Friday, April 23, 2010


I think sailors are more in tune with the environment than those who spend all their time on land. We tend to be always keeping an eye on the weather and water conditions and the land (which we try to avoid for obvious reasons when sailing). We also tend to be early adopters of "green" energy technology like solar panels and wind generators because we know the limits of the energy we carry on board and are often not connected to the power grid. We know the energy stored on board in things like batteries on our boats is finite so we try and conserve it. I also try not to be too sanctimonious about my boats electric propulsion system though I think it is the best improvement I have made to the boat in the fifteen years I've owned it. I'm confident others will come around to it's advantages on a sailboat as we head into the future. We sailors also tend to be more conservative in the amount of things we consume and bring on a boat because we just don't have the space to carry everything. Still there is always room for improvement and revaluation. Bob at Boat Bits has some green thoughts that are good to keep in mind.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


One of the nice things about having the world's first electrically propelled Nonsuch 30 is I no longer need to find or tie up at a fuel dock. This is a real good thing. Unfortunately, I still occasionally need to stop at a dock to top off the water tanks. Bob at BOAT BITS has come across a promising technology that may soon eliminate the need for sailors to even make diversions and stops to find a dock with water.

How does it work?
Each individual device would only process minute amounts of water, but a large number of them — the researchers envision an array with 1,600 units fabricated on an 8-inch-diameter wafer — could produce about 15 liters of water per hour, enough to provide drinking water for several people. The whole unit could be self-contained and driven by gravity — salt water would be poured in at the top, and fresh water and concentrated brine collected from two outlets at the bottom.

They've already tested it in nearby local waters:
So far, the researchers have successfully tested a single unit, using seawater they collected from a Massachusetts beach. The water was then deliberately contaminated with small plastic particles, protein and human blood. The unit removed more than 99 percent of the salt and other contaminants. “We clearly demonstrated that we can do it at the unit chip level,”

This technology certainly sounds promising not only for us sailors who want spend as little time looking for a place to find water but, for many other people in the world who need clean drinking water.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I've been working five days a week since early March. It's a financial pleasure as it allows me to pay bills and buy some things for the boat and replenish BIANKA's sailing fund. But, the work requires a Monday to Friday schedule. It does not allow much time for updating this blog and even less time to work on the boat. It's been ten years since I've had such a schedule. It takes some getting use to once you've led a relatively unscheduled life. But, I can tolerate it a few more weeks. Because of this I've only been able to work on the boat on the weekends. So I was at Union Station Friday night waiting for an Amtrak train to take me back to the boat with plans to take care of some projects in preparation for launch in May. Unfortunately, a tree somewhere north of Baltimore decided it was time to cross the Amtrak tracks that night stopping all train service for hours. The result was my window to get out of Washington rapidly closed and another weekend working on the boat was lost. You might say that I've come down with a serious case of land fever. The cure for which is to get on a boat with no planned schedules and no fixed address and no place to be as soon as possible.

or to put it another way:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
- Herman Melville

Sunday, April 11, 2010


You never know when a good idea for the boat is going to strike you. A few weeks ago I'm on a twelve foot ladder in TV studio thinking about Mike Rowe and his Dirty Jobs television show. I'm pulling out audio and video cables some of which have been lying in a cable tray for over fifty years. I think Mike Rowe would agree it's a dirty job or at the very least a dusty one. It's part of a project to convert the facility to High Definition TV production. Before starting this task I went to the Engineering stockroom and got me a pair of gloves for this grimy endeavor. As I was pulling cables I looked at the gloves and realize these gloves would be very useful on board the boat.

They are just basic cotton gloves but, have palms coated with a flexible red latex rubber compound. The coating grips the slippery cables and is waterproof making it perfect on board a boat for gripping wet anchor line or chain even a halyard. Some of the pluses of these gloves:

1) Good grip in both wet and dry conditions

2) The cotton back breathes and drys quickly making them good in warm conditions

I do have a pair of leather palmed GILL gloves that I sometimes use on board. But, these gloves would be better and much cheaper to use for those slimy, dirty tasks on board. In fact Gill sells a similar pair of gloves with their name on them for $5.95 a pair.

But, you can pick up 10 pairs of similar gloves for $8.99 here  without the Gill name stamped on them. You do the math. I think it would be good to carry several pairs of these latex palmed gloves on board to hand out to crew to protect their hands or to have as spares. I wish I had these gloves on board when I took BIANKA up the Erie and Oswego canals on a trip to Canada in 2002. At that time I used plain cotton gloves for grabbing on to the slimy lines hanging down inside the locks. These latex palm coated gloves would have been much better suited for the slimy task of holding the boat securely in position. They would also come in handy for painting and varnishing jobs, As an added plus the red/orange color of the latex palms could be helpful in signaling in emergency or man overboard situations because of their high visibility.

So I was checking into Reid Stowe's 1000 DAYS AT SEA website and lo and behold there's Stowe using the exact same gloves I've been mentioning above as he goes over the side to clean the bottom of the Schooner Anne on Day 75 of his adventure.