Brave sailors

We depart the harbor armed with radar, ship identifying AIS and computerized nautical charts that follow the boat’s position. There are a lot of aids available. But 8 of us sat for dinner on Round Midnight after a slow but beautiful sail up the coast 30 miles to Drakes Bay. Carlos talked about how brave those people were, sailing their little ships without engines, charts, lights and so many things we take for granted. I couldn’t believe I’ve sailed around here for 45 years and hadn’t anchored at Drakes before. Go, if you can. But beware of the weather.

Ravenswing shadowed the 30+ boat race fleet (I was too busy to enter and we’re not in the season series anyway) and our performance was fine. She’s not going to light the race course on fire, but we held our own in the 3-5kt wind. At least we didn’t let Round Midnight horizon-job us :). Big thanks to Rick for getting us out there and offering such a nice dinner on his boat. We rafted the Explorer 44, Farrier 36 and Truls’ F27 for 9 hulls. Whales were feeding and a couple of them came very close Saturday, about 80 feet off the boat. Looked like juvenile humpbacks to me. Also with this morning’s flat water the schools of anchovies were amazing to watch as they shimmered the surface. A few miles later at Duxbury Reef there were at least 100 fishing boats out for salmon. Sailing race course and salmon trolling in the same patch of ocean led to some nasty radio chatter. (Ex., “Sailboat, turn NOW!”).

Dan and Chris enjoyed their first Ravenswing overnights and each will be on the boat for trips this fall. We finally got decent wind today in the Bonita Channel and on home to Richmond. It was heavy overcast on the ocean and bright sun over the bay. Summer in SF!

Jeanne finished the rehab on the consignment shop $35 find Forespar man overboard pole. Now we’re proper. Before Drakes run, I tackled the anchor bridle prep. My new eye splice wasn’t perfect but we’ll test that it properly sets/holds.

We’re also finally moving in to the galley, working to keep it light. The fridge is under hereIt got its freezer / cooler separation wall. Freezer side on the left, up against the cold plate. That 1/2″‘foam and 1/4″ ply laminate is overkill, but it was fast and free, being a recycled tabletop from the old travel trailer we sold. Still need some air flow tweaking, but our fridge stuff was nice and the freezer was doing its job this weekend. And speaking of keeping it light, these plastic cups from Target make nice stuff racks.

Plenty more to do this week. Thx again, Rick, Chris and Dan for a great weekend!

The mad rush

The Ravenswing build has been way more than the Carters bargained for. Years have long passed since our initial voyaging target dates. But the past few weeks have turned the corner, and we’re hitting the punch list hard in preparation of a September 8 departure from San Francisco towards the Channel Islands in southern Cal. Jim spent a week aboard earlier this month, including a successful overnight trip to Half Moon Bay. Exiting SF Bay in steep chop and upper 20’s apparent wind was a good shakedown. Finally got a first good anchorage photo shoot :)From the dinghy we asked locals for a dinner spot. Turns out she’s the membership director of HMB yacht club. I’m riding in from the dinghy dock on a cable barge. Great getting drinks with these folks. After returning to Richmond, we then set off to China Camp (inside SF Bay) to find Drew’s family, the F27 Papillon crew. Weather was amazing and much fun was had with the dinghys (we have matching Takacats).Anton drove over to join Ravenswing and Charlie sailed F24 Stingray over. Ravenswing’s first dinner party was a hit. Yes, the Bimini top was great to have at anchor. So of course there was a sewing flurry before Jim came to visit. the blue one was part of the used unit we picked up for $120. Just kept cutting and reseweing it until it was a usable pattern for our shape. Next we built a new jib bag, as the crew will tell you the first one sucked (too tight). But not to waste anything, the first jib bag was easily modified to become the new stay-on-deck roller Reacher bag. Thx to Round Midnight for that idea!We’ve also been quite focused on safety gear. The jack lines got fitted. They install easily and get put away when not needed.

The rudder finally got its permanent fix for the proper fore/aft take setting. Instead of shiming the cassette, the rudder grew an angled wedge up where it rests underway inside the cassette. Not particularly pretty but totally effective. It sailed great in the snot to Half Moon Bay.

The float hulls have had bouts of “stale air” in the three years since launch. They finally got solar vents. Put them in the hatch doors, so as not to mess with the hull decks.

Just before the China Camp trip we received the replacement electric controller for the fridge/freezer compressor. Ouch, that was $300 shot thanks to the failed escape hatch in June that salt-water soaked the equipment room under the cockpit. Fridge unit is working fine again and right now we’re creating the divider to separate freezer from cooler/refer side.

And yea, also had to replace the Lavac toilet bowl after dropping the original during the paint job of the revised water closet floor. This is the new version with a more robust hinge and seal setup. If anyone out there needs original Lavac lid parts, holler.

The co-owner agreed to poke her nose out the Gate, aided perhaps by her elder son’s encouragement. Thank you Ravenswing for giving us good times together. I’ll explain next time why Colin was able to come aboard unexpectedly…

June boat work

Our attention is back on Ravenswing here in June. I still owe you a post on the F36 Hecla delivery trip, but the teaser is that near Cuba we had to turn back due to rudder problems, and Jeff’s boat is in Florida getting some repairs / upgrades. No Belize this time.

Back home we had the start of the inaugural California 500 race to San Diego, with three 70′ tris going at it. Maserati spent her dock time at our Marina Bay Harbor, so we got a look up close on Memorial Day. Very interesting to look at the retrofit foiling gear on this ocean-crossing racer.

That day was a treat because of hosting nephew Westley’s first boat ride. Reefed main, no jib, Autopilot and a light breeze made for the perfect mellow day for granddad/grandkid. The siblings enjoyed catching up too. Some day, Westley, I’m sure you’ll be shaking out the reefs and calling for the big Ravenswing spinnaker!

The boat is getting ready for a run up the Delta this week. It’s hot, so getting the Bimini sorted out was this weekend’s first task. We bought a used one and the blue canvas is being experimentally cut/sewn to find the right pattern for a new one. We’ll sail it this way to see if the boom clearance will work.

Finally got the dedicated running-backstay winches installed today. This already feels like a great addition. The windward side will handle the backstay, and the leeward stands ready for barberhaulers or any sheeting duty. This also got rid of the slightly awkward trade off with the mainsheet tails.

Also notice in a couple of those shots the snazzy grey winch covers. The big sewing machine needed a tune up mid project (back in April) and we celebrated its return finally finishing

the 5+ year old Sailrite kit. Eventually I’ll get all these details done!!!

The long rainy season here had me rethinking how to keep the float hulls dry, and cross ventilation through the watertight interior bulkheads is a challenge. Decided to make breathing ports via 2″ pvc, to be left uncapped during storage, but plugged up underway. It does add a pre-sail item to the boat prep list, but this is an easy one; just hand screw in the plugs.

Another milestone was finally powering up the fridge/freezer cold plate system for the first time since it was installed three years ago. It’s been on a week and the solar panels are easily staying 100% ahead of it (with no other power use sitting at the dock). There’s an ice tray in there this evening and I’m excited to get back to hopefully find cubes ?!

Some visitors to the boat have frowned about the forward beam mounted solar panels. Well I didn’t really like it either, so we compromised some hull deck space and moved them out here (on both sides of the boat). This is way better.

So that means the four 100watt panels are (2) on aft float decks, (1) port float forward deck, and (1) on the hard dodger. We’ll monitor and report on solar generation during the Delta trip.

Sights are now set on the September departure in time for the MultiMarine Summer Splash event to Catalina Island, Sept 13. I’m sure time will fly as we move towards Mexico!

Almost out of winter

It’s cold and raining again here in NorCal, but we can hear the lure of warm Mexican waters calling Ravenswing soon. Gotta get all these sea-going projects done!

The autopilot got an hour or so under sail on its second day. It was tested a little by the messy chop of a big ebb current and an out-of-balance sail plan with full main and no jib. So far, so good – this thing is making singlehanding the boat reasonable.

Note the nice straight track in the wake.

Sharp eyes will ask why the Raymarine logo on the radar is facing forward. Wouldn’t they want to advertise out to the sides? Seems the boat builder wanted the cord to exit the side of the tower, and the radar is round anyway, right? A month ago Charlie, Anton and Don wondered why the Bonita Channel buoy was on the wrong side of the radar screen. I Finally downloaded the Raymarine manual and the plug is supposed to face aft. Oops. That got rotated, and we installed the public address hailer / foghorn that day.

Today we finished a couple of very satisfying projects. First up is securing the cockpit area with stern lifelines. It’s all synthetics, and the two orange stanchions used to be the original steering connecting rod. That thing was overbuilt, and was the perfect diameter to fit the stanchion bases made years ago.

We needed just one piece of metal to anchor the lifelines at the beam/float hull joint. The stainless steel tabs that were the lower diamond wire connectors on the broken mast got a date with the drill press, cutoff wheel and grinder.

Then it was time for 8 dyneema loop splices done in place, dodging the rain.

Project 2 is a line-handling solution at the very busy cabin top winches stations. Now that the first and second mainsail reefing tacks and clews come back, there are about ten lines of each side sharing a single winch. I pondered a bank of clutches or jammers or cleats, but had fun going old-school instead. Belay-pins, but sitting in a carbon rack!It was supposed to be sexy exposed carbon weave, but the square tube shape was tricky to mold and there were various little wrinkles and gaps, so they needed fairing then paint like everything else. This all got started last June visiting Skateaway when Keith impressed on me the problems with leaving heavily loaded halyards in the teeth of rope clutches during ocean passages. So now the sails will be raised and trimmed with the help of the clutches, but once underway the lines get cleated on these new pins then the clutches eased off.

When the rain is falling we go in the cabin and pick up the electrical tools. Last time you saw the little lithium battery balancing boards. Now we have the CellLog which measures the voltage of each 400amp hour 3.5volt cell grouping.

This monitor is fed by the little red wires (yes Anton I fused each one) strapped along the battery-holder braces.We bought this fancy chartplotter system and I’m old enough to freak out that it didn’t come with a manual. The online version didn’t make it clear that the charts seem to require the microSD card to stay in the unit in order to be used. So again, to those of you who sailed with this thing, I figured out today we DID have the detailed charts in there. Just needed to switch the viewing source. I think we’ll step up to the Navionics charts that we’ve come to really like on the iPad/phone.

So, Mexico is on the mind because Jim is sailing the Banderas Bay Regatta today, and I had a great recon trip last week to visit his Puerto Vallarta house and check out where we intend to sail the boat about 11 months from now. Here’s the view from their front patio. We visited all the primary guest marinas, and I’m leaning towards the vibe at LaCruz / Punta Mita. There’s also a very good free anchorage with easy town access. Ravenswing got ‘cleared’ to enter the MexOrc races next March. Hopefully in a different class from the MOD70 tris!We even made time to visit the embroidery shop, and they did a great job translating the boat’s graphics to crew-wear.

OK, we can see the finish line in Mexico, but we’re going to have a great spring here…

RickH, if you’re home next week let’s get out the Gate late in the week. Anyone else wanting to join, give me a holler.

It never gets old

… seeing first timers enjoying a good sail, that is. Say hi to Jen and Tim, business colleagues from Chicago. Jen hadn’t driven a boat before, but something told me she’d be a natural at the tiller.

Her husband got a bit of film for us https://youtu.be/x6LKdtwzrIc

Early November was remarkable weather. Afternoons in the low 70’s with warm gentle breezes. Perfect weather for easing Ravenswing in to the groove with the new rig.

Jeanne, Leslie, Ron and I had an enjoyable Friday. The ladies want more boat speed. We found plenty in the Slot, but it was chilly so we headed back to the north bay.

Then there was a fantastic Sunday outing with Bay Area Multihull legends RickWS, Carlos, Chris, Truls and Rafi. Six skippers , each knowing what’s best… we found ourselves laughing after Carlos had to quip, “I know how to drive the damn boat, guys”. Yes, he does.

GG bridgeRafi Chris x1200Rick Carlos x1200Truls x1200This was only the second time we’ve had the Reacher up (big blue sail), and big thanks to ChrisH for slacking the halyard way off to curl the luff once we turned downwind. This thing makes a great chicken-chute that way! Here you go, framed up with The Rock (Alcatraz prison)I didn’t drive that day, instead I roamed around the boat looking at new-to-me vantages. The best was the aft cabin – Rick is right, that’s going to be a nice spot on passages.

So while we’ve really enjoyed some sailing, fit-out work continues. We found SailTimer.com, a solar powered, wireless wind sensor that functions independently of mast rotation. The idea sounds too good to be true! We installed it before the mast stepping, but it wasn’t spinning freely. We think it got bumped the morning of the mast stepping and I didn’t notice it was tweaked. Carlos volunteered to go get it. Now that’s a dedicated sailor :)The installation instructions did not warn about Bluetooth being dependent on line of sight. I put the unit in the middle of the masthead for strength, etc, but the crane on the aft portion, including a big steel sheave pin, is blocking our signal down in the cockpit area. Argh. So the SailTimer folks just sent us an offset arm so we’ll move the unit in to clear air about a foot aft of the main sail track. More on this topic later.

I didn’t have the heart to tell you guys earlier, but the first time we sailed the new mast, the rotation control arm ripped out of its too-slight mounting setup. We’ve tried to control rotation with various straps; it’s worked somewhat, but also put some nasty rope burns into the nice paint job. Dang. Keith and I have discussed it and decided an interim fix is to drill much deeper in to the mast foot internal G10 web, and this time epoxy the bolts in place. I made a slurry of epoxy thickened with bonding fibers, and syringed it in there. Keith, I kept the black plastic spacers because of how the metal shape fits the mast. Plus I think they help with shock absorption. But I did go another 1/2″ deeper than we talked about.  We’ve sailed it once in light winds, and it worked fine. Time will tell. img_1238

Before putting away the sewing machine, we modified an old sail bag to make a stay-on-deck bag for the rolled up reacher. Got this clever idea from Round Midnight!  Once the roller-furled sail is dropped back down on deck, it gets folded in to this bag and stored right there ready to go again. img_1237We also added this 3′ long leader to the reacher control sheets – this helps pull the sail around the forestay during tacks or jibes. I’ve known about this for spinnakers, but just realized we needed it for this sail too. img_1229And one more shot trying wide-angle to get more sense of the two sails working together…img_1232This one is for John Franta at Colligo, and Keith at Skateaway Design, for showing how well our bowsprit hardware came together and makes this sail easy to manage. img_1241

Also in that photo is the new Rocna Vulcan 15kg (33lb) anchor, attached to 110′ of 5/16″ chain and 200′ of 9/16″ 8-braid rode. The Lewmar ProFish 1000 windlass handles it well, and we’re finally feeling good about our primary anchor setup.

img_1230

Charlie and RickH took the boat out the Gate to the LightShip buoy, a few days in to the Paradise fire smoke invasion. Quite eerie to be sailing on SF Bay wearing particulate masks, and upon getting  about five miles out, we could not see ANY of the coast. This fire has been awful to so many thousands of people, and it put a hideous smoke layer across a large part of the state. From our front yard – normally we’re looking at Mt. Tamalpais in southern Marin here. We bugged out, heading for Griffin’s place in Colorado. img_1244

A curiosity stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats along I-80. No race cars, as the BLM shuts it down during winter due to slushy salt, and recreates the 10 mile race track each spring.  img_1246

Traveling in one’s “land yacht” can be dangerous. This photo is just a few minutes after a rather harrowing fish-tailing incident eastbound on I-80 just over the continental divide, an hour before Laramie, WY. Ice on the freeway and 40kt wind gusts busted the trailer loose from the road. Huge thanks to Chrysler’s traction control and Jeanne’s purchase of a fancy Blue Ox anti-sway hitch system. That gear kicked in and we managed to NOT leave the road or have the two 50mph semis hit us as we swerved and corrected out. The whipping action deployed the entry steps, and threw groceries, dog food, etc. all around inside the trailer. It took a few hours to calm down from that one. Don’t drive these things on ice, people!!!  And if you do, don’t be the idiot who didn’t have the truck in 4wd and thought he could drive the same speed as the big rigs. NOT. img_1252

Finally tonight, a little preview about an exciting package arrival.

That’s our Pelagic Autopilot. Designed and sold here in the Bay Area by a small company owned by offshore sailors. They do one thing – make robust, simple sailboat steering helpers. We have significant fabrication work ahead in December to make the necessary mounts, so this may take a while. We were tipped off to this by a sistership, as this autopilot worked great for John and Melanie as they sailed their F36 across the to the South Pacific in April.

Happy Thanksgiving to your families. A lot to be thankful for. Peace.

 

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!

Dodging the rain

Yea! We’re finally getting some decent rain in Northern California. I have no problem bowing to nature in this case, even if it does screw up boat projects. In between showers, we’re getting stuff done. Here are the main sheet block pads done, installed with some leftover windshield super tape.

The starboard main cabin ports got their new polycarbonate pieces. This is 1″ Very High Bond 3M tape, then Sika 295 black sealant around the outside edge. the center one with the big cutout gets a ‘floating’ Lewmar opening port reinstalled next time I go down to the marina.

RickWS, I think we’re ready for baking, as 1.5yrs after launch I’ve finally hooked up the propane. The locker was built into/under the cockpit lazarette, and it sticks down into the equipment room alongside the freezer box. For service, it needed an overboard vapor drain, an electrical pass thru for the tank on/off solenoid, and one for the gas line.

Just need to fill the tank on that next drive to the marina and test it all out. Jeanne is on boat-strike until we can boil water for afternoon tea.

Also completed are those watertight Armstrong inspection hatch covers. First a look at the 10″ ones on the float bows.

So far in the rain both have stayed bone dry, so this looks to be a good fix on a previously poor execution. Here are shots of the 7″ aft ones; these required grinding away the original built-up bases for the old style ports, plus filling in the bolt holes. I’ll try to remember to get a photo of the one-piece Armstrong plates so this all makes more sense.

This next one may sound insignificant, but there was actually quite a bit of angst and procrastination about how to secure the various cabinet / locker doors. Mainly because I was a bit afraid of hitting the wood veneer doors with a crude hole saw. Proceeded with caution and now the doors latch shut!

Along with hot water, Jeanne would very much appreciate solving the tough ingress/egress issues of this boat. We could hop around the F27, but on this one the beams, coamings and cockpit seats are all much taller. I need to make various transition steps as we’re just not spring chickens anymore. First up is widening the coaming where the aft beams cut in to the hull. This is an odd spot in the boat design, and the F36 we saw in WA last September had these covered. So here goes.

They will be a little tricky, as they can only be permanently affixed to the beam and not the hull, for potential de-mounting of the beams/floats some day. We’ll update as we go on this one.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… the daggerboard has been sitting under a tarp at home awaiting some reshaping work. We got the paint stripped and cleaned up the little work shed to tackle this, now that the weather is moving towards epoxy-appropriate warmth.

That’s an 8′ board in a 12′ shed, so the belly gets sucked in as one works. I’m pretty sure I built it to plan, but looking at it now, plus advice from the master Shipright during our Nov/Dec haulout, we’re thinking it really needs more bulbous-ness at the leading edge. We made a pattern of the hull pass-thru at the bottom of the boat while it was on land, and that is now transferred to a plywood cutout to use as a “don’t add more than this!” guide in this project. If anyone has ideas on how to attack this such that I work symmetrically, I’m all ears. Step 1 will be blocking and clamping it up on the trailing edge (leading edge pointing to ceiling) to at least be able to eyeball it. Here goes!

PS. Last time we reported on shore boat #1. Tonight I’m thrilled to report my dear sis Allie joined me on a trip to the SUP shop in Santa Cruz to look at VESL brand paddle boards. She was hooked and bought one while I shopped. Next thing I know, she’d bought mine too! Now that’s family love right there :). We can fight over the paddle board and the loser gets off Ravenswing via the portabote.

At 10′, the SUPs stick out the back of our new pickup’s 5.5′ bed, which of course sounds like an excuse to look for truck racks.

It was a bittersweet goodbye to the amazing diesel X5 bmw, but this Ram with the eco diesel v6 is powerful, comfortable and has averaged 24mpg over 6k miles, half of which were towing a 6,000lb trailer across the country. Yea, that’s my testimonial Fiat-Chrysler. You got this one right.