Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why I don't sail here in winter

First saw this a few days ago on Craft a Craft. It's a video on It's a time lapse of the recovery of U.S. Air Flight 1549 which crash landed in the Hudson River in New York City a little over a year ago. What I found interesting is that because of the ice you can really see the current and tidal change of the Hudson River which is a force the prudent sailor uses to his advantage. It also shows the power of ice and currents as it jostles and moves the airliner as it hits the tail. It also dramatically shows why I don't have a desire to sail these waters in winter.

Posted on - [Flight 1549] from David Martin on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


>BIANKA having an electric motor for auxiliary propulsion uses various forms of wiring run to various locations on board. In fact there are a few wires left over from the old diesel days that still need to be removed or reassigned to other duties. Then there are other projects requiring new wires. Like installing a new 12 volt receptacle in the galley area. Which I need to do so I can use the Braun mixer/chopper in the galley location instead of moving it and the 200 watt inverter that powers it to some other location on the boat to use it.

Running new wires behind walls or bulkheads is called fishing. Which is not the same as dropping a line over the side in the hopes of catching dinner. But, it can use a similar type of a fiberglass pole. It has been a learning experience for me as I used the technique on various projects. Here's what I found. At first I used a rod that was made from a wire coat hanger.
It was cheap but, also had some disadvantages. You could bend it easily but, it would also stay bent and that was a problem when trying to "fish" it around sharp bends. It would sometimes get hung up. Another disadvantage was it was conductive. You run the risk of having it contact some terminal or breakthrough a wires insulating jacket causing a short circuit, fire or shock hazard. Not an ideal situation or the ideal tool to use.
I then went looking for a better solution and found it at my local Home Depot store. This was a Greenlee 540-12 Fish Stix kit.

Which consists of several 1/4" fiberglass poles that interlock and allow one to run or pull wires in tight spaces up to 12 feet. They cost about $35 bucks. It was better than poking behind bulkheads with a conductive piece of metal coat hanger wire but, still not perfect. They bent a little but, did not stay bent like the a coat hanger wire method. But, they were a little too stiff for some of bends I had to run wires through. I started thinking that I might be able to also use them for an idea I had for another project so they still might still be useful on board.
One day while looking through an online catalog. I came across the Cen-Tech wire running kit. Since they cost less then the Greenlee 540-12 Fish Stix. I bought two sets for this other project. When I got them I realized that they were the perfect tool for fishing wires on board my boat much better than using the Greenlee sticks. For one thing they were thinner than the Greenlee poles and much more flexible. As you can see in the photo below:

Another advantage of the Cen-Tech poles is they come with a flexible screw on tip.

This makes it even easier to snake the pole into tight bends and spaces. You can also get a flexible tip for the much stiffer Greenlee Fish Stix but, at extra cost. Below shows a photo of Cen-Tech pole making a tight bend behind a bulkhead before pulling a wire through.

If you've got some wires to run I recommend using something like the Cen-Tech product. They also have other uses on board. I've used them to knock out Barnacles that found their way into some of the through hulls. So if you need to do some "fishing" inside the boat this is the tool to use.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LIGHTHOUSE: Baron Bliss, Belize City

As a sailor I have an affinity for Lighthouses. They are structures whose comfort radiates outward to us sailors. So since I was staying at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City just a few minutes walk from Fort Point as the sailors call it. A visit to the Baron Bliss Lighthouse was in order.

The structure actually serves two purposes. It's a Lighthouse and a memorial to a fellow named Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. You can see his tomb at the base of the light off to the right in the photo below:

Bliss was an engineer by trade who made a fortune in oil futures. But, in a karmic twist of fate he became paralyzed at the age of 42. But, that did not stop Bliss from enjoying life. He moved aboard a yacht for the rest of his life and went fishing. After fishing his way through the Bahamas and Mexico. He and his yacht eventually ended up off the coast of Belize. Though he never set foot on the Belize mainland but, was still touched by the generosity of the Belize people.
When his health took a turn for the worse at age 57 he decided to donate a large part of his fortune to the people of Belize.

Bliss died soon after aboard his yacht, on March 9, 1926. The country erected this lighthouse/memorial to him and celebrate Baron Bliss Day every year in March.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Well winter is just a few weeks old but it feels like it's been around for a long time. Two feet of snow one week 8 inches the next. What's sailor to do? I don't know about you but, I'm heading south to Belize to get in some warm water sailing for the next ten days. I'll be back posting later in January.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


One good thing about pulling the boat every year is that you get to inspect the hull without holding your breath or putting on Scuba gear. You can also look around the boat yard and see what other boat owners have for keels, props etc... Sometimes there are some mysteries as well. Such as what's the story behind this prop?

Did this boats owner never turn on his engine? Did he always sail off the mooring? Perhaps they never even got on the boat the whole season. Looks like they would have been in for a little surprise if they did need to use the motor considering the growth on the prop. Speaking of props I have a little mystery concerning BIANKA's prop. While polising it last spring I noticed some confusing markings on it.

From the numbers stamped on it I am assuming that it's a 16 inch diameter right handed prop. But, it appears that the original 14 inch pitch was restamped to 13 inch. Since I speced BIANKA with a 16 inch 14 inch pitch I will need to try and see how the 13 inch pitch would affect preformance under electric propulsion with the different pitch. Another reason why it's good to double check things on haulouts.