Monday, April 27, 2015


Having spent some time removing, re-bedding and refinishing BIANKA's handrails back in 2011. It was time to do a little touch up. Like most painting and varnishing projects prepping the area takes longer than the actual brush work. So in keeping with my desire to use what you have and recycling things wherever possible I cam up with what I thought would be a cunning plan to prep the area around the handrails. I'd use a patterned piece to used shrink wrap to fit under the handrails to catch any drips. I could also reuse the patterned shrink wrap in the future too. So I cut a long strip of recycled shrink wrap and laid it over the handrail:

Then I used a marker and drew a  line down the approximate center to the hand rail:

Then using a box cutter I cut along the line I drew on the heat shrink. To make sure I did not cut into the handrail this was done after removing the heat shrink from the handrails:

Now I could poke the hand rail through the opening I just cut. I would then just use the cutter and trim around the handrail stanchions so that I would be able to have a pattern that would enable for me to place both side of the heat shrink under the handrail:

 It worked ok but, it was difficult to exactly cut the pattern right and took a longer time than I expected. Plus dealing with a 90 inch strip of shrink wrap was a little unwieldy.  So for the other hand rail I came up with a better plan. I cut small pieces of the heat shrink into sizes that would fit under the space between the stanchions instead of one long 90 inch strip:

This was much faster and easier to install. All I had to do was tape around the stanchions to secure the heat shrink and protect those areas from drips. This was much better and easier than my original plan. I was still recycling some of the shrink wrap and could reuse the patches I cut next time too. So even though my first idea did not work as good as I thought it would be. I did find a better way that saves on tape use, still protects the deck and recycles some the heat shrink plastic at the same time.

Friday, April 24, 2015


The brutal winter is finally behind us and I've been spending more and more days on the boat. The electric propulsion system requires so little maintenance that I can concentrate on other areas that need a little more attention. Things like touching up some of the bright work. Such as putting fresh coat of CETOL on the grab rails. As I poke around I keep finding little things that I forgot were on board. For example I went into the storage locker to get some paint brushes for the touch up work and I came upon this:

It's a can of some red spray paint. This was bought and last used years ago to touch up parts of the old Westerbeke Diesel engine. Since the engine was removed eight years ago to make way for the Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system it really has no business remaining on board. Likewise when I was looking at the galley area and found the remains of a long broken paper towel dispenser still attached underneath one of the cabinets:

It too had been hidden from my view for several years. It too can be removed from the boat since it no longer serves any useful purpose on board. Meanwhile in the boatyard little things remind me of the rapid approach of the up coming sailing season. The moorings are gathered together with new shackles replaced ready to be deployed on the harbor bottom.

Little things that are reminders that launch time will be here before one knows it and to keep on doing things on board to be ready when it comes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I am still amazed at how I have been able to reduce my carbon footprint by converting BIANKA to electric propulsion eight years ago. This was further reduced  with demise of the 2 horsepower Honda BF2 outboard because of hurricane Sandy. It is no longer on the boat and is going to the recycler. It's replacement an Electric Paddle is an electric outboard. Both of these upgrades have made things easier on board and also helped keep the boat and earth a little cleaner. In a way everyday is Earth Day on board these days.  

Friday, April 17, 2015


The brutal winter may have taken it's toll on one of the meters of my home built Helm instrumentation panel. I noticed also noticed a lot of condensation inside the plastic face of the panel even though I had a weep hole in the bottom of the case. I'll remove the panel and check on the wiring and replace the meter if it does not come back to life.


I went back on board a few days later and discovered the meter that I thought had failed during the winter was now working. So it looks like I might be able to take it off the TODO list.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Having a boat with electric propulsion has some added benefits thanks to some of the on board power systems I use. One is the Honda 2000i generator which  I use for battery charging at anchor and also when electro-sailing when the wind dies. The second is the 10 kilowatt AGM battery bank it's self. Thanks to the AMES 48 volt 1500 watt sine wave inverter I can tap into it and use 120 volt tools and devices like the Zojirushi bread maker. Though some of these are not necessary it enhances the cruising experience and helps maintain the boat. Another item I recently added on board is a DBTech Multi-Purpose Pressurized Steam Cleaner. Again not a necessary item but, it helps clean and sterilizes with it's steam. Often a lot easier than with other methods. I've used a steam cleaner on board before a few years ago when I started the process of converting BIANKA's now unused fuel tank into wash down water tank. Back then I used the heavily advertise Scunci Steam cleaner. It work well in cleaning the grime from the decades of use in the old fuel tank. I also used it at home. But, unfortunately it did not last. Rather than buy a new one I decided to see if the cheaper steam cleaner from DB Tech would do the job and save a few bucks in the process. So far it has.  First let's look at what comes with the DB Tech steam cleaner:

The accessories are very similar to those that come with the more expensive Scunsi cleaner. The only negative is the DB Tech does not hold has much water as the Scunci but, I have not found it to be limiting especially when cleaning the smaller areas on the boat. Even in my home kitchen I had plenty of steam for most cleaning chores before refilling. How does it clean? Here's an example of it in action cleaning the spill area of my boats burner area of grease and grime that had accumulated :

I'm very pleased with the DBTech Multi-Purpose Pressurized Steam Cleaner and like having it on board to help with cleaning. Though since I replaced the Diesel engine with electric propulsion the boat especially the bilge does not get as dirty these days. But, if you still have a diesel and the accompanying grime and oil stains that  come with it. You may find the DB Tech Steam Cleaner even more useful.

Monday, April 06, 2015


One can't help but, notice little things that signify that the sailing season is coming. Some signs come from from nature like the disappearance of certain birds that have been wintering in the harbor. Some are man made signals. Like Robbie the boatyard manager prepping his Lobster Boat for launch. He'll be launching it soon to help make room for the  launching the other boats in the boatyard. It's a good sign.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


I read a book about the islands
Far away in a coral sea.
All we need is a friendly sailboat,
A good wind, and we're running free.
Let me take you where the trade winds blow
And the sun is always shining.
And I'll stay with you until you change your mind.
Winter still seems to be having a bit of a grip here on the Isle of Long despite it being officially spring. So I have not visited the boat in two weeks. But, the cold and snow have had me thinking of some of the warmer climes I've been in. Sometimes in the form of songs playing in my head. One that kept popping into my memory over the years is a song called TRADEWINDS by Mark-Almond. It is the perfect song to add to my  SanDisk Sansa MP3 Player. Unfortunately,  the song and the album from which it is on has never been available on Amazon or ITunes as a download. I'm tired of waiting. So yesterday I finally ordered a used LP record copy off of EBAY that I will try and convert it for use in my "Songs for Sailing" list on the Sandisk.  Give it a listen:

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Back in the mid 1990's I was on a 88 foot double masted schooner called the Ocean Star sailing out of Key West. I was there as part of a seminar at sea training course learning about nautical things like celestial navigation, radar plotting, etc... We anchored in the Dry Tortugas and then headed south where the plan was to sail close enough to Cuba to be able to see the mountain peaks such as they were while working using our sun sights for navigation checks. The first night out while sailing nicely along at eight knots we started to notice glowing objects in the water all around the boat as we sailed. They were of various sizes though most were the size and shape like a football. None of those on board including the Captain and crew had ever seen such glowing objects before. Many of us were familiar with the bio luminescence phenomena we had seen in harbors and beaches. But, these objects were much bigger.
We surmised that perhaps we were sailing through an immense shoal of squid. Their oblong bodies  being the source of the illumination we were seeing. But, we were not sure. The mystery of exactly what we saw that night has always intrigued me from time to time over the years.

Then this winter I started reading The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier. I discovered the answer to the mystery I and the others had seen on the schooner over twenty years ago. My AHA moment came when I read this passages in Moitessier's book:

"Here and there, large flashes the size of a soccer ball appear in the sea, shining like giant glow warms. I have often seen them in the trades, and kept them in sight for sometimes thirty seconds before they went out. At first, I took them for the eyes of strange animals risen from the depths. I had even harpooned them, from the deck of my second Marie-Thérèse, both disappointed and relieved not to haul up a giant squid gnashing its beak at the end of my harpoon."

It seems he too had also surmised that they could be groups of  large squid emitting the glow. But,  he explained a little later on what they really were:

"The globes of fire that I saw in the waves earlier can be seen more than a hundred yards away now that the fog has lifted. They are plankton colonies, not the eyes of monster squids; I read the explanation somewhere. But I will probably never know why they shine so brightly, only to suddenly go out for no apparent reason. I would like Joshua to surf into one: at that speed, it would make fabulous fireworks in the staysail."

So the mystery that haunted my memory for all those years is solved thanks to Mr. Moitessier.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Took a little road trip to spend a little time near the ocean:

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Last season I bought an Angle Clamp that I planned to use to repair some joinery on board. The winter did not allow for any work on board. Though a blizzard blew enough snow through the cockpit hatches to fill the bilge with ice:

When the temperature finally reached the mid 50 degree range I was hoping that some of this ice would have melted a bit so I could start to remove it. Unfortunately, it was still a pretty solid block of ice, I took out the heat gun and tried to start melting  some of it. It did start to melt but, holding the heat gun for any length of time was tiring. So I looked around to see if I could use something that would hold the heat gun while I used a wet dry vac to start removing the melted water. The Angle Clamp looked promising:

I clamped the handle of the Heat Gun in the clamp and laid the clamp across the bilge opening. It worked somewhat but the heat gun drooped and was not directed onto the top of the ice. Since the heat gun can cause damage to wood and fiberglass if the heat is directly applied to them I needed to make sure  I could direct the heat to the areas where the ice was prevalent.  Looking around I saw one of the fiberglass fishing wire poles I use to occasionally fish electrical wires on board. I placed it across the bilge opening and under the handle of the heat gun. It allowed me to perfectly direct the heat onto the top of the ice while removed the melting water:

It worked great. I managed to remove about twelve gallons of the melted ice water over the course of a few hours. ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: I would not leave the heat gun on while unattended and also make sure keep it away from any combustible parts of the boats structure.