Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Well, I was very happy to be wrong about Hurricane Danielle. But, Earl is something I'll be watching as I am currently on My Birthday/Best Summer of my Life cruise here on Eastern Long Island.   As you can see in the graphic above BIANKA is in that range of the yellow band. Well, the good news it's not in the 50 50 band. But, as usual it all depends on the track. So I will be preparing for Tropical Storm conditions on Friday and Saturday.  Damn thing is unlike Bob at Boat Bits who just finished a nautical  encounter with Earl.  I'm not even in the tropics! But, at least I don't have a live Raccoon on board either.


I made a post a few weeks ago about making sure you knew who was on your boat. I probably should have said make sure you know who or what is on your boat. This was a transmission I heard yesterday:

VESSEL ROCKMA: East Hampton Harbor Police. This is Vessel Rockma.

This call was repeated several times but, got no response. After a few tries the Coast Guard made contact.

COAST GUARD: Vessel Rockma this is Coast Station Montauk Point. Are you in need of assistance?

VESSEL ROCKMA: Yes, This may be a new one for you. We were heading out and about a half mile passed Sand Beach we discovered we had a live Raccoon on board. We are coming back in and were hoping to land at the town dock.

Long Pause
COAST GUARD: Vessel Rockma do you have a cell phone on board?


COAST GUARD: Suggest you give us that number so we can contact you by cell phone.
Capt. Mike's Note: Another reason to keep things closed up when you are at a dock. Well, at least the crew of the Rockma will have a story to tell but. also a mess to clean up.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


You can learn a lot from birds
You can learn a lot from birds
But, the meaning is not obvious
- Frank Tedesso

I was silently motoring BIANKA up Mattituck Inlet the other day here on the Isle of Long. Looking and listening to the sounds as I made the journey. Since I converted to electric propulsion I am really enjoying such trips. You can actually hear the things going on around you instead of being masked by the noise and vibration of a diesel engine. The laughter of children at a house on the shore or squawk of a Great Blue Heron as it questions a Night Heron that he thinks might be in his territory. About three quarters of the way up to the anchorage. I heard the calling of an Osprey. It's good to see the Osprey still around. It means it's still summer. If you want to find a real snow bird the Osprey might fit that bill. They don't stay around much after September in these parts but, head south much like the Osprey in the photo above which I took on a small motu in Belize.  As I passed the tree to the boats port where I heard the call I could see there was not one but, two Osprey and they seemed to be alternating  in making the calls. Strange I thought Osprey usually mate for life and each of these birds were no more than ten feet from each other. Why are they alternating making the calls when they can obviously see each other? As I motored onward a  little ways the answer became obvious. Off to starboard  was an Osprey nest with three young adult Osprey posed and waiting. They were full feathered and seemed anxious and hesitant at the same time. It then dawned on me that the parents were the birds I heard calling from the tree. They were trying to coax the young birds to fly and leave the nest. It was time for them to fly in preparation to leave the nest for good and start heading south.  The next morning I was having my coffee. I saw an Osprey on the shore nearby. Strange I thought. I have never seen an Osprey walking along on the shore before. I've seen them in trees, on the nest or flying. Then the bird waded into the water until it's legs were underwater. Then I realized it was one of the  young Osprey literally getting it's feet wet for the first time. It seemed to be exploring the feeling and then one of the adult Osprey did several fly bys and the Osprey in the water flew off to follow. When I was leaving later that day I passed the same Osprey nest and there was only one young Osprey left there waiting to fly.
Yes, you can learn a lot from birds

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anchors away! And so was the owner!

Meanwhile up in Maine, PANBO has the the tale of a good looking trawler almost ending up on the rocks but, luckily the story has a happy ending thanks to some good local mariners. Here is the money quote:
I'm generally quite reluctant to fault fellow boaters when things go wrong, because I've made about every mistake possible myself at some point, and probably will again. But what I hear about this scene, captured in part on YouTube, is a bit disturbing. That big beautiful trawler didn't actually drag onto the rocks around Northeast Point, but that's probably only because crews from from Wayfarer Marine, Yachting Solutions, and the Harbor Master's office worked hard to hold her off, in pouring rain and lots of wind. A local hero even managed to squeeze his way through a pilothouse window, figure out the complex starting procedure, hoist the anchor, and put the boat safely on a dock. But the owner, who showed up after the storm had passed, was apparently somewhat casual about what happened, though most boaters would know that a salvage claim was a possible road not taken by the rescuers, and...

Here's some citizen sailor journalism of the incident from the deck of the LET'S DANCE:

Hats of the the folks who saved the boat. I just hope the owner learned a lesson from the incident too.

Monday, August 23, 2010


  So after another week spent on the beach as per my girlfriends wishes I headed out to the boat to take care of a few projects and do some organizing. The weather is expected to turn nasty for the next few days so I headed back to shore and made a big pot of Bolognese sauce. Mmmmm. Some of which I'll take with me on a cruise I plan to start sometime this week. But, AFTER checking the NOAA Hurricane Center website I'm getting a bad feeling about tropical Storm Danielle:

The reason for my apprehension is because we here in the Northeast are long overdue for a Hurricane. Plus our local waters are extremely warm this year. This is not good when a Hurricane approaches. I'll certainly be keeping a weather eye on this baby before I decide to head out.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


A beautiful day, sunshine, calm seas what could possibly go wrong?

I still shake my head when I see this video. But, it also reminds me to keep a close eye on those big yachts in my sailing grounds. You know the ones with all that electronic gear. Maybe with a distracted owner or crew on their cell phone or texting  while the autopilot merrily keeps it's course. The good news is the U.S. Coast Guard has now banned all cell phones from the bridge on Coast Guard vessels.
Under the new policy, boat operators are allowed to use cell phones or smartphones only if Coast Guard crews lose traditional radio communications with another vessel, according to national Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil.

"We are trying to be proactive in our safety measures," O'Neil said. "We would also discourage their [cell phone] use by professional and recreational boaters who are under way. Just as many governmental agencies have banned their employees from using cell phones while driving, we should all note that this makes you less safe."
That only leaves all the other boats out there that one needs to worry about.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


First saw this on the CRAFT A CRAFT site. Looks this product  could be really useful on board a boat.

According the SUGRU site this material has the following properties:

Sugru is like modeling clay when you take it from its pack. Once it's exposed to air, it cures to a tough flexible silicone overnight using the moisture in the air. Working time = 30 mins. Cure time = 24hrs (3-5mm deep)

Sugru is designed to stick to as many other materials as possible. It forms a strong bond to aluminium, steel, ceramics, glass and other materials including plastics

Sugru is silicone, so it's completely waterproof and durable outdoors. It's easy to clean with soap and water, oh and It's fine with sea water too!

When sugru cures, it's flexible rather than rigid. Which means that you can repair things that need to be able to move like textiles, cables, or shoes.
I think I could find a lot of uses on board a boat which has a lot of curved areas to mount things. From customizing a dive knife to ones personal grip, customizing a flashlight holder, making a wedge to mount an LED fixture on a curved cabin top.

But, there are some negatives too. According to the SUGRU site the packets the material come in have a shelf life of six months. Also while the material comes in a number of colors including black it's missing white which I think would be more useful for most boats. But, I still think it might be a useful material to have onboard as long as you plan to use it in the six month shelf life.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Well, a second florescent lighting fixture on board BIANKA went out the other night. In the past I would send them back to the manufacturer and get them refurbished. But the price keeps going up. Seems like it might be a good time to convert these fixtures to LED technology. This has been on the TODO list for awhile.  FYI BOAT BITS has a link to a French Sailing magazine that recently did some tests on a number of LED lights. In the meantime I continue to use the solar powered Lightship units on board which continue to provide enough solar powered LED illumination in critical areas (like the head) that getting the defunct fluorescent fixed is not a super critical issue. Always good to have a backup I say.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


No this is not a post on the state of the economy.  BANKA has been on the mooring for a little over a month. This is because I was in the process of redesigning and building the boat's solar dodger after the damage from  the ill fated Reid Stowe flotilla trip. Then my girfriend dragged me out on a beach vacation for a week. The beach vacation is over and the new and improved solar dodger has been installed and secured (I'll be posting about that installation in a future post) so it's time to start cruising again. Well,  not so fast. Especially, when I dove under the boat to check the condition of the prop.
The waters here on the Isle of Long have been exceptionally warm this year thanks to the hot summer and the marine organisms have been loving it as much as I have.  Somewhere in the photo below of sponges, seaweed and barnacles is a 16 inch three bladed prop and prop shaft.

Some of the sponges are actually quite colorful:

And if the shrimp who are also hanging around the area where just a bit larger I'd have some appetizers for my sundown drinks. While this sight might be very interesting to a marine biologist. To this sailor who is chomping at the bit to get some more cruising in something needs to be done. But, what to do?


Behold the GAM PRO ADVANTAGE 6 IN ONE paint scraper tool! This nasty medieval looking weapon is just the thing I have found when one needs to attack a barnacle encrusted prop. It is very stiff and sturdy and the curved crescent area is great for clearing the prop shaft or grabbing onto it when the boat swings in a current. It also has a convenient hole to attach a lanyard to put around your wrist. Plus I like that is called the GAM PRO. It adds a little nautical feel to the tool.  Not that I want to have any more conversation with the barnacles that I remove off the prop beyond ADIOS!

Monday, August 02, 2010


Here's another reason not to own a mega yacht!
I mostly sail alone but, others load up their boats with friends, family and other passengers. And some of the bigger yachts have hired help. The New York Times reported a cautionary tale that owners of boats registered outside of the U.S. had better sit up and take notice of:
The trip, with more than 15 relatives and friends, was supposed to be the high point of a weekend family reunion. But a few hours into the cruise, after what began as an apparently routine stop by a marine patrol of local and federal law enforcement officials, two passengers — a Guatemalan caterer hired for the day and Ms. Rich’s boyfriend, David Quinn, an Irishman who had worked for years as a horse-carriage driver in Central Park — were taken away on a police boat by federal immigration officials. Both men were illegal immigrants; they now face deportation.
The July 4 incident began about 1:30 p.m. when a boat operated by the Nassau County Police Department pulled alongside the 63-foot yacht as it entered Oyster Bay. On the police vessel were customs and Coast Guard officers, Officer Saleh said; he did not provide more details about the stop. The Nassau police said they were assisting Customs and Border Protection and referred all inquiries to that agency.
And here is the money quote from the article:
It is frustrating for those with foreign flags, said the manager of a luxury marina in the Hamptons, who insisted on anonymity to avoid offending any of his clients. But, he added, “They really can’t complain because the reason they’re foreign-flagged is to avoid paying taxes.”
BINGO!  Perhaps that foreign registration to avoid taxes won't be so enticing if it keeps inviting a visit from the Harbor patrol and  Federal Authorities during cocktail hour. Personally, I like flying the U.S. flag on the transom. But, of course I paid my taxes and that entitles me to do it. 

Sunday, August 01, 2010


On Friday  I woke up about 6 AM and opened the blinds. As I stared out across the dunes I saw several sails out on the Ocean. The first boats I saw all week. Then I remembered these sailboats are probably participating in the Around Long Island Regatta held by the Sea Cliff Yacht Club which happens annually this time of year.
I've thought I might enter the race someday with Bianka. Perhaps I will but, I'm not really a racer.  I have made the trip around the island before but, not without stopping. Though coming into the Shinecock Inlet at night alone is something I probably would like to avoid doing again.  Still, I'm glad I saw the boats on my last day on the beach. Any earlier and I would have been thinking about getting back on board myself. Anyway hats off to all the racers who participated you can see the results of the race here.

BLOG UPDATE: The folks at SAILTIME have posted a nice first hand report about the race.