Summer sailing

IMG_4706This is why Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. When that central valley convection machine revs up and the fog backfills, we head out in to COLD breeze. Charlie and I saddled up in warm jackets for a mid July afternoon.

IMG_4710IMG_4711IMG_4708Grey whales were in town; every day numerous boats headed for the Golden Gate Bridge area. We had 20+ sightings, some very near the boat over by Baker Beach, and some with big fluke flapping activity. Very humbling to be around the biggest of beasts.

 

A few days later dear sister Allie came to visit. Leslie joined for a warm afternoon sail between Richmond and San Rafael / Tiburon. Jeanne practiced her tiller steering, Leslie focused on sail trim, Allie soaked up the warm sun and soft breeze, and the build-finisher just sat back and reveled in the nice day the ladies were enjoying.

IMG_4719With two great sailing days done, it was back to work on various upgrades.  Thanks again to Darren for calling out the bogus sheave choice (it was a salvaged halyard exit box) that was galling aluminum on steel as the mainsail clew pulled the outhaul side to side. This led to a re-think on the boom-end sheaves and line-guiding. Much cleaner now…IMG_4744At launch time last year, Dean rigged up some long skinny lines to turn the outboard when needed, and everyone who’s sailed the boat has hassled with them. I decided synchronous motor-with-rudder steering isn’t necessary, so we’ve skipped the complex solutions (ahem, Carlos & RickWS :). Kudos to Charlie for this very simple idea – turning blocks mounted inside the motor carrier box, and jam cleats up at deck level. Works perfectly as intended!

IMG_4743IMG_4742Another (potentially dangerous) annoyance has been the lead-angle of the mainsheets into their winches. The lines come in a bit high, and if we’re not careful it has caused override jams. A bit of staring and thinking realized the approach is all wrong, and let’s change the angles both vertically and horizontally. These cheek blocks are now installed, and will be test-sailed tomorrow:IMG_4741

We’ve had some big wind in the marina, making work-on-the-boat afternoons tough. See the blue tape on the hardtop, where the boom hit by accident. That fiberglass repair was done under duress of a stiff 20+ knot wind kicking up whitecaps inside the harbor. I actually got a bit seasick hanging off the back installing those motor steering lines. IMG_4745So with the summer chill in the bay, we said a big YES to Jim’s crew call for the 2017 Southern Cascades Regatta at Howard Prairie Lake above Ashland, OR. Headed up I-5 past Redding, thanking the inventors of automobile air conditioning… (ignore the speedo please)IMG_4764Look what we find on the road in Talent, OR – our never-fell-out-of-love Origami!!!IMG_4758When Jim took her back home to OR from Sausalito three years ago, new sails and a number of cosmetic must-dos were diligently tackled. This F27 is doing great, 26 years after launch, in full fighting form.origami under spinThe race committee put us in the Open Centerboard class, ironically making a well-sailed Lido 14 our primary competition for the weekend. We traded bullets through six races, and the final tally was a single point apart. Before we get to that, remember that mountain lake sailing often means waiting for the wind to fill. Trust me, there was only one boat in the regatta with portable cabin-top speakers blasting Crazy Train and Highway to Hell, trying to get the wind to blow. When that didn’t work, we buzzed the race comm, Ultimate 20 and Laser fleets with Kenny Rodgers karaoke. Apparently The Gambler was the ticket. kenny rodgers karoikeAfter enough screwing around, we focused in on clean racing and managed to bring home a nice first place trophy for the skipper. It’d been a long road of “first to finish, but you lost” handicapping, so this regatta win was sweet.  Thanks Eric and Jason for good times!first place

Back on the bay, Ravenswing sits ready in her slip for a weekend of sailing. It’s time to focus on coastal transit preparations, and submitting that BajaHaHa entry.  If any locals want to join Jim and Charlie for a sail Sunday, give us a shout. We’ll introduce you to our humble mascot – just right with a thrift-store price tag and balsa wood featherlight stance. IMG_4739PS – I can hear you from here, singing “son, if you don’t mind me sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces. For a taste of your whiskey, I’ll give you some advice…”

Who really ever finishes, anyway?

Dad, Joe and I stood on the Federal dock in Sausalito, joining thousands of fans watching the launch of the Matthew Turner. IMG_4319

Pretty sure we showed you this build in progress a couple years back, and it was truly amazing to see the community coming together to create a tall ship the old fashioned way. They recorded something nuts like 150,000+ hours of volunteer labor. We visited the build shed many times, but I always had to sit on my hands and not pick up a tool, because if I had, Ravenswing would have taken ANOTHER few years. So it became a quiet little footrace in my head instead. Gotta Launch Before the Turner. And it turns out to be another example of best intentions, but we put our boats in the water before they’re really done. Something about that expensive shop rent generally creeps in…

The Call of the Sea Foundation will have an incredible flagship soon, with the Matthew Turner as a working classroom. Check out this organization, what an amazing way to spend some vacation days.

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We used the rainy season to tackle the ‘bolt-on’ things that needed finishing and painting. Our damaged, empty house has become a paint studio. First we splattered orange highlight all over, and most recently it’s been grey and white for the interior redo of our little Nash travel trailer. The tree fell on the house exactly FOUR MONTHS ago and reconstruction has still not begun. Damn you, State Farm, for dragging the builders through a painful bidding process. But, complaining aside, decent looking boat parts have finally emerged for installation. First up tonight is the bow sprit.

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That’s the extreme forward end, with Keith’s beautifully machined and anodized aluminum doughnut. The spinnaker tack is exiting from inside the pole, and the ridge surrounding it holds the two whisker stays and bobstay.   Here’s the to-the-boat end:

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Spin. tack exits the pole and runs along the deck. The little blue line wraps around the delrin receiver at the bow. Drew was right, this small line did not hold up to the windstorm last week, and was replaced today with a bigger piece of dyneema. Finally installed this afternoon:

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Keith, the bobstay is perfect – thank you! I like the luggage-tag bottom end, and we’ll keep an eye on it for chafe against the bow stem. The delrin receiver at the bow definitely needs to be pinned to stop unwanted rotating; need to do that before we hoist the sail. I’m very concerned about how we’re going to get the reacher furler installed and removed underway. Farrier’s plans call for this pole to swing to the side, but it’s unlikely the setup will reach far enough for handling the extreme end. Eager to test this soon. Thinking of adding a centerline bow cleat dedicated to the two adjustable whisker stays, so we can easily move the pole tip side to side while standing on the bow. There’s a built in backing plate just above the captain’s forward berth, itching to be used.

Mrs. Carter called the ball on the hard top paint, and the orange highlight rocks!

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Sharp eyes saw six little dyneema loops sticking out of the orange top. Those are attachment points for a solar panel. No bolt holes needed now. The bits of rope were pulled through drill holes then flared out on the underside, and epoxy sealed.

If you go back to the February picture of us driving bundled up, you see the original height of the radar. Which would have sent microwaves into our brains. So thanks again to Sewell Mt. Bob for the windsurfer mast offcut that became a radar tower extension. Got it all painted and delivered to the marina. I set it down on the pavement while getting other things out of the pickup, and a little zephyr knocked it over. Nasty ding in the foam core and fancy paint:

IMG_4304That photo is the next day, back at home for touch up, interrupting work on the Nash (aka tinyhouse). A few days later, it was back to the boat, this time carried carefully.

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Just under the radar we’ve mounted two LED deck lights, which really flood the place with great work illumination. They can also be pointed up at the sail for visual signaling at sea.  It’s a lot of light for small power burn.

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Seeing the engine gauges reminds me we figured out how to change the motor oil with the outboard leg lowered down into the dinghy and a bucket. But suzuki does NOT make it owner-serviceable to change the oil filter. Argh. going to need to research that one, as I couldn’t find it poking around the various powerhead components (20hp 4 stroke EFI).

The steering is officially finished with the simplification project. Just a big ‘ol orange tiller now, with molded in receiver for the extension handle.

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The helm is extremely responsive and direct-feel. Time will tell if we’ve made the right choice, compared to all of the elegant, elaborate steering systems on the other F36/39’s.

For the note-to-self file, our new orange color (steering, bowsprit, dodger) is equal parts of these two Interlux colors. The Brightside one part is much softer and will wear out faster than two part Perfection, so next time we’ll look to see if the better paint comes in red and yellow.

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For my friends out there who will still be building F36/39 float hulls, perhaps you can make your center compartment soles early in your process. There have been many painful sessions doing various jobs finishing the floats, painful because of squashing ones feet and legs into the sharply pointed float bottoms. We have now built proper floors, and will enjoy them for a long time. I just wish we had done it BEFORE the big chainplates, beam sockets, hardware prep, etc. jobs.

We had to clamp up a 2×4 extension to the 8′ lamination table in order to make 99″ x 16″ floor sections. IMG_4305

Then in the hulls we ripped some of the leftover original cedar planking for 35-degree flooring sills. Puttied and taped those down and let them cure for an afternoon. IMG_4359

Note how they’re asymmetric to the hull shape. If we had done this job back in the build shop, we probably would have made it all parallel. But in the floating boat, we realized, hey, let’s make the soles level for user-comfort! We’re not going to permanently install these big boards. They’ll just rest on the stringers so things can be easily cleaned underneath, or even removed if we’re crazy about racing weight someday. And yes, we took a little more time to make bilge-access panels (that still need some primer).IMG_4360

Unfortunately, you’re seeing some mold spots on the right side of that photo. The floats get excessive condensation buildup, so we’ll add some solar-powered vent fans to the hatch covers this summer.

OK, that’s the update. Hopefully we’ll get back to more frequent posts including more sailing action reports. Congrats to Drew for driving his F27 Papillon to WINNING the Doublehanded Farallons 2017 multihull fleet. After hearing his great story, he suggested this year’s Delta Ditch be Raveneswing’s racing debut.  That’s a fine idea, Mr. Scott! Time to apply for that PHRF rating…

I know I promised the lithium battery system description – stay tuned, as Anton edited my schematic today and it’s not quite ready for prime time. Getting close.

Locals, let’s go sailing next week, once the rainstorm clears out. Maybe Thursday afternoon. Let me know if you can make it.

Crew this week?

Hey locals, we’ll start using these posts / outbound emails to let you know when Ravenswing is headed out, welcoming you aboard. There are too many of you now interested for me to do individual contacts. So if you haven’t hit the Follow button on this website (to turn on the automatic emails), please do so. 

Let us know if you’d like to join this Tuesday afternoon 2/14, or next Saturday 2/18.  Call or text if you already have my number, or reply via this site or email. It all works :)

No photos today. Still prepping parts for paint, and cleaning up those cabinet doors seams is dragging on. Nothing to see here, folks, move along…

Dodging the rain

Yikes, it’s been a month since you’ve seen any Ravenswing news. Dealing with the house damage and a 12 day Asia business trip meant the boat didn’t get a lot of love in January. Thankfully we’ve had some crisp clear days to enjoy on the water.

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But above-average winter rainfall has THOROUGHLY tested cabin waterproofing, with a couple of minor fails. Should have used rubber washers under the heads of the window pane screws, and one of the windlass footswitches apparently didn’t get enough bedding compound, so a little trickle yielded a soaking vee-berth.

We had some EagleRail work in the bay area, and we hustled to finish up by Saturday afternoon so CEO Scott and his grown kids could get out on the boat in a rare sunshine moment. We sailed through the tail-end of the Three Bridge Fiasco fleet, and Scott found a new calling…

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(yeah, I know, the revamped tiller and rudder cassette aren’t painted yet – too much humidity in the air all month!)   After months of the window-less windshield frame on the boat, we finally had the right VeryHighBond 3m tape roll and a clear afternoon. With the frame prepped and everything test-dry fitted, we applied the tape to the windowpanes first.

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Press them in place, and push hard with a soft towel to force good adhesion. We left the protective film on the outside, and masked the frame, leaving a narrow slot for the Sika black adhesive rubberized seam caulk (same stuff we used to install the cabinside portlights)

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We let it sit like that for 20+ hours, and the next afternoon upon peeling away all the masking we were thrilled with the results. This whole windshield idea was inspired by a Halberg Rassey at the boat show 3 years ago, and it’s worked out great. The center panel is hinged to let a breeze in under the (coming) hardtop dodger.

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Interior finish work continues. The lid for the fridge/freezer was made by planing some oak down to 1/8″ and veneering it to foam core and trimming with mahogany. Then some thick foam was added with a light glass layer for the section that “fills the hole” in the top of the compartment.

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Still need to sand and paint the underside, glue a nifty handle on top, and configure some hold-down latching. With that, the fridge is ready to fire up, just awaiting the big battery bank install. (more on that in the next edition).

Those of you who’ve been aboard have seen all the exposed shelving in the various cabinets. Soon we’ll have those cupboard doors installed. Doing the finish work now, with four layers of Arm-R-Seal oil & urethane from Don’s mobile woodworking supply truck.

img_4088 It’s been a while since we wrote a “don’t make the mistake we did” notes, so here goes. These doors are solid wood frames with foam core center panels and a very thin cherry veneer over the foam. We vacuum-bagged these all in one step, but the result was a little bit of movement and poor alignment of the edge of the cherry veneer up against the mahog. frames. Notice some messy join lines in this photo.

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The learning is, the cherry veneer should have been laid down and bonded to the full sheet of foam core as a finished unit, and then that large single piece should have been cut to make exact-size panels for the solid wood frames. The epoxy finish would have been applied to the frame surface and the veneer surface after they had been joined and glued together. It all would have turned out much cleaner. The do-it-all-at-once method gave some lumpy finishes in the veneer, a bunch of extra sanding, and now the need to add some surface trim to hide these gaps. Darn.

Can’t remember if I’ve reported this already to Drew and Keith, so just in case, tacking the full jib down much lower to the deck has solved the diamond-wire interference at the top of the sail. In the light winter winds, it’s coming through the tacks just fine and flying free up there.

Jeanne and I are living out of a rental cottage 15 mins from the house, and our garage is still the boat-build shop. But repairs from the Dec 15 tree fall have not begun. Insurance work removed the big tree and we had the guys leave the bottom 25′, with the hopes of getting these huge logs slab-milled (really hoping for some beautiful dining tables out of this disaster). The ground-to-14′ section weighs over 9,000lbs, and this Mack truck couldn’t get it last Sunday:

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The Empire Tree driver suggested Steve Turner who owns a regular logging truck, and I realized he’s the same guy that hauled Ravenswing’s main hull from Fremont to Santa Rosa five years ago. So he rolled it at 5:30 Monday evening to do this:

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We unloaded them in the pitch dark way out in Occidental where new-friend Matthew is setting up a chain-saw slabber, and we’ll go out for a cutting party soon. Then the wood sits for a year or so before we consider table-making. At least the back yard is clear for demolition and construction now (except the huge stump 1/2 in the ground).

About that 12 day work trip; it started on a sober note. On the way to SFO, I stopped at the boat to prep it for absence. Walking out E-dock, I was shocked to see the big orange QingdaoChina BACK IN RICHMOND. We all just assumed the rescue crew had sailed her back home to China, but now of course it makes sense they made the incredibly sad 700 mile trip back here.

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She sits at our docks looking forlorn, with the nasty winter weather beating down. And all I can think of is how this should be Guo Chuan’s time to celebrate his accomplishment.

The business trip was first to Hong Kong, and I had some free hours to look up the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Got to chat up the events manager about bringing Ravenswing over for their China Sea race to Subic Bay, Philippines at some point. It was fun poking around the very dense urban club. With weather similar to ours, they too sail year-round.

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The middle of the trip was the port of Rizhao, on the Yellow Sea sort of between Beijing and Shanghai. And to get there, we fly to Qingdao, in Shandong province, China. So after finding the QingdaoChina boat at my home dock, five days later we were standing in THEIR home port, the site of Olympic sailing in 2008. Eerie.

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A female windsurfer won China’s first-ever Olympic sailing medal, obviously a source of great pride. Inside the museum I was telling the story of Guo to my colleague Frederick, and we came across this commemoration of his earlier achievements. img_4002

In typical “go big” China fashion, the whole center was huge and over-built, meaning that the venues have many empty storefronts and just not enough business to justify all the infrastructure. But it does look like there’s a thriving scene of day-sail charters, thanks to these simple-but-effective under-rigged catamarans. Go multihulls!!!

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In the morning we drove 2.5 hours down the coast to the working port of Rizhao, but our hotel was a few kilometers north, in the recreational boating center. Although Sunday morn was -2 degrees C, we took a brisk walk to look at the all-wood fishing fleet. Quite a juxtaposition of these working vessels anchored so close to million dollar yachts.

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I spent the last two years of my marketing career flying United Airlines 2-3x / month, trying to but never getting a ride on a new all-carbon fiber Boeing 787. What a surprise to get off the tarmac shuttle at Qingdao for the flight to Singapore, with the chance to walk around and lay-hands (quickly!) on this 787 Dreamliner:

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Apologies to EagleRail Mike for putting up with some airplane geeking-out. Certainly wouldn’t have gotten to walk around the new plane in the USA :)   But if you haven’t seen footage of Boeing building these things with huge carbon fiber spiral spinners, search it on youtube and see if it reminds you of making giant spider webs. Light and strong = fast.

Seeing the results up close of China’s urbanization program, the immense scope of building housing and transport to bring millions of people in to the new middle class, is stunning. Every airplane fly-over, bus ride or train through these cities is amazing. The smog and pollution is rampant, and all one can do is wish to be back home, out on the bay or ocean benefitting from that big Pacific breeze. Let’s figure it out planet-wide, please!

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A heavy year

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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?

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Different paths to death

A month or so back we had the great fortune of meeting Chinese pro sailor Guo Chuan as he scrambled to prepare the massive ocean race tri QingdaoChina for a solo record attempt SF to China. The big orange boat was guest docked at our marina, so Vanessa, Joe and I got to step aboard and look about. Guo and crew needed some the next day with sail handling help, so Drew and his son were able to spend part of the day getting to know this brave, bold and humble man and the amazing boat he pilots.

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The weather window opened, he left the Golden Gate with a head of steam, passed Hawaii on a better pace than the fully crewed Volvo 70 Maserati, and then went silent. You can read the full story online, but it seems there was trouble with a huge headsail and he was thrown from the boat. They found the severed end of his lifejacket tether attached to the boat. A tragic death and our hearts ache for his lovely wife we met briefly on the dock. Guo was the same age as me, and dies a hero and inspiration for achieving his dreams.

Or, you live your life to its full chronological measure. This is Jeanne’s pop, Dan, during his brief tenure in his new home (moved in to our house) this month:img_3778

Dan is the most stoic and strong-willed man in my life. As his eyesight diminished, he reluctantly moved from his San Jose house of 40+ years to a retirement center apartment near us. He kept up the morning hour long walks, with a white tip cane, to the amazement of the staff. We brought him over the boat shop a few times, and the scope of that ‘big whale in the room’ entertained him. We regret he wasn’t quite well enough for a boat ride after the launch, and now it will be left undone. 89 years of Bay Area living, military tours in the Pacific and Europe, 36 years at PG&E, one of 8 siblings in a strong family of Spanish immigrants (three OLDER siblings live on!), husband to Mary for 50+ years, and most thankfully father to two amazing kids. Dan died here at home last Sunday, and our hearts are broken. A tribute to his stubbornness – Jeanne, Leslie, Griffin and I took Ravenswing out Wednesday afternoon for a head-clearing short sail. Bah-humbug, as we cleared the breakwater the wind shut down and we drifted around in the sunshine. At least the boat proved to move very well in the tiniest of breeze – that was a nice first proof point. Had to laugh; it wasn’t time yet in Dan’s eyes for an enjoyable sail. But it was just right anyway. We miss you Pop!!!

Bottom line, these gentlemen remind me we should all live the lives we aspire to. Let’s not waste our moments together, nor squander our intriguing solo pursuits. There are infinite “ways to go”, but let’s depart at peace with what we’ve accomplished or experienced.

Doing hospice nursing work at home was challenging. For mental relief during those two weeks I would step out to the attached garage (often with the baby-monitor to Dan’s room) and tackle making the sail covers. The main’s is 17′ long, and we quickly learned why sail and canvas makers have huge clean floors or massive worktables. The project became a dance of rolling trailing edges of patterns and fabric. We bought the instruction book from Sailrite, and it proved a very good step-by-step. We were quoted about a thousand bucks for the main cover and a 12′ deck-bag for the jib. Spent about $200 instead on the book, fabric, thread and fasteners. We won’t write out the details here, just some photos. But email or comment if you have questions.

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The mainsail cover fit as-advertised. Although Keith with appreciate that this still-new Hydranet sail is so stiff that it’s rather unforgiving for being folded down tight under the cover. Time should make that easier.  img_3817

(yea, we still haven’t bonded the dodger windows in… too much else going on!)

The jib bag is a trial-and-error job. It proved difficult as a beginner to measure the unwieldy lump gathered at the forestay, and of course it was raining when Charlie and I did the trial fit. img_3811Got the overall length right, but the girth around the first yard is tricky. Let’s just say there will be another extension panel added this weekend. Notice the netting along the bottom. We closed the underside 10″ width of the bag with leftovers from the main nets; the idea is to let the sail breathe while in the bag. Also, we’ll use the halyard to keep it up off the deck. img_3813

With the sewing machine set up, we’re hitting the odds and ends too. Thanks to RickWS for this idea – the boom and main are so much bigger on these boats, and we can’t get arms around them. So your sail ties need weight on the end to throw them over and catch underneath. Sewed some rings on, just like what I saw on Rick’s Round Midnight. Works great!img_3814

OK, I said there wasn’t wind to test the new rudder angle, but we did experience how light and responsive the direct-tiller approach is. At first it was startling how easily the rudder turns, but I think it’s all in keeping with the “it sails like a big dinghy” sport-boat thing. The tiller ended up at 8′ long, and although the sweep for tight turns goes across the whole aft cabin, it’s quite manageable and feels just like the aggressive tiller throw needed to tack the F27. Here’s the finish of the Frankenstein ‘grafting’ of old to new:img_3801img_3802img_3816The tabs sticking up are a catchment for the Forespar steering extension handle that Jim gifted to the boat. It swings around and stows very securely back here. The tiller shape and length turned out just right, but it had a bit too much vertical flex. So today it’s getting a bit of reinforcement, especially where it makes the turn down from the cassette angle. img_3818

Good rainy day work.

Next up you’ll be reading about electricity storage. We’ve chosen the source for the Lithium Iron Phosphate cells, tested a cardboard shape mockup to make sure the 16 cells will fit as intended, and we’re reaching for the credit card…  stay tuned.

It took 25 men…

Thanks for your patience everyone while things went quiet over here. Ravenswing has made various short daysails but we’ve had a lot of business and family commitments this fall. In mid September we convinced Charlie to tow his F27 TriChi to theSummer Splash multihull gathering in Southern Cal. After racing to Catalina, the skipper gets to anchor in a whole fleet of fast-movers.

It was a great weekend – thanks again Charlie and Jim. It was bittersweet to NOT have that be Ravenswing’s first coastal trip, but the boat was not at all ready for ocean work. In Marina Del Rey, walking thru the trailer yard Jim said, “hey, there’s a little MacGregor powersailer like yours in the ’90s”. I got a few steps closer, and dang if it wasn’t our own time capsule! Kind of sad that it’s sitting there neglected, but also a trip to see it exactly as we sold it 20 years ago. Weird. 

From LA it was ‘more west’ … at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum I was reading about the first Chinese junk that sailed to England in the 1840’s. 

And we thought Ravenswing has some heavy helm issues – imagine their nights at sea:

We don’t know how far sailing will take us, but the Hong Kong Yacht Club would not be a terrible stopover. 

Finally after 12 days in Asia humbled by the scope of port automation projects like this in Quingdao

attention came back to the boat. Thinking more about the heavy-effort steering, we realized that in building the rudder cassette we didn’t compare the F39 plans’ for gudgeon height above the water to our custom F36 stretched stern. The result is not enough forward rake ahead of the pivot point, so all the water force is transmitted through the tiller. See the red line drawn on the rudder here – that’s how much surface area in the water should be ahead of the pivot.

Here the straightedge shows how much we actually created (the left edge)

So now we will make a permanent shim inside the cassette that tilts the rudder to achieve this

Good news for the folks who’ve helped on this – there’s enough room in the cassette to make the needed insert, and hopefully not cut in to the amazingly strong and complex carbon work. 

The other major change is to walk away from the linkage & pivot steering system. We reported 2+ years ago about not believing a simple straight tiller to the rudder would work.  But we haven’t been totally happy with the gear, and decided to mock up a simple tiller approach:

Charlie and I strapped this junk in place and pulled off the dock to find out if the tiller can swing far enough side to side between the tower legs. Yea! The boat can still spin in its length and is sufficiently agile at various engine / hulll speeds. The existing gear actually lets the rudder turn too far, causing stalls or being a brake. We’ll set up the new tiller for soft landings on the tower legs to safely limit the rudder travel. That’s the new theory anyway. 

A question for the engineers / experienced out there- what shape will make the strongest tiller that is narrow side to side ?  We want the maximum distance throw up against the tower, so a skinny tiller is important. Charlie’s suggested some type of carbon I-beam configuration. Square tube? Round tube? What do you think?