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.

A bit of video

Dan just reminded me to tell you as we dropped the anchor in Drakes Bay, we must have startled a shark. I was looking down at the anchor from the main bow, with Dan watching over on the starboard float. Suddenly it looked like the anchor was coming back up at my face, but I realized it was a pissed-off leopard shark popping out of the water! ¬†Pretty weird sequence that was…

PS – we didn’t get to test the new anchor bridle as we simply hung from the chain all night in no wind. Good sleeping.

Check out a couple of minutes that Dan put together today. Thanks man!

A good workout

I left you guys hanging, I know. But who gets a nasty chest cold to start July? Dang, that thing hit me hard for a few days.

The Napa Marina team put Ravenswing back in the water on Friday, and Carlos joined me Sunday to cruise down river and back to Richmond. While underway I finished up plumbing the newly added cockpit 2nd drain while Carlos drove us through deep enough water. The Napa River shoals get a little tricky. We got in a nice wave with Pam, owner of a lovely Cross 42′ tri and co-owner of the bay’s Adventure Cats charters, as we motored by her place.

Backing up a step, yes we got the rotator arm and the jib back also on Friday. There are now six bolts plus the strengthening cross hatching, vs the original two pivot point bolts. Works great so far.

It was pretty windy in Vallejo, which with the ebb current, means San Pablo Bay was set to be sloppy. So we set the main at first reef and charged down bay into the stiff southwest wind. We made 9-10kts going to weather, and with spray flying everything got a good two hour test. Carlos did a great job with sail trim, particularly as I was distracted keeping an eye and ear on recent repairs / upgrades performances. The escape hatch area was to leeward in the chop for three hours, and was bone dry inside.

We got to the central bay by 3 and while Carlos thought we should go blast around, I just wanted to put the boat away and was feeling crappy (the cold was setting in). But of course after this successful 40 mile trip, the engine died while making the final turn towards our dock. Thankfully we coasted into the wind and fended off / lassoed an empty dock, found the fuel hose problem, and got tied up where we belong. Damn, in just three years the gas tank – to – outboard hose was destroyed by ethanol in the fuel. Will replace all that tomorrow.

Today’s job was installing the replacement / upgraded toilet. The Lavac system is great; very simple and effective. But the older model had fragile porcelain tabs to hold the seat bolts. One of them got broken during the holding tank change job, and the glue job failed recently so we lost vacuum. So now Ravenswing has the modern Lavac, which looks sturdier in the key places. Once we finally get moving south this fall, I am assured we’ll have plenty of jam for the peanut butter. Stone fruits are in high season here in the Carter-Corchero orchard :)

Hope your 4th was good. Bittersweet here though as we said goodbye yesterday morning to 40+ year family friend George Cunha. He liked to sail both on the bay and on remote vacations. He gave it a great 92 year run. Godspeed George!

Quick follow up on battery protect boards

Anton asked this morning if those little boards are at risk from overcooking. Each one is rated to handle just under 2 amps. We doubled them up on each cell, figuring about 3.5 amps working capacity. The 400 watt solar array, converting through the Victron MPPT controller, is pumping at maximum about 6 amps total to the batteries. So with 4×3.5=14 amps of resistance capacity, I think we’ll be fine. Jeff said that in practice on his big cat in the tropics, yes the boards got warm when they kicked in, but never hot. We mounted them with double sided tape, which gives an air cushion under most of each board, and the whole cabinet is a good heat dissipation sink. Hopefully we’ve solved for Anton’s warnings.

Locals, let me know if you want to sail the boat next week. Throw some dates out and we’ll make some plans.

Goo & paint

It’s good to have deadlines. The shipping container for the mast has to be loaded next Friday. My flight home is tomorrow evening. So it’s been a super push to get this stick finished.

Here’s how we made the spreader reinforcements.

Large strips of the flattened out carbon and glass braid span the leading edges, tying both sides together. And it’s the same across the aft edges, with some rebating below the saitrack strip area so the braid buildup doesn’t hamper mainsail raising.

Thursday I did the external reinforcements of the forestay / capshrouds hound.

That’s 3 layers of 11oz carbon twill at 0-90 perpendicular to the mast, 3 more at 45-45 in the direction of pull, then two of the heavy double braid ‘primary straps’. I’m leaving those visible in the final paint job.

Friday night and Saturday morn included final shaping of the masthead, and precision drilling for the masthead sheave pins.

And during all these finish steps from Tuesday to this morning (Sunday) I’ve been doing all the fairing work around the final fabrication stuff.

And suddenly Sunday at 1pm it was time to roll in to the paint booth!!!

CE’s owner Ted was jamming at the other end of the shop on the big 12 Meter boom, so we stopped for lunch and talked through how I should work the primer. He got the equipment going, demonstrated for a few feet, and handed over his spray gun…

I shot two coats of primer, and tonight went around filling pinholes and blemishes. Interesting they had me do that with simply some of the leftover un-thinned primer that had been set aside to begin curing in a pot. About two hours after spraying, the little pot yielded gooey paint that you trowel on just like a thin fairing putty. The advantage is that tomorrow these buildup patches will sand just the same as the rest of the surface.

Tomorrow I hand the project back to Composite Engineering’s Will and John to finish the painting, drill and bush the hound-hole, install the foot insert, drill & tap the 200 Tides SailTrack clips, make the 11/16″ masthead sheave pins, and coordinate diamond wire install with the riggers. They’ll be rushed to get it all done and in the container by Friday.

Honestly folks, I’m beat. When Keith and I wondered about me coming here to help once the spar was out of the oven, I had no clue it would be three straight 80-hour weeks as the primary fabricator and project manager. But in the end, Ted said this evening we did a great job creating “a century-lasting mast” that will make the boat perform at its best. We won’t be able to wear this one out. I know it’ll all be worth it wherever Ravenswing is on the planet and we can look 54′ up in the air with total confidence. It’s been 13 months now Jimbo; soon we will be sailing again.