Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A LATE WINTER CHECKUP

It has not been a snowy winter but it has been a cold one.  Which is why I've not been down to the boatyard to check on BIANKA in over a month. I was away for most of January. February has been a cold  and raw month. So when a sunny day came where the temperature approached 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It was time to make a visit to the boatyard to check on the boat. Many of the boats are still nestled under their shrink wrap covers. From the cockpit they looked like snow drifts.


 I didn't stay long just long enough to charge the batteries via the Dual Pro 4 charger which only took about an hour since the batteries were pretty much being kept topped up by the solar panels over the winter.


While the charger was going through its  charge cycle I drained the small amount of water that had accumulated in the bilge  since the last time I visited over a month ago. After that was done I splashed a little bit of the leftover antifreeze into the bilge to prevent any further water from freezing hopefully for the last time.



I picked up the homemade boarding  ladder extension which I had stored in the cabin for the winter.  A few years ago another boat had smashed into it and broken the strut that help keep it straight.  It was still usable for boarding but tended to slide underneath the boat when climbing up it. I'm taking it back to the house to to replace the damaged strut for the upcoming season.




I also spent a little time sitting in the cockpit staring out at the empty Harbor.


How different it looks without any moorings or boats on it’s waters. In another month or two the moorings will start appearing like returning birds after a long winter. A sign that the sailing season is about to begin.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

NEW YEAR NEW IDEAS

It's been over ten years since I first converted BIANKA from diesel auxiliary power to electric propulsion.  Still have never regretted the decision and as I read the messages in the various Internet sailing sites about engine troubles people are having. It reinforces in my mind have grateful I am to have avoided so much of those issues.  Though I have done a few changes over the years including a new battery bank. I've also changed to a new controller this past year that has had the added advantage of improving the regen charging capabilities of my system. One that I plan to explore in greater depth in the coming year. I am also thinking about adding some more EP power as I have the ability to tap into a little more power of the Honda 2000i generator. All that and some install projects like a new VHF radio install and the long delayed conversion of the old diesel fuel tank is among other things to do. So it looks like it will busy year coming up. But, first it is time to do some traveling to the Indian Ocean for some sailing and relaxing in the Maldives.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

GIFT FOR SAILORS: TIDES: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean

Holiday gift giving time is just around the corner and if you are looking for a gift to give to a sailor   I have a great suggestion.
A book called TIDES: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learning about tides all over the world and what makes the depth and current values different in various locations. It is a fascinating and informative read that I'm sure anyone who sails or just enjoys the sea will enjoy reading.

 In Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, writer, sailor, and surfer Jonathan White takes readers across the globe to discover the science and spirit of ocean tides. In the Arctic, White shimmies under the ice with an Inuit elder to hunt for mussels in the dark cavities left behind at low tide; in China, he races the Silver Dragon, a twenty-five-foot tidal bore that crashes eighty miles up the Qiantang River; in France, he interviews the monks that live in the tide-wrapped monastery of Mont Saint-Michel; in Chile and Scotland, he investigates the growth of tidal power generation; and in Panama and Venice, he delves into how the threat of sea level rise is changing human culture—the very old and very new. Tides combines lyrical prose, colorful adventure travel, and provocative scientific inquiry into the elemental, mysterious paradox that keeps our planet’s waters in constant motion. Photographs, scientific figures, line drawings, and sixteen color photos dramatically illustrate this engaging, expert tour of the tides.




Sunday, November 11, 2018

A FRIEND SAYS GOODBYE FOR THE SEASON


I had just finished storing the Porta Bote dinghy in the shed for the winter when I spied a Great Blue Heron land in one of the trees. I had often seen Great Blue Herons while I was relaxing  on BIANKA at the mooring. The Great Blue Heron is a shorebird I had never seen one this far inland. So it was surprised to see it land in one of my backyard trees. I like to think it came to say goodbye for the season before it headed south.  Anyway it was still a nice way to end the season seeing it.



Sunday, October 28, 2018

SAILING SEASON 2018: A quick look back

Now that's sailing season has ended here on Long Island and I am about to pull the
boat for the season. I thought I'd post a little report of how the 2018 season went.
Several small cruises to a nearby harbor provided enough sailing satisfaction to satiate
my wants and needs.



The new Thoosa controller I installed last year worked flawlessly and was an
improvement on the old Navitas controller that mysteriously died over a recent winter.
Not only where there are no problems with it. The good news is it appears that I start
getting Regen charging at 4 knots as opposed to the 6 knots with the old controller.
That was a pleasant surprise.

On another matter I discovered that one of the brand new batteries I installed in 2016 seems to be failing. Pretty sure this was damaged in shipment. However I was able to make due for the season by careful monitoring of it’s voltage and going into hybrid mode using the Honda 2000 generator and Zivan NG-1 battery charger as needed. I plan to do a load test on the batteries over the winter or next spring to verify it is indeed bad. I suspect I'll need to buy a new battery but I'm not going to buy four new ones as the others seem to be OK.

The boats 48 volt Marine Air-X wind turbine controller board seems to have failed.
I’ll probably send it back for refurbishing in the spring considering it’s been trouble free
for about eight years. Meantime BIANKA’s 48 volt solar panels and occasional Honda
generator charging took up the slack.  



All the projects I had planned to work on over the summer did not get done as usual
despite my good intentions. These included:
A new VHF radio install with a remote microphone.
Replacing the non-working macerator pump.
Finishing the conversion of the diesel tank into a freshwater washdown tank.
Install additional LED lighting
Hopefully over the winter and spring  I'll have better success completing some of these items.



I did have good success sewing the bronze sail slides onto a sail and somebody gave to me over
15 years ago. It was in very good shape.  It has replaced the sail that came with
BIANKA when I bought her and was probably original back to 1986. So it looks like I will
not have to buy a new sail for a few years. Though I am planning on making a new
Stack Pack sail cover for it over the winter.




The new Porta Bote Dingy works well even when towed behind BIANKA.  Though its
built-in transom now makes it 12 pounds heavier and I can no longer easily carry it under
one arm like the  previous one I owned.


All in all a good season of sailing and looking forward to an even better one next year.

 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

THE FATHOM DRONE HAS ARRIVED

It's an exciting day. I made a post back in 2017 about an underwater drone called the Fathom One. I purchased one sight unseen. In fact it had just graduated from a Kickstarter funding project to the initial development phase when plunked down my money to buy it. Originally the unit was supposed to be available in June 2017. But the development and testing took a little longer than expected.  It finally arrived at my front door today.

I opened the box and attached the three motors to the main body of the drone and put it on the bench. I also wired up the antenna to the WIFI module and attached the tethered cable to it.

I'm charging the Lithium batteries and soon as they are charged I'll give it a bench test.

I have been putting off pulling BIANKA out of the water for the season waiting for this drone to arrive. I want to get at least one under the water test before the sailing season ends. I'll be making a video on the setup and testing of the Fathom drone soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

LONG ISLAND SOUND A FIELD GUIDE TO IT'S NATURE AND HISTORY

One of the great pleasures of being on board is to climb into the bunk on BIANKA with a good book. Usually it pertains to sailing or nature. My current read is a recently published book called A FIELD GUIDE TO LONG ISLAND SOUND by Patrick J. Lynch

It is a very informative book that encompasses all types of interesting information regarding the waters and shoreline of Long Island Sound. The book delves into the geological history of how the sound was formed. The various types of shorelines that borders the waters as well as the plants and animals that are part of it's ecology. It's a fascinating book and nicely illustrated with photos and maps. If you sail Long Island Sound as I do or are planning a visit to the area it is a great companion to many of the things you will see and places that you will visit. I recommend it.









Wednesday, August 08, 2018

NATURES TELEVISION: Lightning

I don't have a television on board BIANKA. Just a small pocket size AM/FM Radio and MP3 player. Nature is what I spend most of my time watching and listening to while in the cockpit. Sometimes there is a special night performance as happened last night as Thunderstorms lit up the sky with lightning that was close but, not too close:

Thursday, August 02, 2018

THE DINGY WAITING GAME AND NUMBERS GAME

After 16 years my 8 foot Porta Boat dingy had seen better days. It still floated well but, a pesky small leak dispite my half hearted attempt to find it eluded me. After sixteen years it really did not owe me anything. So I bought a new one to replace it. The new model has some improvements over my original Porta Boat including an attached folding transom. Which means less pieces to store on board if I ever carry it folded on board.

A few weeks ago I put it together and began using it to row out to the mooring. After awhile I wanted to start using one of the two electric outboards I have with it. This requires that I register it with the state and pay some sales tax for it's purchase. It had been a number of years since I went to the DMV to register anything. But, I knew there would be a certain amount of waiting and bureaucracy. I finally decided to make the attempt and went down to one of the local Department of Motor Vehicles. I order to minimize any wasted time waiting I downloaded the proper documents and filled them out at home. When I got there I met my first line and after a short wait was met by a DMV representative. I explained that I wanted to register my the boat and showed her my filled out documents. She looked at them and gave me a number.  I was two hours  before later my number was finally called.
I went to my assigned window and handed over my documents relieved that I would soon be out of there. But, there was a problem my original Bill of Sale from the Porta Boat company was a copy on an 8 x 11 piece of paper not the 6 x 8 inches. Also I had not put in the Hull Identification Number on the document thinking I would just fill it in at the DMV. Apparently this was not acceptable and though I argued the original Bill of Origin from the company was also a copy just a different size piece of paper it still seemed to cause a problem. A call to the main DMV office did not resolve the problem. I needed to come back with the original Bill of Origin and also a photograph of the HIN number in order to register the Dingy.

Needless to say the idea of another two hour wait just because of the dimensions of piece of paper was not making my day. So I left to deal with this another day. As I was gathering my documents to leave the clerk mentioned I could make an appointment on line for my next visit and save time. Hmmm, that sounds good. So I went home and made an appointment a few days later and bought all the properly sized documents and photograph of the HIN number on the Dingy. I was expecting just a few minutes wait since I now had an appointment. No such luck. But, the good news was that instead of a two hour wait I only had to sit there for an hour. I finally got up to the window and submitted my properly sized documents and was never asked for the photo of the boats HIN number.

I finally got the registration number and State sticker showing the dingy was properly registered and I could finally use my electric outboard on it.  Relieved that the DMV experience was finally over I decided to complete the registration process by driving over to the Marine store and buy the characters and numbers that I needed to attach to the boats hull. I entered the store and went to the aisle where the 3 inch numbers were on display.  Once applied my trials and tribulations of registering would be a
thing of the past. But, it was not to be. It seems the store had all the alpha characters and numbers I needed except one which was out of stock.  Apparently Neptune has some influence of land based nautical procedures and has been having a good laugh at my expense as I attempt to finish the registration process.

But, I cut short his enjoyment as I quickly found a way to avoid the wait while the Marine store restocked the all important 3 inch high number. I went online and found that instead of paying one dollar for each registration number and alpha character I could buy them online for a little over eight dollars for a pack containing all of the numbers and characters I needed.


Also the Shoreline Marine Letter Kit contained four of each character and numbers so I would also have extra's should any fall off and need to be replaced. So two days later I had everything I needed to finish the arduous registration process and could once again be back on the water.

Friday, July 13, 2018

STOWAWAY

It was after sundown. I was relaxing in the cockpit when I heard two strange thumps at the bow of the boat. I investigated and found a Cormorant trying to bed down for the night.