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…”

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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.

Different paths to death

A month or so back we had the great fortune of meeting Chinese pro sailor Guo Chuan as he scrambled to prepare the massive ocean race tri QingdaoChina for a solo record attempt SF to China. The big orange boat was guest docked at our marina, so Vanessa, Joe and I got to step aboard and look about. Guo and crew needed some the next day with sail handling help, so Drew and his son were able to spend part of the day getting to know this brave, bold and humble man and the amazing boat he pilots.

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The weather window opened, he left the Golden Gate with a head of steam, passed Hawaii on a better pace than the fully crewed Volvo 70 Maserati, and then went silent. You can read the full story online, but it seems there was trouble with a huge headsail and he was thrown from the boat. They found the severed end of his lifejacket tether attached to the boat. A tragic death and our hearts ache for his lovely wife we met briefly on the dock. Guo was the same age as me, and dies a hero and inspiration for achieving his dreams.

Or, you live your life to its full chronological measure. This is Jeanne’s pop, Dan, during his brief tenure in his new home (moved in to our house) this month:img_3778

Dan is the most stoic and strong-willed man in my life. As his eyesight diminished, he reluctantly moved from his San Jose house of 40+ years to a retirement center apartment near us. He kept up the morning hour long walks, with a white tip cane, to the amazement of the staff. We brought him over the boat shop a few times, and the scope of that ‘big whale in the room’ entertained him. We regret he wasn’t quite well enough for a boat ride after the launch, and now it will be left undone. 89 years of Bay Area living, military tours in the Pacific and Europe, 36 years at PG&E, one of 8 siblings in a strong family of Spanish immigrants (three OLDER siblings live on!), husband to Mary for 50+ years, and most thankfully father to two amazing kids. Dan died here at home last Sunday, and our hearts are broken. A tribute to his stubbornness – Jeanne, Leslie, Griffin and I took Ravenswing out Wednesday afternoon for a head-clearing short sail. Bah-humbug, as we cleared the breakwater the wind shut down and we drifted around in the sunshine. At least the boat proved to move very well in the tiniest of breeze – that was a nice first proof point. Had to laugh; it wasn’t time yet in Dan’s eyes for an enjoyable sail. But it was just right anyway. We miss you Pop!!!

Bottom line, these gentlemen remind me we should all live the lives we aspire to. Let’s not waste our moments together, nor squander our intriguing solo pursuits. There are infinite “ways to go”, but let’s depart at peace with what we’ve accomplished or experienced.

Doing hospice nursing work at home was challenging. For mental relief during those two weeks I would step out to the attached garage (often with the baby-monitor to Dan’s room) and tackle making the sail covers. The main’s is 17′ long, and we quickly learned why sail and canvas makers have huge clean floors or massive worktables. The project became a dance of rolling trailing edges of patterns and fabric. We bought the instruction book from Sailrite, and it proved a very good step-by-step. We were quoted about a thousand bucks for the main cover and a 12′ deck-bag for the jib. Spent about $200 instead on the book, fabric, thread and fasteners. We won’t write out the details here, just some photos. But email or comment if you have questions.

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The mainsail cover fit as-advertised. Although Keith with appreciate that this still-new Hydranet sail is so stiff that it’s rather unforgiving for being folded down tight under the cover. Time should make that easier.  img_3817

(yea, we still haven’t bonded the dodger windows in… too much else going on!)

The jib bag is a trial-and-error job. It proved difficult as a beginner to measure the unwieldy lump gathered at the forestay, and of course it was raining when Charlie and I did the trial fit. img_3811Got the overall length right, but the girth around the first yard is tricky. Let’s just say there will be another extension panel added this weekend. Notice the netting along the bottom. We closed the underside 10″ width of the bag with leftovers from the main nets; the idea is to let the sail breathe while in the bag. Also, we’ll use the halyard to keep it up off the deck. img_3813

With the sewing machine set up, we’re hitting the odds and ends too. Thanks to RickWS for this idea – the boom and main are so much bigger on these boats, and we can’t get arms around them. So your sail ties need weight on the end to throw them over and catch underneath. Sewed some rings on, just like what I saw on Rick’s Round Midnight. Works great!img_3814

OK, I said there wasn’t wind to test the new rudder angle, but we did experience how light and responsive the direct-tiller approach is. At first it was startling how easily the rudder turns, but I think it’s all in keeping with the “it sails like a big dinghy” sport-boat thing. The tiller ended up at 8′ long, and although the sweep for tight turns goes across the whole aft cabin, it’s quite manageable and feels just like the aggressive tiller throw needed to tack the F27. Here’s the finish of the Frankenstein ‘grafting’ of old to new:img_3801img_3802img_3816The tabs sticking up are a catchment for the Forespar steering extension handle that Jim gifted to the boat. It swings around and stows very securely back here. The tiller shape and length turned out just right, but it had a bit too much vertical flex. So today it’s getting a bit of reinforcement, especially where it makes the turn down from the cassette angle. img_3818

Good rainy day work.

Next up you’ll be reading about electricity storage. We’ve chosen the source for the Lithium Iron Phosphate cells, tested a cardboard shape mockup to make sure the 16 cells will fit as intended, and we’re reaching for the credit card…  stay tuned.

Reaching for home

We’ve been asked why no posts lately; it’s just a busy August so far with some out of town volunteer work, college back to school, and numerous nights aboard the boat from whence WordPress won’t publish photos (anyone know WordPress well enough?)  The boat has sailed twice since the mast spreaders fix – two nice daysails. We’ll start you with a little Saturday late afternoon reach to Richmond – 

A big rigging question was peoples’ skepticism on our Vee mainsheet setup. See the red mainsheet behind DonK driving the boat yesterday. 

That’s one line, and each bitter end leads to a winch. Note how the final leg of the left-hand block set feeds the line over to the right-hand side. We’re learning how and when to pull that crossover line to travel the boom windward/leeward. You can do it by hand under lighter sheet loads. But 3 of the 4 sailing days so far have been 20+ knots breeze; for that trimming the windward winch is traveling the boom across the boat and sheeting the leeward winch pulls the boom down (mainsheet tension). The big Andersen ribbed winches hold the mainsheet very well, so if we’re wanting to sail on the edge and have a safety fast “blow the main!” I think two people could each hold an end with four winch wraps and no self-tailer grab. So far I’m really happy with this no-traveler deck arrangement. 

Next we want to figure out the reefing full batten jib. Here it is with the reef put in, but all the excess sail not gathered. It’s very high-clewed, forming a steep diagonal line foot of the sail. 

While it looks easy in the photo to just roll that stuff up, it’s very large and the spectra sailcloth is very stiff (a good thing!). Doing this at sea in deteriorating weather will be a nasty job to be avoided – take the reef way before things get sloppy out there. The horizontal zipper in the photo accepts a cover for the rolled/ folded excess sail when reefed. We’re very much inviting curious, patient sailors out over the next month to trial all these sailing control tweaks. 

Finish work continues. Companionway doors finally replaced the plywood version. 

Coco models the aft cabin entry while Lola’s snout points out the engine controls. 

Note the aft cabin hatch had no exterior hardware – we’re securing it from the inside instead with two barrel bolts

Last week we got our only mellow sail so far. Charlie, Leslie, Griffin and I headed up Racoon Straits for Sausalito. The boat glides upwind in the flatter water and we picked off every 40′ boat we could find. So fun to crawl up to their tails and wave. There was wind out past the Marin shore, but the skipper gybed the boat for home instead – just really wanted ONE zero stress casual sail after five years of F36 angst. I want more days like this. 

Yesterday was Ravenswing’s first “cruise”. Destination McCovey Cove, crew was the business owners from the shops surrounding our build shed of 2012-2016. 
Six aboard, BBQ rocked the 3-day marinade, Marcus’ air chair was a hit, we saw Denard Span’s home run actually splash (might go the rest of life and not be able to see that again – pretty great for lifelong Giants fans on deck). The best was flying the actual World Series 2014 Championship flag that was previously at city hall. Look at the size of our orange flag compared to the boats – it got the attention of the cameras, and thus a screen-shot of the tv broadcast

(Yea, the guy on the GrandBanks anchored way too close which was a problem when we swung in the wind). This gear worked well, and what a joy to push a button!

What we won’t show you was the steep learning curve, including anchor chain-to-rope-rode shackle that can’t go thru windlass (duh!), big billows of excess mainsail when reefing because someone hasn’t installed reefing gather lines, dragging anchor because we didn’t back down on it the first time, jammed up mainsail douse because we weren’t head to wind, and no dishwashing water because the same person who didn’t check the gas tank when we left Napa didn’t check the water tanks Saturday morn. All humble pie, and nothing damaging. 

Finally tonight a nod to Mrs. Carter’s vintage eye. Driving to the ballgame on a cold summer morning sporting a 30+ year old, like new Norwegian float coat in just the right colors. Where does she find this stuff? And at my kind of prices no less. Love ya

Nearby readers, let’s go sailing next weekend. Let me know which day works for you!

NOT 1,000 square feet

Some of you were pretty surprised we got the shop emptied and turned over that quickly. The bad news is “all that stuff gotta go somewhere!” Ugh, don’t look around our small lot at home for a while please. We still have to finish making boat parts, mostly finish sanding, priming and painting. Here’s the new paint shed (code name for an old bug tent now on the back patio under our messy big trees)

The big work table and the large power tools get half the garage (miraculously the car is in fact parking inside now). That’s half the DeWitt Dinghy in the top of the frame – fun little 8′ solo boat!

And all the supplies and small tools go in the 8×6′ tin shed, which got a massive shelving system added on July 3. Still shoehorning stuff in.  

Back at Charlie’s dock this afternoon we removed the stern tower and fished 8 cables through. Anyone building something like this, please note to lay in messenger lines BEFORE sealing up a clamshell design, and make continuous internal conduits with gentle exit bends. My sporty exterior look required much contortion with wire fish tapes and bent fingers. Jim is down from Oregon right now and brought all his carpentry skills to bear on this one. The wired tower slide home and the guys bolted down the feet from the aft cabin while I stood out on the swim platform relaxing with a cigarette (just kidding Mom) Tomorrow is supply plumbing (drains and tankage are done), and finishing the reefing system before hopefully a full daysail on Sunday.  Perhaps we’ll get most of the tower electronics installed too. 


Enjoy the weekend!

Argh, wordpress “upgrade”

Sorry about recent typos, out of order photos and cut-off posts. This new version of WordPress has some nasty flaws in use-ability. 
Anyway, the steering gear replacement construction is done and now it’s fair & paint. This wide (4″+) turn-table bearing spreads the load out well. Plus we added at 3/4″ bolt underneath to help keep the whole thing in column. 
And now we’re official, courtesy of the USCoastGuard. Ravenswing got her number today so we’ll get busy making an ID plate / board to mount near the chart table. That was quick paperwork turning by the govt!

We’re planning the boat’s first sail for this Saturday in Napa. We have six people saying they want on – can take a few more, so contact me if you want to join the inaugural crew. Can you say EXCITED?