Monday, July 29, 2013


"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." 
-George Orwell

The other day I was hunkered down below in the cabin as the wind and a cold rain hit the deck. While nursing a cup of tea I had an "AHA!" moment as I thought about storage in the cabin, BIANKA has three storage lockers in the main cabin behind louvered doors like this one:

One is located amidships just aft of the galley area and is very accessible. It contains several items associated with the cooking and food serving and has done so since I purchased the boat fourteen years ago.  Items in the locker include a steamer (which I never used), paper plates, plastic utensils for guests (seldom on board) and spare storage containers:

The truth is I maybe open this locker once or twice a season. Meanwhile across the cabin and located in the aft end of the cabin behind the table is a locker I access weekly if not more. This locker contains my wiring and electrical tools as well as my ditty box for sail repair items :

Because it sits in the aft corner behind the table access is a bit of a pain. My "aha" moment came when I realized I should swap the contents of the two lockers. Once done I would have much easier access to the electrical and sail repair items I use weekly if not more often. It only took me fourteen years to come up with this plan. George Orwell was right!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


After I made the discovery of some severe corrosion on the gas feeder pipe and burners on my boats original marine stove. I decided to look at some other alternatives to repairing it. Since it was already over twenty five years old and who knows what other issues I might find. Since one of my previous backups on board was a  Coleman PefectFlow 1-Burner Stove that worked well:
But, as you can see it was not the best choice to use on board a rocking boat. It was an emergency purchase one evening when my propane ran out in the middle of cooking and I needed something fast. It works well for cooking but, is too high and unstable for cooking underway or in a rocking anchorage. In my search for a stove alternative I found that Coleman also makes the Coleman PowerPack 1-Burner Stove which is much better suited to using on board a boat in my opinion than the PerfectFlow unit.
So I ordered one and spent the past two weeks using it on board.
It has a fairly large flat base but, that's what makes it very stable. Though it does take up a lot of room but, it is portable and still small enough for me to take it out and use it on the cockpit table if I did not want to heat up the cabin on a hot summer day:

It also has a large metal pot holder frame with raised hoops on each end. This helps keep pots secure on the burner which is a plus on board a boat. The burner fits all of the pots I use in my cooking on board. From my favorite cast 12 inch cast iron skillet and tea kettle:

To my four quart pressure cooker:

One has to allow a little more room for the one pound propane canister and metal connection tube which is not shown in the photos. I have not yet decided whether I will use the burner on the pull out counter on my boat or on top of the unused stove top:

Placing it on the stovetop will allow me to use gimbal function of the stove if I need to cook underway which I don't often do. But, it is an option.

CAPT. MIKE'S USAGE NOTES:  I've used the Coleman Power Pack one burner stove for two weeks now. It works as well or better than the built in three burner stove that came with the boat. It heats water fast and used it for my cooked meals for the two weeks. I only used a one pound propane tank for the two weeks before running out. Though it is summer and did not use the burner for every meal.  Still even if a a one pound canister only lasted a week twelve of them  would last for three months of cruising. The cannisters are readily available at least here in the states. I've found them in all kinds of stores from big box superstores to local hardware stores. Coleman also sells the Coleman High-Pressure Propane Hose and Adapter that allows you to connect the burner to a larger propane tank which I have not tried yet. In short it looks like the Coleman PowerPack 1-Burner Stove will work out fine for my cooking needs in the galley and there is no need to put money into repairing the twenty six year old stove on board.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Funny how things keep getting pushed up to the top of the list due to unexpected repairs. The other night I took the dinghy ashore to get some provisions. As usual I took the oars and put them in the car. Leaving them in the dingy is like leaving the keys in the ignition IMO. When I got back and pulled the oars out of the back one of the oars pulled apart.

The Oars that come with the Porta Boat are aluminum and have a metal pin the secures them together. After ten years in the salt water environment the pins on my oars rusted out. So I just used duct tape to secure them temporarily. Well that "temporary" fix lasted two years which is not bad,  But, a more permanent solution was now needed. But, first I had to get back to BIANKA. Unfortunately, I did not have any duct tape in the car. Only some paper tape which was certainly not strong enough to hold the oars together. So I improvised by inserting a 1/4 inch screw into the hole the rusted out pin used to use. Then I used the paper taper around the screw to hold it in place:

It worked long enough to row back to the boat. But, a more permanent repair was needed. Since I never really took the Oars apart all I needed to do was make sure my repair was strong enough to keep the Oar halves together. For that the I decided to use some  West System G/Flex Epoxy Adhesive  I have on board.

First I had to get rid of the old Duct tape residue and clean the joint area:

I used a 3M 220-8-CC 6-Inch by 9-Inch Scotch-brite Heavy Duty Scour Pad  and some Denatured Alcohol to remove the of remnants of the Duct Tape:

This did a good job cleaning and roughing up the joint of the two oar pieces. I then mixed a small batch of the West System G/Flex Epoxy Adhesive :

I coated both pieces of the oar joints with the epoxy mixture and put them together:

I then covered the epoxied joint with some new Duct Tape to protect the epoxy and joint from any degrading effects of the sun:

The new repair of the Oar should last a number of years if my previous experience is any indication.  With this emergency repair done it's time to move on to the next project of the list.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Ninety-two in the Shade was decent book by Tom McGuane and a forgettable movie starring Peter Fonda. But, with a Bermuda high parked over the East Coast it is a reality in the cockpit of BIANKA and the heat expected to last another day or two. The solar bimini I built over the cockpit:

is doing it's job by keeping the 12 volt and 48 volt battery banks charged up as well as providing much need shade from the summer sun. But,with temperatures in the mid 90's and fickle breezes it still gets hot. Luckily relief is just over the side with a swim.  The other day I was rewiring some digital panel meters and as I was sweating getting ready to fire up my portable butane soldering iron the thought the idea of anymore heat was unthinkable. So I stopped and jumped in for a refreshing a half hour swim instead before finishing things up.

Though I am not cursing the heat at all. It is summer and it was only five months ago that this was the scene I was looking at:

So the only thing is to keep the beers cold and fire up Ray Bonneville's July Sun on the MP3 player and enjoy the season and know that as hot as it is on board it is much worse on land.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I do love to swim  off the boat. There is something nice about just jumping over the side for a refreshing swim without having to pack things into a car and head to a crowded beach. During the summer I usually jump in for a swim two or three times a day. Though it is not without some surprises. The other day I jumped and was doing a breast stroke up toward the bow when one of my hands meet some resistance. I thought it might be a thin reed floating along the surface. Then my other hand met the same type of resistance. I soon realized I had run into a piece of fishing line.  It seemed to be connected to BIANKA's mooring buoy. I pulled on the line and pulled and pulled until I had a handful of fishing line. Then I saw a lure popping along the surface toward me. I soon had a new lure to add to my collection of others that I had found in previous swims and dives around the boat. Swimming is good!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Now that I had rewired the house wiring that connected to the light fixture with Anderson Powerpole connectors. It was time to rewire the fixture it's self. I soldered some wires to the connections for the switch and put Anderson Powerpole connectors on the other end of theses wires. I also soldered some wires onto the LED light being careful not to use too much heat while doing so to avoid any damage to the electronics of the light disk. NOTE: The LED light I used is not polarity sensitive so it did not matter which lead I made positive or negative. You need to check the wiring specs of the specific LED you may use as this is not always the case. 
At the other end of these wires I put on the appropriate colored Anderson Powerpole connectors.
Once all the connectors were on the proper wires. I used cables ties to make things secure, reinstalled the fixture into the head area and connected it to the house wiring:

I put some white electrical tape behind the LED just to make sure it would not short out to the light frame. Using the Anderson Powerpole connectors will allow for the easy addition of more LED lights or changes and modifications in the future. For example one thing I might add in the future is a red LED light for nightlight use and to prevent loss of night vision when sailing at night. Only thing remaining is to put the cover back on the fixture frame and this project is done for now:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


When I bought BIANKA she had a combination of lights. Some were fluorescent and some were regular tungsten lamps. Which are power hogs compared to the florescent lights. I've been replacing the tungsten lamps with much more energy efficient LED lamps. I also am replacing the fluorescent fixtures with LEDs as they fail instead of getting them rebuilt. The fluorescent fixture in the head area died a while ago and the other day I decided to rewire it for an LED replacement:

After making sure the breaker was turned off I first removed the bulbs and then the metal shield that covered the ballast electronics::

I was then able to cut the power wires to the fixture and remove the four screws holding the fixture to the cabin top. There were two wood shim pieces on the back of the light to take in account the curvature of the cabin top. I am going to reuse the fluorescent fixture and it's switch but, I have no use for the failed ballast circuit board so I will remove it and a lot of the associated wiring:

To remove the ballast board I had to drill out the two rivets holding the circuit board to the light frame from the back of the fixture:
With the circuit board gone there is a lot more room to install the LED replacement lamp(s):
Turning back to the light wiring. I noticed that someone had used wire nuts to attach the light to the boat wiring:

This is not a good idea for a whole bunch of reason on board a boat, Especially from a corrosion standpoint. I removed the wire nuts and replaced them with versatile  Anderson Powerpole Connectors :
This will make it east to reconnect the new LED lights when the fixture is installed. It will also allow for easier modification and changes in the future.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


I ran out of propane just before the end of last season. Rather than refill my 11 pound propane tank I figured I'd use one of my backup systems either my  Coleman PefectFlow 1-Burner Stove or the portable Butane cooktop to use for cooking until the end of the season. Which I did with no problems even while moving back on board following superstorm Sandy. This spring while getting BIANKA ready for the season I had surprise that was somewhere between "uh oh" and "yikes".
While cleaning under the stoves stainless steel cooktop I had found the header pipe that feeds the propane to the stove burners and oven had become severely corroded:

If this pipe starts leaking it would start dumping propane into the cabin when I was cooking or using the water heater and that's not a good thing.  While I was looking at the problem I also notice some of the burners were showing signs of corrosion too::

Looks like a little more replacement costs will need to be added into the fix.
Since the stove is 26 years old it is to be expected. Then I began thinking do I really want to pour $100 plus into the propane stove that is already 26 years old? The hose that supplies the propane gas to the stove is also twenty six years old. Maybe that should be replaced too? Then there is the Paloma on demand hot water heater also twenty six years old. How much life is left in that unit? So with these questions in my mind I decided to change the way I use propane on board BIANKA and not repair the stove. I'll be posting on my plans in future posts.

Friday, July 05, 2013


I did a quick little add on into the Galley with the addition of two new spice racks. When you cook on board as much as I do having a number of spices available is a must. I already had one installed for a few years. I added the two new spice racks which makes it easier to find some of the additional spices I use. It also freed up space in the cabinet where I had previously stored them. After the install I pretty much filled them up too. Which means I'll probably have to add another one or two before long.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


I took the above photo of the Statue of Liberty during one of my cruises through New York harbor. Since today is July 4th and the country is celebrating Independence Day it seemed appropriate to post it. Having a sailboat always brings home to me the spirit of independence especially on a day like today. The ability to go where you want when you want is a pretty powerful feeling.  A feeling to be cherished and appreciated everyday.