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 :)

Mono-hullin

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.

Hola from Bahia de los Muertos

You guys have waited quite a while to find out what’s up with Ravenswing now in Mexico. After that sprint to La Paz, the boat was left for two months while we did family stuff and started in to a backyard makeover. Don’t ask me about hitting the septic tank and water main lines with my rental Bobcat, and getting it bogged down in the winter rains’ mud…

I got to the boat last Saturday, and immediately removed the boom to install the new reefing clew-lines sheave box and upgrade the way the mainsail headboard interfaces with the mast track. Also got the prior rudder repairs faired and primer painted. These new padeyes are obviously a big improvement for barber hauling and other float-deck tweaking tasks. Numerous other little tasks over two days, and we were ready to receive crew extraordinaire Cosbey. Yes, the Sierra Buttes mountain man also has a long history of seven Americas Cup campaigns across three decades as shore crew, boat builder and ocean crossing sailor. But his primary Baja challenge was to be this boat’s first Fish Slayer. In our travels from La Paz to Espírito Santo and on to Los Cabos, we fished many days and threw back a lot of wrong species. (Both too lazy to marinate skipjack!). On the last possible fishing hour, just off the Pulmo reef, Cozmo caught us an amazing dinner fish and we taco’d up like kings. We caught the SuperBowl in a palapa bar at Bahia de Los Muertos, and the nice people found us an English broadcast that wasn’t Joe Buck! That plus Shakira shaking her stuff for the Mexican waitresses was pretty funny.

In the end I had to put Coz on the plane because I couldn’t afford the cerveza bill anymore. I figured 4 twelve packs was plenty for six days, but we made it to Cabo by the skin of our aluminum teeth. All good fun, and now with yesterday’s arrival of Rick and Carlos, Ravenswing is fueled, watered and provisioned to cast off towards Puerto Vallarta as soon as I hit send on this post. Go to our tracking page on Cartersboat.com to follow the Iridium tracker map.

Also click through to the Videos page and grab the first YouTube link to see our exit from LaPaz. I’m still learning how to get video uploaded from the new GoPro. If anyone can comment back to help me make the file sizes smaller, please do so. I can’t upload 1gig+ video files in these remote spots. Need a way of compressing / lower rez video on the computer before attempting the YouTube load. It’s easy from the iPhone but can’t figure out GoPro yet. So you guys will have to wait a bit more for coming stories.

Be well and wish us luck today. Strong winds off our port stern quarter should mean a good ride to Isla Isabel…

Solo sail from Cabo to La Paz, Baja Sur, MX

So, they say you should never sail up against a deadline. Let the weather decide things. But here’s how it stacked up: we’ve been gone a long time and there’s a Monday morning plane ticket from La Paz to son Colin’s house in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. The boat (engine) is finally ready to go again but it’s Saturday morning in San Jose del Cabo, with La Paz about 130 miles dead upwind. We’ve singlehanded the Farallones race, and that’s about 75 miles in the daylight, and we’re feeling good about coastal night work too. If all goes well, we’re going to Press n’ Hold for three seconds on the Pelagic autopilot remote numerous times on this long beat to execute clean upwind tacks. The solo tacking dance is:  pre-tension the leeward running backstay, hit the Tacking button, ease the current jib sheet and quickly take up the other jib sheet, release the loaded backstay as the mainsail pressure eases, harden up the new backstay, trim the jib and adjust course a few degrees, if needed. The autopilot is set to tack the boat 100 degrees. Depending on the sea state and current, on some tacks we can do better (closer to the headwind), so after the boat is moving well on the new tack we pinch it up a little higher. Originally the machine was set to tack 90 degrees, but sometimes that wasn’t enough and we stalled out – that’s a total mess one wants to avoid. I probably tacked the boat 50 times in the 155 sailed miles on Saturday, and only blew it twice due to fatigue / not quite nailing the conditions.

You guys can play around with the visual settings on the tracker page (map mode vs satellite mode, etc): https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Ravenswing?mapMode=useAtlas&windSymbol=OFF&weatherSource=ECMWF

The south-eastern portion of the Baja California coast is quite beautiful. Seeing these places in all day-parts, from sunrises, different daylight patterns, sunsets and night vistas, really changes perspectives on things. I’m enjoying the slower and more observational pace of looking at these landscapes, compared to passing by in cars and planes. The day started in the dark at 05:15, and with a decent breeze we were sailing just moments after the marina breakwater.

An hour later, looking back towards Cabo and ahead up the track

Here’s the portion of this sail that took place in the daylight (starting at the San Jose del Cabo point):

FD20A07C-4A48-44EE-B98C-CB8A5276F833

A few hours later the wind was up in the teens and generating wind waves similar to an afternoon ebb on San Pablo Bay. We could have stayed home and sailed 5 miles away from our house for these snotty conditions! If we bore off the wind a bit and let the boat speed get up above 10 knots, we’d pound through these waves every few seconds and throw a lot of spray. The bigger hits were sending sheets of water at the windshields, and of course some of that finds its way to the cockpit & driver.  So we tried to stay quite high to the wind, and made the best ground at about 8 knots of boat speed.  Here’s a mellower bit of this action:

 

Team Brizo, a reasonable first stop for this trip would be Los Frailes, which looked properly sheltered from the north wind.

12 hours in we had made it past Barilles (near Buena Vista on the map), which looks like a fantastic beach town. But windy, given the impressive fleet of kite surfers (some up on their foils!) that buzzed us as we came close to shore for a good look. Nightfall began as we chased and caught up to HaHa boat Rover (only other boat we saw the whole day and night).

They headed in to Bahia de Los Muertos, a good anchorage. But I knew that if we stopped there, leaving 60+ miles for Sunday would make it tough to get to the early Monday plane. Ravenswing pressed on into the darkness, covering this ground: AB5494AD-14E5-4DDC-A22A-0EA2C568BE36This map looks easy, but that point to the right of La Ventana was not. The navigable gap of this Cerralvo Channel is a three mile wide funnel of wind and waves coming at northbound boats. The various lighthouses are difficult to interpret between the mainland and large island, plus a lot of shore lighting from development. We had a freighter coming at us who would not respond to radio hails and I wanted their acknowledgment to pass starboard to starboard, ie on the left, not the usual “stay to the right”. That was a tense hour short-tacking around this hairy point. Based on its AIS name I think the freighter was local and probably used to sailboats struggling through this pass. They gave us room to work. And another hour up that coast, development ends and everything got VERY dark (also no moon) for the middle-night. Definitely an “instrument approach” as the pilots say.

The spot at the top of that map, under the word SATELLITE, where the line touches the shore under the ‘nose’ of Punta Coyote, is where we stopped at 04:00 on Sunday, 23 hours and 155 traveled miles after departing San Jose. I got rolling again by 10:00 and finished the final 35 miles or so with a mellow downwind run into the La Paz channel.

People are spending big housing bucks on the eastern La Paz shoreline.

This trip was a tough beat upwind, and a quite satisfying 23 hour solo run Saturday. We did well, but then humble pie was served in La Paz… our target landing on the outer A dock at Marina Cortez was a mine field of anchor-outs, nasty current, and building tailwind. I radioed in and two guys stood at a ridiculously small side tie slip between large boats. They waved me in with no indication of 3-5foot depth! We grounded twice, had to quickly lift the boards (no steering in those moments), and could not execute a needed turn upwind. I could see this was impossible, and executed the only option which was a very long backing up against heavy wind weaving through swinging anchored boats. They were quizzing me on the radio, “where are you going?” ‘The hell away from your shitshow’ went through my mind. Ten minutes later the boat was secured on their deep water side tie, but still on the outside. This photo gives a partial sense of the boat-breaking risk up against docks in this channelAfter a trip to the marina office we agreed to an inside tie here, and all was well.

And in a weird twist of fate… there are thousands of boats in La Paz. But the boat directly in front of Ravenswing landing here is the same one that towed us in to Cabo San Lucas a week before. And upon arriving in North Carolina Monday night, I got word those guys had pulled off the dock, been grabbed by the current sweeping under these docks, and crashed into RW’s starboard float bow. Thankfully I had been a margarita-drinking guest aboard their boat the night before. They are stand-up folks, and emailed me they had climbed aboard and immediately set in to repairing the cosmetic damage. Geez, this whole trip of breaking stuff, being pushed physically, dealing with ocean weather, and incorrect/insufficient information was certainly not in the brochure. Ravenswing is not a rocket ship lightweight racing tri; but she is still a powered up Fboat, capable of getting quite wet, stressing important sailing gear, and causing trouble in a big breeze. This is performance / adventure cruising. I think the crew will tell you it’s all more demanding than we expected, and I know it’s good to be taking some time away from the boat to get recharged for some lovely Sea of Cortez exploring this winter.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and may you find joy in your families and push yourselves outdoors into your favorite adventures. Ravenswing asks you to keep exploring over the next horizon! We’ll be out there.