Future Crew

Say hello, sailing world, to Westley. Born perfectly yesterday, 10lbs, giving our sis / his Mom a run for her money. His Dad Joe is a sailing captain, mom owns a Santa Cruz 50, Aunt & Uncle with Ravenswing; well let’s just say he has some sea miles ahead of him.

Westley doesn’t need it yet, but the rest of the crew wants the toilet back. Work proceeds.

Second coat of paint went down today, and all the new hose routings were cut to fit. One more paint coat and the plumbing reinstall this weekend will put the head back in business.

Highly-credentialed multi-huller Jeff visited with his soldering iron during a road trip this week. He donated these resistor boards to the lithium battery cause, and did expert wire connections. what you’re looking at (the green circuit boards mounted above the batteries) are charge balancing modules to regulate the pace at which the four “cells” of this battery bank rise in charge voltage. The risk in an LiFePO4 bank is the cells getting out of voltage balance from their neighbors, and potentially ruining sections with out-of-range values. With these little control boards, when one cell reaches 3.6volts (its full charge), the incoming voltage is converted to heat in those blue resistors. That cell is effectively bypassed from further charging while the others catch up. That’s as simple as I can say it, but there’s more going on with the numbers. It’s a crude version of a Battery Management System, and we’re judging it sufficient for our solar-only gentle charging regimen. Coming up soon we’ll install the CellLog that monitors and alarms each of the four cell voltages that get out of range. That will complete our safety installation.

We found some time to get back to the navigation system. Today was the first time to fire up the radar dome since purchasing it from a San Juan Islands f-31 about five years ago. Anxious moments when we hit the power button on the chart plotter…

And with zero operating knowledge or adjustments, up came…YESSSSSS! As soon as the autopilot install is done, we’ll get out and test/tweak/learn all this gear.

Final carbon work on the autopilot mount:it’s bonded together now, faired and primed. Paint coat tomorrow if this rain departs for points east.

Last Sunday Dad and I were on the Bayshore freeway and I thought I spotted a huge mast. On the way home, we exited towards the Oracle campus, on the hunt for Dogzilla. Visitors to our Santa Rosa build shop might remember I had this boat’s photo on the door for inspiration those years.

We all know what it took to build our new 54′ mast. This one is 223′, got used for one regatta, and now serves as a statue. Now that’s rich-guy extravagance.

Finally found the right bird

For whatever reason, it took all these years to finally find a style for carrying the boat name out to sea. We’d get close, but disagree a bit as a couple, and put down the pens for a few more months. This afternoon the co-owners instead struggled with getting the vinyl transfer done. But then you set down the squeegees, step back 20 paces, and enjoy the view. Hope y’all like it. We do :)

Protect your daggerboard with a crash bumper

Ian Farrier’s plans provide for a very strong daggerboard trunk that extends all the way through the boat from the deck to the bottom of the hull. The rectangular head of the board fits snugly inside the rectangular trunk, holding the dagger steady under sail. But what happens when the dagger strikes an underwater object? Ian designed in a weak point into most of his board’s plans, ie they shear off at the hull line rather than rip apart the trunks from the force of the blow.

Now go back a few posts to trimaran Skateaway. Keith designed in a big wedge behind the daggerboard, sitting inside the trunk, that acts as a shock absorbing bumper. I think it’s about 5″ fore/aft at the bottom, and tapers going up. He claims that in 20 years of hard sailing in shoal areas where groundings are common, the system has worked flawlessly in protecting both the board and trunk.

Recall a couple of months ago when we reshaped our dagger, we cut 1.5″ off the trailing edge to get a better aspect ratio (more upwind lift). But I also did it to make room for a shock absorber. After a full Saturday at the boat yard, we spent an hour on the garage floor… (dang, I miss having a workshop! I wonder if Fram / Henny has that problem now too?)

That’s four layers of 12oz biax glass to form a trunk-length strip for holding the shock absorbers.

We had ordered a 6″x6″x3″ block of neoprene rubber (60 durometer) from McMaster. (Forget that 10% tolerance on the website; this thing was dead-on the advertised 3″ wide). Tablesaw literally burned rubber like an American Graffiti outtake.

These relief holes are a key part of the shock absorption. The rubber is heavy and expensive, so we compromised to this amount which will protect the board from about 2/3 deployed through fully deployed. Further up in the case the bumper is backed by wood blocks, ie what we had on hand.

It slid just right down the trunk, behind the dagger, glass side out.

The black plastic plate is affixed to the bumper, and the plate simply screwed in to the upper rim of the trunk. From the bottom looking up, you can see the lowest rubber bumper and the glass plate behind the dagger. The dagger exit slot is about 2″ too long now. We didn’t have time in this haul out to fill in the gaps. Maybe next time, for max underwater efficiency.

Don’t worry that the board looks off center in the photo. It was being forced to one side at the time.

So, to you F-boat plan holding builders out there, I challenge you: Ian’s not here to debate it with us, but why not make room for a bumper in your dagger trunk? The auto industry figured this out in the 70’s. At least we can hide ours. Make your case two inches bigger? Reshape your dagger to get a 9:1 aspect ratio. Ian designed the F36/39 board too long fore/aft for its width. Today’s foils have proved it. So perhaps fill the rest of that case with this idea!

Back when we launched Ravenswing, Charlie made an excellent CrazyCrane in the back of his pickup to help us get the floats into position on the beams. This time we needed a way to get the dagger up and down a couple dozen times for all this retrofit work. We’ll just call this one DingleDerrick. I asked the yard boss to just leave the huge crane over the boat for the weekend. But he said no, there’s no boom brake and the wind is being weird lately. So they craned up two hideous old horses on deck and pointed me to the woodpile. Got to love the DIY boat yard.

They even let me play with the gas powered pressure washer, and the boat bottom got blasted clean. The above shot has the dodger in its new top-sides matching grey. Warning here to never use the one part Interlux Brightsides paint for mixing bright colors. Our 1/2 yellow, 1/2 red Ravenswing Orange faded severely after just one summer.

Three hard days done in the yard. Labor Day is easy – applying the new graphics, running some solar panel wires, swapping the engine prop then bugging out to celebrate Dad’s 81st. Last month we finally got his boat out of her slip for a much needed shaking of the cobwebs. Selfie time…

Those smiles were a pretty good recovery from what we found upon entering the cabin that day.

I’d heard the expression “the floorboards were floating” but never really got it. Amazing what a dripping prop shaft seal and failed bilge pump can do in a few weeks unattended! Sorry Dad, I’ll stick to my three hulls / no lead setup :)

Return to boat-building

Well, this post is dedicated to the folks who wrote when we launched Ravenswing they were sad the build-blog was over.  The silver lining of losing our first mast turns out to be an opportunity for a fresh crack at “getting everything right”. I watch (via the web) other builders meticulously keep their boats in the workshops until they are truly complete; our path was different – we had enough boat to go sailing, and by mid 2016 we wanted out of the $925/mo shop rent. In retrospect it would have been a crazy push to get to Mexico last October. Here in early 2018, the boat-builder hat is back on and things are getting done with as-professional-a-job as we can muster.  When we finally step that new mast, Ravenswing will be ready for adventuring.

I apologize for leaving you hanging back at the boat yard!  Here’s what happened when we put that calibrated scale in-line under the launch crane:IMG_5143That 9,300 INCLUDES about 500 lbs. of liquids (water, gas and sewer) that were not able to be removed due to weather just before the haul out. Most everything else was aboard – full galley, all sails, boom and rigging, uninstalled wind vane and furnace. So we’re looking at 8,800 + 300 for the new mast + an autopilot, water heat exchanger, solar panels, 100 lb. dingy & motor.  So we’re in the 9,500-10,000lb. range “dry” all equipped.

The bottom job looks sharp! That’s two coats of Trinidad Pro back bottom paint. And we paid the experienced hands to re-do the boot stripe. All better now. IMG_5145IMG_5141IMG_5146

I’m happier with the way the stripe & bottom wrap from bow to stern. A little hard to tell from the second photo, but the aft end looks good now. IMG_5147IMG_5148

So what does “actually finishing the boat” mean?  This will be the story for the next few months.  Here are the cabinet / locker doors that were built in Santa Rosa then sat in storage all through our house moves, etc. Just need latches still. IMG_5186IMG_5184

About the mast:  we awarded the fabrication job to Composite Engineering in Mass. back in October. They had hoped to start by Thanksgiving week. But here in February our mast is still down their list a bit. Conversations re: timing are happening; stay tuned. Meanwhile, we have some parts that are being re-used so stripping what’s left of the old mast required some ugly butchery.

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A half hour of careful angle-grinder work finally yielded the permanently-embedded mast rotation ball receiver cup:

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This’ll get bolted to the bottom of the new mast, then the white plastic (delrin) cup inserted and greased to sit atop the mast step ball.  We’ll spare you photos of the mind-numbing job removing all 150+ Tides Track mounting brackets which we had painstakingly tapped into the mast mid-2015.

With apologies to those of you suffering severe winter, but it’s been pretty glorious in sunny CA. We set down the boat tools for a weekend of pruning the fruit trees and creating a new bed for raspberries and boysenberries (pretty sure Pop smiled down on us) IMG_4944IMG_4943

Colin got a brief break from his (fantastic) Raleigh, NC Paramedic job to come see the new home base. IMG_5155Just a bit after Ravenswing got back to her slip after the boat yard, the elder two hit the road in the travel trailer for five weeks. Spent Christmas in Raleigh (Griffin flew out), and  for New Years the boys tried their hands at some anti-aircraft duty on the USS North Carolina. IMG_5283

But I was most impressed with the helmsman’s job – seems one must have command of all the faculties when this is the view from your wheelhouse!IMG_5281

The USS NC played a significant WW2 role in the Pacific and is a really interesting museum – worth the drive.

So yes Ravenswing missed another Three Bridge Fiasco, but that was a wind-bust for most of the 350+ entered boats. Only three finishers, I think, two of which were our bay’s quick F25Carbons.  At least we still get to sail while Ravenswing awaits her spar. Thanks to Dad and his good ‘ol Catalina 30. A mellow November day aboard Maggie; sure beats shoveling snow. IMG_5140

Boatyard punchlist

Ravenswing came to the Spaulding Boatworks yard for minor repairs to the deck and port float hull from the mast fall. We had a small list of “well, while we’re here…” things to do. 

First up was maintenance and installation adjustments for the engine. In retrospect we should have bought an extra-long (30”) shaft, to get the propeller lower in the water and avoid some of the cavitation we’re experiencing in waves. With some surgery we could lower the motor 2.5” in its mount box. 


Then we bought longer control cables to facilitate routing them up higher out of the way in the equipment room. Also changed the lower unit oil for the first time; it was in good shape after the break in period. 
The big task turned out to be a redo of the escape hatch. It had been installed with the hinges on the forward edge, but when it opened, the swing was deep through the water. Also, the hull recess didn’t properly match the metal hatch frame, and I had offset the hinges a bit to compensate. Which of course had led to some water getting past the seal at high speeds. So what we thought was to be a couple hours maybe for hinge adjust and reset turned into a job across four days. The hull flange had to be chopped 3/4” along the top and then that offcut bonded down on the bottom edge. Then the hull had to be rebated around the hinges for the new (proper) swing pattern. We think the hatch will just clear the water now when opening. 

Those pics show you the new black Petit Trinidad bottom paint. Gone is the snazzy white look,  but this proper bottom black looks pretty serious. And we paid the yard pros to do a real boot stripe this time. (Straight, unlike our amateur wavy job last year).

We’re tackling our daggerboard vibration / howl issues in two ways. First is stopping the slop when the board is down. The trunk is 88milimeters wide inside, except for the top and bottom three inches that had extra glass wrapped over from the deck (and hull bottom) into the trunk. The hull builder did that for strength, but not to the plans, and it made the opening only 81.5mm. I made the daggerboard head (via shims) just a hair under 81mm to fit the opening, allowing 6.5mm slop once the Board was down. So to compensate we ripped long 3mm clear fir shims to bond on each side inside the trunk. They got epoxied coated and painted on the workbench, then epoxy-putty bonded in. That was tricky; buttering the 5’ long pieces and carefully sliding them up into the trunk, not letting the putty hit until the placement was right. Four went on each side. Bottom paint still needs to be applied to these inside the case, up to the waterline. 

Part two will be some reshaping of the board, to be tackled when we take it back home after weighing the boat. 

Final finish paint to the deck repairs went on Saturday so we could launch today.  But a 9am call from the manager informed us that paint didn’t get warm enough and had glazed over dull. So they’re redoing it, hopefully for a Wednesday launch. Also meaning we still don’t have the boat’s weight for the mast builder. 

On Friday afternoon I helped the project manager attend to the 54-yr old hydraulic scale. Turned out to be a simple low-on-fluid problem. As the sun was setting we hatched our plan to check the calibration. Here was our victim. 

The data plate shows its curb weight at …6,970lbs. Crazy to think that little forklift weighs close to our 40’ x 28’ boat. Anyway, up it went

And the scale shows …

… a very accurate match to the tagged weight. Certainly good enough for our mast-build needs, and we’ll put this scale in the crane rigging on Wednesday. 

As much as we need fall rain, we’ve had enough to totally screw up this haul out trip so just another 36 hours sans rain would be great. 

Anybody wanting to go for a motorboat ride Wednesday, Sausalito to Richmond, get in touch.  

From the bottom up

We launched Ravenswing last year from a trailer. Everyone has had the visual perspective from the water level, or up from a high pier. Today we got to see the boat flying overhead. And it was nerve-wracking!  Thanks to Drew, Dean, Joe and RickH for humor that helped relieve the tension.

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Those shots show the white Petit Vivid bottom paint after 15 months in the water. To be fair, we hadn’t scrubbed since the mast came down in August. But that paint is NOT for stay-in-the-water boats, in my opinion. This week we’re going with Petit’s Trinidad with Ingersol anti-foulant. It’s on a high percentage of boats around here. And we’re going with black, so the boat will look a bit different.

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The boat stayed suspended in the slings during the crew’s lunch hour, and then a proper power wash to get rid of the growth.

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That’s Bryce in the plaid shirt. He ran the huge old electric crane, and expertly taped off a new boot-stripe / bottom paint line for the crew to start on tomorrow. Basically, when we painted for the first time last year the brushes “listed aft” a bit. The bow is fine, but the stern is about 3″ too low (at least it was just-barely above the standing waterline).

What didn’t happen was getting a weight. The plan was to use Myron Spaulding’s 1963 hydraulic load cell, in between the crane hook at the slings. IMG_5095

Unfortunately it hadn’t been used in at least five years and was low on fluid. And the load cell must be laid on its side to fill, which wasn’t going to work with a four ton boat hanging from it. So we’re scrambling to find a modern load cell to rent/borrow before launching next week.

We walked through the dismasting repairs with Bryce and work will start tomorrow. While the boat is out, I’ll focus on daggerboard further fairing and trunk shimming, re-orienting and fixing the hinge on the escape hatch so it swings up instead of aft, doing some motor maintenance, minor stress-crack fixes to overly thick fairing areas, and if there’s time, get some graphics onto the float hulls.

New to the website here is a collection of videos. The page will always be up in the top navigation bar, and hopefully this link will work so you can see Ravenswing in mid-air today:

https://cartersboat.com/ravenswing-videos/

 

Working the punch list

So it wasn’t great planning, but the boat builder took off for the mountains a week before launching, leaving his dear wife and friend to tackle 100’s of fit&finish details. THANK YOU, ladies :)  Griffin and Greg supported the racers of the Lost & Found Gravel Grinder, including driving the 100 mile sweep land cruiser to pick up stragglers, fix bikes, etc. Great event from an outstanding organization – Sierra Buttes Trails Stewardship.

Last week’s boat work highlights:

The pulpit got it’s feet cut from a multi-layer laminate of 1708DB cloth, then bonded on to the tubes:

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The bolt holes in the hull were finished, so we can launch without the pulpit and take time to finish and paint it later, then it will simply bolt on at the marina. Done for now!

Leslie got to build her first vacuum bag composite parts. We tackled the companionway hatch boards.

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that’s medium density (5lb) foam, with high density foam inserts for the lock areas (yellow foam). Inside face of these boards is some extra heavyweight carbon uni plus a glass surface layers. Outside is kevlar cloth with a glass wear cloth outermost.

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These probably won’t get done this week either, so we’ll whack something temporary out of plywood, and get back to these post-launch (see the pattern here?)

The mast base came back from welding working out exactly as planned. I was worried about aligning the holes for the big pins to hold the halyard turning sheaves, because of that 7 degree rise we talked about earlier. But once back on the bench it was obvious that the holes were in 90 degree alignment. So a few hours of careful drilling various needs and Griffin’s excellent wire brushing, and this was handed in for anodizing. The daggerboard is done too, so this will all get trial fit Wednesday.

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Ever since Jim Antrim designed the rudder’s self-steering trim tab, we’ve avoided the problem of how to affix the tab to it’s steerer tube. No metal-to-composites solution seemed to make sense. One day recently Charlie and Geoff visited, and we brainstormed up a fiberglass pin solution. So the other day, facing one of those, “well, just gotta go for it” moments I started drilling holes in a rudder that would cost at least three grand to get replaced by a pro.

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There you see the tab separate from the rudder body. One carbon tube was built in to both the tab and the rudder (above). Now a second tube slides in but has to get affixed to the tab and stay loose-fit in the rudder body to rotate. The red rod is fiberglass that we cut to make 3 cross-pins thru both tubes in the tab area.

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these plugs got little carbon ‘butterfly strips’ glued over the top to keep them from sliding out, then they were faired in. (note to self – next post record the exact placement inches, and remember the tiny divots that mark the pin centers in case they ever have to come out).

Griffin shared the load on doing the bottom paint. I was so “over it” from all the fairing and primer work, so it was great to have a partner to crawl under the boat and paint about 2″ from one’s face. It all looks good, so of course now I want to make a bit more time to burnish it in to a fast racing bottom this week!

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(there just might be a bit more orange showing up soon…)

This road has been long enough for each of the Carters to pass four birthdays during the build. No more teenagers to launch this boat!

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Three more days in the shop to finish up steering, motor controls, daggerboard install, and paint for rudder, stern tower, beams undersides and companionway details. All that and a lot of little finish things (like 1/2 the plumbing!) make it a crazy home stretch. Charlie has the game plan for logistics in Napa, so now we hit the gas for a Saturday boat assembly.

PS – no shop time was sacrificed in the making of this post (typed as a passenger riding back from Sierras :)