Friday, December 29, 2017


I am still amazed that ten years after I converted to Electric Propulsion I still find items from BIANKA's diesel days around. The latest items were some MDR Diesel Water Zorb and a bottle of Valvtech Bio Guard. A reminder of just two of the ancillary items I use to carry on the boat to keep the old diesel engine running and are no longer needed once I converted BIANKA to electric propulsion.

What to do with these and other items I no longer have a need for on board BIANKA. I don't like to see anything end up in a landfill. The answer for me it is to donate them to a local nonprofit sailing organization. Their boat still has a diesel engine and can use these fuel tank additives. I previously donated an old Honda 650 generator to them and recently found the manual for it. I also donated a lightly used Brownies Third Lung Dive Hose Kit and a Add A Diver Kit . I only used the Hose Kit  a few times to clean the bottom of the boat. Because it required having a scuba tank on board that was heavy, took up space and needed to be refilled it was not as useful as I thought it would be. These items were on the boat and then sitting around the house for a decade or more. So with the coming of a new year it got me motivated  to finally get them out of the way. The end of the year is a good time for "out with the old and in with the new" type of thinking.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The cold chilly days are not very enticing to get me to head down to visit BIANKA. But, if the forecast calls for a sunny day and the temperature in the 50 degree Fahrenheit range I'm willing to make the journey. So that's what I did yesterday. I had no major plans just to check on the boat and especially the bilge and throw a quick charge on the battery banks. Still there is always something to do while waiting for the battery charger to top things off. When I had the yard unstep the mast in October I just threw the rigging lines into the cabin:

Since they are blocking access to the tool cabinet I tied them up neatly and stowed them out of the way in the forward cabin.

 I also found out that Hand Vacuum's battery I use for quick clean ups had run down a bit. So I charged it up too.

I also removed the last remaining food items from the Engel refrigerator and shut it down for the winter. Just a can of Seltzer and some V8 Juice.  

Risky to leave such items on board over the winter since the liquids can freeze and the can burst. I also took the time to tape up the locker cockpit hatches so there is little chance of rain or snow making it's way through the cracks.

 Finally a quick check of the bilge showed no appreciable water. So that was good. Even with just a quick visit I felt I had got a few things done until the next warm day comes along and a visit to the boatyard seems like a good idea.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


Here is another gift suggestion for any boater who has a dingy or rowboat. An ATTWOOD PORTABLE PUMP. I use one and it beats using a hand pump to empty a dingy after a rain or in my case one that had a hard to find slow leak. Could also be used to drain water tanks and coolers. Any boater would be pleased to have this handy pump around to help drain things quickly and effortlessly.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Here are some gift ideas for the boaters in your life. I use and/or own them and found them to be worthy of being on the boat.

I never liked those small Speedo swim googles. They never fit my face quite right and leak pretty badly disrupting my swimming workout. Then I found these Aqua Sphere Swim Mask Googles. They are comfortable, fit over the eyes and don't leak like the small googles I tried in the past. I've been using a pair five days a week for over a year in a pool and they are still holding up well. I bought another pair for on board the boat. I use these for swimming or quick checks of the hull and prop instead of dragging out the mask and snorkel. They could also come in handy checking the lines or anchor on deck when the winds and rains making inspecting the lines for chafe difficult. If you know a boater who likes to swim they should make the perfect gift.

I carried rescue flares on board BIANKA which I never hoped to use and never have. The problem with the flares is they go out of date. Which requires you purchase new ones every few years. Another thing is being incendiaries they can be dangerous in starting fires or damaging fiberglass if used incorrectly.  The SOS LED Distress light gets rid of those issues and meets the requirements night rescue signals. You can still carry flares if you want to. But, this SOS light will last a lot longer without any of the danger of pyrotechnic flares.  It would be a welcome gift for any boater. I bought one for myself and no longer have to worry about if my flares are up to date.

I don't have an elaborate stereo sound system on BIANKA. I prefer the sounds of nature over a powerful music system. But, when I do want to hear some tunes or check on some of the latest news this small radio and MP3 players fits the bill. It has great sound for it's small size. It can also easily fit inside my shirt pocket. It charges up with any USB charger and will last about five hours on a charge. It also has a micro SD card slot so you can play your own selection of tunes when you want. It also has a handy LED flashlight built in too. Even if your boat already has a radio this compact handy radio will come in handy for trips to shore or the beach. In addition to having one on the boat I also bought one for the house to use as an emergency radio

So these are a few quick gift ideas I can recommend for the boaters in your life or if you are a boat owner already you might want to buy it for yourself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Back in October I found myself in Washington D.C. on the same weekend as the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Even though I never consider replacing my current boat and never feel compelled to go on any new models. I do like wandering around the tents looking at the wares and asking questions. After buying my ticket on line it was a quick forty five minute drive from D.C. to the Annapolis Navy Academy parking lot where I took the free shuttle bus to the show site. It was an unusually warm day for October so it was a little hot inside the tents:

There was not much I really needed on the boat but, I did spend a little time at the Raritan booth discussing the upcoming replacing of the head hoses and a new Macerator pump on BIANKA:

While there I did pick up a bottle of their excellent product C.P. (Cleans Potties) cleaner. That was available at a special boat show price saving me a few bucks:

Been using the product for years to clean the head area on board BIANKA. I also did a quick glance at the BETA Marine Motors on display:

I was thinking about when I visited the same booth back in 2007. It was when I was looking for a replacement of my dead diesel on board BIANKA. I seriously considered a Beta engine before my epiphany of converting my sailboat to Electric Propulsion. So glad I went with EP though instead.
I stopped by the Annapolis Hybrid Marine booth distributors of the Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system used on my boat. I also stopped at the PropEle Electric Motors booth. To see their new EP Carry out board which I had pre-orderd a few months before.  Soon I was getting hungry and sweating from the heat. It was time to duck into the normally members only Fleet Reserve Club for lunch. The air conditioning felt good and the New England Chowder and fresh Pretzel for dipping into it hit the spot:

After lunch I checked out a few more booths like FORESPAR where I checked out their dingy davit system which I am considering installing on BIANKA at some point:

Another quick stop at the SAMPSON ROPE booth to get some information about  replacing BIANKA's aging wire life lines with some new high tech synthetic lines. After that the heat just about wiped me out and I decided to take the bus back to the car and head back to D.C. I did not get to see every booth but, got what I came for in terms of information. All and all not a bad way to spend part of the afternoon at the end of the season.

Friday, October 06, 2017


I had BIANKA pulled and stored in the boatyard for the winter last week. It was time there was a near brush with Hurricane Jose which came up the coast. It's also the time of the year when Nor'easters start forming making for cold, wet windy weather. I was triggered a few weeks ago while sitting in the cockpit noticing how early the sun was going down and also how cold it was while wearing my wool watch cap. It warmed up a little since then but, nature keeps sending it's reminders that it is time to end the sailing season:

Next week the remnants of Hurricane Nate will be impacting the area. Though it should only bring a heavy rain to the area. It is just another sign that it's time to pull the boat for the winter

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

HURRICANE UPDATE: Tropical Tidbits Update

When Hurricanes start appearing in the Caribbean I try to keep a weather eye on them. Just so I'm not surprised should they decide to head up the East Coast of the United States and into my area. Hurricane Irma looks like it will not be a threat to BIANKA. But, it is a serious storm for those in it's path. One of my go to sites on the Internet to get a handle on what's going on with these storms is Tropical Tidbits. Levi Cowan does an excellent job of independent analysis to show what is going on and what may happen with Hurricanes along with serious caveats so people don't get to complacent.  Here is the latest update:

Saturday, August 12, 2017


It's been a busy summer for me so I have not been on BIANKA as often as I was in past seasons. But, I finally got around to installing the new upgraded motor controller. This is one of advantages of electric propulsion i.e. is the ability to upgrade various components of the system. The original controller gave me eight trouble free years of operation. But, at the beginning of last season after the boat was launched I went to leave the dock and had no power from the controller. I spoke to Dave at Annapolis Hybrid
Marine about it. He mentioned there had been a few of these mysterious failures of the Navitas 400 controllers and as a result they had changed controller brands. Though the new controller they install does not fit in the same box as the older Navitas TPM 400 controllers.  So as I saw it I had several options (which is another advantage of Electric Propulsion) :

1) Was to keep the current controller box and buy a new NAVITAS TPM 400 controller to replace the dead one. This would be the cheapest remedy. But, even though the original controller gave me eight years of trouble free service there was no guarantee a replacement would do the same.

2) Buy a new box with the new upgraded Sigma controller. This would effectively give me a brand new Thoosa 9000 system. Since the controller is the heart of an EP system. Only the motor, batteries, and a few other things like the Speed control, battery charger would be original.

3) Dave at Annapolis Hybrid offered another solution. If I did not have to use max power of my current system they could fit a smaller controller in my current controller box which would save me the cost of the new controller box. I never did have to pull max amps from the controller so this would probably work for me.

After thinking about it over the winter I decided to buy the new upgraded controller and box. Even though I probably would never draw max amps from the controller I did not like worrying about limitations of using a smaller controller in the current box.  Likewise since the original Navitas controller died suddenly that would also be in the back of my mind while cruising. So buying the new upgraded Thoosa 9000 controller seems like the best way to go.

I'll be showing the installation upgrade procedure in the next Post.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


I was attracted to the idea of electric propulsion because it seemed like a cleaner and simpler system to propel the boat than the hot stinky diesel engine. It is all this and more. Even I was surprised how easy it is to maintain and upgrade which I will do in the next few weeks when I install a new controller box. Which only has a few components in it and is very simple to trouble shoot.  I know this because I have opened it up and looked inside. What I did not know was how simple that even the LEMCO motor that the controller connects to was also very simple and repairable. That is until I came across this video of a fellow who has converted a Cabin Cruiser to electric propulsion. He has had the experience of taking apart and repairing the motor and produced a video of it that I found very interesting:

Saturday, July 08, 2017

ERIC FORSYTH: An Inexplicable Attraction

There are few things I like better at the end of the day then to climb into my bunk on BIANKA with a good read. It just puts a nice finish to the day spent on board. The book I just started and am enjoying very much is An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing by Eric Forsyth. Long before You Tube bought us the cruising video sailing stars like S/V Delos, La Vagabounde, Drake Paragon etc... There was Eric Forsyth sailing around the world on his Westsail 42. Which he purchased as a bare hull had it shipped across the country and spent several years turning it into the boat that would take him on voyages across oceans and into the Arctic and even through the Northwest Passage. Eric finds the voyage not the destination the fun part of his cruises. Though from what I have read so far he provides interesting tidbits of history in some of his stops too. 
I was happy to attend the book's release party since he lives not far away from me along with his boat FIONA's homeport. I purchased his book on KINDLE since BIANKA's bookshelves can no longer hold anymore books.  Unfortunately, the thing about buying books on Kindle is the author can not sign their manuscripts. But, I did the next best thing and had Forsyth hold my Kindle for a photo. 
At 83 years old Forsyth does not appear to be slowing down.  He is busy preparing for his next voyage. Perhaps not as challenging as some as his polar trips but, challenging enough for most sailors. Just a simple circumnavigation of the North Atlantic ocean. There was a map on the wall of the boat barn showing his planned route:

But, in reading his book often things don't go as planned. But, Forsyth and his crew are up to the challenges and that's what makes his book An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing  such a good read. I'm enjoying it and recommend it.

Monday, July 03, 2017


Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


I spent the last week out on the east end of Long Island. Where my girlfriend likes to take a beach vacation now and then. It was a nice week full of chowders, wine, lobsters and such. But, I also was reminded it's time to get BIANKA in the water. Reminders were everywhere I looked. We would be dining at one of the local restaurants at the Inlet to Lake Montauk and my eyes would be fixated on a sailboat a few miles out after rounding the nearby point. It got me wishing I was out there on BIANKA. A walk along the beach had me looking out to sea and once again thinking of doing a solo around Long Island cruise.  Well the vacation is over and the prop is polished. I have my 2017 copy of the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book already on board. The boatyard should have painted the bottom this past week. All that remains is to put on the new zinc on the prop shaft. So I expect to have BIANKA floating at her mooring this week. Both of us have been too long on the shore.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


I've been debating about trying to get another season out of my eight foot Porta Bote dingy. It has been a sturdy trusty kit. I bought it in 2000 after the original fiberglass dingy that came with BIANKA was lost in a gale coming back from New York. After seventeen years it does not owe me anything. I've done a few repairs over the years on things like the oars. I also upgraded parts of it after some wear and tear required it. Things like the rear seat and replacing a delaminating transom.  Last year it developed a small annoying leak. I could try and fix it but, since it's been seventeen years and the Porta Bote  company has made a number of improvements on an already pretty good product. I feel it's time for a new one. I'll report on the replacement once it arrives in a few weeks. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


It was the third day of the heatwave yesterday. I was on board BIANKA sweating and doing my best to keep hydrated. When I looked at the weather station in the cabin and saw the temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit both inside the cabin and outside in the cockpit.

Luckily the sea breeze finally made it across the island and knocked the temperature back down into the 90's.

It was another reminder to get BIANKA launched soon. Having her 5000 pound keel back in cooler waters will keep me cooler as well.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey. 
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again. 
Shiver in my bones, just thinking about the weather. 
Quiver in my lip as if I might cry.
                                                                                                -10,000 Maniacs

Nothing real urgent is preventing me from launching BIANKA except this cold wet Spring weather. It just has not been very conducive to splashing the boat only to have it sit on the mooring.  I know i'll resist heading to the boatyard knowing I have to bailout the dingy on these cold drizzly days. I don't know if it is my retirement pace or age that is causing this years procrastination. But, I expect I'll soon snap out of it as soon as this unusually cold wet weather passes.

Friday, May 19, 2017


Things always seem to be breaking on a boat except when they are not really broken. Let me explain.  I often fall into the trap of expecting the worse when it turns out there was never really a problem at all. One must resist the urge to tear apart a system until one has sat back and thought about why something that was working yesterday is not working today. It is useful to ask what may have changed before you pull out the tools. Even though I know this I still get caught at least once or twice a year thinking some device has failed when it actually was not the case. Here is an example from last fall:

Even as I commence spring outfitting this year I was mistaken I had another pump failure. I filled one of BIANKA's water tanks so I would have some water to use for cleaning up the boat. I then turned on the water pump switch heard it come on then stop. But, when I went to the faucet there was no water pressure. Another pump failure I thought. I pulled out my volt meter and went to check the voltages at the water pump connections. No voltage. Aha must be a bad switch at the electric panel. It took me a few minutes to realize I was not turning on the water pump breaker but, was actually hitting the washdown pump switch instead!

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Robert Pirsig passed away recently he was 88 and the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance . He was also a sailor and lived on a sailboat for a number of years. He understood what cruising and being on a boat for longer than an afternoon sail was all about as this passage from him shows:

"...Those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities."-Robert Pirsig

Sail on Robert!

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I made a post a few weeks ago about an underwater drone geared toward fisherman that I thought might be useful on board BIANKA if the price was reasonable. Since it is over the one thousand dollar mark I scrubbed that idea. But, doing further research I can upon an alternative underwater drone that was in an acceptable price range for my budget. The only problem is it has not yet hit the market and will not be available until at least June. So placing an order for a non existent product is somewhat a leap of faith. But, I have been there before. Like in 2007 when I decided to convert BIANKA from having a diesel engine to installing electric propulsion. Not a lot of sailboats had done such a conversion at that time. So I had no real models to follow. Though since this drone is considerably cheaper than the EP conversion it is a much better risk. At around $500 the Fathom One drone is the right price for my budget and so I decided to take the leap and buy one sight unseen.
I'm looking at the drone as another tool to have on board not a toy. My primary reason for buying it is to use as a visual check on how BIANKA's anchor is set.  The five hundred dollar price seems worth it if it helps me know that my much more expensive boat is anchored well so I can sleep at night. It can also help me see what the anchor might be hung up on if I sould have trouble raising it. Another use might be to find an item accidently lost over board. Of course it might also be fun to see what lies below the boat too. But, checking the anchor will be it's primary use. I will post more details and show how the Fathom One works out once I have it on board and can test it's abilities. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


A nice 60 degree F day in between rain storms. It has be awhile since I've checked on BIANKA about a month. Since that time we've had a near blizzard and some pretty heavy rains. I don't shrink wrap BIANKA for the winter having found the boat when shrink wrapped develops mildew in spots and generally tends to get grimy and feel humid when shrink wrapped. So I was surprised to see despite the snows and rains of the last month BIANKA's bilge was pretty dry except for the splash of antifreeze I left in it during my last visit:

She's a pretty tight boat. I think I helped make her tighter by taping over the cockpit hatches. This prevents excess water, ice and snow from leaking down below. Probably something I should do every year when storing her for the winter.

I just did a quick check and took some photos of a few things that are on the maintenance list. One of the items is the jammed Maceration pump. I'm not looking forward to working on this item for a number of reasons but, mostly because it's location looks like it is going to be a pain to get access to and remove. While taking some photos of the pump area I noticed that one of the clamps that secures the head intake and wash down hoses was severely rusted:

This is a boat sinking issue and it is moved to the top of the list of Spring Outfitting issues to address.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


At some point this spring on my checklist of things I will check on the expiration date of the emergency flares I have on board. Though the flare testing I did on a few of the expired flares two years ago has me a little apprehensive as to how safe they are to actually use in an emergency situation. Here is a link to the post on that experience. That's why this year I am planning on buying a Weems and Plath Emergency SOS Distress Light  in my on board safety kit. There are a couple of real good reasons to have one on board. For one thing it will flash for 60 hours (2.5 Days) so it can be left on constantly as opposed to having to a limited number of flares that one has to think about rationing. Another reason is it requires no further action other than turning it on.  So it can be quickly left on deck so that one can go back and hopefully deal and correct whatever emergency situation caused one to call for help in the first place.  Someone has to be on deck to launch a meteor flare or hold a handheld one. A problem when one is sailing alone or with inexperienced passengers. It also floats which is an important consideration if one has to enter the water. Plus it's portable so you could take it with you and use it in the dingy too. It would be real handy should your outboard fail in the night on the ride back to the boat. Best of all it does not expire. Though it is recommend the three C batteries that power it be replaced every year. Considering that the cost of replacing one set of expired meteor and handheld flares is more than half of what the Weems and Plath Distress light costs. It seems like much better deal. In addition it comes with a bight orange distress flag so your boat is covered for both day and night emergency situations. Here is a little more on the light:
I probably will still carry flares but, I will probably use this Weems and Plath SOS light as my primary signaling device as it seems safer, constant and more convenient than dealing with emergency pyro technics onboard.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


"Using a satnav to get to your destination 'switches off' parts of the brain that would otherwise be used to simulate different routes, reveals new UCL research.
The study, published in Nature Communications and funded by Wellcome, involved 24 volunteers navigating a simulation of Soho in central London while undergoing brain scans. The researchers investigated activity in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and navigation, and the prefrontal cortex which is involved in planning and decision-making. They also mapped the labyrinth of London's streets to understand how these brain regions reacted to them." - EUREKA ALERT

I always like to have some type of paper chart nearby when cruising. Even though I do have a chart plotter at the helm. Perhaps keep on plotting on it also like it just might be a good idea to keep the brain functioning well too! 

Monday, March 13, 2017


It's been several weeks since I last checked on BIANKA. Just when you feel the urge to go check on the boat this happens:


* Locations...Northeastern New Jersey, Rockland and Westchester
  New York, Southwest Connecticut and interior Southeast
  Connecticut, New York City, and Western Long Island.

* Hazard Types...Heavy Snow and Blizzard Conditions. Some freezing
  drizzle late Tuesday afternoon into early Tuesday evening.

* Snow Accumulations...12 to 24 inches.

* Ice Accumulations...A few hundredths of an inch or less.

* Snowfall Rates...2 inches to locally 3 inches per hour from
  very early Tuesday morning into Tuesday afternoon.

* Timing...Late Tonight through Tuesday evening.

* Impacts...Dangerous travel due to whiteout conditions at
  times. Several roads may become impassable. Power outages

* Winds...Northeast 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph.

* Temperatures...In the upper 20s.

* Visibilities...One quarter mile or less at times.


A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are
expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds
and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to whiteout
conditions...making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel. If
you must travel...have a winter survival kit with you. If you get
stranded...stay with your vehicle.

Looks like it will be a little while longer before I head back to the
boatyard. But, "hope SPRINGS eternal" In the meantime it's time to hum to 
a Randy Newman tune:

BLOG UPDATE: Looks like the dire warnings of Blizzard conditions failed to
materialize thanks to the storm moving more westward than planned. Fine with 
me as that means less snow to melt and the sooner I will start spring 
outfitting for the upcoming season. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


I've see some boats where people rig up hammocks to relax in. They never looked like they were all that comfortable in the long run. Especially if you have back issues. Others like bean bag chairs in the cockpit to relax in. But they take up a lot of room on the boat and can leak Styrofoam pellets all over when they break. I've also been wondering if it might be nice to carry a beach chair for an occasional relaxing afternoon on the beach. But, the idea of finding a place to store it on board has always dissuaded me. Then I just recently came across this:

It's a Vansky Inflatable Lounger. Basically it's a big air bag sofa one sits or lays in. Un-Inflated it folds into a small pack making storage on board easier. If you can find space on board it looks like it could replace the hammock, bean bag and beach chair.  I like that it is available in various colors. I personally like the Orange one for the boat so it might be able to be used in an emergency rescue situation. It requires no pump and is cheap enough it will not make too much of a dent in the cruising budget.

Here is a fellow checking one of them out:

Monday, February 20, 2017


Now that I've shown an example of how I am able to easily Electro-Sail with BIANKA when the winds fail to show up. I'll discuss the components that enable me to achieve it and some of the things I have learned in the past nine years since I converted BIANKA to Electric Propulsion.

My Thoosa 9000 EP system specifications were designed  for 20 miles at 4 knots. This was using my 8A4D AGM batteries only. I have never checked if this was the actual case nor do I want to unless it becomes necessary. BIANKA is a sailboat and I always prefer to use the sail for propulsion. Another reason to avoid trying to push the battery bank close to depletion is you decrease the amount charge cycles of the battery bank. As this chart below shows:

It's about saving the amps champs! But, that does not mean I just use the EP system to get into and out of the harbor. Which is very easy for an EP system to do. I tend to leave my home harbor for other destinations not just day sails. But, EP makes that easy to do too.

So what do I use when I feel the need to Electro Sail? I will first start out under battery power alone. I watch the XBM battery monitor to see when my battery back has dropped down to about 75% battery capacity from the 100% fully charged condition I started out with. This is about two hours after I have started motoring. As noted above this habit allows me to have more recharge cycles out of the battery over it's lifetime. This is better than depleting the bank to down say 50%. It also reduces the amount of time spent to charge the battery back up to 100%

So when the battery bank has dropped to the 75% capacity.  I fire up the Honda 2000i generator and plug in the ZIVAN NG-1 charger into it.
The ZIVAN has turned into a real workhorse and has been very reliable. When I first installed the Thoosa system back in 2008 I was concerned about what would happen if the charger went bad and could no longer charge the battery bank while on a cruise. So I bought a backup NG-1. I'm happy to say that the backup has remained in it's box for these past nine years and has never had to be put into service.  The ZIVAN also works well with the Honda 2000 generator. When I use it for Electro Sailing on BIANKA it functions as a power supply pushing out 15 amps of max current to propel the boat acting as a power supply to push the boat along. It's output is just 900 watts well within the maximum 1600 watts continuous rating of the Honda generator. As the graph below from one of my harbor tests shows that 900 watts allows me to motor BIANKA at around three knots without drawing any amps out of the battery bank:

 In fact it allows me to operated the Honda Generator in ECO mode which makes the one gallon of gas in the Honda generator last for about four hours. I have operated the ZIVAN in this full out mode for hours at a time without issue. BIANKA will move along quite nicely at this speed until the fuel runs out. Of course despite being a fairly sophisticated charger the ZIVAN does not know it is being used only has a power supply to push BIANKA along on a windless day. It thinks it is still charging a battery bank. Which brings up something one has to be on the lookout for when Electro-Sailing with this and other chargers. Because the charger never sees the battery being charged at some point it will disconnect. Thinking the battery is not charging it will timeout. It takes several hours to reach this conclusion and it is easily reset by unplugging it from the generator and plugging it back in. Then it is good to go for another several hours.
 One of the nice things about having Electric Propulsion is how easily it is to modify components of the system or change operating modes. Because the ZIVAN's output is limited to 900 watts it means I am not able to take advantage of the full 1600 watts continuous output of the Honda 2000i. So I am contemplating buying a 48 volt 1500 watt power supply to use when it looks like I will have to operate on an extended Electro-Sail mode. I expect it should move BIANKA along about 4 knots. I'll test and post about that hopefully some this upcoming season.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I was awakened from my mid winter doldrums by an email from a fellow who had some questions about electro-sailing if he were to convert to electric propulsion:
but because there may be rare occasions, like if we have to transit a canal the like Erie Canal, where we would need to motor for an extended period I am I am trying to determine if a small generator like the 2000i would be suitable to propel the boat at a slow speed for extended periods.

You stated that you could motor at about 3 knots with your 2000i generator. What charger do you use? Have you done this for several hours at a time? I am curious if you have experienced issues with heat build up, or other problems that might be an issue with extended use of the charger to power the electric engine."

These are great questions and ones I wondered about back in 2007 where I began to get serious about converting to electric propulsion. So I thought I'd make a blog post about my experience over the past nine seasons with electric propulsion and electro-sailing.

1) I am trying to determine if a small generator like the 2000i would be suitable to propel the boat at a slow speed for extended periods.
The answer is yes. I have found I don't really need to do it often but I have had to at times  motor up to 40 nautical miles just using a Honda 2000i generator and battery charger to move my 30 foot boat along. An example of such a day is shown in this video:

Again I have not had to do this often since at some point during most sailing days a breeze does kick up at some point. But, even if it does not I find electro-sailing with Electric Propulsion to be much quieter and much less vibration than when I had a diesel which makes for a much more pleasant day on the water.
I'll get into more specifics as to the components used on BIANKA for extended electro-sailing  and the things you need to know to make it possible in the next post.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


There are lot's of ways to go cruising. Even those who live on board full time do get off from time to time and head off traveling on land and/or visiting relatives etc.... I have come to terms with pulling BIANKA out of the water for the winter and not taking her south to warmer waters. I think this is good for a couple of reasons it allows one to really look forward to the upcoming sailing season. That's the absence makes the heart grow fonder reason. Another reason is my semi-landlubber companion likes to go on mid winter sailing vacations on crewed Catamarans. We've been doing this for a number of years and have spent part of the winter sailing various parts of the world. So my wanderlust to visit these places like the Carribbean  is satiated and no longer have the strong desire to make the journey to these areas with BIANKA. This year was no exception. But, it was not just a quick Jet ride down to the Caribbean. It was a trip halfway across the world and out to the Indian Ocean to spend twelve days cruising in the Maldive Atolls. It's a special place with gorgeous reefs and also a place I'd never be able to bring BIANKA easily. Nor would I want to since the numerous reefs and sand banks are better navigated with someone with local knowledge. We spent most of January in the area and I will try and post some of the highlights of the cruise here in the next few weeks. Upon returning from this trip I got some more good news. In the mail yesterday came the paperwork from the Town for renewing the mooring permit. A sign that the sailing season is just around the corner.

Monday, January 09, 2017

WHAT LIES BENEATH: PowerRay Underwater Drone

Those of us who spend time anchoring in murkier waters than most places in the Caribbean often have this question nagging us: How well is the anchor really set? Yeah,  you do a back down test but, it is still an unknown. If you are in places like the Exumas where the water clarity and temperature make it easy to check on the anchor it is not an issue. But, in places like the Northeast U.S. where visibility may be ten feet if you are lucky and the water temperature is in the low 60's it can be a problem. That's where this new underwater drone might come in handy. It's called the PowerRay and is primarily marketed toward fishermen who want a little more info on what is exactly underneath their boats. But, I see using it as a way to easily check on the anchor without guessing in less than clear or inviting waters. Since it's a tethered Drone there is less chance it will be lost to Neptune too. There is no price on it yet but, if it's reasonable it could be cheap insurance to have a restful nights sleep when the winds start to pipe up. It could also be very handy to see what ones anchor is fouled on if it does not come easily when trying to lift it. Another use would be to locate an item that went over the side that needs to be found.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Sometimes when cruising one wants to get to some stores for some parts or provisions. Your choices are usually walking, taking a Taxi, bus etc... I just came across this 35 pound fold able electric scooter called the URB-E with a twenty mile range. Smaller than a bicycle it folds and should be easy to store on board. Might be just the thing to throw into the dingy for a quick trip to pick up something on land or just exploring around town.