Friday, February 20, 2015


And it sure been a cold, cold winter
And the wind ain't been blowin' from the south
It's sure been a cold, cold winter
And a lotta love is all burned out

It sure been a hard, hard winter
My feet been draggin' 'cross the ground
And I hope it's gonna be a long hot summer
And a lotta love will be burnin' bright
Winter - Rolling Stones

Yep, that Rolling Stone song has captured this winter feeling for me. The bright spot of hope came in the mail when my mooring permit application came in for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, this required another trip to the boatyard to get some information off of the boat. I picked the warmest day when the high temperature was to be only 29 degrees F to slip slide my way to the boat. There was no wind this time which made it feel better than the visit last week. But, unlike last week I found the harbor had completely frozen over which does not happen too often:

Even the floating docks are frozen in place

The Harbor Master is not going anywhere these days:

The same for the Commercial Fishermen as the fleet is also frozen in place:

Hard to believe that spring is only a month away when I look out from the snow filled cockpit of the boat at the ice covered habor. But, I got the info I needed and put the mooring permit in the mail because the sailing season will arrive at some point. At least I hope so.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


My electric propulsion system will be starting it's eigth year on board BIANKA in a few months. So I feel it's time to give a tip of the hat to Alessandro Volta's 270th birthday. One of the men who help make it possible.

"Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (February 18, 1745 – March 5, 1827) was an Italian physicist[2][3] credited with the invention of the first electrical battery, the Voltaic pile which he invented in 1799 and the results of which he reported in 1800 in a two part letter to the President of the Royal Society.[4][5] With this invention Volta proved that electricity could be generated chemically and debased the prevalent theory that electricity was generated solely by living beings. Volta's invention sparked a great amount of scientific excitement and led others to conduct similar experiments which eventually led to the development of the field of electrochemistry."- WIKIPEDIA

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I finally got down to the boatyard yesterday to check on the boat. I had been in the Caribbean most of January. Most of it cruising on a 43 foot Catamaran in the U.S. and Spanish Virgin Islands. The idea was to miss most of the harshest part of winter. Then come back at the end of January. February would be a short month and then spring begins in March. The plan did not quite work out. I got back the day before a blizzard dumped two feet of snow here on the Isle of Long.  Much of that snow is still on the ground along with snow from smaller storms and frigid temperatures. Yesterday looked like it would be the last day where the temperature would be over 30 degrees Fahrenheit for over a week. So I bundled up and headed to the boatyard. It was a slippery walk on icy drifts to get to the boat  but, I luckily I did not slip and fall.

So far so good.

There was a little less snow under and around the boat.

But, the cockpit still had the remains of the Blizzard from two weeks ago. The deck was very icy and I had to be very careful I did not slip on the frozen surface as I stepped into the cockpit. Entering the cabin things looked as I left it over a month ago. But when I checked the bilge:

I found it half way filled and frozen solid into one big block of ice. Probably as a result of blowing snow during the blizzard finding it's way under the cockpit lockers and melting into the bilge. Where recent Arctic temperature blasts refroze it:

I also found the bilge pump fuse had blown. Replacing it would not help at this point since the bilge pump is also frozen into the ice. Not much to do except pour a half gallon of antifreeze on top of the ice:

When the temperature moderates the ice will melt and hopefully the antifreeze will prevent it from refreezing. More Arctic blasts are expected in the next week though. So it will be awhile before it melts. I just hope I don't have to wait until Spring for it to melt.

Monday, February 02, 2015


 It's looking like another cold cold winter here at Rancho de Captain Mike. I write this staring at slushy cold winter landscape in the middle of a winter storm watch. Earlier this week a Blizzard hit the area dropping about two feet of snow. I had spent most of January in the Caribbean hoping to miss the worst of the winter. Looks like I was a few weeks too short. After digging out from the blizzard I still had icy patches on the walks. Then I remembered I still had some items on the winterizing check list from the boat. As usual I had taken the Honda 2000 generator off the boat for the winter. One of the nice things about being able to use the Honda 2000 for my on board electric propulsion system is it's portability. I take it home just in case I may need it if the power goes out over the winter. I also get it ready for the next boating season. I had not yet drained the gas entirely from it's gas tank when the blizzard hit. So in order to kill two birds with one stone I fired up the generator and used it to help melt the icy part of the walkway with it's downward facing heat exhaust:

As you can see it does a good job melting the ice. I just move it along the path ever few minutes until it had used up all the fuel that was left in the fuel tank.  As an added bonus I also hooked a radiant Dish Heater in the garage and used it to help warm me up during breaks  as I continued to dig out from the storm. After seven years the Honda 2000 generator continues to be a useful and  versatile workhorse both on and off the boat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


One of the staples I carry on board when cruising is various forms of pasta. I enjoy an occasional meal of pasta usually with my own homemade sauce. Problem with cooking pasta on board is the instructions say to start out with a big pot of boiling water. Something like four or five quarts. Water on board is precious commodity especially if you don't have a water maker. So is the fuel needed to boil the water. I came across this video which allows one to make pasta using only a little bit of water and fuel compared to doing according to the instructions on the box. Looks like a great technique to use on the boat:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I've had  a Morningstar PS-15 ProStar 15 Solar Charge Controller  on board for over ten years. It's operated without a single problem in all the time. Once installed it has some nice features and protections. One is to use it's 15 amp output terminals to power electronics on board without running wires back to the already crowded main breaker panel.

I originally used this output to feed a single cigarette lighter type socket by the boats companion way to power the ENGEL refrigeration system.

It worked well but, I have been wanting to wire up some other devices to the Morningstar's output. So last year I took a little time to make this happen. I bought a two terminal barrier strip and installed it on a nearby bulkhead. Rewired the cigarette lighter socket to it.

I also ran a wire (white wire) to a new distribution panel which I will show in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I'm currently on a cruise in the Spanish Virgins on a 43 foot Catamaran. Though I am not responsible for any repairs on the boat. I still find the need to make repairs on some of the items I have bought along. Namely the wrist band on my dive watch. I found that it had a crack across it almost all the way through. It made losing the watch a good possibility at some point. So I asked the owner Capt. Bill for some electrical tape and wrapped it around damaged area and it has been holding up quite well for six days now.

Sent from on board BIANKA

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Speaking of Jamie Hyneman and mythbusting. For a few years I had been thinking about starting a charter business with BIANKA. I still had an occasional freelance working gig on land from time to time that helped pay the bills. It was still a little too lucrative to walk away from and also help pay for health insurance which is kind of important. I started to look at the economics of doing some day sail and sunset charters. Including extra costs for insurance, dockage etc... Unfortunately,  my freelance gig sometimes required I work during part of the summer. Which is prime time for operating a sailing charter business. In  the end I decided the economics did not quite work for me. Plus, I really kind of like not having a schedule and enjoy the freedom to head out on a cruise whenever I wanted. I came across this video of Jamie Hyneman of the MYTHBUSTERS TV show. I was surprised to learn he at one point in his life did buy a sailboat and became a charter boat Captain doing day sails in the Virgin Islands. He describes the experience and why he longer has a desire to do it anymore:

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


Speaking of converting electric outboards I came across this video of Jamie Hyneman of the Mythbusters TV show. He also converted an outboard to electric and also discussed some of the economics of doing so. It reminds me I still have my old gas Honda BP 2 outboard that got drowned during Hurricane Sandy sitting in the garage. If I get ambitious and get the time I might just consider converting it to electric at some point. Though my Electric Paddle outboard pretty much suits my all my needs in a much lighter package.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Well, it's New Years Eve and I'm looking back on some of the years highlights on the water past year. April found me in the Pacific Northwest spending a few days in Portland Oregon. While there I contacted a fellow named Myles Twete who is very involved in Electric Vehicle area and the Electric Boats group on Yahoo. When I converted BIANKA back in 2008  he and others in the group were very helpful with advice and expertise that was not commonly available elsewhere.  I was eager to spend a little time on the water and Myles graciously agreed to show me his twenty six foot Columbia River Scow Reach of Tide built by Sam McKinney . To start things off Myles picked me up in his THINK electric car.  Here's a quick video of some of that day spent on the Columbia River back in April:

It was not a total pleasure cruise. Even though Myles had converted the Tohatsu outboard back in 2006. Being an engineer he was still keeping data it's operation, modifications and charging:

Myles had a movable inductive speed control for the motor that allowed him to operate the motor at the helm position or in the cockpit:
The toggle switch was to put the motor in reverse. BLOG UPDATE: Myles has informed me that the switch actually is the on/off control  for the main power to the controller. Forward and reverse of the outboard is done by the original mechanical shifting of the outboard.

Despite the rain and overcast conditions it was a fine day on the water.