Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Well maybe not gold but, possibly some silver.  I spend every minute I can on board BIANKA during the season. I am amazed as I look around the marina and harbor how little time others seem to spend on their boats. There are those boats only used on the weekends others are seen heading out only during race nights. Some boats never seem to move. A lot of boats just stay tied to the docks for days even weeks without moving.. So a few days ago I'm on an Amtrak train heading to Washington D.C. speeding along at 90 miles per hour (propelled by an electric motor BTW) reading an article in the Financial Times about V2G (Vehicle to grid) technology. Here is a quote from the article:

Electricity grids could operate much more efficiently if they tapped into the vast amounts of power stored in the batteries of electric and hybrid vehicles, to balance out fluctuations in supply and demand, writes Clive Cookson.
Vehicle-to-grid or V2G technology, which would enable electric car owners to make money while storing power for the grid,

Hmmm, sounds kind of interesting if it works for cars why not boats that are sitting tied to the dock with no one on them during the week. Here is how V2G technology works:

an investment in V2G could pay off quickly. Once the technology is commercialised, the extra costs of fitting a V2G-enabled battery and charging system would be about $1,500. The owner could make $3,000 a year through a load-balancing contract. V2G is economically viable because electric car owners are buying batteries anyway, so it makes sense to use them for communal energy storage. It would be more costly to install other storage systems.
Interesting that V2G technology or should I say B2G (Boat to Grid) technology could change things for those who own electric boats that spend more time at the dock than away from it.  The concept of  an electric boat with B2G technology that pays for it's own dockage does sound intriguing. A boat that helps pay the bills while at the dock what a concept!   As for B2G and batteries I say bring em on!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Bianka had a Frigoboat 500 engine driven compressor refrigeration system when I bought her. It worked well for a few years. Then one day it died. I found out it used R12 refrigerant gas. This was bad news because the the stuff was no longer made. The reason for that is it was bad for the environment. Remember the Ozone hole?  The idea of repairing it became moot when I converted the boat to electric propulsion.   So back in the diesel days while I was debating about what to do about the Frigoboat system I came across an Engel MT25 E refrigerator/freezer.

It's a 22 liter refridgerator/freezer  that runs on 12 volts DC or 120 volts. It has actually been able to provide my needs for over 8 years now without a problem. With one 75 watt solar panel on board this little baby operated 24/7 during the whole season and never once drained the battery bank. If I'm going on an extended cruise I'll fill the on board ice box with ice and keep access to it to a minimum. Meanwhile I keep the things I'll be using most frequently in the Engel. Things like milk, cheeses, juices etc... Rather waste a lot of energy keeping a case of beer cold. I just pop a few bottles in the Engel as needed. It looks like the MT25 E has been superseded by the Engel MT-27 model. Very similar to my unit but, a little more efficient and has handles. Engel also makes other sizes both bigger and smaller depending on your space and needs. I found the MT-25 now ENGEL MT-27 a perfect secure fit next to the cockpit hatch where I do most of my dining and drinking (weather permitting). As you can see here:

This keeps the beers, beverages, bottles of wine etc... close to the cockpit and keeps the built-in on board icebox closed for most of the day. Throw a boat cushion on the top of the unit:

and you have an additional  very convenient seat that you can move around in the cabin. This Engel unit has worked flawlessly on board BIANKA for over eight years and that's why I give it my WHAT WORKS award.

BLOG UPDATE: I recently purchased a second ENGEL unit. An Engel MR04UF which has more room and functions better as an on board  refrigeration system.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


It did not take long for West Marine to see the future. 

I've been very happy with my ASMO MARINE Thoosa 9000 system which I installed in 2008. Still it's good to see marine electric propulsion systems start to appear in stores like West Marine. Many of us who made the switch are never going back to diesel. Others will follow in our wake. No pun intended.Because electric propulsion systems are easily upgradable everyone will benefit from an increased users and improved technology especially in the battery area. Having the world's first electrically propelled Nonsuch 30 it's such a pleasure to open the hatch to where the diesel use to reside and just have the smell of clean and not oil and diesel. It's also nice to enjoy a quiet conversation in the cockpit as you motor out of the harbor. Perhaps others will now start to enjoy the same pleasant experiences.


Saturday, February 13, 2010


One day I was down below checking the mast area and noticed some water dripping off one of the bolts that held the deck mast collar to the partner area. This is not good. So I figured it was time to re bed the mast collar. Since water was leaking from the deck. The photo below shows the  mast collar as it is installed on the deck.
I was not looking forward to this because the scuttle butt was that this collar was bedded at the factory with 3M 5200 adhesive. This is known as an especially tenacious adhesive. People often say once you use 5200 on something consider it permanently attached to your boat. I had owned BIANKA for over ten years at this point and as far as I knew the mast collar had never been removed. So I was expecting a real battle in getting the metal collar removed from the deck.
I removed all the bolts and took out a mallet, heat gun and chisel expecting to spend a lot of time trying to remove the collar. Much to my surprise the collar just lifted off with a simple hand pull. So it goes! No wonder it had been leaking as the bond between the 5200 and the cast aluminum collar was virtually non existent. I also found the the remaining 5200 was still very pliant after all these years as shown below:
This pulled off rather easily too. There was some of the adhesive that need to be cleaned up however. For this I used a product called Anti-Bond 2015 . It really helps in removing and cleaning up adhesives like 5200. I just sprayed it on the area I where I wanted to remove the adhesive and let it sit for a bit. Then I used a Proprep detail scraper to peel the remaining 5200 from the area.
In a few minutes I had the whole collar area cleaned and ready for a new coat of 5200 for re bedding the mast collar. A quick wipe down with a little solvent on a rag to remove any of the residue remaining. I also did the same for the underside of the metal mast collar.



Now that it is time to re bed I wanted to make sure I would avoid getting any of the 5200 on the bolts as I insert them. I want to be able to remove them easily in the future. NOTE: I do put a dab under the bolt head to seal it where it rests on the mast collar.  I made circles around the bolt holes with 5200. This would allow me to insert the bolts cleanly back into the holes without getting the 5200 on the threads. But would also make sure the bolts were sealed when the collar was put back on the deck. As shown below:
NOTE: You can also see the blue 3M masking tape that I installed around the outside of the collar before I removed it. It helps make it easier to clean up any of the 5200 that squeezes out from under the collar. I also put 5200 on the underside of the mast collar in a continuous heavy bead again avoiding getting it into the bolt holes. I then placed shims on the deck and rested the collar on them so that it was slightly raised off the deck. This allows me to place the bolts in the holes without getting 5200 on the threads as I insert them:
After the bolts were installed and the shims removed the collar was laying on the deck. I applied a little pressure to set the collar. But, because 5200 takes a number of days to fully cure. I waited a week before I tightened the bolts down to secure the collar. The collar was re bedded three years ago and has not leaked since. Hopefully, it will be another twenty years before I have to do it again.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Some news you need to use:

"The Coast Guard strongly urges mariners currently using LORAN-C for navigation to shift to a GPS navigation system and become familiar with its operation as soon as possible. Mariners will not be able to rely upon LORAN-C for navigation as of Feb. 8, 2010."

"*** Special Notice Regarding LORAN Closure: *** In accordance with the DHS Appropriations Act, the U.S. Coast Guard will terminate the transmission of all U.S. LORAN-C signals effective 2000Z 08 Feb 2010. At that time, the U.S. LORAN-C signal will be unusable and permanently discontinued. This termination does not affect U.S. participation in the Russian American or Canadian LORAN-C chains. U.S. participation in these chains will continue temporarily in accordance with international agreements. You may read more and download pertinent documents via our LORAN-C page."

Todays the day when the Coast Guard shuts down most of the Loran transmitters around the country.
When I bought BIANKA in 1995 it had a KINGS 8001 Loran unit already installed.

It took a season or two for me to really appreciate it's usefulness. It was pretty reliable but, somehow occassionaly failed just when I needed it most. I viewed it as just another tool that I could use when sailing. But, it was so useful that I did feel the need to get a GPS unit for the boat until 2008. It's interesting to ponder how many lives were saved and how many safe passages were made thanks to all the people in the Coast Guard operating the Loran C stations that were often located hundreds of miles from the sea.

Then there are all the engineers and people who put the Loran units together in companies like King Radio. Started by an engineer named Ed King. He was a private pilot in the 1950's who thought the units he could by for his plane were too expensive and did not fit his needs. So he designed his own and started a company. Roger McGuinn yes that Roger McGuinn of the Byrds fame posted the story of Ed King and his company. This quote by Ed King I think shows why he was succesful:
"If you have highly innovative, reliable products at competitive prices, a lot of your marketing problems are solved."
I'd say that's good advice for anyone thinking about starting a business.

So it is the end of another era. The end of the history of a technology designed to help use sailors keep away from danger. But, it was not just the technology but, the unkown people behind it that kept those signals beaming out.


Good night Loran and thank you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


It's been too cold and snowy to spend too much time working on the boat this winter. So I'm spending a lot of time at home in the kitchen cooking and perfecting recipes that I can use on board when cruising next season on BIANKA. I must admit I am rather spoiled using the bread maker and having fresh bread at home everyday. Unfortuntely, the breadmaker uses too much power and takes too long to be useful on board my boat. But, I came across this book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francis which shows how to make fresh bread dough in about five minutes using a technique that looks like it would be perfect to use on a boat especially since it makes enough for four one pound loafs. That's enough for a whole week of cruising. I especially like that you don't have to knead the bread and basically make it in a plastic container. Sounds like it's made for a lazy sailor who likes to eat well and healthy if possible. Take a look at the technique in this video and see if you agree: