Thursday, December 31, 2015


Hope everyone reading this has a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016 with fair winds everyday

Thursday, December 24, 2015


I've been pretty busy since I pulled the boat and so it has been hard to keep posting on the blog. So I thought I'd share a little Christmas present I bought for myself. It's a Sailrite Folding Sewing machine table. Since I bought the Sailrite Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 Sewing Machine last year. It seemed like a good idea to enhance my sewing area with a proper table to work on. It came fully assembled and flat in the box:

It was pretty easy to setup. I had to adjust the sunken platform for the proper height of the LZ-1 sewing machine. It took just a few minutes.

Once that was done it was simply a matter of loading the Sailrite sewing machine in it's base cabinet  onto the platform:

It sits nice and flush with the table surface. With the legs locked it was pretty stable and has a convenient ruler running across the edge of the table. I think it will help with my winter project which is sewing a new sail cover for BIANKA. More on that later.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I'm  trying to catch up on things and put up some blog posts of things done and not done this past season on board. One of the things I had been planning to do was to attach a waterproof camera to the 33 pound Bruce anchor that serves as BIANKA's main anchor. It has been a doing a great job since I bought the boat. It has held in 30 to 40 knots of wind including a brush with Hurricane Earl. I trust it but, I was still curious how it was doing it's job. I never did setup my camera for some underwater video of the Bruce but, a fellow in the Pacific Northwest has. He shows it setting pretty nicely with a 2.5:1 scope Here is his video:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

ONE LAST THING: Cleaning the Porta Boat

I finally broke down and splurged on renting a spot on the dingy dock for my eight foot Porta Boat. I spend most of my time during the summer living on the boat with an occasional respite on land for work or to accompany my gal on a beach vacation. Since I have been using a folding Porta Boat for fourteen years I was able to fold it up when and take it home as needed. As I'm getting older this is becoming more of a pain and so I opened the wallet to have access to the dingy dock at the boatyard. It certainly makes it more convenient for quick trips home or provisions. Since for over a decade I have avoided the dingy dock fees that could have paid for the Porta Boat three or four times over I thought it was about time to make things a little easier for me. Though leaving the Porta Boat in the water for the entire season bought some new issues.

Monday, November 23, 2015


BIANKA has a round unstayed mast almost like a tapered metal telephone pole. So there are no spreaders to deal with like on many other types of sailboats. There are two hanger lines that support the wishbone boom though. I don't have to go up the mast too often. Usually just in the spring and fall when stepping and unstepping the mast. I can use a folding ladder to reach the hanger lines for the quick disconnect that I have to do.  There is no need to drag out a Bosun's Chair. However, this video looks like it might offer an interesting alternative for climbing the mast that also does not involve the ladder or Bosun's chair:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


It's getting to be that time of year again when gift giving becomes a priority for many. It can be hard for sailors and landlubbers to find gifts for their boater friends. May I suggest this little stocking stuffer for the boaters on your list. Anchor Hocking Measuring Shot Glass. I personally use it quite a bit in the galley when cooking or when making a Bloody Bianka or Rum Spritzer for my sunset libation. It's suitably nautical in appearance for any boat. It can also be a nice thank you gift if you are invited aboard for an afternoon on the water not just during the Christmas holidays.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Snug Harbor 2015

BIANKA is back on land for the winter but, in good company. It was a great sailing season but, winter is a good time to catch up on publishing some overdue blog posts. It's also a time to do some of those projects I thought I'd get to work on during the sailing season but, somehow I never did. The good news is the Super El Nino in the Pacific  is supposed to help allow for a more moderate winter here in the Northeast compared to last year. I hope they are right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


"Time and tide wait for no man" 
Geoffrey Chaucer

 Well it's the end of the sailing season for BIANKA and I here in the northeast U.S. The boat is at the dock to have the mast unstepped and to be put on land for the winter.  I need to take a number of heavy bulky items off the boat and having the boat at the dock makes it easier than when she is on the jack stands. While  Chaucer says time and tide wait for no man I do just the opposite and wait for the right tide.  Removing the heavy items such as the 540 feet of sail stowed in a large sail bag, the Sailrite sewing machine or the Honda 2000 generator is best done at high tide.  Then the gangway that leads to land and the car is at it's most horizontal position. A prudent mariner waits for time and tide to accomplish such moves. Might as well make it as easy as possible if you can.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without

I try to live by the above proverb on both land and sea. I will try to not throw something out until it has no useful function for me. Even then I try an recycle it if I can. A long time ago I bought a boat bag from L.L. Bean. I think it must have been over twenty years ago. It's been around and is beaten up and worn but, still was useful for carrying things. That is until the handles broke recently. The carrying part of the bag was still very usable.  So when I bought my Sailrite Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 Sewing Machine last year one of the first projects was to

Saturday, October 17, 2015


The three days hunkering down below waiting for the Nor' Easter to pass gave me time to work on some projects that have been on the "To Do"  list. I have three aerosol products that I try to keep handy in the tool locker. They are Corrosion Block, Boeshield T-9 and PB Blaster.  I often have to rummage through other items to get to them. Somewhat of a pain when all I need to do is grab one of them for a quick spray. So I came up with an idea of hanging a fabric pocket made out of some knock off Sunbrella material I had on board and hanging it on the inside of the tool locker door to hold the cans. It was a quick job using my Sailrite LSZ-1 Sewing Machine to put it together:

This allows for much easier access to them and utilizes the space inside the tool locker  much better. Not to mention less aggravation trying to find the cans among the other stored items


Saturday, October 03, 2015


It's with some relief that hurricane Joaquin will not be making landfall here as it tracks out to sea. But, these nor' easter conditions is no day at the beach either. It's been blowing a pretty steady 20 knots in the harbor. I've measured gusts as high as 32! It was apparently too much for this day sailing cat boat on a mooring near BIANKA:

Which sunk sometime during the night. I thought I saw the young owners on the beach trying to comfort each other as they came to check on their boat. Meanwhile, the gale warnings continue into tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the winds calming down. But, perhaps this is what happens when a boat on a neighboring mooring is named Storm Chaser:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


BLOG UPDATE 10/2/15 10:46 PM
On board and waiting for the winds to stop. Thankful that Joaquin looks like it will be heading out to sea and not hitting this area.  The current Gale warnings are exciting enough. Clocked a 30 knot gust on the mooring today. Winds have been relentless since yesterday afternoon:

339 PM EDT FRI OCT 2 2015


  WAVES 3 TO 5 FT.



BLOG UPDATE 10/1/15 12:14PM

Just got this email from the Town:

"Dear Mooring Holder,
The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy rains, high winds and coastal flooding over the next several days, with the possibility of Tropical Storm Joaquin making landfall in the area early next week.
 Because of this, we strongly recommend that all boat owners take necessary precautions to secure their vessels or remove them from the harbor in advance of this severe weather."

This is not shaping up to be fun weekend on the waters here on the Isle of Long. Hurricane Joaquin may be making it's way up the coast. But, before it even may even arrive we will have gale conditions on Friday into Saturday and coastal flood warnings are already in effect.  Time to prepare and hope BIANKA's luck holds out through another storm.

BLOG UPDATE 10/1/15 : 

I went down to the boatyard to see went to the boat yard to see what the scuttlebutt was about the weather and Hurricane Joaquin. Though the persistent northeasterly winds have kept piling up the water in Long Island Sound. So much so that coastal flooding is already occurring. I had to make a detour to reach my destination because of the flooding. This even before Hurricane Joaquin influences the area.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


I've been catching up on some projects I've been wanting to do as the sailing season heads to an end. Some of which involve using my fairly new Sailrite LSZ-1 Sewing Machine. I bought a bunch of stuff on board to use and help with the planned projects. Things like tape measures, fabrics, snap hardware and the like. But, I found that I did not bring a straight edge ruler. So making straight hem lines has been a little awkward. The simple straight edge really comes in handy when extending and measuring lines too. So I looked around the boat and found my Weems & Plath Marine Navigation Plotting Tools are coming in very handy when measuring and drawing on various fabric pieces. Seems the same tools used for  drawing straight lines on a chart also help do the same on Sunbrella fabric. So I really don't need the straight edge rulers at all.

Monday, September 21, 2015


It's the last few days of summer though today it seems like fall has arrived a few days early. For the first time this season I covered my self with the goose down comforter in my bunk last night. This morning I put on my wool watch cap while having my morning coffee in the cockpit another first. The cool northwest wind is just another reminder that the sailing season here in the northeast is coming to an end soon. I also noticed that I have not seen an Osprey working the harbor in over a week. The sunsets are noticeably earlier too.  I'm just trying to figure where did the summer go? The good thing is I am getting a little more productive working on some of the projects that I thought I would have had finished by now. Why does it take until the end of the season to get things started? Perhaps because I spent most of the summer just enjoying being on BIANKA and that is not such a bad thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I've been using the Electric Paddle outboard on my Porta Boat dingy for two seasons now. I use it much more than the 35 pound Honda BP2 Four Stroke outboard it replaced. It's light weighing only eight pounds for the motor and eight pounds for the battery pack.  It's well designed and made in the U.S. The company also has great customer service and follow up with customers. As I said the design is well thought out but I thought the battery pack could be modified to make it even easier for me when I use it in my dingy. So I...

Monday, September 07, 2015


It's Labor Day here in the United States and the last day of a three day holiday weekend for many. It also can signify the end of the summer season for them. As of tomorrow vacations are over, the kids go back to school etc... Though according to the calendar here in this hemisphere summer does not end until around September 21st. But, there are many other ways to view the end of summer. Personally, I have a few hints that I use. One is when I no longer see an Osprey flying around the harbor searching for fish to eat. Once I notice that I know the summer season has come to an end. Another is when Nor'easters start making their way up the coast. I know then it's time to pull the boat and call it an end to this years sailing.
I'll be on the boat this Labor Day but, I won't leave the mooring. I'll let those who are cherishing this day as the last of their summer just enjoy the waters. I won't add to the congestion. I'll watch them come and go knowing that starting tomorrow there will be fewer and fewer boats out on the water. Anchorages will be empty and I'll enjoy them as my summer on board BIANKA will continue. Yes, tomorrow the waters will be less crowded as if someone has thrown a switch.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Just after returning back to the BIANKA's homeport mooring after a two week cruise I ran out of water. Both tanks were dry and my  Brita Water Dispenser had just a little bit left. I knew I would have to refill at least one of the water tanks. I had enough drinking water to at least make a cup of coffee and took it to the cockpit.  I was feeling lazy and the thought of having to dig out the fenders and lines rig them up and head for the dock seemed like to much work this hot summer morning. Not to mention the stress of docking single handed with wile harbor currents playing games with the keel. Checking the scene at the face dock the idea was moot anyway since a sport fisherman had already tied up in the spot I needed. The town dock at the other end of the harbor was another possibility. They had a twenty minute rule which would be enough to fill the water tanks but, it was the weekend and there was no telling how many boats were lined up waiting to use it. As I took another sip of coffee I had an AHA! thought...

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I'm keeping a weather eye on Hurricane Danny which looks like it will be breaking bad for a lot of sailors in the Caribbean area the next couple of days. Even though it is far from my local waters at this point. I found out such storms can sneak up on you if your guard is down. A number of years ago my gal and I were vacationing at Montauk on the eastern end of Long Island. We took a ferry over to Block Island and listened to a Park Ranger describe her family's experience during the Hurricane of 1938. We wondered why she was going on about it so much. We soon found out that indeed a Hurricane was heading for our area in the next day or two. Being on vacation we had been in a media blackout. It was the days before smart phones and wifi. We got back on the last ferry to Montauk and hightailed out of our motel room a day early. My girlfriend got on the last Long Island Railroad train heading to New York on the mainline before a tree across the tracks and shut it down. Since that time I now know to keep a weather eye on storms brewing in the Caribbean well in advance of their movements north.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


As BIANKA was tied to the dock so I could fill the waters tanks a fellow sailor whose boat is on a nearby mooring came by in his dingy. He just returned from a week long cruise and offered some of his left over provisions. Including a loaf of Wonder Bread. I do have a Zojirushi Mini Breadmaker bread maker on board. But, I had not not yet made any. So I took the bread and some of the other items offered. I used some of his donated bread for French Toast, Egg Sandwiches and such on the cruise. When I make bread on board using the bread maker it usually lasts a few days before it starts to go stale. But, here it is a week and half after I received the donated bread and it is still not stale or moldy. Amazing!  Though like it's name says I do have to wonder how it remains fresh after almost two weeks. There certainly is a difference in the amount of time between my homemade bread and the store bought Wonder Bread lasts.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


I'm currently on a quick cruise to New York. When I was a child my parents would take me on vacation during the summer. On some of the trips we would travel over the Throgs Neck Bridge. Looking out the car window I would sometimes see a boat anchored a place called Little Bay just east of the bridge. Recently I was there to wait for the ebb current that will help carry the BIANKA down the East River. As a child in the car I wondered why is that boat anchored there? As I sat having my coffee on board I wondered if some of the cars passing over the bridge also had children who wondered the same thing as I did as a child?
Sent from on board BIANKA

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


A few weeks ago I did another of the annual harbor tests I have been doing on BIANKA's electric propulsion system. Here is a graph of the results:

Results are similar to least years tests with no real significant differences. Here is a graph of this years data compared with the 2014 test:

Some of the other data comparisons of the tests:

 The % battery at the end of the test was 89.7% compared to 90.6% last year.

The Amp Hours used for the test was 16.5 compared to 15.2 for the 2014 test.

NOTE: Some of the increase may be due to the distance traveled for the the test. This year the distance traveled for the test was 2.2 nm while in 2014 it was 1.8 nm. The difference might be explained by the location of the buoys which are removed and replaced each year in the harbor.

The tests show that the Thoosa electric propulsion system is still preforming well. It has been eight years after I installed it.  Along with  the reduction in maintenance and cost savings it continues to reinforce the notion  that it was a good decision to convert to electric propulsion back in 2007.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Winds and WIFI

I have not been posting too much on this Blog lately. Not because there is nothing to write about but, because the cellular/internet connection is so bad in BIANKA's home port. It makes posting frustrating and tedious. Much like the winds yesterday as I started a cruise to New York which were light and from the wrong direction. So I decided to change my plans and ducked into a harbor only three miles from the homeport where the cell signals are better. I'll hang out here for a few days enjoying the better communications and sunsets. Cruising is sometimes about just finding a better place. Even if it is only a few miles down the coast.
Sent from on board BIANKA

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I've been wearing an inflatable Life Jacket on board BIANKA for decades. Happily, I've never had to use it.  Since it has automatic inflation I've always thought it would save me if I ever went into the water in an unconscious state. I thought it was the best lifesaving device I could wear until I saw...

Sunday, July 12, 2015


It's nice when a project lends it's self to another project benefit. Such was the case with the cabin wood molding project I completed to cover up the handrail access openings. I thought that I might mount a fan to the molding at some point. But, then I thought that  the wood molding strip would also provide an excellent mounting place for ...

Monday, July 06, 2015


Looking through my emergency signalling canister this spring I found four handheld Handheld Signal Flares. Since it was the Fourth of July I thought it might be a good time to dispose of them by lighting them off on the shore. Seems to me learning and lighting about emergency signal flares is best tried with out being under an emergency situation. So soon after sunset I took the dingy to shore along with a large metal can that I would use to hold the flares after I set them off. It was an eye opening experience. While these flares are meant to be handheld the flame is extremely hot. They can also sputter dropping hot flaming particles about. How hot are these flares? Hot enough to melt through the metal can that I put them in:

That's pretty hot! If a handheld emergency flare can melt the metal can. Imagine what it will do to a fiberglass deck or the pontoon of an inflatable!
LESSON LEARNED: If you need to light an emergency handheld flare make sure you hold it far enough over the side so that it won't cause a fire on deck or damage your life raft.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


Showing the flag on the Fourth of July is always seems a little more special somehow.
Sent from on board BIANKA

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS: Honda 2000i Oil Change Help

One of the maintenance rituals I do before launching is to change the oil in the Honda 2000 EU generator. I've been able to significantly reduce the the mess of this procedure by using a Hopkins Measure Funnel:

While this eliminates a lot of the mess of the oil changing procedure I still...

Friday, June 26, 2015


Builders of production boats have tended to put decorative headliners into their design so they could make them all nice and pretty for some buyers. The sleek clean interior helps sell boats along with other useless things like three burner stoves and ovens. While headliners make things all nice and "purty" they can also cover up deck fittings that are leaking and also make maintenance of deck mounted items harder. As I found out several years ago when I decided to remove and remount the handrails on BIANKA. The boat builder drilled small little holes in the liner to access the screws that held the handrails to the deck:

They then covered the holes with small plastic caps. It looked neat but, it was a pain when I started on the project to remove the hand rails so I decided to...

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Sometimes you just have to know when to stop doing some optional maintenance that is going to turn out to be more of a problem than it's worth. A while ago I had two equipment failures located in the same area and sharing the same wiring. One was the anchor washdown pump and the other was the Jabsco macerator pump. Since they both were fed from the same breaker and stopped working at the same time I thought it was too much of a coincidence that they both would fail at the same time. It was not. I worked on the Flojet washdown pump first and found it's problem was a faulty corroded pressure switch. Then a week ago I decided to finally take a look at the macerator pump issue. Since I thought at first it might be a power issue I decided to rewire the pump using Anderson Power Pole connectors. Using the30 amp connectors would make removing and testing the pump easier now and in the future. It would also help clean up some of the wiring. The macerator pump power was originally operated through a on/off /on switch that powered the washdown pump or the macerator pump depending on which position the switch was set:

So I wired two Powerpole connectors directly to the pump power wires:

I found some trouble shooting info on one of the sailing websites that some times the macerator pump is jammed. But, there is a cap on the back of the motor that could be removed and a screwdriver inserted onto the macerator pump motor shaft to turn it and clear the jam. Unfortunately, my twenty eight year old pump must have been one of the early ones and did not have the mentioned cap. So it looks like I will have to remove the pump to investigate further. In addition a ball valve on the output of the pump was jammed and would not budge. Since the input to the macerator pump also had a T that also connected to the holding tank output. Taking the pump out would now make the holding tank unable to be emptied by the usual means like a pump out:

So I decided that this project would be best done in the off season when I have more time to deal with working in the confined space where these components are located. My time is better spent now getting the boat ready for launching for the season. Sometimes you just have to know when to stop on some projects.