Thursday, July 29, 2010


Well my girlfriend has dragged me off the boat for a few days. Forcing me to sit on beach here on the Isle of Long. But, I think I'll be able to survive.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


As I've mentioned I like to have as much control and information available to the helmsman as possible. Which since I do a lot of single handed sailing is usually me. So after I had the electric throttle secured and installed in it's housing at the helm. The question I asked myself is what other things could I add at that location.
The most obvious answer was my Standard Horizon CP180iGPS chartplotter. I never could understand those boats that had their chart plotters installed down below at "Nav" stations. I've always believed the information belonged at the helm and not relayed up from below. Some chartplotters are large and need to be permanently mounted.  Making it look like the person at the helm is speaking at a pulpit. But, the 180i is small enough to be removable and stored securely down below when one wants to. With an additional power cable one could also operate it down below say in anchor watch mode. This is something I plan to do in the future. So with just three additional screws I installed the stand for the 180i on top of the helm control enclosure.

This now provides the person at the helm with a lot of electronic navigation information including location, speed over ground and course information right at their fingertips. The180i also has a lot of other features that I will want to eventually take advantage of. But, to use some of these features I will need to use the connections into and out of the unit. Happily the helm enclosure allows me the room to interface all these signals in a convenient location as shown below:

Here you can see how I have arranged the various terminal strips for power and the interface for the chart plotter signals that I will need to hook up to the 180i unit in the future.  I'll be posting more about these signals and some other items I'll be adding to the helm enclosure in a future post.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Speaking of electric propulsion. My Thoosa 9000 system came with a rather robust industrial quality electric throttle control shown above. Which naturally I proceeded to locate in the area where the previous engine throttle control for the old Westerbeke diesel was located. It was how shall we say a "temporary plan". Which I used for almost two whole seasons as shown below:
This actually worked quite well. I've already expressed my liking for using cable ties on board. The above is just another example of where they came in handy. While my "temporary" installation worked fine for almost two seasons. Aesthetically, of course it would never do. Even though the Thoosa throttle control was pretty robust and weather proof. It is better to try and keep it out of the weather as much as possible. So I went about thinking about a more protected and permanent design. I wanted to have the control at the helm position. I've seen installations where the throttle is located in other areas of the cockpit requiring the helmsman to leave his position to make adjustments to speed and direction of the boat. I think this is a pain at best and dangerous at worst. Especially if a passenger accidentally hits the control. I believe the person controlling the boat should have as many controls as possible within easy reach and without taking his hand off the wheel. The location of the old throttle was the best location for the electric throttle too. I began by removing the the old mechanical metal throttle control from the helm. It was not serving any purpose since the diesel was removed.  This was easily done by removing the  control and the linkage underneath the compass and removing it from the compass binnacle. I also removed the control cable from inside the binnacle too.

I then constructed a helm platform out of 1/2" Starboard. This would provide a sturdy sheltered location for mounting the electronic throttle keeping it out of the weather but still allowing the helmsman to have easy access.

I needed to make sure to allow room  so I did not stress the cables that came out of the control when mounting it:

I used a hole drill bit, jig saw and a Dremel tool to shape the platform around the hand holds and binnacle. Which allowed me to incorporate them into the support of the platform.

I also started thinking of other items I would also like to have located at the helm position and one of them was a 12 volt outlet to provide power for recharging a handheld VHF, Blackberry, Laptop or MP3 player. It would also come in handy for powering a cockpit light when dining or working in the cockpit in the evenings.

 I also added other items to the location which I will get to in a later post.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I was reading the manual looking up some info for a fellow Nonsuch owner on about the Standard Horizon 180i GPS receiver we both have the other day.  I'm not one who tries to use all the bells and whistles of a newly installed technology all at once or rely on it exclusively. Especially when it comes to navigation. I start with the basic use and expand from there as my curiosity increases. While looking up some information about routing I came across the function of the "trip log" that can be configured to be placed on the various data screens of the 180i. Hmmm, I thought since I installed the 180i GPS unit the same time I installed my electric propulsion system in 2008 and I have never reset it. I was curious how many miles BIANKA has traveled since I installed my electric propulsion system. Turns out it is 856 miles. I would have guessed less but, there it is. Certainly, I probably did more sailing than motoring during those miles but, still the Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system has preformed flawlessly and with virtually $0 dollars in maintenance costs since the installation. I could not say the same if I still had the old diesel on board.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Back on land for a day. I came home to see if the stainless steel tubing cutter I ordered had arrived so I can start on phase two of my solar bimini project. But, damn it did not show up. Alrighty then! I'll spend  some time checking up on some of my favorite blogs including Capt. Brucato's NY TUGMASTER. When Capt. Brucato speaks I listen up and I'm not even a member of his deck crew! Today he is saying to check out former Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Vittone's blog and especially an article he wrote on drowning that he published about what signs to look for in the drowning victims behavior. Here is one of the money quotes:
So if a crew member falls overboard and every(thing) looks O.K. – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
Vittone's article does contain some very important information for both boaters and those on the beach. It is aptly titled DROWNING DOES NOT LOOK LIKE DROWNING and yes, it is a must read.

Monday, July 05, 2010


The weather forecast is for "dangerous heat" tomorrow highs near 100 degrees. To quote lyrics from Phillip Glass's EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH: "These are the days my friends" Yes, those summer days you thought about when the snow was piling up over the winter.  So it's hotter than the Caribbean? Deal with it! Actually, it's been pretty delightful on board BIANKA. There was a nice gentle breeze all day long and it was just a jump over the side for a refreshing swim. Still one does need a little help down below in the cabin every now and then. For that I have found no better solution to keep cool during an afternoon nap or for sleeping on a hot still summer night than this 12 volt Caframo model 747 fan

It really moves a lot of air and does not use up a lot of amps doing it. That's why it gets Capt. Mikes recommendation for things that work on board. I've had mine for over seven years and it's provided reliable relief from the heat.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

JULY 4TH 2010

Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight
Forcin' a light into all those stony faces left stranded on this warm July
-Bruce Springsteen

Scenes like the one above which I call "Sailboat Hell" are why BIANKA and I will not be leaving the mooring this Fourth of July just like previous fourths. I have plenty of projects to work on, lots of cold beer and rum on board and an excellent 360 view of several fireworks displays from local governments and private individuals to watch this evening while relaxing in the cockpit. There is no need to move with the crowd.  It's a day of Sousa and Springsteen. I'll dress ship and enjoy the day which promises to be a hot one. So several swims will be in order despite shark warnings from the Coast Guard. Oh, wait a minute the Coast Guard has now retracted that warning. Betcha the mainstream media will downplay that news if they cover it at all. Why am I not surprised!   I also expect to fire up the gas BBQ grill for the first time. It's been on BIANKA since I bought her in 1995 but, I've yet to try it. Some of my Rum Flavored Chicken is on the menu tonight along with some homemade potato salad. YUM!  Yes I'll be celebrating Independence Day  in number of ways. I'll be celebrating on my Nonsuch. Which because of it's electric propulsion system, solar panels and wind generator gives me a different kind of independence too!

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Things happen when sailing. Things fail, break,  fall apart etc... The mariner always tries to minimize these failures still they do occur and one has to deal with them. Such as when I was attempting to join the Reid Stowe flotilla and a loose reefing line caught the edge of a solar panel and broke parts of the frame holding the panel. Happily, the solar panel was not carried over the side. But, I had some sharp jagged pieces of the metal frame moving about. Not to mention a loose solar panel to deal with. I needed to secure them fast. There are a number of ways to do this. I could have used line and I do have various lengths and sizes around the boat to use. That is when I have time to find and sort through them. But, for emergency situations I also like to use  Ty Wraps aka cable ties. They come in various lengths are pretty strong and are easily wrapped around what you need to secure and can be cinched down tight rapidly so you can get back to the helm and continue on until things are calm enough so you can make a proper repair.