Ski boat transom work

We’re splitting time these days finishing the rock walls, working on vegetation, and rehabbing the ‘69 SeaFlite. After 57 tons, I’m pretty f’ing sick of lifting rocks. So let’s work on boats.

Got some 3/4” ply, cut it into approximate size to fill the original thin-wall sections, and glued up double layers with fiberglass in between. Now we have 1-1/2” solid transom material to fit…

Then made up a bonding paste of chopped strand mat and thickened polyester resin, and clamped & temp-screwed them in to position.

It’s thick goo, to deal with the irregular surface of the existing boat.

A layer of 18oz kyntex went over the top and was tabbed to the hull.

As an inboard engine boat, this was designed to put the propulsion force into the old engine beds, and not all on the transom. So we’re structurally tying the forces from the new motor mount area to the original zone. We’re using composites to unify the transom, stringers and original engine bed. It starts with offcuts from a big carbon fiber, foam core panel that Cozmo gave me a while back.

Did you catch the glassing boo-boo? Second to last photo, in the middle of the transom. I did a big 78” wide, 20” tall Kyntex single piece across the whole area. It got very hot in the late morning sun and I’m using the last ounces of my fast set good epoxy. After I had it all peel-ply’d and squeegeed out, I took off for the rock store to get the last retaining wall stones. Came back to the boat late in the day and found that big spot had bubbled. Pretty sure that part in the direct son kicked off too fast and trapped some air. Darn, had to end the day by grinding away some of the morning task. That’s boat repair life.

Now we’re stopped until we get more epoxy, hopefully tomorrow. It’s cardboard time again anyway – need to mock up the new outboard well this weekend.

Coming back to life

We had a good weekend in COVID times, gathering a small tribe to put some love into an old boat. Say hello to Triple Zero. This is the prototype, the actual first boat built, of designer Dick Newick’s Summer-Salt 26. The model was picked up and a dozen or so built in Chicago as the Outrigger 26. Check that out here:

Our man Anton responded to a “free boat” ad a few years back. It was in Colorado with a man in his 70’s who realized he just wouldn’t get the boat going again. Anton convinced him the Newick would splash again if she went to California. I got to see it in Anton’s barn as we discussed what would be needed to get her sailing. Since that day the barn creatures and Father Time further conspired against seaworthiness.

Fast forward to last week, when various parties got a rallying call – grab your facemask and grubbies, drive to the ranch, and join the Newick work party. He promised to tow it out into the open, power wash the owl crap off, and provide some COVID-safe hospitality. We got ten folks across the weekend, and kept things socially distanced and/or alcohol wiped. No handshakes, only the Wuhan ToeTap for personal connections.

The day 1 inspection found damage to repair. Main hull transom rot, starboard ama deck/hull join delamination, and rotten net lashing bars on the ama decks. So Saturday was consumed with prepping the structural repairs. A couple of us were assigned to make trampoline nets between the hulls. It made me realize again how thankful we were for Carlos and Dean four years ago in Napa when they did that amazing job installing Ravenswing’s nets in Napa. So hey, Damien and Beth, do you recognize this?

Rumor is this is Brizo’s (awesome refreshed Catana y’all saw in MX with us) former bow net. We cut it in half which is just about right for this:

You can see the new temporary nets lashing bar at the bottom of that photo.

By 7pm of the day that hovered in upper 90’s, and featured itchy fiberglass grinding, Anton called for an Eldo Run to Lake Berryesa. (Above Napa). Good thing, because they weren’t going to let us each go in the house for showers!

Kinda surreal to spend the day cleaning up an 80s boat then joyriding a mostly clapped out ‘76 Cadillac.

PS my mask flew off when he hit 65 down a country road. That’s after he cleaned the car with the leaf blower.

We swam in the lake for sunset, rinsing off old-boat grime. Ate some good food back at the ranch, watched the comet, and hit our distanced tents / vans / pickup beds.

Sunday morning after fresh goats milk & chicken eggs, it was time to slew some West Systems epoxy. I was thinking about the Gougeon brothers and Dick Newick; figured they’d be pretty happy about today’s work.

The new transom work was dubbed red neck vacuum bagging.

Here’s a net lashing bar underway.

And the ama deck / hull join repairs underway

The nets are important with this design; they hold the amas, beams and main hull in tension together. So once we had them laced up, it was time to roll out of the barn into the former horse arena.

You wouldn’t believe this rusted out trailer covered the 1500 miles that got the boat to Anton’s place. Today as he tugged it over bumps we watched it falling apart like the comet. Leaves rust trails when the frame touches the ground!

Time to stand up the rig! Doesn’t everyone have a man-lift in their yard?

The mast and boom are in very good condition. It’s a 26 footer with a proper rotation foot setup and a nice CDI furler. The production boats had 31’ sticks but we’re thinking this will be enough power for windy SF Bay.

Such a good feeling to see your friend excited. This guy is ready to see what all his hard work has earned!

Keith, we ended up with perhaps all the needed cordage, but that’ll get checked carefully soon.

I’d never seen a boat rehab party done entirely on the scrounge. Not one trip to a store the whole three days, and this thing is about ready to sail. Judy says he’ll have to buy her a few little sailmakers notions to get the jib repair done next weekend, and that should do it.

The trailer was deemed by group consensus as, “none of us will help you launch the boat from that piece of shit”, so Anton will borrow an actual boat trailer (already onsite). There’s a bit more uni fiber to add on the stern before refitting the rudder on the rebuilt transom. The dagger and trunk look ready to go. I’ve implored him to take a few more hours now, during the trailer switch, to sand off the failed bottom paint and epoxy barrier below the waterline. Despite that old brochure, this is not a frequent-trailer-launch boat. Some bottom paint now will save potential headaches soon.

We want to know any history on this boat. Found a mooring license sticker from the public marina in Chicago for 1987, but no other info is known. If anyone had any clue on the life of this first hull, please comment back here or on the Multihull Anarchy thread I’ll start tomorrow. Thank you!

So there she sits. The prototype of Newick’s SummerSalt design. Almost ready to relaunch after a couple decade drought. Stephen will approve- another Golden Oldie will live on.

Boxes of rocks

We had never actually seen gabion (rocks in cages) walls in person. Phew, good thing we love the results! Turns out our new walls will take about 90,000 lbs of rock in total.

The work should be pretty straightforward but it was tricky to figure out how to stack a good looking outer face and keep it all vertically plumb. It was a wise move to hire Ari Reis and the two guys he brought. Pending the next rock delivery, we hope to finish the wall construction mid week.

The water trough veggie boxes came out well.

Each bin has a water feed from our existing sprinkler system. Picked up a couple of circuits from the former lawn.

Now I’ll make you look at pictures of dirt, so we can remember where the pipes lie.

While we were on lunch break, the LoneStar new owners came to take it away. They sail a Hunter 33 and had been looking for a day sailer to refresh.

It was good to clear a driveway spot :)

Back to the back yard

Today we wheeled the orange boat into the garage, to keep it out of the way for this weekend’s retaining wall build. Haven’t done much more on that boat – just the start of plugging the outdrive hole.

I think I’m stalled because, shockingly, I can’t find any epoxy around the joint. Time for a Svendsen’s order tomorrow.

This afternoon was to be the final run to the rice farm with the five boat situation. The guy for the LoneStar didn’t show! So I had to leave the red/white Coronado 15 up there, and towed the LoneStar home where it’ll be easier to ‘rehome’. Tell me if you think the ad is compelling enough:

But now the boats need to sit a few days, and we got yard work a’ callin.

While at Tractor Supply picking up those 16’ cattle panels to make the retaining wall cages, I got to looking at the livestock tanks… we planned to make fancy raised bed veggie boxes for a decent kitchen garden. But after drawing it up, I was seeing days of work and many hundreds of materials bucks. Turns out we both like this easy fix.

We fit 6 big tanks in that trip and got started on laying out irrigation pipe. Will button that up tomorrow.

It took three days to build the gabion wall rock cages. They’re all hog-ringed together. (Technically Shoat Rings). We bought 1600lbs of rip rap with the pickup early in the week and made the first small section to test the materials. It’s a winner.

Sadly, on a DIY budget, one faces the reality of what 46,140lbs of rocks really looks like. I calculated we need somewhere around 35 cubic yards of rock for all these walls. Was not thrilled when the Shamrock Materials dispatch guy said, “oh that’s about 70 tons, and $3,500. You know those aren’t easy to work with, right? I can’t guarantee the quarry will hit the 6-12” target.”

We’ve hired three men to come help on Saturday. We have to hand-place the jigsaw puzzle of the front facing. Then you can dump the rest behind. Tedious work. Standing in a cage. And forcast is for mid 90’s. What an idiot. All so we can get this done so there’s time to go sailing again. I can hear Ravenswing calling. But there’s a storm spinning in the Pacific west of Cabo. Geez.

Out with the old

July4th weekend was quiet around here. Jeanne noted it was the first time in decades we didn’t have doggies freaking out over fireworks. RIP Coco & Lola :(

We had a nice 4th afternoon with Dad here.

That nice shadowbox is a gift from the new owner of Dad’s long-time Catalina, Maggie. That was such a good ownership transition.

Sunday morning we grabbed the tools and climbed in to the SeaFlite, having decided to convert it to outboard power. It was a long day, but we got it done!

Oops, realized you have to pull the outdrive first, to get the prop shaft out of the back of the engine.

50 year old seals needed a little help from the gate post, and with a nudge of the pickup throttle, the drive popped right out. Then it was back to freeing the motor.

Then the transom brackets inside and out. Had to cut away two bolts that were frozen in place. That added probably two hours of trying various techniques. Typical dealing with old stuff.

Late in the day, we got back to a blank slate!

Also as we dug around, the original sales receipt and brochure were found. $4,500 in 1969. This thing was classy! And it was dark avocado. I like the orange respray, personally.

We actually have the pictured hardtop, in white, from that brochure. One leg is broken off, but the parts and here and some day that’ll get a refurbish too. It’s too nice to trash.

The whole drivetrain went up on Craigslist Sunday night for $250, and yesterday Ray from Santa Rosa was thrilled to come get our old junk. He’s a boat mechanic and will be replacing a four cyl in his 1963 runabout. Says he needs the extra 40+hp to get back up on waterskis now in his 40’s :)

RickWS checked around and suggests I cut in a transom mount. But Jeanne was disgusted by my taped cut marks, saying we shouldn’t ruin the good looking lines of this boat. She’s right, and instead later today I’ll start forming up an outboard bracket to bolt on to the existing transom. Gotta do it low cost, like plywood and fiberglass. Not spending a couple grand on a metal one like this photo below. There’s a lot of web info out there, but if any readers have specific experience doing this conversion, give me a shout! Thx

Finding homes for old boats

Today we picked up boats 2 and 3 of our save-5-boats project.

The Snark is indeed an easy car-topper. Just tossed it right up on the paddleboard rack, about 7’ up. It has no glamour left after so many years in the sun, but after the new owner sews up a replacement sail, I think this little craft will be a good seat of the pants sailing trainer. Hey, remember all the soda pop merchandising displays in the 80’s? I got a laugh when this sail was unrolled today.

Wendy, everything you need is here. So if these photos don’t scare you off, the Snark is yours.

Boat #3, the Chrysler LoneStar 16, needs your help. Perhaps Anton wants to take the plunge? Or Don has a line on someone who wants it on Tomales Bay? This one looks to have all the needed parts, and the sails appear usable (made of decent fabric). The main needs a restitch along the foot, but I’d be willing to fix that if this ol’blue doesn’t have to come to my yard!

This one comes with all the paperwork since they bought it 40 years ago. Including clear title on the little trailer. Let’s find this one a home ASAP, and I’ll deliver it.

Boat #4 was a surprise bonus from the nephew of sailboat donating man. When I picked up the Lido last week Steve the landowner asked if we’d be interested in an old ski boat. He didn’t know the Carters owned a ‘69 Corvette this very same color, and I regret losing that car to child-rearing practicalities 30 years ago. So heck yeah, who wouldn’t want a ‘69 SeaFlite?

We put on new trailer tires and fresh bearings. Made the afternoon run Sacramento to Novato on 1987 license plates, non stop in the left lane of two freeways with no trailer lights. This boat sat in a shed unused since the early 80’s because one day they launched with the on-land motor flushing plate still attached, blocking intake flow, overheating and cracking the exhaust manifold. He even bought the new part 20 years ago (it’s still in the box today) but never got back to it on their big busy farm. Piston hole 1 has a lot of rust, so we’re looking in to engine swap options. Charlie, can you and Ben tell me what to do with this Chevy mercruiser six? Outdrive and hydraulic steering look good. I’ll have to revamp the gas supply and redo wiring.

This boat will get a makeover and move to Colorado for Griffin & Taylor. My goal is to be dragged around a lake on a tube by my kid driving his ‘69 ski boat within a year. We even got the original removable hardtop, although it has some bad damage and I have other fiberglass projects ahead of that. Jeanne and I really dig the lines and vibe of this Apollo era retro ship.

OK good people, let’s get the LoneStar re-homed, and then I can tell you about the original owner Coronado 15 that is #5 in this unexpected adventure.

FINALLY, a boat posting!

I know some of you are trying to be patient with the whole yard makeover deal.

So Ravenswing sits on her mooring, and I got a call from a friend of a friend… her dad has three small sailboats that need new homes. There’s an 11’ Snark (lanteen rig) that’s complete, but will need a new sail sewn up or bought. We have the paperwork showing the boat was won in a 1985!Safeway grocery store raffle. Cool provenance!

#2 is bigger, a 16’ Chrysler LoneStar. This was the family sailing workhorse. It’s a huge cockpit, comfortable for 4+. Has twin swing up center boards. Maybe one for each upwind tack? I saw at least a mainsail, but didn’t inspect closely yet.

The Snark and LoneStar need new homes, for free, and I’ll help make that happen here in the Bay Area. They’re going to need cleaning and all new lines. The LoneStar sits on its decent, original road-ready trailer. Snark is a car topper.

#3 is the Carters’ keeper. The 84yr old gentleman I met yesterday went to a boat show in 2006 and fell for a lovely little Lido 14. He bought it new, very well equipped, and placed it at his dock lakeside in suburban Sacramento. It joined the fleet (the two listed above) plus his Laser and his ElToro. And for some reason the Lido didn’t get sailed. The hull topsides are badly sunburned and the bottom is really dirty. The forestay wire unraveled. But with some elbow grease, I think we’ve found treasure!

Anton probably already noticed the very nice Pacific galvanized trailer. I think this must have been parked inside a storage unit for the past 14 years. Looks new.

And we know it wasn’t sailed because of these:

Main and jib, in their class #’d bag, crisp as one of Eggleston’s freshly printed Benjamins.

After the yard is done, and I finish a couple other projects, we’ll give this sweet Lido a makeover and launch her at the ramp a mile from home. I’ve been wanting a quick-rigging day sailer for the Petaluma River because it’s so close to the house. Yea, I know it’s only one hull. But you gotta love SoCal’s Schock boats!

For now, this little gem will sit under her nice cover. Hopefully soon we can fulfill our promise to her donate-tor that we’ll use her to take kids and newcomers sailing, and spread the joy of wind & water.

Let me know of potential homes for #1 & #2.

And with a little luck, next time I’ll tell you about two more found watercraft…

Shed shenanigans

Last time we showed you the gardening shed in front of the house, making way for the final grading work out back. For my fourth tractor rental this year, we got the bigger 550 model bobcat, and paid a pro $400 to drive it for a day.

It was amazing to watch Ari whip this thing around, making my splotchy hack work all smooth. He turned our excess dirt into a great level workshop area, and created drive-able paths on to our otherwise inaccessible hillside.

I did however make a huge mistake, neglecting to tell him where the electricity and gas enter the lot, and where he COULD NOT further scrape the earth wall next to the new gates. I had hand dug this area per Pacific Gas & Electric orders when the utilities locator guy came and flagged it for us. So while Ari was bobcatting (new verb?) the RV parking area and I had my back turned, I heard the hiss of escaping gas. The sharp bucket blade severed the gas line and the 200amp electric cables. Within an hour we had 7 PG&E trucks in front of the house. Of course we blew the breaker at the transformer and knocked out power for numerous neighbors. The work-at-home crowd came it out to glare at me (rightly so). The fixes were relatively easy and very fast. All of that will now get entombed under new retaining walls.

Today was time to put the garden shed on its new pad. But the long wheelbase truck and very short utility trailer are a bit of a maneuvering nightmare, so this was good reason to finish getting that new receiver hitch up front. Loving wife knew this was an excellent birthday present, especially as we kept the winch from the lemon-law EcoDiesel surrendered truck.

Pull the winch & tray out of the receiver and replace with a tow bar, and hook up your garden shed!

The front hitch gives much quicker turning, and allowed us to pretty much jackknife the shed in to final position. Then came a flat sheet and furniture dolly so we could push it the final bits in to position.

Things got more treacherous as the wind picked up and the corner blocking grew tall enough to pull the trailer out by hand.

In the end we landed just fine, but this exercise took most of the day and frayed some marital nerves. We don’t want to move more buildings any time soon.

Yesterday I went to Tractor Supply to start on the hillside walls. Get ready to learn here about DIY gabion construction. These are big rocks in wire cages. We’re using this method in lieu of very expensive concrete or block walls. It starts here, with 16’ long welded wire hog fence panels. Yep, I got 25 of these huge things on the pickup and drove 15 miles without anyone having to call 911. The damn potholes on CA-116 bounced the load bad enough to crack the 2×4 over the cab, but luckily it all held together. So glad we pay all those road taxes in our $3.50/gallon fuel here :(

So you’ll keep getting yard updates for a while here. The Ravenswing watchers cleaned the bottom Saturday and sent me photos of the boat comfortably on the mooring. Looks beautiful there but MX is struggling mightily with COVID. I’m going to try to stop worrying about the boat and turn that energy to deciding what I’m personally to do to end racism in America. Credit to the protestors – it’s time for me to end my silent complicity… God I wish I could take everybody sailing right now. The sea would show us what equality looks like.

Good night, good people.

Momma, there’s some hillbillie in the driveway!

Still not a boat post, but this little 6×12 TuffShed is the same one that got whacked by the oak tree fall in Santa Rosa. It was disassembled for the move to Novato. Jeanne and I struggled those panels back together and reroofed it to hold all the garden / yard gear. But it’s in the way of makeover progress, so today was a total “don’t try this at home, kids” kind of deal.

First we spent a couple hours emptying the contents all around the yard edges and dump pile. Gotta be as light as possible. First we had to drag it a few feet into trailer loading position. One misplaced rope split a wall panel off the framing. Oh well, I expected some patch up work after this move.

With its fenders removed we could just squeeze the venerable $300 Harbor Freight trailer under there.

Trailer is rated for about 950lbs load. We’re thinking the shed is way above that. The yellow straps are there just to make it all more spectacular when the springs fail and the whole thing rolls. We CREPT along around the house and out to the front driveway. Amazingly we didn’t have to put suspension cancellation blocks between the axle and frame. Now it’s completely out of the way for the final grading work next week, and the shed’s new site pad, which goes out here once leveled out.

So there you go, neighbors; Carter’s version of tiny house done wrong. Just keeping it real, making sure everyone whipping by in the Lexus & Mercs remember we’re still in the country here. The ‘burbs start about a mile down the road.

Boat relaxes in MX, humans toil in CA

OK, good people, I’m finally figuring out how to transition from a mostly-photos blog to more videos. You guys are the guinea pigs here; can you stand the amateur editing job you’re about to see? We have a lot of good footage from Ravenswing in Mexico, but that’s too valuable for hacking with first time iMovie attempts. This Memorial Day weekend has been the time to figure out the editing software. I’m completely humbled by the people making their livings as “YouTubers”; S/V Delos, Salt & Tar, and all the rest spend hundreds of hours making their high quality movies. Here at we’re just going to work to the limit of my attention span :)

Ravenswing is fine, according to the folks keeping an eye on her. I hate this separation, and we’re missing prime Baja cruising season. But of course we’re really only concerned about the safety of friends and the Baja Sur residents, avoiding a COVID outbreak. With all the uncertainty of what’s coming in the next year, our current thought is to sail the boat home to San Francisco as soon as it’s permissible. But right now I need to heal up from last Friday’s prostate surgery, and get the prior trips’ videos out to you all. And as you’ll see here, we’ve got some new retaining walls to build…  yea, it ain’t a boat video yet, but just think of it as taking care of the boat workshop back at home.

Let me know what you think about video production. Clearly I need to get help on the audio side. Hopefully we’ll get some sailing videos out soon for your entertainment.

Click here to see the latest on the Videos page: