Saturday, February 20, 2016


After a heavy rain had melted much of the snow left from the recent snow storms. I thought I would make another trip to the boatyard and check up on things again. I got to the boatyard and started chatting with the usual crowd that was hanging out in the warm boatyard office. I continued the gam with another boater outside who was heading to the British Virgin Islands the following week to charter a Catamaran. Something I had done for most of January. After that was finished I noticed how cold it was and thought maybe I should come back on the weekend when it would be noticeably warmer than the lower forty degree Fahrenheit day it was. The breeze did not help make it any warmer. I got in the car to warm up and decide what to do. I then thought well I was already here might as well drag out the folding ladder from back of the car and do a quick check. I'm glad I did. Things had taken a turn for the worse since the previous check I had done the week before. The first and most critical thing I noticed even before I climbed on to the boat. One of the frame struts for the solar bimini was no longer connected to the deck hinge:

 This no doubt happened during the 30 to 50 MPH winds during the recent rains. The winds vibrated the frame enough to loosen the screw that held the end cap to the deck hinge. Luckily the screw fell inside the cockpit and was easily found and the frame secured.

The next thing I noticed is that the piece of Lexan that bridged the gap between the two 75 watt solar panels on the solar bimini was gone:

I mean really gone. I could not find it anywhere The same winds that loosened the bimini hardware no doubt sent this piece of plastic flying. This will have to be replaced later during spring outfitting. I have some new ideas for this area anyway.

The last thing I noticed is that the Hydrofarm 5-Gallon Black Bucket had split open:

No doubt from the water accumulating and freezing in it. The bucket had done a great job of providing solar heated rinse water after swims off of BIANKA. But, apparently was not durable enough as some other buckets that have survived the winters unscathed. A replacement will be ordered and stored down below next winter.

On the bright side the small cube ceramic heater I mentioned in the previous post had decided to start working again and provided some much needed heat as I wrestled with the cold stainless steel tubing of the bimini frame. I was glad I decided to do that quick check of the boat instead of heading back home. Things can change dramatically on board in a week even with the weather warming up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Having spent most of January cruising in the Caribbean I was lucky enough to miss JONAS the named blizzard that hit the area. Luckily there was no Arctic freeze following the storm and temperatures rose melting much of the snow before I returned.   So unlike last winter I was easily able to get down to the boatyard and check on BIANKA and see how she fared while I was away.
The deck cockpit and the deck on the south facing side had very little snow on them. The Solar Bimini where I had not yet reinforced the Lexan center piece had collapsed on one edge dumping some snow into the corner of the cockpit.

Something I will take care of once things warm up. For now I re positioned it back and slide a temporary brace underneath it. The deck area on the northern side of the boat still had about two inches of slushy snow and ice. I thought there would be more snow and bought a plastic folding shovel along to help remove it:

 I got this folding plastic shovel many years ago as a Christmas present. It's made for carrying in the car. But, I found a better use for it on board to help remove any snow and ice on the deck that might linger over the winter. It's small enough for the deck area and it being plastic does not mar the deck.

The cover over the mast partners was still secure so it was time to see how things were in the cabin. I looked in the bilge and there was a little bit of water in the bilge. Not surprising since the boat had been through a major Blizzard two weeks before.

I used my two gallon wet/dry vacuum to suck the water out and splashed some more antifreeze into the bilge:

 This should help keep things unfrozen until I can once again check on things in another week or so. I did find one item that gave up the ghost from the last time I used it last winter. That was the small ceramic cube electric heater:
It was still putting out heat but, the fan was not working. It was on BIANKA when I bought her in 1995 and was working last winter helping to keep me warm while working on board. Though I guess twenty plus years is a pretty good run. I'll probably buy a replacement for the next visit.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


The FONTUS water collector. This is a product currently under development that bears watching:

 Of course it would have to be tested at sea. But, could become standard equipment in every ditch bag or life raft if it works as good as this video shows. Especially if it can be scaled up.