Saturday, June 24, 2017

TOO LONG ON THE SHORE


I spent the last week out on the east end of Long Island. Where my girlfriend likes to take a beach vacation now and then. It was a nice week full of chowders, wine, lobsters and such. But, I also was reminded it's time to get BIANKA in the water. Reminders were everywhere I looked. We would be dining at one of the local restaurants at the Inlet to Lake Montauk and my eyes would be fixated on a sailboat a few miles out after rounding the nearby point. It got me wishing I was out there on BIANKA. A walk along the beach had me looking out to sea and once again thinking of doing a solo around Long Island cruise.  Well the vacation is over and the prop is polished. I have my 2017 copy of the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book already on board. The boatyard should have painted the bottom this past week. All that remains is to put on the new zinc on the prop shaft. So I expect to have BIANKA floating at her mooring this week. Both of us have been too long on the shore.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

TO EVERY DINGY TURN TURN TURN


I've been debating about trying to get another season out of my eight foot Porta Bote dingy. It has been a sturdy trusty kit. I bought it in 2000 after the original fiberglass dingy that came with BIANKA was lost in a gale coming back from New York. After seventeen years it does not owe me anything. I've done a few repairs over the years on things like the oars. I also upgraded parts of it after some wear and tear required it. Things like the rear seat and replacing a delaminating transom.  Last year it developed a small annoying leak. I could try and fix it but, since it's been seventeen years and the Porta Bote  company has made a number of improvements on an already pretty good product. I feel it's time for a new one. I'll report on the replacement once it arrives in a few weeks. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

HOT TIMES ON LAND

It was the third day of the heatwave yesterday. I was on board BIANKA sweating and doing my best to keep hydrated. When I looked at the weather station in the cabin and saw the temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit both inside the cabin and outside in the cockpit.


Luckily the sea breeze finally made it across the island and knocked the temperature back down into the 90's.

It was another reminder to get BIANKA launched soon. Having her 5000 pound keel back in cooler waters will keep me cooler as well.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

THINKING ABOUT THE WEATHER

Color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey. 
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again. 
Shiver in my bones, just thinking about the weather. 
Quiver in my lip as if I might cry.
                                                                                                -10,000 Maniacs

Nothing real urgent is preventing me from launching BIANKA except this cold wet Spring weather. It just has not been very conducive to splashing the boat only to have it sit on the mooring.  I know i'll resist heading to the boatyard knowing I have to bailout the dingy on these cold drizzly days. I don't know if it is my retirement pace or age that is causing this years procrastination. But, I expect I'll soon snap out of it as soon as this unusually cold wet weather passes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A PROBLEM IS NOT ALWAYS A PROBLEM

Things always seem to be breaking on a boat except when they are not really broken. Let me explain.  I often fall into the trap of expecting the worse when it turns out there was never really a problem at all. One must resist the urge to tear apart a system until one has sat back and thought about why something that was working yesterday is not working today. It is useful to ask what may have changed before you pull out the tools. Even though I know this I still get caught at least once or twice a year thinking some device has failed when it actually was not the case. Here is an example from last fall:



Even as I commence spring outfitting this year I was mistaken I had another pump failure. I filled one of BIANKA's water tanks so I would have some water to use for cleaning up the boat. I then turned on the water pump switch heard it come on then stop. But, when I went to the faucet there was no water pressure. Another pump failure I thought. I pulled out my volt meter and went to check the voltages at the water pump connections. No voltage. Aha must be a bad switch at the electric panel. It took me a few minutes to realize I was not turning on the water pump breaker but, was actually hitting the washdown pump switch instead!

"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle." -- George Orwell

Thursday, April 27, 2017

IN MEMORIAM: ROBERT PIRSIG AUTHOR AND SAILOR

Robert Pirsig passed away recently he was 88 and the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance . He was also a sailor and lived on a sailboat for a number of years. He understood what cruising and being on a boat for longer than an afternoon sail was all about as this passage from him shows:

"...Those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities."-Robert Pirsig

Sail on Robert!





Thursday, April 20, 2017

I BOUGHT AN UNDERWATER DRONE

I made a post a few weeks ago about an underwater drone geared toward fisherman that I thought might be useful on board BIANKA if the price was reasonable. Since it is over the one thousand dollar mark I scrubbed that idea. But, doing further research I can upon an alternative underwater drone that was in an acceptable price range for my budget. The only problem is it has not yet hit the market and will not be available until at least June. So placing an order for a non existent product is somewhat a leap of faith. But, I have been there before. Like in 2007 when I decided to convert BIANKA from having a diesel engine to installing electric propulsion. Not a lot of sailboats had done such a conversion at that time. So I had no real models to follow. Though since this drone is considerably cheaper than the EP conversion it is a much better risk. At around $500 the Fathom One drone is the right price for my budget and so I decided to take the leap and buy one sight unseen.
I'm looking at the drone as another tool to have on board not a toy. My primary reason for buying it is to use as a visual check on how BIANKA's anchor is set.  The five hundred dollar price seems worth it if it helps me know that my much more expensive boat is anchored well so I can sleep at night. It can also help me see what the anchor might be hung up on if I sould have trouble raising it. Another use might be to find an item accidently lost over board. Of course it might also be fun to see what lies below the boat too. But, checking the anchor will be it's primary use. I will post more details and show how the Fathom One works out once I have it on board and can test it's abilities. So stay tuned.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

SPRING CHECK SURPRISES: The Good and the Bad

A nice 60 degree F day in between rain storms. It has be awhile since I've checked on BIANKA about a month. Since that time we've had a near blizzard and some pretty heavy rains. I don't shrink wrap BIANKA for the winter having found the boat when shrink wrapped develops mildew in spots and generally tends to get grimy and feel humid when shrink wrapped. So I was surprised to see despite the snows and rains of the last month BIANKA's bilge was pretty dry except for the splash of antifreeze I left in it during my last visit:


She's a pretty tight boat. I think I helped make her tighter by taping over the cockpit hatches. This prevents excess water, ice and snow from leaking down below. Probably something I should do every year when storing her for the winter.

I just did a quick check and took some photos of a few things that are on the maintenance list. One of the items is the jammed Maceration pump. I'm not looking forward to working on this item for a number of reasons but, mostly because it's location looks like it is going to be a pain to get access to and remove. While taking some photos of the pump area I noticed that one of the clamps that secures the head intake and wash down hoses was severely rusted:


This is a boat sinking issue and it is moved to the top of the list of Spring Outfitting issues to address.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SOMETHING NEW IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: Weems and Plath SOS Distress Light

At some point this spring on my checklist of things I will check on the expiration date of the emergency flares I have on board. Though the flare testing I did on a few of the expired flares two years ago has me a little apprehensive as to how safe they are to actually use in an emergency situation. Here is a link to the post on that experience. That's why this year I am planning on buying a Weems and Plath Emergency SOS Distress Light  in my on board safety kit. There are a couple of real good reasons to have one on board. For one thing it will flash for 60 hours (2.5 Days) so it can be left on constantly as opposed to having to a limited number of flares that one has to think about rationing. Another reason is it requires no further action other than turning it on.  So it can be quickly left on deck so that one can go back and hopefully deal and correct whatever emergency situation caused one to call for help in the first place.  Someone has to be on deck to launch a meteor flare or hold a handheld one. A problem when one is sailing alone or with inexperienced passengers. It also floats which is an important consideration if one has to enter the water. Plus it's portable so you could take it with you and use it in the dingy too. It would be real handy should your outboard fail in the night on the ride back to the boat. Best of all it does not expire. Though it is recommend the three C batteries that power it be replaced every year. Considering that the cost of replacing one set of expired meteor and handheld flares is more than half of what the Weems and Plath Distress light costs. It seems like much better deal. In addition it comes with a bight orange distress flag so your boat is covered for both day and night emergency situations. Here is a little more on the light:
I probably will still carry flares but, I will probably use this Weems and Plath SOS light as my primary signaling device as it seems safer, constant and more convenient than dealing with emergency pyro technics onboard.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

USING GPS VS THE BRAIN

"Using a satnav to get to your destination 'switches off' parts of the brain that would otherwise be used to simulate different routes, reveals new UCL research.
The study, published in Nature Communications and funded by Wellcome, involved 24 volunteers navigating a simulation of Soho in central London while undergoing brain scans. The researchers investigated activity in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and navigation, and the prefrontal cortex which is involved in planning and decision-making. They also mapped the labyrinth of London's streets to understand how these brain regions reacted to them." - EUREKA ALERT

I always like to have some type of paper chart nearby when cruising. Even though I do have a chart plotter at the helm. Perhaps keep on plotting on it also like it just might be a good idea to keep the brain functioning well too!