Kaimusailing

s/v Kaimu Wharram Catamaran

Vessel Name: Kaimu
Vessel Make/Model: Wharram Custom
Hailing Port: Norwalk, CT
Crew: Andy and the Kaimu Crew
About: Sailors in the Baltimore, Annapolis, DC area.
12 January 2018 | st marys, ga
02 January 2018 | st marys, ga
01 January 2018 | st marys, ga
30 December 2017 | st marys, ga
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02 December 2017 | st marys, ga, earth
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20 November 2017 | Gulfport, Mississippi
18 November 2017 | Panama City Beach, FL
18 November 2017 | Panama City Beach, FL
Recent Blog Posts
12 January 2018 | st marys, ga

Bon Voyage Crawdad

The cold snap, which is the coldest weather I have experienced down here in St Marys seemed to persist longer than forecast, about a week. It has been freezing overnight and most of the mornings, temperature going down to 28 on successive nights. This is nothing compared to what people up North are [...]

02 January 2018 | st marys, ga

The Penguins Have Us

The coooold snap that is freezing us to death is only affecting the Keys a bit, maybe ten degrees less, so 50‘s and 60‘s instead of 60‘s and 70‘s, or 70‘s and 80‘s. The Keys and Bahamas are where to be in the dead of winter.

01 January 2018 | st marys, ga

Happy New Year Chart Wrap Up

It is Sunday, New Year's Eve Day, and I have come down with a cold. My chart work is finished. I can't imagine going outside to work on the hull bottoms now. I may run out of paper towels to sop up my runny nose.

30 December 2017 | st marys, ga

Surrender

When THE COMPUTER GUY was talking to me about running shell scripts to convert old charts I had mentioned I liked to manually crop each chart and save it from the image manipulation program. Every chart. He looked at me funny. The shell scripts are ways to do a lot of that manual data processing and [...]

26 December 2017 | st marys, ga

Sir, Render

The procedure to convert old electronic charts in the tiled .pcx format to charts that newer nav programs can use involves bulk processing with shell scripts. The shell scripts I needed to use are located in a compressed archive called pcx2tif.

26 December 2017 | st marys, ga

A Walk in the Park

I had a couple of negative shopping experiences for the holiday season, both involved long waits for ordinary products. I wasn’t looking for quick shipping this time of year, but please, Amazon waited a week to finally ship a box of grinding discs and a roll of Gorilla tape. And that is just to ship [...]

Bon Voyage Crawdad

12 January 2018 | st marys, ga
Capn Andy/chilly winter
The cold snap, which is the coldest weather I have experienced down here in St Marys seemed to persist longer than forecast, about a week. It has been freezing overnight and most of the mornings, temperature going down to 28 on successive nights. This is nothing compared to what people up North are experiencing. At least we now have a forecast of more seasonable temperatures for the next week or so. It is time to get back to work on the starboard hull bottom.
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A 10 pack of 40 grit flap discs came from Amazon at about 20 bucks for the pack. I began using them with the idea to dispose of them when they lost that brand new sharpness. I used 8 discs to grind the aft third of the starboard hull. These discs were zirconium, blue, and otherwise comparable to the aluminum oxide discs from Harbor Freight. They are made by Benchmark Abrasives. They are less than half the price of the Harbor Freight discs and the Harbor Freight discs are about half the price of the flap discs at Lowe’s.
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Remaining jobs to try to get done before the weather goes cold again include grinding the bottoms of the keels and marking the waterlines.
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The little catamaran dinghy, Furball, was sold and Richard is planning a replacement in the future, for now they are using an inflatable. It is remarkable that the dinghy sold in just a couple of days in the dead of winter.
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I am glad to be feeling healthy after getting laid low with a virus over the holiday. Fortunately my illness coincided with cold and wet weather, so conditions were unfavorable for outdoor work, and I was in no condition to do any anyway. A good samaritan in the yard was reading my blog, thought I sounded like I was delirious, and donated a chicken carcass for me to make chicken soup, which I did. Instead of thanking her, I complained that there was no meat on this chicken, so I ended up with additional chicken meat that had gone into chicken alfredo. Some of this went into the soup and made a sort of cream of chicken soup. Later I took the remainder and mixed it with creamy vodka sauce and garden rigatoni pasta, and the result was quite good.
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I discussed the marking of the waterlines with the carpenter who knew a lot about such things and he said it only took about an hour to do a catamaran using string and about 3 people. I had already thought about it and found my spool of monofilament line, 80lb. proof, which was stretchy and could be drawn tight making a horizontal straight line.
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I had marked on the bows and sterns of the hulls where the old waterline had been. My idea was to go up 3 inches and mark again, this would be the level of the bootstripe on the painted topsides. I would not paint the bootstripe, I would paint the whole hull bottom with hard bottom paint, two coats. Then I would mark down 3 inches and paint with ablative bottom paint, two coats. My bootstripe would be bottom paint.
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The scheme of marking the waterline was to stretch monofilament across the bows at the waterline marks, but extend it to the sides and anchor the monofilament on something, maybe rebar, but it had to be something long enough to extend up high enough, maybe 5 feet or so from ground level up to the level of the waterline. Then another piece of monofilament could be drawn from the mark at the stern of the boat and attached to the monofilament crossing the bows. I did this and drew the long piece of monofilament so that it just met the side of the boat at the stern and maybe just 8 feet or so forward. Then I taped it in place there, and moved the end at the bow closer to the bow. This enabled another section to be taped in place, and so on, till the whole waterline was marked by the monofilament taped in place in sections. I went back and adjusted any wobbles in the line, then marked it with a permanent marker, a sharpie.
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I then moved to the inboard side of that hull and did the same, then the inboard side of the second hull, then, as the sun was setting, the final outboard side of the second hull. It took more than an hour, but it would have taken much more time to organize a crew of more people.
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It was the same old story of anxiety about an upcoming task, how to do it, what could go wrong, plan and worry some more, and then get on with it, and the work gets done quickly with a good result.
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My next task was to grind on the bottoms of the keels. This lasted about 30 seconds. I had to rethink this task. I spent the rest of the day gabbing with people and playing games on the computer.
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My old friend from the TV days was down in Jacksonville and coming up to St. Marys for a visit. He is a sailor and very experienced with the sea and sea lore. We toured the boatyard and he had a lot to say about the various boats, recalling stories from experiences he had with similar boats in far places. When we stopped near the woodshop due to rain, he was introduced to the carpenter, a walking marine encyclopedia. They really hit it off, knew some of the old captains, the old tall ships, the ports, the routes, the stories.
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We ended up at the gas station restaurant for wings night, when they sell chicken wings at a discount. The best (only) restaurant within 2 miles of the boatyard. The skipper was there, the Canadian English professor was there, and we had a gam. It was remarkable how my two friends, my old TV buddy, and my boatyard partner, the carpenter, got engaged in conversation about things I had no knowledge of, I had never sailed on a tall ship, never worked for hire in a boatyard, but they were talking and talking. The subject of the tall ships in the Great Lakes came up, and the waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior came up, turquoise, how to describe it, and then the English professor says, “I grew up there”. It was a night of unity. No monopolization of the conversation, just wait your turn to chime in. Here in the North River Marsh of Georgia we had a Canadian, a Texas/Louisianian, a New Yorker, and a Connecticut Yankee all engaging in a gam.
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I prepared to photograph the relaunching of Crawdad, the 42 foot Grand Banks trawler that had been my neighbor for many months. The schedule ended up aborted for the day, so we went to the town of St. Marys and took a few shots there and visited the Cumberland Island National Seashore museum. When we got back Crawdad was in the slings of the travel lift, ready for relaunching at about 6 AM next morning.
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I wasn’t going to get up early to shoot the launch, but here is a nice shot of the owners and their pets waiting for the launch.

The Penguins Have Us

02 January 2018 | st marys, ga
Capn Andy/frigid winter
The coooold snap that is freezing us to death is only affecting the Keys a bit, maybe ten degrees less, so 50‘s and 60‘s instead of 60‘s and 70‘s, or 70‘s and 80‘s. The Keys and Bahamas are where to be in the dead of winter.
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In correspondence and phone conversations I was getting observations of those up north, from Albany, NY, and Chicago, IL, Connecticut, Maryland, and from those on the Gulf Coast. I used weatherunderground.com to look at conditions in those places. Here in St Marys we are touching freezing in the overnight and only coming up to maybe 40 in the day. Down in the Keys, OK. Up in Albany my younger daughter had the heating system in her building fail on New Year’s Eve and it was a whole day for that to be fixed. Their forecast is nothing above freezing for the next week and a half, plus this heating failure occurred with minus temperatures. But conditions are much worse around the Great Lakes with double digit minus temperatures and most places have their abundant share of lake effect snow. Connecticut they complain, I was there and I did that, but inland Connecticut and Massachusetts can get snow from the ocean blowing in on a northeast wind. Maine, forget it, they are in the arctic.
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So, I cannot fight the weather gods, I hunker down and fiddle around on the computer(s). I noticed I had plenty of Bahamas charts on one computer but only vector charts on the two others. The two others are the designated navigation computers, set up for use on a boat, not for internet or piling up a mess of photos, music, or any other non-oceanic stuff. But they only have the vector charts, no rasters. I found that I had a folder of raster charts that didn’t get transferred to those computers, so I ventured out, they are kept in the woodshop, closer to the water, and hopped on the bicycle, whose tires were very soft in the cold weather, air shrinks, and the handlebars felt like ice, those Chinese who didn’t send my handlebar tape, grrr, and the wind is blowing strong from the North, of course, so when I got to the woodshop, not that far, I was having cold symptoms returning, when I thought I was beating it. I began shivering spontaneously, no control over it, and that is a big sign of hypothermia, if you start shivering, take a mental note of what goes on afterwards. If you are having trouble thinking about it, that is one of the symptoms, trouble with fine motor coordination, lethargy, not that we don’t have those at other times, so I was having trouble typing on the computer and I thought maybe this is what it’s like when you get hit with Parkinson’s, loss of control. The little chart package of the Bahamas only took a minute or so to load, but it felt like forever. I finished up and sped back to the warm, relatively, boat. A Northerner.
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I notice that as time goes on, my charts get more and more out of date. When I offer the oldest charts to the yardbirds, they say great, but they are not really enthusiastic, old charts are a danger, new stuff is happening along the coasts and hurricane damage and shifting of shoals, new construction, like wind farms, and of course buoys and lights can change, wrecks happen and usually right along the path you want to take. When I was a Navy sailor I went from radar to updating charts. It was a big job, and back then it was important to have good charts, there was nothing like instant updates from the internet. Now you have, for USA waters, very up to date free charts as well as Notice to Mariners, which advises what changes are happening right now. In the old days you updated a chart with electric erasers that rubbed out the wrong stuff and then added the update as best you could. Now it comes down the pipe already updated at high speed.
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It looks like the marine electronics industry is going along like Microsoft vs. linux, that is, proprietary software and charts at hefty prices versus open source information that is free, except for a donation. I do donate to things that I understand are well meant and helpful, and those fellows who are working at it ought to get some compensation. Usually if I wanted to congratulate an open source provider, I would do it with a donation. It feels so good.
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When you look at the evolution of marine charting, it is obvious that things in the future will be a lot different, markedly so when mariners have always been slow to adopt new things, there is always an old fashionedness, keeping old ways, speaking the old nautical tongue, resisting the modern stuff. Just as all of our staid old ways of communication have been overrun by modern online versions that are quicker and easier, charts have already lost their paper and now are becoming live online images that can be updated, corrected, and shared by almost anyone in port. The old salt that likes to make space on his boat for a good sized chart table, and likes to lean over it to mark things in light pencil, so it won’t be in the way Next Time, will learn that he doesn’t have to get so involved with the chart, it is electronically transportable, mutable, and now we have to have the same cautions of charts that we have with anything else from the internet, is it a “fake” chart.
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The alternative is buying a chart package from one of the big marine electronics companies, and this is what the well heeled will do, buy the latest chartplotter with included charts. I’ve seen how this works out. If you are sailing, voyaging, it will be very expensive to get charts for the areas you will visit. You want to go to Bermuda, then go to the Azores, then to Portugal, and maybe the Med. You will come back via the Canaries to the Caribbean, and then work your way back to wherever you started from. I don’t think any chart package will cover all that trip, plus the little individual packages that are offered from the big marine guys will add up to a big expense in your voyaging budget.
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Most people don’t have charting needs like that, they like to go out sailing for a few hours and then return to port. The package they paid for fits them very well. If they want to snow bird down to the Keys, which is not a bad idea right now, and then return to Raritan Bay, it will cost a little bit more, but not a whole lot. Many sailors sail just like that, up and down the coast, and they are always in familiar ground, no problems.
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There is another type of sailor that is getting more popular and needing more attention from the big marine guys, the expedition sailors, who bring smaller boats to unfamiliar waters, they need coverage for their GPS for that new area. I identify with these guys, they return to the age old ethic of build it yourself, get it in the water, and why shouldn’t they have support from the big electronics guys, even though they are sailing a small boat, why should it cost so much?
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And so there is a movement, by hands on boaters, to take care of this situation, since the big companies don’t even care about the DIY’ers. Why even cater to them? No money there, go after the big sportfishers and charter boats. That’s where the money is.
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It’s like hiking and navigating your SUV. On the one hand, the hikers are in the minority and have other needs than the SUV’ers, who also include anyone using GPS navigation in any vehicle.
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It’s funny how the expedition boaters and the hikers also include some of the most active DIY opensource programmers. There is a constant stream of new apps for you to just go out with your phone and tap into a resource of many many adept programmers who just want to work out how to get that function you want, and sometimes it’s free, sometimes you have to pay a few dollars. So unlike the big sportfishing electronics guys who want a lot of money for something you don’t really want, the alternative is friendly to you, whether you hike or sail along, and you can pick and choose from what’s available.
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OK, the conditions of the night intrude, it is cold out there and it is coming in, I burn the stove with nothing on the flame, the little heater seems to have no affect.
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When Fahrenheit invented his thermometer gauge, he came up with a strange gauge. Why was 32 the freezing point, but it turned out he had a definite scale in mind. His idea was to make each degree equal to what a human could determine as a temperature change, so 1 degree more was noticeable. There are theories about why 212 at boiling, but that‘s the way it works out.
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We are not measuring degrees, we are burning things to maintain a habitable temperature on board. It will be cold like this for a couple of days. The penguin is the image that linux adopts, and is appropriate for this season.

Happy New Year Chart Wrap Up

01 January 2018 | st marys, ga
Capn Andy/chilly winter
It is Sunday, New Year's Eve Day, and I have come down with a cold. My chart work is finished. I can't imagine going outside to work on the hull bottoms now. I may run out of paper towels to sop up my runny nose.
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I'm happy with the charts. When I tried to calibrate one chart and had to use two computers and ended up with an error message, it signified to me the end of trying to use them in a navigation software. They are useful as planning aids, more information on them than is on the electronic charts that are out today.
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When you look at how quickly electronic charts came along and displaced paper, it seems like only yesterday that we had no electronic charts. First we had age old paper charts, sextants, a chart table, plotting instruments, and then along came electronics. I guess back then it was loran, which became a new feature on the charts, loran lines. Then satnav. You could get your lat and long from an electronic device and track it on your paper charts. But if you were smart, you kept your sextant and mechanical clock as a backup.
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Even now boats get hit with lightning and have to limp back to port somehow. Imagine being out in the ocean with no charts, nothing, just a vague idea of where to go. You can't even call for help without electronics.
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How did the old guys do it, back in day one? They worked at it really hard, took soundings whenever they could, with a lead line, and they weren't sailing little boats, they had a crew to do the tasks that a captain would require, since he had no charts, he required gathering information manually and creeping along, avoiding uncharted perils. Even Capn Cook ran aground famously, but it was his interactions with the natives in Hawaii that killed him.
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The Polynesians had a navigation culture, best described in a book by Steve Thomas, yes, the same Steve Thomas that was a host on This Old House. Most people don't know that he is a serious anthropologist and lived with Mau Pialug in Satawal and was initiated into the clan's navigational school and learned how to navigate using no European instruments, just knowledge of the stars, currents, sea creatures, birds, and patterns of waves. If your GPS fails after a lightning strike you can rely on your innate knowledge to navigate to safety.
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Probably your European compass, which was invented in China, will help you maintain a proper course, if you write down these things from time to time, before the lightning hits. Some of the Bahamian charts I wanted to use have magnetic courses from waypoint to waypoint through the Bahamas.
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So we have now a boating culture that has migrated to the electronic world. But the world still has lightning, North Korea, rogue waves, and lots of other things that will kill the electronics. It's like the ocean is prehistory, preevolution, not something modern like urban planning, the ocean exists out there beyond the jetties and sea buoys. It's a primitive world with elemental interaction and we, as humans, are fascinated with such things.
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It's like the fascination with Jurassic Park, the scientists that can probe the secrets of the distant primordial past, but wait, it comes back to get them, so we are focused on it. At every level it is a fascinating story. But when you get out of the movie theater and put yourself on a sailboat out in the ocean, the fascination comes to grips with practicality. Sailing is a simple process, but we make it very complicated. It's good to keep the basics on board and in good shape. The electronic charts and devices are fine until they die, then you can look to your basic tools to navigate.
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Life expectancy of electronics on board a small sailboat, maybe tomorrow. I used a cell phone to navigate a small boat that had electrics so bad I didn't dare to turn anything on, lest the batteries would be dead. But I had a magnetic compass and could sail by that on my course from out in the ocean to approach the sea buoy. We need a paper chart to figure out how to get inshore from the sea buoy, if we have nothing else.
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So, the basics include paper charts of large areas that include your voyage, plus paper charts of various ports you might have to use, and compass courses that you write down as you are navigating, your compass might get you home from a lightning strike. Unfortunately, paper charts have to be printed on special paper and special ink that won't suffer from sea water on them. You can't just print them off your computer onto paper from Office Plus.
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I've been recently on well funded boats as a paid crew and along with a paid skipper. They mostly didn't have basic navigation aids available, but they had lots of electronics. We ended up using our own military grade computers and some free software that works a lot better than what the marine electronics manufacturers supply. The owners of these boats had the financial capacity to have almost anything they wanted on their boats, so it was wise they chose us, with our free navigation software. I did use the Raymarine and Garmin chartplotters, and I am very capable with serial communication protocols and getting stuff to work with other stuff. But mostly, these electronics package were out of the box, installed to work without regard to the other electronics stuff.
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I like mental challenges, and getting electronic devices working together can be a challenge. Getting Garmin to work with Raymarine is like getting Donald Trump to install a hotel in North Korea. Or vice versa.
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The problem is not with the ocean or the electronics industry, they are completely separate and evolving separately. The problem is that business managers recognize that all their expenditure to render nautical charts and develop software to use them might be circumvented by open source programmers who delight in providing computational solutions to the problems that we, the non-computer people, face. So the manufacturers try to complicate matters by organizing their software so that only a person who buys their package can use their eCharts, plus, they can't use any other available charts, only the eCharts. And you get Garmin_eCharts and Raymarine_eCharts, and chart packages that cost a lot, but never the twain shall meet.
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But it doesn't matter out in the ocean, it's a large place and your software is an intrusion, so getting anything to work out there seems like a blessing, but you are relying on something that can be snuffed out in an instant by a thunderstorm, or a North Korea nuclear attack. Even the ubiquitous cell phone that works like magic on its own out there is a device that will drop dead when the lightning hits. Some people put such things in their microwave oven, if you've got one, or their regular cooking oven. The idea is that the surrounding metalwork will stop any electromagnetic pulses from damaging what's inside. I think this works, based on reports of those at sea who have done this, on the Cruiser's Forum.
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One last job with the charts was to make an index, a chart directory so that I could find the chart for Virgin Gorda, for instance, and have the chart numbers in a list with the chart names. This job is just as tedious as you can imagine. The chart names are in individual files called header files, so for each chart you have to open file and copy down its name and add it to the list. Also the list has to be in numerical order. But I'm indoors with a cold and it isn't as bad as going outside in the cold. It is all done, now I can copy the charts and directories to the navigation computers.
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The image is a chart of course, one of the Explorer Bahamas charts. They are about 20 years old and now out of date.

Surrender

30 December 2017 | st marys, ga
Capn Andy/chilly winter
When THE COMPUTER GUY was talking to me about running shell scripts to convert old charts I had mentioned I liked to manually crop each chart and save it from the image manipulation program. Every chart. He looked at me funny. The shell scripts are ways to do a lot of that manual data processing and let the computer do the work. I could just let the charts be converted blindly and do a lot less work, but these charts have large borders with printers instructions and other stuff, so I would rather trim them down to how I like, do each one individually. Plus, I love charts and like to look at well drawn charts. Some of these charts are obviously pen and ink drawings, no color, elevation contours, calligraphic notations. Just beautiful.
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When you download a free NOAA chart it will probably be totally correct and accurate, and they are nice to look at, but these old charts are an echo from the past when skippers drew their own notes, sometimes in regions where no one else had sailed before them. Now we have Google Earth and photographic detail. What happened to Treasure Island and the treasure map.
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It’s good to have multiple sources of information when you are navigating. I not only like the old charts because of their hand drawn beauty, I like the idea that they were made in the days when the skipper would lick his finger, hold it up to the wind, and lay his course into port based on visual cues, polaris (not the star, but a degree indexed telescope or transit) sightings, land features that had to be kept in line, and casting a lead sounding line with wax on its bottom to capture whatever it is down there. You have depth and bottom composition notations on the old charts. Sand, mud, or rocks, you will know what to expect on your waxed sounding lead.
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Another bonus of looking at each chart in your library is clarification of your geographic knowledge. I find myself getting confused when talking about Antigua, Anguilla, or Anegada, they all swim around and I just can’t get all the locations located. But, if you look at every chart, you will get to know the area a lot better, and a good exercise is to find out the course bearings from port to port. When you write something down it will stick with you more than just mouthing it and saying, yeah ok, I got it.
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If this chart stuff is boring, think about the grinding work, that is best left to someone younger with more stamina and less imagination. My 10 pack of grinding discs came in, after scolding Amazon, suddenly they were shipped and now they are here. Also a roll of gorilla tape that the skipper specifies to have on board for all of his deliveries. I have never used it before, so I will try it on the Miata’s passenger seat which had been temporarily repaired with TV studio gaffer’s tape (black) back in 2009, before I retired. Sometimes I try things and it will be a decade before we know if it worked or not.
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On the port hull back in about 2004 or 5, I had to make a hasty repair on the keel. The boatyard then was Pleasure Cove in Maryland, but names can be misleading. I had been doing a huge job on the starboard hull to replace the sheathing that came off easily just pulling it by hand. When I was done with that and it was time to launch, the marina/boatyard was going to be redone and all the boats had to go, for some reason I looked at the bottom of the keel on the port hull and saw a crack. It would have gone unnoticed and the boat would have gone in just like it was, but I found that crack and decided to grind it out, fill the gap with epoxy filler, and correct a defect that might expose the wood in the keel to seawater, which would lead to toredo worms, rot, loss of keel. I kept grinding until I had solid wood and glass/epoxy that was actually stuck to it. The ground off surface was 11 feet long and about a foot up the side of the boat from the keel. Time was running out. The edges of the old glass were feathered out on a scarf-like angle of about 10:1, then a bandage of glass matt and roving was prepared, it was two layers, like matt/roving/matt roving, and I laid it down on a plastic tarp and saturated it with epoxy. Then the tarp and its contents was positioned under the keel and under it was an inflatable bed and under that were some borrowed packing pallets. The whole shebang was engineered to force the epoxy/glass bandage up and around the keel when the bed was inflated, and so it did its job. The end result was a new glass/epoxy shoe under the keel and some lumpy edges that were ground off. In the end there was no indication of any repair, just a fair, solid keel.
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What I have now, after grinding off the antifouling paint, is places where the epoxy keel shoe is still intact and no cracks or anything, and other places where there is separation. Plus, there are places where impacts have damaged the keel and removed its protective shoe.
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The next step is to go over to the starboard hull, which was resheathed about 12 years ago, and continue removing old bottom paint and old barrier coat. This is a removal process, nothing will be glassed back on until warm weather returns.
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Back to the charts, the Caribbean Imray-Iolaire charts are converted into .png’s now and I can look at them in detail. When I started converting another package of charts, it turned out that at least half of them were in the Caribbean folder already, just a few of Republica Dominica were new to me. Charts of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands are readily available and up to date from NOAA. Next I opened a bunch of charts of the Bahamas from an old Explorer chart book. These are digitized charts and I went through them one by one, cropping and converting each one into two files, one a .png and the other .tif. This was a lot of work, not backbreaking, but tedious.
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I finally had to convert a package of charts from the Caribbean coast of Central America. This includes Belize, Yucatan, Cozumel, and Boca del Toros, Panama. Little did I know that also planning charts for passages around Cuba, and all the charts for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were also there. There were also some charts for the San Blas coast and archipelago.
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There was a certain amount of go ahead and get on with it, due to not knowing what each chart really was, they were numbered, not named. When a chart would open up in the conversion software I would want to look at it in detail, sometimes, and have to wait as the chart was converted and saved, then zoom in and look at details of some anchorage in Jamaica or look at the layout of Boca del Toros. Other times I was disappointed that the chart was some reef or shoal that was unknown to me and off the beaten path, I would never get there, and I had no wish to learn more about it.
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There was a lot of duplication. The very large charts that cover all of the Gulf of Mexico or all of the West Indies are superfluous, the vector charts on OpenCPN do a nice job on large areas, no need for old paper chart conversions. So I had duplicate charts in all the folders that only needed to be rendered once, just one version was necessary. It would be a different chart number, but the same chart, the different number because it was in a different chart package.
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The Explorer charts of the Bahamas were useful because they had waypoints and pilotage information that was outdated, but probably good to have and refer to whenever I eventually get there. I wanted to calibrate them and load them into OpenCPN where they would appear as tabs on the bottom of the screen. Where I would rather use a more modern up to date chart for actual navigation, clicking on one of those tabs would bring up a chart that would have some notations on it, descriptions of the town and the marina, of twenty years or so ago, but interesting to look at now and compare to what is left after innumerable hurricanes. At some point you lose count.
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The problem is that the conversion process to a chart format that OpenCPN can use is tedious in itself, and after the torture of getting each of these tiled charts into a single image we could work with, the calibration process failed on the first chart I tried to convert. It doesn’t mean I can’t open up a chart and look at it on the computer, it means I can’t use it in the navigation program where I can plot courses, plan passages, measure distances, and maybe it is time to quit doing any more with them. Maybe organize them in a folder and rename them, instead of obscure numbers, name them with their place names. Put them in a folder organization so I can open a folder of Panama and then look at charts of the canal or Boca or San Blas.
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The image is a chart in the Caribbean, called the middle Grenadines.

Sir, Render

26 December 2017 | st marys, ga
Capn Andy/chilly winter
The procedure to convert old electronic charts in the tiled .pcx format to charts that newer nav programs can use involves bulk processing with shell scripts. The shell scripts I needed to use are located in a compressed archive called pcx2tif.
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I found the shell scripts at:
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https://opencpn.org/wiki/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=opencpn:supplementary_software:chart_conversion_manual:conversion_using_linux
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In short, the shell scripts didn't work right out of the box. I thought I had help from a shell script guru, but he wasn't available when I began working on them. One script created folders for converted charts and activated a second script to tile the .pcx files together, tile together little pieces of a chart to make the full chart.
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Unfortunately the script assumes a conversion process is successful, then removes the converted files. At first I thought nothing was happening and began tinkering with the scripts. A big mistake. I almost ended up deleting all the charts. Like a little kid with a machine gun. Shell scripts are very powerful computer routines that have to be handled with care.
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I began to actually think instead of act on impulse. Computerese can be sticky, particular. I decided to try the stick-the-tiles-together-script right in the chart folder to see what happened. It was not easy to get it to run, but when it did I had some converted chart files there in front of me, and to my chagrin, watched the products of the conversion disappear right before my eyes. Have I ever seen a file melt away on a computer while I was watching it? But it was the shell script doing what it was programmed to do.
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Part of the problem is that there are different versions of Linux around and also the applications come in different versions. Over the years things change and commands and parameters of a few years ago might not work on the updated apps of today. The shell scripts in question are from 2010, around when I retired, which seems long ago.
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Once I realized that the shell script was actually working, I didn't want the temporary files to be removed, so I #'d out those commands, making them comments. Now if I ran the shell script in the chart's individual directory, the little tiles would be stitched together into a whole chart. And there it stood waiting for conversion to another format. I found that I could open the chart in Gimp, the Linux graphic manipulator, and work on it and then output it as a PNG file, which can be used to make a BSB chart.
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I decided to find out why the first shell script wouldn't do its job of getting the second to do its job. I did this by reducing the number of chart files it had to work with. Then I parsed what was happening. All this work is done in Terminal mode where you enter commands like the old DOS shell. I read a tutorial on shell scripts to find out more. I found out you needed to somehow get the shell script to work from whatever directory you called it from, so I ended up putting the same shell script in my own BIN directory and the directory as indicated by the README file in the pcx2tif archive.
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It didn't work that way, there was something wrong with the shell script. I parsed through it and wondered what could be the snag. It turned out to be a simple thing, I wondered why he put a $foo after the script in the line that called up the script. It didn't need an argument, so I deleted it.
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Now the first shell script ran and asked the second shell script to do its thing. The computer ran and ran. There is a lot of extra code in those scripts to handle large matrices as well as small, so every time it ran a small matrix, it would output error codes on the items that weren't there.
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I went to lunch.
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When I came back the computer had finished the nested shell scripts. There was a lot of computer stuff I didn't include in this brief write up, and it was just an intuitive guess to allow the computer to run on its own while I went out. The main thing was that I thought it wouldn't hurt to let it run its course, I had noticed how hard the computer was running while processing these scripts, the fan was blowing hard and heat was coming out. I could see code running up the screen, followed by periods of seemingly inactivity, but I knew something was processing, there was too much heat coming out and the fan was running.
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After the shell scripts ran there were new .pcx files in each chart folder. There were also two new files in the chart in .gif and .pcx form, called new1.gif and new1.pcx. Create a couple of folders labeled PNG and TIF in your chart directory. On your chart directory click NAME above the column of chart numbers. It will sort them. If the lowest numbered chart is at the top select it and continue, if not, click NAME again. It should now be sorted low numbers to high. Select the first chart by highlighting it, right click on its highlighted chart number and copy the number, right click and open it with Image Manipulator (Gimp). Select the view tab, select zoom, select fill window. The chart should blow up larger and over shoot the window. Select the Tools tab and select Selection Tools, select Rectangle Selection Tool. Now scroll the chart up until you can see the uppermost corners. Click on one corner and drag the rectangle box down to the opposite corner while holding the left mouse key down. Be precise to capture exactly what you want. The chart will ultimately appear on the navigation software and its edges will be exposed, so the less clutter there the better. After unclicking the chart should have its border highlighted. Select the Image tab, select Crop to Selection. The unwanted border will now be gone.
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Now click on the File tab and select Export As. A dialog window will open up. The file name will be highlighted in a box at the top. In this case "new1.pcx", with "new1" highlighted. Put your cursor over it, right click and paste. The file number will now replace where "new1" was. Go to the bottom of the dialog and click on the Select File Type (by extension) entry and a box will open with lots of file types. Click on PNG which I found to be 3 pages down in the box. The file name at the top will now be the chart number.png. Now go to the Save in Folder line at the top of the dialog and select your PNG folder. Double click on it and it will open showing any PNG's that have been saved there. Now you can click Export, and another smaller dialog box will open, click Export in that one. A progress bar will march across the bottom of the dialog box as the chart is saved. After it is saved, do the same again, but this time for Select File Type (by extension) go down 5 pages and find the TIFF file extension. Then export it to the TIF folder just like you did with the PNG. X out the Image Manipulator window. It will ask Do you want to save.. Click on Discard Changes and then X out of the final Manipulator window.
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You will be back where you started and can choose another chart to convert. After a while you will have a bunch of charts. They need to be indexed and calibrated to use on electronic navigation programs, but they can be printed as is, full size, and used as paper charts, or opened in Image Viewer for reference on the computer. There are helpful piloting instructions from the old days when sailors didn't blindly follow their GPS into port. It might be something like, line up the white house on the hill with the edge of the bluff and follow that line into port. Of course the white house on the hill may have been blown away by a hurricane 15 years ago, you have to update each chart with Notice to Mariners, get busy.

A Walk in the Park

26 December 2017 | st marys, ga
Capn Andy/chilly winter
I had a couple of negative shopping experiences for the holiday season, both involved long waits for ordinary products. I wasn’t looking for quick shipping this time of year, but please, Amazon waited a week to finally ship a box of grinding discs and a roll of Gorilla tape. And that is just to ship it, it hasn’t gotten here yet. I am grinding on my boat during the holidays, so at least add to my woes by sending along the tools of my torture, but no, they hesitate. At least I will get a break from the dirty grinding work. I won’t feel guilty taking the time off. The other negative shipment was bicycle handlebar tape, which did arrive, after a while, and was only 1/2 of the tape needed to do the handlebars, and also only 1 end plug. Gee, which end should I put it in. Other items have come along right quickly, so I am able to cope with these two awful holiday shipments.
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The grinding has gone well using 36 and 40 grit flap discs. They don’t last long before they lose their bite and begin burnishing the old paint instead of taking it off. It then gums up the disc. The indication of this burnishing is a dark color to the surface, kind of shiny like wet paint. If you back off and let the disc cool down a bit, you can go back at it for a little while. If the paint doesn’t melt on the disc you can go on like this for quite a while.
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Having two grinders set up can help keep either one of them getting too hot. It helps to have an extension cord with multiple outlets. I began looking for my triple headed extension cord, but it was gone, another yardbird must have expropriated it. While I was looking around, a yardbird from the past showed up and paid me some money he owed, and told me the story of his Moroccan boat delivery. Actually from Morocco to Scandinavia, but they only made it to Spain. Their prop fell off backing down, and after replacement, the second prop fell off during sea trials. The owner had the boat laid up on the hard and pulled the plug on the delivery.
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The skipper meanwhile has gone to Grenada to look at a catamaran. He has sold his monohull sailboat. I suggested he might need help getting the boat back here from Grenada and he said why would I come back here.
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When it is cold and rainy I can stay inside and try to render the old Map Tech maps I have, and get them into a form I can use with OpenCPN. I will post the documentation of that process later when I have actually worked out all the bugs. THE COMPUTER GUY happened to be doing laundry in the communal area of the gulag and I talked to him about shell scripts and gave him copies of my files on a thumbdrive for him to look at. Meanwhile I have gone at it on my own and proudly have produced some images that are viewable, but not yet OpenCPNable. The maps are Imray-Iolaire charts and are nice looking even if 20 years old. One problem I see coming up in the near future is the MapCal procedure, which requires lat and long of a few points near the perimeter of the map. Some of the maps are smaller insets that have no lat and long information on them. In fact the organization is one large map and a half dozen of the insets. The large map can probably be calibrated, the insets are going to be a problem. I love looking at charts and these are very nicely done. There is notation for piloting into some of the ports, something we could have used on the Caribbean delivery.
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I wanted to use one of the chart images as the header for this posting, but instead I have a favorite photo from the recent walk in the park and will post that.
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Kaimu's Photos -

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