Tuesday, March 20, 2018


It's been about a month or more since I last visited BIANKA. The weather has been cold and the winds blowing off Long Island Sound make it feel colder. But, since the fourth Nor' Easter is about to arrive tomorrow I figured I should make the trip. I needed to make some measurements and check on space availability for some various projects I have planned once the weather warms up.
I arrived at the boatyard a few minutes before Spring or the Vernal Equinox happened. Though it sure still felt like winter. I did the usual checkout of the deck and charged up the batteries. I then moved the piles of cushions, boxes of parts and tools so I could check the space where I planned to relocate the new Jabsco Macerator Pump. It looked very doable and should be a pretty easy job:

Which was a relief. However. the location where I planed to install a new Standard Horizon 2200 VHF radio was not going to go as smoothly.  Behind the bulkhead where I wanted to install the unit was hose and fitting for BIANKA's anchor wash down outlet.

It may require that move the outlet. But, perhaps not I'll know better once I get the unit and see how it fits. But, at least I'll be prepared to do the work.

Not much else to do in the cold temperatures on board once the batteries were topped up except to check the bilge. There was some water there. Not surprising since the boat has weather three Nor' asters and some heavy rains since I last visited. I took out the Micro Wet/Dry Shop Vac and sucked the water out of BIANKA's deep bilge. The small shop vac makes the job so much easier, faster and cleaner. 

   I empty the Shop Vac into a five gallon bucket . One that I had labeled to show one gallon for deck washing solutions.  It showed I had only about a gallon in the bilge.

Having accomplished all I had planned to do. I buttoned the boat up disconnected the power cord and went home to await the storm. Hopefully warmer Spring temperatures will soon be on the way.

Friday, March 02, 2018


I mentioned awhile back how living on my boat with it's LED lights and Solar Panels inspired me to build the solar powered lighting system for my house.
Now a company called BIOLITE has come up with a compact solar lighting, charging and music system that is priced reasonably and could be used at home or on a boat.
It even has an FM radio and MP3 player built in. Here is an overview:

Looks like a quick and easy way to add a solar powered lighting system to a boat or home.

 Kit includes a 6 watt solar panel, screws, the control box, three individual string lights with individual switches, including one with a motion sensor.
  • Lighting includes 3 over-head lights with their own switches: 2 100-lumen string lights and 1 motion sensor light.
  • Control box includes 20-watt hour rechargeable battery to store solar energy, 2 USB device charging ports, digital display for feedback on power availability, and speaker control
  • Enjoy the built-in FM radio and speaker or use the SD card reader to play your MP3 music

At $149 the BioLite SolarHome 620 Portable Off-Grid Solar Lighting System is at a minimum a great way to light up your evenings or if you already have solar it could provide the backup lighting you need for nights at anchor. While allowing your current system to deal with important functions like refrigeration. 

Hat Tip: Boat Bits

Friday, December 29, 2017


I am still amazed that ten years after I converted to Electric Propulsion I still find items from BIANKA's diesel days around. The latest items were some MDR Diesel Water Zorb and a bottle of Valvtech Bio Guard. A reminder of just two of the ancillary items I use to carry on the boat to keep the old diesel engine running and are no longer needed once I converted BIANKA to electric propulsion.

What to do with these and other items I no longer have a need for on board BIANKA. I don't like to see anything end up in a landfill. The answer for me it is to donate them to a local nonprofit sailing organization. Their boat still has a diesel engine and can use these fuel tank additives. I previously donated an old Honda 650 generator to them and recently found the manual for it. I also donated a lightly used Brownies Third Lung Dive Hose Kit and a Add A Diver Kit . I only used the Hose Kit  a few times to clean the bottom of the boat. Because it required having a scuba tank on board that was heavy, took up space and needed to be refilled it was not as useful as I thought it would be. These items were on the boat and then sitting around the house for a decade or more. So with the coming of a new year it got me motivated  to finally get them out of the way. The end of the year is a good time for "out with the old and in with the new" type of thinking.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The cold chilly days are not very enticing to get me to head down to visit BIANKA. But, if the forecast calls for a sunny day and the temperature in the 50 degree Fahrenheit range I'm willing to make the journey. So that's what I did yesterday. I had no major plans just to check on the boat and especially the bilge and throw a quick charge on the battery banks. Still there is always something to do while waiting for the battery charger to top things off. When I had the yard unstep the mast in October I just threw the rigging lines into the cabin:

Since they are blocking access to the tool cabinet I tied them up neatly and stowed them out of the way in the forward cabin.

 I also found out that Hand Vacuum's battery I use for quick clean ups had run down a bit. So I charged it up too.

I also removed the last remaining food items from the Engel refrigerator and shut it down for the winter. Just a can of Seltzer and some V8 Juice.  

Risky to leave such items on board over the winter since the liquids can freeze and the can burst. I also took the time to tape up the locker cockpit hatches so there is little chance of rain or snow making it's way through the cracks.

 Finally a quick check of the bilge showed no appreciable water. So that was good. Even with just a quick visit I felt I had got a few things done until the next warm day comes along and a visit to the boatyard seems like a good idea.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


Here is another gift suggestion for any boater who has a dingy or rowboat. An ATTWOOD PORTABLE PUMP. I use one and it beats using a hand pump to empty a dingy after a rain or in my case one that had a hard to find slow leak. Could also be used to drain water tanks and coolers. Any boater would be pleased to have this handy pump around to help drain things quickly and effortlessly.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Here are some gift ideas for the boaters in your life. I use and/or own them and found them to be worthy of being on the boat.

I never liked those small Speedo swim googles. They never fit my face quite right and leak pretty badly disrupting my swimming workout. Then I found these Aqua Sphere Swim Mask Googles. They are comfortable, fit over the eyes and don't leak like the small googles I tried in the past. I've been using a pair five days a week for over a year in a pool and they are still holding up well. I bought another pair for on board the boat. I use these for swimming or quick checks of the hull and prop instead of dragging out the mask and snorkel. They could also come in handy checking the lines or anchor on deck when the winds and rains making inspecting the lines for chafe difficult. If you know a boater who likes to swim they should make the perfect gift.

I carried rescue flares on board BIANKA which I never hoped to use and never have. The problem with the flares is they go out of date. Which requires you purchase new ones every few years. Another thing is being incendiaries they can be dangerous in starting fires or damaging fiberglass if used incorrectly.  The SOS LED Distress light gets rid of those issues and meets the requirements night rescue signals. You can still carry flares if you want to. But, this SOS light will last a lot longer without any of the danger of pyrotechnic flares.  It would be a welcome gift for any boater. I bought one for myself and no longer have to worry about if my flares are up to date.

I don't have an elaborate stereo sound system on BIANKA. I prefer the sounds of nature over a powerful music system. But, when I do want to hear some tunes or check on some of the latest news this small radio and MP3 players fits the bill. It has great sound for it's small size. It can also easily fit inside my shirt pocket. It charges up with any USB charger and will last about five hours on a charge. It also has a micro SD card slot so you can play your own selection of tunes when you want. It also has a handy LED flashlight built in too. Even if your boat already has a radio this compact handy radio will come in handy for trips to shore or the beach. In addition to having one on the boat I also bought one for the house to use as an emergency radio

So these are a few quick gift ideas I can recommend for the boaters in your life or if you are a boat owner already you might want to buy it for yourself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Back in October I found myself in Washington D.C. on the same weekend as the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Even though I never consider replacing my current boat and never feel compelled to go on any new models. I do like wandering around the tents looking at the wares and asking questions. After buying my ticket on line it was a quick forty five minute drive from D.C. to the Annapolis Navy Academy parking lot where I took the free shuttle bus to the show site. It was an unusually warm day for October so it was a little hot inside the tents:

There was not much I really needed on the boat but, I did spend a little time at the Raritan booth discussing the upcoming replacing of the head hoses and a new Macerator pump on BIANKA:

While there I did pick up a bottle of their excellent product C.P. (Cleans Potties) cleaner. That was available at a special boat show price saving me a few bucks:

Been using the product for years to clean the head area on board BIANKA. I also did a quick glance at the BETA Marine Motors on display:

I was thinking about when I visited the same booth back in 2007. It was when I was looking for a replacement of my dead diesel on board BIANKA. I seriously considered a Beta engine before my epiphany of converting my sailboat to Electric Propulsion. So glad I went with EP though instead.
I stopped by the Annapolis Hybrid Marine booth distributors of the Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system used on my boat. I also stopped at the PropEle Electric Motors booth. To see their new EP Carry out board which I had pre-orderd a few months before.  Soon I was getting hungry and sweating from the heat. It was time to duck into the normally members only Fleet Reserve Club for lunch. The air conditioning felt good and the New England Chowder and fresh Pretzel for dipping into it hit the spot:

After lunch I checked out a few more booths like FORESPAR where I checked out their dingy davit system which I am considering installing on BIANKA at some point:

Another quick stop at the SAMPSON ROPE booth to get some information about  replacing BIANKA's aging wire life lines with some new high tech synthetic lines. After that the heat just about wiped me out and I decided to take the bus back to the car and head back to D.C. I did not get to see every booth but, got what I came for in terms of information. All and all not a bad way to spend part of the afternoon at the end of the season.

Friday, October 06, 2017


I had BIANKA pulled and stored in the boatyard for the winter last week. It was time there was a near brush with Hurricane Jose which came up the coast. It's also the time of the year when Nor'easters start forming making for cold, wet windy weather. I was triggered a few weeks ago while sitting in the cockpit noticing how early the sun was going down and also how cold it was while wearing my wool watch cap. It warmed up a little since then but, nature keeps sending it's reminders that it is time to end the sailing season:

Next week the remnants of Hurricane Nate will be impacting the area. Though it should only bring a heavy rain to the area. It is just another sign that it's time to pull the boat for the winter

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

HURRICANE UPDATE: 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 Hurricanes along with serious caveats so people don't get to complacent.  Here is the latest update:

Saturday, August 12, 2017


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.