Monday, March 31, 2014


Came across this scene on the Willamette River in Portland Oregon. This is what happens when you can't decide if you want a sailboat or powerboat and a hard sided or inflatable dingy:

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I really need to get a new pair of oar locks for my 8 foot Porta Boat dingy. After 13 years of use they are just about rusted out. Though if the truth be known I am using my Electric Paddle outboard more and more these days for quick trips from the mooring to the docks. Still, the prudent mariner knows it is always good to have a pair of oars on board the dingy even if you are using some type of motor most of the time. You never know when you might need them.  I just wish instead of just buying them I had the skills and the shop to make them like they do at the Mystic Seaport for the Charles W. Morgan refit:

Monday, March 24, 2014


Well another 50 degree F plus day came along between cold snaps. So I wandered down to the boatyard to check on the boat. I stopped by the office for a gam and Russel was busy sending out bills to drop the moorings. A bittersweet sign that the new sailing season is coming. But, of course so does the bill for the mooring. When I got on board I checked the bilge:

Still dry as a bone and good to see. I let my Dual Pro 4 charger top off the four 8A4D AGM batteries that make up the 48 volt propulsion bank of BIANKA. Though they were pretty much full already. I then turned my attention to a quick little issue regarding the new Electric Paddle outboard I bought. A few weeks ago I got a letter in the mail from the folks who make the Electric Paddle about a possible issue of corrosion on one of the connector terminals because of a missing seal on the connector. A follow up letter provided two brand new seals to be installed in case they were not on my outboards connector:

It turns out they weren't on my outboard's connector but, no harm was done as the connectors were completely clean and corrosion free. Even though the battery and outboard had been exposed to several rainstorms over the season.

After I put one of the seals on the connector I decided to just do a little preventative maintenance as long as I was here. I took one of the Connector Cleaning Brushes  I carry onboard and put some Corrosion Block on it:

Even though the connectors were still very clean and showed no signs of corrosion. Using the Corrosion Block can't hurt so I cleaned inside the plugs and pins of the connectors:

Mission accomplished!  Nice to see that the folks who make the Electric Paddle here in the United States also follow up on the products once they are shipped.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


We had one day of "mild" temperatures in the fifty degree fahrenheit range. I decide to spend some time in the garage on the never ending struggle to get and keep things organized. I made some progress and discovered some useful things related to the boat. The first were two useful tools for fiberglassing that I had used for a project on my previous boat a 24 foot Bristol. They were a Saturation Roller and a  Corner Epoxy Roller.

The saturation roller needed to be cleaned up a little as it showed  the messy results of my first feeble attempts at fiberglassing back in the 1980's. A few minutes removing the stuck on Epoxy with a screw driver had it good as new again:

Both tools are now reunited where they belong in the bin that holds the Epoxy resins and other tools for fiberglassing. They will be useful if I ever get around to building that dingy I've been thinking about. The other discovery was hidden in an old coffee can on a shelf for decades. It's a small metal vise that looks like it might come in pretty handy on board:

It's old but, still has useful days ahead on board for various projects. Sometimes all it takes is a little cleanup and organizing brings these useful discoveries to light.

Monday, March 17, 2014


More bad weather and cold temperatures are making trips to the boat kind of unappealing. So I've been looking for projects that are boat related that I can do at home. For example I picked up my RCA Small Wonder EZ2120B digital video camera which is now superseded by this model.
It is one of several cameras I use on board to make videos or take photos. I like the RCA camera because it is so easy to operate, has a large 2 inch LCD screen, has 1/4" camera mount so it can also be used on a tripod  and is easier to change modes like video resolution than some of my other cameras. It also has a big red button to start recording. I keep it handy on board to capture events which spring up and I don't have time to find and setup my GoPro or other cameras. For example I used it to capture the fireworks at last years Oyster Bay Oyster festival:

I did not even have it set for HD mode but, it still made a nice video. Since it only cost  about fifty bucks I would not feel as bad if it ever went over the side accidently unlike some of the more expensive cameras I also use. Unfortunately, since I usually keep it on the cabin table to have it nearby I must have laid a something heavy on it when closing the boat up for the winter haulout. I went to use the camera and found the LCD screen was screen cracked and unusable. I hated to just throw it out since it was still recording fine. So one damp and dreary winter's day I decided to take it apart and see if I could repair it:

After finding the several screws holding the main board to the case and an additional one holding the LCD screen to the main board I was able to remove the LCD screen and get a part number off of it:

As luck would have it somebody was selling a used LCD screen for the camera on EBAY for five dollars including shipping. Which had me doing the happy dance. After it arrived I carefully installed it into the camera and put the case back together and it works perfectly. So I am very happy that I'll once again be able to use the camera on board for videos and that there is one less piece of electronics that is not going to be heading to a landfill somewhere.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


On occasion I will have a dream that my boat is sinking for no reason or doing something impossible like moving along a creek bed. Though one time it was moving through the streets of Manhattan. Strange that these dreams seem to only happen when I'm not living on board. They are sometimes very disturbing (especially the sinking ones) that is until I come awake and realize they were just dreams. But, for some unfortunate sailors in St. Martin recently it was not a dream:


Monday, March 10, 2014


The winter has been terrible filled with snow and cold temperatures. So much so that I only got to visit the boat two times since December. While things were OK on the boat. It was still too cold to spend much time on board on projects and spring outfitting. It's too cold for any painting, varnishing, epoxy. Even holding metal tools for any length of time is not fun with temperatures in the mid 20's. Still I try to accomplish something in the short time I do spend on board. For example I noticed that the ENGEL MT25E refrigerator/freezer needs a little attention after ten years of reliable service:

Because of it's location near the hatch it has developed some rust on the compressor case:

My plan is to sand that off and touch it up with some paint. That is when things get warm enough to bring it outside to work on it. But, since it has been so reliable for the past decade I've never had to do any maintenance on the unit. So like the screws on my Honda 2000 generator some the screws on the ENGEL case may have  rusted in place:

So I figured the least I could do during my visit was to spray some   Corrosion Block penetrate onto the screws and letting it go to work:

I'm hoping it will make removing the screws in the future a much easier process once things warm up enough to spend more time on the boat. At least that's the plan. It's just a little thing to do but, gives me the feeling that at least something was accomplished during the winter visit.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


When I converted my boat to electric propulsion back in 2008 the idea of having sails that were also solar panels was kind of a pipe dream. Always seemed like a good idea to me with the boats 540 square foot sail and especially since BIANKA used batteries and an electric motor for it's auxiliary propulsion. Well, it looks like this idea is about to come to fruition:

"UK Sailmakers France, innovator of MatriX Titanium sails, has started a new company called SolarClothSystem® that will make mainsails with a film containing high efficiency photovoltaic cells. The cells are flexible enough to be used on sails that get rolled or folded. SolarClothSystem cells are printed on a 65-micron thick film." -UK Sailmakers

"The fine PV film (65 microns, DSSC type) is made ​​in the USA. The integration is carried out in France in Mandelieu-La Napoule (patent pending). Cclls are either embedded in the layers of a new sail membrane type or added on sails, new or not, gluing and sewing on woven materials, Dacron or Spectra kind. The flexible film allows the mainsail to be rolled on the boom. The harvested energy is transported by an integrated via the luff of the sail flexible circuit and then to the foot of the mast. A small electronic controller installed inside the boat controls the battery charging."

Of course the devil will be in the details. but, at least the idea of incorporating solar panels into a boats sails is starting to make it's way onto the waters. This electric sailor will sure be keeping an eye on where it goes from here.

Hat tip: Elecktra Yachts

Monday, March 03, 2014


Things warmed up a little between Polar Vortex cold fronts and winter storms. So I decided to go down and do another quick check on the boat before the next winter storm came barreling through. It was definitely a much more pleasant experience than my visit twelve days previously. For one thing it was much easier to get to the boat. The left photos were taken twelve days earlier than the right which was my most recent visit:

Almost all of the snow was gone and I was not slip slidin' around while trying to get to the boat on the icy drifts of snow. The deck too was clear of snow and looked clean and ready for the new season:

I could even see the solar panels once again as they continued to do their job keeping the batteries topped up over the winter:

Finally the cockpit was cleared of snow too:

If it wasn't for the 28 degree F temperature I might have cracked open a beer and enjoyed the view. With less than twenty days until spring begins I hope that day comes soon.