Thursday, March 31, 2011


Since I was kind of in a rush to finish the conversion to electric propulsion back in 2008 some things did not get installed as well as they should have at first. One of the things that was done in a temporary install was the electric propulsion speed control. Which at first was just secured with Ty Wraps as you can see here:

  Also the wires for the control ran across the cockpit deck into a hole on the side. Not the best way to operate for long. It worked  fine but, a more permanent solution had to be done. But, how should I run the wiring to the pedestal location where the electric motor control would be? The controls for the diesel engine were run through the pedestal and were wire linkages to the engine. I did not really like the idea of running the wires through this same route. It was tight and there were things like chains moving as one turned the helm to steer. If it chafed through the propulsion control cables who knows what could happen. It also would be very inaccessible. So I borrowed and idea from a fellow Nonsuch owner who ran a separate piece of conduit next to the helm for his pedestal mounted Loran unit.  I modified my design a little where as his was aft of the wheel I choose to install mine just forward of the wheel. Here is what I did. First I marked the location where I would be drilling the access hole in the deck next to the Edson pedestal making sure I would not be cutting into any stringers or supports below deck:

Next I drilled the hole and routered out and sealed the deck core with thickened West System Epoxy so no damage or delamintion would occur  if there should be any water leakage:

The fitting I used I was used a standard deck water fill fitting:

I removed the chain and fitted and secured it into the deck.
The photo above shows the fitting before the securing and chalking but, you get the idea. Then went to the local Ace hardware store and found a PVC fitting that would screw into the deck fitting: 

I then glued this fitting onto a piece of PVC pipe of the length I wanted using PVC cement:

I then screwed the pipe into the deck fitting using some Teflon tape on the threads before I did to help seal the threads. From then on it was simply running the wires down the  pipe from the helm. I used the wire pull rods I carry on board to help make this a little easier:

Hard to see in the photo below but, I cut a small slot down the side of the top of PVC pipe to allow for the wires (NOTE: I also created a drip loop so water would not run down the wires into the boat) and fitted the top with a removable PVC cap that allows for the easy installation of more wires or removal of existing ones as needed:

The nice feature of using this conduit is you can add and modify wiring to the helm as needed. Since I did the original install for the electric propulsion throttle control I added wires for a helm mounted GPS and 12 volt power outlet:
There are still a few more projects to follow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


As Bob Dylan said so well: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Lately I became a little more suspect about what I hear from NOAA on the VHF and it's forecasts having been surprised one two many times in my travels. Since they digitized the voice of the forecasters one can never really tell who is making the forecast if anyone. I use to know the trusted forecasters by their voice. Not anymore.  The digital Mr. NOAA aka Perfect Paul sounds the same all the time. Reading the forecasts online does not help much either especially when you read more and more things like "because the computer models diverge forecast is tricky" seems like they are relying more on the computers than knowledge and experience. So I use the NOAA forecast like we used the paper routines/scripts when I worked in live television. Somewhere on the page were these words of warning "This is merely a guide" Meaning things can change. So I have more and more started to become my own weather forecaster. Thanks to the Internet we sailors who can connect to it can now get a lot of the same data the NOAA folks do. I've been using the NOAA site to collect some data but, a fellow named Allen Edwards has put together a really great free weather site at for sailors that has all the weather info you could want in just a few clicks. Watch his video demo and  then try it:

One page and you've got the wind speeds, forecasts, weather maps and radar and what I find most important nearby buoy data. Plus you can edit it to your needs too.  Allen has done a great job of compiling all the info a sailor might need at  and so he gets a Capt. Mike tip of the hat!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Honeywell HW2000i 2,100 Watt 125cc 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator (CARB Compliant)

I've been very happy with the HONDA 2000i generator that has been charging both the 12 volt and 48 volt battery banks on board BIANKA for the past three years. It is also able to push BIANKA along at around 3 knots using electric propulsion. All this and the only maintenace I've had to do is an oil change. Color me a happy customer.  Meanwhile, down in the Carribbean Bob at BOAT BITS & Shelia have had their Honda 2000i develop a more serious problem. One that probably involves the inverter module a $650 part on a $1000 generator. Which is in the "ouch" range in terms of repair. Meanwhile when they looked around they came upon a Honda knock off in the Honeywell HW 2000i generator. Which for just a little more cost than the Honda part would mean they would have a brand new generator.  So they bought it. It arrived with a broken plastic bracket that held the carburetor. Well ship(ing) does happen. [BLOG UPDATE: Bob informs me that part that arrived broken was actually the metal elbow that fixes the carb throat.] Doing the economics Bob wisely decided rather than ship the brand new generator back from the Carribbean for repair it would be cheaper to have the part shipped in and install it himself. Which is what he did. But, less than month later a new wrinkle developed as Shelia reports in this post in ALL ABOUT BOATS.   While changing the spark plug does not in my book constitute a major repair and Bob reports the Honeywell is now purring like a kitten though a little noiser than the Honda. It does raise a quality control issue in my mind regarding the Honeywell. Especially since my Honda 2000i generator has been  purring along for three years with the same spark plug. Still, I'm not one to tempt fate for too long. I think I'll be ordering a spark plug or two and a few other spare parts for the Honda just to be on the safe side.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


 On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It's a super "perigee moon"--the biggest in almost 20 years.
"The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993," says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. "I'd say it's worth a look."

and there is another reason to enjoy this entertainment from the universe as Paul Bowles reminds us:

“... we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I sent an email to Greg at ELECTRIC SEAS knowing that he is currently on Okinawa Island in Japan. I was concerned to see how he survived the Earthquake and Tsunami there. I was surprised at his response. Every thing was OK in Okinawa. They did have a tsunami warning issued but, he did not  "even feel as much as a ripple" on his boat in the harbor there. That was not the case in Santa Cruz California. Where even some relatively small tsunami waves shows how destructive a force it really is:

And it's not only the waves that cause the damage: Capt Mike CAUTION: Videos contains strong language:

And sometimes Neptune mysteriously does protect some boats like the one here named "High Roller":

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


For some reason the song VAHEVALA by Loggins and Messina popped into my head yesterday. It got me thinking why don't I have that on my IPOD shuffle to have in my sailing mix. Why not indeed? And while I'm at it how about Sailin' The wind too!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

LESSON LEARNED: Fear and Panic in East Hampton

"I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed."-Hunter S.Thompson

I was thinking about a situation that occurred last year after I rode out Hurricane Earl in East Hampton's Three Mile Harbor . A few days later I decided to leave and head back to BIANKA's home port before the winds shifted in a few days. Looking at the Eldridge Tide and Pilot  book I knew I would have to get an early start to make sure I would make it through Plum Gut with a favoring current. So I awoke at 3:45 am and got ready to head out.  Normally I would start my Honda 2000 generator to power the 12 volt  battery charger. This helps lighten the load on the 12 volt battery bank when using the electric windlass. But, since it was the middle of the night and I did not want to disturb the other boats around me I just used the battery bank and windlass alone to raise the anchor.  After that was done I silently used my electric propulsion system to move the boat to the channel that lead to Gardiners Bay. When I was in the channel I fired up the Honda and  plugged in the 48 volt Zivan charger for the propulsion bank. I watched as the lights  came on that told me it was putting out some amps into the bank. I then turned on my Pro Mariner 12 volt 30 amp charger to help replenish the amps lost from raising the anchor. Everything was fine for a few minutes when all of a sudden I heard the Honda sputter and then rev just a little, It was still running but, I glanced at the indicator light for the 48 volt Zivan charger and it was out. Panic spread over me. I though the charger had died or at the very least a fuse had blown inside. What should I do? Do I continue in the hope that I don't need the charger to help provide the extra power for the propulsion bank. I do have a back up charger that I can use to charge the bank but, it can't be used  to help propel the bank like the ZIVAN NG-1 can. Do I turn around and go back and anchor to work on the problem? If I do I will probably miss the favoring current at Plum Gut.  I had a few fearful moments as I pondered what I should do.  I hated the idea of missing the current at Plum Gut because it might mean I would have to wait out several days until the wind shifted again. On the other hand having a fully operational auxiliary propulsion system was important too and since I was sailing alone it would be hard to work on it while underway. It turns out that my initial fears were entirely misplaced. There was nothing wrong with the 48 volt Zivan Power supply at all. In fact all systems were working fine. It took me a few minutes after my initial panic to figure out what had happened. What had actually happened is the circuit breaker on the Honda Generator had tripped. When that happens the generator does not stop running. The breaker just trips and stops supply power to the outlets. So in my mind when I heard the generator still running and saw that the lights for the 48 volt Zivan power supply were out I assumed there was something wrong with the charger. But, why did the breaker trip? Because I only used battery power to the windlass when raising the anchor I had drawn down the 12 volt battery bank a little more than usual. So when I was using the generator to charge that bank and then also plugged in the 48 volt Zivan charger it was too much current draw for the generator so the breaker tripped. The solution was to reset the breaker and just either charge the 12 volt bank or use the 48 volt Zivan charger but, not both. Which is what I did and happily I made it through Plum Gut before the current change and learned a lesson once again about not panicking when something goes wrong because it may not be as bad as you first think it is.
 "Everthings gonna be alright."- Bob Marley