Friday, June 28, 2013


I like coffee and I like tea
I like the java jive and it likes me
Coffee and tea and java and me 
A cuppa, cuppa, cuppa, cup
Now Capt. Mike likes his coffee in the morning. But, make no mistake I don't pick my anchorages by their proximity to a Starbucks. I tend to get up early since watching the sunrise is one of the simple pleasures on board to be enjoyed with a mug of hot coffee.   I have two ways to make coffee on board. One is with a 12 ounce Bodum French Press Coffee Maker as shown in the photo above. It makes a good cup of coffee. It claims to be able to make three cups but, that would only be for ladies who lunch with pinkies raised. For me it makes only a mug with a little left over. On the negative side it does require one to strain it when pouring into the mug and then of course one has to get rid of the messy grounds at some point to clean it.

Since I hate to wait for my coffee I have found a great alternative to brewed coffee. One that does not have me waiting for that first sip. My preference for my morning joe is Medaglia D'Oro Instant Espresso Coffee . Purist may scoff but, I find the taste very acceptable and is not as acidic and has none of the chemical taste that occurs with other store bought brands. Best of all  a teaspoon or more makes a robust flavored coffee that is drinkable soon as you pour the boiling water into the mug. Plus there are no grounds to clean up or make mess. Add a little splash of some Irish Cream liquor or rum and I'm ready to really enjoy the morning. I also use it when I feel like having a nice Iced Coffee drink in the afternoon since it will dissolve in cold milk too! I originally found the small 2 oz containers in a supermarket but, lately they seemed to have disappeared from the shelves. So I now order it in bulk Medaglia D'Oro Instant Espresso Coffee from Amazon. This ensures I'll be able to have a good fast cup of coffee on board whenever I want it.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I bought an eight foot Porta Boat back in 2001 to replace a real nice fiberglass lap strake dingy that was lost in a gale. I have never regretted the purchase. It has been a real workhorse and has saved it's cost many times over in dingy dock fees. I don't abuse it but, I don't baby it either. But, over the years the wear and tear has taken it's toll. Namely on the plastic foam filled rear seat and the removable wooden transom.
The wooden transom really began to fall apart during last season as ten years of water, rain and sun started to delaminate the 3/4 inch marine plywood.

 Happily, the Porta Boat people don't rest on their laurels and have continually improved the Porta Boat design over the years. Including a new plastic transom that is lighter than the wooden one it replaced and a stronger more robust seat. So I ordered one of the new plastic transoms to replace the waterlogged wooden one.  It does require a little bit of retrofitting but, nothing too difficult. Here is what is required:
New holes have to be drilled for the screws that will secure the transom to the the Porta Boat hull. You can see the new and old positions for these screw in the photo below:

I refilled the old holes with some  Marine GOOP and covered them with some tape.  The plastic transom is lighter and floats and won't be damaged by water like the previous wood transom  was.

After the transom was in place I moved on to installing the new stronger rear seat. This was a little more involved but not overly so. First you need to remove the old seat brackets which requires drilling out the rivets holding the older brackets to the hull.  

Once the old brackets were removed I also needed to cut out a little of the floatation foam in order to fit the new seat brackets to the hull:

Two of the existing holes line up with the new bracket. But, I had to drill one additional hole for the new bracket.

I again filled one of the old screw holes some  Marine GOOP. With the new brackets installed  I refitted the new seat into the boat and then filled it with useful things I needed to take out to the boat. One of the nice things I like about the Porta Boat is how much it holds and how dry it is compared to an inflatable. With the upgraded transom and new seat it should serve me well for a number of years to come.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Yesterday was the first day of summer. It sometimes seemed so far away and then suddenly it's here. There are a lot of firsts as summer and the sailing season begins. A week ago I took my first swim off the boat. It was bracing at first as my body recovered from the shock and the tips of my fingers tingled from the cold. But, a few minutes later my body acclimated to it and I managed to stay in for a half hour. Last Saturday was also the first day this year that I saw an Osprey. A sure sign of summer here on the Isle of Long. Unlike other sea birds the Osprey announces it's presence with a distinctive chiping call. The Osprey was also carrying a twig no doubt for building a nest nearby.  Other firsts await like the first sail of the season. But, that will have to wait until I get the sail on board but, like summer it will happen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

IN THE GALLEY: Provisioning up!

I've been on board getting things together for the season. One of the things is to provision BIANKA's galley. First I provision with the non perishable items. This includes staples and items that can be used for emergency meals when cruising:

Here's the list of my recent trip:

 The above were added to the following items I already had on board:


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Foggy morning

I was up up 5: 30 this morning. Things were calm in the harbor and I thought I might do some testing of the electric the propulsion system. Then while I was having my coffee this fog rolled in. A reminder that it's always better not have a schedule.

Sent from on board BIANKA


And this is the view 24 hours later:

It's always nice when you can see  150 feet across the channel.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I installed the completed solar bimini on BIANKA back in 2010 though I did not finish posting about it until 2012. At the time I did a quick job of connecting the 48 volt Kanaka panels to the  Morningstar ProStar PS-15M-48V Charge Controller using the connectors that came with the panels to get the system up and running. In this case it was using  spade lugs connected to a two screw barrier strip and then down to the controller. I taped the whole thing in some electrical tape. This worked fine for awhile and it was always my intention to make things a little neater and more weatherproof at some point. Well, that project got moved up on the list this spring when I saw this:

I found that one of the solar panel connections had corroded and broken away from the spade lug.  

Indeed all the connections showed severe corrosion issues. Definitely time to replace this "temporary" setup. So that's what I did. I've mentioned before I really like Anderson Powerpole Connectors   for a lot of connections on board for a number of reason. One is they have wiping contacts that help clean the contact surface when connecting and disconnecting. Plus they are compact and can be ganged together. Another advantage is they have color coded cases available:

Since I'll be connecting 48 volt solar panels it is a good idea to follow the Anderson color code for their Power Poles. For 48 volts the recommended color is blue. I used it above for the positive 48 volt panel connection. This helps avoid confusion with the 12 volt panels that are also part of BIANKA's solar bimini.
Another thing with Anderson Powerpoles it is also easy to make up "two fer" cable harnesses so that in this case I can connect two separate solar panels to the same solar charge controller. This ability to quickly connect and disconnect the connectors helps in troubleshooting or taking voltage and current measurements of the panels.

As is the Anderson Power Poles are not particularly waterproof. So what I usually do is fill the back end of the connectors (where the wire enters) with Marine GOOP and then cover that with some electrical tape. Another wrap of electrical tape around the connector case joint ensures even more protection from moisture.    
With the new connections more waterproof than my previous installation I should not have to revisit this area of my electric propulsion charging system for long time.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


BIANKA  was finally splashed this week. The season has started later than I expected. I was planning on having the boat in by Memorial Day but, a freelance work assignment and a vacation cruise in the Florida Keys got in the way. As you can see BIANKA is still missing a major component of it's sailing rig. Namely the mast which should be stepped next week when the boatyards crane operator comes back from his vacation. This is not a problem as I have more than enough projects and repairs on board to keep me busy until then.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Got back on board yesterday after the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea passed through the area. Found a one quart container in the cockpit that showed the amount of water left from the storm:

That's a lot of water! Spent the afternoon cleaning the galley area and found a rusted baking pan, pizza pan and an unkown round metal piece that have been hiding since I bought the boat in 1995:

These will be heading off the boat and to the metal recycler. Now if I could only find the chopper blade for my Braun hand blender.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


BIANKA was ready to splashed for the season but, then Tropical Storm Andrea started heading this way. Even though the winds were not to be that strong I thought better to stay in the boatyard at least over the weekend. As it was we had five inches of rain in the past twenty four hours enough for a real nice deck rinse.

Thursday, June 06, 2013


One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to be on board and listen to the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival which happens over three days. This year it is from June 6th to June 9th 2013. I often think to take BIANKA there and be there in person but, there is also something very pleasant to be in a secluded anchorage and hear how sailors use to entertain themselves on deck in the evenings in the days before electronic devices like radios and IPODS. It is usually broadcast live on WPKN 89.5 FM out of Bridgeport Connecticut. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013


"All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water,"
Cool Water

It been hot in the boatyard with the temperature just hovering around 90 degrees. Too hot in the middle of the day to work on installing the chain chain stopper on the forward deck. I was getting thirsty so my thoughts turned to water. Seemed like a good time to fill the smaller of the two water tanks on BIANKA so I could have some water on board for cleaning and washing up. While I was at it seems like a good time to clean the Brita 35530 Ultramax Dispenser and put a new   Brita replacement filter in it too.

I use this Brita for my drinking and cooking water on board BIANKA. It sits very nicely in a cubby in the galley area on board. Since it holds a little over a gallon one fill up can last me a few days. I have nice filtered water easily available which  is important during these hot days while working on the boat.