Tuesday, August 28, 2012


One year ago I was in Washington D.C. two hundred and fifty miles from my boat as Hurricane Irene traveled up the coast and put BIANKA and the harbor where she was moored on the bad side of the storm. I had spent the previous two days taking off the sails and adding lines and chain to the mooring in the hopes that the boat would survive. I did all I could do and then boarded a train in New York and headed down to DC for a previously planned work gig. It was hard being so far away from the boat and not knowing how it fared. But, everything turned out OK in the end for BIANKA and most of the boats in the  harbor. But, it can not be stressed too often that you need to prepare your boat for such storms as best you can and pay particular attention to try and make sure that lines don't chafe. The video below shows how fast your boat can be gone if you fail to tackle that all important chaffing issue.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


If you ever happen to be sailing around New York Harbor and see an attractive Asian woman climbing over slippery seaweed covered rocks along the shore with a sketch book in her hand chances are it is Christina Sun aka Bowsprite.  She is an artist who covers the waterfront with pen, pencils, water colors and sometimes a camera. She has also been known  swim in places like Gloucester harbor in Massachusetts in November. If you happen to be in New York this week Sun and another waterfront artist named Frank Hanavan are exhibiting their works where else but, on the waterfront. Specifically in an old Lighthouse tender named LILAC  docked at Pier 25 on the Hudson River. Here are the particulars:

"Maritime paintings of Frank Hanavan & illustrations of Christina Sun

Reception: Thursday, August 30, 6 to 10 PM.
Art auction at 8:30pm, portion of all sales go to benefit the Lilac
Music by the Jug Addicts!

Lighthouse tender Lilac is berthed at Pier 25, Hudson River Park
at West Street and N. Moore Street
Subway: Franklin St stop on the 1, Canal St stop on the A/C/E (exit at Walker St.)

The ship will be open  , Sunday 1 to 6pm
Monday, 4 to 7pm  
The show closes on August 31."
So if your are in the New York waters this week and want take in some of the culture of the city without venturing to far from the waterfront you might want to check out the exhibit.

Friday, August 24, 2012


A number of years ago I read the book  Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea by Steve Callahan. A sailor who was sailing across the Atlantic when one night he awoke to find his boat sinking. He had just a few minutes to get into the life raft he had on board and spent the next several months at sea before being rescued. He never did find out what his boat had hit that caused his boat to sink. On a online cruising forum in a discussion of why boats sink I read this:

"When we were in the river system off Brazil ... we had huge logs coming down at speed ... river was doing about 5 knots ... if one of those hit us..." 

 I was reminded of something I saw on the beach of eastern Long Island a few years ago. A large eight foot long log had washed up on the beach and was rolling around in the surf. It look like Mahogany or some other exotic tropical wood. As it rolled around in the surf I wondered how far it had journeyed before it landed on the beach. Perhaps as far away as Brazil. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I installed a Southwest Wind Power Marine Air X 48 volt wind turbine when I installed my Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system back in 2008. It worked reliably 24/7 for over three years. Once I installed it I did not have to think about it. The Marine Air X has some control electronics that I really like. Once the battery bank has reached full charge it shuts down.  Since my 48 volt solar panels manage to keep my 48 volt propulsion bank charged up the Air-X is often shutdown all day. It also will shutdown if wind speeds get to great also. One day I noticed that some of the paint had started to chip off the housing:

 This was not hard to believe as the unit had been exposed to hot summers and freezing winters in a marine environment for almost three years. It was certainly due for a little touch up besides I had to replace two of the blades because they got chipped when my heavy metal boom had accidently hit them. Since the Air X had a three year warranty I called up to see if they covered the paint chipping. To my surprise they did. I had to pay for the shipping to them but, they sent out a replacement Air X right away and I had it within the week. Now that's customer service like it should be. I finally got around to re installing the wind turbine  earlier this season along with a set of new blades.

The Marine Air X is once again back on board keeping my 48 volt electric propulsion bank topped up. I am pleased with the reliability of the unit has given over the years that's why I give it the Capt. Mike What Works approval!

Monday, August 13, 2012


As I mentioned I was away from the boat for over a month thanks to some freelance work that came my way. It will certainly help pay some of the boat expenses. Unfortunately, it was in the wicked city of Washington DC two hundred and fifty miles away from the boat and so I was not able check on the boat. I was expecting the worse and hoping for the best when I finally returned. I was hoping that I would not greeted by a sail cover full of bird poo like I was last fall after being away for three weeks. I had deliberately kept the lines securing the boom a little loose hoping that it's movement would discourage the birds from landing there for long. This plan seemed to work or maybe I was just lucky.

The other area of the boat I expected to have to clean was the prop. Unfortunately, this had met my expectations for a mess. I don't paint my prop with any anti fouling coating as I try to keep metallic interactions to a minimum. I also don't mind diving down below to clean the prop with a paint scrapper on occasion. As you can see in this video below the sponges and barnacles can grow pretty rapidly on a prop that has not turned in over a month. Even a small blackfish seems to like hanging out there. Interesting that the two zinc are relatively clean:

After seeing the job that awaited me I decided to see if I could minimize the cleaning and scrapping I would need to do by using the torque of my electric propulsion system to knock off what marine growth I could. Turning the prop with an EP system for this function is a lot easier than with a diesel engine. One of the nice benefits of electric propulsion is there is no need to warm an EP system up. You just turn the key and run the  throttle back and forth for under a minute. It's not really healthy to turn fire up a diesel and  turn it on and off for such a short time. Electric Propulsion does not care if you just need it for a short burst of power to clear the prop. The video below shows how  my little forward and reverse propulsion routine cleaned away a lot of the marine growth:

I still had to dive down and clean some of the barnacles of with my handy dandy five in one paint scrapper tool. The video below shows what it looked like after a quick cleaning:

Much better but, I found the blade on my scraper blade was a little wobbly due to rust finally having it's way. So it looks like it's time to replace it with a new one.

Perhaps one made from stainless steel next time. So it won't rust out and I can scrap the prop blades with a little more force next time.

Friday, August 10, 2012


"This year’s Atlantic hurricane season got off to a busy start, with 6 named storms to date, and may have a busy second half, according to the updated hurricane season outlook issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The updated outlook still indicates a 50 percent chance of a near-normal season, but increases the chance of an above-normal season to 35 percent and decreases the chance of a below-normal season to only 15 percent from the initial outlook issued in May." -NOAA

I'm hoping that 2012 will not make it a hurricane "hat trick" for BIANKA. I was on board for Hurricane Earl in Three Mile Harbor East Hampton in 2010. Last year it was and even more ferocious Hurricane Irene that made a direct hit on BIANKA's home waters while I could only watch and worry from two hundred and fifty miles away.  In both cases I prepped the boat as much as I could and hoped for the best. Happily, in both situations there was a good out come. But, I had time to do those preparations because I had been keeping a weather eye on hurricane activity thousands of miles away. It's what any prudent mariner would do as we approach peak hurricane season.  

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I bought another BEBI BEKA LED light for the boat. I find it to be a rugged and versatile light for use on board. It can also serve as a backup anchor light should the one on the top of the mast fail at anytime. I've also mentioned before how much I like to use Anderson Power Pole connectors for various uses on board the boat.  So with the new light on board and a spare 12 volt cigarette power plug I came up with an adapter project that will come in useful:

First I used a Crimper made for the Anderson Power Poles to crimp connectors for the BEBI Beka LED light:

I then checked with an ohm meter the positive wire of the cigarette lighter plug. This is important step to make sure you have the correct polarity in the wiring of the connectors. If wrong you could blow a fuse at worse you could have an electrical fire on board. Best to avoid both situations by checking the wiring:

Once the connectors are crimped on the wires they are inserted into the Anderson color coded housing and are ready to go and be used in various configurations on board:

For example I use the BEKA light for nighttime illumination in the cockpit. But, I could also easily add an extension cable between the cigarette plug and the BEKA light and hoist it up the mast as an emergency anchor light if needed.

Friday, August 03, 2012


I have been off BIANKA for a month. For three weeks I was working in the wicked city of Washington doing a free lance work gig. Following that I spent a few days on the beach in Amagansett Long Island with my girlfriend. She enjoys walking along the beach and I stare at the ocean wishing I was out there on BIANKA. With that all behind me I was glad to finally get back on board. After opening the hatches and unloading the dingy it was time for a swim, nap and drink at sunset. My pleasure was enhanced later in the evening when I glanced to the east and saw a beautiful full moon rising over the harbor:

Because I had been off the boat for the month and I had been working and staying on land I had not been paying attention to the tides or the moon. I had been working inside during the day and also spending the nights indoors too. That's why it was such a pleasant surprise to see the moon show up as it did and once again I was glad I was on board BIANKA to see it. Again, the words of  Paul Bowles come to my mind every time I see it:

“... 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.”

I am always glad to see a full moon rise when I am on board. It is such a simple thing but, I appreciate it so much. It just makes me feel good I was able to see it once again.