Saturday, July 30, 2011


I'm no philatelist when it comes to postage. But, the U.S. Post Office has released a new series of  "forever" postage stamps that will warm the heart of any sea sailing letter writer. It's a series of stamps that memorializes the U.S. Merchant Marine:
You can buy them online here. I plan to get a pack to carry on board for those postcards sent from the various U.S. ports I might visit with Bianka. Beats the pine cone ones I currently have.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Recently I decided to head off on a little cruise even though Mr. NOAA was only calling for very light winds of under 5 knots for the day. Surely,  I thought with the land temperature in the nineties the usual afternoon sea breeze would kick in. It didn't.
I dropped off the mooring early in the morning and began motoring out of the harbor at about 1.5 knots using around 7 amps from the battery. I use this speed as I work around the boat raising sail etc... before heading out of the harbor. I raised sail and decided to keep the throttle at that position to cancel any prop drag in the light winds expected. As I headed out of the harbor and picked up a favoring current I was soon moving along at about three to four knots. Not bad. I motor sailed or as some with boats using Electric Propulsion systems like to say "electro sailed" for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours in this manner. Interesting thing about electro sailing is that even though I started out in the harbor using about 7 amps as the light breeze filled the sail intermittently the current consumption drop quite a bit as the breeze picked up. When the battery capacity had dropped to 90% I start thinking about firing up the Honda 2000 generator and using the 16 amps from the ZIVAN NG-1 charger to motor along at about 3 knots with very little help from the wind.   I adjust the throttle so there is zero current being drawn from the battery. Since the wind looked like it was not going to be much help at all I moved the generator forward away from the cockpit with the exhaust facing out off the lee side. The Honda 2000 is quieter than my four stroke dingy outboard but, it is not completely silent either but, at 47 pounds is light enough to moved easily. I continued this operation for most of the day for a total of about 37 nautical miles. Finally late in the afternoon about two nautical miles from my destination an afternoon sea breeze finally kicked in and I enjoyed at least some nice sailing up until I was able to drop my anchor. Checking on the battery after the trip I still had 90% capacity left in the bank. All in all it was a fine day for an electro sail.

Friday, July 22, 2011


This summer I went swimming,
This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around, I moved my arms around.

I have a land based friend who likes to go swimming. But, he will only go to his nearby beach to swim at high tide or two hours either side of it. Something about the rocky, slippery shoreline at low tide prevents him from getting in the water at that time. I on the other hand can be anchored just off that same beach and swim whenever I damn well please. An important consideration when temperatures here around the Isle of Long are approaching the 100 degree mark along with high humidity. Today I took the plunge four times starting a little after 7 AM and the last one just before sunset. Tomorrow will be another scorcher for those on land. If your looking for me chances are I'll be in the water.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


While there are things on board that can wait to be done like my overflowing project box. Then are somethings that are on the must do/ASAP list. Like repairing the oars for my Porta Boat dingy. I've mentioned before how I am really glad I purchased my Porta Boat dingy and am surprised that I don't see more of them on cruising sail boats. Mine has worked well for ten years despite the abuse I give it. That's ten years of folding and unfolding dragging it up on rocky Isle of Long beaches etc. So I should not have been surprised when heading back to the boat from a grocery trip one of the oars started to separate despite my gaffer tape fix of a few years ago. So after ten years in a salt water environment it was obviously time to fix the oar in a more permanent fashion.

The Porta Boat's lightweight  oars are made up of aluminum and plastic. They are also meant to be taken apart for easy storage:

What holds them together is a metal pin locking tab which several years ago rusted away hence my Gaffers Tape repair that held up for several years. I probably could have extended it's life rinsing the oars with fresh water from time to time but, like I said the dingy and the oars were not treated with kid gloves by me. So it goes.

The first step was to clean the oar pieces a little where they joined together:

I used some denatured alcohol and a 3M Scrubber pad to remove some of the tarnish on the pieces:

Since I never really took apart the oars in ten years as they were just thrown into the back of the car with the other pieces of the Porta Boat. I did not need to be concerned with ever taken them apart. I used some West System Gflex epoxy mixed with some low density filler smeared it around the oar pieces where they joined together and pushed them together. After the Epoxy cured I wrapped some more gaffers tape around the joint for good measure and to cover the hole where the pin use to be. The tape will help prevent water from getting inside the oar tubes through the locking pin hole:

I was thinking instead of using the gaffers tape I might have used some safety reflective tape instead. I would have served the same purpose but, might have provided a little more visibility when rowing through an anchorage at night. It certainly would not hurt.

CAPT. MIKE SIDE NOTE: I had an interesting discovery when using the Gflex Epoxy for this repair. I placed a scrap piece of plexiglass I had on board under the oar joint to catch any of the epoxy that leaked out of the joint. I found that the Gflex was stuck pretty tenaciously to the Plexiglass it dripped on. I also found that the epoxy also flexed rather well when I bent the plexiglass as shown below:

These properties of the Gflex epoxy gave me some ideas of using it on some future projects on board which I'll post about later.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I was hoping to do a post tonight about a recent repair on board BIANKA. But the speed of my internet connection is about as slow as bucking a Hell Gate current. I'm not even using a WIFI connection! Even here on the Isle of Long things can get weird.  All I did was up anchor and move across the harbor so I would not be anchored off a lee shore for the night and my connection speed dropped into the frustration level. Led Zepplin tunes are playing in my head namely Communication Breakdown
Led Zeppelin 1

So I think I'll just go up on deck and look at the stars instead.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Tonight I was once again reminded why being on a boat is different from the normal routine. When on land many people may not notice a lot of things around them as they  shuffle from cars, trains etc... into rooms with artifical lights and wall size LCD TV screens . BIANKA does not have such distractions so when the full moon comes up over the harbor as it did tonight it really gets my attention:

and this passage from The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles always comes to mind:

“... 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.” 

and this night I'm also reminded I need to download some Old and In The Way tunes  which has also come to mind on a night like this.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I was thinking about the late Spalding Grey recently. He used to perform a monologue on stage called MONSTER IN A BOX which was about a cardboard box in which he put in scraps of paper with writings and thoughts to use in future performances. It sounds like it eventually became so full that it must have terrified him to begin to go through it.  I don't have a "monster in a box" on board but, I do have a "project box" that holds items for various projects in one place so I can find the easily and that box is now over flowing.

It's not terrifying just sometimes hard to get started. I think it is easier to work on these projects in the off season because when one is on board with the boat in the water it is easy to get distracted by things.   I  might have some good intentions to start a project but, while having my coffee I might spend twenty minutes watching an Osprey hovering around the harbor looking to snag an unsuspecting fish from above. Only to see it get chased off by a small black bird when the Osprey got a little to close to it's territory.  Then the lines of a Ketch sailing by might get my attention as a fine looking craft:

Then a I might decide to spend some time to checking emails and posting to this blog. All of sudden a swim might seem like a good idea, followed by lunch, a nap and another swim. Pretty soon it's too late to start on the project as it's time for some afternoon boat drinks, prepare dinner and to watch the sunset.  As the refrain from Bruce Hornsby song goes "It's just the way it is."

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I would hope that no sailors actually experience a mast failure. Though some of us already have . Some curious sailors over at Yachting TV in the U.K have done this on purpose. You can see the video here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


"The fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight"- Bruce Springsteen
While the firworks were pretty impressive from my view in the cockpit. I could not help thinking about the sunset show that nature put on before the man made event last night which was also impressive:

While a man made rocket will dazzle our senses for a few seconds before rapidly fading. The show that nature puts on lasts for a long time and the best thing is I never have to wait for one day a year to enjoy it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011



 “Age is my alarm clock,” the old man said. “Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”“I don’t know,” the boy said. “All I know is that young boys sleep late and hard.”
 It was fifty years ago today that writer Ernest Hemingway known around Key West as Papa Hemingway took his own life in Ketchum Idaho.  A place far away from the sea and places like Key West where he wrote many of his novels. Novels like TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT . A novel that takes place in Key West during the depression. It was later made into a movie with Humphrey Bogart and Laureen Bacall. Mariners and the sea play an important role in some of his most famous writing. Like the OLD MAN AND THE SEA  published in 1952 and was the last novel published while he was alive. It was the tale of an old Cuban fisherman a little down on his luck having not caught a fish in over eighty plus days. He was viewed as such a "Jonah" that the parents of his young apprentice refused to let their son get on a boat with him. It too was made into a several movie versions staring Spencer Tracy and Anthony Quinn.
Another Hemingway novel that takes place on the water is ISLANDS IN THE STREAM was published almost ten years after his death.  This story takes place around the waters of Bimini in World War II. A movie was made from it with George C. Scott.  Hemingway certainly knew the sea having spent a lot of time on it fishing on his boat Land And Sea Collection "Hemingway's PILAR Sport Fish Finished Model" Collector quality and a reasonable pricePilar  which is still on display in Cuba. During WWII he also used it to patrol the waters around Cuba looking for German U boats and probably doing some fishing too no doubt. I wonder if he might not have taken his own life had he remained near the waters he enjoyed and spent so much time on and where he had been so productive in his writings.