Friday, September 10, 2021

TWENTY YEARS AGO: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

 Twenty years ago BIANKA was docked at Chelsea Piers just up the river from the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th 2001. I was not supposed to be there that morning. I had planned to start a two to three week cruise out toward Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket the day before. But, I had trouble getting access to the Internet to take care of some business. The weather report also called for severe thunderstorms on Monday afternoon ahead of a cold front that would be coming through. So I decided to postpone my departure to the next day Tuesday September 11th. Between the storms and Internet issue I thought well what's the hurry.

On the morning of September 11th there was a beautiful clear sky and nice a crisp wind from the northwest that would be perfect for heading down Long Island Sound. I had about a half hour before departure. I was down below in the cabin stowing a few last minute items when I heard the first plane fly overhead. I had heard planes flying down the Hudson River on occasion but, I thought to myself that plane sounded awfully close. Just as I thought that I felt the impact of the plane as it hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The whole boat shook followed closely by the sound of the explosion. I poked my head up out of the hatch and could see a black mushroom cloud flowing up the side of the north tower.


I jumped into the dingy and started to bail it out previous nights rain. While I was doing that the second plane hit and again I felt the vibration of the impact. I rowed out into the Hudson River with my video camera and began taking video and listening to the local news station on the radio I took out with me. All the photos here are screen shots from the video tape I took.
It was a strange feeling being out alone on the river watching the scene. One felt very helpless. The current was trying to push me down the river and I had only the oars to keep me in place. Something told me to make sure I did not drift down toward the towers so I rowed and rowed against the current that was supposed to carry BIANKA and I down toward the Battery for the start of our cruise. I kept rowing and video taping until I heard the reporter on the radio scream: "Oh my God, oh my God the tower is coming down":


I could not see the south tower from my vantage point as the North Tower blocked it. But, I could hear the rumble and see the dust cloud start to expand around lower Manhattan. It made the North Tower look like it was a rocket about to take off:


I kept rowing against the current which was getting stronger but, I could not keep my eyes off what was happening just down the river. I kept rowing and then at some point I heard another rumble and the sound of twisting metal and watched in horror as the North Tower collapsed. With the TV antenna perched on top it seem to come down slowly like a candle slowly burning down. It only took a few seconds but it seemed like a long time until all that was left of the World Trade Center was a huge dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan and soon spread out into the harbor:


I suddenly started to feel the ache in my arms from all the rowing I did. I headed back into the marina and just stared at the river for most of the afternoon. New York Harbor was closed down to all traffic and that night was very surreal as I sat on the bow looking at the river. It was silent and calm as not a single Tug or any other boat was out on the river. I never did get out on that cruise. When BIANKA and I finally left Manhattan in early October I lost that dingy too in a gale heading down the sound. Considering what others had lost on September 11th I consider myself very lucky.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

HURRICANE HENRI PREP

 It's been almost 36 years since Long Island suffered a direct hit from a Hurricane. So I spent the the morning on BIANKA doing storm preparation as hurricane Henri approaches.

Added a second line to the mooring.

Removed anchor from the bow roller to prevent it from cutting through the mooring lines.

Finally dropped the sail and cover on deck to reduce windage.

I took a photo as I headed for shore. Hope it's not the last photo I take of BIANKA. Now I can only hope for the best.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

OUTFITTING SEASON: VHF INSTALL

 Spring has come and the winter hiatus has released my gumption to the point where I am finally starting on projects that have long been planned. One of them is to install an additional VHF radio in the forward cabin. The radio was bought in 2018 so you can see I'm a little bit behind schedule. Every year I kept reminding myself I'll be able to do the installation during the summer but, never did.  Now is the time and the VHF install is first of the list this spring outfitting season.


First I had to place the flush mounted pattern that came with Standard Horizon GX2200 in the location where it would be mounted. I checked and double checked the space behind it to make sure there was nothing in the way. 


Once the pattern was outlined I drilled holes in the corners to allow for a jigsaw blade to be inserted.

Then using the jigsaw I cut out the the marked pattern for the radio.

Unfortunately, when I was removing the saw from the space I cut my finger on the jigsaw blade when I removed it.

Luckily it was not that major of a cut that I needed outside medical attention. But, still a painful enough reminder to remember to focus when using power tools.  Injury aside the physical install of the radio was completed without further injury:




  

Monday, March 22, 2021

A SOLAR UPGRADE

One of the nice things of having converted from Diesel to Electric Propulsion is the ability to easily upgrade. That includes the auxiliary systems.  Like BIANKA's 48 volt solar controller. I originally installed a Morningstar 48 volt solar controller back over ten years ago.

It has been a real workhorse that has never failed to keep the propulsion bank topped up summer and winter. Since that it was installed new solar charge controllers have come on the market. ones with MPPT tracking that claim to squeeze more watts out of the sun along with on board data collection with Bluetooth connectivity. So in late winter I decided to replace the Morningstar unit with a Victron SmartSolar 100/20 48 volt Solar Charge Controller.


Time will tell if the Victron unit will hold up as well as the Morningstar. But, I'm not going to get rid of the old Morningstar 48  volt controller. It has already proved it's self over the years. Instead it will become part of the boat's spares complement. As the prudent mariner always has a backup.


 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

WINTER BLISS AND WINTER REGRETS


 It's been a rough year because of the COVID virus which has continued into a rough winter here in the northeast U.S. I've managed to get some relief from the snow an cold temperatures by hopping onto a plane and getting some place warm every month for the last three months. Which for me is spending some time in the Florida Keys. Mostly in Marathon.  While I am enjoying the warmth I am also aware that the back to back winter storms and snow cover has prevented me from checking on BIANKA in over two months. It does not help that from my balcony I can see the boats anchored outside of Boot Key harbor. It makes me both wishing one of them was BIANKA and I was onboard. It is also a reminder that I need to get back onboard BIANKA to do a winter check as soon as possible.

Friday, August 07, 2020

TROPICAL STORM: Lesson Learned

 Somewhat of a tactical error on my part by not Putting a 4th security strap on the sale cover as tropical storm ISAIAS hit the area. It won't happen again.

Friday, April 17, 2020

HURRY UP AND WAIT




Just made a call to the marina thanks to be COVID 19 virus they are shut down and 
not launching boats. Governor Cuomo just yesterday announced that businesses will stay shut
until at least May 15th and it could be extended after that. Looks like BIANKA might get splashed
in early June in the most optimistic scenario. Meantime I’ll be working on a new sail cover for the boat
while sheltering at home.

Friday, March 27, 2020

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER


Bianka has only one sail but it is 540 square feet. it's rather large and unwieldy.  When I took
it off the boat last fall I just bundled it together and put it in the garage thinking that I would fold
it when I got the time on the lawn.   Well, the days came and went and I never did fold it last fall.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and people including me were pretty much
quarantined at home.  It seemed like a good time to lay the sail out on the lawn and get it done.

I thought it was going to be more difficult doing it alone but, it was pretty easy.



Now I just have to wait until the boat is launched to get it where it belongs. On the mast.

Friday, February 21, 2020

WINTER MAINTENANCE WITH WD-40


It's a nice windless sunny winter's day about 45 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it an
excellent day to head down to the Boatyard and check on BIANKA. No wind makes for
a pleasant day to do a boat check even if it is still winter.
But, even before I climb into the cockpit I needed to do some maintenance at ground level.Toward the end of last season the combination lock I used on the dinghy dock fell into the water for about a week. I rinsed it and initially sprayed WD-40 into it at that time and it continued to work. Over the winter the remaining salt inside had started to ooze out of the lock and was starting to corrode it and make it difficult turn to the right combination


So I reached for the WD-40 and sprayed the lock.


 With some help from an old toothbrush I managed to remove the salt cake residue from the lock. Soon it was almost as good as new and the lock mechanism worked smoothly..




Since I had the can of WD-40 out it was also time to  lubricant the folding joints of the ladder I
use to climb  aboard BIANKA over the winter.

A few sprays of WD-40 on a warm winters day may seem like simple maintenance but, makes for a big improvement in metal items exposed to  the environment over the winter.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

Went down to the boatyard for a  boat check and to charge up the batteries. The New Year begins with no snow but BIANKA seems to be nestled in behind snowbanks of shrink wrap anyhow.