Sunday, October 31, 2010



As a Licensed Captain I'm required to have a copy of the Navigation Rules on board. Even if you are not required to carry them it's good to have a copy on board. You can make sure your boat meets the requirements in terms of signals, lights etc... Plus it could be fun and very educational to identify the various tug and barge combinations you might see on the waters. You might even win some bets with other sailors.  I was reminded yesterday in my local Home Depot store by the Christmas Trees on display that yes the SEAson will soon be upon us. An up to date copy of the Navigation Rules would make a good Christmas gift for the sailors young or old that you know.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I guess I was too long on land having spent almost two weeks away from the boat. We had a few days of nasty weather and I had a few things to take care of.  As I drove toward the harbor and checked the waters of Long Island Sound. Conditions looked just delightful for a nice fall afternoon sail. But it was not to be. The harbor at this time of year starts to empty out as many owners have their boats pulled in preparation of winter:

The problem is that means less and less boats for birds like the Cormorants to roost upon. BIANKA which has no spreaders does not normally make an inviting target to land upon except when there are few other options. So when I got on board I was greeted by this wonderful mess on deck:

At least my boat was not the only one singled out by the messy birds:

To make matters worse I found that the pennant line of the mooring next to me was wrapped around my rudder causing BIANKA to lay abnormally to the wind and current. 

In addition the Plexiglass glass top cover that was part of my new and improved solar Bimini was in pieces in the cockpit! LESSON LEARNED: I should have used Lexan.
So instead of the nice afternoon sail I spent it scrubbing the deck. Luckily, BIANKA has a wash down pump so I could wet down the deck and use some full strength Simple Green to help clean the sail cover and deck. But, I finished in time to sit back and enjoy the setting sun behind the western hill of the harbor:

and then the rising of the Harvest moon to the east as well:

Both of which made me glad to be on board and forget about the mess that greeted me when I first arrived..

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The waters here around the Isle of Long have gotten too cold for swimming. At least for most people including me. But, that has not stopped me from sailing but, that becomes more dangerous with each passing day as the water temperature drops. If I should happen to fall overboard the chances of survival start to diminish rapidly as time ticks away. Ex Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Vittone has some very good tips on cold water survival at his blog. Here for example are the three phases of what happens when you are suddenly immersed in cold water:
Phase 1: The cold shock response – accidentally falling into cold water (say, under 59° F) is an assault on the body’s senses. Characterized by uncontrollable gasping and disorientation, the first moments can be the most dangerous. So for that first minute (1), do nothing but keep your head above water, try and stay calm, and control your breathing. The gasping will stop and then you’ll be able to work on getting yourself safely out of the water.

Phase 2: Swim failure – or the loss of muscle control – happens to everyone who stays in cold water long enough. If you’re not wearing a life jacket – regardless of how strong a swimmer you are – you will drown long before you ever become clinically hypothermic. The longer you stay in, the weaker you become. So after that first minute of just staying calm, you have about ten (10) minutes to try and self rescue. If you haven’t gotten out of the water by then, you’re not going to. Conserve your energy to delay phase three.

Phase 3: Hypothermia – core body temperature of 95° or less – takes a surprisingly long time to happen. The point here is not to panic. Depending on variables like air and water temperature, no matter how uncomfortable you are (and trust me – you will be) you will have an hour (1) or more before you lose consciousness from hypothermia.

So for cold water survival just remember 1 – 10 – 1. That’s one minute, ten minutes, one hour – and always wear your life jacket when out in cold water.
There is more info on this at Vittones Blog  it's worth reading and may save your life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Even though the LORAN C signal in most areas was terminated back on February 8, 2010 I have yet to remove the Kings 8001 receiver and antenna off the boat. It is definitely on the to do list though.
I don't know why I have not done it. Nostalgia perhaps. It was on board when I bought the boat over 15 years ago. It was working right up to the end when the Coast Guard shutdown the Loran C stations. How do you shutdown a Loran station?:

And how do you make sure that it stays shutdown:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 I use an eight foot Porta-Bote for a dingy and have since 2001. I find it a rugged lightweight dingy for my use. I can carry it on board folded up or as usually do on deck.

Porta-Bote has improved it's design over the years. From changing the original seats from wooden marine plywood to more lightweight Styrofoam filled plastic. On my boat they have gotten a little beat up but are still functional. The transom on my Porta-Bote is still plywood but, after nine years exposed to all kinds of weather and sitting in water on occassion it is showing signs that it really should be replaced.  Happily, the Porta-Bote people have once again improved their unique boats design as I saw at their booth at the Annapolis Boat Show.

They have streamlined the seats even more and made them more rugged and stiff than the molded plastic ones I have.  They have also replaced the wooden transom with a marine plastic one that will not have the problem of delaminating over the years like my wooden one is.

Like the Garhauer Blocks I reported about in an earlier post. It's good to see there are some companies like Porte-Bote that continue to refine and improve their products making for happier customers like me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The storm and winds that prevented me from heading to the Oyster Festival were followed by the first reports of snow in the Adirondack Mountains. The Nor'easters can't be far behind. Here in the Northeast and other northern waters those are the seasonal signals it's time to start thinking about winterizing the boat. So this might be a good time to to review Capt. Mike's technique for winterizing BIANKA's water system using one gallon of antifreeze. 

One of the real nice things about having an electric propulsion system and no diesel on board is that winterizing the water system is about all that needs to be done to get BIANKA ready for winter.  Click here to see how Capt. Mike winterizes with just one gallon of antifreeze on board BIANKA.

TIP FROM CAPT MIKE: I test the recovered antifreeze using a refractometer to make sure the antifreeze will provide the needed freeze protection of the water system. If you get one that tests for both Propylene glycol (the kind used for winterizing the water system) and Ethylene glycol antifreeze (used in engines) you can also use it to check the engine antifreeze protection as well.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I was hoping this weekend to take one final cruise with BIANKA for the season to the annual Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay Long Island. But, the winds had a different idea:
Twenty to thirty knots pretty much on the nose. No thanks, I think I'll pass on it this year.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I first went back to the Annapolis Boat Show back in 2007. At the time I was looking around for a replacement for the dead Westerbeke 27 diesel on board BIANKA. I was also debating between repowering with a new diesel or going electric. I was leaning toward a new BETA MARINE diesel. But, was hoping to  find out about the going with electric propulsion. Sadly, there was only one electric system at the 2007 show that I found and it was expensive and made for a much larger boat than my 30 foot Nonsuch. But, happily in 2010 I found several booths where they were selling electric propulsion systems:

I spent a good part of the afternoon at the Annapolis Hybrid Marine booth. Who are the new U.S. distributors for the system I have on board which is an ASMO MARINE Thoosa 9000.

They had a very nice display that showed an actual entire system working:

There was a lot of interest from the crowd. I chimed in from time to time extolling the virtues of electric propulsion from my experience of having it on board BIANKA for the past three years. I also got to meet some readers of this blog which was fun too.

And for those who just can't live without the smell of diesel in the morning. BETA MARINE had an interesting Hybrid system that consisted of a Beta Marine diesel engine which had a Lynch electric motor attached.

 You could motor with electric or diesel. It would also regen when under sail. Lastly, you could disconnect the output shaft from the prop and use the engine as a generator by having the engine drive the Lynch electric motor as a generator directly to charge the batteries.

I was glad to see BETA had chosen the same Lynch motor that is used on Thoosa 9000 on BIANKA.

 More expensive of course than a diesel alone. Plus you had the weight of both a diesel engine and batteries on board. Made for those who like the idea of electric propulsion but, don't want to make the leap to a pure electric system. But, for me I have gotten use to the smell of clean on board BIANKA to ever go back to having a diesel on board. My electric propulsion system provides everything I need in terms of propulsion without the mess of having a diesel on board. But, at least there are more choices out there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


As I wandered around the boat show I was surprised to see the number of booths that were selling various model Honda Generators.

I use a Honda 2000EUi generator on board BIANKA. It is a real work horse especially on my boat with it's electric propulsion auxilary. I use it for charging the 48 volt and 12 volt battery banks, powering 120 volt tools, and it can also provide about 3 knots of electric propulsion when needed without taking any amps from the 48 volt battery bank.  Mine is a standard off the shelf model standard AC jacks. But, I did see a new version (at least for me) that makes sense for carrying on board.

It is a Honda 2000 with a 30 amp marine AC jack. This is handy because you can just plug in your boats marine AC cable directly into the generator just like you would hook up at a dock. It is more weather proof than the standard outlets and means you don't have to add an extra adapter into the power mix. If you are looking to buy a Honda generator for onboard use this might be the way to go.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I use mostly Garhauer Blocks on BIANKA. That is what Hintehoeller Yachts installed when the Nonsuch came from the factory in 1986. Over the years I have replaced just about everyone of them as the original plastic sheaves worn out or degraded in the sun. Garhauer has continued to modify and improve their blocks over the years. Earlier this year I discovered a plastic piece on deck that at first puzzled me but, I later discovered was part of one of the main sheet block at the end of BIANKA's boom. It  comes with a small set screw to make it a fixed shackle if you want. This was the piece I found on deck. At the boat show I came upon the Guarhauer booth.

They had quite an array of blocks and hardware on display. I picked up the block that was the same as mine and started to explain what had happened to my block on board BIANKA. He asked "Is that the same type of block?"  I said yes. "Well then consider it replaced." he said.  This was a pleasant surprise and one of the reasons why I really like Garhauer blocks. Very good customer service. I also found out from him that Garhauer had replaced the plastic locking piece that failed on my block with aluminum. Another reason I like Garhauer they have constantly improved their products over the years. For these reasons Garhauer products get Capt. Mike's seal of approval.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Wandering around the Annapolis Boat Show there were the usual retailer sellers like West Marine and others. There were also a lot of manufacturers with their own booths:

Then there are some interesting specialized booths like the one below primarily selling anchoring sails:

There was also lot of hardware and rigging available at the show. But, since I have an unstayed Nonsuch 30 they really had nothing to offer me. But, if you happened to be sailing along in the Caribbean and all of sudden your mast fall down and go boom then you probably would be interested in looking at this boat:

It's a Yawl rigged with synthetic rigging from Colligo Marine:

Since buying my Nonsuch catboat I no longer concern myself with worrying about things like shrouds, chainplates etc... But, I have seen or heard about a number of rigging failures on other boats. So I post this for others who might be interested in just how this new way of rigging ones boat can help eliminate some of the metal fittings and cable previously relied upon to keep the mast standing vertical above the deck:

It looks easy enough to rig and no concerns about crevice corrosion. It seems to tension the rigging you just take the line to a winch and tighten it. The folks at Colligo booth had a large selection of thimbles and eyes to help rig the boat using this system:

  According to my discussions the synthetic line should last at least five years minimum. Seems like a good alternative to stainless usually used on board. Spare rigging would be easier and lighter to carry on board too. Plus it could also be used as spare for other purposes like running rigging. Looking at the Colligo site I could see a use for synthetic line even on my unstayed boat. I am thinking about replacing the lifelines and using synthetic life lines like those offered by Colligo might be the way to go.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


I interrupted my fall cruising for a quick trip down to Washington D.C. by car. On the way I thought I would stop by the Annapolis Boat Show. This the second time I visited the show. To say it can be crowded and over whelming is an understatement. But, it is a great place to see some of the latest products, innovations and ideas for sailing on the water. In the afternoon I spent there I did not see it all. But, I thought I would spend a few posts on some of the things I did see and those that caught my eye.

I guess for some people it is all about looking at the boats. But, since I bought my Nonsuch 30 in 1995 I have not felt the need to look at another boat. So I did not spend time on the docks looking at the latest designs and models from the usual manufacturers but, they certainly were there with the flags a flying:

Though if a new production boat is not on your radar or in your wallet. You might be interested in a nicely varnished used sailboat. Only $371,000 and you can sail it away today! Or rather after the boat show is over in two days. Since it is locked in by the dock layout arranged for the show.

There were also some fine looking smaller craft on view too:

And if you are just in the market for nice sailing dinghy you certainly had some choices:

Then if you are a fan of Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson's song BOATS TO BUILD and just happen to need a neat little nesting dinghy for carrying on board. Here you go:

Speaking of Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson and BOATS TO BUILD:

Unfortunately, there were also little reminders to those of us here in northern waters that the sailing season was coming to an end and that preparations for winter might soon be in order. Though on this beautiful 70 degree day it was hard to imagine it being possible:


Wednesday, October 06, 2010


After my City Island visit the next island I arrived at was Manhattan. There are many ways to visit New York. Planes, trains or cars. But, my favorite way is to arrive by boat.  This is how the Europeans first arrived and how those already here moved about too.  I tied BIANKA up at the 79th Street Boat Basin next to Riverside Park.

I spent a few days here. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooporate as it rained most of the time. Thanks in part to the remnants of a tropical storm that came up the coast. As the photo below shows. BIANKA's home made weather station data collection system shows how much rain occurred in one of the 24 hour periods:
Along with the rain came some very strong winds blowing up from the south. It was a rocking and rolling time for a while. So much so that the dock BIANKA was tied to began to break apart. Here was the temporary repair:

I figured it was time to leave and as soon as the weather window opened I shoved off. Heading down the Hudson known to the professionals who ply the waters as the North River. I sailed past the piers  where those floating cities aka cruise ships dock:

I am always amazed how some of the barges and other boats that work the harbor can sneak up on you. In this case I was surprised by the Driftmaster:

 A specialized vessel operated by Army Corp of Engineers that among other things picks up the large pieces of driftwood, poles and docks that create floating hazards in the harbor. With the favoring current it was a quick trip around the battery. One the historical buildings that stands out here is Pier A at the tip of the Battery:

This building has been under going restoration for long time. It remember it being worked on when I first bought BIANKA into the city in 1995 and it still is being worked on here in 2010. I won't say it is a boondoggle but, perhaps a boondockle would be more appropriate. After rounding the battery there was the obligatory sail by the South Street Seaport. To take a look at the Tall Ships docked there:

As well as 158 foot topsail schooner Clipper City:

BIANKA then continued riding the flood current up the East River bound for Hell Gate:

I still love the majestic look of the Hell Gate Railroad bridge:

Soon I sailed out past the Throgs Neck Bridge which marks the end of the East River and the beginning of Long Island Sound. I anchored at the mouth of Little Neck Bay and then sat back to enjoy the view of the bridge and sunset to the west:

Just a very nice way to end the sailing day: