Friday, April 29, 2016

SPRING TAKING OFF

Got back to BIANKA for a quick check after doing some traveling. The sailing season is getting closer from the signs in the harbor. The moorings including BIANKA's have been dropped onto the harbor bottom:


Power boats are also starting to fill up the docks:


All signs it's time to start to get a move on getting BIANKA ready for the upcoming season. I'm starting off with removing some of the items that are no longer needed to have on board. These include the snow shovel I used to clear the deck of snow and ice over the winter and also the spare anti freeze that can be put away until next fall. I'm also taking off the rigging lines that will be washed at home before being rigged  :


Small steps but, at least it's a start.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

TOOLS: POWER8 WORKSHOP

Here's an item that would fit right in on a cruising boat or even a landlubbers apartment:
 It's called the Power 8 Workshop:


It looks like it has just about every tool one might need to do a lot of different projects on board yet stores in a very compact space. Which is an important since space is always a concern.

  • Includes 4 Power Tools; variable speed hammer drill, circular saw, jigsaw and flashlight. Each tool integrates with the workbench to become a drill press, table saw, scroll saw and table light

Thursday, March 31, 2016

SPRINGING FORWARD AND GETTING OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS

I've been in sort of a boat doldrums for a few weeks now. I've not had much urgency to get down to the boat since my Electric Propulsion system does not require a whole lot of maintenance. I've instead been spending some time spring cleaning around the house and trying to figure out what to with some of the left over stuff I pulled off the boat when converting to Electric Propulsion. Thinking about EBAY, donating or selling out right. I've been cleaning out a lot of stuff in the Den where I'll be hopefully working on a new sail cover and cushions for the Engel refrigerators in the main cabin. Now that Spring has officially arrived I feel the boat calling again. So I ordered a few items I know I'll be needing for the upcoming season.

I pretty much am a single hand sailor these days. One thing I bought since it really makes a lot of sense for me to use is a Pick Up Buoy.   I don't know why it has taken me so long to buy one. I was getting along quite well with an empty milk container tied to the mooring pennant lines and a boat hook since 1996. But, after watching a neighboring sailboat use his it just makes a lot of sense for me. Especially since the winds and the currents in the harbor do not always cooperate sometimes requiring me to sometimes make another pass to snag the line.

Another item I knew I'll be needing in the up coming weeks is some Cetol Marine Natural Teak Wood Finish. I've been using Cetol for years mostly on the cockpit hatches, bright.work and handrails. Last spring I decided to use it to spruce up the galley area, companionway steps and the headliner project . I was pleased with the look and ease of application. So I'm planning on using it on other areas of the cabin this year. I bought two quarts since I also plan to use it on some unpainted molding at the house.


I've got a few more things I'll need to order  for the up coming season but, they can wait until I get closer to a launch date. For now these along with 9 yards of Sunbrella fabric for the new Sail Cover will keep me busy enough.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A TASTE OF THE SEA

My girlfriend had the week off from her teaching gig because it was Spring Break. So we jumped in the car and as we often do head to a place where we could be by the water. In this case it was Ocean City Maryland. A few days in a hotel with an ocean front view over looking the Atlantic Ocean can do wonders for the soul when one still has the boat stored on land for the winter.

Just watching the waves, having the smell of the sea and the sound of the surf can rejuvenate ones plans for the up coming season. Add to that the taste of fresh seafood at meals and one feels once again close to waters that surround us. Though for me the most impressive part of the day is the sunrise:


You can get a feel for how impressive and vast things are by noting the person on the beach in the lower left of the above picture. On another morning I may notice a local fishing boat heading out at dawn to get the catch of the day:


I'll watch the boat pass by and wish I was out there with BIANKA.  In another few months I will be.




Saturday, March 12, 2016

A TASTE OF SPRING

With the temperature rising into the 70's earlier this week there was no excuse not to head down to the boatyard and check on BIANKA. It had been a couple of weeks since the last visit and despite some nasty weather and a couple of days of high winds I saw no further damage on the deck area. Even the bilge looked surprisingly similar to when I left it. No additional water had entered except the little bit of antifreeze I splashed into it back in February:

Good to see. Apparently the previous water levels I had observed were from snow that had gotten blown in through some of the hatches during the winter storms. All was well so I got to work on starting to implement some spring projects. one was to make some custom seat cushions for the two Engel refrigeration units I have on board in the main cabin. Unpacking some of the patterning material I had bought from Sailrite I quickly made an outline of the Engel tops on the pattern material:


After cutting out the pattern. I'll be taking it home to use my Sailrite sewing machine in fabricating the new cushions. I'm not the only one who will be fabricating some new things this year. The boatyard guys are busy fabricating some new floating docks to replace ones that were damaged when the harbor suffered a quick freeze during a cold snap a few weeks ago:


Spring is just around the corner and I'll be getting busier getting BIANKA ready for the up coming season.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

WINTERLUDE 2016 PART THREE

After a heavy rain had melted much of the snow left from the recent snow storms. I thought I would make another trip to the boatyard and check up on things again. I got to the boatyard and started chatting with the usual crowd that was hanging out in the warm boatyard office. I continued the gam with another boater outside who was heading to the British Virgin Islands the following week to charter a Catamaran. Something I had done for most of January. After that was finished I noticed how cold it was and thought maybe I should come back on the weekend when it would be noticeably warmer than the lower forty degree Fahrenheit day it was. The breeze did not help make it any warmer. I got in the car to warm up and decide what to do. I then thought well I was already here might as well drag out the folding ladder from back of the car and do a quick check. I'm glad I did. Things had taken a turn for the worse since the previous check I had done the week before. The first and most critical thing I noticed even before I climbed on to the boat. One of the frame struts for the solar bimini was no longer connected to the deck hinge:


 This no doubt happened during the 30 to 50 MPH winds during the recent rains. The winds vibrated the frame enough to loosen the screw that held the end cap to the deck hinge. Luckily the screw fell inside the cockpit and was easily found and the frame secured.

The next thing I noticed is that the piece of Lexan that bridged the gap between the two 75 watt solar panels on the solar bimini was gone:

I mean really gone. I could not find it anywhere The same winds that loosened the bimini hardware no doubt sent this piece of plastic flying. This will have to be replaced later during spring outfitting. I have some new ideas for this area anyway.

The last thing I noticed is that the Hydrofarm 5-Gallon Black Bucket had split open:


No doubt from the water accumulating and freezing in it. The bucket had done a great job of providing solar heated rinse water after swims off of BIANKA. But, apparently was not durable enough as some other buckets that have survived the winters unscathed. A replacement will be ordered and stored down below next winter.

On the bright side the small cube ceramic heater I mentioned in the previous post had decided to start working again and provided some much needed heat as I wrestled with the cold stainless steel tubing of the bimini frame. I was glad I decided to do that quick check of the boat instead of heading back home. Things can change dramatically on board in a week even with the weather warming up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WINTERLUDE 2016 PART TWO

Having spent most of January cruising in the Caribbean I was lucky enough to miss JONAS the named blizzard that hit the area. Luckily there was no Arctic freeze following the storm and temperatures rose melting much of the snow before I returned.   So unlike last winter I was easily able to get down to the boatyard and check on BIANKA and see how she fared while I was away.
The deck cockpit and the deck on the south facing side had very little snow on them. The Solar Bimini where I had not yet reinforced the Lexan center piece had collapsed on one edge dumping some snow into the corner of the cockpit.


Something I will take care of once things warm up. For now I re positioned it back and slide a temporary brace underneath it. The deck area on the northern side of the boat still had about two inches of slushy snow and ice. I thought there would be more snow and bought a plastic folding shovel along to help remove it:

 I got this folding plastic shovel many years ago as a Christmas present. It's made for carrying in the car. But, I found a better use for it on board to help remove any snow and ice on the deck that might linger over the winter. It's small enough for the deck area and it being plastic does not mar the deck.

The cover over the mast partners was still secure so it was time to see how things were in the cabin. I looked in the bilge and there was a little bit of water in the bilge. Not surprising since the boat had been through a major Blizzard two weeks before.

I used my two gallon wet/dry vacuum to suck the water out and splashed some more antifreeze into the bilge:

 This should help keep things unfrozen until I can once again check on things in another week or so. I did find one item that gave up the ghost from the last time I used it last winter. That was the small ceramic cube electric heater:
It was still putting out heat but, the fan was not working. It was on BIANKA when I bought her in 1995 and was working last winter helping to keep me warm while working on board. Though I guess twenty plus years is a pretty good run. I'll probably buy a replacement for the next visit.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE

The FONTUS water collector. This is a product currently under development that bears watching:




 Of course it would have to be tested at sea. But, could become standard equipment in every ditch bag or life raft if it works as good as this video shows. Especially if it can be scaled up.



Friday, January 29, 2016

RIDERS ON THE STORM

I spent most of January cruising in the British, U.S. and Spanish Virigin Islands. Even though the Jonas Blizzard/Nor' Easter that hit the United States east coast last week was 1500 miles away. My cruising trip in the Caribbean was affected by it's formation over the Atlantic. The easterly winds we had been enjoying since we started sailing on January 12th suddenly started to veer out of the south. As shown in the video below. The X on the video shows the approximate location of the boat I was on:



I was feeling pretty good as I first heard of the storm approaching the northeast area.   I had recently left the northeast to spend a few weeks cruising in the warm Caribbean to escape part of winter. I did not expect the storm being 1500 miles away for it to impact my travels on board. But, when the winds switched to the south and started to feed into the storm the waves also picked up. When the reefs along Culebra  were hit by waves it made for very poor visibilty for snorkeling for several days. Though on the plus side we did have a nice sail over to Fajardo from Culebra. Though it was a sobering lesson on how powerful these winter storms can be.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

SOMETIMES YOU GET LUCKY

The word from NOAA:

"...BLIZZARD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SUNDAY
AFTERNOON...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN UPTON HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD
WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SUNDAY
AFTERNOON.

* LOCATIONS...THE FIVE BOROUGHS OF NEW YORK CITY...COASTAL
  PORTIONS OF NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY...AND LONG ISLAND.

* HAZARD TYPES...HEAVY SNOW ALONG WITH STRONG AND POTENTIALLY
  DAMAGING WINDS.

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 8 TO 12 INCHES.

* WINDS...NORTHEAST 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 30S.

* VISIBILITIES...ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES.

* TIMING...SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SUNDAY AFTERNOON."

Meanwhile down here in the Caribbean it looks like this:


Feel lucky to be down here cruising for a bit as a blizzard approaches up northbut, still thinking about BIANKA on the hard.