Whip it good

“Crack that whip. Step on a crack- break your …”. Yea, you’d get Devo stuck in your head too if you did 20 or so of these tonight.

All the halyards, new lazy jacks and reefing lines got various splices and end treatments, and are now ready for the mast next week.

The truck was loaded in Massachusetts on Monday. Things got a bit behind so our delivery has moved to next Tuesday.

Stepping the mast might also be contingent upon a couple of hardware items that haven’t shown up yet. Always something!

We accomplished all the solar wiring and the MPPT controller is in “bulk charge” mode working to bring the lithium battery bank up from its 8+ year hibernation since the cells were manufactured. As the sun was setting today, with one full day on the four 100 watt panels, the system was up from 13.15 volts to 13.40. A long way to go, but we don’t have a proper 110v charger yet so I’m thinking the solar approach is ok. these two were no help that day, except for occasional scaring away of seagulls

We’re marching through smaller jobs, getting it all ready for next Tuesday.

And if you need a friend, this guy is waiting at the candy store in Old Town Sacramento…

13 volts and a nice big crane

Ravenswing is up and running on lithium batteries. We came back the next morning and found all four “parallel 4 packs” had balanced out to 3.28volts. Anton caught my tired typo the whole the other night; the parallel wiring of four cells of course kept the voltage in each new 400 amp hour battery at the 3.5volt level. All 16 cells had been hand-leveled at 3.28volts about four months ago, so I was happy they had not changed at all while waiting for this week. So we then proceeded with wiring them in series, to get up to a 400amp hour, 12v battery.

13.18v is pretty low, so we hooked up an old car battery charger rated at 10amps, which struggled to get the pack up to 13.31v after a couple hours. We’re ok leaving it there until the charging sources are hooked up.

There are three serial ‘jumpers’ between the four 3.5v groups. Note the one in the middle goes through a 150amp fuse; this is the first line of defense safety for a bad short circuit situation.

The previously installed 12v distribution panel matches the digital meter, and is a good at-a-glance basic tool.

But JoeS, a Bay Area Multihull veteran ocean cruiser, wants more details! Here goes, Joe…

I’m thinking of a max charge limit of 14volts (Joe does 13.8).

Lower limit discharge voltage is still up for debate. I need to read up on my CALB cells again, and ask the supplier EV.tv for their reco.

We’re installing a CellMon to monitor the voltage of each 3.5v 4-cell grouping. I’m judging that our usage and our charge pattern will be non-stressful duty for this bank, and thus it’s not necessary to monitor all 16 cells individually. I haven’t decided about installing any battery temperature sensors.

The CellMon will signal out to a loudspeaker alarm when a high or low limit has hit. I believe a second signal can be created at another voltage value, which we can send to the battery protection cutoff to shut down the power immediately. That device is planned to be the Victron BP-100. It is Bluetooth enabled and gets programmed from a phone / iPad app.

Primary battery monitoring is a Victron BMV712. This is also Bluetooth driven by an app. We mounted it at the nav / comms desk but it isn’t wired to the battery yet. Pretty sure it handles battery temp, if so we’ll get that sensor.

All three charging sources will be brought in to a common bus setup, then routed to a smaller Victron battery protector – BP65. This will be set with a lower limit than the BP100’s master cutoff, so all charging sources will be cut off from the battery before the battery gets “too full”.

The one decision not made yet is how to control the four 100watt solar panels. I’m leaning towards four separate circuits, each using a Genasun 140 Lithium profile MPPT controller. This will be the best at dealing with shade management (because the panels are in four different places around the boat). The alternative is bringing all four solar panels into a Victron MPPT controller (150/30 model I think). I like the idea of all-Victron because their stuff works well together. But does anyone know if the single controller can do differing shade per panel management well? Arlene and Glen, have you dealt with this?

Joe, the BMV712 is lithium-programmable. You tell it your ‘tank is full’ setting (e.g. 13.8v) and it does all the math from there, providing % of capacity left, and all kinds of other info. I’m excited to have it on the boat’s iPad.

All of this battery management stuff won’t happen until after the mast build journey, so we’ll stop talking batteries for now.

Early today we motored from Richmond to San Rafael Yacht Harbor. It’s not talked about much, but perfect for us with a big crane and it’s a DIY-only yard. You can’t hire them to work on your boat, but there are contractors swarming the place. And some funky toothless guys. (And gals). The yard crew is very competent with 30-45′ boats.

They swung the boat just a few feet above some late model cars – yikes!

Farrier’s design does look pretty swanky once you can get a few steps back. I love this angle…

Labor Day Yard day 1 was all about the dagger trunk. It was much more involved than I planned, as I realized hull-builder Howard had wrapped the Kevlar keel-line protection up into the trunk about three inches, and that buildup at the very bottom of the trunk was really screwing up the dagger fit. It was arm and back burning work to reach up past the foil block and rasp & shurform & grind as needed. I also had to rip out all the shims I installed during last November’s haul out. Argh for me, and at one point I wanted to punch Howard in the face. But by 7pm tonight the board goes up and down, fits snugly and the exit slot is re-epoxied. Keen followers will remember a few months back I sliced off 1.5″ from the aft edge of the board. Next time we’ll talk about the crash bumper that’s replacing that cutout. Stay tuned.

LiFePo4 batteries, at last

What do you call the stage between bleeding edge and early adopter? I don’t know, but we spent the day there… after buying 16 lithium battery cells two years ago, their installation got started today. There’s been a lot of learning, planning and fretting for months. Anton has built electric vehicles and complex land battery systems, so we listened carefully to his practical advice and I thank him greatly for the encouragement to tackle building a lithium system from scratch. This morning he told me to wrap the lug wrench handle in electrical tape to avoid any mistaken arcing. Let’s not make any short circuits with a 400 amp hour system!

A few months back we made these straps from a sheet of copper. That took longer than expected but at least saved some $ for quality (lowest resistance) balanced power across the cells.

The battery tray was built back in Santa Rosa. Today we built out component mounting spaces around it.

After mapping out parts locations it was time to make all the custom length cables. No fancy hydraulic crimpers here; just old school compression.

Here’s a progress view as the parts go in.

You’re looking at the 16 three-volt cells that have been made in to 4 twelve volt batteries (via parallel strapping). They are resting as separate groups overnight so that the individual cells within each of the four batteries balance among each other. Tomorrow hopefully we’ll find that the four groups have very close voltages to each other (ideally about 13.2volts based on how they were stored). If not we’ll balance them manually with a charger.

Ravenswing is coming out of the water this weekend so we can trim the daggerboard exit slot at the bottom of the hull to match the new daggerboard shape. I thought we could get away with not having to adjust down there, but when the v.2 dagger was slid home last month, it didn’t make it out the bottom. Oh well. Silver lining is the opportunity to finally get some artwork on the float hulls.  Hope you like it next week.

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.

Look Ma, no hands!

As kids in Sonoma, we’d try riding bikes with no hands on the bars all the way down Denmark street. It helped if the tires were pumped up firm and your core was tuned up (from pulling weeds). Fast forward a few decades, and Charlie’s demonstrating what we finally got right with the rudder balancing! We’ll do some by-millimeters shim adjustments on the water this weekend to bring back just a touch of weather helm, then take the cassette home one more time for bonding in the new part. Phew.

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Also in that photo note the radar is missing. The stern tower is working out great, but the radar was too low. Joe the electronics guy immediately scoffed, noting the radar beams that would hit us in the cockpit. So it’s getting a 4′ extension pole made from VA Bob’s windsurfer mast offcut he kindly sent over. img_3870

That’s the top plate, sitting on the table a few evenings back. Tonight we bonded on the lower disk that will bolt on the tower where the radar used to mount. The top plate has an extra lip on the front to mount a couple of LED deck lights.

The jib deck bag got it’s final sewing job; recall that it didn’t quite button up around the forestay because someone (the builder) didn’t allow for enough sail bulk up there. So it got these earflap looking things:

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and now it’s fine. We’re happy with the open mesh bottom, especially now that it’s been raining and this is free to drain.

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Electricity supply in the boat is still the tiny lawnmower battery, but we’ve finally called-the-ball to begin the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery pack build. The order went to EVtv.com, an electric-car conversion company in MO. This topic is extensive, and a lot of people are interested in just this, so we’ll do some dedicated posts coming up on the battery system install. For now, it’s the physical challenge of mounting the 16 cells in a spot that was originally built for just a couple of car batteries. This tray mold was done based on dimensions provided by the battery dealer, before the crate arrived.

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And yesterday just before closing time, UPS Freight called to say our crate had arrived at their dock. Y’all can guess what Greg got for Christmas this year!

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Took two of these blue cells and the tray to the boat last night, and it’s not going to fit standing up as planned – just not enough clearance on top for the wiring. But it’ll work with the tray tilted back about 40 degrees, with the battery back edges resting against the curve of the hull. So tonight was also some surgery to trim away the front of the tray and add height to the back side for this new mounting configuration. That’s enough to whet your appetite on LiFePo4…

Now, back to that sail the other day with Charlie smiling. After five months in the water, I FINALLY got an actual performance sail-tuning, get to know the rig day! Carlos was aboard, and it was a joy to get F27 Papillon captain Drew Scott out for the first time. Drew is a talented racing sailor with an intense eye for sail trim, and I really needed to get him aboard to help assess this new boat, new mast, new sails combo. we’re all in love with this big, powerful, easily adjusted main (and so far the Leneman Vee mainsheet / no traveler hardware ROCKS!)  The Hydranet fabric (spectra & dacron weave) is holding shape like a fixed wing.

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The jib had been sailed reefed through the summer and fall because of high winds and the mast & steering issues we were sorting out. So here was it’s first real use day. We’ll start with Inspector Scott checking things out.

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The sail appears to be cut to allow for a big full belly in light winds.

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I’m concerned the transverse mounted cars aren’t far enough aft for this size sail. Here are the light wind shots (around 5 kts as we were leaving the Richmond breakwater area)

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In the third photo, as we start to point higher, the sail is rubbing on the upper diamond wire. A half hour later we’re out in the main bay, with wind up in the 10-12kt range.

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The headstay tension is light and it’s bending off to leeward, which helped keep the sail off the diamond wire, but that’s not a real solution. The second shot shows the effect of the jib car placement – the sail is not balanced top to bottom in terms of airflow. So we tried various temporary sheeting angles to get the sail drawing equally at each set of telltales. img_3866img_3867 In retrospect, I’ve realized there’s more overlap of the mast with this sail than I had wanted, and we have to solve for the diamond wire interference. Hopefully we’ll be able to solve this with local support, rather than the jib having to travel cross country again. Stay tuned.

CALL FOR CREW = local folks, would you like to sail Ravenswing this Sunday?  Weather forecast is down to 20% chance of rain, and 10kts of wind from the west. We’ll aim for a late morning start. Please call, text or reply back here if interested. 707.486.3954

You wanna be like this guy. He knows the drill :)

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No hairdryers please

Part of the ‘keeping it simple’ plan is to skip power-hungry appliances and a big inverter to go from the boat batteries to 110volt household circuits. So we’ve kept shore power completely separate from the 12volt system, including its own mini panel in the equipment room.

First we bring a 30amp cable to the boat, with the plug just ahead of the aft beam, in the port cockpit coaming.

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These new cords have clamping jaws instead of the old spinning rings. Plus a handy flashlight to help with night maneuvers.

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Next was running a 10awg/3wire conductor in plastic conduit thru the coaming box, the lazarette and down into the equip room.

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You can see the pass-thrus for water and diesel in front of the conduit; they will get hoses that run just like the electrical path.
The 110volt panel has built in ELCI. This is the next step beyond GFI ground fault interruption. See the ELCI components – the black ring – on the back.

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This thing will shut everything down in milliseconds with any problems of the incoming juice, bad grounds, wires in the surrounding water, etc. And it all comes pre-wired with these BlueSea panels.
We screwed the panel in place and plugged in – the system did its job and warned of a reverse polarity problem in one of the workshop’s power outlets. We moved the cord and got all green (good) lights.

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Just two branch circuits – one for the battery charger which will mount close by, and a second for two household plugs (one in photo and another in galley). That’s it, but could be expanded later if needed.
This finished the primary wiring job. There are follow up items – more light fixtures are coming this week as the galley, equipment room and over the dinette weren’t bright enough with the original purchased fixtures. And we still have all the wiring inside the stern tower to run, after the exterior paint job.
All of the smaller wire terminals were applied with a new ratcheting precise-fit crimper. Anyone doing 12volt work should get the positive-stop ratcheting tool. But with the heat shrink fittings you need a single-crimp jaw. I couldn’t find a single-style under $75, so we bought the more common double crimp for $25 delivered free from Amazon.

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Made sure it had removable jaws, so they could be popped out and hit with the grinder, throwing big sparks all over. A few minutes later we had single-crimp capability that didn’t mar the heat shrink portion of the terminals.

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With the wiring done we’re attacking the finishes needed inside the toilet and shower compartments. In a moment of clarity we decided to return to Leneman’s original suggestion of a below-the-waterline sewer tank drain (at sea only), which drastically simplifies the toilet plumbing runs, including closing up some previously made bulkhead and cabinet holes. This also finalized the thru-hulls locations, so that’ll be the next posting for you.

It’s alive!

Honey, why are your hands so dry and scratchy?, she asked. Might have something to do with using this about two hundred times this week.

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So a few hours after burning the prints off one finger (don’t grab for the heat gun without looking Greg!) the last lamps and pumps were connected and it was time for the moment of wiring truth. But first we needed juice. A visit to the Winglet (travel trailer you saw here two months back) to borrow the battery and it’s ready to throw the main switch.

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And just like that, 50 or so hours of wiring paid off.

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Everything works as it should, including the two ‘big ticket’ items currently installed, the refrigerator and the windlass. We’ll detail those with more pictures soon. It was very satisfying to stand in the cockpit by the remote switch and make the windlass go up and down! The boat is coming to life.

The wiring plan includes AWG 2 size conductor for the battery-to-panel runs and the windlass circuit. There’s a 100amp fuse between the battery and the panel. The windlass has its own 70amp breaker and a direct cable to the battery switch. All of the branch circuits from the panel, plus the direct-to-battery bilge pump circuit, are AWG 12. That’s a bit of overkill for some of the lower draw circuits but overall it’s safer and was easier to pull everything from one 500′ roll. There’s about a dozen feet left (the very rough calcs did the trick). The 12/2 cable presented a challenge, as most terminals for stringing small lights etc. don’t deal with that big wire. A new item in the Ancor electrics line became the mainstay of the lighting system.

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They are sized for one input wire and a pair out, so these allow pigtails, or highway off ramps, down to individual light fixtures. Not cheap at about $1.75 each, but it seems bulletproof for a long time.

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And for Cap’t Holway, I am eager to show you how EVERY wire on the boat is easily traceable and accessible beyond covers and dedicated chases.

Here’s the back of the main panel now fully loaded. BlueSea’s product is great, although I made it all more challenging by mounting on a swinging door. It was tricky sizing each conductor to do a proper loop or bend for opening / closing. There were many hours fiddling around in here…

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The small black box on the left is a sub / fuse panel just for the electronics branch circuit. The 15amp feed and return are the top and bottom wires that go to breaker #11 on the panel. Then this distribution box allows each electronic item to get its own size fuse. E.g. VHF has a 7amp, propane sniffer has a 0.5amp

Some people don’t like the LED lighting for a boat. But low power consumption, less generation worry and less battery weight is the goal for sailing fast. Tonight we switched on a bunch of the LEDs plus the radio – look at the ammeter in the panel barely registering an amp. A very good start!

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Best wishes for dry skies and crisp breeze to all our friends in tomorrow’s Three Bridge Fiasco. Looks like America’s biggest sailboat race has hit another entries high this year. Have fun guys!