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Non-destructive, Battery-powered Interior Lighting, 3.0

The galley is a poorly lit area of this sailboat

We’ve got some poorly lit areas aboard (as you can see above), and they’re where we most need bright light: our under-the-bridgedeck galley sink and our chart table. Early on, we’d use a flashlight to clean the dishes or navigate. Reticent to drill holes in the overhead surfaces, I cleverly hot-glued some large washers to these surfaces and stuck magnetic puck-style lights to them. The light was good, but the lights were easily knocked off, usually into the dish water. I tried a bunch of Velcro-based solutions, but these never lasted long. I think I’ve finally come up with a solution I’ll be happy with for a long time.

It seems all the hardware stores are selling cheap, wall switch-style LED light fixtures that emit an astonishing amount of light. They use 4 AAA batteries for power and can be affixed using magnets, Velcro, or two screws into captive slots. I was done with the first two approaches, and I knew that screws would be really stable, but how could I mount it that way without making holes overhead?

Supplies for my lighting project

From a piece of scrap Plexiglas, I cut several plates about the size of the base of wall-switch lights. Then I used a wall-switch light as a template for screw placement and marked the plates before drilling and tapping for the appropriate screws. (By appropriate, I mean screws that are just long enough to penetrate the thickness of the Plexiglas, but then leaving only enough of a gap beneath the screw head to later slide on the fixture so that it’s snug.) Before turning the screws into the plates, I applied some glue inside the holes to increase the holding strength. Next, I wiped down the overhead with acetone, exactly where I wanted to mount a light. In the same spots, I used hot glue to attach the plates to the overhead.

After installing the batteries and sliding the lights into place, all that was left to do was flick the switch.

Jim and Barbara Shell cruise the Texas coast in their 1981 Pearson 365 Ketch, Phantom.





The well-lit galley sink after our lighting project




Put it to the Readers

I’ve said it a hundred times and meant it each time: putting together Good Old Boat magazine is a labor of love for all of us involved. Each issue has a little bit of each of us in it and we’re all trying to turn out the magazine we want to read. All true, but it’s not about us, it’s about you. I want to know what Good Old Boat readers like most about Good Old Boat magazine. This is a chance for Good Old Boat readers to influence Good Old Boat content going forward.

So, I put it to the readers. What stories in the magazine do you most look forward to reading and want to see more of? Is our balance of practical/hands-on stories and sailing stories a good one, or would you rather see more of either? Do you look forward to our boat review, or would you like to see fewer pages dedicated to it? Too much Mail Buoy, or not enough?

For reference, following is an alphabetized list of our monthly columns (our varied features in each issue are in addition to these):

  • Learning Experience
  • Mail Buoy
  • Product Profiles
  • Refit Boat
  • Reflections
  • Review Boat/Design Comparison
  • Sailing Tales
  • Sailor Profile
  • Short Voyages
  • Simple Solutions
  • The View from Here
  • Websightings

All feedback welcome, and very encouraged. As always, I’m at michael_r@goodoldboat.com

A Year in a Yawl (Audiobook excerpt)

A Year in a Yawl: Sections from a classic sailing book by Russell Doubleday about the trip taken by Kenneth Ransom and a couple of friends at the end of the 1800s. These young men from Michigan circumnavigated the eastern half of the U.S. in a boat designed and built by Ransom. The book is in print once more. The audiobook was produced by Geoff Safron of Brainstormers! Radio. Audiobook excerpt

Vigor’s Black Box Theory

Vigor’s Black Box Theory

By John Vigor

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 4, July/August 1999.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water …

is it that some sailors go quietly about their business, consistently making
quick, safe, and satisfying passages, while others lurch erratically from
port to port amid a series of catastrophes? Is it luck? No, it’s the Fifth

I first stumbled across the concept more than 30 years ago, when I was a newspaper
reporter in Durban, South Africa. One of my early assignments was to cover
a speech by a visiting American yachtsman and scientist, a talk he called
“The Fifth Essential for Successful Yacht Voyages.” He talked about it for
a full half-hour, but never once mentioned what the Fifth Essential was. “I’m
not superstitious,” he said, “but I am not going to name it. I’ll leave that
to you to work out.”

He listed the first four essentials in this order:

  1. A well-found ship
  2. A good crew
  3. Adequate preparation and maintenance
  4. Seamanship

Mighty Neptune

As he wouldn’t name the Fifth Essential, he could only describe how it worked.
He offered some well-documented examples of how it had affected the lives
of yachting pioneers.

We soon got the idea. Take Joshua Slocum, for instance. During his circumnavigation
he was chased by a pirate vessel off the coast of Morocco. He cracked on all
sail, but the pirates were still bearing down on him. Determined to give a
good account of himself, he ducked down below for his rifle. Suddenly a squall
hit the Spray. When his little vessel was under control again, he glanced
back and saw that the squall had dismasted the pirate ship, which lay wallowing
in the wreckage of its spars.

Then there was Harry Pidgeon, who sailed twice around the world singlehanded.
On one occasion, when a change in wind direction set his yawl, Sea Bird, sailing
toward the coast while he slept below, the boat ran aground on the only sandy
bay in tens of miles of rocky coastline. Furthermore she had to pass over
a rocky ledge at the entrance to the bay. Had it been low tide when Sea Bird sailed in so confidently, she would have gotten no farther. As it happened,
Pidgeon was able to refloat her, refit her, and carry on.

Over the years I noted the same theme recurring in talks with such splendid
seamen as Bernard Moitessier, Jean Gau, and Eric Hiscock. In fact, I expect
all of us who have sailed for any time have had similar experiences – and
thanked our lucky stars at the time. But it isn’t luck, really. There’s much
more to the Fifth Essential than mere chance.

In 1986, when I started fitting out my own 31-footer, Freelance, for a voyage
from Durban to the United States, I reduced the Fifth Essential to a simple
system of accident prevention. In the Freelance corollary to the theory, every
boat possesses an imaginary black box, a sort of bank account in which points
are kept. In times of emergency, when there is nothing more to be done in
the way of sensible seamanship, the points from your black box can buy your
way out of trouble. You have no control over how the points are spent, of
course; they withdraw themselves when the time is appropriate. You do have
control over how the points get into the box: you earn them. For every seamanlike
act you perform, you get a point in the black box. Points come in so many
ways it would be impossible to list them all. But I can send you in the right
direction. Let’s say you’re planning a weekend cruise down the coast, and
time is precious. You have been wondering for some weeks if you ought to haul
out the bosun’s chair and inspect the masthead fittings. It has been a couple
of years since you checked everything up there, but it would mean delaying
your departure by an hour, maybe more, should you have to change a shackle
or something.

If you finally give in to the nagging voice inside you and go aloft, you earn
a point in the box. If you don’t take that trouble, your black box will stay
empty. If you sniff the bilges for fumes before pushing the starter button,
you’ll score a point, just as you will for taking a precautionary reef at
nightfall or checking the expiration date on your rocket flares. Thinking
and worrying about what could happen is also a good way to earn points – if
the wind started blowing into your quiet anchorage at 40 miles an hour and
the engine wouldn’t start, or whether you should put a couple of reefs in
the mainsail before you climb into your bunk, just in case.

No matter how good your seamanship, there are times when there is nothing
left to do but batten down the hatches and pray. If you have a credit balance
of points in the box, you’ll be all right. People will say you’re lucky, of
course. They’ll say a benign fate let you get away with it. But we know better.
That luck was earned, maybe over quite a long period.

Not that there’s any room for complacency. If an emergency drains all the
points from your black box, you must immediately set about replacing them
by tending to your boat, your crew, and yourself in a seamanlike way and by
practicing extra caution for as long as seems right.

It may seem unfair that you cannot check your credit balance in the black
box, but it’s just as well. If I knew I had sufficient points to get me through
a weekend, I might not bother to go up the mast before setting out. Not knowing
keeps us on our toes.

In practice, however, your conscience will be a good guide. Have you put off
changing the engine oil for the umpteenth time? Does the port navigation light
still need a new bulb? Be careful. You may be running low on points.

In the same way, your conscience will tell you when you have credit. You will
glow with that quiet sort of confidence that inspires crews and makes for happy voyages.

Allied Boat Company

By Dan Smith

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 1, January/February 1999.

Builder of the Seawind and other legends

seed for the Allied Boat Company was planted in February of 1960 when
Annapolis naval architect Thomas Gillmer designed a 30-foot
ketch-rigged sailboat for Rex Kaiser, an attorney from Wilmington, Del.
This boat would become the famous Seawind 30, the first fiberglass boat
to sail around the world with a voyage beginning in 1964. Alan Eddy spent
four and a half years circumnavigating the globe with Apogee, hull #1.

Lunn Laminates of Port Washington on Long Island Sound created the molds
for this boat and built five of them. It’s not clear how Lunn Laminates
and the original group that was to form the Allied Boat Company were introduced.
Perhaps Lunn Laminates sought sales help from the New York City firm Northrop
& Johnson, due to their reputation as the most successful yacht brokerage
firm on the East Coast.

Northrop & Johnson enlisted the aid of Thor Ramsing of Greenwich, Conn.
Ramsing, in addition to being a well-known racing sailor, also had the
financial resources necessary to initiate a new boat production company.

Allied’s treasurer, Serge McKhann, filed papers with the states of Delaware
and New York on Feb. 9, 1962, officially establishing the new company
as Allied Boat Company, Inc.

Allied Boat Company

The Allied Boat Company established its building site on Catskill Creek in Catskill, N.Y., 100 miles north of New York City. Just off the Hudson River, it was an ideal place from which to build and launch boats. For the company’s entire time in business, from 1962 to 1981, it remained at this location.

The company was formed with $70,000 in cash contributed by
Ramsing, $31,000 worth of molds contributed by Lunn Laminates, and
$31,000 worth of designs and specifications contributed by Northrop &
Johnson. The company ownership was based on 96 shares of stock with
Ramsing holding 83 of these. The remaining 13 shares were divided
evenly among James Northrup, George Johnson, and Howard Foster.

Foster, a marine consultant and representative for Northrop &
Johnson, was named president. They agreed to establish the building
site in Catskill, N.Y., in what was originally a brick plant. Located
on the Catskill Creek just off the Hudson River about 100 miles north
of New York City, it was an ideal place from which to build and
launch their boats.

Ramsing did well racing his Seawind, winning prizes in the
Southern Ocean Racing Circuit. The Allied reputation grew
accordingly, but he was not complacent enough to produce just one
type of sailboat. From the beginning, Allied needed other models from
notable architects in order to please larger families and deeper

Ramsing also had been very successful racing his 46-foot
Solution designed by Sparkman & Stephens. He reasoned that a smaller
version of the same boat might be readily accepted. He asked Frank
MacLear and Bob Harris to design the smaller boat. They created the
35-foot Seabreeze, a centerboard boat which could be rigged as a
sloop or yawl. The company built 135 of these over a nine-year period
beginning in 1963.

A short while later another well-known naval architect, Bill
Luders, introduced the Luders 33, the third exceptional yacht to
grace the Allied yard. Next, Allied added the Britton Chance-designed
Chance 30. With its fin keel and spade rudder, it was a bit ahead of
its time and not received as well as the other “sturdier hull” models.

In 1964, only a year after forming the company, Ramsing sold
his share of the partnership to Northam Warren, another well-known
racing sailor. Warren also purchased the stock held by Lunn,
Northrup, and Johnson, making him the primary owner of the Allied
Boat Company. During the remainder of the ’60s, Warren and Foster
aggressively marketed the four models in the Allied line of sailboats.

Foster maintained control of production and sales at the
factory while Warren went “on the road” attending boat shows and
entering races with his Seawind 30. The company sold their products
directly to customers; there were no distributors.

Northam Warren

Northam Warren had a great perception and zeal for life. He was
raised on Long Island, where his father, an avid sailor, saw to it
that his children, including two daughters, each had a sailboat. The
senior Warren raced centerboard boats when he wasn’t attending to the
family cosmetic business. Northam attended Princeton University and
won major sailboat races three out of his four years there.

After service in the field artillery in World War II, Warren
owned several boats and traveled extensively to race them. Some of
the races included the Annapolis to Newport Race, the Bermuda Race
three times, the Chicago-to-Mackinac Race, and two Transpacs to

During my interview with Northam Warren, I learned that
Allied became the first company to supply fiberglass hulls in colors
other than white. This was an exclusive option, which actually
started with the Seawind 30, but was also available with their other
models. The company’s aggressive marketing strategies often gave it a
jump on competition. “She’ll cross an ocean if you will” was the
oft-repeated motto associated with the Seawind 30.

Warren noted that another clever promotion was the annual
Pinkletink, named after a frog which lives in a tree on Martha’s
Vineyard. Each year he had the factory do a special fitting job using
all the latest and heaviest hardware. These boats were exceptional,
sporting the latest in sails and the most sophisticated equipment on
the market. Every part of the boat was “ultra-finished.”

At the beginning of each season, Warren went racing with the
Pinkletink. Well-known in the circuit and a crafty racing skipper,
Warren, with this highly prized Seawind became a familiar figure from
New England to the Caribbean. Anxious admirers knew this special boat
would be for sale at the end of the season. After three years, many
people were waiting to purchase these special Allied boats.

Glen Neal

While Warren was promoting Allied products north and south via boat
shows and racing circuits, Howard Foster and the factory had the
responsibility of building boats to fill the orders he was creating.
A primary member of the factory team was foreman Glen Neal, who was
born and raised in Catskill. He was looking for work in 1966 to fill
in the winter months that usually crippled his carpentry business.
His timing was good. The Allied Boat Company, going strong at that
time, had plenty of orders gathered from summer and fall boat shows
and racing events.

Neal went to work for $1.50 an hour. He planned to stay there
through the winter, then start building houses again in the spring.
He didn’t know or particularly care about boats, but it was a warm
indoor job during the winter.

He immediately recognized the inefficiency of having too few
pieces of equipment for use by too many employees. His department had
only one electric hand drill and one sabre saw, for example. In order
to retrieve these small power tools, workers made numerous trips to
other parts of the shop, which wasted time and frustrated workers.
After six months Neal presented Foster with his ideas for production
improvements and was rewarded with a promotion to foreman of the
carpentry and finishing department. He stayed with Allied from 1966
to 1972, during what appear to have been their most productive years.

According to Neal, Allied was recognized as a high-quality
boatbuilder – possibly the third best in the world. I was unable to
learn what companies the two other leaders were, but the integrity of
Neal’s interview lends credibility to this statement. Readers may
speculate about the other two.

Neal ultimately led a crew of 35 who did carpentry work
inside and outside: deckwork, handrails, bowsprit, and bulkheads
along with some minor fiberglassing. A separate department did hull
and deck fiberglass work. A third department did the wiring and
electrical installations. The building process was synchronized,
using a progress board and a card system to track projects as work
moved each boat along the assembly line. Neal and his team added the
finishing touches as the boats moved out the door.

Thanks to the efficiency in the plant, few boats were
returned for rework. Allied could afford to give the owner a strong
warranty. Neal occasionally went out on calls to deal with minor
problems, like a blister on a wood bulkhead.

Neal said he prided himself on doing things right and that the
Allied Boat Company was a good place to work. Peak employment reached
about 130, and orders were plentiful during the late ’60s and early

Neal suggested that quality workers should receive top wages.
He recommended to management that they offer a pension plan or an
incentive program to help inspire employee output. He kept records of
the trimming crew’s performance and introduced competition to improve
the quality of work. He was obviously a strong catalyst in the
development of the Allied workforce and in the solid reputation which
the company earned as a result.

Times change

Over time, other models were introduced. The Greenwich 24, by George
Stadel, was the smallest boat offered by Allied. Not as popular as
the other heavier models, the molds were eventually sold off to Cape
Dory and ultimately became the Cape Dory 25. The fleet was expanded
to a 39-footer and the ultimate XL-2, a 42-foot sailboat designed by
Sparkman & Stephens. Orders were plentiful, giving the appearance
that all was going smoothly.

Early 1969 brought changes which would eventually make Allied
flinch and ultimately cause it to falter. Oil prices would soon
escalate from $5 to $20 per barrel. Because it is a principal
ingredient in fiberglass, the steep price increase in petroleum
caused a substantial rise in production costs.

In addition there were some leadership problems and
personality conflicts in the front office, which introduced chaos in
the company and caused many to leave. Assistant plant manager Bob
Jones departed in 1969, closely followed by plant manager Walter
Laskowski. The loss of these key managers in the production area
negatively affected employee morale.

The unsettled mood reached throughout the administrative,
engineering, and labor departments. Together with negative national
and international economic influences, the strains on Allied were
taking a toll. Eventually, officers filed a mortgage foreclosure at
the Greene County Courthouse on March 18, 1969. This notice signaled
trouble in the front office at a time when the cash flow from orders
should have been adequate to keep the company afloat. During this
time increasing numbers of suppliers began to file judgments against
the company. Some information suggests that Warren bought Foster’s
interest in 1971, thus making him the sole owner of Allied.

The period from 1969 to 1974 must have seen some very
traumatic moments. Employees who were experienced and capable were
leaving for other employment. Recognizing this downward spiral,
Warren placed an ad in The Wall Street Journal in 1973 to sell the
company, 11 years after it was formed.


At this point, a shining star appeared for the company. Robert
Wright, a cruising sailor from Little Falls, N.Y., put together a
partnership with two others and negotiated with banks and creditors
to allow him to start building again. Wright was an electrical
engineer, had obtained a law degree from Cornell University, and was
experienced as a practicing attorney.

He and his partners put up $200,000. That infusion of cash,
together with the backlog of orders equal to six months’ production
and deposits of $177,000, made the future look brighter for the new
company, now called The Wright Yacht Company. Wright’s wife, Jean,
was secretary, and their son, Paul, was plant manager. These three
knew the meaning of work and the importance of customer satisfaction.

During this time, Wright commissioned Thomas Gillmer to
create another legendary Seawind, slightly larger than the original.
This became the Seawind II. A ketch-rigged 32-footer, it had the same
hull as the previous Seawind. The Seawind II served as the flagship
of the new company. Other new boats included the Princess 36,
Mistress 39, and the Mistress Mark III. This nucleus of quality
yachts promised to put Allied back on course as a front-runner in
American boatbuilding. The promise, unfortunately, was unfulfilled.

Anxiety, possibly induced by stock market fluctuations and an
unsettled economy, caused Wright’s partners to retreat, taking their
financial support with them. This left the firm in severe financial
distress. Bills began to mount and liens against the company started
appearing. Operations must have been fairly normal until the third
year of their lease, since the first lien was not filed until July

The Wright Yacht Company was closed and the Job Development
Authority (JDA) became holder and full owner of all Allied equipment,
fixtures, molds, and real estate. The future appeared to offer little
promise of salvaging what was once a successful boatbuilding

Fortunately, the JDA located Stuart Miller, an attorney from
New York City, who owned an Allied Princess. He was familiar with the
company’s reputation and apparently convinced the JDA he could save
jobs for Greene County and make the business profitable once more. He
also planned, coincidentally, to build a 50-foot sailboat for himself.

With Miller as the new CEO, another name change was
introduced: CFG/Allied. I was unable to locate the meaning of these
initials until Ed Hodgens, a faithful 15-year Allied employee,
explained that they had stood for Conception for Financial Growth.

Miller assumed control of the company in early 1979. A report
in a Seawind II newsletter claimed the 100th Seawind II was completed
and delivered to Florida around the same time.

Articles in boating magazines tracked mistakes of CFG/Allied
and reported attempts to rescue the company. One magazine was candid,
placing blame on the company leaders for “not being familiar with
special problems of building and marketing boats.” The doors of this
third generation of the Allied Boat Company were closed in April 1980.

Closing chapter

Once again, the JDA was on the hunt for a buyer. They found a man
with a working knowledge of marketing sailboats. Brax Freeman, a
former yacht dealer, boasted of entrepreneurial skills. He promised
to move the “new” firm, now to be named International Cruising
Yachts, into a place of prominence in the boating world.

Freeman, according to employees, had a flair for
entertainment and gave prospective buyers dinner and show tickets for
evenings in New York City. These enticements were meant to lead to
the purchase of one of ICY’s sailboats. Freeman’s tenure with ICY
lasted until late 1981, when he collapsed under the financial
pressures brought to bear by angry creditors and unpaid tax
collectors. The closing chapter of this fine old boatbuilding company
was being written.

Various letters from JDA seeking buyers for the land (5.05
acres) and equipment indicate their persistent efforts to recoup
money lost during their many attempts to save jobs for Greene County.

Ultimately, the land was sold for approximately $200,000,
buildings were torn down, and an overcrowded complex of condos, each
with a boat slip included, was constructed on the water’s edge. (This
venture, too, has since met with a number of obstacles.) An auction
took place June 20, 1984, at which time all remaining equipment and
molds were sold for $40,000.

Thus, it was done – the Allied Boat Company was no more.

Dan Smith boarded a coal freighter as deckhand in Toledo four days
after graduation from high school. His sailboats have included a
Snipe, a Flying Scot, a Morgan 22, a Dickerson 35, and an Allied
Seawind 30. Hurricane Andrew destroyed Kohinoor, the Seawind, in
1992. Dan bought a Marshall catboat and enjoys winters gunkholing in
the Florida Keys.

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Google Earth Afloat

This is additional information on navigational add-ons for Google Earth, and future changes in the technology, mentioned in this article in the May/June 2009 issue.

By Alex Morton

Google Earth is not just a collection of satellite photos stitched together to provide a picture of the Earth’s surface. It’s comprehensive enough that you can zoom in on your own backyard, or on the cove where you plan to set your anchor tonight.

Google keeps adding features, such as layers that show highways and local places of interest and even a website where cruising sailors can post their logbooks. Third-party vendors also offer products that further enhance the value of Google Earth to mariners. Here’s what Alex has to say about them.

Navigation add-ons

Despite the fact that it can display longitude, latitude, and information about individual destinations, Google Earth is not yet a marine navigation tool. It doesn’t include underwater obstacles, buoys, lighthouses, depths, or any of the other information so critical to safe navigation.

That’s where add-on marine navigation products come into the picture. The two that are currently on the market provide a wealth of information for the navigator. Due to current limitations with the Google Earth versions for the iPhone and iPod Touch, neither of these products is yet available on these platforms, but indications are that this limitation will soon be overcome.


EarthNC+ integrates conventional electronic charts directly with Google Earth. That means everything to be found in the charts is present when you use Google Earth. The result is satellite imagery with all the goodies.

Included are a number of dynamic features, such as hourly weather observations for U.S. and international lakes, coastlines, and oceans; three-day tide predictions for thousands of coastal locations; the VOS feed, which contains weather observations from ships around the world, updated hourly; and real-time radar and storm warnings from the National Weather Service updated every five minutes. The product also provides animated six-day, wind/wave forecasts for the world’s oceans, and animated high-resolution charts of sea-surface temperatures and currents.

EarthNC+ comes with all of the NOAA and Army Corps of Engineers ENC vector charts for U.S. waters, with layers that include wrecks, obstructions, fish havens, depth contours, point soundings, and the majority of the Army Corps of Engineers inland IENC charts. Altogether, more than 750 charts for U.S. coastal waters are included with EarthNC+. It also supports raster marine charts, which can be purchased separately. The raster support extends EarthNC chart coverage to the full NOAA RNC catalog of over 1,000 paper charts. Future coverage areas include the Central and Southern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Hispaniola, the Sea of Cortez, and the South Pacific/New Zealand areas.

EarthNC+ is used by students and instructors at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. You can take a look at an online version that has many of the features of the full program at the EarthNC website.

Fugawi Marine ENC

Fugawi, which produces a conventional digitally based navigation product, uses Google Earth in a different way. The company has a plug-in that adds Google Earth support to its conventional Marine ENC product. Once the plug-in has been installed, Marine ENC operates in two modes: with and without Google Earth.

When you use it in Google Earth mode, Marine ENC divides a computer screen into two windows, one of which displays a standard digital chart, and the other, a corresponding view of Google Earth. The screens are linked, so that as you move through the chart, Google Earth moves accordingly, as does tracking data acquired from a GPS. It’s a unique approach to navigation, providing both an image and a chart simultaneously.

Fugawi’s Marine ENC with Google Earth support does not provide the broad range of dynamic information available with EarthNC+. However, Marine ENC not only includes the NOAA charts, but also allows you to import any standard raster or vector chart as well. That means it’s already covering the whole world.

Further information on Marine ENC and its Google Earth plug-in can be found at its website.

The continental shelf off San Francisco is clearly defined on both the chart and the Google Ocean rendition.
A Fugawi Marine ENC screen shows a chart of Isle Royale, Michigan, and Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Fugawi Marine offers a product that will display a chart and Google Earth image side by side.

Future changes

New images and features that display an ever-more-detailed, accurate, interesting, and useful globe are continually being added to Google Earth. The easiest way for boaters to keep up with what’s relevant to them is by reading the Google Earth blog. The blog’s creator, Frank Taylor, is a sailor who’s about to set off on the Tahina Expedition, a five-year circumnavigation of the world that will be logged and blogged on Google Earth. As a Google Earth partner, he’ll also be shooting thousands of pictures along the way that will become a part of Google Earth.

The archives section of the blog contains articles on the latest developments, links to other sites, and free layers you can add on to Google Earth, such as the GE Volvo Race tracker that will allow you to track the Volvo Ocean Race. It also includes place marks with links to pictures, stories, and videos of the event as it occurs.




Using Window Movie Maker Software

In their article, Greg and Jill Delezynski explain how they began making videos of their cruising adventures on the West Coast of North America (San Francisco to the Baja). Once they had the video footage, they learned how to edit and package these stories of their travels as DVDs . . . on a budget and while living aboard in a small space.

This supplement to their article presents the how-to steps for those who are interested in producing DVDs for fun or profit. Greg and Jill used Windows Movie Maker software, but the process is similar to those used in other video-editing applications.

How to make your own DVD movie

With our first tape in the camera, we selected, “capture the full tape.” We also had the “split into scene” box checked (more on this later). We were surprised that, while using Movie Maker, the camera was completely controlled by the computer. The camera did a rewind to make sure it was at the start of the tape. It then began to play the tape. As the camcorder played, we could see the video on a small screen on the laptop as it was simultaneously recorded onto the hard drive. We soon learned that the process of transferring the video to the computer was a “real-time” process. That means for every hour of videotape, it takes an hour to move it to the computer. So be prepared to sit back, have a cup of coffee, and relax as the transfer runs.

Once the tape was done playing, the program went to work for a minute or so, then a batch of what looked like photos showed up in the center panel of the program (see image above). Each of the photos is actually the first frame of the video clip, and represents a bit of video. This was done because of that checkmark on the “Split into scene” box we checked before we started the save.

Now, the real work begins! You move from the “1. Capture Video” step to the “2. Edit movie” mode.

At the bottom of the Movie Maker screen, you can see either a series of boxes, alternating between large and small, called a “storyboard view” or a long bar running from side to side, called a “timeline view.” We like to start in the storyboard view.

We can now select the first video clip (small photo from the center panel) to put in the first box at the bottom left of the screen. This “clip” is actually a short section of video. It’s a simple drag-and-drop move. Once the clip is in the first position, you can select another clip to put into the next box. It can be the next clip in the order you shot the video or one from later in the tape. You will notice that the clips will only drop into the large boxes.

The smaller gray boxes between the boxes that hold the video clips represent what “transition” takes place between the two video clips when viewing the video. More on this shortly.
During the “edit movie” process, you will want to switch between the storyboard and timeline view. Some tasks are easy to perform in one view but harder to do or understand in the other view. You can easily switch between the two ways to view your work by clicking on the small icon just above that first clip: “Show Timeline.” In the timeline mode, you will see a small photo representing the section of the video clip and then a bar that extends for the duration (in time) of how long that clip runs. To switch back, simply click on the “Show Storyboard.”

In either case, you can then play the clip using the standard VCR-type controls on the right side of the screen just under the left side of the preview window. You can also cut the clip into parts and remove anything you do not want in the final video. To cut the video in any place or frame you want, just let the timeline play until the exact spot you want to cut it. Then simply click the “split film” icon (the one just to the left of the icon that looks like a camera) just under the right side of the preview screen. You will see the video in the timeline area split into two. Next, you can cut it a bit further on and you can then click on the part of the clip you do not want and simply hit the delete key. Presto, the area you do not want goes away and the rest of the video snaps back to fill the gap!

Don’t worry, this delete is a non-destructive delete. The actual video is still in the computer, it’s just no longer in the video you will be viewing. You can always get it back.

You repeat this a number of times until all of the video in the timeline is what you want in the final movie.

Next, it’s time for a bit of fun! Move to the “Show Storyboard” view. Between each of the blocks, you see a smaller box.

Still in the step “2. Edit Movie” area, click on the “View video transitions.” A new batch of items pops up in the middle where your video clips were. These are the transitions. Each one will control how one section or clip of your video will move into the next. If no transition is used, as you move from one clip to the next, it will be a sharp snap to the next video. If you drag and drop a transition, like “Fade,” to that smaller box between your clips, when the video is played, the first clip will fade into the next. By clicking one time on a transition and then clicking on the play arrow under the preview screen, you will see how the transition looks on a couple of unrelated pictures.

As long as we were at it, we knew we also had a batch of still photos on the computer. We went back to Step 1 and clicked on the “Import Pictures” and loaded into the video a couple that we liked by placing them on the timeline between the video clips. Being a bit creative, you can use different transition to move from one photo to the next and even add the sound of a shutter click as the video plays.

We repeated the process of adding video and still photos, cutting, trimming, and inserting transitions until we had all of the video on the timeline and the video was about as long as we thought a viewer could stand. This is where your own judgment and creativity come in.

WOW! Now when we selected the “play” function on the timeline, it was beginning to look like a real video!

We suggest that you start by making a few short videos, in the 3- to 5-minute range. It’s easier to learn how it’s all working and get a couple of successes under your belt before you tackle that 4-hour epic.

When watching the video, you will realize how much music adds to the overall feel of the movie. You can go back to Step 1 and click on “Import audio or music.”

You can then select from any music you have on your computer. Once you select the music or sound from your computer, an icon will show up in the center “Collection” area that looks like a square with a note in it. You can then do the same drag and drop to get the sound into the “Timeline” view in the “Audio/Music” row. Now as you play the video, you will see the video and hear the extra music you just added. Just like the video on the timeline, the audio may also be cut and shortened or parts removed. You can also select the “microphone” icon on the bottom left side of the screen and record narration for your video.

If you are not going to sell your video, the sky is the limit on adding music. However, if you feel that you may someday want to sell your video, remember that copyright laws apply to any music you use.

At this point, we were no longer looking at the clock to see how long we had been working on our video. We were now looking at the calendar!

One last bit of editing that nicely finishes off the video is adding in titles. When you select “Make titles or credits,” a screen with a lot of options opens. You can add titles to the beginning of the video, credits at the end, and even text that flows over the video you shot to help explain items.

We then moved on to the “3. Finish Movie” area. We found that the best way to start was to make a couple of movies and send them home to friends and relatives. The fastest way to share very short videos is to send them by email by selecting “Send in an email.” Or you can select the option of “Send to the Web.” There are a number of places on the web that will host short up to 10-minute videos for free. YouTube and Google videos work very well. Once you’ve sent your short video to the web, your friends and family can view them without waiting for the mail system.

YouTube and Yahoo video are a fun place to share and see what others are doing. You can easily lose a day there. A second bonus feature of sending your short video to either one is that you can see how other people view your video. People who watch it can rate your video with a star system and send you feedback. So if you think you have a video that a lot of people will be interested in, post a small part of it there to see how it is received. You get to do a bit of free market analysis.

Once you get into doing longer videos, the best way we found was to write it to a CD. We know that sounds strange, but a blank CD is a lot less expensive than a blank DVD. By putting a video on a CD, you are creating what is called a VCD or Video Compact Disk. A VCD normally has about the same quality video as a VHS tape. This is less than a DVD but still very viewable. Most newer DVD players and updated computer DVD players recognize a VCD and will play them just as if they were a DVD.

A note here: Windows Movie Maker will not directly burn your video to a DVD. Take heart. You can still make a DVD; it’s just a bit more complicated. First, in the “3. Finish Movie,” select the “Save to my computer.” Enter a name for the video in Space 1 and where on your computer you want it in Space 2. Then click “Next.” On this second page, there are three choices: “Best quality for playback,” “Best fit to file size,” and “Other settings.” Select “Other settings” and, in the pull-down menu, chose (in the USA) “DV-AVI NTSC (25 Mbps).” Then use the DVD burning program that came with your computer to move that file to a DVD disk. Later, if you decide to move up to a purchased video-editing program, almost all of them can directly burn your video to a DVD.

Greg and Jill Delezynski spent much of their working career dreaming of sailing off to warm waters. In 1996, after moving to the San Francisco Bay area, they moved aboard Guenevere, their Nor’Sea 27, started preparations to the boat and themselves in earnest. They were profiled by Good Old Boat magazine in the November 2002 issue. In 2004, they made the jump; they retired from the working world, sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge, and turned left.

During their adventures, Greg and Jill Delezynski put their video camcorder to a lot of use. They put together a DVD for relatives and close friends. It was well received and a few suggested making it available for the public. With no background in the video industry, they did a lot of Internet investigation. After a few changes were made to the opening and closing of the video, they found a suitable way to publish and distribute the video while still cruising and now they are sharing their adventure with anyone interested.

Their first DVD, Guenevere’s West Coast Adventure, focuses on their journey from San Francisco to Baja California. The second DVD, Guenevere’s First Summer in the Sea of Cortez, picks up in Cabo and follows them north to the Puerto Escondido area.

In addition to the first two DVDs, they have released two new videos, Guenevere’s Middle Sea of Cortez Summerand Guenevere’s Galley, Pressure CookingGuenevere’s Middle Sea of Cortez Summer picks up where their first Sea of Cortez DVD ends, and travels north as far as the Bahia de Los Angeles area. It depicts the cruising life as they venture through 25 (new to them) anchorages. It shows life aboard, sea life, and many aspects of cruising in remote areas.

In Guenevere’s Galley, Pressure Cooking, they share pressure cooker techniques and seven recipes, including meat and even bread and cake! During three years spent cruising, they met many boaters who had pressure cookers aboard but never used them. This DVD is their way of showing others how easy a pressure cooker is to use. Both new DVDs include music by Eileen Quinn.

Greg and Jill are currently cruising the west coast of Mexico with no firm plans other than to keep going as long as it’s fun.

Special offer

For Good Old Boat readers, Greg and Jill are offering a special discount. Go to http:www.svguenevere.com to order any of their videos and use the discount code UK96DV6U. You will receive $3.50 off the price of each video. This offer applies only to videos priced at $10 or more (not valid on Guenevere’s Quiet Anchorages DVD).


Settee/Table Conversion

One little thing leads to another (or a true tale of unintended consequences)

This is a photographic supplement to the article printed in Good Old Boat magazine, November 2007. The text reproduced below is an overview only and intended to serve as an accompaniment to the full article.

My wife, Marty, and I enjoyed sailing Take Five, our new 1982 Allmand 31. However, something was not quite right. The settees were uncomfortable and the varnished table simply did not work. It was a drop-leaf design with a center box and lid. However, when the port side leaf was raised, it extended far enough to push into our middles. The starboard side leaf, on the other hand, left about a 10-inch reach for anyone seated on that side. Something had to be done.

Why was our couch at home so inviting? I tried to measure the angle of the seatback-to-bottom cushion with a plastic semicircular protractor. It wasn’t easy to obtain an accurate measurement with such a small device. I created a reasonable imitation of a couch-sized two-armed protractor from a cardboard box. Now I could use the plastic protractor, together with the cardboard pieces, to measure accurately.

Bill engaged in data collection with the cardboard protractor
Starboard settee with cardboard protractor, facing forward
Starboard standoff and sleeping extension without cushion
Starboard settee with cardboard protractor, facing aft

Our couch’s seat-to-back cushion angle was 115 degrees. The Allmand’s settee seatback angle was only 10 degrees past vertical at 100 degrees. On the boat, we had been sitting nearly bolt upright.

Port settee showing standoff and fixed bottom extension
Starboard extension

All I had to do was increase the seatback angle a few degrees to match the couch’s angle. One way to achieve the desired rake of the back cushion would be by moving its bottom toward the center by placing a length of wood, such as a 2 x 4 board, on the bottom cushion to achieve the intended seatback angle.

Then came the unintended consequences of a theoretically simple design modification. To feel just right, the base of the back cushion needed to be 6 inches away from its original position. The bottom cushion would have to be repositioned 6 inches farther toward the center. This meant making a long settee extension so the bottom cushion could provide the necessary support.

While the drop-leaf table barely worked before the cushion modification, now it was useless. First, I would have to work on the starboard settee. Until it was finished, I would not know the critical dimensions for the replacement table. A slide-out extension for the starboard settee would be a welcome addition to our accommodation plan. This would allow a wide sleeping space in the main cabin on humid nights.

Finished table ready to serve four
Bill and Marty’s friend, Keith, opening the table
Table end shot showing box frame, pedestal, and arm extended
Table for two, showing open table support arm, facing forward

The great table design elimination process began. Our choices narrowed to a bulkhead-mounted table or a pedestal-base table. Intense discussions followed relating to how the table should open: hinge down and pull up or fold over. Our decision was influenced by the fact that the prior table had a robust aluminum pedestal and there were bolt holes in the bulkhead and screw holes in the sole. The final concept utilized a foldover system on a permanent pedestal.

While the table and leaf nest evenly, they are not identical. The leaf was designed to be 7 inches away from the bulkhead to allow clearance for the mast compression post. We use this space between the mast support and the bulkhead for a 2-gallon container of spring water.

Another issue was the leaf support. I chose a single arm for this.

Table support arm open, showing end piece
Oil lamp and water container next to mast compression post

Finally, it was time to sit back and put that refreshing drink on a coaster. We now have a comfortable cabin where my wife and I can linger over a cup of coffee, plan a voyage, or seat four adults for dinner. We can sit back and relax with our weekend reading or even discuss a possible project discovered in magazines catering to boats of a certain age. All in all, not a bad outcome for a good old boat.

Bill at the finished table, relaxing while hard at work

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