The last week in Mexico

Hi folks. Here’s the video from the fifth & final week of the upgrades winter work on Ravenswing. I was messing about in the sunshine while Jeanne held down the fort in very rainy San Francisco Bay Area. I came home in early March to find some of our fill dirt under the new workshop had sloughed downhill with the rains, so there’s been some shoring up work here in April and early May. We were also busy refurbishing the Lido 14 sailboat I wrote about last summer (last of the “5 little boats” project). It’s returning to its roots, meaning a new owner in Long Beach, not too far from where it was built. There are MANY Lido 14s actively sailing the bays of Southern Cal, and this gentlemen has been looking for a clean Lido to introduce his grandkids into sailing. Sewell Mountain Sailing Bob will love this happy ending. (check out Bob’s work at I’ll tow the Lido down south this Sunday, on the way back to Ravenswing.

I left you guys hanging some months back on that Tohatsu 9.8hp outboard motor. It’s finally back in one piece, and tomorrow morning we’ll hook up the gas line, put a water bucket under the water pump pickup, and try starting up after this long-delayed rebuild. Stay tuned for a video on that process.

Meanwhile, back to Mexico:

Catching you guys up

Hey folks, I got out of synch here, meaning this youtube video has been up a few weeks but I didn’t post it here. So, my apologies if you’ve already seen this via a youtube alert. There’s a new one being uploaded later today…

This one runs you through the late February work, getting a lot done. And this week I’m home gearing up for the final trip to Cabrales / Puerto Penasco to finish up all the final painting and re-rigging stuff.

February in the boat yard

Ruby and I are working on our definitions. Lap Dog = Sit on my lap while you’re still a little puppy, or lap up the rest of my beer?

For your consideration, follow the link to the latest Mexico boat yard work video. This is the action from the middle portion of the all-February session. Doing the editing of the various video clips, it all seems really choppy and scattered. And I realize it’s a pretty good reflection of the what transpired. Dealing with unexpectedly cold and windy weather really influences what composites and finish products you can use, and seemingly little tasks so quickly turn in to whole-day-suckers. You’ll see, if you have the patience to sit through 26 minutes. I’ll to be crisper next time :) Enjoy.

Back to the boatyard

We hit the road Feb 1 towards Mexico, for five more weeks of boat upgrades work in Puerto Penasco, Sonora at the Cabrales yard. In this video we’ll finally get those saloon opening port lights installed, and it’s really nice inside now with all the fresh air coming through. I’m pretty sure the new crew will approve, and we KNOW Momma is happy because these come with bug screens! Enjoy the show…

So worth the wait!

Ravenswing has new crew. With very sharp teeth. Boat work down at Cabrales / Puerto Penasco went on hold first to reunite Jeanne and Greg after a month, but also to drive up to NE Oregon for our long-awaited chocolate log :)

This is how Ruby behaves about 1% of the time:

Mostly it’s running around chewing on stuff, which causes yelling, that seems to get the attention, which leads to a moment of quiet / good dog, which invites freedom, meaning finding something to chew, and the cycle repeats. Only to be interrupted by peeing, pooping, and our favorite, EATING! She’s 9 weeks old today, already pushing 17 lbs, and we’re proud to report she’s very smart and doing well in her training sessions (sit on command, early fetching, leash walking, etc)

Apologies in advance, because there will be puppy video clips interrupting your regularly scheduled trimaran movies. Because you deserve it, and they will be exceptionally cute.

Tonight, let’s recap the day out at Anton & Fedi’s ranch. More good stuff putting the love back into the Newick 26 Sommersault prototype boat “000”. After a few weeks docked at Charlie’s place on the Napa River for her re-launch maiden sails, this boat is deemed a winner and very worthy of more refurbishing work. Anton’s gonna be a force on the Bay Area Multihull Association starting lines soon. Enjoy today’s work, without getting paint dust in your ears and beard (don’t ask).

Mind the gap

We got Ravenswing’s snugged-up daggerboard refitted Saturday, and as it sits under the mast, that cleared the way to restep the rig first thing Monday morning. I was eager to access the mast and boom to finally, accurately measure the mainsail. We knew something had gone wrong in the planning of enlarging the sail (because this mast is taller than the first one), but i hadn’t measured how short the luff (forward edge) is on the mast track. Instead we had been sailing with it not fully raised to the top, so that the bottom of the sail was in the right place at the boom. So, up it went on a still-air Monday morning.

We took measures and photos, then pulled it down, removed the long battens, and packed it into the pickup for a return to California and likely the original sail loft for an extra panel add. I’ll be very excited to sail the boat this spring with the main properly matched up to this new amazing mast. And speaking of added horsepower, the performance cat GenM next to us has raised their spinnaker halyard 6’ during a strengthening refit of their standing rigging. Their asymmetric spinnaker doesn’t fit their boat anymore and i was around as they received their new spin. We got to talking about sail dimensions, and darn if their old one didn’t sound really close to Ravenswing’s numbers. So we hauled it across the paddock and sent it up the halyard…

We grabbed a lull in the evening breeze to quickly deploy the sail and check how far back along the boat it reaches (foot length). Fits very well, and it’s the heavier 1.5oz fabric I prefer because it’s more durable than the 0.75oz racing sails. So Marvin and I are talking about a possible sail sale.

Yeah it’s the same Marvin who helped us out with spray painting. These bits look great.

Those are the rudder cassette (housing), tiller extension and bowsprit.

To wrap up this work session we did a number of small rigging upgrades, including refresh of the backstays. Here is new anchoring to the deck of fresh running backstay tails as they lead to the cockpit winches. You guys saw a few months back the lovely box of shiny cordage from Skateaway Designs. It looks even better on the boat ;)

After the very busy Monday of stepping the rig, installing/measuring/removing main and trying out that spinnaker, plus packing up the truck and cleaning up the crazy-mess work camp, I hit the road for home at 6am Tuesday. This time I took MX highway 8 up to Sonoyta but didn’t cross there, instead running MX 2 along the border to San Luis.

There’s a SENTRI lane at the San Luis / Yuma border, which if you properly online-register your vehicle, pay the convenience fees, etc., works really well. I realized my US trusted traveler Global Entry card can be used for SENTRI on the southern border. Last time I tried the lane but hadn’t registered the pickup, which is a big no-no and earned 1.5 hours in the border patrol penalty box. This time I sailed thru the SENTRI lane and avoided the big border line.

After 16 hours on the road, it was fantastic to park it in the driveway at home. Probably a new personal best for single day driving. Check the trip odometer; I don’t need to top this one anymore.

PS. When is 8 week old chocolate work a 650 mile drive? Answer next time here at

Night work

The Sonoran Desert has had a cold February and early March. Mainly the temps drop a lot at night. But this evening was different, an invitation to work outside. After dinner I pulled out a spare Suzuki water pump kit, a headlamp and toolbox. Spent 8-11pm pulling the lower unit off the main engine for a water pump and gear oil change. Found a bit of pump housing damage so it took a little longer than normal. The boatyard rat hunting felines Dulce and Pantera were quite amused by a human with funny headlight during their busy hours.

I had spent the afternoon rigging the engine with electricity, gas, throttle and transmission cables, plus general cleaning up. This install came out really well. This photo was before the water pump night job.

Something is wrong with my WordPress app here, as I can’t upload more photos for you. So imagine…

Marvin on catamaran GenM graciously offered his paint spray equipment for my orange bits. Bowsprit, rudder cassette and 8’ long steering stick looked amazing this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll brush on the orange accent stripes at bow and stern.

The daggerboard was supposed to be a simple drop in job Thursday. The yard guys lifted it to the deck via forklift, but when we slid it into the trunk it was too wide. Or rather the trunk was too narrow because my added shims were too thick. And I had added too much on the forward bumper section (the part that doesn’t go down into the water). I figured there might be a bit of trimming, but it ended up being a two day job, including about three hours where it was completely stuck. It’s amazing how a 7’ tall, 100 lb, 3” wide barn-door like thing can wedge itself in so badly we needed the crane to free it. After that I used our ladder up on deck as a derrick with block and tackle to fine tune the fit. I think I finally have this thing set up so it won’t bang in the trunk during sloppy cross seas. I also had some end-of-run orange paint and decided to paint the board. That’s for the unthinkable: the boat has flipped and we’ve put an orange and black emergency flag, formally known as daggerboard, into the air.

The under-beam braces got finalized Wednesday. It was terribly windy with sand blowing. Pretty awful conditions. So I kept eye and ear covers on all afternoon and cut away then end-polished all those big 3/4” thick bolts so it’s all tidy. Removed a few pounds of unnecessary washers and bolt thread offcuts, so that felt great.

Lots of little detail work has come together this week and we’re nearing the end of what’s turning out to be a solid two months project (spread over five calendar months). Last push for this round is to step the mast Monday morning. Sail track is repaired and boom looks great. I’m eager to hoist the main again and get proper measurements to the sailmaker so we can figure out what went wrong in the 2018 recut (made the sail match the longer new mast), and test out a spinnaker that’s available here from a friend’s performance catamaran.

I’ve been shooting more video footage and will get YouTube going once I get home.

… and be warned, this boat blog is in jeopardy of high jacking by a ball of canine cuteness very soon. Do you like chocolate?

Wet Paint!

“Hey, careful where you touch!”

That’s a good thing, finally getting some topcoat paint down.

Boom is looking good. A bit of the carbon fabric upgrades are slightly showing through so this will get a second coat.

I think the cleanups on the mast won’t need it though.

Here’s the masthead standoff for the windvane (yes, Keith, I made sure it stands clear of the elevated sail head ;)

Many hours over the past few days went in to stripping, repairing and prepping the under-beam support braces. The ten removable bars went through the Cabrales sandblasting station. On the hull, there was a bit of cracking in the rigid fairing; ground all that out and replaced with 5200 flexible but permanent adhesive caulk. These areas were painted today and the braces are ready for install.

Lots of parts continue on the paint path.

Do you guys remember what that disc piece is?

The daggerboard is ready for trial fit tomorrow, pending its paint drying. Might wait until Wednesday now that I think about it. Stood it up on the sharp trailing edge and painted both sides at once.

Light grey is the finish paint. Dark grey is the portion that remains wet when the board is retracted but this section rests below the water level. That’s a second primer coat and it will get bottom paint once it’s re-installed.

Anton asks about why the daggerboard needs a trial fit. Recall that coming down the coast there were sea states that made the board bang around in the trunk. We temporarily (for over a year) handled it by shoving sticks with wedges on the ends down between the deployed board’s head and the trunk walls. Today we’re filling that gap with the 1/8” ply shims discussed last time. Plus we added a 1/2” thick plate on the front of the head rectangle, the section that deploys against the front of the inside of the trunk. These are a lot of precise-fit changes, hence the new 65” deep hole under the boat so we can test deploying the board. I need to get it exactly right this time, which is impossible from the water. Once it fits well, I might take the time here to reshape the exit slot at the bottom of the trunk. Because the board was modified in 2018, that opening is too big now and not efficient.

The engine was permanently installed. It fits and looks good back there. Spent Sunday morning mocking up a connection between tiller and motor so the prop will track with the rudder when motoring. This should make a major improvement to our low speed, close quarters maneuverability. Ravenswing gets sideways quickly in a windy, crowded harbor and we will take any handling upgrades we can get.

Didn’t photograph the solution, but for Carlos and Rick… we’re starting with simple strings, like a 40’s lake runabout ‘wire cable and pulley’ steering. No need to get fancier yet until we try out the new motor position.

Long hours, and I’m grateful the daylight is letting us work outside until 7pm now. gotta get done. Tomorrow is grey paint, coat 2. Orange paint prep. Install under-beam braces. Finish motor steering mounts. Maybe tackle the needs-a-repair windlass. Or rig the engine – yikes, both very important!

Working on all fronts

Realized today this haulout and work session is so complex because we’re tackling all the primary motion parts of the boat. Engine, steering, foils (daggerboard and rudder), boom, mast, energy (solar panels) and some sail handling (upgrades to bowsprit and adding third reef gear).

Monday morning we unstepped the mast.

Here at Cabrales you have to hoist a yard man up to set his choker and hitch to the crane. So I started my day on the main halyard winch. The mast is now on saw horses alongside the boat, the boom nearby, and I had the crane lift out the daggerboard for work too.

Our mast issue is the Tides Marine mainsail track pulling away from the mast at the top. When Anton spotted this underway coming down the Baja Pacific coast we immediately reefed the main. I’ve been thinking about the cause, and the fact that our sail is too short. We haven’t been hoisting it all the way up, so the headboard has not been aligned with the extra reinforcements area behind the sail track. So it was time to measure for real and figure this out. Yes, Carter spreads his junk even more around this yard!

Pressure from the head of the sail in the areas without enough attachment clips behind the track resulted in shearing the heads off the screws. Look under the black plastic track to see broken screws.

The gaps are where we need to refasten the track clips by drilling and thread tapping new holes.

I’ll be adding 30 more of these Tides clips but, of course, I only have about 20 of the very specific screws this takes. So we’ll await a McMaster-Carr delivery to the border gas station up in AZ, and I’ll set the mast aside for a few days.

The boom modifications finished up this morning. Here’s the third reef sheave box going in.

The box is a piece made back at home by using a piece of wood, just slightly bigger than the sheave (pulley) as a mold and wrapping it in the wet carbon fiber. I think I filmed that for you last month? Here I drilled to holes in the boom top, spanned between the holes with the jigsaw to make a pass through slot for the third reef clew line that will come down from the sail, into the boom, down to the deck and back to the winches.

We also beefed up the reinforcements where the mainsheet wraps around the boom, and filled in the first attempt, now unused, lazyjacks attachment holes, and cleaned up a few dings.

The boom will get primer tomorrow and be crossed off the ‘fabrications or repairs’ list!

Today I attacked abuses to the daggerboard. Remember the video from LaPaz where Colin dove down to apply underwater epoxy? That temp repair held up very well, and today I smoothed it in plus cleaned up other minor damage. The board has been moving around too much in its trunk, so that will be tackled here as well. The dagger bottom is prepped and fabrics cut for tomorrow to get a Kevlar and fine-weave glass layer as grounding protection. Because yes, with a super shallow draft explorers boat, the captain has touched the bottom a couple of times. I need to pull the dagger up before we hunt for those shallow anchorage ideal spots.

Much work has gone in to new mounting positions for the framed, glass solar panels. Removing the flexible panels, filling old holes, making reinforcement points, positioning and bending the new aluminum feet have taken many hours. Ready for final paint on that now.

It’s been just a bit too cold to paint. 60’s here while most of USA has been freezing and/or wet. I’m optimistic about tomorrow morning for finally getting white paint at least where the solar panels, radar and engine need to be mounted. Soon we’ll finally start painting the grey stuff.

Interior spiff-ups continue in the evenings. Loving the new day-gear shelf and what do you think of the recently sewn cords organizer?

Also, how are these photos working for you? WordPress told me I was uploading too high-resolution and needed to pay a bunch more money to maintain the website. Or choose lower res. They look lousy on the phone as I type this but hope it comes out clear enough when I hit Publish? If not let me know I’ll argue with them.

Come on 70 degrees Fahrenheit!

Happy Birthday, Mom. Thanks again for following through once you decided to try for your first child!

Work progress report

Yea! New opening port lights. It’s really nice inside with the breeze blowing through the boat. This installation was a big project with the cabintop side panel rebuild, but oh so worth it. I just have the interior cosmetic trim rings to install, as soon as I can ask Colin how he did this for the same ports in the aft cabin last September.

The aft end of the refitting is now complete. Radar tower, swim platform / ladder and new engine mount are in the multi-day painting cycles. Minimum of five days, 2 primer coats and 3 finish coats. Weather can add more time. Today was a bust because a commercial crew was sandblasting a shrimp boat in the next yard, and a huge cloud of dust descended on this place. I worked on the new solar panels placement, and within 30 mins the panels had a couple mils dust layer. Hopefully I can paint tomorrow (Sunday). Also I’m running out of white, and Svendsens in Alameda is shipping a quart UPS to the gas station / mail stop at the Lukeville, AZ border. At some point I have to take a break and make the four hour round trip up there. Having trouble getting the piston rings for the Tohatsu dinghy motor rebuild; hopefully they also get to Lukeville in a few days.

I’ve been fitting in the small projects around the big ones, trying to piggyback epoxy and paint work efficiencies. Things like the dinghy motor mount and steering stick extension get the leftovers of fairing compound or paint until they too are complete.

The next big one on the list is the removal of the beam braces for stripping and redo in epoxy and paint. Our use of the west systems aluminum etching kit failed us and all that paint is bubbling off. Looking at all this, I should stop and get these 3.5’ big pieces anodized. No one has that equipment here, so it would mean searching in Phoenix or Tucson, plus probably two driving trips up there. Anybody want to make some phone calls on this?

Also need to figure out a realistic way to clean minor rust staining off the 3/4” diameter attachment hardware. Please comment back any chemical solutions ideas. Thanks!

In the evenings I work on the interior jobs. The “pilot berth” extension is coming along nicely. The wood face joint was facilitated by getting a few minutes on an old chop saw from the landlord of the temp apartment rented by our yard neighbor. Me cutting 22.5 degree angles through 4” tall trim by hand wasn’t going to work … but resourceful scrounging pays off.

So when you find a ferreteria (hardware store) to get a quart of acetone and some sandpaper, I suppose you shouldn’t be surprised by random buckets of turtles. These poor little guys sit in sad barren buckets next to the plumbing aisle. They looked right up at me with begging little, “wouldn’t a pet turtle be grand?” eyes. But I’m holding out for a Labrador puppy in March instead.