Sunday, September 08, 2019

LABOR DAY AND THE SWITCH


 Usually I never leave  home port mooning on a holiday weekend here in the US. This year I decided to sail the three nautical miles sell to a nearby Harbor rent a mooring and just stay there for four days. I left a few days early to avoid the crowds.  It was a nice 3 hour sail despite the wind on the nose one tack got me to the next harbors entrance.

I had a mooring reservation through Dockwa for Friday through Tuesday. Since this was late in the afternoon on Thursday I decided to use one of the open moorings in the north west Mooring field  which is usually only used by the owners on the weekends. There are hundreds of empty moorings available during the week. Usually I maybe only one of three or four boats in the area.  This time there were at least 15 on moorings and at anchor nearby.  Seems like many more boaters want to get their last sails in before their unofficial summer ends.




In the morning I moved BIANKA to the mooring I rented for the weekend at the Yacht Club.

I enjoyed my stay on the Yacht Club mooring watching the other boats come and go. Listening to the VHF which had it's share of drama to report. An unfortunate fellow had a heart attack. But, there were medical personal including a Doctor and Nurse on other boats that helped render assistance. A Bayliner started taking on water outside the harbor and the six people on board had to be rescued. A disabled boat with no radio sent up a red flare in the harbor which caused quite a stir with the authorities. Then on Monday most of the boats started to leave by Monday night things
were very quiet.

I left on Tuesday morning and it was like a switch had been turned off. I passed no other boats leaving the harbor and only one or two on my journey back to BIANKA's home port. For many summer has ended but, it is still summer. Though the early sunsets and the chill in the evening are signs that Fall is knocking.



Wednesday, July 31, 2019

GOLDEN DAYS

In my opinion there is no better place to see beautiful sunsets than from the deck of a boat. I experienced them in places all over the world. From the Maldives to the Caribbean. Including seeing the elusive Green Flash years ago in Bonaire. Surprisingly I have often been disappointed by sunsets in the Caribbean and other tropical places more often than not.  Even the ones that hold out the promise of seeing a perfect crimson  sun set beneath the horizon often end somewhat dull end behind clouds obscuring the event. It is why I appreciate that some of the best sunsets I have seen have been in my local waters from the cockpit of BIANKA. Like the awe inspiring show I saw last week while in Port Jefferson Long Island.



Thursday, July 18, 2019

DEATH OF A WIND GENERATOR

My Primus  (formally Southwest Wind Power) 48 volt wind generator stop working last
year. It had been in operation 365 days a year for the past 8 years so it was probably
due for some refurbishing.  The wind generator has a sophisticated regulator circuit.
Which I imagine had failed. So sending the unit for refurbishing back to factory seemed
like a good investment.
  Unfortunately, I got some bad news along with some photos of the damage: 


The technician was able to begin working on your unit, unfortunately we found some bad news.  Please see attached pictures. The stator in your turbine overheated which leaks the varnish from the stator throughout the entire turbine.  In these instances, the turbine is not repairable (or not worth repairing due to how much it would cost).”





After discussions with the technicians at the factory I asked how this failure occurred.
He explained that too much wind can cause this type of damage.  Though the
wind generator was advertised as having circuitry that protected it from excessive
winds obviously it failed.
Since the generator was out of warranty I was only offered at discount at purchasing
a new on which was still in the thousand-dollar range.  Even with a new 5-year warranty
the reality was there's no guarantee but the unit would not fail again once the warranty
was up. While I liked having the wind generator as part of a multi energy approach to
charging my electric propulsion battery bank. In the end I thought the cost of a new
generator was not worth it  and the money might better be spent on additional solar
panels. 

Sunday, July 07, 2019

THE RIGHT PLACE, THE RIGHT TIME

Some people buy boats with dreams of traveling long distances to see the world and 
see things they don't see it home. But sometimes it's best to just stay put an experience
the area right around your home port.  This is especially true for BIANKA and I on America's
Independence Day. The 4th of July is one of my favorite days on board. Even though I never
leave the mooring.  Though I watch many other boaters heading out of the harbor on the holiday.

My day starts like this. First I make sure to fly the flag off the stern.
Then I cook up a hamburger for lunch. Meanwhile I have several chicken thighs marinating waiting their turn to be placed on the barbecue later in the day for my rum flavored BBQ chicken dinner.
I then watch nature's fireworks at sunset. Followed by man made ones as night falls. From my boats location I have fireworks displays to the left an right of me. The show goes on for an hour or two. Just a memorable way to spend the fourth and I never left the mooring.

Friday, June 28, 2019

MORE BATTERY ISSUES: The 12 volt House bank

After installing and testing of the new 8A4D battery for the electric propulsion bank I noticed the 12 volt house bank was experiencing some issues too. What tipped me off was the Morningstar Solar controller was cutting off voltage to it's output lugs. I had wired my Engel refrigerators, AIS, and Fan to this output. The controller cuts the output when the battery voltage drops below 11.4 volts. It looks like one or both of the 8G27 Gel Cell batteries BIANKA uses for the house 12 volts had reached the end of their useful life.   As I opened the compartment that held the batteries I could feel some heat rising from the space.


I took out my infrared temperature probe and took some measurements. One of the batteries measured 141 degrees fahrenheit.


 Way too warm for comfort. The temperature of the second battery had a much better reading of 107 degrees fahrenheit. Much cooler but, still warmer than normal.


Since both of these house batteries are operated in parallel it said to me that the hotter battery was the major problem. As the cooler battery was trying to continually charge the defective warmer battery. I turned the battery switch from "BOTH" to the individual settings and took some voltage readings. The warm battery was around 10.5 volts and the other was over 12 volts. So one battery was truly defective but, I replaced both since ten years providing the house 12 volts was a good run and best practice is to have both batteries the same age when installing them.

After I installed the new 8G27 batteries I used the Centech Battery analyzer  to get a baseline reading of each.





They appear to be pretty closely matched though their cold cranking amps was slightly lower than the  spec but, I am not too concerned. I will recheck them after they have been in operation for a bit. All in all I can not complain about these MK 8G27 Gel batteries.  They were installed when I converted BIANKA to Electric Propulsion in 2008. So ten years was a god run. I hope the new ones last as long.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

TESTING AN ELECTRIC PROPULSION BATTERY BANK

It came time to test the batteries of BIANKA’s electric propulsion bank to make sure  the suspect
battery 1 was indeed bad and the others we're still good. To test the batteries I first needed to
empty out the locker so I could squeeze myself down into the space.

Once that was done I gathered my tools and tester hoping I didn't forget anything because working
down below is a tight space for big guy like me and getting out of it is much harder than going into it.
So I try to minimize going in and out of the space. The nice thing about down below since I took
out the diesel and put in electric propulsion is my clothes will remain pretty clean and I won't
smell of diesel and oil.



I use the Centech Battery Analyzer tester for quick checks on the batteries. It tests the
internal resistance of the battery and also the cold cranking amps available.  It's not a load
tester but can give you a quick look at the condition of the battery. I'm particularly interested
in battery 1 which seemed to have very limited capacity when I used it last season.
 Time to head down below and begin the testing:


As I suspected battery number one had tested numbers were way out of line compared to the
other three batteries in a 48 volt string.

While the voltage reading  on the battery Look good at 13.11 volts.  The internal resistance of the battery was very high reading 35.8 milliohms.


Compared this to the next battery in the string which had an internal resistance of 1.95 milliohms.
Also note at the top of the display screen. The one above has only one pixel and says NG.
While the one picture below pixels all the way across and says good.



This confirmed my suspicion that there was definitely something wrong with battery 1.
Likewise batteries 3 and 4 had similar internal resistance specs to those of battery 2 with
regards to the internal resistance of the batteries.



Moving on to the  cold cranking amp tests  once again showed that battery one was a indeed
defective. The tester showed that there were only 85 cold cranking amps available.


The  spec for the 8A4D battery is 1100 cold cranking amps. Tests of the other three batteries
showed  they were all over the 1100 spec for cold cranking amps.



I tabulated the results and  and entered them into BIANKA’s logbook.

Now I also have a data on the three good batteries and can keep an eye on them as they age. Only thing left to do is order a new 8A4D battery to replace the defective battery 1.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

WHEN SHIP HAPPENS

I have one critical item on my Spring Outfitting list before bottom painting and  launching BIANKA for
the season. It is to replace one of the four batteries in the 48 volt electric propulsion  
battery bank. Even though the batteries are only two years old it looks like one of them
failed and needs to be replaced due to an error in judgment on my part but, caused by
the freight company that did not secure the batteries in shipping. Herein lies the cautionary
tale for others to not make the same mistake I made.  I converted Bianka to Electric
propulsion in 2008. At that time I installed four 8A4D batteries in series to make up the
48 volt propulsion Bank. They did quite well and lasted for eight years. In year eight one
of them showed signs of failure.

Since it is good practice to try and keep all the batteries used in the same bank the same age. I decided to replace all of the batteries instead of the one that was beginning to fail.  The Battery was drop shipped from a warehouse in Florida and took a week to make it up to Long Island. The four batteries were supposed to be delivered to my house.  However I got a call from the shipping company that I needed to come by and pick them up at the warehouse. I thought this was a little strange but I was too excited and wanted to have the batteries installed on board as soon as possible.   So I made no complaint. I drove to the warehouse on a hot summer day to pick up the four batteries. A couple of the warehouse workers were acting a little strange as I asked about my order and they seemed to take their time bringing out the  batteries with the forklift.


There were a few things I noticed that seem strange but I did not question them at the time.
 First was the batteries were not secured to the pallet, the plastic they were wrapped in was
ripped off of them and the cardboard that covered them  was kind of ripped up too. I lifted up
the cardboard from two of the batteries they seemed okay so I accepted the order and and
I had the workers load the batteries into my car.




It was only after I drove to the boatyard to install the batteries on the boat that I discovered
to my horror that two of the batteries were physically damaged. Unfortunately, these were
the two that I didn't look at at the warehouse. Their lugs were bent over like they had been
dropped on them.


The other two batteries looked physically okay.  Here is where I made my error. I called the company where I bought the batteries and told them of the damage to the batteries and I
would need two replacements. I should have rejected the entire shipment because even
though the other two did not look physically damaged one of them was damaged internally
which I discovered while on one of my cruises last year. It’s voltage would start dropping
rapidly when under a heavy current draw compared to the other three batteries in the bank.
Which is why I plan on replacing it this year. But, just to make sure the suspected bad battery is indeed bad. I’ll do a quick check of all the batteries to confirm my suspicions.

Monday, April 15, 2019

SPRING CLEANING 2019: Part One

It's still been rather chilly on board to spend too much time working on some of my
major projects. So I thought I do a little spring cleaning in the meantime starting
small at first. The counter across from my  bunk has become a catch-all over the
years and has gotten quite messy.
So I thought I'd start there and work my way around to other parts of the boat cleaning
up and organizing.  I soon realized how far I'd neglected things when I came across
items no longer functional and/or are outdated to be used on the boat .
Such as this Nonsuch Boat registry from 2011.  


An old corroded terminal block an old West Marine Catalog and several Sailing
magazines from the 1990s.


I also came across a  copy of a 1997 NYNEX Yellow Pages Telephone book. Something
that came in handy when I was living on board in New York City on the 1990’s. But, which
is obsolete in the age of Search Engines like Google. I wonder what I will find in other
areas of the boat as I continue to clean and organize things. But at least for now one
area of the boat is much more organized,

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Books for Sailors: SIMPLE COURAGE


During this cold raw bitter winter the weather has not been good enough to spend much time on the boat working on projects. But it is a good time to curl up with a good book especially one regarding aspects of the sea.  I recently finished a riveting book about an incident that occurred in the Atlantic Ocean back in the early 1950s. In December 1951 A cargo ship built in World War II called the Flying Enterprise was heading toward New York when it encountered a severe storm which cracked it’s hull and put the ship in a severe  list. It was not only carrying its crew but also a number passengers including children. The book is an excellent detailed account of what happened before during and after the ship sailed into harm's way. The book describes the harrowing rescue of the passengers and crew and the raw determination of the captain who stayed with the ship until the end. The book is called SIMPLE COURAGE: The True Story of Peril on the Sea and is a very good read or listen to If you like audible books  which is read by the author Frank Delaney.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A LATE WINTER CHECKUP

It has not been a snowy winter but it has been a cold one.  Which is why I've not been down to the boatyard to check on BIANKA in over a month. I was away for most of January. February has been a cold  and raw month. So when a sunny day came where the temperature approached 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It was time to make a visit to the boatyard to check on the boat. Many of the boats are still nestled under their shrink wrap covers. From the cockpit they looked like snow drifts.


 I didn't stay long just long enough to charge the batteries via the Dual Pro 4 charger which only took about an hour since the batteries were pretty much being kept topped up by the solar panels over the winter.


While the charger was going through its  charge cycle I drained the small amount of water that had accumulated in the bilge  since the last time I visited over a month ago. After that was done I splashed a little bit of the leftover antifreeze into the bilge to prevent any further water from freezing hopefully for the last time.



I picked up the homemade boarding  ladder extension which I had stored in the cabin for the winter.  A few years ago another boat had smashed into it and broken the strut that help keep it straight.  It was still usable for boarding but tended to slide underneath the boat when climbing up it. I'm taking it back to the house to to replace the damaged strut for the upcoming season.




I also spent a little time sitting in the cockpit staring out at the empty Harbor.


How different it looks without any moorings or boats on it’s waters. In another month or two the moorings will start appearing like returning birds after a long winter. A sign that the sailing season is about to begin.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

NEW YEAR NEW IDEAS

It's been over ten years since I first converted BIANKA from diesel auxiliary power to electric propulsion.  Still have never regretted the decision and as I read the messages in the various Internet sailing sites about engine troubles people are having. It reinforces in my mind have grateful I am to have avoided so much of those issues.  Though I have done a few changes over the years including a new battery bank. I've also changed to a new controller this past year that has had the added advantage of improving the regen charging capabilities of my system. One that I plan to explore in greater depth in the coming year. I am also thinking about adding some more EP power as I have the ability to tap into a little more power of the Honda 2000i generator. All that and some install projects like a new VHF radio install and the long delayed conversion of the old diesel fuel tank is among other things to do. So it looks like it will busy year coming up. But, first it is time to do some traveling to the Indian Ocean for some sailing and relaxing in the Maldives.