Saturday, August 30, 2014

ASSUMPTIONS

So I started my first cruise of the season. It's late and I'm chomping at the bit to get out of the harbor. My first leg was a twenty five mile trip to Mattituck. Since I was in the hurry and plenty of water even with one tank dry I did not bother to stop at the dock for to refill it. My plan was to splurge and tie up at a marina dock at my destination where I could refill the water tanks, charge my electric propulsion and house bank etc...

The trip was mostly without wind. So I fired up the Honda 2000 generator and pretty much motored the whole way at around four knots  under electric propulsion along  with a favoring current. I was thinking maybe I should also charge the house bank when underway since I was using the generator as part of my poor man's hybrid propulsion. I can normally electro sail and charge my 12 volt house bank at the same time as long as the house bank is not really low. In which case it tends to trip the Honda's breaker. Nah, I thought I'll be at the dock soon enough and can charge to me hearts content. I arrived at Mattituck inlet at sunset and by the time I meandered up to the harbor it was dark. I tide up to an outside dock and went to plug in the power. But, my 30 Amp 3 prong marine plug would not fit. There was a cryptic warning not to try and connect a 30 amp plug into the 120/240 outlet. No doubt for some much bigger motor yacht to dock here. Turns out there was going to be no charging overnight as I had planned because I assumed the electrical outlets would be the same as my home marina. I was able to get things charged in the morning with the help of a dock hand and the fact that I had a 50 amp to 30 amp pigtail adapter on board which fit an outlet on the other side of the power post. Since the time need to charge cut into getting a favorable current to get around Plum Gut I decided to stay another night at the dock. It was another reminder never to assume too much until you actually reach your destination and to charge things up whenever you can.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

TOOLS OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR: Hopkins Measuring Funnel

One of the real nice things about Electric Propulsion and having removed the diesel engine from the boat is not needing to do multi quart oil changes every fifty hours. Indeed my maintenance has just about gone to zero in the seven years since I switched to electric propulsion. The only regular maintenance I have had to do has involved the Honda 2000 generator that serves for providing power for battery charging at anchor and also acts as a poor man's hybrid when doing an extended electro sail. The maintenance on the generator has  been minimal consisting mainly of an annual oil change. The oil change on the Honda 2000 does not
involve a lot of oil compared to the old Westebeke 27 diesel. In fact it's only .42 Quarts. Which is kind of a problem when one is using a plain funnel with a quart container of 30W oil that the Honda requires. It usually results in an overflow situation and some messy clean up.
I came across a very handy solution for oil change overflow problem in the form of the Hopkins FloTool 10704 Spill Saver Measu-Funnel. It is an elegant solution for dealing with oil changes on small capacity engines like the Honda 2000eu generator or an outboard.


It has a graticule on the side calibrated in various liquid measurements. You just fill the container with the appropriate amount of oil you need. It also has a snap on cover that will help avoid any spills should you drop the funnel accidently.

It's operation is pretty simple. Once the funnel is filled with the premeasured amount of oil. You insert the clear hose of the funnel into the oil fill opening: 


Then you turn the blue valve at the bottom of the funnel to start the flow of oil from the container to engine. Since the oil has been  pre measured there is little chance of an overflow.

It even has a cap at the end of the hose to capture any residual oil that may drip down from the container. You can then return the residual oil back into the original quart container and not waste a drop.  In short this ingenious funnel makes oil changing on board or on land a much cleaner operation. That's why it's one of the tools of this electric sailor.





Saturday, August 16, 2014

TASTE A LITTLE LOVE OF SUMMER

Fellow sailor on the next mooring came by in his dingy with some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden. You know a salad is on the menu for lunch.
Sent from on board BIANKA
http://biankablog.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ELECTRIC PROPULSION HARBOR TEST 2014

I'm a little behind in posting blog  posts after being a month away from the boat working. I hope to be posting more frequently and catching up on things now that I'm back on board.  Here are the results of the 2014 harbor test of my Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system. I did the test earlier in the season soon after launch showing the speed vs power required to move my 30 foot 16,000 lb sailboat using electric propulsion:

NOTE: Speed is in knots


Below is the 2014 test data compared with the 2013 test at the 10 to 50 amp throttle settings:

Note: To see the averaged power settings for the 2013 tests click here. The graphs show very little change in performance in me electric propulsion system from last year.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

AN AHA STORAGE MOMENT IN THE GALLEY

After dismantling major portions of the Gas Range on BIANKA I had some new storage options. I discovered one by accident last time I was on board. Seems one of my favorite cooking pans a 12 inch cast iron skillet stores away quite nicely sitting on top one the new burner:

Best of all it fits under the sliding countertop too. This frees up space in the oven compartment storage area and allows easy access to a pan I use quite often when cooking.  

Monday, August 04, 2014

A SMALL CONNECTOR PROJECT

When I added the 48 volt solar panels to the bimini project I needed a way to connect both the 12 volt panels and 48 volt panels to their appropriate battery banks. So I rigged up a temporary junction box using a barrier strip and a small plastic project box as a temporary install. Here is what I had and it has work pretty good over the years.

 Well several years later I'm getting around to an upgrade . I'm finally getting around to making a better way to connect the solar panels to the solar controllers using Anderson Powerpole connectors. Like the ones shown here:

The blue connector signifies that the voltage the wires are carrying is 48 volts and is used to charge my electric propulsion battery bank. Speaking of colors notice how the red color has faded from this wire:
Exposure over the years has caused it to almost become white in color. Another good reason to have color coded connectors like Powerpoles on the ends of the wires.

 The Anderson Powerpole connectors can also be mated as shown here:

 This assures the proper ground (black connector) travel with the positive voltage wire. This helps to eliminate confusion with different voltage systems. You can also buy an optional clip that locks the pairs of Powerpole connectors to add some extra security that they won't pull apart.

So after replacing the lug connectors with Powerpoles I also put a little dab of Marine Goop on the back of each connector to help seal the wire and connectors.


Now both the 48 volt  and 12 volt solar panel connections can be easily accessed for troubleshooting and testing. I have plans to put some instrumentation in line to measure how well the panels are doing in the near future and I will post about those tests here on the blog.

Friday, August 01, 2014

WORK AND STUFF



It's was a long July for me. Mostly because I have only been able to spend a few weekends on the boat. The rest of the time has been spent working a freelance job 250 miles away from the boat. I keep forgetting how much time work takes out of your day and how little time it leaves for living. I use to live to work and now I work to live. Though when working it affects ones leisure time and the creativity that looking at a full day with a blank slate usually inspires. Blog posts seem to get pushed aside for other more mundane activities that seem more pressing like a nap or making dinner.
On the plus side work helps one to refill the coffers and allow certain things on the wish list to be purchased. So I will be adding a few more things on board that I have been considering for my upcoming  cruises. Things like a new  Engel MR040 Portable AC/DC 12 Volt fridge-freezer (40qt) having it on board will now allow me to have both a freezer and refrigerator on board.  Which opens up more provisioning choices for  cruising. I've also splurged on a  Zojirushi Mini Breadmaker which I expect to use to make a variety baked goodies. At least that's the plan.  Another item I've bought is a Cellular Signal Booster which I hope will solve a frustrating communications problem in BIANKA's home port. How well it works is to be determined. Anyway as I wrap up my last day at work I'll be posting about these new additions to the boat  and how well they are working out as I finally get to get back on board and back into the cruising lifestyle.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A LITTLE TOUCH UP

Work on land has kept BIANKA in port and only allowed me time on the weekends to be on board. Happily, that situation will soon end. In the meantime I keep myself busy on board taking care of small projects here and there of which there is no end. A recent item was securing some of the meters at the helm instrumentation panel.

I use it to monitor the battery voltages and current for the 48 volt propulsion bank. I cut the panel using a hand nibbler and dremel tool and some of the meters turned out to be have a little looser fit than I planned. One meter was starting to work its self out so it was time to secure it.

After removing the six screws that held the waterproof cover of the panel I had easy access to the meters. I also noticed a few scratches from the first install on the painted panel front


I used a little Marine GOOP to re secure it back into the panel. Since I had the cover open I retouched some of the scratches on the front panel using a black Sharpie Permanent Marker:

The Sharpie touch up worked well and I soon had the cover on the instrumentation panel ready to mount it back at it's helm position and could move on to the next project.



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

NIGHT OF THE SUPER MOON

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.