Thursday, December 18, 2014

BUH BYE JETSKIS ?

Interesting new watercraft that might replace noisy gas guzzling Jet Ski's and possibly one's dingy with electric propulsion powered Quadrofoil.

"the average jet ski is powered by a 125 hp motor, and one Kawaski model uses a mind-melting 300 hp, the Quadrofoil is powered by 5 hp (3.5kW), 25 times smaller than the average jet ski. Yet on that mere 5 hp, it can hit speeds up to 40 km/h and, says Pivec, accelerate like a Ferrari. Better yet, once it reaches between 10-12 km/h (6-7.4 mph) and the 'wings' lift it out of the water, its speed suddenly increases, while its power consumption drops by half. Best of all, it dumps no dirty hydrocarbons into the water. And if skimming over the water at 25 mph - and in the process slicing through those wakes and waves - isn't exciting enough for you, Pivec says they are working on faster craft and bigger models: a four-place is on the drawing board. They also have a patent that overcomes one of the drawbacks of conventional hydrofoils: their inability to turn in tight circles. The Quadrofoil has a 7 meter (23 ft) turning radius, made possible by their steerable 'wings' and motor." - EVWORLD



Adoption of electric propulsion should make anchorages a little quieter too! Stay tuned.

Hat Tip: John Rushworth

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BIG MAMMALS AND THE BIG APPLE

I've been thinking about doing another around Long Island cruise recently. I did one a number of years ago back in the days when I still had a diesel engine on board. It was somewhat of an adventure with the engine exhaust elbow developing a hole the first day requiring some jury rigged repairs. I also lost my crew when he had to leave the boat because of the death of a friend. I ended up heading into Shinecock Inlet for the first time at night by myself in those pre GPS days. Like I said it was a little bit of an adventure but, I got in despite the conditions.
I've been thinking about doing another similar cruise now that I have electric propulsion. There is a lot of traffic in the area from freighters, cruise ships, tugs and barges and a lot of fishing boats. So one needs to be alert. Then there was this kind of a good news/bad news story that is making people stand up and take notice:

"Humpback whales, the gigantic, endangered mammals known for their haunting underwater songs, have been approaching New York City in greater numbers than even old salts can remember. Naturalists aboard whale-watching boats have seen humpbacks in the Atlantic Ocean within a mile of the Rockaway peninsula, part of New York's borough of Queens, within sight of Manhattan's skyscrapers.
"It is truly remarkable, within miles of the Empire State Building, to have one of the largest and most charismatic species ever to be on this planet," said Howard Rosenbaum, director of the Ocean Giants program at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Humpbacks were spotted 87 times from the boats this year, and by cataloging the whales' markings, at least 19 different humpbacks have been identified in the waters off the city."- ABC News

As I said it's a good news bad news story as far as my plans go. While it's nice that the whales are returning to the local waters here. It does add a little more apprehension when cruising the ocean waters in a 30 foot fiberglass boat. Namely that one of them might perceive BIANKA sailing along in the middle of the night as a threat. I know the risk is probably low but, it's just another thing one has to think about and prepare for these days.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A LOOK AT THE XS SCUBA GOPRO MASK

I have a GoPro camera that I use on board BIANKA and when chartering on other boats. Though my homemade floating handle requires I use one hand to hold it when taking videos or stills. While I was looking around for a new dive mask this summer I came upon the XS SCUBA GoPro MASK . This mask has a metal bracket where one mounts the underwater housing of a GoPro camera when snorkeling or diving.
Seemed like a good item to have on board. Though my local waters are rather nutrient rich and visibilty is limited. I do get to spend a lot of time in waters of the Caribbean and elsewhere around the world where visibility is much clearer and the mask would be more useful. So I bought it and here is a quick look and test on how it works:


I'm pleased with the mask and will get to try it out in clearer warmer waters soon. If you know someone who has a GoPro or similar camera like the Swann Freestyle Waterproof Video Camera  it would make a great gift too!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

IN BIANKA'S GALLEY:Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Home Bakery 1-Pound-Loaf Programmable Mini Breadmaker

Adding the 48 volt inverter to BIANKA opens up new choices for items that enhance cruising on board. One of the simple pleasures I enjoy is a nice sandwich for lunch in the cockpit. Though having bread on board can be problematic.  On one hand some of the store bought bread seems to last an unnaturally long time due to the preservatives it is made with. On the other fresh store bought bread does not last that long before it needs to be thrown out. In both  cases the bread eventually gets moldy and requires a trip back to land to replenish the galley with more. That's why I bit the bullet and bought a Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Home Bakery 1-Pound-Loaf Programmable Mini Breadmaker. It is more expensive than some of the larger capacity breadmakers one can buy in the big box stores. But, it's small size really makes it more useful on board a 30 foot boat of this single sailor. So that was a major consideration for me. First let's take a look at what comes with the Zorirushi:



With the Ames 48 volt inverter using the Zoriushi is pretty simple. It's small size allows it to easily fit somewhere on the counter as it makes fresh bread. As shown here on BIANKA's slide out surface over the stove:

It has a much smaller footprint and the built in handle makes it much easier to move into storage than the bigger two pound bread makers. It also has a convenient clip on the back to store the power cord:

The clip helps when putting the unit into a locker for storage.  Now to move on to the bread making test. I first made sure the 48 volt battery bank was fully charged and the XBM battery monitor was reset to 100%:
I

The bread maker comes with a large instruction manual and also a DVD for the various recipes. But, it also has a decal on the side with the procedure and ingredient list for the basic bread recipe: 


This comes in handy as one does not need to always refer to the written manual just to use the basic bread recipe. After adding the ingredients in the order selected I hit the start button. The unit seemed to just sit there for twenty minutes with the words "Rest" on it's LCD screen:

At first I thought this strange. What is really going on is the Zojirushi  is heating up the container and the liquid ingredients to the proper temperature before mixing  them with the dry ingredients. Handy since one does not need to preheat the water like on some of the other bread makers. The unit goes through several cycles in the three hour and 40 minutes it takes to make a one pound loaf of fresh bread. There is the mixing/kneading cycle:

Looking at the amp draw from the 48 volt battery bank shows a 1.9 amp draw:

During the rising cycle there is minimal current as the dough is allowed to rise:

It is during the baking cycle where it has it's highest current draw of about nine and a half amps:


Though this is not constant amp draw but, cycles depending on the heat of the baking chamber. Speaking of heat the top of the unit does get quite warm 196 degrees Fahrenheit when measured directly at the vent:

Though the top of the unit is about 50 degrees cooler. Still it's best to keep inquisitive hands away from the unit during baking. After three hours and forty minutes the bread is finished:


In between the cabin has has been filled with the aroma of fresh baked bread. After it was finished baking the bread I took a look at the XBM battery monitor:


Which shows the loaf used about 2.2% of the battery capacity. Which quite easily made up with the solar panels and/or wind turbine. 

Checking on other parameters the XBM showed the Zojirushi only used 4.6 amp hours from the 48 volt battery bank. A small amount to expend in order to have fresh bread available on board. I have found that a loaf will last me three or four days including having toast in the morning and a sandwich in the afternoon. I am very pleased with the Zojirushi unit.  It also seems to be better built and quieter than the cheaper bread makers. It's compact size makes it ideal for a boat with limited storage space. But, best of all as a sailor who tends to cruise having the ability to make fresh bread also limits the need to head back to shore to re-provision. I can stay in the cockpit enjoying lunch thinking about  the parting words of the late Warren Zevon which were to "enjoy every sandwich".

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SAILORS THANKSGIVING


What's that sound? It's a Gravy Boat coming around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ANOTHER LOOK AT REGEN

I installed electric propulsion in BIANKA for several reasons. One was because my diesel engine died. Two because I spent a good amount trying to get it running again. I began looking at alternatives to having a diesel. Diesel works well where it is worked hard. On a sailboat where most people use the engine to primarily get into or out of the harbor is not the best way to use it. Installed on a trawler is a much better match. So diesels tend to rust out before they wear out or fail at some point when you least expect it. Hopefully in some location  where you can get help and parts.  Another thing about electric propulsion is the ability of it to regen i.e. recharge the battery bank when the boat reaches a certain speed under sail. I thought for the first few years  that my system was not capable of regen but, then one day I discovered that it did. Hybrid Marine has a nice video of how regen works.  The boat in question is a hybrid design and still has a diesel engine. Which would mean the engine might be used even less than in a normal engine setup. But, you still have all the maintenance issues involved with having a diesel installed. But, for those not quite ready to make the leap to a pure electric propulsion system it is an option. Anyway this video is a good primer on the regen aspects of electric propulsion. Hat tip Elektra Yachts:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

OAR RIGHTY NOW PART TWO

Now that sailing season is over for a few months I have time to to take stock and post about some of the items that were repaired, replaced or purchased this past season. For example the Porta Boat dingy has been holding up pretty good for some thirteen years now. Much better than some inflatables where seven years seems to be the upper limits of usability. Not that the Porta Boat did not require some repair over the years. This year the Oar Locks seemed to be at the end of their life as wear and tear and rust combined to push for their replacement:

Thirteen years was a good run considering the salty marine environment they lived in most of the time. Though when I went to replace them I decided to try a little beefier pair. Namely a pair of Seasense Clamp On Heavy Duty Oar Locks:

Definitely a little heftier than the originals. My only concern was whether the pins would fit the Porta Boat's oar lock sockets. I kind of bought them on a whim. Happily, they fit perfectly into the sockets. They are a little loose around the oars but, will not slip out beyond the Oars handles.
  
 Another nice thing it looks like some parts that might wear like the bolts on the swivel can be replaced quite easily. Though I doubt I'll have to do that for a real long time.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ELECTRIC PROPULSION IS BORING


Someone on a sailing forum recently asked me how things were with my electric propulsion system after seven years of use. I said it is kind of boring. But, boring in a good way. For example I recently pulled BIANKA for the season. All I really need to do was empty the water tanks and winterize the water system. Something I am able to do with one gallon of antifreeze. I certainly don't miss lugging a half dozen or more   gallons of antifreeze down to the docks just to winterize the engine. But, first of course I would change the oil which was somewhat of a messy job not matter how careful I tried to do it. Bending over the engine and contorting the body to reach the oil filter was sure to cause a back ache at some point. Squeezing my body down below the cockpit hatch to access the raw water filter for cleaning and to hook up the hose to the raw water pump to flush the engine with antifreeze would often cause a pulled muscle in the confined space too. My clothes wet with water and antifreeze in the cool November air is something I don't miss either. Really the only thing I can think of that I may want to do is install an additional on/off switch to the battery bank and another switch that would provide battery power to the 1500 watt inverter and 48 volt to 12 volt converter. Even this is not an urgent thing. After these projects there is nothing I can think of that really needs to done.  Like I said with the reliability and lack of maintenance required on an electric propulsion system things become pretty boring.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

HARVESTING THE MOTION OF THE OCEAN


Though it was a shortened season for me having worked all of July hundreds of miles from the boat. It still was an enjoyable one. I was also pleased at how little I needed to fire up the Honda Generator this season. Despite having added some new energy using items on board. Adding an 100 watts of Renogy Solar panels helped with the house bank and also the 48 volt Marine Air-X wind turbine also did it's share of adding energy to the propulsion bank. Which I also tapped into using a 48 volt Inverter and powered a  bread maker with it. The nice thing about having an electric boat is the number of ways one can capture and store energy easily for use at a later time. Something that is not easily done with fuel consuming conventional on board internal combustion engines. I'm always keeping an eye out for new ways to add more energy into the mix.   Boats even when at anchor or at a dock are still often at motion. Some research at Georgia Tech offers some interesting ideas on maybe harvesting some of that energy from this motion. Something to keep an eye on.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

TIME OF THE SEASON


                                                             

When to pull the boat for the season can be a  dilemma. Two years ago the boat was still in the water when Hurricane Sandy hit. It allowed me to move aboard after the storm passed and have a normal lifestyle including power, hot water and Internet while back at the house it took several weeks for things to get back to normal. Still, I think one should take the cues from nature here in the Northeast. When the first Nor'easter starts coming up the coast it's time. One did last week and another arrived this weekend but, happily BIANKA had been pulled earlier in the week. The mast was unstepped and so my concerns for the boat are somewhat minimal for these storms and the winter.  Another sign that it is time to pull the boat that I use is when the sun starts setting before 6 o'clock in the evening. The nights get colder and longer making any cruising days that much shorter. But, storing the boat on land for does not mean I just walk away until spring. There is still plenty to do on board over the winter. projects I did not get to over the summer. Then there are a number of blog posts I never published because I was enjoying being on the boat and Internet access was painfully slow in the harbor. So there is plenty to catch up on and do over the winter even if the boat is not on the water.