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.