Saturday, September 20, 2014


I recently mentioned the anchor swivel's pin that was approaching a "yikes" moment. Since I had a spare on board I looked to replace it. It had been attached for as long as I have owned the boat and normally should have been a five minute replacement job. Except for one thing the pin of the shackle that attached the swivel to the anchor was seized and no amount of PB Blaster, wrenches and even  micro torch supplied heat could move that shackle pin. Looks like that five minute job just got a little longer since I was going to have to cut this shackle off too in order to replace the swivel. But, what to use? It's a tight space around where the anchor and shackle lay. A hacksaw would be awkward to use in the confined space take quite a bit of time even if I had a new blade which I did not. Enter the Dremel 200-1/15 Two-Speed Rotary Tool Kit with a pack of heavy duty cutting disks. I am able to power the Dremel a number of ways on board. One is with my on onboard Honda EU 2000 generator which is really over kill for the power requirements of the Dremel Tool. Another is with the AIMS 1500 Watt 48 volt Inverter I installed last year. Though for most jobs I just use the 200 watt 12 volt Powerstar Inverter that I bought back in the 1980's. It not a pure sinewave inverter but, it powers the Dremel Tool quite nicely for all sorts of quick projects.  The Dremel made short work of cutting through the swivel that was attached to the seized anchor shackle as shown here:

Once the old swivel was out of the way I could start to work on the seized anchor shackle.  I probably should have used a  Dremel 1-1/4-Inch Reinforced Cut-Off Wheel but, even the Dremel 420 Heavy Duty Cut-Off Wheels  I used did the job. Though I did have one or two disks break in the process. They still cut through the swivel and shackel quite easily despite not being reinforced. I was impressed.

After removing the swivel I tackled the stuck shackle pin. Rather try and cut through the crown which would have required two cuts to remove the shackle. I decided to see if I could just cut through the one lug of the shackle where the pin screwed into. Perhaps just cutting away enough of the lug would allow the pin to be removed:

I was careful not to cut into the anchor shank. After a few partial cuts of the shackle lug I was able to easily unscrew the shackle pin:

Which still looked pretty good but, the corrosion that held it in place was pretty tenacious so it needed to be replaced along with the swivel.  I used some  Tef-Gel on the replacement shackle threads to help insure that I will not have to cut the shackle next time I have to remove it:

With the old swivel and anchor shackle replaced I could now sleep easier when BIANKA is at anchor:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I don't spend a lot of time on docks with BIANKA. The boat lives on a mooring in the homeport and usually on the anchor or mooring when cruising. Though sometimes I splurge for an overnight stay here and there to re water or get provisions etc... Then there was the recent cruise where I entered a harbor at 9:30 at night tired from a ten hour sail where a lot of hours where at the helm. I was not in the mood to try and deal with anchoring and did not want to disturb the other boats by firing up the generator to recharge the batteries. So I tied up to a marina dock for the night. The good thing about it I'd be able to plug in the DUAL PRO 4 charger to charge and balance BIANKA's 8A4D AGM batteries that make up the 48 volt propulsion bank. So that's what I did. As soon as I'd finished plugging in I went to bed exhausted.  A couple of hours later I woke up to answer natures call and noticed steady green lights on the charger which meant that all four batteries were fully charged.  Glad to see that. Then a few hours later when I woke up again I noticed that one of the batteries had a single red light on. This indicated that the battery was only 30% charged. This was not good but, I still tired thought I would deal with this in the morning. In the morning the light was still on indicating the battery was only partially charged. There were two possibilities as I saw it. One I had a battery that went bad during the night or that something was wrong with the cable from the Dual Pro charger to the battery. I was hoping for the latter to be the issue and it was.
I used my instrument panel at the helm to first  check the individual battery voltages and found they were all very close. So it looked like the battery was fully charged. So my attention shifted to the battery charger. I thought it might be a bad connection on the battery but, as I touched the fuse holder that the Dual Pro has in line I felt it somewhat warm. It turns out that the fuse was not seated all the way and had become loose enough that a bad connection occurred triggering the charger to interpret this as a poorly charged battery.

At first everything looked normal:
But, as I started to check the holder it just came loose:

I had not actually fiddled with this holder since I installed my instrumentation panel at the helm. Which must have been over a year ago. But, obviously I had not seated the fuse properly back then and it had finally become loose enough to make a bad contact. I reseated it and the charger reacted normally. If you compare the picture below with the first fuse picture above you cane see the difference in spacing on the left side of the fuse:

This all goes to show that sometimes what looks like a major problem might not actually be so bad. In fact it might be just a little thing like a bad contact on a fuse that is the issue.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


BIANKA already has a bimini made up of solar panels. Two 75 watt 12 volt panels charge the house bank batteries and two 60 watt 48 volt panels help charge the propulsion bank. The panels have served me well but, this year I added an addition  Engel Marine Fridge Freezer unit and the two 75 watt 12 volt panels could use a little help. I find myself having to fire up the Honda 2000 generator on occasion. Something I did rarely with just one Engel in operation.  so I ordered a  Renogy® 100W Monocrystalline Bendable Solar Panel to add a little more power for solar charging.

I should have it in a few days and will connect it into the 12 solar controller and see how much it helps with the additional load the new ENGEL refrigerator has added. What convinced me to try it  was it's lightweight and the ability to move it around the boat in order to get access to the most sun.   Unlike the panels on the solar bimini which are rigid frame units the new panel has some flexibility that allows it to conform to curved surfaces like the deck. It looks like it will help a lot.  I'll report on how well the new Renogy panel works as soon as it arrives and I get a chance to play with it which should be in a few days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


On the morning of  September 11, 2001 BIANKA was at a dock just up the river from the World Trade Center in New York. What that morning was like is chronicled here.

Friday, September 05, 2014


So since I got a late start on my cruising plans I headed out as soon as my schedule was clear.  When I got to Mattituck I was looking at a pin that held the swivel to the anchor chain. It was looking somewhat iffy. I had  new replacement shackles and swivel on board. So I thought when I got to my next destination which was Three Mile Harbor on Long Island I'd pick up a town mooring and replace the anchor swivel and shackles.  I arrived at the channel to the harbor at just about sunset and by the time I got into the harbor after dark. I could not find the town moorings so I picked up and vacant one. In the morning I gave the harbor master a call to ask where the town moorings were located. He replied that the town trustees had decided not to put them in this year. Once again my assumption that the moorings would still be available turned out to be my mistake. Luckily, I was able to get on another mooring thanks to a local boatyard who had a spare mooring available due to the owner being away. At least I was able to replace the anchor swivel at a leisurely pace. But, it was a reminder not to assume that things that were there before will still be there on your next visit.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


So I started my first cruise of the season. It's late and I'm chomping at the bit to get out of the harbor. My first leg was a twenty five mile trip to Mattituck. Since I was in the hurry and plenty of water even with one tank dry I did not bother to stop at the dock for to refill it. My plan was to splurge and tie up at a marina dock at my destination where I could refill the water tanks, charge my electric propulsion and house bank etc...

The trip was mostly without wind. So I fired up the Honda 2000 generator and pretty much motored the whole way at around four knots  under electric propulsion along  with a favoring current. I was thinking maybe I should also charge the house bank when underway since I was using the generator as part of my poor man's hybrid propulsion. I can normally electro sail and charge my 12 volt house bank at the same time as long as the house bank is not really low. In which case it tends to trip the Honda's breaker. Nah, I thought I'll be at the dock soon enough and can charge to me hearts content. I arrived at Mattituck inlet at sunset and by the time I meandered up to the harbor it was dark. I tide up to an outside dock and went to plug in the power. But, my 30 Amp 3 prong marine plug would not fit. There was a cryptic warning not to try and connect a 30 amp plug into the 120/240 outlet. No doubt for some much bigger motor yacht to dock here. Turns out there was going to be no charging overnight as I had planned because I assumed the electrical outlets would be the same as my home marina. I was able to get things charged in the morning with the help of a dock hand and the fact that I had a 50 amp to 30 amp pigtail adapter on board which fit an outlet on the other side of the power post. Since the time need to charge cut into getting a favorable current to get around Plum Gut I decided to stay another night at the dock. It was another reminder never to assume too much until you actually reach your destination and to charge things up whenever you can.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

TOOLS OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR: Hopkins Measuring Funnel

One of the real nice things about Electric Propulsion and having removed the diesel engine from the boat is not needing to do multi quart oil changes every fifty hours. Indeed my maintenance has just about gone to zero in the seven years since I switched to electric propulsion. The only regular maintenance I have had to do has involved the Honda 2000 generator that serves for providing power for battery charging at anchor and also acts as a poor man's hybrid when doing an extended electro sail. The maintenance on the generator has  been minimal consisting mainly of an annual oil change. The oil change on the Honda 2000 does not
involve a lot of oil compared to the old Westebeke 27 diesel. In fact it's only .42 Quarts. Which is kind of a problem when one is using a plain funnel with a quart container of 30W oil that the Honda requires. It usually results in an overflow situation and some messy clean up.
I came across a very handy solution for oil change overflow problem in the form of the Hopkins FloTool 10704 Spill Saver Measu-Funnel. It is an elegant solution for dealing with oil changes on small capacity engines like the Honda 2000eu generator or an outboard.

It has a graticule on the side calibrated in various liquid measurements. You just fill the container with the appropriate amount of oil you need. It also has a snap on cover that will help avoid any spills should you drop the funnel accidently.

It's operation is pretty simple. Once the funnel is filled with the premeasured amount of oil. You insert the clear hose of the funnel into the oil fill opening: 

Then you turn the blue valve at the bottom of the funnel to start the flow of oil from the container to engine. Since the oil has been  pre measured there is little chance of an overflow.

It even has a cap at the end of the hose to capture any residual oil that may drip down from the container. You can then return the residual oil back into the original quart container and not waste a drop.  In short this ingenious funnel makes oil changing on board or on land a much cleaner operation. That's why it's one of the tools of this electric sailor.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Fellow sailor on the next mooring came by in his dingy with some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden. You know a salad is on the menu for lunch.
Sent from on board BIANKA

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I'm a little behind in posting blog  posts after being a month away from the boat working. I hope to be posting more frequently and catching up on things now that I'm back on board.  Here are the results of the 2014 harbor test of my Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system. I did the test earlier in the season soon after launch showing the speed vs power required to move my 30 foot 16,000 lb sailboat using electric propulsion:

NOTE: Speed is in knots

Below is the 2014 test data compared with the 2013 test at the 10 to 50 amp throttle settings:

Note: To see the averaged power settings for the 2013 tests click here. The graphs show very little change in performance in me electric propulsion system from last year.

Thursday, August 07, 2014


After dismantling major portions of the Gas Range on BIANKA I had some new storage options. I discovered one by accident last time I was on board. Seems one of my favorite cooking pans a 12 inch cast iron skillet stores away quite nicely sitting on top one the new burner:

Best of all it fits under the sliding countertop too. This frees up space in the oven compartment storage area and allows easy access to a pan I use quite often when cooking.