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Captain Alan Hugenot




The Sea Raven missed the start of the Master Mariner's Race on May 26th this year, because the conversion to Electric Propulsion was not finished before the race.

Now, two months later it is almost complete. The 24hp, 96VAC, 3 phase brushless motor, powered by a 96VDC Battery Pack is all installed with a 12 amp 96volt charger which recharges it overnight from the grid. And the control system is all wired and almost ready to energize.

This conversion required removal of the entire exhaust system (mostly stainless steel) most of the engine auxiliaries, removing the reduction gear housing, and sawing off the reduction gear spindle,in order to fit the electric propulsion aboard before complete removal of the diesel. The 96VDC Battery Pack also required a reconfiguration of the ship's existing 12VDC system. This 12VDC reconfiguration was finished today with all the original 12VDC systems (Two VHF's, Radar, Galley lights and individual reading lights) all working again.

The conversion took over 200 hours of work, and could have been finished before the Master Mariner's Race (we were even registered to race). But, unfortunately, the 70 year old Skipper has been doing this work mostly by himself. In fact, only 16 hours of that 200 were worked by any of the "crew".

Over the winter and in the early Spring work days were duly advertised, but mostly no one showed up........

One stalwart crew-member, Ryan, has helped more than three times, and even calls the Skipper to request workdays. And, Michael also called to set up a work day, But, the other "fair weather sailors" may just have better things to do, while waiting until the new propulsion system is finished. Well, its almost completed, but the non-participants missed a great learning opportunity on the cutting edge of technology and where sailing as we know it is now headed.

On the other hand, there is still lots of varnishing etc. which has been neglected while the skipper concentrated more of his time on the engine change out.

On the other hand, this has effectively demonstrated that even an old man, can convert a boat to electric propulsion in just 200 hours, including removals, re-design & new installation, even if working almost entirely by himself.

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Schooner SEA RAVEN approaches the Farallone Islands from the North

It’s an hour and a half after Sunrise, November 3, 2017... The 21 ton William Garden designed schooner SEA RAVEN rests at anchor in Drakes Bay, California, half mile inside of Chimney Rock, and a quarter mile from the beach.

The crew is a mix of newbies and sloop sailors lead by a mate who is a seasoned schoonerman. They are still a bit groggy after coffee and and warm blueberry muffins, as they struggle into their foulies. The drizzle which came in with yesterday’s southerly has now stopped veering to a Northwesterly with blue sky showing to the West.

We have 100 feet of 5/8 chain out on our 45 lb. CQR plow in 3-1/2 fathoms, which has held well in the sandy bottom even with the wind shift overnight.

"Shall we just sail off the anchor?”

This will be a new maneuver for the crew, and only their second time hauling chain, and that single time was with the motor easing their hauling.

“Aye”....”Let’s do it”

“Hoist the staysail and leave the sheet out” the order is passed, while the helmsman resists the temptation to start the diesel.

“Heave short on the rode...and sing out when she is up and down”.

The chain rattles in through the hawse pipe.

“She’s up and down sir”, the bosun cries from the foc’s’tle.

“Very well...Port Watch break her out, starboard watch back the staysail to port”. the order is passed.

The bow begins to cant around to Starboard off the 8 knot wind and onto a reach....

“Starboard watch hoist the fore..... and as soon as she is up and we have boat speed we’ll gybe”.

She is gaining headway on a port broad reach and will soon clear Chimney Rock.

“The hook is catted sir”, the bosun hails from the bowsprit.

“Stand-by to Gybe”

“Ready” says the mate

“Gybe ho”......The fore boom and staysail go over and are swiftly trimmed to a starboard broad reach, while the helmsman steadies up on 174o magnetic.

“Hoist the main”

Shortly she reaches her hull speed of 8 knots, as the breeze freshens up to 12 knots when she clears away from the cliffs of Point Reyes.

The sun is smiling from behind the receding clouds and she is headed for the Farallone Islands, This mystical isles 28 miles west of the Golden Gate, just east of the sunset, but still a territory of the City of San Francisco.

“Thar she blows”, cries the lookout as a pod pf Mink whales breeches to port an eighth of a mile off our beam.

The day continues with the schooner circumnavigating South East Farallon and Main Top, and witnessing Stellar Sea Lions, a thousand sea birds and vast herds of seals.

But, it is also humbling to know that we are among the very few who will ever ship before the mast on a traditional sailing ship. This excellent “old school” evolution preformed by tis crew who are all in their late 20’s and early 30’s with day jobs in high tech, bio-tech and medical tech, has been for themselves alone..... no sport fisherman, no “round the boys sloop sailors” not even a tourist to witness it. The only witness to their excellence has been the grizzled old skipper, with over 50 years at sea. But, for them it is an achievement which keeps alive the knowledge of traditional sail.

It has all been worth it, the cold lonely bow watches, falling by to varnish on Sunday afternoons that you could have spent at the pub; pumping the bilge underway, getting smoke of burning grease tinged with diesel in your eyes as you struggle to produce a gourmet breakfast in the rolling pitching galley, and the new muscle you have put on heaving in the anchor and repeatedly hoisting 1000 sf of sail by hand.

For a fun professionally edited 1.5 minute clip of this cruise on youtube go to this URL

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Watch VIDEO of  SEA RAVEN at the FARRALONE ISLANDS       click READ MORE below for Video URL

Departing Thursday evening at 8:30 PM  Schooner SEA RAVEN sailed to Richardson Bay (off Sausalito) and Anchored for the night, Sushi and wine were served as a late evening snack. Friday morning after a hot breakfast the schooner motored out through the Golden Gate and Bonita Channel, and then set sail on a 12 knot Southerly for a broad reach to Drake's Bay, where they set the hook again, and had wine poached Salmon for supper. Due to the rain they stayed aboard rather than take the inflatable to the beach, So they watched a video about the schooner HARVEY GAMAGE. After a serving of British Navy Grog, they all slept soundly, Weighing the anchor Saturday morning they sailed off the anchor toward the Farallones in glorious sunshine (For video click READ MORE below). They sighted  mink whales and many dolphins, before the seals and sea lions at the Farallones. Next they continued to Half Moon Bay for the night, and on Sunday cruised back up the coast to enter the Golden Gate just after sunset.


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