Passed the torch

A well built boat should be like a high distance relay race… a good long run for each person and a careful handoff in between.

This time it was love at first sight.

Wendy bought her boat then immediately had to say “see you in a couple days”

Wendy’s flight to SFO had a significant mechanical delay, so in order to complete the sale before we leave for Mexico in the morning, I sailed Maggie to SF pier 1.5 (the city’s only true private boats public landing), met Wendy, and together we sailed her back to Sausalito for the shakedown/sea trial/training handoff cruise. It’s been a while seeing someone fall in love with a new-to-them boat like that, and WOW is that a special moment to be in. Maggie has been a tough topic for my siblings as we watched Dad grow increasingly unable to sail and maintain his boat. I kick myself for having let Maggie become a burden and worry. Today’s beam reach solo romp across the bay at hull speed was a great reminder we’re always fortunate to have sailing at our fingertips. Maggie wasn’t a burden, she just needed a little help getting her baton passed. Job done, and we made a great new friend today. I think that wasn’t my last sail aboard the Carters’ ol’Cat30 :)

Do we have any women readers who might be interested in joining Wendy for a Basic Keelboat women’s-only course on SF Bay this spring? She’s interested in small group training like the one Jeanne and Leslie enjoyed a few years back. Let me know if you want to reach her.

PS Wendy, the white bubbles wake show you were driving pretty straight when we were hamming for the camera :)

Old photos

Found a number of iPhone shots that didn’t get uploaded for you from Mexico on the last trip, so we’ll go back in time a bit tonight. Still no new videos for you though because a certain blogger seems to have left the GoPro at the boat. Oops.

Adding a t-splitter to fill both water bladder tanks concurrently instead of sequentially
… and had to patch one tank to remove a now-unwanted drain. Dinghy repair kit did it!
Coz & Carter enjoy Espiritu Santo off La Paz
Catholic Church in LaPaz
… and the cathedral in Puerto Vallarta
Tucked in at Cabo San Jose after retreating from the Nirther’ blow
The osprey at Cabo San Jose threatening to crap on Carlos’ clothesline laundry
Sadly I took no photos of Rick or Carlos, but this guy was at the bar we frequented together
Enjoying Banderas Bay anchorage after the mellow crossing from Cabo
Cruisers’ dinghy landing just beyond La Cruz marina
Amazing Sunday market at LaCruz. 100’s of great vendors
La Cruz night life with the Scott family
Our visit coincided with a government backed murals beautification/promote tourism project in La Cruz

Meanwhile, back here in NorCal, we finished up Maggie today and I’m pretty happy with this KiwiGrip nonskid stuff. Application couldn’t be easier. Zoom tin check the finish.

Now working a small punch list to get packed up to fly back. Gathered hardware bits today, put more paint on the swimming ladder and dinghy transom boards, and made the 1/2” pin that permanently replaces the temporary bolt at the boom sheave box (for clew reefing lines)

Once you learn the tricks, 316 stainless steel is so workable!

We got more happy boat vibe in Dad’s marina, as friend Sophie took the big plunge on her dream boat, this sweet Baba30

She works with (our-bro-in-law) Joe in a local sailing charter business, and is embarking on her captain’s licensure process. She sold her Catalina 25 right next to our Catalina 30 Maggie at the same time. Can’t wait to see Sophie get the boat rechristened Clementine and once again sail to Baja, this time on her own ship.

77 F degrees & 30% humidity…

… you know what that is? That’s darn good boat painting weather, people!

Drew, we got those notches routed out for the Taco transom. Will probably paint these grey next time RW needs some touch ups. Also have to transfer the stainless steel thumbscrews plate over once we get back to the boat.

Maggie’s cockpit sole got finished up this morning, after a couple of fairing-curing days.

Primer went down this morning and tomorrow the job should be finished with a heavy coat of grey KiwiGrip non skid. The cockpit is rock solid once again.

Just before leaving the boat in Banderas Bay a few weeks back, I offered up on the morning radio net bringing small stuff down from the Bay Area for other cruisers. Two guys came over before my airport run, saying they would each really appreciate a bit of ferrying. Well crap, now I have 45lbs with of zincs, big Garhauer blocks and clutches, and four huge docking cleats that have arrived in various shipping boxes. Careful what you offer up, I suppose. Going to get crafty about making disposable luggage. And I’m carrying our Temporary Import Permit to help argue that I don’t have to pay duty on all this fancy new gear :(

Ok, the boys and Jeanne just had a family phone meeting; we’re still flying to Ravenswing this weekend, but agreed we should wear N95 masks at least through SFO. Keep your corona virus off my face!

It’s good to be fabricating again

This week we made a run up to the Lost Sierra for some Trails Stewardship work.(after meetings, 7 of us did a great ride on brand new SantaCruz Heckler e-bikes – now I gotta raise some cash to get one – wow).

Indian Falls Ridge above Quincy, CA

Connected with crewman Cosbey at the right time, because a boat-builder friend had just brought him extra carbon-skinned foam core panels. Cozmo graciously put a couple in our pickup. And we’re going to town with this stuff!

During the Scott family’s time on Ravenswing we cracked the painted particle board transom plates on the TacoCat. Drew had already noted this was the Achilles heel of the excellent Takacat line. Perfect first use of the 3/4” carbon foam board…

Tomorrow we’ll seal up the edges, router-out the notch where it fits into the steel bars, and add a fiberglass abrasion resistance skin. Or maybe Kevlar just because we have some extra :)

DanM will be relieved that we’re getting serious about a real swim ladder. (The one built pre-HaHa, to hang next to the rudder, was too weak)

This is our existing boarding step that ties on to the starboard float deck, helpful at low docks.

Now we’re making an extension that will bolt on to the sides of the orange one, and serve as steps down in to the water.

The messy stuff on all the edges is leftover bonding glue being used to seal up the raw foam edges where the panel was sawed. That’ll be a quick flush-sanding before painting.

Went back to Maggie today and was satisfied with yesterday’s layup of final floor skins. Today we taped the new sole to the original edges. That’s under the peel-ply you see at the perimeter. And we spread a first coat of fairing compound. Tomorrow it gets real fairing, and hopefully painting on Monday. Weather turned cold today, so we’ll see how this goes. Might need some heat lamp tenting this week. We’ll take Dad to his boat tomorrow to inspect the work and get him to help me clean up the construction mess :)


You guys know we love a good trimaran, but yea we started out on one hull too. Mom has pictures of baby Greg in a wicker basket, plopped down on the cockpit sole of Grandpa Marshall’s Chris Craft 37’ sloop (yes CC made some sturdy cruising boats in the early 60’s). That boat’s name was perhaps an omen? Trio. I loved sleeping in that aft cabin, looking out at the small gauge salt train near the Redwood City Marina. When grandpa Marshall (Dad’s dad) died, his Newport 28 Juno became Dad & Valda’s. Chris and Dad sailed Juno up to Sausalito in 1985 and had to find Richardson Bay Marina in the very dark night (another example of overly optimistic time estimating, or as Jeanne says, Carter-time). Juno was a pretty sporty boat, not really suited to the folks’ Delta cruising plans. So in 2000 they traded up to Dad’s beloved Catalina 30, Maggie. It’s been a great 20 year run. My best day aboard was anchoring her in McCovey Cove during the 2002 World Series for a game the Giants beat the Angels. There were 100+ boats crammed in there alongside the packed stadium. Hell of a party.

But today, Dad can’t care for his boat and it’s time to sell. Joe and I have many hours in to her, going after a few years of ‘deferred maintenance’ stuff. Engine and trans are back up to snuff, various running rigging replaced, and two decades with of ‘spring cleaning’ done. A big shout out of thanks here to DonK for tending to Maggie while I’ve been off sailing Ravenswing. Don, that’s been a huge relief.

So, we finally advertised Maggie last Friday and got a flurry of emails & texts. The first shopper stepped aboard and felt the squishy cockpit sole. We had grown used to it and frankly Joe and i didn’t want to deal with it. But it’s a deal breaker.

We made an agreement over the weekend to sell Maggie to a very excited rookie sailor Wendy, with the promise of a new sole job. Here was my Monday morning. The softness underfoot lies between the tapes.

Put a cutoff wheel on the angle grinder and cut a perfectly good looking Catalina floor. Oops – water damage underneath!

Scraped & chiseled away all the rotted plywood and prepared the surface for new pressure treated core.

Bonded the new stuff in place

And use water-weight to press it all together during epoxy curing. Also there’s a car jack and blocks in the cabin, pushing the floor up in to original shape. All of that cured for two days. Today I’ve laid in four layers of glass and am now babysitting the vacuum pump, writing to y’all.

The new core and glass aren’t quite flush with the rest of the sole yet, so tomorrow we’ll peel away the bagging consumables and fill in low spots with chopped strand mat fiberglass. Then we’ll fillet around the edges so we can wrap glass tape 3” up the side walls. This should make the new floor stronger and more damage resistant than the original.

It was hard to get motivated to tackle Dad’s boat problem, but the excitement of our buyer certainly lit a fire, and I can’t wait til next Friday’s handover date when we get to take Wendy sailing and show off Maggie’s bay skills. We’ve got a week to get her all buttoned you for her new family!

I spoke to the marina manager Ken this afternoon, confirming the transaction. He said the Carters are the longest running customer at 35 years; this placed opened in spring 1985, and we were continuous with Juno and Maggie here. And Dave the Diver surprised me with the news that Ted Carter was his very first customer account! Same guy has been scrubbing these two boats also for 35 years.

Do sailboats get in our bloodstreams, or what, good people? Wow.

A Whale of a Time

no pictures or video yet, as we’re only sneaking out updates over the international phone plan! So use your imaginations, good people…

Ravenswing comes to you tonight from the LOVELY anchorage off La Cruz, in Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta). Carlos, Rick and I made the crossing from Cabo in about 52 hours, with 292 nautical miles sailed.  By turning around and waiting out that big blow from the north, we set ourselves up for a slow ride behind that system. And in this case, that’s not a bad thing. The ride across from Baja to mainland Mexico was all done under full mainsail, and back and forth between the big blue reacher and the working jib. The wind models showed we’d have some good reaching, but mostly it was heading upwind in light breezes. We had about ten hours of dead calm, and found our motoring groove with the outboard at 3800 rpm, main sheeted down tight, motor sailing at about 4.5 to 5 kts. It’s very fuel efficient, and the shallow-pitch propellor won’t really push Ravenswing much faster. The last 30 miles in to Punta Mita were painfully slow this morning, but once inside the bay the wind came up for a glory reach for the ten miles to the anchorage.

Rick and I are kind of food snobs, and this was a pleasure cruise. So we ate well. He baked fresh cornbread and cinnamon rolls. I cooked a delicious orzo / grilled chicken / multi-veggie pilaf, etc etc etc. Carlos had said PBJs would be fine, but we scoffed at that and he ate like a king. There was plenty of time to do the dishes.

The welcome was warm here, featuring a great reunion with west coast sailing star Paul of J-World. Some of you know I’ve been a big fan of his F31 Sally Lightfoot, then Contour 34 Orange, then the awesome Vanishing Girl he stole off of Sunsail :). But tonight we saw a beautiful thing… Paul sailing up to us on his new Wharram cat, effortlessly single handing, anchoring up for a night aboard. Can’t wait to paddle board over and check out that boat in the morning. He kayaked over with Geronimo, a boat dog that really needs to meet Brizo’s Bella. Kinda jealous of these guys figuring out the ocean dogs!  And we’re so proud of Paul’s expanding sailing career, including a recent stretch of sailing 7,000 ocean miles in just three months covering major ocean race events and deliveries. Very lucky to have this guy willing to show Ravenswing the ropes in Banderas Bay.

I’d say the best thing about the past ten days afloat has been the wildlife. Whale sightings have become ho-hum. Oh yea, there goes another humpback. Yes her tail is fabulous. And that one that just spyglassed up and made a huge splash a quarter mile over. At one point you didn’t bother looking if someone called one out on the other side of the boat where you’d have to sit up or turn around. While I slept yesterday the other guys saw a large dolphin pod. We were going too slow to entice the swimmers in to bow surfing, but still just being among them is cool. I have to make a report to the Turtle Girls from the HaHa, as I counted a dozen turtles across four species this week. The birds have been amazing, especially the blue footed boobies who are very curious around the sailboat rig. Off Punta Mita today they were dive-bombing fish right next to the boat. quite exciting.

No fish caught this leg. We lost one lure, a smaller one, so Carlos sleeps well thinking the big one just got away.

Knowing it was going to be a mellow, light wind trip I asked the guys to go against their preference for two-on-deck and instead take single-person 4 hour shifts. On this short passage, Carlos had 8am & 8pm, Rick had 4am & 4pm, and I took midnight and noon. So we each had 8 hours off at a time, and basically zero sail change awakenings, which felt like a luxury cruise to me. Coming on at midnight last night, I found the boat doing 4-5 knots upwind in perhaps 5 knots of variable breeze. With a huge full moon and mostly flat sea, it was an amazing opportunity to creep around the boat doing everything possible to squeeze another knot of boat speed. Lots of sail trim experimentation, and things like moving gas and water jugs to leeward, trying to roll the windward hull up out of the water (yea fboaters, we were going that slowly). I know we’ve got doubters out there, but our Leneman delta-vee mainsheet / traveler single line setup was fabulous this trip, both in controlling the huge apparent wind Thursday and tweaking in light airs this weekend. This was the first time to really work on her light air sailing and that was a lot of fun. Even at 3am.

JoeS commented on Friday about his Seawind cat experiences in heavy wind going down a small jib and heavily reefed main. My mistake Thursday was staying in the cockpit too long, getting soaked. We could have dropped the main, reefed the jib and sailed from the cabin (autopilot doing fine). There will be a time to do this, and we’ll practice in medium wind sometime soon.

Since we left San Francisco, and even before, a lot of people asked where the boat is headed, and I’ve been saying Through the Canal and on to Europe. Well, not so fast. The Pacific side of Mexico is pretty fabulous, and there’s just no need to rush all this. We’re going to call the insurance guy and figure out an extension for the MX coverage. Looks like Ravenswing has much to explore in this country. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Sea of Cortez by sea, we’re looking for crew. Drop me a line.

The rising full moon just crested over vee-berth hatch edge. Time to stop typing and start gazing. Waves are breaking on the beach – with that sound sleep will come very soon. Goodnight all.


An About Turn

Ravenswing pulled out of Cabo San Jose at 11:30am, rearing to jam down the track towards Puerto Vallarta. Mainsail with single reef and working jib, with reacher out on the sprit, rolled up and strapped down on deck like sausage.

North breeze was stiff out of the harbor. And kept building as we cleared a headland. Weather software had us expecting 15-20 kits and 1 meter waves. We progressed through dropping the jib and then 2nd reef on main. At that point we saw apparent wind gusting to 40 (we were doing 10 kts+) and short steep seas. Splashes doused the cockpit. All rather snotty. Carlos and Rick suggested either bare poles, or turning back. So we executed a 180degree tack and smartly got back to a slip in Puerto Los Cabos. Tonight we’re studying more weather info and make a decision on trying again, perhaps looking like Saturday. Actual reports had the true wind gusting over 30kts while we were out there. During dinner we agreed we’ve handled those winds back at home daysailing and racing, but the prospect of bashing like that for 24+ hours is a whole new ball game, especially when you don’t have to. Instead we’re choosing a weekend run that will likely include motoring across windless stretches. And that’s the right call here. Yet another day of big learning on Ravenswing.

Big thanks to the crew for keeping level heads and being prudent.

And I’m so proud tonight of the boat. Zero boat drama today and she handled the conditions very well. The right amount of weather helm when needed and the rig performed as intended, especially the new reefing lines sheave box.

Stay tuned. Now we know what a MX Pacific coast Norther looks like. Not particularly fun.