Thursday, June 30, 2022

WHITE SQUALL: Lessons Learned

 While BIANKA survived the White Squall conditions from a weather front that blew through the harbor a few weeks ago. The same could not be said for the dingy. The heavy rain was not an issue but, the winds blew BIANKA around and whipped saw the attached Porta Bote dingy around and may have flipped or at least turned it 90 degrees at some point. Dumping some of the contents into the water. Including one of the Oars, seat cushion, outboard motor cover and anything else that was not attached like a plastic scrapper I use to clean the dingy bottom from time to time. So when things calmed down I took some of the lessons learned from the event and implemented a strategy to try and limit the damage during a future weather event.


Losing the Oar could have made trying to get back to the shore in anything but calm conditions. Keeping them in the dingy ready to use is important. So an easy fix was to use TY Wraps to create loops where I can attach a line secured to the dingy to help keep the Oars with the dingy.

I'll cut the excess tabs but, the loop will make a good place to attach a line to secure them.

if the Oars should happen to leave the dingy again since they float it makes sense to mark them with BIANKA's name in case any one finds them floating around the harbor. There is a better chance they will find there way back to the boat.

Since the Oars come in two pieces I used a DREMEL Tool make sure both pieces had my boats name on them.


Another Item that was lost in the storm was the seat cushion. It's not only on board for comfort it's also used as a flotation device. Labeling it will also help it getting it returned should it leave the dingy again.


One item that did leave the dingy after the storm but, I miraculously found floating next to BIANKA a few hours later was the outboard motor cover. I was able to grab it with the boat hook. Still no reason not to label it too.

Friday, June 17, 2022


 Exciting day on the boat. Weather front came through with White Squall conditions. I think the dingy might have flipped in the storm. Lost one of the oars and found the battery for the outboard floating outside the boat. Hope it still works going to be awkward trying to row to shore with one oar.

Luckily the battery was sealed and still powered the outboard. I made it back to shore though the battery started to fade on the way. Unfortunately, the charger is back on the boat and it will be tricky getting back out tomorrow. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


 I've been away from the boat for awhile. I was traveling to warm places each month over the winter. Plus getting COVID knocked me down but, not out for two weeks. So I did not get on BIANKA for my usual checkups and battery charges. Usually that would not be a problem since my 48 volt solar panels would keep things topped up. So it was a surprise when I looked at the data from the new Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100-Volt 20 amp 48V solar controller.  

Where I noticed several days of no charging data and when there was some charging it was lower than usual. I also noticed the Dual Pro four bank charger was charging at the lowest bar display. This meant the batteries where in a more discharged condition than I've seen in a long time.  

Time for some serious diagnosis on what was happening with the solar charging system. I first checked the 48 volt solar panel voltages and they were near their open circuit voltage specs. I then turned my attention to the Anderson connectors that I used to combine the panel wires to the solar controller. It was there I found the problem. I installed the panels and connectors over twelve years ago. My mistake was never doing any maintenance on the connectors in those years. I found despite taping the connectors to improve their water proofing most of the Anderson contacts had corroded to the point where they were no longer conducting voltage.

I redid the connection using some Spade Connectors I had on board and the problem was solved if only temporarily. Now I need to see if the 48 volt electric propulsion battery bank comes back to full charge as we head toward spring launching. 

BLOG UPDATE:  Going back a few days later and the solar controller charging and battery bank was back to normal. 
 The battery bank was charging normally using the Dual Pro charger. So it looks like things are moving in the right direction for a spring launching.

Sunday, February 20, 2022


 The temperature moved up to the mid-forties one day and so it was time to go do another Winter inspection on Bianka in the boatyard. Primarily to rebalance the 48 volt electric propulsion battery bank. While there I also emptied the bilge of about two gallons of water that on my last visit was a frozen solid block of ice. I also taped over the portside cockpit hatch where I think most of the water may have entered.  I found a forward hatch leaking onto my bunk and taped over it’s flange to stop that until warmer weather arrives and I can address that issue. Finally there were high wind warnings for the next day and I made sure the nuts holding the Lexan bimini cover to the frame were tight and also secured an extra line to the frame in case those 60 MPH winds did actually arrive. It was a quick visit but still a productive one.

Monday, January 24, 2022


 A little over a week ago I was snorkeling in 80 degree F water in Bonaire and enjoying ice in Boat Drinks. Yesterday I was on my boat looking at ice in the boat. A little in the bilge and the Brita water container frozen solid.

That will have to wait until warmer days to remove. It was also too cold to work on board I just sat by the heater and waited until the batteries get a top up charge.

Monday, January 17, 2022


 With Bianka safely on land for the Winter. I have now implemented my Winter retirement plan. Which is to get to some place warm at least for a week every month during the season.  January finds me on the Dutch Island of Bonaire  Where I spotted 3 sailing boats coming into the harbor early in the morning while having my coffee. It turns out these 3 boats are Oysters of various sizes and they are participating in the Oyster World Rally 2022. Their names are Nakita,  Black Lamb and Intrepid. I entertained the idea of asking them if they needed an extra crew member for the next leg of the cruise. Then I watched the crew of one of the boats spend much of the afternoon washing, cleaning, scrubbing and polishing the boat and settled back enjoying my afternoon drink on the balcony across from their dock.




Friday, January 14, 2022


With Bianka safely on land for the Winter. I have now implemented my personal Winter Retirement Plan. Which is to get to some place warm at least for a week every month during the Winter season.  January finds me on the Dutch Island of Bonaire. Getting someplace warm over the winter even if it’s just for a little bit can really help make the winter go by fast. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for most people who need to work to keep paying the bills. I was one of those people until retirement finally happened. I hope everyone can implement a winter retirement  plan like I did and get to a place that makes them happy.

and get to a place that makes them happy.

Monday, November 15, 2021


The boom is down the mast unstepped and BIANKA waits at the dock to be hauled out for the winter. I make one more trip out to the mooring to remove the pickup stick. I also winterized most of the systems on board which is basically the boats water system thanks to the conversion to electric propulsion in 2008. I no longer need to spend cold evenings in the boatyard changing the engine oil and running antifreeze through the engine. Being retired I can pick my days to do other winter storage prep like removing the sail and dropping the boom. This makes owning a boat more enjoyable as I get older.

Monday, October 25, 2021


Fall has come and it's time to end the sailing season here on Long Island. I'm trying something different this season. I am taking the sail off and lowering the boom while the boat is on the mooring instead of at the dock. This allows me to do the tasks at my leisure and in the best weather conditions. Starting with the sail and got it off just in time as a Nor Easter is expected to hit the Island this week.

Only negative was the sailbag was too large to store in the cabin. To help keep the sail dry I wrapped it up in a tarp. Once the storm has passed I'll head back out to drop the boom to the deck.

Friday, September 10, 2021


 Twenty years ago BIANKA was docked at Chelsea Piers just up the river from the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th 2001. I was not supposed to be there that morning. I had planned to start a two to three week cruise out toward Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket the day before. But, I had trouble getting access to the Internet to take care of some business. The weather report also called for severe thunderstorms on Monday afternoon ahead of a cold front that would be coming through. So I decided to postpone my departure to the next day Tuesday September 11th. Between the storms and Internet issue I thought well what's the hurry.

On the morning of September 11th there was a beautiful clear sky and nice a crisp wind from the northwest that would be perfect for heading down Long Island Sound. I had about a half hour before departure. I was down below in the cabin stowing a few last minute items when I heard the first plane fly overhead. I had heard planes flying down the Hudson River on occasion but, I thought to myself that plane sounded awfully close. Just as I thought that I felt the impact of the plane as it hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The whole boat shook followed closely by the sound of the explosion. I poked my head up out of the hatch and could see a black mushroom cloud flowing up the side of the north tower.

I jumped into the dingy and started to bail it out previous nights rain. While I was doing that the second plane hit and again I felt the vibration of the impact. I rowed out into the Hudson River with my video camera and began taking video and listening to the local news station on the radio I took out with me. All the photos here are screen shots from the video tape I took.
It was a strange feeling being out alone on the river watching the scene. One felt very helpless. The current was trying to push me down the river and I had only the oars to keep me in place. Something told me to make sure I did not drift down toward the towers so I rowed and rowed against the current that was supposed to carry BIANKA and I down toward the Battery for the start of our cruise. I kept rowing and video taping until I heard the reporter on the radio scream: "Oh my God, oh my God the tower is coming down":

I could not see the south tower from my vantage point as the North Tower blocked it. But, I could hear the rumble and see the dust cloud start to expand around lower Manhattan. It made the North Tower look like it was a rocket about to take off:

I kept rowing against the current which was getting stronger but, I could not keep my eyes off what was happening just down the river. I kept rowing and then at some point I heard another rumble and the sound of twisting metal and watched in horror as the North Tower collapsed. With the TV antenna perched on top it seem to come down slowly like a candle slowly burning down. It only took a few seconds but it seemed like a long time until all that was left of the World Trade Center was a huge dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan and soon spread out into the harbor:

I suddenly started to feel the ache in my arms from all the rowing I did. I headed back into the marina and just stared at the river for most of the afternoon. New York Harbor was closed down to all traffic and that night was very surreal as I sat on the bow looking at the river. It was silent and calm as not a single Tug or any other boat was out on the river. I never did get out on that cruise. When BIANKA and I finally left Manhattan in early October I lost that dingy too in a gale heading down the sound. Considering what others had lost on September 11th I consider myself very lucky.