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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Bob at BOAT BITS has some interesting numbers and comments regarding sails and the amount of horsepower they provide to a sailboat.  Including some French perspective on motoring and sailing:

"The French, who know a thing or two about sailboats, call motorsailers "50's" (seldom used as a positive) to designate that they share sail and power at a 50% ratio. These days, with cheap HP available, nearly all modern sailboats would qualify as motorsailers... Something to keep in mind."

I'll say! Which may explain this scene that I came across more than a few times in my cruises this summer:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Bob who writes the BOAT BITS blog and I were amused that we happen to write about antifouling strategies on the same day. Bob has written before about an impulse purchase at a European boat show that turned out to be pretty effective in controlling growth on the boat bottom. He recently posted about finding a similar electronic system that costs less than half of what I have to pay the boatyard every year for a bottom painting on BIANKA. You can read about Bob's discovery and his very good description of how it works here at his Boat Bits blog. But, before you go and order the system one needs to read the fine print:

"Works with aluminium and fibreglass boats (not suitable for timber, ferro cement or fibreglass foam sandwich construction)"

If your boat meets the conditions for use. It might save you a lot of work when cleaning the bottom or dollars buying expensive antifouling paint. At the very least it's cheaper than a gallon of good bottom paint and might be worth a try. Some assembly required.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


It's getting a little cold these days to go and check the bottom of the boat. Some areas of the country like Washington State going after recreational boaters and preventing them from using copper based anti fouling paint. Why? Because they can. Meanwhile, they don't say boo to the commercial vessels in their waters. But there is some good news:

"Multi-seasonal barnacle (Balanus improvisus) protection achieved by trace amounts of a macrocyclic lactone (ivermectin) included in rosin-based coatings"

A research paper of the stuff can be found here. Even better news is that Ivermectin is already very available for boaters and anyone else that may want to make their own antifouling paint. More states may follow with the copper ban. But, if they come for my Gam Pro 6 in 1 Paint Scraper they will have to pry it out of my (hopefully not dead) hands.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


I often anchor in waters where the bayman work. They head out in their workboats and skiffs with long aluminum clam rake poles. They spend hours scratching Davey Jones back for clams, mussels and oysters. I hear the jangle of the shellfish and rocks they pull up when they dump the rakes contents onto the sorting table as I have my morning coffee. It's a unique sound and one that you will only hear if you are on or near the water where the bayman are working. It looks like hard and lonely work. Except maybe for this bayman who seems to have a friend on board pointing out the way to the next mussel bed:

As those who fish on these waters know. You can learn a lot from birds.

Monday, October 03, 2011


A reader of this blog reminded me of another video I had seen recently regarding regen. Though it's not often that BIANKA will hit 7 knots under sail but, I'm happy when it does. But, this video of a test by ASMO MARINE shows what can be achieved by regen in the right conditions:

Interesting that they achieved this with a two blade folding prop too!