Final Thrash

Holy cow, it’s hard prepping the boat for ocean voyaging while also finishing building the thing! We’re extremely motivated by the thought that the tools will only grow farther away with every coming sailing day this fall. So now is the moment to finish those little bits!

Counter space is small and the stove is used only minutes a day. So here’s a new rough carbon crap catcher.

Need more cubbies for the little stuff. This encloses the back part of the chart table.

The engine ran perfectly two weeks ago during the long motorsail back from Drakes Bay. ChrisH, RickH and I set out last Friday for the Farallones (and whales) but the motor started misfiring before we left the bay. We sailed back to a Richmond and had a live exercise of building up the stored dinghy, side tying and using the 10hp motor tug boat. That worked well. Chris, after I replaced that fuel filter, the symptoms returned and haunted a Sunday sail with our siblings. So Labor Day became Suzuki Day. I think it was actually the three year old spark plugs, as my solo test drive Tues morn was smooth. Pulling the lower unit to change water pump impeller worked really well with engine lowered into the dinghy.

While buying parts I asked the Suzuki dealer about propellers and our inability to power above 4300 rpm. And we have very little reverse capability with the stock 9″ diameter, 10 pitch. Two years ago I went rogue and tried a flatter four blade but that didn’t solve it. Wish I had found these Suzuki guys in Sausalito sooner. Came away Wednesday with this. 10″, 4 blade, 5″ pitch. Very different and hopefully a game changer. But of course, it didn’t fit right. Here’s the old prop, ready to get the washer and prop nut. And the new one in same position. Note the brass splines not fully covered up by the prop hub. That’s bad. So an overnight package to get the ONE proper spacer available from Suzuki USA today, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be motoring again.

Old knees make getting aboard a little tricky. This booster now helps. Charlie, that’s a recut of the aft cabin companionway ladder you and i designed over a Subway sandwich in Santa Rosa five years ago. Time flies.

And for Kai, no more worrying about our dinghy tags. Finally figured out to bond flexible plastic to the hull with pvc patch glue. And a trip to AAA with $15 to get replacement stickers. Yes I know they’re not the required 3″ away from the boat’s number. Live dangerously.

Still lots to do in two more days before Sunday’s departure. Think good thoughts for motor and spinnaker testing tomorrow. We may be sailors but would really appreciate a calm day tomorrow. Good luck with that around here :)

Three weeks ago the boat participated in an organized Crew Overboard Recovery drill. Great exercise and big thanks to Chris, Dan and Anton. In retrospect, we didn’t stop the boat soon enough. I had chosen to drop the sails, which we did quickly but a lot of distance gets by quickly in a breeze. Round up and stall is my new mantra for this. Meanwhile, our quick-deploy 4:1 hoist got Anton on deck really well. The gear and crew worked great. Truls did a nice write up here. https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/2019/09/04/#crew-overboard-but-not-by-accident

Commitments made

Well, no backing out now. Went in here and ‘gave notice’ to vacate our slip of three years. Gotta leave by Sept 20 or start paying again :)

Next we went here and signed up:

But before the Baja HaHa we’re pumped up for the Multi Marine Summer Splash on Sept13-15 out to Catalina and back. These are great deadlines for finishing all the little stuff.

When Jim mentioned his electric charging needs I realized all my battery sizing calcs never really factored in other crew power needs. Anton recently reconfigured our LiFePO4 charging program, so the solar panels sit idle quite a bit. The solar charge controller has a direct-to-load circuit available, so we installed USB and cig-plug charging ports fed directly by the panels. So Jimbo can charge up by day and use separate battery juice by night. Alls well.

Galley trim-out continues. Ravenswing is one of likely few boats with a dyneema veggie net. Just a bit of overkill!

This is what we should have had when the emergency hatch opened and flooded the aft cabin. A free standing high power pump, easily deployed. Got this rigged up today. Thought a field test was in order so we filled a bucket and set it all in the float hull. Yea, the boat builder didn’t think about how that big 2,000 gph in a little bucket would behave. Of course it flipped it over and pulled the hose back inside. So while the pump works great, operator error resulted in emptying the gear and drying out for the afternoon. Never a dull moment on Ravenswing.

Golden Oldies Multihulls (Stephen) called at 6pm yesterday, asking where I was because he had three spinnakers in his car. Dropped the wiring tools and hit I-80. Two hours later in Roseville we had this load. Home by 11:30pm and my dear co-owner was a peach about running the tapes with a 100′ measure at 8am today. There’s a .75 ounce asym that might be a little too tall. And a nice 1.5oz from a Reynolds 33 cat that’s a bit short but maybe good. On the third sail my tape measure passed 60′ from the clew towards the head when we hit thiswhat the heck? And what is the “.com” logo? Keep unpacking it and OMG, Stephen has a KiteShip kite sail basically brand new sitting in his garage for years. These things fly from very long sheets above the mast. They made a run at America’s Cup and Sydney/Hobart, etc. But the company is gone now. I’m not going to tackle this beast for Ravenswing, but want to try this out on a large ocean boat. Anybody in? Go search on kiteship and you’ll see what it’s all about. Meanwhile I’ll get ChrisH to help test the two spins on Friday and hopefully one fits!

One of the profile questions on the BajaHaHa entry form is “what is your dream boat?” I told them to go look at their own article from Aug’15. We’re finally getting there.

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!

Brave sailors

We depart the harbor armed with radar, ship identifying AIS and computerized nautical charts that follow the boat’s position. There are a lot of aids available. But 8 of us sat for dinner on Round Midnight after a slow but beautiful sail up the coast 30 miles to Drakes Bay. Carlos talked about how brave those people were, sailing their little ships without engines, charts, lights and so many things we take for granted. I couldn’t believe I’ve sailed around here for 45 years and hadn’t anchored at Drakes before. Go, if you can. But beware of the weather.

Ravenswing shadowed the 30+ boat race fleet (I was too busy to enter and we’re not in the season series anyway) and our performance was fine. She’s not going to light the race course on fire, but we held our own in the 3-5kt wind. At least we didn’t let Round Midnight horizon-job us :). Big thanks to Rick for getting us out there and offering such a nice dinner on his boat. We rafted the Explorer 44, Farrier 36 and Truls’ F27 for 9 hulls. Whales were feeding and a couple of them came very close Saturday, about 80 feet off the boat. Looked like juvenile humpbacks to me. Also with this morning’s flat water the schools of anchovies were amazing to watch as they shimmered the surface. A few miles later at Duxbury Reef there were at least 100 fishing boats out for salmon. Sailing race course and salmon trolling in the same patch of ocean led to some nasty radio chatter. (Ex., “Sailboat, turn NOW!”).

Dan and Chris enjoyed their first Ravenswing overnights and each will be on the boat for trips this fall. We finally got decent wind today in the Bonita Channel and on home to Richmond. It was heavy overcast on the ocean and bright sun over the bay. Summer in SF!

Jeanne finished the rehab on the consignment shop $35 find Forespar man overboard pole. Now we’re proper. Before Drakes run, I tackled the anchor bridle prep. My new eye splice wasn’t perfect but we’ll test that it properly sets/holds.

We’re also finally moving in to the galley, working to keep it light. The fridge is under hereIt got its freezer / cooler separation wall. Freezer side on the left, up against the cold plate. That 1/2″‘foam and 1/4″ ply laminate is overkill, but it was fast and free, being a recycled tabletop from the old travel trailer we sold. Still need some air flow tweaking, but our fridge stuff was nice and the freezer was doing its job this weekend. And speaking of keeping it light, these plastic cups from Target make nice stuff racks.

Plenty more to do this week. Thx again, Rick, Chris and Dan for a great weekend!

The mad rush

The Ravenswing build has been way more than the Carters bargained for. Years have long passed since our initial voyaging target dates. But the past few weeks have turned the corner, and we’re hitting the punch list hard in preparation of a September 8 departure from San Francisco towards the Channel Islands in southern Cal. Jim spent a week aboard earlier this month, including a successful overnight trip to Half Moon Bay. Exiting SF Bay in steep chop and upper 20’s apparent wind was a good shakedown. Finally got a first good anchorage photo shoot :)From the dinghy we asked locals for a dinner spot. Turns out she’s the membership director of HMB yacht club. I’m riding in from the dinghy dock on a cable barge. Great getting drinks with these folks. After returning to Richmond, we then set off to China Camp (inside SF Bay) to find Drew’s family, the F27 Papillon crew. Weather was amazing and much fun was had with the dinghys (we have matching Takacats).Anton drove over to join Ravenswing and Charlie sailed F24 Stingray over. Ravenswing’s first dinner party was a hit. Yes, the Bimini top was great to have at anchor. So of course there was a sewing flurry before Jim came to visit. the blue one was part of the used unit we picked up for $120. Just kept cutting and reseweing it until it was a usable pattern for our shape. Next we built a new jib bag, as the crew will tell you the first one sucked (too tight). But not to waste anything, the first jib bag was easily modified to become the new stay-on-deck roller Reacher bag. Thx to Round Midnight for that idea!We’ve also been quite focused on safety gear. The jack lines got fitted. They install easily and get put away when not needed.

The rudder finally got its permanent fix for the proper fore/aft take setting. Instead of shiming the cassette, the rudder grew an angled wedge up where it rests underway inside the cassette. Not particularly pretty but totally effective. It sailed great in the snot to Half Moon Bay.

The float hulls have had bouts of “stale air” in the three years since launch. They finally got solar vents. Put them in the hatch doors, so as not to mess with the hull decks.

Just before the China Camp trip we received the replacement electric controller for the fridge/freezer compressor. Ouch, that was $300 shot thanks to the failed escape hatch in June that salt-water soaked the equipment room under the cockpit. Fridge unit is working fine again and right now we’re creating the divider to separate freezer from cooler/refer side.

And yea, also had to replace the Lavac toilet bowl after dropping the original during the paint job of the revised water closet floor. This is the new version with a more robust hinge and seal setup. If anyone out there needs original Lavac lid parts, holler.

The co-owner agreed to poke her nose out the Gate, aided perhaps by her elder son’s encouragement. Thank you Ravenswing for giving us good times together. I’ll explain next time why Colin was able to come aboard unexpectedly…

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!

Thank you again Napa Valley Marina

This place is great for the Bay Area larger-Multihull crowd. Yard foreman Mike calmly figures out how to haul our funny shaped boats, and they have the skills to tackle most any repair type. I finished up the new orange boot stripe Tuesday evening and they bottom-painted Wednesday. Today Ravenswing went back in the water. The two main modifications came out swell. Keith will like this angle, showing how the temporary escape hatch cover is flush with the hull. The real one is back home for final fairing and paint.

The tiller got a batch of 16oz carbon uni filaments placed on each side, as I think we’ve felt a bit of sideways flex under tough conditions. Just another thing that needed an orange repaint anyway! Yeah locals, legendary crew Dan M came out and was immediately put to work. He wonders why it’s called peel-ply, when it doesn’t seem to peel so well…

This guy has made many a tri skipper look good in Bay and coastal racing :). Anybody recognize what shirt he showed up in?

Note to self: Bottom paint history so far was 1) the original Pettit Vivid white debacle, launched 6/2016. 2) sand down and two coats of Pettit Trinidad SR 11/2017

3) light sand and one coat of Pettit Trinidad Pro 6/2019

Orange accent paint is now Alexseal International Orange (hoping this two-part holds up much better than the Interlux bright side before).

The jib gets picked up tomorrow, after some minor leach repair where it rubbed on the old mast’s diamond wires.

And we’re counting on Bay Marine having completed the upgrade to the mast rotation control arm. Without that getting reinstalled, there ain’t no sailing this weekend.