Friday, August 23, 2013

Electric Bluesette

An experiment in alternatives using direct current.  (Appropriately enough, there is a lightning storm going on as I write this post and power is intermittent.  Quick, Igor, to the tower!)

Water fowl depart at our approach.  Where's the jib?  Where's the forestay?

There are places along the shore of lake Hinuma at which we have wanted to take a closer look, but couldn't get close to for fear of striking the centerboard on the bottom, and couldn't linger around due to our motion under sail.  Also there are days when the air is still and "sailing" is more like drifting.

For a couple of years I have used a 14 Volt, 25 Watt solar panel to charge lead/acid batteries for LED lighting, and I started wondering about the feasibility of using an electric outboard motor on Bluesette for those windless days to be able to poke around the shoreline.

Wednesday we gave it a try, starting with removing the mast and rigging from the boat and mounting a "mighty" 54 lb thrust electric outboard on the transom.   Why such a small motor?   (54 lbs of thrust is about equivalent to having a 2 hp gasoline engine)

To drive a boat with more than 2 hp in Japan, one must first obtain a Class 2 Boating License which requires taking a four or five day course and passing written and practical tests (and spending about $1500).   No thanks.  I just want to putter, or rather hum, around the lake occasionally.

But would 54 lbs of thrust be enough?  How long would the battery last?

Here is a short video from Bluesette as she was launched on Wednesday.  Note the men in boats on the other side of the dock with long poles in their hands.  What are they doing?  Gondoliering?

As we walked out to the boat we could see what they were doing - collecting shijimi, the small clam that is often served in miso soup.   In prior years the catch was small and they stopped taking them for the last two years.   Now they are back, and the men were working their nets into the mud to scoop them up.

You can hear K talking about the shijimi clams in the above clip, and how in prior years they couldn't even get enough to cover gasoline costs.

There was more wind than I had hoped for this test and in low speed - #1 of 5 - we barely moved against the 4 knot breeze.  But at 3, 4, and 5 we could move right along at a few knots speed.   (The shijimi collectors zoom past behind us using "slightly" larger outboard motors).

I did a "doughnut" to check the maneuverability - excellent.   With 5 forward speeds and two reverse, docking was also easy.

K tried her hand at it.   A mistake that I made was not to lower the centerboard at least to the same depth as the motor.  That would have prevented the bow from wandering due to the effects of the wind, saving some energy and lowering the work load of steering a bit.
In a rash guard hoodie, K reminds me of a Cosmonaut.

We made it to the east end of the lake and on the way back, cruised in near to the shore, keeping a close eye out for crocodiles and hippos.

A cormorant was watching us and jumping fish from atop a bamboo pole.

Going down wind at the same speed as the breeze, there was no relative wind to cool us, so K broke our her parasol for some shade.

We were out for one hour and fifteen minutes.   We had used a little over 30 percent of the available energy.   I think on a calm day we could easily stay out for 1.5 to 2 hours on less than half the battery's power, but there is another parameter which will have to be met - the temperature needs to be lower.  Without a breeze or shade, it gets too darned hot on most summer days for electric "sailing" to be comfortable.

Above, Mr. Hakuta guides Bluesette up the ramp with son Yukihisa at the winch controls and K follows.

After a shower, we headed for Mama's Kitchen, where we started with a nice salad which Mama served to me without dressing on request.   She made a bowl of pasta for me using minimal oil and added lots of veggies - potatoes, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes.   K had pasta with tomato sauce and ham.

K had a dessert of fruit and orange tart, while I was brought a nice mixed fruit bowl.

By the way, did you know that "gold" kiwi fruit has a lot (3 to 4 times) more nutrients than green?  Check it out here: Antioxident Content of 3,139 Foods.

So, a successful experiment and another good day at Hinuma with lunch at Mama's Kitchen.  As some famous sailor in Santa Barbara once observed, "It doesn't get any better."

I must admit that it sure seems strange not having the sails or even the rigging on the boat.  [We took the mast and rigging off because the Lido is a loose rigged boat and the mast would have been working back and forth putting undue stress on the rigging connection points as we bobbed about. ]

Next time we'll be sailing rather than motoring, but at least we now have another (somewhat) green alternative to sail power.  What's next?  Kayaks?  Maybe.  But sailing is our business, and sailing sure is swell.  ( to paraphrase a great big band tune ).

Until next, sweet sailing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thistle To Wet Your Whistle

While I write the next "shocking!" post about Bluesette, here is some footage from the Sequim Bay (Washinton) Thistle Regatta to keep you distracted entertained.

Lovely boats and nice footage (why do we still call digital images things like "photos" and "footage", when there are no photo-chemicals or rolls of film involved?).   

OK, so the title refers to it as "video" here, not footage.  But while we're examining the etymology of words, may I ask why anyone would name a boat class for a nasty, spiny, flower like the thistle?   They look like lovely boats - why thistle?

Yet, in the "old testament" (I had to study that for a semester in college - not well mind you - so I'm an expert) ... and it is written in Genesis that Yahweh or Gawd or whomever (no offense intended to you Yahweh or Gawd or whomever worshipers - some of my best friends are whomever worshipers) said to Adam (the first husband),

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;  Cursed is the ground because of you;  In toil you will eat of it; All the days of your life.        

“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field"

So if you listen to your wife you have to eat thistles which, if you look them up using the Google oracle thingy, will find out are kind of pretty but rather thorny and nasty.   It isn't stated, however, what happens if you decide to NOT listen to your wife.   Well, I can tell you bachelors out there that it isn't exactly pleasant either! 

So damned if you do and damned if you don't  - and since the proximity of the punishment is closer when you don't listen to your wife (like immediate), I can pretty much guarantee that even if the latter punishment may be threatened to be eternal, or even just for the rest of your life,  most of us guys are going to listen to our wives.  That's the  way HE wired us or we evolved whichever you assume.    (Since Yaweh/Gawd/whomever is both omniscient and omnipotent, he knew all this crap up front and was in total control, so is just playing with us.) 

What was the question?  Oh yeah, why name a boat Thistle?   Is it a punishment to sail?  Is it pretty but thorny?   Is it just for married males who listen to their wives?  It's so confusing.

Anyone have any insight or even speculation on the matter?  Enquiring minds want to know!

Until next, sweet sailing.  (And trust me on this one:  listen to your wife.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Connie Evingson Live

In March of last year I featured Connie Evingson singing Bluesette from her album Some Cats Know.

Here she is again at a live performance at The Jungle theater in Minneapolis in June of 2011 called "Jazz at the Jungle - Summer Samba".   A very talented singer and a great band.  Enjoy.

Danny Embry from Kansas City was featured on guitar,  as was Kansas City bassist Bob Bowman,  with Minneapolis stars Dave Karr on sax (playing flute for this song), Joan Griffith on guitar, Laura Caviani on piano, and Dave Schmalenberger on drums. They all shine in this performance!

Tip of the hat to George A of Mid-Atlantic Musings blog (previously mis-reported here as my2fish oops!). From one 60-something year old goat to another, my profound apologies George!

Until next, sweet sailing.

Update: be sure to check out the other songs from this gig on YouTube.  Dave Karr's sax solo in Canadian Sunset is not to be missed, and of course Connie's singing is awesome. Buy her CDs. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hotter than Hooker in Heater today, and Hotter than Heater in Hellmouth*

As I mentioned a couple of years ago, Japan has four seasons - too cold, too wet, too hot, and too windy. But in 2011 and 2012 the high temps came in July.  This year we had a respite until August.  Too hot season has definitely arrived.

How hot is it?  - well, today I saw two fire hydrants fighting over a dog! - badump bump.

How about 33ºC with 70% humidity?  For those of you in countries that are diehard wacko followers of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (that would be the United States, Cayman Islands, Palau, Bahamas and Belize), that's 92ºF but due to the humidity it feels like 112ºF!   Too hot for sailing.

'Spent my time putting up sun shades attached to the front porch to help shade Momo the Wonder Dog's environs and the front of the house  in general.  And drinking delicious, antioxidant rich, hibiscus iced tea.

For the science about this tea, check out this video from my friend Michael Greger, MD:

Momo is always happy when we do things for her.

Until next, sweet, cool sailing.

*Post title from a skit on the Firesign Theater album "Everything You Know Is Wrong"