Monday, February 20, 2017


Now that I've shown an example of how I am able to easily Electro-Sail with BIANKA when the winds fail to show up. I'll discuss the components that enable me to achieve it and some of the things I have learned in the past nine years since I converted BIANKA to Electric Propulsion.

My Thoosa 9000 EP system specifications were designed  for 20 miles at 4 knots. This was using my 8A4D AGM batteries only. I have never checked if this was the actual case nor do I want to unless it becomes necessary. BIANKA is a sailboat and I always prefer to use the sail for propulsion. Another reason to avoid trying to push the battery bank close to depletion is you decrease the amount charge cycles of the battery bank. As this chart below shows:

It's about saving the amps champs! But, that does not mean I just use the EP system to get into and out of the harbor. Which is very easy for an EP system to do. I tend to leave my home harbor for other destinations not just day sails. But, EP makes that easy to do too.

So what do I use when I feel the need to Electro Sail? I will first start out under battery power alone. I watch the XBM battery monitor to see when my battery back has dropped down to about 75% battery capacity from the 100% fully charged condition I started out with. This is about two hours after I have started motoring. As noted above this habit allows me to have more recharge cycles out of the battery over it's lifetime. This is better than depleting the bank to down say 50%. It also reduces the amount of time spent to charge the battery back up to 100%

So when the battery bank has dropped to the 75% capacity.  I fire up the Honda 2000i generator and plug in the ZIVAN NG-1 charger into it.
The ZIVAN has turned into a real workhorse and has been very reliable. When I first installed the Thoosa system back in 2008 I was concerned about what would happen if the charger went bad and could no longer charge the battery bank while on a cruise. So I bought a backup NG-1. I'm happy to say that the backup has remained in it's box for these past nine years and has never had to be put into service.  The ZIVAN also works well with the Honda 2000 generator. When I use it for Electro Sailing on BIANKA it functions as a power supply pushing out 15 amps of max current to propel the boat acting as a power supply to push the boat along. It's output is just 900 watts well within the maximum 1600 watts continuous rating of the Honda generator. As the graph below from one of my harbor tests shows that 900 watts allows me to motor BIANKA at around three knots without drawing any amps out of the battery bank:

 In fact it allows me to operated the Honda Generator in ECO mode which makes the one gallon of gas in the Honda generator last for about four hours. I have operated the ZIVAN in this full out mode for hours at a time without issue. BIANKA will move along quite nicely at this speed until the fuel runs out. Of course despite being a fairly sophisticated charger the ZIVAN does not know it is being used only has a power supply to push BIANKA along on a windless day. It thinks it is still charging a battery bank. Which brings up something one has to be on the lookout for when Electro-Sailing with this and other chargers. Because the charger never sees the battery being charged at some point it will disconnect. Thinking the battery is not charging it will timeout. It takes several hours to reach this conclusion and it is easily reset by unplugging it from the generator and plugging it back in. Then it is good to go for another several hours.
 One of the nice things about having Electric Propulsion is how easily it is to modify components of the system or change operating modes. Because the ZIVAN's output is limited to 900 watts it means I am not able to take advantage of the full 1600 watts continuous output of the Honda 2000i. So I am contemplating buying a 48 volt 1500 watt power supply to use when it looks like I will have to operate on an extended Electro-Sail mode. I expect it should move BIANKA along about 4 knots. I'll test and post about that hopefully some this upcoming season.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I was awakened from my mid winter doldrums by an email from a fellow who had some questions about electro-sailing if he were to convert to electric propulsion:
but because there may be rare occasions, like if we have to transit a canal the like Erie Canal, where we would need to motor for an extended period I am I am trying to determine if a small generator like the 2000i would be suitable to propel the boat at a slow speed for extended periods.

You stated that you could motor at about 3 knots with your 2000i generator. What charger do you use? Have you done this for several hours at a time? I am curious if you have experienced issues with heat build up, or other problems that might be an issue with extended use of the charger to power the electric engine."

These are great questions and ones I wondered about back in 2007 where I began to get serious about converting to electric propulsion. So I thought I'd make a blog post about my experience over the past nine seasons with electric propulsion and electro-sailing.

1) I am trying to determine if a small generator like the 2000i would be suitable to propel the boat at a slow speed for extended periods.
The answer is yes. I have found I don't really need to do it often but I have had to at times  motor up to 40 nautical miles just using a Honda 2000i generator and battery charger to move my 30 foot boat along. An example of such a day is shown in this video:

Again I have not had to do this often since at some point during most sailing days a breeze does kick up at some point. But, even if it does not I find electro-sailing with Electric Propulsion to be much quieter and much less vibration than when I had a diesel which makes for a much more pleasant day on the water.
I'll get into more specifics as to the components used on BIANKA for extended electro-sailing  and the things you need to know to make it possible in the next post.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


There are lot's of ways to go cruising. Even those who live on board full time do get off from time to time and head off traveling on land and/or visiting relatives etc.... I have come to terms with pulling BIANKA out of the water for the winter and not taking her south to warmer waters. I think this is good for a couple of reasons it allows one to really look forward to the upcoming sailing season. That's the absence makes the heart grow fonder reason. Another reason is my semi-landlubber companion likes to go on mid winter sailing vacations on crewed Catamarans. We've been doing this for a number of years and have spent part of the winter sailing various parts of the world. So my wanderlust to visit these places like the Carribbean  is satiated and no longer have the strong desire to make the journey to these areas with BIANKA. This year was no exception. But, it was not just a quick Jet ride down to the Caribbean. It was a trip halfway across the world and out to the Indian Ocean to spend twelve days cruising in the Maldive Atolls. It's a special place with gorgeous reefs and also a place I'd never be able to bring BIANKA easily. Nor would I want to since the numerous reefs and sand banks are better navigated with someone with local knowledge. We spent most of January in the area and I will try and post some of the highlights of the cruise here in the next few weeks. Upon returning from this trip I got some more good news. In the mail yesterday came the paperwork from the Town for renewing the mooring permit. A sign that the sailing season is just around the corner.

Monday, January 09, 2017

WHAT LIES BENEATH: PowerRay Underwater Drone

Those of us who spend time anchoring in murkier waters than most places in the Caribbean often have this question nagging us: How well is the anchor really set? Yeah,  you do a back down test but, it is still an unknown. If you are in places like the Exumas where the water clarity and temperature make it easy to check on the anchor it is not an issue. But, in places like the Northeast U.S. where visibility may be ten feet if you are lucky and the water temperature is in the low 60's it can be a problem. That's where this new underwater drone might come in handy. It's called the PowerRay and is primarily marketed toward fishermen who want a little more info on what is exactly underneath their boats. But, I see using it as a way to easily check on the anchor without guessing in less than clear or inviting waters. Since it's a tethered Drone there is less chance it will be lost to Neptune too. There is no price on it yet but, if it's reasonable it could be cheap insurance to have a restful nights sleep when the winds start to pipe up. It could also be very handy to see what ones anchor is fouled on if it does not come easily when trying to lift it. Another use would be to locate an item that went over the side that needs to be found.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Sometimes when cruising one wants to get to some stores for some parts or provisions. Your choices are usually walking, taking a Taxi, bus etc... I just came across this 35 pound fold able electric scooter called the URB-E with a twenty mile range. Smaller than a bicycle it folds and should be easy to store on board. Might be just the thing to throw into the dingy for a quick trip to pick up something on land or just exploring around town.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Went back to the boatyard to finish up winterizing the boat and taking off a few of the remaining provisions I left on board. Along with storing a few items. Starting with the outside hatches:
cabin doors

I will store them out of the weather for the winter. I might add another coat of Cetol over the winter if I get ambitious. Though more likely it will be next spring before I get around to it. I also removed the mainsheet line that was connected to the boom no reason to leave it out in the cold winter weather. I'll bring it home along with all the other lines and wash them:
Also note above that I have tapped up the hatches. Since I don't plan on accessing them for awhile adding a little bit of weather proofing. It can't hurt keeping more water from entering the bilge.

I also took the cockpit table off the the steering pedestal:

Like the hatch doors this is done to try and preserve the varnish finish. Like the cabin doors I may bring this home and add another coat before launch next spring:

That pretty much covers the winterizing items I needed to do in the cockpit. I then went to the galley lockers and took the remaining canned items I have left on board:
I'll use them for cooking at home over the winter and I don't have to worry about cans splitting open over the winter. So that wrapped up another day of winterizing. As I took a walk around deck I could not help but. notice that a few of the shrink wrapped boats reminded me of snow drifts:

A reminder that winter is just around the corner in about a month.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I've been a little slow lately in putting stuff on this blog. Part of it was because BIANKA did not really do much this summer because of the controller and battery issues. Which kept the boat tied to the mooring. But, I still have a many things on the TODO list and some sailing adventures planed over the winter.  I plan to add more videos to the future postings and on occasion a Video Log or Vlog. So stay tuned.

Friday, November 04, 2016


It was an unusually warm Autumn day.  So I thought it was about time to finishing up getting BIANKA ready for the winter. I stopped at the nearby beach parking lot with my coffee to see what was happening on Long Island Sound. I wasn't the only one getting things ready for winter.
The Harbor Master was out with his crew pulling the last remaining swim buoys from out in front of the bathing beach. I watch them finish then headed for the boatyard. The mooring fields were getting pretty empty. A few boats remained at the dock but, they will be gone in few weeks and the moorings pulled for the winter. I will still still have a pretty nice water view from BIANKA's cockpit over the winter:

Since I switched from having a diesel engine to Electric Propulsion winterizing BIANKA has been a quick procedure. Only requiring that I winterize the fresh water systems on board. Not having to change the oil and run several gallons of antifreeze through a diesel engine leaves a lot of time for staring at the harbor scene and not spending time down below hanging over the greasy diesel engine. I finished up the winterizing and headed to the car. I looked back to see BIANKA nice and snug in her winter location between the other boats in the yard waiting patiently for Spring:

Sunday, October 23, 2016


It's been several weeks since I pulled BIANKA out of the water.  It was a little earlier than I usually do. But, this was a very unusual season. Things started out well with not much to do to get BIANKA launched. Being retired there was not a real rush on my part. Then about a week before I had planned to splash the boat I discovered one of the batteries on the 48 volt propulsion bank was bad. That set off a bunch of situations that resulted in BIANKA not being able to leave the harbor on her own power and my wallet a few thousand dollars lighter. I had BIANKA splashed.  I was about to leave the dock when I discovered a problem with the controller. Since it was now mid summer and there would be  several weeks were I would be away from the boat. I decided to forget sailing and just use BIANKA as if I had pulled in from a cruise to spend a month or two enjoying the scene. I would work on the controller issue over the winter or early next spring. It was a short but enjoyable season. I still did the things that make owning a boat so enjoyable. Swimming by just jumping over the side and enjoying a nice drink while watching the sunset. Having my morning coffee in the cockpit while watching the sunrise is also a great way to start the day. Now its time to winterize the boat, store the dingy and settle in for the winter. Maybe work on a few projects and make plans for next year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


In early September I was facing a serious dilemma. Hurricane Hermaine was heading up the coast. This meant I would have to try and prep BIANKA in advance of the storm. But, I also had booked passage on a Cruise ship leaving New York and heading to Bermuda during the same week the storm was expected to hit. Due to a number of SNAFU's and personal travel plans I had decided to give up on sailing this season and just hung out of BIANKA at the mooring. This decision was fortuitous because I did not have a need to put the sail on the boat. This made storm preparation a little easier since I did not have to remove and store BIANKA's 540 square feet of sail to reduce windage.

I did have to do a few other things to give me some piece of mind in case the Hurricane hit the area. One thing I needed to do is remove the 33 pound Bruce anchor off the bow roller.
 The flukes of which can cut easily cut through the mooring line like a knife and set the boat adrift. It's not a difficult job but, it is awkward handling the anchor while leaning over the bowsprite. An extra line helps make sure you won't accidentally drop the anchor while handling it. I was also glad I had previously coated the shackle pin threads with Tef Gel . This made for a quick and easy removal of the shackle holding the anchor to the chain. I wish the neighboring boats would do the same but, I have not seen anyone else come out and start to prep their boats.

Once the anchor was removed and the mooring pennant lines set in the bow rollers. I used several large Ty Wraps through holes in the rollers:

These will prevent the mooring lines from popping off the  rollers and start chaffing as the bow pitches up and down in a storm. This could possibly set the boat adrift.

I also made up some spare mooring lines I planned to add to the existing mooring line as extra insurance. I got the last two 3/8" thimbles at the local West Marine and sliced them into some Tenex line I had on board:

I used a hot knife to cut out the bad section of the line before installing the thimble:

 The hot knife really helps to make quick neat cuts in some of these new high tech lines.

I also used some Parachute cord to secure the BIANKA"S Solar Bimini. The bimini had survived the 95 MPH winds of super storm Sandy but a little more security never hurts when expecting a blow:

My plans to add two additional lines to the mooring did not work out since the attachment point on the mooring ring did not allow room for two shackles so I was only able to add one line:

This was better than nothing. Though it would have been better to find this out before a storm approaches. I may see if the boatyard can increase the size of the mooring ring next year so I can fit two additional storm shackles instead of just one.

A LESSON LEARNED: Hermaine did not hit the area full strength which I was glad to learn of while on the cruise ship. There were some strong gusts but, nothing near Hurricane strength. However, after I returned and was rowing out to the boat for the first time since returning from the cruise. I saw that my spare storm mooring line was dangling in the water. I thought at first it had broken even though it was rated at over 5,000 pounds. When I inspected it this is what I found:

Apparently, I had secured the shackle pin to the thimble with a Ty Wrap to but, I had forgotten to do the same to the shackle that attached to the mooring ring. As a result of the pitching up and down the pin loosened up and eventually fell out make my spare storm mooring line useless. When this happened is anyone's guess. But, it is a lesson learned to make an inspection list before leaving the boat when prepping for a storm.