Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Well, it's been another two weeks since I was on board looking at the issue with the last battery in the string. When I last was on the boat I had charged up the bank fully and removed the Paktraker battery monitor which had been taking it's power from the suspect low battery. So for two weeks only the solar panels had been keeping the bank topped up and there were no parasitic loads off of any individual battery. When I powered up the Dual Pro PS4 battery charger this is what happened:

As you can see within a few seconds all four batteries immediately jumped up into the 90 to 100% range. This seems to indicate that all the batteries are pretty close in balance to one another.  It certainly is much improved situation  from the last time I fired up the charger which you can see here:

This time after an hour of charging all the batteries were fully charged within seconds of each other. The bank has come along way since I first discovered that the low battery in the bank was not able to accept a full charge.   I'm glad I took the time to investigate the reason for that battery's failure to charge fully. It seems to be related to the Paktraker's parasitic load off the suspect battery. Since I removed it from the battery there has been much improvement. The suspect battery has gradually over several weeks has come to be comparable charge wise to the other batteries in the bank. Now it is on par with the other three batteries in terms of charging.  The only thing left to do is to do one final charge and let the bank rest and then load test each battery.  I'll be doing that very shortly.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Since I converted to electric propulsion it's easy to enjoy Earth Day knowing there's not an ounce of diesel fuel left on board that could leak into a shiny sheen onto the waters. I also no longer carry antifreeze that was needed to top up the engine reservoir on occasion. I do still carry about five gallons of gas and a quart of oil for the Honda 2000 generator. But, all in all BIANKA is a lot greener and cleaner than she use to be. So I'm thinking what can I do in honor of Earth Day this year? The answer is RECYCLE! Here's an item on board that looks like the perfect item to recycle:

It's the King Electronics 8001 LORAN receiver. It was on board BIANKA when I bought her in 1995. Took me about two years (finally read the manual) before I finally figured out how useful it was. Then it it became obsolete when the Federal Government shutdown most of the LORAN transmitting stations in February 2010.  It's removal has been on my TODO list for over two years but, somehow I never got around to it until now.  While the electronics in the Kings unit are useless the case that holds them was built to withstand the rigours of the marine environment.  This is what I will recycle to hold some new instrumentation that will monitor my electric propulsion system. I knew there was a reason why I should not just throw it out.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Ever wonder what would happen if the boat next to you were to explode. Simon on the S.V. GOODONYA has some photos of the morning wake up call he got.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I've been away for two weeks as some freelance work suddenly appeared. But, before I left I went down to the boatyard to check on BIANKA before traveling. There just like last year were the first signs that the boating season has begun:

I sighted the first boat tied to it's mooring. A reminder it's time to get moving and start prepping BIANKA for her launch in about a month. With work behind me it's time to drag out the small cooler, make some sandwiches, chill some bottles of beer and spend a few days down in the boatyard working on board.   

Saturday, April 14, 2012


The hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic has me thinking back to BIANKA's time in New York. I was living on board BIANKA in New York back in the 1990's while working in that city.  The piers that once lined the Hudson River were for the most part in various forms of decay. Some were nothing but, bare pilings poking up from the water at low tide. They were remnants of the golden days of transatlantic passenger travel and bulk shipping. Some of the piers had been converted to other uses which is how BIANKA came to be docked at Pier 59.  Pier 59 is now part of the Chelsea Piers Sports complex which includes a marina which was where I docked BIANKA for five years:

Pier 59 was also going to be the destination of the Titanic when it completed it's maiden voyage across the Atlantic. It never made it. But, parts of it did. When the rescue ship the Carpathia bought the survivors of the Titanic to New York it first stopped at Pier 59 to drop off the Titanic lifeboats that it had acquired in the rescue efforts.

I also often walked past Pier 54 where the rescued passengers of the Titanic disembarked from the Carpathia. New York City actually has quite a few sites which are linked to the Titanic tragedy. You can see a very good tour of them here and here.

For a look at what happened to the ship that night on the Atlantic one hundred years ago:

and some what it looks like lying on the bottom:

Friday, April 06, 2012


Well, the off season projects are starting to back up. One project I've put near the top of the list is to re-varnish the boats cockpit table.

 It's been over ten years since I last varnished the folding cockpit table on BIANKA. The eight or nine coats I put on at the time have held up pretty good. But, sun and weather have finally taken their toll on some parts of it.

So it's time to strip it down and re varnish it.  Like painting most of the work is in the preparation. A small folding table for a boat is no exception. After removing it from the boat one needs to remove all the hardware and screws:

Once the hardware has been removed it's time to strip off the old varnish. There are a number of ways to do this. You can use various liquid varnish strippers.  I found it is faster and easier just using a hand scraper and a heat gun:

Here is a video of how quick and easy this method really is:

Once you get started the stripping goes very fast and there is no drying time like with the chemical strippers. I had the whole table stripped in about a half hour.

Monday, April 02, 2012

TOOLS OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR: Anderson Powerpole Connectors

BIANKA has several places where I can tap into the boats 12 volt house battery bank to use external electronic devices. Unfortunately, they are the standard 12 volt cigarette lighter type of sockets.

 Which work but, not always reliably. The plugs can sometimes easily disconnect or just make a poor contact. Normally it's not a big problem but, as has happened if my Engel Fridge Freezer gets disconnected and I don't notice it it can mean a few spoiled meals or warm beers. Looking around for some better connectors to use for some electrical projects. I came upon these Anderson Powerpole Connectors 
They are used by a lot of Ham Radio Operators for connecting power to their radio setups. They make for quick and easy connections. The contacts wipe across each other as you connect and disconnect them which helps keep the contacts clean . Which helps make low resistance connections and means less power is wasted and connections more reliable. Which is not always the case with the cigarette lighter type sockets.
Anderson makes various Power Pole connector models including connectors that have ratings into several hundred amps. In fact BIANKA already had several larger 75 Amp Anderson Power Pole connectors used in connecting the solar panels, wind generator and battery charger into the electric propulsion controller box:

However the ones I'm using most on board for my projects are the three lowest amperage connectors they make:

All three of these connectors fit  the same Power Pole housing but, accommodate different gauge of wire sizes. All three can be interconnected with each other too.

After crimping the wires into the connector you simply insert them into the plastic housing from the rear:

 until it snaps over a metal locking tab on the inside  front the case making for a secure connection that won't pull out:

Another nice thing about the Anderson Connectors is you can slide them together to make nice modular power plugs. You can insert a small pin in the hole between the connectors:

to keep them mated or put a dab of glue too on them too. Though I have found the stay mated pretty good without doing either of those things.

Another nice thing about Anderson Power Pole connectors is that the cases are available in a variety of colors:

Which comes in handy if you have a boat like BIANKA which in addition the a 12 volt house bank also has has a 48 volt propulsion bank and various external devices like solar panels and a wind turbine that operate  at 48 volts. I like that I can use a different color cases to make sure that the proper devices get connected to up to others with the proper voltage.

Another nice thing about Anderson connectors is that you can make up mult cables easily when you need them to power multiple electric devices from one outlet:

The above mult was made using three 15 amp connectors (note they have not been inserted into their proper cases yet)  on the left and a 30 amp connector on the right already inserted into a case. These mults are much less bulky than trying to use one of these 12 volt cigarette type of mults. 

Here is a photo of a completed mult:

and when the Anderson Connectors are mated together:

The Anderson connectors are more reliable too.
 Anderson connectors are not waterproof so I would not use them in the bilge or any areas where they could be submerged. But, in areas where you currently have cigarette type of sockets  they will allow for smaller, reliable and more secure connections.  I've got a few electric projects planned on board and will be showing how I use the Anderson Power Pole connectors  in future posts.