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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TIME OF THE SEASON: Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book

As the cold wet spring gives way to warm temperatures I finally start to get on with idea of finally launching BIANKA.  Last minute items like installing the shaft zinc, polishing the prop and grounding plate are done. Telling the boatyard to paint the bottom and take down the mast from it's storage location. One of the final items is picking up the latest Eldridge Tide an Pilot Book. A most useful book of information for sailing the waters of Long Island Sound and the entire Northeast United States. Beyond the tide and current information it is also packed with information about the skies as well as a number of interesting articles of a nautical nature. The latest edition is an example. There is a page with sketches of the various rigs and types of sailboats. I have always described BIANKA as a Catboat.  Though the latest Eldridge describes it quite accurately as a Wishbone-Cat. I always learn something new with an Eldridge on board.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

FLASHBACK TO A MISSING FLASHLIGHT

I was thinking about flashlights and an incident that occurred several years ago while I was cruising with BIANKA. I had taken the dingy into a dock. Since I did was not familiar with the harbor and it's security issues. I really don't even remember where it was. I decided it best that I secure the dingy with a security cable and a combination lock. I went into town, I think for dinner and came back to the dock where the dingy was after dusk. I went to unlock the dingy but, found my eyes could not read any of the numbers on the lock in the fading light. Try as I might my aging eyes just could not discern the numbers. It was late in the season and the summer crowds had long disappeared and it was getting cold. Did not look like anyone else would be coming to the dock that fall evening. I was a bit in a panic as it was not getting any lighter. I should have had a flashlight in the dingy but, had forgotten to put one in. I looked around and did not see any other boats that might have a flashlight I could use to unlock my dingy. Then I spied the Harbor Police boat tied up nearby. I thought it might have a flashlight I could use to unlock the dingy. It did. But, it also caused a little bit of a dilemma. Getting caught boarding a Police boat and even worse taking something off of it might be hard to explain. But, I was getting desperate as the evening grew darker and it grew colder. I bordered the boat and found a flashlight. I quickly went and unlocked my dingy and replaced the flashlight back on the Police boat without being noticed. I thought about this incident from years ago and how unlikely it would not happen today thanks to advancing technology. These days I would have my cellphone and  use it's flashlight app to light up the dingy lock. Of course one would have to remember to bring the cell phone along. But, I'm less likely to do that since it's usually in my shirt pocket.

 

Monday, May 28, 2018

TYING THINGS UP!

 I got back on the boat the other day to get things ready for launching. I'm in no hurry this year as the spring has been rather wet and cold. Just messing about on the boat is nice since I have a harbor view from the boats location in the boat yard. So when NOAA said the day would be sunny and hot it seemed like a good idea to get down to BIANKA and start doing what needs to be done. When I got down to the boat it was indeed a hot day. Too hot to work in cabin much less down below the cockpit.
What to do except open a cold can of seltzer in the cockpit where there was a hint of a breeze and a little cooler. So some work around the cockpit seemed like the thing to do.
Looking around I noticed some of the wires around BIANKA's helm station looked like they could be tidied up.

They were out of the way enough but. making them a little neater and secure would not hurt. So I took out the newly bought Cable Tie Gun and went to work.

Once those were taken care of I remembered I needed to re secure the Helm Station platforms themselves as the old ty wraps holding them level had broken.  


Using the Tie Wrap Gun I had them re secured, tightened  and level in a few minutes. 


I think I should add a second ty wrap to add some extra holding power in the future. But, for now one should do. Then looking above my head I noticed that the wires for BIANKA's 48 volt solar panels needed to be secured. A few tie wraps slipped between aluminum bars and the job was done


It was a quick and easy job. But, one that helped make things neater and secure. Plus it made me feel somewhat productive on such a hot day.                  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

JUST A REMINDER

I'm constantly reminded of all the things I'm missing since I converted BIANKA to electric propulsion ten years ago . Namely all the bad things that go with having a diesel on board. We were anchored off the Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas Bahamas. I was relaxing in the cockpit of a St. Francis 44 foot Catamaran when I heard someone call "Ahoy'  as fellow in a dingy motored up to the stern. He was looking for the Captain of the boat he had met a few weeks earlier. He discovered had no control of speed as he came into anchor.  It seems a part of the throttle lever assembly had broken. It was the metal lever that connected the throttle leakage to the throttle cable at the helm.  Probably not something you are going to easily find in Staniel Cay.  It reminded me of all the mechanical pieces that can break that go with having a diesel on board. These mechanical linkages that control the speed and direction are not used on an EP system. Instead a single sealed electrical potentiometer control is used and is a plug in cable like the battery meter in the previous post. It should be much more reliable than the mechanical linkages that are used with a diesel.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

FIRST SPRING PROJECT DONE: TBS Expert Pro Battery Monitor instal

With winter finally releasing is grip on the Isle of Long it felt good to finally start to make a dent in the spring outfitting ToDo list. I choose a fast and easy one. Last year I bought a new controller from Annapolis Hybrid Marine. Unfortunately, the new controller was not compatible with the old Xantrex XBM Battery Monitor installed ten years ago. So I bought a new TBS E-xpert Pro Battery Monitor that is compatble with the new controller. It was a quick replacement as both fit the same mounting hole and I just had to plug it into the new controller box. The old XBM Battery Monitor will still be used on board since my plan is to re purpose it's use as a battery monitor for my current house bank. But, that is a project for another day.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

HONDA EU2200i GENERATOR: More Power To You!

My Honda 2000i generator has been a proven versatile workhorse for the past ten years and looks like it will continue to function as such for the foreseeable future.  It was originally bought to be part of my poor man's hybrid system when I converted BIANKA to electric propulsion. It has work well for that and more. It was light weight and easily stored and much more quieter compared  to other generators on the market. Hard to improve on the design. But, Honda has with the new Honda EU2200i model.
The new model   increased the power output by 200 watts.  Which is an impressive 10% improvement in power output. With the same size generator case. In the case of BIANKA this would mean the ability to have a constant 37.5 amps to push my boat along at about 4 knots without draining the battery bank. A nice speed for a 48 pound generator. It would also mean faster charging times when at anchor. Plus there are a few more physical improvements to the generator. Like a bigger oil filler opening and oil drain gutter making oil changes easier and cleaner. There is also a fuel shut off valve so you can run the generator until the carburetor is drained of fuel.  It's very tempting on my part to upgrade to this Honda generator. But,  my frugal side is telling me "If it ain't broke don't fix it". Since my ten year old Honda 2000i is not broke I'm able to resist upgrading to the Honda EU220i. But it's nice to know it will be available to me should I need it on want to.