaked up the warm sun and soft breeze, and the build-finisher just sat back and reveled in the nice day the ladies were enjoying.

IMG_4719With two great sailing days done, it was back to work on various upgrades.  Thanks again to Darren for calling out the bogus sheave choice (it was a salvaged halyard exit box) that was galling aluminum on steel as the mainsail clew pulled the outhaul side to side. This led to a re-think on the boom-end sheaves and line-guiding. Much cleaner now…IMG_4744At launch time last year, Dean rigged up some long skinny lines to turn the outboard when needed, and everyone who’s sailed the boat has hassled with them. I decided synchronous motor-with-rudder steering isn’t necessary, so we’ve skipped the complex solutions (ahem, Carlos & RickWS :). Kudos to Charlie for this very simple idea – turning blocks mounted inside the motor carrier box, and jam cleats up at deck level. Works perfectly as intended!

IMG_4743IMG_4742Another (potentially dangerous) annoyance has been the lead-angle of the mainsheets into their winches. The lines come in a bit high, and if we’re not careful it has caused override jams. A bit of staring and thinking realized the approach is all wrong, and let’s change the angles both vertically and horizontally. These cheek blocks are now installed, and will be test-sailed tomorrow:IMG_4741

We’ve had some big wind in the marina, making work-on-the-boat afternoons tough. See the blue tape on the hardtop, where the boom hit by accident. That fiberglass repair was done under duress of a stiff 20+ knot wind kicking up whitecaps inside the harbor. I actually got a bit seasick hanging off the back installing those motor steering lines. IMG_4745So with the summer chill in the bay, we said a big YES to Jim’s crew call for the 2017 Southern Cascades Regatta at Howard Prairie Lake above Ashland, OR. Headed up I-5 past Redding, thanking the inventors of automobile air conditioning… (ignore the speedo please)IMG_4764Look what we find on the road in Talent, OR – our never-fell-out-of-love Origami!!!IMG_4758When Jim took her back home to OR from Sausalito three years ago, new sails and a number of cosmetic must-dos were diligently tackled. This F27 is doing great, 26 years after launch, in full fighting form.origami under spinThe race committee put us in the Open Centerboard class, ironically making a well-sailed Lido 14 our primary competition for the weekend. We traded bullets through six races, and the final tally was a single point apart. Before we get to that, remember that mountain lake sailing often means waiting for the wind to fill. Trust me, there was only one boat in the regatta with portable cabin-top speakers blasting Crazy Train and Highway to Hell, trying to get the wind to blow. When that didn’t work, we buzzed the race comm, Ultimate 20 and Laser fleets with Kenny Rodgers karaoke. Apparently The Gambler was the ticket. kenny rodgers karoikeAfter enough screwing around, we focused in on clean racing and managed to bring home a nice first place trophy for the skipper. It’d been a long road of “first to finish, but you lost” handicapping, so this regatta win was sweet.  Thanks Eric and Jason for good times!first place

Back on the bay, Ravenswing sits ready in her slip for a weekend of sailing. It’s time to focus on coastal transit preparations, and submitting that BajaHaHa entry.  If any locals want to join Jim and Charlie for a sail Sunday, give us a shout. We’ll introduce you to our humble mascot – just right with a thrift-store price tag and balsa wood featherlight stance. IMG_4739PS – I can hear you from here, singing “son, if you don’t mind me sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces. For a taste of your whiskey, I’ll give you some advice…”

online again…

Hello followers of Ravenswing,

Thank you for not “unfollowing” during the three month hiatus of this site. We had to put the boat and sailing aside for the spring due to our housing issues, land-travel and business focus. The Carters have been juggling a lot of balls in the air. So it was very nice to get back on the water last week and we’ll get you some sailing shots in the next post. Today we’ll pick up the story where we left off in April.

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with the bowsprit installed (see it hinged over to starboard in the first photo) we hoisted the reacher on its Coligo furler for the first time. Everything checked out, but it was a struggle even at the dock in zero wind to get the furler attached and keep the sprit from collapsing into the water. We snugged everything up and took it sailing. The sail worked fantastically – this thing will be an easy to fly, high performance friend of the boat. (but the color turned out too close to Dodger blue!). After setting new ‘personal best’ boat speeds up near 20kts on flat water in the south bay, we went to furl and drop the sail on deck, but the pole fitting at the bow gave way again putting the furler under the boat at speed. Such a mess and I was convinced on the spot to re-think our bowsprit pole deployment orientation. We’re going with the tried-and-true style that served so well on the F27 – inboard pole end pivoting on the vertical axis. So we’ll put away the lovely aluminum cone for another boat some day, and it was back to the chop & table saws, grinder and drill press to fabricate some heavier aluminum tangs.

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In the last photo, the piece with the empty hole thru a plastic bushing is waiting to get bolted to the existing tangs on the bow of the boat. All this isn’t ideal, as we’re now having to turn the whole works 90 degrees, but i think it’s strong and won’t look too bad. Now we have to shorten the whisker stays to fixed lengths (they were adjustable in the original configuration, and change the bobstay from fixed to a block & tackle purchase system. More splicing to do this weekend.

We also squeezed in some minor interior work. Jimbo will enjoy the new in-counter garbage can, made as light as possible with scrap fiberglass cloth. IMG_4474IMG_4418IMG_4417

Joe and Vanessa found a clever way to ventilate under boat bunks – use rigid landscape matting that creates airflow channels. Plus it gives a slight bit of cush to the works. Love this stuff! (self-reminder to pay Joe our share)

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After this Jeanne and I went to the foam store and tested out various formulations, ultimately choosing a very nice six-inch tall piece that feels pretty darn close to a luxury home mattress. The foam store owner was surprised by the precision of our cutting pattern – most people just ballpark it. We explained the training of years with Farrier’s plans – no shortcuts! She got a laugh.

So the boat sat basically untouched in May and June while …

we flew to VA for Colin’s college graduation – he’s a nationally licensed Paramedic now – so proud :).  Then drove 2800 miles to Boulder for Griffin’s 21st birthday (yes we did some scotch / whiskey introduction that night).  Bought four new trailer tires for the tiny house unexpectedly in Cheyenne.

IMG_4623the boat-builder made two more trips to South Africa for business (but did squeeze in an animal park visit one weekend :)

IMG_4652and headed back into the Sierra for board-member duties with our Trails Stewardship group in running the Lost & Found Gravel Grinder bike race, including perilous remote countryside stops for the sweep van driver.

But most importantly, June was our time to change homes. Our Santa Rosa house is still under repair, now targeting a mid-August finish, but not for our re-occupation. We’ll sell it asap because we’ve relocated to Novato, CA to a comfortable house on an acre with lots of fruit trees, gardening and north-bay views. There are two guest rooms for our sailing friends, plus the aft cabin on the boat 25 mins away, so just let us know when you’re coming to visit.

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Taking a break from unpacking boxes, I snuck down to the boat only to find Ravenswing covered in bird poop, looking very sad. Two hours of hands-and-knees scrubbing brought back the shine, and she’s finally back sailing here in July.  Lots still to do before we head south in October (or possibly mid Sept) to be in San Diego for the start of the Baja HaHa at Halloween time…

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Who really ever finishes, anyway?

Dad, Joe and I stood on the Federal dock in Sausalito, joining thousands of fans watching the launch of the Matthew Turner. IMG_4319

Pretty sure we showed you this build in progress a couple years back, and it was truly amazing to see the community coming together to create a tall ship the old fashioned way. They recorded something nuts like 150,000+ hours of volunteer labor. We visited the build shed many times, but I always had to sit on my hands and not pick up a tool, because if I had, Ravenswing would have taken ANOTHER few years. So it became a quiet little footrace in my head instead. Gotta Launch Before the Turner. And it turns out to be another example of best intentions, but we put our boats in the water before they’re really done. Something about that expensive shop rent generally creeps in…

The Call of the Sea Foundation will have an incredible flagship soon, with the Matthew Turner as a working classroom. Check out this organization, what an amazing way to spend some vacation days.

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We used the rainy season to tackle the ‘bolt-on’ things that needed finishing and painting. Our damaged, empty house has become a paint studio. First we splattered orange highlight all over, and most recently it’s been grey and white for the interior redo of our little Nash travel trailer. The tree fell on the house exactly FOUR MONTHS ago and reconstruction has still not begun. Damn you, State Farm, for dragging the builders through a painful bidding process. But, complaining aside, decent looking boat parts have finally emerged for installation. First up tonight is the bow sprit.

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That’s the extreme forward end, with Keith’s beautifully machined and anodized aluminum doughnut. The spinnaker tack is exiting from inside the pole, and the ridge surrounding it holds the two whisker stays and bobstay.   Here’s the to-the-boat end:

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Spin. tack exits the pole and runs along the deck. The little blue line wraps around the delrin receiver at the bow. Drew was right, this small line did not hold up to the windstorm last week, and was replaced today with a bigger piece of dyneema. Finally installed this afternoon:

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Keith, the bobstay is perfect – thank you! I like the luggage-tag bottom end, and we’ll keep an eye on it for chafe against the bow stem. The delrin receiver at the bow definitely needs to be pinned to stop unwanted rotating; need to do that before we hoist the sail. I’m very concerned about how we’re going to get the reacher furler installed and removed underway. Farrier’s plans call for this pole to swing to the side, but it’s unlikely the setup will reach far enough for handling the extreme end. Eager to test this soon. Thinking of adding a centerline bow cleat dedicated to the two adjustable whisker stays, so we can easily move the pole tip side to side while standing on the bow. There’s a built in backing plate just above the captain’s forward berth, itching to be used.

Mrs. Carter called the ball on the hard top paint, and the orange highlight rocks!

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Sharp eyes saw six little dyneema loops sticking out of the orange top. Those are attachment points for a solar panel. No bolt holes needed now. The bits of rope were pulled through drill holes then flared out on the underside, and epoxy sealed.

If you go back to the February picture of us driving bundled up, you see the original height of the radar. Which would have sent microwaves into our brains. So thanks again to Sewell Mt. Bob for the windsurfer mast offcut that became a radar tower extension. Got it all painted and delivered to the marina. I set it down on the pavement while getting other things out of the pickup, and a little zephyr knocked it over. Nasty ding in the foam core and fancy paint:

IMG_4304That photo is the next day, back at home for touch up, interrupting work on the Nash (aka tinyhouse). A few days later, it was back to the boat, this time carried carefully.

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Just under the radar we’ve mounted two LED deck lights, which really flood the place with great work illumination. They can also be pointed up at the sail for visual signaling at sea.  It’s a lot of light for small power burn.

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Seeing the engine gauges reminds me we figured out how to change the motor oil with the outboard leg lowered down into the dinghy and a bucket. But suzuki does NOT make it owner-serviceable to change the oil filter. Argh. going to need to research that one, as I couldn’t find it poking around the various powerhead components (20hp 4 stroke EFI).

The steering is officially finished with the simplification project. Just a big ‘ol orange tiller now, with molded in receiver for the extension handle.

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The helm is extremely responsive and direct-feel. Time will tell if we’ve made the right choice, compared to all of the elegant, elaborate steering systems on the other F36/39’s.

For the note-to-self file, our new orange color (steering, bowsprit, dodger) is equal parts of these two Interlux colors. The Brightside one part is much softer and will wear out faster than two part Perfection, so next time we’ll look to see if the better paint comes in red and yellow.

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For my friends out there who will still be building F36/39 float hulls, perhaps you can make your center compartment soles early in your process. There have been many painful sessions doing various jobs finishing the floats, painful because of squashing ones feet and legs into the sharply pointed float bottoms. We have now built proper floors, and will enjoy them for a long time. I just wish we had done it BEFORE the big chainplates, beam sockets, hardware prep, etc. jobs.

We had to clamp up a 2×4 extension to the 8′ lamination table in order to make 99″ x 16″ floor sections. IMG_4305

Then in the hulls we ripped some of the leftover original cedar planking for 35-degree flooring sills. Puttied and taped those down and let them cure for an afternoon. IMG_4359

Note how they’re asymmetric to the hull shape. If we had done this job back in the build shop, we probably would have made it all parallel. But in the floating boat, we realized, hey, let’s make the soles level for user-comfort! We’re not going to permanently install these big boards. They’ll just rest on the stringers so things can be easily cleaned underneath, or even removed if we’re crazy about racing weight someday. And yes, we took a little more time to make bilge-access panels (that still need some primer).IMG_4360

Unfortunately, you’re seeing some mold spots on the right side of that photo. The floats get excessive condensation buildup, so we’ll add some solar-powered vent fans to the hatch covers this summer.

OK, that’s the update. Hopefully we’ll get back to more frequent posts including more sailing action reports. Congrats to Drew for driving his F27 Papillon to WINNING the Doublehanded Farallons 2017 multihull fleet. After hearing his great story, he suggested this year’s Delta Ditch be Raveneswing’s racing debut.  That’s a fine idea, Mr. Scott! Time to apply for that PHRF rating…

I know I promised the lithium battery system description – stay tuned, as Anton edited my schematic today and it’s not quite ready for prime time. Getting close.

Locals, let’s go sailing next week, once the rainstorm clears out. Maybe Thursday afternoon. Let me know if you can make it.

Crew this week?

Hey locals, we’ll start using these posts / outbound emails to let you know when Ravenswing is headed out, welcoming you aboard. There are too many of you now interested for me to do individual contacts. So if you haven’t hit the Follow button on this website (to turn on the automatic emails), please do so. 

Let us know if you’d like to join this Tuesday afternoon 2/14, or next Saturday 2/18.  Call or text if you already have my number, or reply via this site or email. It all works :)

No photos today. Still prepping parts for paint, and cleaning up those cabinet doors seams is dragging on. Nothing to see here, folks, move along…

Dodging the rain

Yikes, it’s been a month since you’ve seen any Ravenswing news. Dealing with the house damage and a 12 day Asia business trip meant the boat didn’t get a lot of love in January. Thankfully we’ve had some crisp clear days to enjoy on the water.

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But above-average winter rainfall has THOROUGHLY tested cabin waterproofing, with a couple of minor fails. Should have used rubber washers under the heads of the window pane screws, and one of the windlass footswitches apparently didn’t get enough bedding compound, so a little trickle yielded a soaking vee-berth.

We had some EagleRail work in the bay area, and we hustled to finish up by Saturday afternoon so CEO Scott and his grown kids could get out on the boat in a rare sunshine moment. We sailed through the tail-end of the Three Bridge Fiasco fleet, and Scott found a new calling…

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(yeah, I know, the revamped tiller and rudder cassette aren’t painted yet – too much humidity in the air all month!)   After months of the window-less windshield frame on the boat, we finally had the right VeryHighBond 3m tape roll and a clear afternoon. With the frame prepped and everything test-dry fitted, we applied the tape to the windowpanes first.

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Press them in place, and push hard with a soft towel to force good adhesion. We left the protective film on the outside, and masked the frame, leaving a narrow slot for the Sika black adhesive rubberized seam caulk (same stuff we used to install the cabinside portlights)

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We let it sit like that for 20+ hours, and the next afternoon upon peeling away all the masking we were thrilled with the results. This whole windshield idea was inspired by a Halberg Rassey at the boat show 3 years ago, and it’s worked out great. The center panel is hinged to let a breeze in under the (coming) hardtop dodger.

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Interior finish work continues. The lid for the fridge/freezer was made by planing some oak down to 1/8″ and veneering it to foam core and trimming with mahogany. Then some thick foam was added with a light glass layer for the section that “fills the hole” in the top of the compartment.

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Still need to sand and paint the underside, glue a nifty handle on top, and configure some hold-down latching. With that, the fridge is ready to fire up, just awaiting the big battery bank install. (more on that in the next edition).

Those of you who’ve been aboard have seen all the exposed shelving in the various cabinets. Soon we’ll have those cupboard doors installed. Doing the finish work now, with four layers of Arm-R-Seal oil & urethane from Don’s mobile woodworking supply truck.

img_4088 It’s been a while since we wrote a “don’t make the mistake we did” notes, so here goes. These doors are solid wood frames with foam core center panels and a very thin cherry veneer over the foam. We vacuum-bagged these all in one step, but the result was a little bit of movement and poor alignment of the edge of the cherry veneer up against the mahog. frames. Notice some messy join lines in this photo.

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The learning is, the cherry veneer should have been laid down and bonded to the full sheet of foam core as a finished unit, and then that large single piece should have been cut to make exact-size panels for the solid wood frames. The epoxy finish would have been applied to the frame surface and the veneer surface after they had been joined and glued together. It all would have turned out much cleaner. The do-it-all-at-once method gave some lumpy finishes in the veneer, a bunch of extra sanding, and now the need to add some surface trim to hide these gaps. Darn.

Can’t remember if I’ve reported this already to Drew and Keith, so just in case, tacking the full jib down much lower to the deck has solved the diamond-wire interference at the top of the sail. In the light winter winds, it’s coming through the tacks just fine and flying free up there.

Jeanne and I are living out of a rental cottage 15 mins from the house, and our garage is still the boat-build shop. But repairs from the Dec 15 tree fall have not begun. Insurance work removed the big tree and we had the guys leave the bottom 25′, with the hopes of getting these huge logs slab-milled (really hoping for some beautiful dining tables out of this disaster). The ground-to-14′ section weighs over 9,000lbs, and this Mack truck couldn’t get it last Sunday:

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The Empire Tree driver suggested Steve Turner who owns a regular logging truck, and I realized he’s the same guy that hauled Ravenswing’s main hull from Fremont to Santa Rosa five years ago. So he rolled it at 5:30 Monday evening to do this:

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We unloaded them in the pitch dark way out in Occidental where new-friend Matthew is setting up a chain-saw slabber, and we’ll go out for a cutting party soon. Then the wood sits for a year or so before we consider table-making. At least the back yard is clear for demolition and construction now (except the huge stump 1/2 in the ground).

About that 12 day work trip; it started on a sober note. On the way to SFO, I stopped at the boat to prep it for absence. Walking out E-dock, I was shocked to see the big orange QingdaoChina BACK IN RICHMOND. We all just assumed the rescue crew had sailed her back home to China, but now of course it makes sense they made the incredibly sad 700 mile trip back here.

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She sits at our docks looking forlorn, with the nasty winter weather beating down. And all I can think of is how this should be Guo Chuan’s time to celebrate his accomplishment.

The business trip was first to Hong Kong, and I had some free hours to look up the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Got to chat up the events manager about bringing Ravenswing over for their China Sea race to Subic Bay, Philippines at some point. It was fun poking around the very dense urban club. With weather similar to ours, they too sail year-round.

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The middle of the trip was the port of Rizhao, on the Yellow Sea sort of between Beijing and Shanghai. And to get there, we fly to Qingdao, in Shandong province, China. So after finding the QingdaoChina boat at my home dock, five days later we were standing in THEIR home port, the site of Olympic sailing in 2008. Eerie.

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A female windsurfer won China’s first-ever Olympic sailing medal, obviously a source of great pride. Inside the museum I was telling the story of Guo to my colleague Frederick, and we came across this commemoration of his earlier achievements. img_4002

In typical “go big” China fashion, the whole center was huge and over-built, meaning that the venues have many empty storefronts and just not enough business to justify all the infrastructure. But it does look like there’s a thriving scene of day-sail charters, thanks to these simple-but-effective under-rigged catamarans. Go multihulls!!!

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In the morning we drove 2.5 hours down the coast to the working port of Rizhao, but our hotel was a few kilometers north, in the recreational boating center. Although Sunday morn was -2 degrees C, we took a brisk walk to look at the all-wood fishing fleet. Quite a juxtaposition of these working vessels anchored so close to million dollar yachts.

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I spent the last two years of my marketing career flying United Airlines 2-3x / month, trying to but never getting a ride on a new all-carbon fiber Boeing 787. What a surprise to get off the tarmac shuttle at Qingdao for the flight to Singapore, with the chance to walk around and lay-hands (quickly!) on this 787 Dreamliner:

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Apologies to EagleRail Mike for putting up with some airplane geeking-out. Certainly wouldn’t have gotten to walk around the new plane in the USA :)   But if you haven’t seen footage of Boeing building these things with huge carbon fiber spiral spinners, search it on youtube and see if it reminds you of making giant spider webs. Light and strong = fast.

Seeing the results up close of China’s urbanization program, the immense scope of building housing and transport to bring millions of people in to the new middle class, is stunning. Every airplane fly-over, bus ride or train through these cities is amazing. The smog and pollution is rampant, and all one can do is wish to be back home, out on the bay or ocean benefitting from that big Pacific breeze. Let’s figure it out planet-wide, please!

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