Saturday, December 31, 2011


Well, the New Year is upon us. I enjoyed the previous year on BIANKA and other other boats during the past year. The year did have it's moments both good and bad.

January started out for me with a delightful trip to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. I would probably never be able to take BIANKA there but, almost two weeks on a Catamaran with a local crew who knew the waters is pretty good experience in my book. I can still taste the fresh Red Snapper among other fish that were caught during the trip:

In March reminders about how danger can come from the sea as the Tsunami in Japan showed us. Even across the ocean we sailors saw what damage even a small Tsunami can do when it made an appearance in Santa Cruz California. Pretty sobering videos.

April found me starting to work on the  diesel fuel tank conversion project. Which at this writing is still not finished. But, the grime I found in the tank made me glad I no longer had to carry diesel fuel on board any more.

Also a quick trip to Chincoteaque Island got me smelling the salt sea air once again after the long winter. It was a good feeling.

May found Capt. Mike in Key West but, only for twenty four hours. The next day thanks to the help of Paradise Connections charters run by fellow sailors Sheila and Bob I boarded a  catamaran for a weeks sail and snorkeling trip up the Keys to Miami. Felt good to be swimming again.

In June THE BIANKA LOG BLOG had it's five year anniversary. I want thank all who stopped here over the years as they journeyed around the Internet.

July found the project box just as full as was at the beginning of the season. Oh well!

In August once again Nature was showing who was boss as the month started with an earthquake in the harbor and along the east coast. It ended with Hurricane Irene causing no shortage of anxiety for me as I had to leave BIANKA for two weeks and hope my efforts to prepare her for the storm were enough. Happily,  BIANKA came though the storm fine but, other boats were not so lucky.

September I had the pleasant surprise that my ASMO MARINE Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system does in fact regen and help charge the electric propulsion battery bank. A benefit I hope to exploit more next season.

October I attended the Annapolis Sail Boat Show as a guest of the folks at Annapolis Hybrid Marine the distributors of ASMO MARINE products here in the states.  I always find something interesting to see at the show. This year I was very pleased to meet Lin and Larry Pardey in person there.

A few weeks later nature celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the "perfect storm" with another Nor' Easter just to show who's boss.

Happily, I was still sailing in November though the days were short and getting colder. Still there were pinch me moments to enjoy on board. Even picked up some treasure on my walks on the empty beach.

Not much boat work in December with some freelance work coming my way and the holidays taking up a lot of my time. But, the days are getting longer and the sailing season will be coming around again.


Friday, December 30, 2011

SOLAR BIMINI PART FIVE: Useful stuff: Filament Tape

So I've decided on where the rear frame of the Solar Bimini should be located.  I should mention I did this project entirely by myself. I had no extra help in building the Bimini. I did not have to call friends and bribe them with a beer or two. Then wait for them to show up and feel guilty while I pondered my next move in building the Solar Bimini.  But, I did find some things very useful in helping me as I planned and assembled the frame. One of the items I found very useful was  3M Filament Tape

This tape is real STRONG having a tensile strength of some 380 pounds. It came in very handy in using it as temporary straps to hold the top of the rear frame to the existing dodger frame. In fact I left it on for quite awhile (weeks) as I worked on plans and building the Solar Bimini in all kinds of weather too.

If you look closely at the above picture (click on it to enlarge) you can see the Filament Tape used as strapping to hold the rear Bimini frame in place. While Filament Tape comes handy to use for some quick temporary strapping. I think it would also work for strong temporary repairs for other items. I just think it's good stuff to carry on board. It really helped me in building the Solar Bimini and it did not drink my beer or complain while doing it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SOLAR BIMINI PART FOUR: Locating and trimming the rear frame

 After the rear bimini frame arrived from Sailrite the next thing was to try and see:

1) Where it needed to be located. It had to be in a location where it would not interfere with the operation of the boom. It also had to allow for operation of the mainsheet cockpit winch and allow access of the deck cleats.
It also had to take into account the dimensions of solar panels and how they would fit between the bow frame and the existing dodger.

2) How wide it should be. It not only had to fit outside the cockpit coaming it also would have to avoid things like the wind generator support poles which were already installed.Since the stainless steel bow comes in three pieces with a width of 106 inches. It can be cut if you need to have less width by cutting equal lengths on each side of the middle bow piece. Happily, when I put the assembled frame on deck I found that the width as it came from Sailrite was perfect. So problem two was solved for me.

3) How tall should it be? Again the bow frame comes in at 61 inches in height. If you need less height it is simply a matter of trimming the vertical side pieces of the bow. It turns out I needed to trim off  about five inches of the 61 inches provided by Sailrite. At that height it was high enough to allow me to stand at the helm without hitting my head but, not too high that it would interfere with the boom. An added side benefit of making this Solar Bimini is that it will protect those in the cockpit (especially the helmsman) from a falling boom should the topping lift ever give way.

Once I had the three above dimensions decided upon. It was time to cut the two pieces of stainless steel side pieces . Since I only needed to trim the height of the frame by a few inches.  What to use? Sailrite says a hacksaw will work but, the right tool is a tubing cutter:

Sailrite sold a tubing cutter with a blade to cut stainless steel tubing for about $50. But, it looked like a regular tubing cutter that I could get cheaper elsewhere.  Like this one. It too is made for cutting stainless steel and if you will be doing a lot of cutting of stainless steel tubing it is probably the way to go. But, since I only had two tubing cuts to do and was in a hurry I went to my local Home Depot and checked out the plumbing department. They had similar tubing cutters but, they stated they were for softer copper pipe.

I asked the fellow working the area if their tubing cutters would work on stainless steel. He asked how many cuts are you doing? I said two. No problem was his response. So I bought it and made the cuts on the frame and it worked well.  So now that had decided where the rear frame would be located, trimmed the tubing to the desired length. All I needed to do was use the Drill Steady tool shown in the previous post to drill a pilot hole in the stainless steel tubing and install the rivet to connect the two frame side pieces to the middle bow.  This makes the frame one complete piece. Once this was done it was time to move to attaching the frame to the deck.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


If you ever have found things mysteriously missing from your boats cockpit the explanation may be fairly simple. I recently ordered a GoPro video camera . While I was researching about the camera online  I came upon this video of a brazen theft by a Seagull:

The GoPro camera weighs about 6 oz with the housing. After seeing this video I won't be leaving it or anything else like keys laying around in the cockpit especially overnight. One thing is for sure though Seagulls are not real good when it comes to making videos, they can steal things pretty quickly.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NOTES OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR: Tests from the harbor 2011

When I started this blog back in 2006 I thought it might just be a little online scrap book of travels with some photos. An easy place to put those memories and share it with anyone who happened by. It has since morphed into something a little bigger. In between my thoughts, photos, cruises and travels I also post things about products here and there. Those that work and those that don't work for me. I also use the blog as the name implies as somewhat of a log book of maintenance and boat projects on board BIANKA. This is one of those posts.

I had wanted to do some propulsion tests of BIANKA's electric propulsion system as soon as I splashed her for the 2011 season. But, that did not happen. But one morning a few weeks later I was having my usual 6 AM coffee in the cockpit. The air was still in the harbor, the water like glass and it was quiet and empty of any boat traffic. I thought well why not do some testing. Even though it would was not perfect conditions. It was midway to low tide so there would be some currents running and they do run oddly in this harbor. Probably would have been better to do it at the peak of the high or at low tide when currents would have been minimal. The boat had also been on the mooring for two weeks so I did not know how clean the bottom and prop were which could affect things somewhat. Anyway, I turned on the system slipped the mooring and headed out to the channel.  I made several passes between channel markers that were about 450 yards apart. One pass was made in each direction drawing 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 amps from the battery bank.  I then averaged the speed of each pass and calculated the watts used. Here are the results:

1                  10            1.9           495
2                  20           2.8            984
3                  30           3.3          1458
4                  40           3.7          1933
5                  50           4.1          2417

Again these are the average of the two passes. One against and one with the current. I also did one additional test where I just throttled up to 5 knots and the power used there was 4346 watts. The test data pretty much confirms what I have noticed on board. Especially on pass number two. I can move my 8 ton 30 foot sailboat at about three knots just using power from my Honda 2000 eu generator and the Zivan NG-1 battery charger which is rated at 900 watts. The numbers show I could add an additional 48 volt 500 watt power supply into the mix.  I should then obtain the results of pass number three and still be within the power limits of the Honda 2000 generator. Which is good to know if I ever feel the need to add one. But, since BIANKA is a primarily a sailboat I have never felt the need for it.  I'm also using the same three bladed prop that BIANKA used with the diesel. It has a few dings here and there. I might be able to improve things a bit with a prop optimized for my electric propulsion system. But, I tend to be if it ain't broke don't fix it type of sailor. Anyway I'll try and do another test at the beginning of next season and see how they compare. Also it is good to have this data to compare if I do decide at some point to change the prop at some point. But, I'm very happy with things the way they are and have been for the past four years. So I really don't expect to be making any changes soon.

BLOG UPDATE:  After doing this test I pulled the boat for the season. I found the prop was not as pristine as it could have been as this photo shows just after the boat was pulled:
Usually I would have dived and cleaned it but, it being late in the season the water was too cold. I expect to have even better results in the spring doing the tests with a much cleaner prop.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GIFTS FOR BOATERS: Eldridge Tide & Pilot book

Whenever I head out for a sail even a local day sail the cockpit seems empty without my copy of  the ELDRIDGE TIDE AND PILOT book within reach. It is easily the book on board BIANKA that gets opened the most. A boater traveling the waters of the northeast U.S. from the Chesapeake to Maine can save a lot of time and money on the water just being familiar with it's contents. In it are times and depths of the high and low tides for various points and harbors up and down the northeast coast.  Also most valuable are the times of current changes and velocities at various important points on the waters. Places like Hell Gate, The Race off eastern Long Island, currents in the Cape Cod Canal etc... The Eldridge also has diagrams of the currents at various times of major bodies of water like New York Harbor, Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, Buzzards Bay, The Chesapeake etc...  I've personally used it on cruises from Sandy Hook to Boston. It also has interesting articles on fishing, nautical lore and astronomical data. If you have a boater in your family who ply the northeast waters of the United States  this makes a great gift at Christmas. If you've been invited on board by a boater who is spending the winter in the Caribbean but, you know they will be heading up to the northeast in the summer it also makes a great gift to give to them too. It's data is updated yearly so make sure you get the proper year when you buy it. As for me I never leave port without it.

Friday, December 09, 2011

SOLAR BIMINI PART THREE: A plan comes together!

Let's see where was I. Oh yeah, back in August I was explaining how plan B of the solar dodger project came to fruition. That was before preparations for Hurricane Irene interrupted my train of thought. Now it's time to revisit the Solar Bimini Project on BIANKA.  I had been wanting to use my 75 watt solar  panels to replace the vinyl worn dodger material and had been somewhat successfully done that using the boats existing dodger frame. As explained here and here.

But, now I also wanted to extend it to create a bimini over the cockpit using the new 48 volt solar panels I had bought to help charge the electric propulsion battery bank.  BIANKA never had a bimini. It previously only had an extension of vinyl material that could be zipped to the existing vinyl dodger and even then this could only  be used while at anchor because it interfered with the mainsheet on my Nonsuch.

So if I wanted to have a permanent solar bimini it meant I would have to build a custom frame for it. I thought about how to do this and some things I wanted and some of the limitations I would need to overcome. After sipping  a beer in the cockpit I came up with this list of what I wanted:

1) I wanted to be able to stand at the helm without hitting my head on the dodger as lifted my six foot two inch frame up in one of those "what the hell is that" situations when sailing along.

2) I also wanted to have easy access to leave the cockpit to go forward on the deck. So I did not want a lot of frame tubing in the way hindering me in those situations.

After a lot of thought I came up with a plan that met my needs. The major piece would be a bow frame. I was able to get this from Sailrite a wonderful source for all things a sailor might need for sails, dodgers and biminis. One of the dilemmas I had was about where to install this frame. Should it attach on top of the cockpit coaming like the existing dodger did or should it land on the deck outside the coaming. I decided that it would be better to have it land outside the cockpit coaming. My reasoning was if things got nasty and the boat was bouncing around having the bimini frame mounted on the cockpit coaming could allow a persons head to hit it. Leading to at minimum a painful bump or worse unconsciousness.

Who needs that!  While I debated about where to mount the frame I went ahead and  ordered a one inch diameter long bow stainless steel frame kit from Sailrite. It comes in three pieces. Two side pieces and the top piece. According to the description:

"All tubing bows are prebent in a custom jig mounted on a wall in our shop. To keep shipping reasonable and to allow for greater customization, the bows are cut just beyond each bend creating three sections — two curved and one crowned. The crown in the center bow increases rigidity and improves the appearance of the finished cover. Assemble the three pieces by inserting splines and riveting in place. Once assembled, the bow has more strength than the uncut original."

I also ordered a real handy jig for helping to drill into into the stainless steel tubing for the rivit holes. The Sailrite catalog says "it's not required" but, if you have ever tried to drill into stainless steel tubing you know it can be a real pain.  The Drill Steady Tubing Tool really made drilling into the one inch frame tubing real easy as shown in this Sailrite video:

I recommend it if you should ever need to drill a hole into the stainless steel tubing on your boat. 
The final piece I needed to complete mounting the frame was some way to attach the frame to the boat. I chose a 90 degree stanchion base fittings to secure the one inch frame tubing to the deck:

With these pieces I was able to move onto phase one of building the solar bimini on board BIANKA.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


It's that time of year when I look back on how my electric propulsion system did during the past season. Once again I was surprised by it. When I decided in 2007 to repower with an ASMO MARINE Thoosa 9000 system. There were no boats that I knew that had done this and I thought long and hard about it before making the leap. But, after four years of operational experience I'm still very glad I did. The fourth season will stand out because of two firsts that occurred. One was an extended day of motoring. About ten hours to be exact. A rare day here around the Isle of Long when hardly even a whisper of a breeze filled the sail. So after starting out early and motoring under battery power for a few hours I carried the Honda away from the cockpit and fired it up. I could never do that with the old diesel. The noisy diesel was always right below the cockpit vibrating away making for a noisy afternoon of motoring. Fatiguing too! My day of extended motoring was much more pleasant experience with electric propulsion.

Another first I discovered quite by accident was that BIANKA can actually regen power back to the battery bank. I discovered this while electro sailing moving along at about 6 knots. I had earlier in the season decided  that the best way to operate  under sail was to slightly turn the prop under power. This will negate any prop drag when sailing and therefore increase boat speed. Sounded like a good plan and it uses minimal power from the battery bank and no need to buy a folding prop. But, as I found out that if the boat speed under sail starts touch around 6 knots it also starts recharging the battery bank.

 This is known as "regen" where the prop starts to turn the motor backward and it starts operating as a generator. It's not a lot at the low end but, you really don't want a lot charging because you don't want to take a chance on overcharging the battery bank.  I'm looking forward to next season and hope to experience more days where I can see the regen in action. So even after four years my boats electric propulsion system still had some pleasant surprises left to show me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Well the official 2011 hurricane season ends today and not a moment too soon as far as I'm concerned. Here is what it looked like:

Of course BIANKA met Hurricane Irene up close and personal and unfortunately happened to be on her bad side:

Yes,  from a distance hurricanes are kind of pretty as they seem to dance around the water. But, if you have a boat that's in one it ain't that pretty at all as these scenes from Hurricane Irene show.  Though I was glad that BIANKA was able "weather" the category one storm even though due to work commitments I had to be several hundred miles away when the storm hit. The effects from Irene were felt throughout the northeast for awhile afterward. Indeed BIANKA and I were still seeing and dealing with the after effects several weeks later on a cruise to New York.  But, now that the storms are behind us it's time to start looking forward to the next sailing season.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Well tis the season! Members of my family have in years past gotten me gifts that they thought I might use on my boat. They were well intentioned and it is the thought that counts and all. But, the truth is some of those gifts never made it on board. So I thought I'd post a few ideas of some gifts for boaters over the next few weeks that I find useful and would make a great gift for those you know who are boaters or even yourself.

One of my favorites things on board BIANKA is to climb into my bunk and read before falling asleep. The trouble is I can only carry so many books on board. Indeed most of BIANKA's bookshelves are already filled with books relating to maintenance and navigation.

There is little room for more recreational reads. Last year my girlfriend gave me an Amazon KINDLE E-reader which I find is one of the most practical things for a cruising sailor who likes to read.

My KINDLE is the free 3G/WiFi model which I think is best suited for cruisers who anchor out a lot where you will often be away from WiFi hotspots. This model  allows one to buy and/or download books not only via WiFI when availible but, also via a 3G wireless network. Which often has a larger coverage area than units only access in WiFi locations.  AMAZON offers a number of KINDLE options at various prices and capabilities.

The wonderful thing about an E-reader like the Kindle is it allows one to have thousands of books available on board in one small convenient package that would sink some boats if they were in paper form. Another advantage is that best sellers are cheaper for Kindles than their hardcover and paperback versions. Even better there are thousands of books available for free downloads and in my "book" free is good! In fact the first book I downloaded on my KINDLE was available as a free download. It was SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD by Joshua Slocum. There are many others which I will mention here in the future. So if you are looking for a gift for those you know who spend a lot of time cruising on their boats. You might want to consider an E-reader like the KINDLE as a gift.  If you know they already have a KINDLE you might consider giving them an AMAZON GIFT CARD so they can download the books they want onto them.

But, the Kindle is not really just for the boat. My Kindle is small enough to fit in the pocket of  my Columbia fishing shirts and I can carry it anywhere I go off the boat. From the beach to the bus stop. Plus it is readable in the sun unlike other electronic backlit devices like Apple IPADs. So no matter where I go on deck or below I can still read it. It's a great gift not only for boaters but, really for anyone you know.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Well this is a day for giving thanks and this sailor has a lot to be thankful for. I'm thankful that I have a boat that I love and have not felt the need to look at any others since I bought it in 1995. I'm also thankful I can spend as much time on it as I do.  To me it's all about being content with what you have and being able to separate your wants and needs. Knowing the difference is important if one wants to be happy and I am thankful that I do.  I'm also thankful for each sunrise and sunset I get to see when I'm on the boat. They never cease to remind me how lucky I am to be on board to see them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I cruised 285 nautical miles this year with BIANKA. Making a total of 1485 miles since I converted the boat to electric propulsion. A little less than last year. But, I managed to get a few weeks of freelance work this summer which did not happen last year. So I spent a few less weeks over the summer on board.  Such is the life of a freelancer.  BIANKA also came through Hurricane Irene and a Nor' easter on the mooring this year without a scratch. I did have a day on one of my cruises this year where I had to motor for over 10 hours using electric propulsion. That was the most I have had to do that since I installed electric propulsion and once again the electric propulsion system came through with flying colors.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


A lot of people I know seem to get by using a cheap wire crimper/stripper that look like this:
  I do have a pair on the boat and few around the house too. They do work and I keep them around as backups. But, the crimps you make with them tend to distort the connectors and can be of a questionable mechanical strength. For my wiring and rewiring projects on board BIANKA I use a more robust ratcheting crimper like this one:

It won't release until you have made a good strong crimp. It has three sizes color coded dies for the proper sized insulated connectors. There are no wire stripper blades on it. It is designed to do one thing and that is to make a good solid crimp. It is the right tool for the job when it comes to making crimps on connectors. That's why it's in my electrical tool kit on board.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


A few years ago I decided to take BIANKA on a sail around the Long Island. Things started off fine but, later in the afternoon the wind died and we found ourselves becalmed in the Atlantic Ocean. The crew announced that maybe he would go for a swim since BIANKA was not going anywhere at the moment. At the same instant I spied something over his shoulder heading toward the boat. I said are you sure you want to go for a swim? Take a look behind you. He turned around to see a fin of a shark heading straight for the boat. I came across this  video taken a few years ago in nearby Block Island Sound by a sailor heading for Bermuda that reminded me of that day on BIANKA:

The Real Jaws from Christian on Vimeo.

The shark that headed for BIANKA made a couple of circles around the boat and then disappeared. Needless to say neither of us went swimming that day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Remember that 5 gallon bucket I found on the beach a few days ago? It did not take long for me to find another use for it. After I took BIANKA back to the mooring and tied up in the afternoon I needed to do some errands on shore. I left the sail cover off because I would be pulling the sail off since it is the end of the season.   I was not gone more than an hour and half. But, as I rowed back to the boat I notice not one but two Cormorants perched on the boom. Now I'll have to clean and dry the sail before I stored it for the winter. I should have know better. But, even while I was on board another Cormorant tried to land on the boom but, I chased it off. I had to do something temporarily to try and keep the Cormorants off the boom until the morning. Then I remembered the bucket I found on the beach. I attached a halyard to the handle and attached another line loosely and that led aft to a cleat. I hoisted the bucket until it was just slightly higher than the boom and let it swing there in a lazy arc with the wind and rocking of the boat like this:

The plan was to have it swing over the boom and discourage any further landings on the boom and/or clear off any birds that did manage to land. It worked until I got BIANKA to the dock to clean the sail the next morning. See I told you these buckets come in useful on board.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


It was a chilly night  when I got into my bunk. Temperatures dropped into the thirties. When I awoke in the morning it was hard to get out from under the nice warm comforter in Capt. Mike's cabin. But, I pushed through that phase. Poking my head out of the cabin I saw this:

You know it was a cold night when you see a Sea Smoke fog like this. Also called evaporation fog. Happily, the sun warmed things up soon enough and the fog disappeared. But, the Baroque music I was listening to seemed to complement the scene nicely while it lasted.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Well, the small craft warnings have expired and the winds have died down quite a bit. As the sun started to set in the empty anchorage BIANKA was in this fall day:

I decided to row the Porta Bote to shore and take a little walk along the beach:

I've been on board since last Tuesday so a little stretch of the legs would probably in order on this beautiful autumn afternoon. I stopped to watch The Bridgeport Port Jefferson ferry that was almost aglow in the "magic time" sunlight as it entered the harbor:

It was another "pinch me" afternoon as I enjoyed having the beach all to myself. To top it all off I found some treasure along the way. As I walked the wrack line along the shore I found two washed up items that I could use on board. One was a spray bottle still functioning that can always be used for some cleaning uses on board or at home. Even better was five gallon bucket that also has many uses on board:

 I have five gallon buckets that hold spare pieces of line. Another holds some of my dive equipment. Another bucket sits on the stern and holds fresh water for a rinse off after a swim. Not sure what this one will be used for but, it will be used for something. So my little stroll along the beach helped me and helped the environment by recycling a few more pieces of plastic that otherwise would not have been.
What a wonderful afternoon it was.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


You might be asking by now what I used to get the Cormorant art work off of the sail cover and deck. Well the answer is JOY dishwashing liquid.

Joy dishwashing liquid not only helps wash the dishes on board BIANKA and clean Cormorant poo off it's sailcover and decks. I also use it to lubricate the sail slides before raising the sail. Makes it go up and come down much easier. It also comes in handy when it's time to take a "Joy shower". Since Joy Dishwashing liquid also lathers in salt water it is great for an end of the day shampoo and rinse off the back of the boat followed by a fresh water rinse. It helps save water over a regular on board shower. Because it is such multitasking product BIANKA carries at least one bottle on board because it works.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


"I've got a Brillo Box and I say it's Art!"- John Cale/Lou Reed

 I've been away from BIANKA for three weeks. I was down in Washington D.C. for some of that time. Then recently the weather has not been cooperating for one final cruise of the season. The Nor'easter this past weekend was hemmed and hawed by NOAA all last week because their computers did not agree. So I think I made the right call in not heading out in the small weather windows that were available. When I got back on board the day after Halloween.  I thought that perhaps the ghost spirit of  Jackson Pollock  the abstract expressionist  painter had traveled from the Hamptons and was inspired to create just one more "masterpiece" on my boat like this:

Because when I got back on board BIANKA I found this::

Only instead of using a canvas the spirit of Pollock used my sail cover and deck:

On the other hand it might just be that some Cormorant had found that since most of the boats in the harbor had been pulled for the season it decided it had no choice and decided to alight on my mast. But, then again just maybe Jackson Pollock has been reincarnated as a Cormorant.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


 Here in the northeast U.S. Nor' easter season has now begun.  I've been wanting to get back on board BIANKA and just head out for a mini cruise for a few days but, the weather has not been cooperating and today I'm waiting for a storm to form off North Carolina and head up this way. The Nor' Easters are cold, wet, windy and dangerous weather systems. Ironically the twentieth anniversary of the Halloween Nor'easter that was chronicled in Sebastian Junger's book The Perfect Storm is coming up.

That storm curved back around and developed into a full fledged hurricane. So these systems need to be respected and watched carefully. If you have not read the book  The Perfect Storm it is a good read about how these systems can change rapidly and often with tragic results for anyone who gets caught out at sea in one.  The current forecast calls for a chance of thunderstorms rain and snow with temperatures in the thirties and forties. But, it's the high wind warning that sailors need to be concerned about. High wind warnings of 30 knots and gusts of 50 knots plus should get the attention of any sailor. So I guess I won't be heading out with the boat for a day or two. Though gathering some wood for the fireplace seems like a good idea.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


You say you want to try electric propulsion or maybe your gas powered outboard died and you are tired of getting it repaired. Don't head to the marine store. Head over to the nearest Home Depot or lumber yard and build your own like this fellow did:


Though you might want to carry a few spare batteries with you and make sure you have a set of oars as backup. I don't think it would perform like a  Torqeedo or  an Electric Paddle in terms of efficency but, it might work for your needs and looks like a fun project.

BLOG UPDATE: In 2013 Hurricane Sandy sent my Honda BP2 gas outboard to the bottom. I replaced it with an Electric Paddle outboard. My review of the product starts here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I've found when cruising one does not need to wash a lot of clothes too often. I pretty much live in a couple of pair of Columbia Shorts and some Columbia fishing shirts during the summer.
These can be easily hand washed and dry fast when hung over the life lines. Though every once in a while the availability of a washing machine is a welcome sight for this cruising sailor. Even better is a marina that offers a free use of a washing machine. Like the 79th Street Boat Basin in New York. While I can pretty much get by with doing hand laundry for the shorts and shirts I usually wear. There are some items that are easier to wash in a washing machine. I'm talking about the fitted bed sheets and towels I carry on board along with other clothes like jeans and other long pants. These items require a lot of water and I find are best done in a machine. To me one of the simple pleasures of being on board a boat is climbing into your bunk at night with freshly washed sheets. It's one of those Ahhh moments. So when a washing machine is available I try and take advantage of it.
When I lived on board in New York back in the late nineties I had to walk several blocks to a Laundromat because the marina I was at had no laundry facilities. Not exactly convenient and in addition to the laundry I had to carry the detergent along. Unless I wanted to pay an extra dollar at the Laundromat to buy a box from the vending machine. I also had to find a place on board to store the bulky detergent container. 

 The choices were powder which came in a card board box. Which on a boat has some advantages and disadvantages. For one thing you could use baggies to make single load portions like I did instead of carrying the whole box to the laundry. But, you still had the bulky cardboard box to store on board and the worry that it could get wet and spill it's contents inside a boat locker. You could also use a liquid detergent which is mostly water. It still comes in a bulky container  but, requires you to carry the whole container to the laundry room and means you had a plastic container you would eventually need to dispose of.  I recently discovered and alternative that makes a whole lot of sense for a cruising sailor. It's a laundry product called METHOD.

It's a high concentrated laundry detergent which comes in a pump spray bottle. A 20 oz bottle does 50 loads.  Plus it  takes up a whole lot of less space on board and weighs a lot less than the normal powder or liquid detergents.  You can get refills of METHOD in space saving packaging so you don't keep carrying around extra plastic containers on board and then looking for a place to dispose of them. I bought a bottle over the summer and found it to clean just as well as the detergents I get from the supermarket. Just four pumps provides enough concentrated cleaning for a whole machine load of laundry. It can also be used for spot cleaning and I've also used it for hand washing in a bucket on board with very good results. It takes up less room on board and won't spill like powder laundry detergent can and you are not storing big container of liquid detergent either. To me it just makes a whole lot of sense to carry it on board to do laundry.