Wednesday, September 06, 2017

HURRICANE JOSE: Tropical Tidbits Update

When Hurricanes start appearing in the Caribbean I try to keep a weather eye on them. Just so I'm not surprised should they decide to head up the East Coast of the United States and into my area. Hurricane Irma looks like it will not be a threat to BIANKA. But, it is a serious storm for those in it's path. One of my go to sites on the Internet to get a handle on what's going on with these storms is Tropical Tidbits. Levi Cowan does an excellent job of independent analysis to show what is going on and what may happen with storms like Irma along with serious caveats so people don't get to complacent.  Here is the latest update:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

AN ELECTRIC PROPULSION UPGRADE: Part One

It's been a busy summer for me so I have not been on BIANKA as often as I was in past seasons. But, I finally got around to installing the new upgraded motor controller. This is one of advantages of electric propulsion i.e. is the ability to upgrade various components of the system. The original controller gave me eight trouble free years of operation. But, at the beginning of last season after the boat was launched I went to leave the dock and had no power from the controller. I spoke to Dave at Annapolis Hybrid
Marine about it. He mentioned there had been a few of these mysterious failures of the Navitas 400 controllers and as a result they had changed controller brands. Though the new controller they install does not fit in the same box as the older Navitas TPM 400 controllers.  So as I saw it I had several options (which is another advantage of Electric Propulsion) :

1) Was to keep the current controller box and buy a new NAVITAS TPM 400 controller to replace the dead one. This would be the cheapest remedy. But, even though the original controller gave me eight years of trouble free service there was no guarantee a replacement would do the same.

2) Buy a new box with the new upgraded Sigma controller. This would effectively give me a brand new Thoosa 9000 system. Since the controller is the heart of an EP system. Only the motor, batteries, and a few other things like the Speed control, battery charger would be original.

3) Dave at Annapolis Hybrid offered another solution. If I did not have to use max power of my current system they could fit a smaller controller in my current controller box which would save me the cost of the new controller box. I never did have to pull max amps from the controller so this would probably work for me.

After thinking about it over the winter I decided to buy the new upgraded controller and box. Even though I probably would never draw max amps from the controller I did not like worrying about limitations of using a smaller controller in the current box.  Likewise since the original Navitas controller died suddenly that would also be in the back of my mind while cruising. So buying the new upgraded Thoosa 9000 controller seems like the best way to go.

I'll be showing the installation upgrade procedure in the next Post.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

THE SIMPLICITY OF ELECTRIC PROPULSION: LEMCO MOTOR

I was attracted to the idea of electric propulsion because it seemed like a cleaner and simpler system to propel the boat than the hot stinky diesel engine. It is all this and more. Even I was surprised how easy it is to maintain and upgrade which I will do in the next few weeks when I install a new controller box. Which only has a few components in it and is very simple to trouble shoot.  I know this because I have opened it up and looked inside. What I did not know was how simple that even the LEMCO motor that the controller connects to was also very simple and repairable. That is until I came across this video of a fellow who has converted a Cabin Cruiser to electric propulsion. He has had the experience of taking apart and repairing the motor and produced a video of it that I found very interesting:

Saturday, July 08, 2017

ERIC FORSYTH: An Inexplicable Attraction

There are few things I like better at the end of the day then to climb into my bunk on BIANKA with a good read. It just puts a nice finish to the day spent on board. The book I just started and am enjoying very much is An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing by Eric Forsyth. Long before You Tube bought us the cruising video sailing stars like S/V Delos, La Vagabounde, Drake Paragon etc... There was Eric Forsyth sailing around the world on his Westsail 42. Which he purchased as a bare hull had it shipped across the country and spent several years turning it into the boat that would take him on voyages across oceans and into the Arctic and even through the Northwest Passage. Eric finds the voyage not the destination the fun part of his cruises. Though from what I have read so far he provides interesting tidbits of history in some of his stops too. 
I was happy to attend the book's release party since he lives not far away from me along with his boat FIONA's homeport. I purchased his book on KINDLE since BIANKA's bookshelves can no longer hold anymore books.  Unfortunately, the thing about buying books on Kindle is the author can not sign their manuscripts. But, I did the next best thing and had Forsyth hold my Kindle for a photo. 
At 83 years old Forsyth does not appear to be slowing down.  He is busy preparing for his next voyage. Perhaps not as challenging as some as his polar trips but, challenging enough for most sailors. Just a simple circumnavigation of the North Atlantic ocean. There was a map on the wall of the boat barn showing his planned route:



But, in reading his book often things don't go as planned. But, Forsyth and his crew are up to the challenges and that's what makes his book An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing  such a good read. I'm enjoying it and recommend it.

Monday, July 03, 2017

BACK TO THE WATER AND WIND



Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

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