Thursday, October 31, 2013


As I did yesterday it was only a cup of coffee to start my day. Breakfast would be at the Oyster Bay Oyster Festival. But, unlike yesterday Oyster's would not be the first thing on the menu. This morning it's ribs to start:

The Oyster Bay Festival takes place in three major areas from what I could see. Audrey Ave, The Midway and the Waterfront Theodore Roosevelt Park.

The entrance for those who arrive by car and are bussed to the site is at the end of Audrey Ave. The Ave is a tree lined street lined with booths from some of the local businesses and also others selling various crafts which is where I spent most of my time yesterday.

Then comes the Midway which is where those who travel to the Festival by the Long Island Railroad are dropped off:

As it's name implies it is midway between Audrey Ave and the Waterfront. It's good central location to start from. I also start near here as the marina where I moored BIANKA is just a short walk away. It is also an actually a carnival midway too filled with old time carnival booths:

Filled with games where stuffed animals are the prizes and real animals are part of the games. Like these goldfish :

and what's a Carnival midway without rides:

As I was making this video I was thinking the kids on these rides have been eating all kids stuff candies, popcorn, cotton candy etc... Things that might make them sick. So I thought it best not to spend too much time standing underneath some of these rides just in case. So I moved on to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park located on the waterfront.

There I found the Tall Ship Mystic and the John J. Harvey Fireboat that I observed entering the harbor Friday Night at the dock:

 I spent delightful afternoon on board the John J. Harvey Fireboat I will chronicle that visit in the next post.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ONE YEAR AGO: Superstorm Sandy

It was one year ago that Superstorm Sandy hit this area.

I found BIANKA a thousand feet away from where I left her the night before Sandy came ashore. She was still attached to her mooring. The storm surge had lifted it off the bottom and the boat dragged it across the harbor. Luckily there was no real damage and she did not collide with any other boats. But other boats were not so lucky:

 My Honda BP2 outboard spent four days on the bottom of the harbor:

after the dock the dingy was tied up to broke apart and flipped the dingy:

Other than that I was lucky. The only major damage on board was from a bent up Charlie Noble vent stack:
This happen because I forgot to secure the forward hatch when I left the boat. The hatch was closed but, the 95 MPH winds of Sandy blew it open and smashed the vent.

Other boats suffered much more damage especially ones at the docks:

Others from collisions with other boats as they got dragged through the harbor:

Though compared to some of the other harbors and boatyards in other locations things were not so bad in comparison. In the aftermath of the storm since power and communications were knocked out on land for over two weeks. I moved back on board where things were more normal. Still there were a number of lessons were learned that I put into this post.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I woke up and did not make breakfast and just had my usual early morning coffee in the cockpit there would be plenty of food at the Oyster Festival and I did not want to destroy my appetite for it by filling up before hand. At least that was my plan. I took the launch into shore for a quick shower and returned to the boat just long enough to thrown the shower bag into the cockpit and rode the launch back to the docks to start my first day at the Oyster Festival. The sleepy tree lined street Audrey Ave I toured the day before:

Was now devoid of parked cars and filled with people and booths for the Oyster Bay Oyster Festival. Below is a shot on Audrey Ave on Friday afternoon the day before the festival:

Here is that same view on Saturday morning the first day of the festival:

Audrey Ave was lined with booths selling all kinds of stuff from posters and crafts to LP record albums. But, I was there strictly for the food. I personally did not need any more "stuff" on my boat as it is.
Though there was one item I did take back with me.  Some might look at this item given out by a New York State education program as free back pack for kids:

 I on the other hand looked at it as Ditch Bag that I can fill with items I needed to take should I ever have to abandon the boat. The yellow color also makes highly visible. Which is a good thing. I love free souvenirs that also have a useful purpose on board the boat.

Though the food choices were varied and tempting such as this booth specializing in pickles:

 My plan this morning was to look for seafood I was not going to be distracted by pickles, fried Oreos, hot dogs, burgers etc... Though there were plenty of seafood booths available:

My first goal was to have some raw Oysters for breakfast. It was not long before I found what I was looking for:

A booth where they were shucking Oysters and selling them as fast as they were opening them. 

Mission accomplished! I tried my breakfast Oysters with various accompaniments. Lemon, cocktail sauce and hot sauce all were quite good. Hard to imagine now but, as I read in the book The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell  New York City use to have booths all over where people could grab a few fresh shucked Oysters as they easily as they find Hot Dog stands today.
Having had my breakfast Oysters I went in search of the second of my second cuisine goal of the day fried Oysters:

Again this did not require to much effort on my part and was also very tasty. With my primary food goals met I followed that up with a whimsical choice of Seafood Gumbo from another booth. By now I was full though somethings were still tempting. Like this booth selling a selection premium soda flavors:

 including a pewter mug with free refills. But, I resisted though I thought the pewter mug might come in hand on board BIANKA holding the contents of an ice filled rum concoction on a hot summer day. But, too late for that now maybe next year.

 After several hours of walking around I began to get tired and so I started to make my way back to the marina. The nice thing about attending the Oyster Festival by boat is one can easily head back for a nice afternoon nap. Though I was done with the Oyster festival for today the Festival was not done with me. For a few hours later I was treated to a wonderful fireworks show that was especially nice to see from BIANKA's location in the harbor:
That was a nice way to cap my first day at the Oyster Festival. But, I still had other plans for the second day which I will post about next.


Friday, October 25, 2013


On the Friday before the Oyster Bay Oyster Festival was to begin I had a day to wander around Oyster Bay. After doing the laundry I spent the day meandering. Beside Oysters one thing becomes clear this is Teddy Roosevelt's town:

His name and image are everywhere and rightly so being as Oyster Bay was the place where he settled down. His home Sagamore Hill is part of the National Park system which was one of the things he created while he was President. I did not go visit the site not because it was closed because of the Government shutdown. I am saving that for another cruise sometime in the future. I read the biography of Roosevelt called Theodore Rex  by Edmund Morris and he was a fascinating individual who did some amazing things in his lifetime. My girlfriend has also recommended I read The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey about Roosevelt's exploration of that river. I plan to read it before I return to visit Sagamore Hill sometime in the future. In the meantime I'm content sit and enjoy the harborside park named in his honor in all it's autumnal beauty:

There are still many buildings to admire in Oyster  Bay that were built when Roosevelt was still living here. Like this former drugstore:

Then there are some specialty shops springing up. Like 20th Century Cycles a motorcycle shop owned by Billy Joel:

Which has some beautiful vintage looking motorcycles on display:

After wandering around most of the day around five o'clock  I started to head head back toward the marina but, sat for a while and watched one of the first booth's being set up for the next day's Oyster Festival with many more to come:

I also passed some of the all important portable toilets that would have to handle the needs of the crowd that will be filling the streets:

So it looked like things were all in place for the Oyster Festival and I was looking to returning to these same streets in the morning to partake of the festivities. In the meantime I headed back to the BIANKA and got there in time to enjoy a beautiful full Harvest Moon rising over the harbor:

And as if that wasn't enough to enjoy that evening the Tall Ship MYSTIC worked it's way through the channel to a dock on the western side of the harbor to be part Oyster Festival event:

Then to top things off the retired New York City Fireboat John J. Harvey entered Oyster Bay a little bit later entering the channel with it's rear deck lights on and pumping a just a fraction of it's capabilities:

What an impressive show one that many on land probably missed. I felt lucky to be among the few to enjoy the show. More on the John J. Harvey in a future post on the Oyster Festival. After the entertaining evening harbor show it was time to head to bed and get ready for the Oyster Festival that would begin in the morning.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The reason for my Columbus Day voyage was to have one last cruise for the season and attend the 30th annual Oyster Bay Oyster festival. It was an event I wanted to attend for years but, for one reason or another never got to. So this year I made it a priority. I don't think I ever ate a raw Oyster though I have had it cooked in fried Oyster Po Boy sandwiches and in Oyster Stew. So I was gearing up to definitely try some as the Oysters for this event come fresh  right of the local Oyster Bay waters. To add to the adventure I downloaded the book The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky and started reading it a few weeks before heading to the event.

I arrived in Oyster Bay on the Monday before the weekend festival. Electro sailing past the markers that staked out the areas of  the Oyster beds worked by a commercial Oyster harvesting company:

 I also cruised  passed houses of some of the rich and famous on Centre Island like Billy Joel's:

 After I motored past  the moored boats in the harbor and anchored over on the other side of Centre Island in an area called West Harbor. I was alone in the anchorage and spent several days enjoying the beautiful autumn foliage around some of the houses on the shore:

The only other people I saw were the Bayman who were out early on their work boats scratching the bottom of the harbor with rakes digging for Mussels and Clams.

Some no doubt would be offered on the following weekend at the Oyster Festival. I had reserved a mooring at the Oyster Bay Marine Center for the weekend of the festival so I would have the convenience of a launch service and be closer to the festival. The weather called for some gusty winds starting late Thursday. So I decided to get on the mooring a few days earlier than planned  in order to not try be raising the anchor in the gusty winds by myself. Plus it would give me a chance to explore the town before the crowds of festival goers arrived.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

ELECTRIC SAILING: A Columbus Day Voyage Part Two

After maneuvering around the shoal I had to buck the incoming flood current coming into the harbor. I crank the electric propulsion control until I was once again making some headway. It was nice to have my homemade instrumentation panel at the helm where I could easily see that I was drawing 33 amps from the battery bank. Once out of the harbor I turned to port and headed west. The winds were really light so the sail was barely full. So I continued to motor. Setting the propulsion control to draw around 16 amps. Which is what my Honda 2000 generator and the 900 watt Zivan charger would provide had I decided to use them. Since it was so dark I did not want fire up the Honda generator preferring to enjoy the quiet of the night and not have another of of my senses (namely hearing) masked by the generator noise at least until after sunrise. It was nice to be able to hear the cries of birds out in the darkness as BIANKA took advantage of the flood current with only a quiet hum of the electric motor coming from below.  After about an hour and a half motoring in the darkness a sliver of light appeared on the eastern horizon reminding me that dawn was approaching:

Somewhat comforting to see. I continued on motoring thinking when the sun finally came up I would fire up the generator in order not to draw down the battery bank further than I really needed to. Soon the the sun rose over the horizon a scene that still fills me with awe everytime I see it:

I always feel sorry for those on land who for many never get to see scenes like this in the morning. It's one of the unique things one sees when sailing around on board a boat. Experiencing the dramatic sky show that happens at sunrise and sunset. As luck would have it with the dawn came a decent breeze which allowed me to forego firing up the generator and just continue on with the sail.

At 7:05 AM a little less than two hours after I slipped BIANKA's mooring line I checked the XBM baterry monitor. The electric propulsion system had used 30.8 amp hours and the bank was at 82% of capacity. I sailed on cutting back on electric propulsion to about 10 amps to negate any prop drag in the light winds. I had an hour before the ebb current would begin and turn against me. Luckily, I had made it past Old Field Point where an opposing current would have been much greater. I was doing 4 knots under sail at this point and things were moving along.

But, at 8:07 AM The southeast wind had dropped enough so that the boats speed had dropped to about 1.5 knots. Now I was seriously thinking about firing up the generator. I carried it forward to the bow which I do in light winds when I feel I'll be motoring for awhile. I can hardly hear it in cockpit when I do. As I put it down on the fore deck the wind once again picked up. So I left it there without firing it and continued sailing on.

At 10:40 I was north of the Northport Power plant. 11:30 found BINAKA off of Eatons Neck Coast Guard Station. Current was against me and speed had dropped to about 1.8 knots. But, I was in no hurry had plenty of daylight and the current would be turning in my favor in a few hours. I checked the battery monitor which now read -29 amp hours and 83.4% battery capacity. As the solar panels had helped charge things up a little bit but, the wind generator was not doing much.

At 12:52 PM a sold southeast breeze developed and the boat speed was 2.2 knots. At 3:20PM I again checked the battery meter and found  -28.9 amp hours and 83.9% battery capacity. Some overcast clouds had started to come in and the sail started to shade the panels at this point.

At 4PM BIANKA enter the entrance to Cold Spring Harbor/Oyster Bay harbor entrance and boat speed slowed and at one point I could see the current was pushing the boat backwards. So I again turned on the Electric propulsion but, not the generator. Set the current for 10 Amp draw and motored to Oyster Bay harbor. Past some of the stately homes of Centre Island home to the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Billy Joel and other well know folks:

At  6:09 PM i dropped anchor over at West Harbor on the other side of Centre Island. I checked the XBM Battery monitor and the readings were -45.3 Amp hours and was down to 76.1% battery capacity.Still well above the 50% red line for AGM batteries. I fired up the Honda to start charging the bank with the Zivan NG-1 charger first. At 9:12 PM the Zivan had recharged the battery bank back up to 94%. I than switched over the charging to the  Quad Pro Quad charger to make sure the battery bank was kept in balance and to avoid the pulsing of the generator when the Zivan was in the final stage of charging. The Dual Pro charger finished topping the individual batteries of the electric propulsion bank at about 10:30 PM

While the bank was charging I sat back to enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine:

And after that that was done the sky show took over:

All in all it was a wonderful way to spend Columbus Day.