Friday, July 18, 2014

ANOTHER PORTA BOAT REPAIR: Making a new setup stick

My eight foot Porta Boat dingy has been a real money saving workhorse. It been getting me back and forth to BIANKA for over twelve years now. It gets folded and unfolded a number of times each season and has saved me over four times its cost in dingy dock costs. I've had to make a few repairs to things like the oars and also replaced the original wooden transom but, the hull has held up very well including being pounded against the dock during Hurricane Sandy. It's a little beat up but, still serving its purpose. Last season I lost the wooden setup stick that comes with  the Portabote to keep the hull open while I install the seat and transom. Rather than fabricate a new wooden stick I decide to use some PVC pipe I had laying around in the garage. I used 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe in place of the wooden brace:

It worked well. To make it  and stronger I filled the inside with some Great Stuff Foam. This helped stiffen the PVC tube and strengthen it. It also made the stick buoyant so should it accidently fall into the water it will float unlike regular PVC pipe:

It works well and there is no chance of splinters unlike the wooden stick which after 12 years was starting to split anyway.  The floating PVC setup stick looks like it could have other uses on board too. I just have not figured out what yet. The fact that it helps setup the Porta Boat is good enough for now.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I'll be working for the month of July in Washington DC some two hundred and fifty miles from where BIANKA is moored. So I've only been able to be on board on the weekends, But, I have been lucky last weekend I got to enjoy the fireworks that were postponed because of weather the night before. Tonight I got to enjoy the rising of a full moon. But, not just any full moon a super full moon. A moon noticeably larger than others due to it's proximity to the earth. I was not disappointed:

Though any full moon I observe when I'm on board BIANKA results in a pinch me moment and remembrance of this quote from the book The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles:

“Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.”

It always reminds me to appreciate every full moon that I see.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


I use a few of the five gallon buckets or pails on board BIANKA. They come in handy for all kinds of things. From holding cleaning solution for washing down the decks to storage of some of my dive equipment. I use one in the sleeping cabin as a storage bucket and  foot rest for tying shoes. I even use a cover from one of these buckets to cover the opening of the mast partner area over the winter.

I've also used a bucket hung from the main halyard to scare birds away when they seemed to have taken to roosting on the boom:

But, the most useful thing I use the buckets for is a quick wash down after a swim. I keep one of these five gallon buckets filled with fresh water in the corner of the stern and use a small container for a quick freshwater rinse after a swim. So I find these buckets very useful on board. They are pretty durable but, eventually one might crack or I lose the cover and it has to be replaced.  So earlier this spring I went online to look for a replacement cover for one of the buckets and I found a few things that improve my use of these ubiquitous buckets on board. First I discovered the Hydrofarm HG5G 5-Gallon Black Bucket. It is not so much an improvement as a change of color but, the ramifications are that the black color warms the water up faster for that after swim rinse.

The next bucket item I found which was a real improvement was Custom LeatherCraft 1140 EasySeat Lightweight Plastic Bucket Seat for 3 1/2- 5 Gallon Buckets:

This allows one to use the bucket as a seat and works very well for that function as well as a cover for the bucket. It also has a very light coefficient of friction so you can sit on it and spin around on the bucket. Very useful when working down low and needing to turn and reach for a tool. The cover is also has grooves so that it drains off any water that falls on it unlike the usual bucket cover.  It also has a very convenient tab on the side that was probably put there so these covers could be hung up for an in store display:

 But, I found it very useful to tie a lanyard to the tab and the bucket so the cover could not be separated and fall over the side. Which could easily happen with the generic bucket cover:

 I like how this cover worked so well I bought a second one to use on a bucket I have inside the cabin. One would think it's hard to improve on the basic five gallon bucket but, in my opinion someone has.


Monday, July 07, 2014


Work commitments will be interfering with my boat time for the next several weeks. But, I did get to spend most of the July 4th weekend on board. Got some small projects done and the fireworks were a nice bonus.
Sent from on board BIANKA

Tuesday, July 01, 2014


It feels good to have the boat back on the water. I still have not gone out for a sail I'm still getting things organized and cleaned up and doing some small projects. One of which is a new helm cover  I stripped and varnished the cockpit table recently and wanted to protect it as much as possible. A large helm cover fits the bill.  I've seen helm covers made out of Sunbrella material and I may make one once I get a Sailrite Sewing machine which is on my wish list. Instead I made one out of some recycled shrink wrap material:

It completely covers the helm and the table is pretty durable and the only cost to me was a few brass grommets and some spare line I had lying about to keep the sides secure :

While maybe not as colorful as a custom Sunbrella cover it does the job and helps keep some shrink wrap out of a landfill somewhere.  Plus the price is right.  It can also function as an additional shade cover if one should need it when it's not covering the helm.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Better late then never!
Sent from on board BIANKA

Sunday, June 22, 2014

CLEANING: Countertop Rust Stains

Finishing up some spring cleaning in the galley. I discovered I had left my cast iron frying pan on the sliding formica countertop over the winter and had some rust embedded into the surface. I first tried my staple cleaner which is some  Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. It had limited results. I then tried some CLR Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover soaked onto a paper towel that I left over the stain overnight:

It worked better but, there was still a good sized rust stain on the counter:

I then bought out the  FSR Fiberglass Stain Remover  :

and dabbed it over the stain using a disposable paint brush:

After letting it soak in a bit and using a piece of 3M Scouring pad the rust was completely removed from the countertop:
I wiped down the counter with a damp paper towel and finished the job.
Always good to have several cleaners on board to try and I learned a lesson not to let the cast iron skillet sit on the countertop for any length of time.

Monday, June 16, 2014


After removing the Paloma hot water heater and reconnecting the pressure water hoses I began thinking. The hoses I reconnected are in a real good location right in the galley and over the sink.

Then I had the AHA moment that it would be nice to have a spray nozzle at that location to help with washing the dishes. Since the hoses were already in that location it should be a simple matter to connect a spray nozzle. So I went out and bought a kitchen SPRAY REPLACEMENT ASSEMBLY; and also a 1/2 inch T adapter which I inserted

I also bought an adapter so I could connect the spray nozzle hose into the boats 1/2 inch pressure water hose.

 I took a few turns around the threads with teflon tape and inserted into a short piece of 1/2" hose:

I then took a 1/2" T connector and placed it between the former intake and hot water out hoses where the former water heater was and connected up the Spray Nozzle hose to it too:

With the hoses connected back up and the new Spray Nozzle connected:

I did a quick test and it worked perfectly. The spray nozzle will really help when cleaning dishes in the sink. Now all I have to do is add some hose clamps and secure the hoses and the job was complete:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

SATURDAY NIGHT AT SEA: Mystic Sea Music Festival.

Due to a lot of land based issues and schedules BIANKA is still not in the water and won't be until after next weekend. I've only been able to spend weekends on board prepping and taken care of some projects that did not get done over the brutal winter. Today I plan an extended stay working on the boat. One that should continue into the evening hours. This is because it's the last concert night of the Mystic Sea Music Festival. It has become somewhat of a tradition to be on board the boat in the evening listening to the live broadcast of the festival concert which is broadcast on WPKN 89.5 from Bridgeport Connecticut (also streaming on line) . No matter that the boat is still in the boatyard I will enjoy the evening's music as I putter around getting things ready for launching. The concert runs from 7 pm to 10pm.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


BIANKA is a cruising boat. I never race. But, this electric boat looks like a bit of fun:

Hat tip John Rushworth