Still sea-trialing…

Jim drove down from Medford to take a Delta cruise on Ravenswing, to start getting used to the navigation and safety gear. Tuesday we had a great sail around Treasure Island. The wind went light by the Bay Bridge and we were hoping it would pick up to get us back to Richmond sans engine. Careful what you wish for in SF Bay. Ten minutes later I was regretting not taking a reef. It was a wet and nasty ride across The Slot, and what became more boat trials. Found three things that need big changes. 1) the mast rotation control arm bent its 3/8″ in-mast mounting bolts. It’s now in the Bay Marine metal shop getting upgraded. There will be five attachments to the mast, instead of the original two.

2) The rudder gudgeon tower was flexing side to side, and actually began cracking some of its fiberglass laminations.

I motored up to Napa Marina early Sunday morning, and today began the strip down for a reinforcement rebuild. This all happened because we didn’t build the kick up box in Farrier’s plans. He wrote that a permanent bond to the hull of the gudgeons base is fine, but the plans didn’t detail it. I didn’t consider the lateral forces the rudder would transmit to those gudgeons, thus the flexing (BAD) post. For any F39 builders, I’ll say that the lamination schedule in the plans is INSUFFICIENT for these side loads. Please feel free to write /discuss this, as sadly there’s no Ian Farrier to question to anymore. In the coming days we’ll see how this fix goes.

3) the emergency escape hatch was forced OPEN by the short chop waves some time during that blast reach Tuesday. As the wind subsided past Angel Island, the boat felt sluggish so I went below to look around. Holy Shit, the damn hatch was open and waves had been firehosing in. It screwed up the new fridge (yet to diagnose), soaked the aft cabin and generally brought somewhere in range of 50/100 gallons aboard. Thank goodness it was (like the 2017 mast), very close to our marina. Wednesday was written off for boat cleanup. Salt water got everywhere. Yuck.

The hatch was purchased by Howard the hull builder and I had checked it off the list as done seven years ago. But looking closely at it now, it’s dangerously misused as a hull-side hatch. Should only be a light duty cabin top install. The two plastic legs barely grab the frame. It’s gotta go. Skateaway Designs provided us the drawing for a proper ocean safety hatch, and I’ll be relieved to NOT see the water racing by anymore. That stuff is cute for watching fishies in a pretty anchorage, but No Thanks at 20kts and nasty weather. Over the weekend i started making carbon and foam parts.

The square piece will get bonded to the hull where the old glass hatch was. There will be an outer door that’s flush with the outside of the hull, and an inner door panel facing into the cabin. Kieth, that third photo down shows you the perfectly flat stopper ring that will take the neoprene for the outer door panel. Pretty happy how that’s looking.

PS – the stack of triangles is a teaser of some new shaping for the rudder gudgeons tower.

So this is Ravenswing’s third haulout since her marvelous launch day 3 years ago. Today we tried out the rail trolley at Napa.

The veteran manager Tom hadn’t done a Multihull backwards there. It was a little tricky but now the stern work area is easy to get to. Otherwise it would have been WAY up in the air hanging over the steep ramp.

I’m telling you guys – seriously – I spent a few hours looking at everything that makes her go, asking the gods, “what else”? needs attention before heading south. We’ve redone the daggerboard, rudder, Autopilot, mast, boom, tweaked sails and running rigging, continue to refine electrical and plumbing. I think these current three reach the end of my worry list. But go ahead, anyone who’s sailed with us, do you have any concerns for us? Let’s get all the bugs out now.

June boat work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find those ships!

We’ve been finishing various fiddly little wiring bits. The outside public address & foghorn speaker is plenty loud to annoy the Marina neighbors. That’s a good safety device. Perhaps even better is getting the ship-identifying AIS data from the VHF radio on to the chart plotter. I know Jim wishes we had this the night Origami sailed from Catalina to Santa Barbara!A week back four of us sailed out the Gate and up to Duxbury Reef in light wind. It was great just to have a mellow, mindless sail. But by 4pm the wind died way down for our slow cruise home. It was the first time docking in the dark, and yea, we didn’t quite catch the dock cleat on the first pass :)

That shot shows how moving the mast rotator arm forward has put the port line right over the shower vent hatch. I think adding a cheek block just inside that hatch to bend the line will be the right solve.

And that shot shows the stern lifelines holding the lifesaver ring and recovery bag. We’re liking the lifeline solution a lot.

Next up is getting our PHRF racing rating from the Bay Area Multihull Assoc. so we can enter Ravenswing in her first event. We’re looking at schedules to see what fits. And sitting here very curious to see how the ratings committee thinks we should compare with other boat models around here…

Almost out of winter

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

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

Note the nice straight track in the wake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It never gets old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_1230

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Taking flight!

Tonight it’s mostly pictures. Seems they speak for themselves. Big thanks to Rolf and Kris at Bay Marine for expert crane work. Carlos, Jim and I went on deck once they had the mast down on the ball, and we lashed the two cap shrouds and forestay in about 15 mins. Just those three lines, then they removed the crane.

We motored back to our slip where Jim and Carlos busted ass on installing mainsail battens, reefing gaskets and all new sail trim telltales. After all the rigging work, at 2pm Ravenswing could take flight again. Ahhhhhhh…..kudos to Jim for driving the boat today and keeping the mast in the sky. 100% improvement over last time :)

Jib and reacher tomorrow. Stay tuned.