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.

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Fixing stuff

February for Ravenswing so far is about tweaking – some little, some big. And trying not to get frustrated about the hours spent in 2015/16 doing it wrong the first time :)

Fresh water is carried in two 23 gallon Nauta flexible bladder tanks. Spots for each were built along the hull under the dining settee. But we had trouble with the closer-to-the-pump tank collapsing / air-locking as it emptied but didn’t draw well from the forward tank. Also, we flush the toilet with grey water captured in a Plastimo flexible tank from the galley sink. That sink drain has a diverter to choose overboard discharge or grey tank filling. But the spot for the grey tank was cramped, so the toilet pump was not getting a strong rinse water flow. Taking a fresh look at things, the Tank Stack was born this weekend. The saloon/settee table makes it tough to get into the large, deep locker under the forward seat tough to get in. It’s a bit of dead space. At the bottom of that locker was already the forward fresh water tank. Then there are two “levels” of removable shelving above the water tank. We moved the grey tank onto the mid level and the 2nd fresh tank to the top level. Here they are, starting bottom-up…this dance only took four trips to the hardware store for numerous new hose pieces, clamps, etc. Both the fresh water and toilet rinse work really well now. (Hold that thought, soon we’ll have a holding tank fix for your entertainment)

Also this weekend was tackling the starboard main cabin port lights (the incessantly leaking windows). We installed them with Sika 275UV and screws. This was a bad combo and we suffered crazing in the polycarbonate around the screw heads, and condensation issues where larger sections of the window ran over solid sections of the cabinsides. We’ve since learned, or decided anyway, that the modern Very High Bond tapes are sufficient for these port lights. And despite the original intent of sleek-looking faux one-piece glass as seen from the outside of the boat, the new windows will be cut 1″ larger than the holes in the boat, and the whole area will still have the black background. The ‘no fasteners needed’ decision was backed by how well that Sika is holding the original panes. A real bear to get them off! Including actually breaking away fairing/primer/paint in a few spots. This mess was a couple hours cleanup, including filling the 30+ screw holes, which three years ago had been carefully over drilled from the cedar core and replaced with thickened epoxy. And now we’ve filled those same holes to make them disappear :)we made paper patterns today and will get them to Tap Plastics when they reopen Tuesday. We made the original set from a 4×8′ sheet of markelon polycarbonate, but this time we’ll pay the pros to use their special saws and routers.

Keith reached our mast builder the other day; bad news is they haven’t started the two masts ahead of ours. Good news is they are geared up to build them concurrently- some efficiencies in assembling – and the owner says he’ll be delivering ours on track this spring. Sure would like to see some carbon being laid out though!

I had a pleasant light-wind sail on RickWS’s Explorer44 tri Round Midnight last week and the conversation has me thinking I need to copy his reefing system. Jimbo knows we struggle getting Ravenswing’s reefing clew under control with that little winch on the boom. I have time to modify the boom and deck right now, so we’re considering running the reefing clews and tacks back to the primary cockpit winches. Need to figure out how to turn the lines from the inboard boom end down towards the deck; how would turning blocks mount? Maybe the new mast rotator arm should be mounted forward of the mast, not aft as it was before…

Fellow plotters and schemers, how would you set up the boom and deck for cockpit-handling of reefing lines on this boat?

State champs!

Gratuitous cross promotion here as we can’t help but shout about niece Molly Carter’s high school varsity lacrosse team winning Northern California state tournament this week. The final game saw frequent scoring, lead changes, many minutes tied, capped with Novato breaking the 9-9 tie literally as time ran out to win the title. Fans rushing the field, dogpile of players, people crying – the whole enchilada. Molly played a lot of minutes as a freshman, so it’s big shoes to fill in the coming years :)
Here with her brother Mack and the champs medal.

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Back at the shop we had a big weekend of putting stuff together. There are 7 thruhulls; 3 below the waterline and 4 drains for sinks and pumps. First some BoatLife bedding caulk…

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Press them in, deal with the backing plates and nuts inside, and wipe away the excess goo. Came out fine.

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The only regret is buying the mushroom head fittings instead of the flush heads. That call was made over a year ago because I was insecure about cutting the 45 degree chamfers. In retrospect it would have been pretty easy. So here’s a tiny bit of robbed speed we’ll suffer.

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We’re also tackling any last fabrication parts, including this plate inside the cabin that holds the daggerboard down-force turning block inside the dagger trunk. This will get carefully sealed and primed to avoid electrolysis as much as possible.

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Luis in Lisbon asked about the opening ports. These are Lewmar Flush Mitre #3s:

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20160523-184549.jpg they don’t really match with the wood trim inside, but we’ll love the ventilation and they look good blending in with the smoked Lexan from the outside. Also, these windows get more obscured by nice fabrics coming. Way to go Jeanne and Leslie for a whole Saturday of magic with foam blocking.

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Patterns are being made for these pretties…

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Now that the labor for hardware is done, we’re happy to have invested extra time in making backing plates, cutting individual bolts to fit in to acorn nuts, etc. The trim is looking pretty good according to recent visitors.

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I’ve only ignored Keith’s excellent advice once, which was him saying it’s not worth building a pulpit. I haven’t had good luck with schedules, costs, etc with welders, and since the mast base is out for ransom right now we decided to utilize on hand materials and knock this off the list with labor. It also means we can feel ok about it as an experiment, and modify/change sans-guilt later.
Grabbed some thin-wall (schedule 200) 1″ PVC plus 90degree PVC conduit bends and epoxy putty / light glassed them together. Decided to use the heavy carbon uni we had purchased to make a bow sprit long ago. And the leftover 5oz uni 2″wide roll for spiral hooping around the uni. Then cover it with a light fiberglass sleeve and this nifty shrink-wrap tubing from Soller Composites in New Hampshire (ok, we did spend about $30 on new materials for this project)

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Here it is part way thru the heat gun process. The film shrinks 2:1, spurring away bubbles and leaving a nice surface.

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Because these are working from a 45 degree bend, it was pretty easy to line up the foot cut and site these on the deck.

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There is also a cross bar intersecting the forward slope tubes, ahead of the forestay. Along with structure strength, it will catch the lowered furled up reacher.
Tonight we’ll make a sheet of three layer 1708DB that can then be cut in to four of these ‘feet’

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We’ll show you in a few days how the feet become bolting flanges on to the tubes.
Meanwhile, the daggerboard is getting a bit more shaping love. After applying Coz’s clever guide tool, we realized that the port size was a little flat compared to starboard. Now THAT would have slowed things down. So we’re being careful with this shaping job (that should have been done last year!)

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If you’re following this story and want to be around at the beginning of the boat’s water life, come on out. The basics are:
Fri June 10: morning: drive beams trailer to Napa then set floats on ground at Napa Sea Ranch (launch site). Deliver mast to Napa Valley Marina (a few hundred yards away). Evening: take empty boat trailer to Santa Rosa and transfer main hull from shop dolly to boat trailer.
Sat June 11: drive main hull to SeaRanch. Lift and bolt beams to hull, on trailer. Lift floats up to waiting beams. Install engine and nets. Expect at least all day.
Sun June 12: finish boat assembly items. Go to marina and dress the mast (halyards, diamonds, shrouds, etc)
Launch the boat!
Monday June 13: motor to Napa Marina for mast stepping.
Go sailing, God willing.

Let us know if you want to details/directions/a role in the process.

The new boat will first dock at Charlie’s house on the Napa River, and within a few days make its way into the bay for a summer dock. Probably in Richmond but we’re still poking around. There will be MANY “sea trials” sailing days and you’re all welcome to come along. We’ll be posting times via this blog, so sign in for updates if you haven’t already.

18 days to go. And the list is still long. I have an evening of tanks and hoses to go join together!

T – minus three weeks!

Ok friends, start your countdown timers ’cause we’re setting the launch date for the June 11/12 weekend. Many self imposed deadlines have come and gone over the past four years, but today we can actually see the finish line. While y’all are grilling, drinking, riding, sailing, etc for Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be hitting this punch list hard.

20160518-224539.jpg That’s the list on the shop white board, and of course there’s another dozen or so items in the margins of the little orange notebook the builder carries around :) (eg fix the flat tire on the trailer holding the beams out in the driveway)

All deck hardware is just about buttoned up now. About an hour more of securing a few more bolts to go. Ventilation should be good inside, with three deck hatches, the two companionways, a dorade up front, two opening ports in the main cabin, two in the bow, and three in the aft cabin.

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The all-stainless steel purchasing for sailing hardware has Jeanne appreciating the “boat bling” look. All this stuff cost about like buying decent gold and diamonds, but hopefully the enjoyment per hour is well spent on the sea side of the equation.

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Last year we wrote about concerns of the captive-pin mast base, especially after seeing the same design as our mast’s step having cracked on the Contour34 tri. Recall the Keith at Skateaway set us up with a receiver cup at the bottom of the mast. Yesterday we finally tackled designing and building a replacement mast step. Farrier’s F39 plan isn’t quite right because he has the halyards on either side of the receiver ball, while we built our mast for them to exit just aft of the ball. So we used Farrier’s load solving but did some shape changing. Things were a bit tricky because the deck slopes about seven degrees off level and we want the ball to sit close to level with the water. Here’s the one we’re replacing. Missing in the photo is a high density plastic insert carved with a cylinder to accept the round steel pin from the mast. Note the old piece is stainless steel.

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So first on paper, then mocked up in wood. The plywood chunk at the left represents the deck slope.

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Next was sharp blades on the chop saw and table saw to cut shapes and make the 7 degree bevels needed. Ouch, $125 for about 2-1/2 sq feet of 1/2″ and 3/8″ 6061 aluminum.

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Took about three hours last night to cut and sand/grind everything in prep for the welder this evening.

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The welding shop was happy to get things properly prepped, with 1:1 scale drawing and a wood go-by mockup. We had left the proper 1/4″ fillet weld spaces at the seams – overall not bad for first time amateurs. Then the casually noted, yea we can do this in two hours; that’ll be $280, sir. After that it’s a stop at the anodizer, and this will be a $500+ part even though we designed it and cut it all out. Geez.

The bow area got its last big job, the forestay installation. Thanks again to Colligo for custom cutting this in titanium. Kind of a pity it’s hidden down in the hole. Keith will note the nice big ring nut to anchor the jib tack adjuster :)

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The bottom paint isn’t on yet because the thru hulls aren’t installed because one had to be special ordered from Forespar, etc (see how this works?), and we don’t want to mix up bottom paint until the daggerboard is also prepped. Last winter recall the America’s Cup foils building vet Cozmo pointed out the flaws in my dagger leading edge (“you know that sag will be slow, Carter” has been haunting for months ). He instructed on setting up a straight edge and re-fairing. Here goes: first see the problem gap.

20160518-232213.jpg next we filled that void.

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And got the leading edge of the board back to a straight line up and down.

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A quick phone call with the foil master tonight confirmed the next step is to make a careful wooden shaping jig cut from a proper foil leading edge shape (have that shape in the Farrier full size plans). He said we only need to worry about getting the right leading edge rounding, and a properly symmetric first three or so inches shape flowing back. So the jig can be short-legged, not pulled all the way down these very large daggerboard sides. A few more hours this week to go.

All the hardware backing plates are pretty woods inside – more photos next time- but anything outside is plastics. This 3/4″ high density stock from Tap machines very easily to make spacers under the rope clutches.

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This is the stuff we’re doing each evening now as the push to finish the list heats up. Very excited for Saturday when Jeanne and Leslie measure all the seating areas and map out the cushion foam we’ve been squirreling away for a couple years :). Curtains begin this week too. Yea!

What’s it called on a boat?

The head? The water closet? Who says it can’t be The Throne just because it’s aboard the ship?

First we have the empty hole:

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Then stuff it with the form-fitted tank built last summer:

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Spend a day sketching, measuring, cutting, swearing and contorting a sore back to finagle all this sanitation tubing:

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And finally we can install the hardware;

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This is a Lavac vacuum pressure toilet. The flushing process is easier to understand than the common marine version. This one relies on the lid forming a seal; after use one lowers the lid and pumps the lever ten times. The vacuum pressure clears the bowl and circulates flush and rinse water. The waste does not drop straight from toilet to tank as it does in an RV; here we’re pumping up through a high loop (flooding prevention safety) and back down a heavy duty tube to the tank. We will empty the tank either with deck pump out services, or a thru hull valve below the waterline. That is only going to work while the boat is underway and moving quickly enough for the passing water to suction the holding tank. At this point we have to hope the speed required isn’t too great to be practical. Stay tuned this summer for more on that disgusting topic. Also, next week we’ll look at the grey water system that will supply the toilet flushing.

On to the view. Last year Charlie and I drove to Sacramento to get special scratch resistant Lexan (polycarbonate) for the main cabin fixed port lights (Windows). Unfortunately the many holes were drilled to the original plans before I read up on advances in adhesive products. We don’t need all the bolt holes! So I decided on a compromise of using the 120 holes and going with screws into epoxy fill, not through-bolts. And Sika 295 UV adhesive. (Note, needed just over one tube for the whole job). First we painted the area under the Lexan to help hide the adhesive and create a more uniform look.

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There are three panes for each side, roughly corresponding to the hull cutouts. On the middle panes, we’ve added a “floating” opening port for ventilation. Here’s that work, done on the workbench so the metal frame can be bolted together with the required flat surface.

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See how nice and centered that floating port is in the fixed pane? Well that of course didn’t fit on the boat! Thought it was so clever to work it out on the bench, but never held it up to check before cutting. Damn, it was supposed to be 1″ off center! The metal frame hit the hull so I went home Friday night deflated. Saturday noon trip to TapPlastics for $130 more Lexan and by dinner time we had two replacement panes cut, edge-radiused and drilled. Installation took from 8pm to 12:30am, and now we’re happy.

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Sunday was a half day prepping and installing opening ports (2 forward, 1 head, 2 aft cabin sides, 1 transom). We’re using butyl tape – very sticky and very pliable – works great and makes zero mess compared to caulk-like stuff in tubes.
Here’s a round porthole over the lavatory; photo records the last spot we can still see the tongue and groove construction of the cedar core. Howard did an incredible job on that, and it’s just one of the factors why this boat has taken 20 years to build.

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And with the primary painting wrapped up, we’ve been stealing away minutes from big jobs to do fun little final installs. I’ve been looking at the empty compass pods for a long time, and now think this turned out well. With one on each side of the cockpit this should work well for driving. Hopefully they’re not too close to the nearby winches!

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PS – it was kind of hard to see all the screw heads in that finished windows photo, right? That’s because my dear wife poked a lot of holes in this box so we could spray paint all the shiny little screws I don’t want to see :)

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Get back in the box

We last saw the new propane tank sticking up from the cockpit lazarette storage bin. Here we are post-surgery.

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The propane tank, regulator and solenoid valve will live inside this dedicated locker, with a vapor drain tube at the bottom, running straight to its own thru-hull about 18″ above the waterline. The new locker invades the equipment room – it’s the purple foam panel in this shot, with the still-open fridge sitting to the right.

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The freezer compressor will get a shelf below the propane box.
And back up in the cockpit, the propane locker gets a waterproof lid that sits 2″ above the lazarette bottom.

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Some of the finish parts are flat pieces that can’t mount directly to curved surfaces. We saw that months ago with building up bases for two winches. Here’s an inspection port for the forward section of the port float. Cut the 10″ hole in the curved deck, wrap the part in non-stick plastic and press it in to a bedding of epoxy/cabosil putty. Carefully trim the edges and let it cure.

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After some finish sanding that should look just right.

The same technique is needed on the last two opening portlights. We already cut the hull and made Lexan fixed windows, but later decided more ventilation is needed, so we bought a Vetus port for each side. The hull is curved at the top so we’ll do a buildup before installing the port.

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In that shot you can just see the original cutout – wider, shorter and with steep angles that match the stern shape. The new ports aren’t as sexy, but the occupants of that stateroom will be happier campers. The aft cabin is nice and bright now with all its holes cut.

The shop goes dark for the next six days as the builder grabs his bike and sets off with 4 friends riding to Santa Barbara. With a little luck we’ll be on the train home Sunday and slinging epoxy again next Monday. 350 miles down Hwy 1 should really raise the eagerness level for sailing this boat down the coast in Sept!

Fresh air

This afternoon we cut more holes in the hull to install four of eight Vetus opening ports. It was a bit disappointing to find the company does not provide cutting templates, but only a difficult to decipher measurements chart. So after some worrying we figured out how to use the inner faces and add back 7/16″, etc. Lots of pencil/ruler/scissor work but good results.

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The forward ports – round one in the Water Closet and rectangles in the fore-cabin – are the heavy duty ocean hull side rated. The three in the aft cabin are cabin-side rated, meaning the seals and latches are less aggressive.

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It’s very nice to see all this new light in the cabins!