NOT 1,000 square feet

Some of you were pretty surprised we got the shop emptied and turned over that quickly. The bad news is “all that stuff gotta go somewhere!” Ugh, don’t look around our small lot at home for a while please. We still have to finish making boat parts, mostly finish sanding, priming and painting. Here’s the new paint shed (code name for an old bug tent now on the back patio under our messy big trees)

The big work table and the large power tools get half the garage (miraculously the car is in fact parking inside now). That’s half the DeWitt Dinghy in the top of the frame – fun little 8′ solo boat!

And all the supplies and small tools go in the 8×6′ tin shed, which got a massive shelving system added on July 3. Still shoehorning stuff in.  

Back at Charlie’s dock this afternoon we removed the stern tower and fished 8 cables through. Anyone building something like this, please note to lay in messenger lines BEFORE sealing up a clamshell design, and make continuous internal conduits with gentle exit bends. My sporty exterior look required much contortion with wire fish tapes and bent fingers. Jim is down from Oregon right now and brought all his carpentry skills to bear on this one. The wired tower slide home and the guys bolted down the feet from the aft cabin while I stood out on the swim platform relaxing with a cigarette (just kidding Mom) Tomorrow is supply plumbing (drains and tankage are done), and finishing the reefing system before hopefully a full daysail on Sunday.  Perhaps we’ll get most of the tower electronics installed too. 

Enjoy the weekend!

Much to their surpriseĀ 

The shop neighbors just laughed and shook their heads as they closed up their businesses Friday afternoon for the holiday weekend… The boatbuilder had said this mess would disappear by the time they reopened!

Most of the tools were home already before that photo, but as usual we were trying to “multitask”; still building parts until the last possible moment. We were packing to the tune of the vacuum pump as this table full of cabinet doors and companionway boards came to life. 

No fireworks this year as the Fourth gave us new doors and a disgraceful amount of landfill waste

We will live ‘greenly’ on Ravenswing, but the construction left a debris trail that was a bit unnerving at the dumps this morning. It was pretty weird handling every scrap with all their memories of missteps, fixes and clever accomplishments over the years. But also a HUGE relief when the landlord snapped this photo with the keys in her hand and the Carters no longer the Piner Industrial Center boatbuilders!

Big thanks to Michael the woodworker for all the tool loaning and advice over the years. To Mark for wrenches and the forklift in a pinch. To David for painting advice and labor leads. To Marcus for Giants fanaticism and damn funny humor. The Piner guys get a McCovey Cove day Aug20 on the boat; we’ll be the ones on your TV with the huge World Series Champs flag that Marcus got from the steps of City Hall celebration in 2014.

Hey Griff, pool-cover Nevin traded his new portable air compressor for our old huge one, so I didn’t have to move the BigPig out of the shop and we have a nice beefy 2hp compressor in the garage now :)

We could not have finished the boat these past five years without this place. A note to current or contemplating builders: it’s easy to underestimate the costs of a rented or borrowed shop in a build budget. Mostly because IT IS going to take longer than any of us plan, and that rent check has to keep being written. For us, the extra 12 months rent devoured our electronics savings account, so Ravenswing launched without the Tesla-like lithium batteries, light weight 600 watt solar array or desired Furuno comms/nav goodies. But overall, choosing a workspace one mile from home was the best thing we did for this whole project. The proximity made getting to the boat work an easy thing, so more got done any given week. Do what you can to avoid commuting to your hobby job! Finally, go big. 48×24′ was really too small for this boat. If ever again, the shop would have to be large enough for the tri or cat to stay in its fully assembled wide condition. 

So now the boat to-do list gets tackled  from the dock. First up is solving motor cavitation (severe power loss due to poor water flow or air bubble entrapment). The protection leg in front of the motor is too long. Not sure how much, but it sits 3″ below the waterline and cutting 6″ is the common sense move. Pre-cut here:

Half a foot later

Then we took the offcut to Charlie’s table saw and salvaged the bottom cap, clean-up sanded the cap and the motor mount, and prepped a batch of peanut butter thick epoxy/cabosil paste. Loaded the kayak to continue the 6pm surgical reconstruction…

And plastered that cap up where it (hopefully) belongs

That seam will get cleaned up and covered with a bit of fiberglass next week after this current business trip. If I’m lucky, our boat dock host will have tackled some lazy Jack improvements this weekend :)

We’ll get her sailing for real very soon. 

First sunset

F36 #5 became a trimaran for the first time today. Her assembly team struggled mightily on Sunday to bolt the beams in to their float sleeves and form the complete boat, but we ended the day with the starboard beams flanges 3″ above the float deck. Frustrating for everyone going home, and pretty much a freak out for the builder who crawled in to the cabin solo and quietly tried to figure out what went wrong. (Remember this had been put together in the shop two years ago so it was supposed to be easy this time). A fresh mind at 6am realized I must have added fairing and paint thickness to sleeves and beam ends that made the difference. Before anyone else returned to the site Monday morning, the float hull was pryed loose from its stuck position (thank you for that lesson Carlos) and lowered near the ground to give access to the sleeves / pockets. When the gang arrived we ground back all the added materials and greased the heck out of the parts. It was still a very tight fit but an hour of fiddling got the float properly mated to the beam. And the boat became a tri.

Huge thanks in the journey to water to everyone who made their ways to Napa. Carlos, Don, Rick, Dean, Goose – you guys are so kind with your time and energy. Charlie and Jim, what can I say, except 3 f27 Amigos wanting a shower and fridge in our fboat, right? Carters&Joe, although I’ve been a bit crabby in spots I am loving doing this work with you. Thanks for devoting this time to finishing the long project that has cut out many other things.

So, we’ll use Tuesday to test the motor, install the nets and daggerboard and finish up some hardware and safety items. We’re planning on the Weds 10:30am high tide to launch. (Need the high water at this ramp), and stepping the mast hopefully Friday. Call or email for more details as you wish.

It’s a little stunning to believe we actually made this:


Well in to the evening

Friday was a long one. Here’s Jeanne doing a heroic cleanup, including going after four years of dust under vee-berth

Beams loaded and rolling to Napa on little trailer

CrazyCrane got the mast off the trailer – Charlie is seriously all-in on creative boat solves!

Mast delivery to Napa Valley Marina


Assembly site a mile from the marina

But the best was rolling the boat outside in the eve. Wow does it glisten in the sunshine and make this family proud!

So we were feeling good at 7pm, and then came the daggerboard fitting. Remember this has never happened because it was too tall inside the shop. … Damn, the trunk is slightly shorter at the top and bottom four inches based on how Howard did his glassing work (hull builder) and we didn’t talk about that. I built the dagger to exact plans. It sticks and wouldn’t clear the foil shape slot thru the hull :(
9pm emergency surgery to cut 5/8″ off the trailing edge. Michael Metela next door is the second hero of the day (Nameless Tractor Guy was first )


The boys hauled it back on deck, and it slid home just fine. That left the boat builder a late night of glassing – vac bagging. At least it made it easy to roll in to the rack at 1:45am as the night watchman.

Ok, 7am Saturday now and a huge forklift / Gradall comes at 9 to help get the boat on the trailer. Stay tuned.

Inching Forward

We’ve done a good job ignoring the bottom on the hull for years now. It helped to store lots of supplies under there and hide the work needed. But Thursday evening was time for a big cleanup and rearrange, centering the boat in the shop with good clearance all around. Time to drop to the ground with a bucket of epoxy filling putty and get to that bottom job.

This is looking up at the stern, about half way thru applying the final primary skim coat. The pencil line is hand drawing the bottom paint waterline at the same 35″ above the floor all the way around. We’re going to apply bottom paint 4″ above the planned waterline, especially since I don’t want to have to pull the boat for re painting if it rides low at the initial launch.


Inching along the hull, carefully filling all little nicks, gaps, hollows and pinholes from construction and earlier prelim fairing a few years ago…

And 8 hours later, finally getting to the pointy end!


Next up is spray painting a “guide coat” to look for any more low spots. That’ll take some photos to explain.
But not today; it’s time for a day off and crewing in the Great Pumpkin Race on Drew’s F27. Sail fast!

videos for Cozmo

cos-1Does this guy look like a pro sailor / pro boat-builder or what? Marc Cosbey has prepared a lot of grand prix sailboats for some of the biggest races in the world (like his America’s Cup mugshot above). Last winter the re-launch of the first big Gunboat, in timeĀ for the Transpac, had his attention. And if I don’t screw this up, we might get his skills roped in to Awgrip-spray the F36 this fall. So before Coz says yes, he wants to see the project so far. Since he lives 4 hours away in the beautiful Sierras, here’s some video to start the conversation…

4 crappy iphone movies for you, Coz; the main hull, the deck, the interior (nothing needed in there) and a quick overview of the workshop. The two float hulls, the mast and the 4 beams are already finished in Interlux Perfection (roll & tip) and off at a storage yard.


shop video

hull video

deck video

interior video

Kids, don’t try THIS at home!

You gotta love friends with forklifts. Thank you Mark at the Airless Repair Center next door! He lifted two boat hulls for us today. Spotters were Charlie and Dean forward, with Colin and Griffin managing the sterns. Mrs. Carter the Co-owner did a great job with the camera. Here goes:




The smartest thing we did today was decide before lifting that the forklift would be stationary. No nudging the lifted boat and causing any sway; the truck and trailer had to line up under the boat. That was easy with such a long wheelbase.
Hours of good prep placing the posts on the trailer and figuring out Rick’s lifting straps led to only a couple of minutes needed for each lift. Watch the first one here:


After the video we pulled the truck forward, moved the second hull to the cement pad and the forklift to the other side. All good.

Notice that first the floats were truck-strapped to their trollies. Then the lifting straps went around the hulls only, and upon lifting the hulls brought their strapped trollies with them. Lifting straps around only the hulls created a much safer pull with no wracking stresses on the wood trollies.





And we’re down. The four truck straps then got moved to travel around the trailer frame, and more strapping to tie the two floats together against any side to side forces.



No drama today, but kind of stressful for the boat builder :). It was a big relief to take this shot before heading to dinner:

It’s going to be a big boat all put together.

And being an opportunist, I finagled the big crew for 20 more minutes to get the mast down from the rafters to ground level. For those of you who’ve been to the shop, you know what a shoehorn that was! Yes, the rotator pin just fits inside the small entry door with the masthead jammed in to the far diagonal corner. Phew. Mast modifications start in the morning. Stay tuned.

Who had an EasyBake oven?

I remember the TV commercials, but never actually saw one. Did people eat the cookies that came from those things, ’cause I’m wondering if they ever got hot enough to actually cook? Turns out an automotive paint booth goes up to about 175degrees max; our epoxy can be post-cured at 70 degrees F for a week, or 3 hours at160 degrees. A while back we decided all low/no stress parts, like interior furniture or hull fairing, would simply cure ambiently during the warm weather. Recall last year we made a big Sheetrock box and a dozen heat lamps to cure the beams. It was a big pain in the rear but worked ok. Of course that box ended up 6″ too small for the daggerboard, and I was grumping about. Neighbor John with the exceptionally restored ’66 corvette asked why I didn’t just take the stuff to Harry the car painter? “He knows how to deal with fiberglass…”
The Sheetrock box went away and over a year we built a pile of stuff for the curing oven, capped off by the chainplates. Today was the day for PrismaCar’s paint booth.


For our records, the booth ran 3 hours at 170 degrees to cure the dagger, both rudders, all steering parts, chainplates, mainsheet anchors, windshield, hardtop, boarding ladder, stern tower, windlass platform and boom end insert.
Thanks to owner Harry Strouse for the $50/hr cash rate – worked out well for both of us. And the shop guys were amused by having to move a car out of the booth for these weird boat parts.

After the field trip, the chainplates went directly to their new homes. Here they’re wedged / suspended in position with some of the bedding compound applied. Tomorrow will be the rest of the filleting and maybe the glass work.


Deck hardware continues to be test fitted, then all holes over drilled and re packed with epoxy putty, hardware final fitted then removed for the paint job. But there are a few permanent mount metal and carbon pieces that will get painted in place. Today we bonded on (and bolted) the receiver points for the aft beam triangle braces. These were a lovely aluminum welding job done nearby. Yesterday the pieces were chemically etched with the West Systems aluminum prep (a two part easy to use ten minute job – buy the small size as it goes a long way) then coated in clear epoxy. They were dry and ready for bonding today.

The window cutout made it an easy-reach one person job to tighten the bolts. That was just coincidence, not swell planning.

And at days end we “paid” for half the morning bake by figuring out to eliminate some hardware up on the bow – we’ll see how that turns out tomorrow.

Boom shakalaka-boom

Ok, you got a better song with Boom in the lyrics?

Today it was time to pull out the old mast segment we’ve had squirreled away and start creating the main boom. This stick is 18′ of a salvaged carbon mast. The section may be overkill but if we leave it as is, it should be a hell of a strong boom. One option is to cut away the last three inches off the skinny side and form a new, much lighter lower edge the whole length. Or we take Mike Leneman’s simple suggestion of making Swiss cheese holes all along the boom. That would also save weight and make it easy to run reefing rigging internally. And we also need to think through making sail catchers that stick out about a foot on both sides of the boom.



We started making a forward end bracket to bolt inside this boom, which will provide a strong pivot pin attachment to the gooseneck on the mast. One big bummer is that goose is already bedded and bolted to the mast at 54″ up (for the Shuttleworth it was commissioned to) but we need it a foot lower (that would get it to the level resting position seen in these sawhorse holding photos). Can’t really do that mast work until the boat is out of the workshop. Hmmm. The next update should have that boom end bracket to show you. And yes, the boom in this position shown is 6’3″ above the cockpit floor so fewer whacked heads expected. It’ll be about a foot above the hard top, leaving room for some solar panels up there.

The rudder came out of its final carbon layer vacuum bag this morning, looking good (and big next to a grown up!)

The yellow strip is a Kevlar piece to help make the leading edge tougher against hitting small stuff in the water. I’ll do a bit more final fairing on this board over the next couple of days and then it will be time to make the scary cut into it to creat the trailing edge trim tab. Cover your eyes, Mertyl, this one’s not for the faint of heart.

The boat has suffered some October down time due to excessive viewership of the SF Giants run. The prudent move would have been to purchase 10 gallons of epoxy, but instead the $ went to tix for Bumgarner’s shutout on Sunday.
Great time with Griffin!

But World Series parades also mean it’s time for the weather to turn. Cold epoxy does not flow well, and I finally thought it through – make a winter warming hut! This simple box (old Sheetrock and leftover styrofoam) is now keeping the fluids at just right viscosity, with an air temp in the upper 70s. Venting the box more or less lets us modify the temperature and therefore adjust the go-off timing of the epoxy hardener. REALLY wish I had spent the two hours on this box two winters ago :(

It’s warmed by a simple incandescent 60 watt bulb under an aluminum plate holding up the bottles.

Good things are happening building out the aft cabin furniture. Photos to come once the bunks are bonded in. Yes, doing some work on the inside even though I said no cabin work until all exterior parts are complete. Thankfully it means we’re getting to the end of the outside stuff and can see the light towards the winter interior build. We’ll skip the Giants parade and work on the rudder!

Be a better bagger

It’s too bad they don’t teach this stuff in high school; no idea where one can get a hands-in education in vacuum lamination techniques. Things are being done safely here in the shop thanks to book and video study. But it’s all the little tricks not known that cause extra time and sometimes rework (go back a few posts to the vacuum pump saga :)
This week I think we’ve finally gotten in the groove, so in case anyone reading this stuff is just starting out, maybe these musings can help reduce some error in your trials?

That’s the second of four stages vacuum laminating the net lashing tubes to the hull’s port side. Significant only because it’s the first success using a splitter to draw vacuum on two separate projects in one pump run. A small moral victory around here.

Stage 3 was the 15 foot section between the main beams. Here are the steps.
Took measurements between the temporary straps, and cut all materials to leave an inch and a half on both sides of the straps so epoxy wouldn’t migrate over the straps.
Built the bag down on the 8′ work table where it can be stretched snugly and the sticky goo tape applied, leaving the paper backing in place. Setting up the tape in this calm manner, before any epoxy is mixed, took me too long to realize!
Planned for add-on patches to make out-of-the-way zones in the bag for the pump fittings to sit. Leaving at least six inches between the air connection and any live epoxy work, linked by plenty of breather fabric, keeps the glue away from the pump’s tubes and fittings. (Learned after a nasty hour of scraping out glue-fouled bag fittings one night – these parts aren’t a quick Home Depot replacement).
After cutting fglass fabric to the six inch width for this job, the ‘bagging’ supplies were cut: peel ply at 7 inches because a bit of overlap makes it MUCH easier to remove later, release film at 6″ because any more would be waste, breather fluff at 5.5″ because when it goes all the way to the edges it invariably ends up adhered where you don’t want it, like on the hull!, and the bag film itself at 11″ – leaving 2-3″ past the edge of fiberglass is minimum. For this vertical work I needed the bag to help hold the wet materials in place before the pump turned on, so I cut it close and snug on purpose.
With materials all ready, it was time to apply the putty fillet around the pipe, and let it harden up a bit, but still pliable for the bag to press the fiberglass into the fillet and be able to take by-hand smoothing from the outside of the vac bag.

Here’s the bag in place, but folded down out of the way.

Then the fglass was wetted out on the table and rolled up like little pillsbury crescent rolls (sans hot dogs, Mom) and walked over to the boat after sitting under warming lights for about 20 mins to get tacky (sticky). Here that is with peel ply to help hold it up. Note that it won’t adhere yet to the underside – gravity wins.

The heat lamps are going because there is a putty fillet above and below the pipe, trying to time it so that is just hardening when the vacuum is applied. Too early and it will squish out; too late and there will be ugly lumps in your cream of wheat.
Next shot is after applying release film and breather fluff, some of which needed dabs of masking tape to hold in place. Bag was then brought up over the work taking care to tuck things in flatly.

With this long, complicated bag, there were some air leaks but they were solved in a few minutes by pressing the tape all over again and adding a few inches of backup here and there. Having these separated tube attachment areas has helped quite a bit, compared to earlier work where I didn’t plan out the connection spots. Cut the bag to fit the work, and simply add a big ‘patch’ as needed.


All in all, no drama today and it all came out with nice, uniform tubes that need only minor fairing work. In retrospect, I probably did this all backwards; someone could try small 2-3″ fiberglass strips next to the pipe straps first. Then remove the straps after the glass strips dry, and you could probably do the whole project in fewer bagging sessions. Just a thought.

And as Jeanne’s Mom always said when preparing the fruit for canning, “I found the one we’re looking for – the last one”…. Here’s beam number four escaping the oven. Don’t ask about the electric bill. This big box is REALLY in the way, but it will stay up another day or so to bake the rudder after the last fairing work. Getting excited to start on the rudder’s cassette steering assembly!