Still boat building, REALLY???

Yep, it seems we’re living the mantra of the Latitude 38 magazine’s BajaHaHa rally. For 20+ years we’ve all read that their event is most known for giving people a clear deadline for getting boats ready to cruise. Well, we left San Francisco but now in LA we’re squeezing out one more use of tools & supplies from home. Soon all this building stuff will end, and future boat work will be repairs, maintenance and upgrades along the way.

So, the solar rewiring finished up. Now the two starboard float deck panels are in serial, running one 36volt branch back to the MMPT controller. The two port float deck panels are also set that way. And the wiring is in place to add a third branch via new smaller panels on hard dodger top. Anton, if you’ve got any ideas for making a monocrystaline 36volt group, I’m all ears. Not interested in the flexible panels.

Mounting the new solar panel flat boards over the curved float decks is tricky, mostly because we’re trying to reuse the holes from the flexible panels’ old direct mounting. Needed longer thru-deck bolts but type 316 stainless steel is hard to get. As I fretted over how many days it would take to get a McMaster Carr order delivered, turns out the west coast hub is 20 miles away and open Sundays. Pilgrimage to Mecca, man!

One doesn’t get to wander the aisles, but from the bit I could see it’s every bit as tidy and efficient as their amazing website. Same day Sunday will call was great. And the counter guy was really nice, and intrigued by a first-visit from a long time customer.

Today Damien came over and on bolt #1 of 24 we could see the odd angles were going to be a problem. These mounting panels need feet! We’re in a fancy, tidy marina, not a working yard. Hmmm, go get some aluminum angle stock? That’s a lot of electrolysis trouble. Sure would be nice in plastic (fiberglass). So a quick Home Depot run for $6 of wood, some screws and packing tape to make a bracket form. Ugh, it’s 9pm and we have to build this inside the pretty boat!That’s a scramble of glass and carbon fabric scraps that I happened to throw in the box for this trip. It was thankfully just enough to form a long strip of angle bracket material. Pretty sure tonight no epoxy spilled where it doesn’t belong. The morning will tell.

I did take a dinner break in the wonderful company of Beth and Damien at their awesome Catana 431 catamaran BritoYou guys will probably see a lot more about them in a couple months as we make plans to buddy up in the Sea of Cortez. Along with a tasty dinner they walked me through their Iridium Go satellite comms system with built-in PredictWind forecasting. I think we’ll copy what these guys did! Gotta hurry to get the antenna and base installed later this month.

Forgot to snap a photo, but Brizo boat dog Bella is a kick. She’ll be video worthy in Mexico. Stay tuned for that one.

Off to sleep with epoxy fumes now. G’night people.

Tweaks

We told you Ravenswing had a good first ocean trip. And of course it generated a to-do list. We’re getting after it, pre-Mexico.

Jim and Dan, my first task at 6am today… The bathroom dry rot king can imagine what happened when I finally got the pump’s clog to clear in that Alamitos Bay parking lot bathroom. Nothing a little Clorox couldn’t fix. Note in the photo the small water lines and black ‘vented loop’. That used to be much higher up, behind a false bulkhead. Turns out I had too much elevation gain in the toilet flush-water supply line, meaning we were constantly starving the toilet for sufficient flushing water. Rerouted it all this morning via the “sea chest” concept down at hull bottom level, and it works like a champ now. The Lavac toilets are great with simplicity and strength, but do require sensible setup.

The other big one I mentioned before was blowing out a solar panel. Anton advises the flexible panels have proven to be quite prone to breaking circuitry due to the flexing. I thought we had done well to mount them to solid boat parts (I pity those who think it’ll work strapping them to Bimini tops). But we agreed that these panels really need to be permanently attached to actual backer boards to ensure the best chance of longevity. We’re out of foam core and wanted this project done quickly before I drove back to LA. So it was pressure treated wood and a sheet of doorskin. We’ll show you the install soon.

Got the sewing machine out for covering the Bimini when it’s folded up during sailing or storms.

The mainsail reefing-led-to-cockpit is working well, but missing a couple of line guides in front of the cabintop halyard winches. We had some extra plastic hanging around yesterday, and will install tomorrow.

I loaded the pickup with all the last stuff for the boat’s coming adventure, plus every tool I could foresee using in LA this week. Some of you knew our 2017 Ram Ecodiesel 1500 4×4, all tricked out with off-road gear. Yea, that motor couldn’t handle the travel trailer load. After a five month fight, we prevailed in arbitration and Chrysler bought it back last week. Their dough enabled a 50k miles 2017 Cummins diesel 2500. And this garage queen just barely fits :)Pretty darn happy yesterday driving down I-5 (basically empty) at 70mph getting 23-24 mpg in a huge ass truck.

Last weekend it pulled the travel trailer very well up to the Sierras. Mountain bike racing and early snow!I discovered how great the truck’s factory supplied exhaust brake works.

Anyhow, today was moving Ravenswing from the two week max stay at Long Beach to a three week berth in San Pedro. Never gets old passing the Los Angeles harbor entrance called Angels Gate.

Tomorrow includes solar rewording / reinstall, line handling upgrades and interior adjustments. Probably painting jobs on Sunday.

Oh yea, Navy radioman Dave: Turns out the VHF transmission problem was the $3 patch cable from the antenna splitter to the radio. After you left Catalina I took another crack at diagnostics and found the cable cutting in and out. Not cool that the $900+ professional AIS rig showed up with a crap cable! They quickly sent this for me to put in tmrw. No time for sailing this week but at least this is a nice marina to hang and work in for a few days. Next up will be the designated BajaHaHa anchorage in San Diego later this month!

Around the West End

… of Catalina, that is. Monday after the MultiMarine Summer Splash wrapped up, we pulled the anchors and set sail around the western tip of the island.After rounding the corner we did a little wing&wing with main and jib. Gotta love doing 8-9kts with zero effort on a cruising boat. We started checking out coves for a two night anchorage. The shore-boat boss at Two Harbors had suggested Big Geiger cove. Found it, but saw it was a private beach of the Blue Water Cruising Club. We set the bow anchor anyway, figuring we could dinghy ashore elsewhere. Then rowed over to the nice Grand Banks trawler to ask where they’d recommend a stern anchor. Turns out those folks are basically the summer ambassadors for BWCC, and they invited us ashore. After we hoisted the guest burgee. They say the place looks the same as when the founders put it together in the 50’s.

The next day we walked the road west to the next coves. These shots of the Boy Scout Camp are for Dad; I think this is the place he camped as a kid in the late 1940’s!

Even in mid September the Catalina camps appear to be in full swing, with school groups doing outdoor week stuff. We were invaded by snorkeling and kayaking kids.

After the two nights we returned the guest burgee, donated WingIt’s rainbow unicorn to the BWCC kids, and sailed to Long Beach. The EagleRail team will appreciate our approach along the LA/LongBeach massive container facilities. With Ravenswing safely docked, we grabbed a rental car and scooted back to real life in the Bay Area and Oregon.

The boat and skipper say a huge Thank You to Dan, Jim and Anton for everything each man did to safely transit the central California coast on the boat’s first real voyage. It feels very different now; we have an accomplished sea boat, not a what-if? vessel. Really fired up about continuing the adventure.

Dan gathered up his images here. Enjoy.

Summer Splashing

Each year in mid September, MultiMarine in Venice, CA hosts the Summer Splash. It’s generally the largest gathering of performance multihulls for a rally/race event of the year on the west coast, and some years nationwide. Founder Mike Leneman has been a supporter of the Ravenswing build all along, so getting him aboard the finished boat this weekend was a very satisfying moment. Props to Kristie for upgrading their shop in honor of Mike’s 70th:

Friday morn was the sail from Marina Del Rey to Cat Harbor on the south (outside) of Catalina Island. Had to squeeze out of our tight slip. That shot looks peaceful but hours before a local sailing school boat was screwing around in the fairway behind us, pretty much failing at sailing. I was on the dock washing laundry when the driver starts yelling, “we’re adrift!” as their stern is coming for Ravenswing. After they failed at rope toss, and a narrow miss, the school’s fleet manager jumped aboard and asked us to shove him back off. He’s got this. Sails were up but engine dead. So I turned back to the wash. Three minutes later the same boat is headed at speed right at our vulnerable pointy float hull stern. Wings’ Bill had just brought over a cold beer, and thank heavens he was there to take the first blow from that Benetau. Inches away from a trip-stopping haul out! The fleet manager later apologized that he should have sailed on the jib instead of trying to trim their saggy main (yeah, no shit dude. Your people are on a sailboat and need to pull some rope instead of freaking out re: the engine). No harm done and an opportunity to realize it’s time to lighten up :)

Sailing-wise, Friday rocked because Ravenswing was tested by five other SF Bay Area Corsairs that had trailered down, plus Leneman’s big super light cat Minette. We kept pace with Mike all day, and kept the Fboats in our wake. It was extremely gratifying to find we’ve built enough of a performer to be competitive in multihull racing, even though we’ve got an oven and a bunch of cruising stuff aboard. All was well to the West End rock, but then WaterWings hugged the shore with spin while we went for breeze outside with the reacher. I found the hole in the wind and Chris/Todd ghosted in front. Amy and Dave and their girls on F27 WingIt and Bill & Tammy on Wings almost caught us as they could see WaterWings v. Ravenswing ahead. Of course Catalina then served up big wind gusts a half hour later as we were setting anchors. After the breeze died, Amy paddled over to visit. To thank Ravenswing for dinghy ferryboat work, the WingIt crew left the rainbow unicorn in our permanent care. Jimbo wonders what the hell we’re going to do with it. Seems great for the San Diego HaHa kickoff?

Fall is close by, as here in the Channel Islands it’s getting cooler. But the water is beautiful. My goal is getting south enough to dive the boat bottom (for a scum scrub) without hiring it out. Our mascot seems to have enjoyed the first passage. He did great. And Honey, as a good omen, you’ll appreciate that this one watched over our ice cream stop at the Two Harbors store. By mid Sunday morning all the other Splash boats rolled towards home, and we stayed on with the shallow end of bay beyond the mooring field all to ourselves. Such an advantage of the retractable-foils tri! We’ve parked a 40′ cruising boat within swimming of the dinghy dock. Similar size boats are a quarter mile out.

Thanks again to the co-owner for preparing and freezing beautiful food. Eating home-cooked real food on the challenging passage was a major morale booster, and I realize it keeps crew healthy. Beef stew, a nice slaw and Rogue Red!Anton had to depart Sunday, so the three of us are thoroughly enjoying splits of his share!

Today the plan is to round the island west tip and look for north side anchorages. And while there’s cell here, finally solve the where-in-LA? docking question that I need for the next few weeks.

On the 11s

Ravenswing departed Half Moon Bay at 11am Monday, and we arrived approx 380nm sailed south Wednesday at 11:50pm. We had punishing seas, flat seas, some fast beamy reaching, slogging along by motor and finally some amazing downwind spinnaker running. Getting around Pt Conception was a handful. No photos for you because it was 2am, seas were nasty, cross waves slamming the hull and the wind building. Dan and Anton took great care of the ship, driving hard with double reefed main and reefed jib. I woke up at 4am to dropping wind and by 6am it became a long motor-sail past Santa Barbara towards LA.

This trip proved sailing can be a great team sport. Jim finally got to live a long time dream of offshore voyaging (we went about 50 miles off the coast to find the right wind Tuesday). Anton also got his first long distance ocean voyage and did a great job handling late night watches. And diagnosing and solving a solar charging problem that could have hurt us if not attended. (Lost one of the four panels and they are in series; That’ll change!)

Big props to Dan the Man Mone. Bay Area skippers know they are lucky to get Dan aboard. He had his hands full on this trip with a green crew (skipper included), some untested gear, confused seas, and general sorting out to do. Dan and I sat on the forward beam tonight reflecting on how much fun he’s had sailing an ocean tri that can get up and go. He and I armwrestled for the stick during the glorious spinnaker run this afternoon from Oxnard to Pt. Dune.

lasagne Dinner on the last sea evening went over well, colored by sunset over Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands.

Here’s the boat’s first visit to a destination port. They put our 27′ beam into a 28′ slip because the big side tie dock was reserved for the 1989-90 Whitbread around the world all-female race boat Maiden. She’s been rehabbed by Tracy Edwards, the one who at 25 years old boldly told the sailing establishment she would rep England in the race with an all female crew. They were heavily mocked, until they won two of the four race legs.

We got to help land the boat this afternoon and talk with the crew. This evening was a free showing of the movie Maiden (tells Tracy’s story) that’s currently out in theaters. Go see it.

Enjoy a little look into the easy part of our trip.

First post from sea

You guys have patiently followed this thing through so many years of building. Today the focus changes.

The skipper was tearful after a loving sendoff from the co-owner. Zoom in on her waving us away. It was a peaceful morning sailing past The City. Then, par for my long course, we had to stop in Sausalito because my-built half of Keith’s new water tight escape hatch bolting device wasn’t good enough. Jeanne drove to the boat with stainless steel parts to mate with the Skateaway handle, and we departed the bay three hours later than planned.

Tonight we’re safely anchored in Half Moon Bay under a beautiful moon.

I wanted a mellow September sail out the Gate and make the easy southbound left turn. Instead the Gulf of the Farallones roared the way it can. Big steep waves, spray soaking the driver despite a big dodger (came right over the top) and bottom-cleaning slam downs. The boat did great. So did the crew in very challenging conditions. Phew, day 1 done.

This one’s for PaulM – he wanted action video :)

Into the wind

Howard started the F36 #5 hulls in 1995. Jeanne and Greg moved those hulls to Santa Rosa in late 2011. 8 years of fabricating and buying parts later it seems we have a boat ready for the ocean. Here was yesterday’s final punch list, for Ravenswing’s last day at home in Richmond. One of those spinnakers fits, and PaulM will be happy it’s a huge ass .75 that looks designed for light air pacific southbound days. The crew voted that I have to leave the paint at home. Yea there’s a cockpit sole to refresh, the equipment room touch ups and a few exterior modifications that need repaint, but it’s time to go sailing and call the boat BUILT. The rest is maintenance and upgrades. Keith, we finally did a proper job with the escape hatch keeper lines, but I didn’t finish the inside hand nut to match the one you sent. Will do that in LA this month.

And so, i really can’t believe it. 20+ years of dreaming about heading under the Golden Gate and turning left for adventure. God willing, it’s today. Of course there’s a big high pressure ridge and the forecast is gusts to 40kts between Monterey and Pt Conception. The crew has agreed to reef down, tether in and make the short run to Half Moon Bay this morning. We’ll await better weather from that safe harbor.

If you want to keep track of us, use the various AIS ship tracking websites (eg shipfinder.com) and search on s/v Ravenswing, MMSI #368065160

We thank everyone for supporting and making this boat possible. You know who you are, with all the advice, the labor hours in the workshop, Napa River and marina. All the sailing time making smart recommendations. And so much more. Soon it will be time to come sail the big F-boat in tropical waters. Hope you’ll join us in 2020 and beyond!

Bon voyage.