A heavy year

img_3885

It’s been fashionable lately to bash 2016, and I think all those satirists have it right. Charlie the standard poodle. Dan Corchero. Alzhiemers. David Bowie (yea, up yours, cancer!). Cracked spreader on Ravenswing’s first windy day. Americans disgracing ourselves in Presidential politics. To cap it off, in the wee hours of Dec15 our beautiful 100+ yr old back yard Valley Oak with no warning fell on the house. We THANK GOD that its trajectory hit the back wall of the master bedroom where Jeanne slept, and not the sidewall that faced the tree. Eight feet to the left and it could have been lethal. I was asleep at Dad’s house, and Jeanne’s phone call at 2am was so painful. 90+mph up the 101, to find SRFire in our driveway. Daylight revealed five big holes in the roof and most of the rear wall damaged. Subsequent inspection found 12 roof trusses will have to be replaced, plus removal of subfloor in the kitchen to fix broken floor joists.

img_3895img_3893img_3907

By 8am a heavy rainstorm moved in, making the tree removal and tarping work dangerous. And those holes let a LOT of water get in to the interior walls and flooring.
Anthony from Bartlett Tree Service is fearless. This shot is him roped to our “other oak”, hanging over the edge of the damaged second story roof, nailing the tarp in place.

img_3914The insurance company initially tried to cut Bartlett’s bill in half, but it all got properly compensated. All four bedrooms, one bathroom and the family room / kitchen have drywall and flooring damage, plus those 12 trusses mean over half the roof is coming off this winter. Yuck.img_3927
The small shed housing all the boat build tools and supplies was caved in. Amusingly we had built total overkill shelving in there this fall, from the deconstructed hull trollies. The massive shelving protected everything while the shed roof and walls failed. One big boat part – the boarding ladder / staircase was on a table outside the shed, awaiting final paint. The tree directly crushed that table so we assumed the boat stairs were now smashed below grade. A few days after the storm we set out to pick through the rubble.
Amazing – only a minor dent on one tread, and that’ll stay as a momento.

img_3929img_3931

We have to empty and vacate the house for 4-6months. So the holidays were all about cleaning, sorting, donating and packing. Thankfully there have been a couple of nice sailing afternoons worked in. Colin’s first time aboard was a cold, crisp day with enough breeze to get Ravenswing moving nicely. We very much look forward to warm days sailing as a family in 2017.

img_3943img_3945img_3942

Recall from last month the issues Drew found with our big jib. A good phone call with Keith pointed out the importance of tacking the sail way down at the deck, and using the full width of our jib car tracks. Making all of these tweaks significantly fixed the problems and we’re confident proceeding as-made with the sail. Basically, when it gets bad enough to be an interference issue up at the top diamonds, it’s probably time to reef that sail anyway. (Keith – I owe you a call back; your message was right after the tree fell!)  This works much better…img_3880img_3948

 

All the house drama trumped any holiday break progress on the boat’s electrical supply and dodger systems. They’ll be Jan/Feb work now. Stay tuned.
A few days after Colin and Griffin’s sail, Vanessa, Joe, RickH and I took Dad for his first cruise. I have a photo of him from 60 years ago where his parents launched their SoCal built John Alden sloop Vela. Six decades later it was great to hand him the tiller to the second ‘cartersboat’. He was thrilled at how light and responsive the boat steers. (Dad, now I’m glad I didn’t have you aboard in the summer when the helm was scary heavy to operate!)

img_3962

Colin is on the plane back to Virginia now; Griffin has two more weeks of college break time, and we’re all so thankful to be healthy and safe with 2016 closed out. Come sail with us in ’17 – just holler.

And because after all, this is the internet, we’ll end with a gratuitous kitty shot. The very best cat in the world, Miss Frida, is angling to be the boat mascot. With whiskers like these, who can resist?

img_3955

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.

img_3864

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:

img_3837

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.

img_3868

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.

img_3834img_3838

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!

img_3871img_3872

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.

img_3856

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.

img_3859

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

img_3848

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)

img_3850img_3851img_3853

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.

img_3863img_3865

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 :)

img_3860

 

 

She likes her boat 

That’s the co-owner in the purple hat, enjoying her first sail on her new ship. And how nice to share the day with her pal Leslie!

As a student sailor, Jeanne asked for a job aboard but I countered with asking her to get a feel for the boat on all points of sail without worrying about techniques or traffic. Charlie came to sail (already the Ravenswing veteran co-driver) and RickW sailed aboard for his first time. 

The Marin waters provided ideal sailing today – flat seas, lots of boats to catch, breeze to charge upwind at 9kts, and full sunshine. With lots of hands aboard, the owners got to relax and check out various places to sit. Jeanne is the first to sail from the aft swim steps, and it’s a great little spot. With the jib reefed, the clew is up high yielding lots of comfortable foredeck. Compare last week’s photo with this and see we got the excess sail properly tied and zipped in to its cover. 

Full main and reefed jib is very comfortable with apparent wind in the teens. So much to learn about trimming this mainsail; here it’s getting better but you’ll see we couldn’t get halyard tension:

If you can zoom in to the top you’ll see SOMEone attached the 2:1 block for the halyard to the wrong spot on the fancy Skateaway Design headboard, so we lost 5″ of upward travel. Fixed that back at the dock afterwards – the day was too nice to stop, douse the sail and redo it underway :)

As we headed for Sausalito I wrestled my tiller away from the guys and spiced things up with a full charge up the channel, way above the motoring speed limit, dodging all forms of watercraft. The crew anxiously called out every boat and paddle board as if I was a blind man, but we kept on to go get a view of Tom Siebel’s Mod70 tri Orion, Sig45 open deck luxury racing cat, and huge Protector with four 300hp outboards. Wow does that guy put millions in to the sailing habit. 

So while the super rich have staff to keep their boats expertly tuned, the mere mortals have to solve their own heavy weather helm. This morning we installed the shims on the daggerboard head. Definitely tightened the board in the case, but it didn’t help the rounding up. So now it’s on to making rudder changes. Rick is concerned the trim tab may be to blame, and we’ll get the original rudder painted this week to try on Labor Day. We’ll make a new spacer to push the top of the rudder aft and the bottom forward; the axis point may be wrong. Still a worry to solve this nagging issue. 

To cap the day we headed north towards San Quentin in a breeze that did some gusting off the Marin shore. Rick was driving, with his handheld GPS as a speedometer. It’s like a drug, you just want more knots… The water was fairly flat so we cracked off to a reach and hit the gas pedal a bit. 14kts was pretty easy. That’s her new ‘personal best’, and only a reefed jib and baggy main luff

But the best part of the speed run was Jeanne in the cabin enjoying the excitement from a comfortable window-side couch; we’ve come a long way from scary wet rides on the F27. 

Tinkerers, let’s hear your thoughts on the noisy dagger. It’s shimmed and it got that slanted trailing edge a few weeks ago. At 14kts it makes a bloody racket. How are we going to quiet this down (without hiring MOD70 Orion’s shore team)?

A sailboat on a day like this in a place like this is hard to beat.  Leslie’s getting a big view of the Oakland / SF bridge; it’s your turn readers, just drop us a line. 

Reaching for home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upright again

The KKMI project managers ended their week Friday with a quick lift of Ravenswing’s mast. We had it all ready to simply slide home the two cap shroud and one forestay big clevis pins and then the guys could release the crane. They only charged for 15 minutes of time (good thing, because it’s $300 an hour!)

So let’s rewind that a bit. Here’s the portable laminate repair shop;

First we did a layer of 9oz Doublebias Carbon, then 12oz uni straps crossing over/under the opposite side. These ended shy of the sail track in each side. Then another layer of the DB. 

At this point Keith / Skateaway Designs returned from an east coast voyage on his boat, and opined that these spreaders are putting undue strain on the mast wall by point loading in the center; the only real cure at this point was to extend the spreader root and better disperse the load through the new carbon laminates. So we scrambled at the boatyard to scrounge up some core cell foam and shaped triangle gussets with the little oscillating multi tool. 

Keith’s second point was that it wasn’t good enough to have stopped shy of the track; these really need to be continuous bands that tie the two sides together. Hmmmm, we’re not about to drill holes in our nice new Todes sail track! But there’s 2″ between each of the clips that hold the track to the mast, and about 1/16″ of play between the fitted track and the actual mast surface. Just enough to slide 6oz Carbon uni fabric underneath…

And slip a bit of plastic in there, hold that in place, then slide the carbon back and forth to wet it with epoxy and not have that cement the track to the mast! Thankfully that all worked as intended. 

A bit of fairing and painting (the yard gives a gate key so DIY’ers can stay late in to the night waiting to recoat) and it was soon all done. 

Note to self: it was starboard upper that broke away. That one got an extra 9ozDB layer to approximate the existing fabrics on the other three. Also remember we chose not to do a second fairing pass, so the surface imperfections at the spreader roots are only cosmetic. 

Boat build finishing with no shop looks like this. Bowsprit getting aluminum etched and primed by the side gate 

The Leneman Steps primed on a table outside the downstairs office

The hatch boards and aft cabin ladder being painted in the tent outside the kitchen window

And the first rudder in the garage getting a new leading edge 

This has been sitting 1.5years since Jim Antrim asked me why I made the water-entry point so narrow compared to the overall chord (thickness). The rookie heeded the master and set that aside to fix as the backup rudder. But living with the wind-vane trim tab rudder has shown that one should be saved for ocean passages work, and this first-built rudder should be the daily driver. So we’ll get it finished off in a series of evenings this month. 

While the mast was in the shed we took the boom home and upgraded the things our first heavy weather day pointed out. No photos taken, but we added cross bracing around the winch, at the first reef clew position, and at the mainsheet connection point. Also built a line guide for the reefing line exit sheaves at the outboard end of the boom. Another hit of black paint to obscure all that, and it was back on the car headed to Richmond. 

Where do they put the end-tie slips you ask? WAY OUT at the end of the docks! Not a good idea to carry the 17′ boom out there (about 50lbs with all the gear on it) alone in the 20kt wind. Wheels and workmate bench to the rescue. The locals looked at this like I was nuts. 

By Saturday eve the rig was all back together, main sail bent on, and the lashings tuned to rake the mast back just a little. I’m eager to sail it again and find out if standin more upright lightens up the heavy helm.  Kind of amazing how easy it is to adjust the tuning on this huge (to me anyway) 50′ carbon fiber  mast. 

As the big boat comes in, one of the small ones needs to go. We’re looking to sell our 11′ Topper, great Britain’s answer to the Laser. $500 for a complete, sporty little race and muck about sailboat. If not for you, tell your friends…

Ripping off the bandaid

Ever pull off the band aid too early and things just aren’t right yet under there? Well, looks like we did that with one of the spreaders during that heavy-wind first sail. Here’s the starboard upper spreader, which took the leeward pressure that day. 

Ouch – what you’re seeing are the too-thin Carbon uni laminates used to bond the spreaders back on after the mast rebuild last year. In retrospect I was too concerned about blending in those spreaders, keeping it light. This time we’ll beef up those corners. 

Charlie and Jim remember hearing a sharp crack sound as we sailed but non of us could find the source. But I did midweek as I used the solo TopClimber to go get the topping lift shown in the last post. It was spooky to be up there and suddenly realize the damage overhead. Thought about trying a repair in place, but that lasted about ten seconds. KKMI in Richmond was happy to pluck the mast with Herb Craen and we set it on rolling carts in a very handy huge shed.  

Repair day one was cutting and grinding away the wimpy laminate on the bad one, and sanding away the paint six inches back from the joints on the other three. All four will get two layers of 45/45double bias 9oz to make the bends, with some leftover 12oz uni (from the mast longitudinals) sandwiched in between, applied in a figure 8 to tie the two spreaders together across the front of the mast. 

Here’s where things stand this evening, with the spreader re-bonded and filleted in place. It was hard to guess which tools to throw in the car, so the painters tape was repurposed to hold the final position. Cross your fingers that nothing shifted after I left there today!

We expect the work to finish Thursday and we’ll sail this weekend. 

On the good news front, all the plumbing was finally finished up during the weekend, so the ladies get a proper restroom aboard. The flexible/rubber water tanks are working fine, and the grey water tank is in use for toilet flushing. All good so far. 

Ravenswing’s first weekend in Richmond was a full moon. 

The next big moon should have the boat out exploring. If you haven’t been full moon sailing on the bay, it’s pretty great when not cloudy. Drop us a line if you want to join Thursday or Friday Aug18/19. We’ll be practicing with radar, AIS ship identification and navigation software. We can touch n’ go at the dock to land those who don’t want to spend overnight on the water. 

PS – anyone see the F31 float on the trailer in the second photo above? That’s Race2Alaska now-veteran Ma’s Rover just now back home, about to get relaunched at KKMI. Pretty amazing coincidence to be using the same crane today. If you haven’t read up, go check out the wonderful sportsmanship of Ma’s owner Mark Eastham. After all the work and investment he put in to that race, Mark volunteered to help the F27 team sailed by a paraplegic crew who were approaching the event’s cutoff time. That crew was pretty exhausted but wanted to reach the finish. Mark and other racers didn’t just go home. I’m eager to here from him how he went aboard and helped that boat make it to Ketchikan. What an adventure. 

Argh, wordpress “upgrade”

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

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