Saturday, August 16, 2014


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

Thursday, August 14, 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


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


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


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


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


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