Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite: Sailor

Most people are remembering Walter Cronkite as a beloved news anchor. But, he was an avid sailor too. He had several sailboats named Wyntje named after an early ancestor of his. He donated one to an organization that helps troubled youths. He has written several books about sailing along the coast of the United States and I even have a Waterways guide from a number of years ago which contains an introduction written by him. He may have worked in the news business but like many of us loved sailing and his sailboat as this quote shows:

"I get out on her every chance I can get. I think I even have her name tattooed on my underwear."

Sail on Walter!

Transiting the East River at 200 knots

I lived on board BIANKA in New York City from April to December from 1996 until 2002. Every December they closed down the marina and I had to leave. During the time at I was never bored watching the river traffic on the Hudson from the big ships heading up river to the workings of the tugs. I started to get to know some of their routine schedules. Like there would always be one or two hanging out in front of Chelsea Piers early on Saturday mornings waiting for the cruise ships to arrive. I sit up on the bow of BIANKA with my coffee and watch the captains gam as the tugs slowly drifted until the cruise ships came into view. The tugs also had other jobs too moving barges and other craft around the area. These were mysterious trips to me as I heard snatches of conversation on the VHF of the tugs and where they were bound etc... Happily Captain Brucato at NYTugmaster takes us on some of those trips with these two videos of recent passages he has made through the East River. It reminds me that I need to bring BIANKA back into New York and see how she does through Hell Gate now that she is powered by electric propulsion. Though I have transited the East River many times on BIANKA and always found it a very interesting trip (as long as everything on board was working) I have never done it on a Tug or barge. Capt. Brucato's videos make it a beautiful and interesting trip if you never want to put on your sailing shoes. You can make the trip going down the East River from College Point:

or you can head up the East River (below) all the way to Execution Rocks. Either way it is an enjoyable and visually pretty trip. As long as you are not the one at the helm with the responsibility of making it a safe passage.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

In hot water?

Bianka had an on demand Paloma hot water heater installed when I bought her. This came in very handy when I was living on board while I was working in New York City. I was working an overnight shift at the time and taking a shower at 11:30 at night in April with unlimited hot water was a luxury found on few sailboats. Today I usually rely on a solar heated shower or a fresh water rinse off from a five gallon bucket I keep on the stern for after a swim. I have not had to use the Paloma hot water heater for several years. Like many things on the boat it will have to be replaced at some point whether I use it or not. But, when that point comes I might consider something like this:

It's a Coleman Hot Water on Demand Water Heater
I can see this having several advantages as a replacement for an installed hot water heating system on a boat. For example it's portability. It could be used in the cockpit on long voyages by the helmsman to make a hot beverage while underway without leaving the helm or disturbing sleeping crew members. It has an optional shower hose and can be turned into a portable on demand hot shower. It can also be connected to the on board propane system or use Coleman portable canisters. The water intake can be plumbed into the on board water system. It could also be taken off the boat and be used at home should some natural disaster knock out power and the ability to take hot showers at the house. Other than making sure that the unit is used with proper ventilation. I see a lot of things to recommend this unit on sailboats of all sizes. Watch the demo video and see if you don't agree. The retail price tag of $250.00 is another real good reason it would make a good replacement.

Friday, July 03, 2009

July 4th: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Today is July 4th and I have yet to go on a sail with BIANKA this season. Between the horrible weather of this extremely rainy spring and the repair of the windlass and replacement on the Edson steering system and some unexpected work commitments there has been no time to head out and raise some sail. Today July 4th will be another day when I won't be raising sail either. It has become somewhat of a tradition with me not to leave the mooring on this holiday. The waterways will be filled with other boaters some of them very drunk and inexperienced. I find it safer, more enjoyable and somewhat more amusing to stay safely tied to the mooring and listen to the VHF calls. Though I do dress ship in my own way for the day and also contemplate the meaning of the holiday and the sacrifices made that allow me to even be on the boat. Including perhaps a re-read the Declaration of Independence. Toward the evening I will enjoy a glass of wine or spot of rum and toast to the patriots long ago who allowed this country to be created. Then I will cap off the evening with a 360 degree show of fireworks put on by the various municipalities and individuals around the harbor. That's what the Fourth of July is like on board BIANKA. In the end it really does come down to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.