Wednesday, October 31, 2012

HURRICANE SANDY: DAY THREE: AFTERMATH

Woke up and was still without power. A tall tree in the neighbors backyard fell down sometime during the night. But,it fell in the best possible direction away from all the houses but, did land on the power and cable wires. But, at least it did not come through my bedroom. I headed to the harbor. Most streets were pretty clear though trees and shrubs on peoples property were knocked down. Getting on the main roads which were pretty clear but, it seemed every other traffic light was out. I drove passed the gas station where I filled the car yesterday and it was closed because of the power outage.

The road I took yesterday to the harbor was now blocked by a tree across the road as was a second route I would sometime use. I backed tracked and tried a third route and it was clear. As I approached the harbor I could see BIANKA's distinctive catboat mast and boom. She did not seem to be where I left her but, at least she was vertical and not on the shore. It was low tide and I was able to drive around the large puddles left over from the previous high tides. As I came closer I could see BIANKA had dragged across the channel and west by about thousand feet. But, she was floating and it looked like the mooring lines were still connected though I could not see the mooring bouy which was underwater. Though it appear it seemed to have snagged on another mooring as it dragged.  So that at least was good news.

The boatyard was empty except for the mechanic who had just got a generator working as they had no power. He mentioned they found my Porta Boat dingy which I left at the dock with the Honda BP2 outboard on it was found overturned. The outboard is somewhere in the water as it fell off. The dock it was connected is in two pieces and no longer connected to the work barge. There were several boats on the shore:
I walked the docks while I was also keeping an eye on BIANKA as the southeast winds continued to gust. There was still a lot of damage even on boats that were secured:



I drove on the shore road to see Long Island Sound looking as peaceful as I had ever seen it. With the southerly winds it would have been a fine day to sail today:

Unlike the raging scene from yesterdays post it was very benign. The parking lot however looked more like a beach than a paved lot:

 See all this sand and and rocks in the parking lot got me wondering how the entrance to the harbor might have changed as a result of the storm.

I spent several hours keeping an eye on BIANKA which was floating in a location across the harbor different from where I left her on Sunday night:

It was still blowing but, she seemed to be holding in position. Though I did not know how well the mooring lines were holding up. It was still blowing 20 to 25 out of the southeast so rowing was out of the question. Too bad the outboard is in the drink. I came up with a plan while waiting at the marina. Since I had no power at the house and I had an ENGEL freezer on board. Not only that I had all the power I would need thanks to BIANKA's three legged stool of power. That being solar, Marine Air-X wind turbine and the Honda 2000 generator. So I decided to wait for the winds to subside and empty the freezer at home and bring the items to the boat and put the in the ENGEL. I'd also move on board which is pretty much where I've been anyway. The only problem is I'd have to wait because as like yesterday to single road out was flooded at high tide:

After the water subsided I headed back to the house took emptied the freezer and came back to the boatyard. The winds had calmed down quite a bit by then I was able to row out to BIANKA's new location and load up the freezer on board. It's also means that I'll have my dining plans set for a few days as I use up the frozen items. The menu last was steamed Snow Crab Legs with melted butter along with Mussels and I think I'll throw in some shrimp into the mix too:


Yumm!  Life is good! Looks like lunch today will be steamed shrimp!

Though after getting back to the boat  I found it was not totally undamaged. I'll be showing what I found when I got on board in the next post.

MORE TO FOLLOW


Monday, October 29, 2012

HURRICANE SANDY: DAY TWO

I woke up after a restful sleep and things were pretty quiet. But, that's because of triple pane argon filled windows can insulate the sounds pretty good. not like being on the boat where your senses are well aware of what's going on with the weather.  Looking at the trees through the window I could see things were starting to blow a  harder than last night as Hurricane Sandy approaches. I went to the dentists office where of course I found out that the dentist would not be in because of the storm so I decided to drive to the harbor where BIANKA was moored. Since it was 9 AM I thought there was a pretty good chance I could get there since high tide was not until 12 noon. But, I was wrong:


There use to be a road underneath that rising water.  Notice the sign on the left. The bad news is this was taken at 9:30 am and high tide would be at 12 noon. I turned around and took another route. But, that was starting to flood too! However, I took a chance and after I got through parts that were starting to flood. I found the road to the boatyard blocked by town vehicles. I was able to park and get a glimpse of BIANKA which was still floating in the same place I left her last night despite the increase in winds. I could not stay long as the waters were rising and I had to get the car out of there before I would be trapped. Here is a little look of what it was like heading back along the harbor road. Again, this was two hours before the days high tide:


Here is some video I took of  Long Island Sound raging like an ocean. The beach was entirely covered and water was lapping at the parking lot. Again, this was two and half hours BEFORE high tide:



The bad news is this is just the start of the major part of the storm. I don't know when I'll be able to get back near BIANKA I just hope she is floating somewhere in the harbor when I do.

BLOG UPDATE MONDAY 5:45PM:
I've tried contact the boatyard several times today and there is no answer. That's not good news as they maybe busy trying to save the docks, boats etc... I was hoping they might get a visual on BIANKA and let me know if she is still where she is supposed to be. The flooding this morning was not a good sign. Then this "Special Weather Statement" came from NOAA:
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED WINDS UP TO 110 MPH
BETWEEN 1500 AND 3000 FEET. SOME OF THESE VERY STRONG...DAMAGING
WINDS WILL OCCASIONALLY REACH THE SURFACE...PRODUCING GUSTS OF
70-90 MPH ACROSS THE NEW YORK CITY METROPOLITAN AREA...LONG
ISLAND...AND SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT THROUGH 8 PM. THE GUSTS TO THESE
LEVELS WILL BE MORE FREQUENT OVER SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT AND 
LONG ISLAND THAN OVER THE NEW YORK CITY METRO AREA. 

Uh oh just lost power again!  I keep thinking that BIANKA with it's wind turbine has all the power I would need. Better sign off for now and save my laptop power.





Sunday, October 28, 2012

HURRICANE SANDY: The Good News and the Bad News

Well, there really is no good news other than I had a good nights sleep on board dreaming about being on a barge trip somewhere in India. Though, I was happy to feel how the boat was laying at the mooring in the 20 to 25 knot winds we were already having. Because when the expected wind chart for this area looks like this it is not good news:


I have never seen the expected wind gusts for this area ever go off the charts before. Like I said there is not a lot of good news. So the I at least took comfort that BIANKA was behaving well in the 25 knot winds this morning. That good feeling did not last long. As I was having my coffee in the cockpit a fellow motored by in a sailboat. Not sure where he came from but, he was aiming for the mooring directly in front of BIANKA. That mooring had had a lightweight power boat on it all summer. I let the fellow know that the mooring was not quite as heavy as it might appear. He thanked me and proceeded to pick up the mooring next to BIANKA. Well, so much for having a little extra space around the boat. But, it gets worse he proceeds to attach a fairly light weight line to the mooring pennant line which added quite a bit of scope:
I advised him to look at some of the other boats in the harbor and see the way the currents were pointing them in different directions in spite of the 20 plus knot winds. I said the harbor currents will swing the boats in odd directions so he will be hitting my boat and/or the boat next to him and he should tighten up on that line.  Which he did. Since he had no dingy I asked him if he was going to be on board. No he would be swimming ashore was his answer.   Which was also not good news. Though he did shorten his lines, he never installed any chafing gear nor did he pick up the second pennant line on the mooring line which you can see hanging in the water:
He seemed in a hurry to get off. He flagged down a fellow in skiff passing by and was soon gone. Since he did not even bother to pick up the second pennant line and did not double up on the thin lines he had used to connect to the mooring pennant line I would be surprised that the boat will still be here after Sandy comes by.   Truth is I'm not so sure BIANKA will be here after the storm too. Like I said there is not a lot of good news this morning.


BLOG UPDATE SUNDAY 1 PM:
Well there is some good news. We've gone through one high tide cycle and things seem to be near normal. The wind gust measured on Long Island Sound have hit 34 knots. But, BIANKA and the other boats seem to be ok and no none has dragged or ended up on the shore so far. Of course we are still 24 hours away from Sandy's biggest impact. But, so far so good.

BLOG UPDATE SUNDAY 5 PM:
Well the wind has kicked up a notch. The 48 volt Marine Air X wind turbine is showing 3 amps more and more when it kicks in. Earlier it was riding between one and two amps. Winds are gusting on Long Island Sound in the 30 knot range and it is supposed to increase further. But, the seagulls are still flying and evry once in awhile there is a comforting lull but,  not for long. The good news is I don't see the boat dragging and there's no chafe at the bow. I have a dentists appointment in the morning to repair a broken cap made before this mess started. So I will be getting off the boat to take care of that. I hope. Rowing in these conditions would be crazy so I had to dig out the Honda BP2 outboard and put it on the dingy. Let me tell you things seem a lot worse at dingy level than in BIANKA's cockpit. After I added fuel  I was glad to see the outboard started after sitting dormant for two years. Now to get to shore and hope I'll be able to get back on tomorrow. But, that could be a big if at this point. But, at least I feel confident BIANKA is handling these conditions ok. But, the real test comes tomorrow afternoon. It will be a long twenty four hours.

BLOG UPDATE SUNDAY 9PM
Well I'm back on land after taking the dingy to a nearby marina dock. Even thought the winds had increased further as I step off the boat the good news is I was actually able to row and never had to fire up the outboard. The dock was about 1/4 mile to the northwest with the winds blowing out of the Northeast I was able to crab my way to the marina quite easily. Going the other way would be another story. Good to know for the future. Getting into the dingy and loading it with things I wanted to bring to shore was the hard part. Slightly dicey I would say. But, once underway it was nice enough.
While heading home with the first sprinkles starting to wet the windshield the lyrics of the Grateful Dead song  Box of Rain began to play in my head:

Look out of any window, any morning, any evening, any day. 
Maybe the sun is shining, birds are singing, 
No rain is falling from a heavy sky. 
What do you want me to do, to do for you to see you through? 
For this is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon, long ago. 


Getting out of the car a few miles inland I was struck by how gentle the wind felt to what I was experiencing on BIANKA all afternoon. It was a smooth warm breeze while the winds at the harbor were much more cold and raw. They were not as constant either further inland. I must not be fooled by this difference while I am away from the boat. A reality check came from the NOAA forecast discussion which of course was not good news:



AS SANDY MOVES NORTH AND THEN NORTHWEST...AND TRANSITIONS FROM A
HURRICANE TO A SEVERE POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE BEFORE LANDFALL...IT
WILL INTENSIFY AND ITS WIND FIELD WILL CONTINUE TO EXPAND...WITH
SUSTAINED WINDS OF 40-50 MPH EXPECTED BY LATE MON AFTERNOON AND
45-55 MPH MON EVENING. GFS/NAM/ECMWF ALL IN PRETTY CLOSE AGREEMENT
ON DEVELOPMENT AND PLACEMENT OF A BAND OF VERY STRONG 925 MB WINDS
OF 70-90 KT TO THE NORTH OF THE CYCLONE BY LATE AFTERNOON OVER OUR
CWA...ESPECIALLY COASTAL SECTIONS. FCST SOUNDINGS SHOW ENOUGH OF A
SFC-BASED MIXED LAYER UP TO 925 MB THAT COULD ALLOW A LARGE
PORTION OF THESE STRONG WINDS TO MIX DOWN...ESPECIALLY IN HEAVIER
RAIN BANDS...SO AT LEAST OCCASIONAL GUSTS 60-75 MPH EXPECTED IN
NE-E FLOW BEFORE THE STORM MAKES LANDFALL.

 So the winds will pick up even more tonight and another high tide is arriving in a few hours. I hope morning will find BIANKA right where I left her. She held there today quite nicely but, tomorrow with Sandy moving closer to the area it  is going to make it a completely different scenerio. So I will try and get a good nights sleep and maybe take a nice hot bath to ease the pain of some aching shoulder muscles and see what tomorrow brings.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

TIS THE SEASON


Well it's Nor' Easter time again and all eyes are on Hurricane Sandy heading up this way and morphing into a coastal storm.  Lucky for me I'm only a day sail away from BIANKA's homeport finishing up a fall cruise. So we should arrive before things ramp up. Glad I decide to keep using the current down the Hudson and up the East River the other day instead of stopping over in New York for two days. Tomorrow the winds will be variable under five knots. Two days later they are calling for 25 to 30. It would be nice to split the difference but, even if I have to electro sail it will be a quiet thirty miles back to the home harbor.

Monday, October 22, 2012

WHY I GO CRUISING.

So I can have my coffee this morning anchored next to a place like this:



Friday, October 19, 2012

MISTAKES OF AN ELECTRIC SAILOR

That electrified wire 
Will set your keester
On fire-   
 FLO AND EDDIE

Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. I was attaching some new lugs for my helm monitoring instrumentation project (I'll be documenting that here on The BIANKA LOG BLOG in the near future) when it happened. One of the lugs I had removed moved and hit the battery post of the battery next to it. It was less than a second of contact but, 2oo DC amps is something to respect. Here is the result:


The battery post melted slightly and part of the heavy duty lug melted and some of it disappeared completely. Another thing is when the lug melted it filled the inside of the mounting hole so I could no longer attach it over the battery mounting screw. I had to use my Dremel Rotary Tool to file it a little bit so I could put it back on even if temporarily. Next time I'll make sure to try and keep the other nearby lugs covered when making changes on the battery posts. Not that ones needs to do this often but, just a little caution can save you from being known as sparky.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A NEW THEORY!



I have a new theory to test out this fall.  I did not have my Marine Air X wind turbine on board last season.  I came on board one day and found the cormorants had made a mess of things on the deck and sail cover. I have reinstalled the Marine Air X  this year and am hoping that it's movement and start up noise will frighten the birds off the boom and prevent the resultant mess on the deck. We shall see.

BLOG UPDATE:
I've been off the boat for a week and so far the Cormorants have been staying away.  So far so good.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

HONDA 2000i GENERATOR REPAIR: Pull Cord Replacement


I've mention that my Honda 2000i generator has been very reliable for the past five years. So reliable that when it came time to repair it there was a lot of aggravation involved. The original problem was an expected one. The pull cord that allows one to start the engine broke. A simple problem that will probably befall all generators at some point if they are used often enough. What I did not expect was how seized up the outside screws that hold the 2000i covers on would be.

 The aggravation was in how long it would take to remove them. In addition some of the screws where "special" types of screws which were not even stocked in the local Honda power shop. So there was   additional delay in getting those parts as they had to be ordered from Honda. It took over two weeks after I started the repair for the parts namely the replacement special screws to arrive before I could finally start to repair the pull cord.

First a little more about those screws. To get at the recoil starter of the Honda 2000i I needed to remove the front, back and side covers. This required the removal of about 17 screws. Most of them I was able to remove but about a third of them were tightly seized and had to removed by drilling them out or cutting a slot into the head. Some of the screws are recessed so drilling was the only option. Below is the screws that were destroyed in the removal process:



On the left are one type of the "special" metric screws (PN 90380-GM-740) that Honda uses. It has a special shoulder milled into the screw that is used to secure the front and back covers. The middle screw is also a "special" screw (PN 93891-06020-07) that is used in the handle area to secure the two sides of the generator together. It has a captured washer built into it. One might be able to substitute here but, since I had to order the some of the other special screws I ordered this one as well. The screws on the right are the self tapping (5 x 16) screws (PN 93913-25480). You might be able to find them locally but, I ordered mine from the Honda parts supplier.

So with the replacement screws on hand I proceeded to move on to replace the broken pull cord. It requires quite a bit of tear down of the generator but once the covers have been removed it goes pretty quickly.


One of the major parts that needs to be removed before you can access the recoil assembly is to remove the fuel tank. To do this you need to first remove the fuel from it. I used a small Bulb Siphon Pump.


But I had an annoying problem with it's flexible hose not always staying below the fuel level of the tank and so it would lose suction. The solution was to use a cable tie and attach the hose to one of the fiberglass wire pull rods  I carry on board for running wires.



This allowed me to place the siphon hose in the very bottom of the fuel tank with no further problems. After removing the fuel tank I finally had enough access to remove the recoil assembly. This is how it looked after I had removed the fuel tank and recoil assembly:



There was only three bolts holding the recoil assembly to the engine and they were easily removed. Once I had the recoil assembly off. I removed the broken pull cord and then turned the starter reel five times counter clockwise and used a  Cable Tie to hold it in that position while I installed a new pull cord on to the reel. Then while holding the cord out I cut the  Cable Tie and allowed the starter reel to slowly rewind the cord.


 As I expected is part of the repair only took ten minutes getting to that point took over two weeks. I reassembled the generator making sure all the screws were received a generous coating of Ultra Tef-Gel  before they were screwed back down. Hopefully, the next time I need to replace the pull cord things will go a lot easier and faster.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A FOGGY MORNING ON THE MOORING





BLOG UPDATE
What a Difference a Day Makes! Below is what that same view looked like today:




Monday, October 01, 2012

KING HARVEST HAS SURELY COME

Corn in the fields.
Listen to the rice when the wind blows
cross the water,
King Harvest has surely come.


I was back on board BIANKA and was just finishing a glass of wine after watching the sunset and was thinking of going into the cabin for the night. Then I had a pleasant surprise as I turned my head to the east. A bright orange full moon was rising over the docks next to the mooring field. It's the Harvest Moon. The moon closest to the autumn equinox which allowed the farmers to continue to harvest well into the night because of it's light. The sight of the full moon rising called for another glass of wine. I thought about Neil Armstrong the first man to set foot on the moon who died last month. I also again think of the words of Paul Bowles:

"How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.” 

While one can never know how many full moons one will see in ones lifetime. Every one that I see when I'm on BIANKA always makes me happy.