Skateaway for sale/sail

Y’all have read our frequent references and thanks to Keith at Skateaway Design for his help in outfitting and optimizing Ravenswing. Today we’re going to talk about HIS boat, Skateaway. I had the pleasure of visiting Keith & Val’s waterfront property on the NJ coast for a sail on their catamaran and a thorough walkthru of the amazing trimaran Skateaway. They had successfully built other ocean boats before this, but Skateaway seems to me to be a life-achievement project. Rarely do you see someone think through their use-objectives, design to those needs, personally build in very high quality, execute and refine year after year, and actually use the object for many enjoyable years.

This boat is light, strong, seaworthy and fast. Fully outfitted it sails at about 6,000lbs. Geez, that’s 3,000lbs LESS for 4′ longer than Ravenswing, and our boat feels rather sporty. There’s a long list of racing accomplishments available. And it was a treat to look at the photo albums of Val’s documentation of the building process.

Here are two walk around videos of the boat:

The interior is clean, comfortable and simple. Everything inside is about as low maintenance as you can get; it’s meant to go sailing long distances and not spend time fussing with gear.

Look closely and notice details like the dining table storing up on the coachroof, with a simple thumbscrew to bring it down in position. The bunks look great. Secure at sea, and your choice of daylight up in the wing areas of central cabin or snug in the forward and aft cabins.

Head is in the fore peak. No thruhulls or tanks needed = light weight and easy to maintain!

The cockpit area seems like a serious ocean safety place – it’s actually twin stations set very deep alongside the massive spine of the boat.

Clearly Keith has sailed many miles here and optimized the sail handling controls for solo or short handed work. It all made sense immediately looking at it. And he’s spared no expense on keeping up the finest hardware on this boat.

I was very interested in the rig, as Skateaway was one of Composite Engineering’s earlier big-trimaran custom carbon mast builds. These are the people building our mast, and we’ve also seen the quality of their work on Rick W’s Explorer 44 Round Midnight. These stiff, light, strong masts hold sail shape so well, making the boats very responsive to their sails. Skateaway’s mast is 58′ and has been through a couple of upgrade cycles. It’s currently outfitted with high end Hydranet sails.

What a treat to get to know this special boat. After so many successful sails, Keith and Val have decided to sell Skateaway. At this point he says they’re ok ‘de-tuning’ the whole high performance gig in favor of the cruising cat lifestyle.

Skateaway needs to find that special buyer; the sailor that wants serious ocean performance along with no-frills amenities. This is a pure sailing craft with seemingly zero regard for today’s distractions like fancy swim platforms, dolphin-watching bow seats, big hard dodgers, etc.

Who do we know that wants to do a major solo ocean race, or super fast minimalist cruising, or jump right into campaigning a crewed boat in coastal series? Help me get the word out for Keith about his one of a kind beauty boat. She needs to make another tri-mariner very happy. Send your comments and I’ll pass them along. Thanks!

PS. Next time we’ll update you from the visit to Composite Engineering, 10 months into Ravenswing’s mast re-do ordeal.


Boom, version 2

Happy July to you. We did a bit of work on Ravenswing in June, so here’s a recap.

The daggerboard got the bottom paint for the section that rests below the standing water line.

Griffin and I took it to the boat, and darned if it didn’t get stuck in the case. It’s about a millimeter wrong, so we have a bit of shaving to do for a proper, snug fit. Nuts.

Next up is a set of upgrades to the boom. The outboard end with the turning sheaves for the outhaul and clew reefing lines didn’t do a proper job of separating and fair-leading the lines. Now it will get a proper fitted sheave box:

Under heavy sailing, we’ve had some flex in the boom’s walls, so we’re beefing up the bottom side bridges with carbon uni straps.

The reefing lines for the sail’s clew points were terminating on the boom with clutches and the winch to crank in the reefs. As Jim will tell you, that was a less than ideal set up. We’re now going to bring the mainsail reefing controls back to the cockpit. (Similar to Round Midnight’s setup, Rick). So off comes the custom pads we built a couple years back.

Back on deck, various sail handling details continue. Showing you a new cleat for the reacher sail’s furling gear to explain the new way we’re putting any holes in the deck or cabin sides. Drill oversized, swab the hole with epoxy, and bond in a bit of fiberglass tube whose inside diameter fits the part’s necessary hardware size.

Finally, a note for Arno for his fantastic new Thriller. We’re really happy with these Armstrong deck inspection hatches. They fit and seal really well. But because they don’t have any frame, they’re untethered when removed. I imagined dropping one of these at sea, and ran for the drill and a bit of string. Just a thought, Arno!

All fair now

Yea, it took a couple of months to modify the daggerboard because there really wasn’t a deadline and we worked on it only when convenient. Here’s the end of the fairing process, almost ready for primer.img_0277

and finally into Interlux Perfection paint…


Keith, I’m quite happy with the final shape:


Final step will be to measure for the standing waterline inside the dagger trunk, and paint the bottom 1.5′ or so of this board with the same bottom paint (Petit Trinidad) the hulls got in November.

Well since we can’t go sailing, we keep our eyes open for other water fun.  Last week Colin led us on a hike along Yosemite Creek, originating about 8 miles north of the valley. It was pretty great to experience the creek growing with every little stream tributary feeding in. img_0336

After three hours of hiking we saw the acceleration towards the falls…


Then you get to the cliffs’ edge, and hang on tightly to the railings. We had lunch with this Raven, and I was trying to get a photo of it taking off, still working on the elusive just-right artwork of “Ravenswing” to paint on the float bows of the boat. img_0319

And over the water goes, dropping 2,400′ to the valley floor. Griffin had never seen Yosemite Valley – getting their from the top down was an amazing experience – highly recommended!


Visiting the park during waterfall season is magical. If you’re in to water. :)

Next up on Ravenswing is touch-up painting around the new starboard side port lights (windows) – recall that repair from a few months back had to be suspended because the weather at the marina has been too cold for the LPU paint to ‘kick off’ and turn glossy.

And a big hurrah! to Arlene and Glenn for sailing their Lagoon400 cat Wahoo from the Caribbean to her new home on the Chesapeake. Sounds like they had a great 1,300 mile run northbound. Hopefully they’ll let us raft up at their swanky looking dock (nice house!!!) You can check out their adventures here:


Bogged down

For my son, master of word-play…

Ravenswing’s daggerboard is almost ready to paint. We’re being rather methodical and not-rushed about the fairing work. (Because the mast is still months away).

To finish shaping the board, we needed to add back the 1″ wide knife-edge taper to the trailing side. It was done in solid fiberglass on one side, a bit of thick putty in the middle, and another glass strip for the other side.

Then as the Aussies say, we coated the whole board in fairing bog. That’s epoxy mixed with the red micro balloons, mixed up like a very runny peanut butter and spread on as evenly as possible.

Also note the 4mm thick wood strips added to both sides of the portion of the board that stays in the trunk while underway. This finishes the ‘solve’ to the board having been too loose in the trunk case while sailing. (Geoff, I didn’t use plastic because this wood was sitting right in the garage and was easier to rip to the exact thickness needed)

Here’s the fairing bog after the first session with the long-board sanding paper. This nasty task brought back bad memories of the long-boarding purgatory from hull fairing a few years ago. Builders, are your arms burning yet, just reading this?

The dark spots are the too-low points, ie the sanding board isn’t hitting there to turn the red bog to the dull pink. We sanded further, looking for that fair-surface balance. You don’t want to go too far, though, and destroy the intended overall shape. getting better with a second fill and sand pass, but you can see we went too thin with the bog for a long section about 4″ in from the trailing edge.

There was another pass done after this photo, and by the weekend we should be able to show you the finished fairing work.

Update on the little 4hp Johnson: took the carb apart a second time and cleaned even deeper, but it still ran funky. Punt. It’s with Outboard Bill in Sausalito. I authorized two hours of search and rescue…

So when your wife gets you a shiny new pickup and you scrape together some dough to get it lifted up and accessorized, you DON’T expect the 4×4 shop to call with “well Mr. Carter, we had an incident on Saturday…”they got the suspension upgrade done and winch bumper mounted, then backed it into a partially rolled shop door. Geez. At the body shop now.

More reasons the daggerboard is taking too long: excellent rolling distractions. Who wouldn’t want to try out a genuine 60’s dune buggy on the Plumas County dirt track?!and while we’re in the north Sierra, hit some excellent single track on the new Hightower LT. holy cow, this bike is a bad ass! If any of you Ravenswing fans want to do some mountain biking when we’re not sailing, just holler. They’re lined up in the garage :)

Thanks Mom for road tripping to the Sierras with your kid. That was fun.

Ok, we’ll get a bunch of boat painting chores done this upcoming supposedly hot weekend. Literally watching paint dry!

Found our shape

You were probably wondering why it’s taking so long to reshape that daggerboard. Truth is, we split just after the last blog post. A great vacation trip to UT and CO. Once back home and the trailer cleaned up for the next adventure, we got out the shaping tools. Mom, the red stuff is the fairing compound applied directly to the foam core, getting the understructure shape just right before the final outer skin of fiberglass is applied.

Keith should be happy with this new foil shape. We’ve gone from a 12:1 aspect ratio to about 9:1. And remember there’s still a final 1″ knife trailing edge to add back once we get more epoxy on hand.

Next up was wrapping the whole board again with 17oz double bias glass. you’d think we’d be old hands at this by now. Got all materials prepped in advance and decided to wet out the glass on a table in the shed. Well, the combo of a fast epoxy hardener and the big cloth being folded many times to fit the tiny table led to heat build up. As I draped the wet cloth over the board the epoxy started kicking off. There was some frantic pressing in place, then realization that some had to be cut away and (thankfully there was enough) new glass cloth added. And of course, because the project is quite large, our normal “stretchalon” vac bag wasn’t quite large enough. I used 4mil basic plastic taped into a bag but that stuff just doesn’t handle as well. Only saw this on the pump and today we found some air pocket lumps on the board that mean a bit of grinding and reglassing.

Ugh, guess we’re not to be called pro yet.

Seattle Geoff stopped by today as he’s curious about current examples of upwind foils (he’s building a high performance 37′ cat now) and I was embarrassed he saw my vac bagging flub. He was kind about it :)

It’s been a few months since we finished the portabote seats and transom makeover. Today it finally got wet, using the Petaluma River launch ramp that is two miles from the house. Carlos, that thing still leaks – I need to lift it up, get some dye in the water and search for the hole in one of those seams.

The 4hp Johnson hadn’t been run in three years, including the fact that our 2016 oak tree fall had sideswiped it. Couldn’t get it started the other day so we put on the bravery pants, watched some YouTube and tore into the carb.

I cleaned out nasty old varnished gas and bad particles. But there’s still something affecting the main jet (?) because today it wouldn’t rev up beyond about 1/2 throttle. If any of you know what I should try next, please holler. This is an early 90’s OMC 2 cyl, 4hp. It’s VERY clean, acquired by a nice old man who only used it in Donner Lake.

We “ordered” the new mast six months ago now. The anxiety level about the time delay is high. Spoke to the builder on Thursday and he’s finished the ones ahead of us. Now they are doing some maintenance on the 144-head braiding machine and reloading it with the right weight carbon filament for us. It will also be used to make a boom for a J-Class boat. That’s pretty incredible sounding and somehow ironic that our main mast is the same construction as another boat’s boom! The builder won’t bother giving me a target finish date at this point – we just need to stay on top of the progress.

Alright, you’ve read this far, so maybe you’ll be mildly interested in the Carters’ western road trip. It can’t always be 100% about sailing after all. Here’s the trusty co-pilot in her pickup truck

Once into Nevada we jumped on to America’s Loneliest Highway (US 50)

Went underground in Great Basin NP at Lehman Caves

Then had the young’uns with us in Moab for their spring break. Jeanne rented us two of these

It was Jeep Safari Week in Moab

We spent a Saturday afternoon on the CO river

Met up with our Sierra Buttes Trails Stewardship team for awesome mountain biking

Jeanne found her hiking legs again and we promised each other to do more of it! Doesn’t she look great?

After Moab the SBTS team went to a conference in Telluride, which was nice but at 10,000′ on a cold morning I somehow pushed the new truck into a throttle sensor fault mode, which devolved into this on I-70 a coupe days laterthat was late on a Friday, so Grand Junction Chrysler handed us a loaner car for the weekend and we explored the beautiful area

Got more riding in at Fruita’s “lunch loops”

And the truck turned out to be a 30 minute fix on Monday for some electronics minor recall thing. A few extra days in the American West and we found various decorations to make the new trailer more homey. It’s just missing a nice framed portrait of Ravenswing in there! Maybe once the new mast is stepped…

Dagger Bagger

Sometimes it’s possible to worry too much about these projects. Last time we wrote of not knowing a reasonable technique for bulking up the daggerboard shape. After some careful measuring, it needs 5/16″ at the most, and most of the add will be 1/4″ or less.

We dug around in leftover building materials for some 1/4″ divinycel 80 (5lb density) foam core that had been saved for anymore interior panel making. Fortunately for timely efficiency (hard to get this stuff quickly) there was just enough.

The little pile of scraps was all we had left of three 4×8′ sheets from 2015.

Next we made a fresh vacuum bag with the last of the Stretchelon plastic, but it wasn’t quite big enough. So for a first, tonight we’re trying standard 4mil plastic sheeting from the hardware store. For a simple, flat part like this it’s working fine.

Thanks again to whoever dreamed up laminating curved panels under vacuum pressure. So satisfying to watch it work. This extra foam core will be very well formed on to the board.

Along with running out of vac bag film, we’re out of the fabric breather that lets air flow inside the bag, and soaks up excess resin. A quick web search at lunch today turned up an airplane builder who uses paper towels! He said use four+ layers. It was soooooo much easier to keep in position tonight, and nearly free. We’ll let you know next time how it worked.

In that last shot notice the darker seams in between the pieces of tan foam. That’s epoxy being forced up, and that will make the shaping process more difficult. The tools need to move between the hard glue lines and softer foam without gouging. There’s the downside of using all the scraps instead of single full sheets. We’ll just have to be careful.

Sunday with a glue gun

We got back to the daggerboard reshaping this morning by digging out a bag of foam core scraps. This would take longer, piecing together odd bits. But it’s better than waiting days for a new shipment, and that stuff is expensive. So with the little tabletop bandsaw we got busy.

I’d forgotten that the 5lb density foam core is difficult to shape with sanders. For anyone else doing this, these abrasive wheels on an angle grinder so a nice job without leaving bad gouges. Easily found at Harbor Freight, etc.

Here after rough shaping.

Then we cut off the last trailing 1″, which will get rebuilt later with solid glass and putty so as to achieve a sharp knife-edge for smooth water exit.

After lunch we ran down to Napa Autoparts for some body filler. Since this will be buried under the fiberglass, we’re not worried about exposing bondo to the sea. And it has the huge benefit of hardening in 20 minutes. So the afternoon was spent flipping the board over, sanding one side while the other had its next skim coat hardening up. It took four passes to get where we’re happy this new core will give a fair fiberglass’s surface.

Ok, the tail end is ready; now we need a plan for bulking up the forward portions. Here’s how much it needs to grow:

Anyone have a clever idea of what to use for bulking up the board? Jeanne thinks craft-shop balsa that come in thin strips, adhered to flexible matting. Or we could rip very thin cedar strips on the table saw. I’ve heard of “core mat” but don’t know anything about it. Any good experience is most welcome.