Friday, October 23, 2009

Nor'easter season

I was on board yesterday with the sun shining and the temperature in the seventies. I woke up this morning to a cold raw easterly wind with a forecast of a nasty wet Saturday and possible gale warnings late Saturday. Welcome to the Nor'easter season which runs from September to April. NOAA has a little tutorial on what it's about that you can see here and an up close look at the Nor'easter made famous by Sebastion Junger in his book The Perfect Storm the anniversary of which will be coming up at the end of the month.

As for me I'm putting an extra line on the mooring.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


After exiting the Buttermilk Channel I headed to starboard on a course to the Statue of Liberty. Out in the middle of the bay there appeared to be at least a hundred small dingy sailboats in the middle of the harbor having a race. I thought this is crazy having all these kids out here in such small boats. I was later to find that sailors on board these small sailboats were all part of the events of NY400 and consisted of the top racers from around the world and they were fast. But, from what I heard on the VHF some of the tugboat Captains were not real happy to see them out there blocking their usual transits across the harbor. Especially since they were so fast it was hard to keep out of their way.

As I approached the Statue of Liberty I thought I recognized the boat I saw in the distance.

It was the CLEARWATER. A replica of the sloops that plied the Hudson River over one hundred years ago. She makes a pretty picture when her sails are up.

That night I docked at the Liberty Landing Marina. As I came in I saw a relaxed fellow on his 24 foot sloop smoking a cigar peaceful as can be. Chatting with him later I mentioned that BIANKA used electric propulsion. He said that's why you were so quiet when you came into the dock. I just smiled.

Later that night there was a solemn reminder as the lights for the World Trade Center Memorial were turned on in preparation for the anniversary of that tragic event was coming up in a few days on September 11th.

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The next day I sailed up the Hudson and docked at the 79th Street Marina. Lo and Behold I wound up being docked next to the Clearwater sloop. Below is a camera phone photo of BIANKA docked next to the Clearwater at the 79th Street Marinia.

I must say they were a busy crew as they went about chores on the deck in between excursions. I good naturedly harassed them telling them that BIANKA was greener they they were. They asked how. I said I use electric propulsion while they still had a diesel for auxilary propulsion.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

WHAT WORKS ON BOARD: Powerstar DC Converter

Before I bought BIANKA I had a 24 foot Bristol. A fine boat of which I still have fond memories cruising with. When I bought BIANKA there were not many things I took from the Bristol. One of the things I did take was this:

A Powerstar DC converter. It plugged into the single 12 volt cigarette lighter jack on board the Bristol and put out 120 volts on it's AC jack. It was a simple device you plugged it in to the 12 volt socket and a red light came on the showed the 120 volt outlet had voltage on it and you plugged in whatever AC device you wanted to use as long as it was rated 200 watts or lower and not too fussy about pure sine waves.

The reason I bought it was to power my new 1986 Toshiba 1100+ laptop.

It had two three and a half inch disk drives used MS-DOS and had NO hard drive and a monochrome LCD screen to boot. And to think it only cost about $1500 dollars in 1986!. Real whiz bang technology at the time. I try not to think to much that my current computer. You know the one with all the USB ports, Hundreds of giga bites hard drive and DVD burner only cost about a third of what I paid for that Toshiba. Of course the Toshiba still works but, like the other seven or eight computers I have bought in my lifetime it is never used today.
But, the DC converter still functions on board BIANKA. It can not be used to power my new laptop because the AC voltage put out by the Powerstar converter is a rather crude approximation of a pure AC sine wave and will fry most modern switching power supplies used in electronic devices. But, the Powerstar will power a Braun hand blender with no problems. So that means yummy Banana pancakes for breakfast as well as other treats from the galley. It has also come in useful many times to power things like the Dremel tool which is used for many projects on board. It's one of the things that really works on board. Even twenty years plus years after I bought it.