Hull repair


Cut for repair
Cut for repair

As I said recently, there is no hurry getting the boat into the water. The water is cold and all the Spring projects shout for attention. Still, I have a set of pre launch projects for the boat. The first is hull repair. The trailer rebuild last Summer was about 4″ too narrow and the guide posts crushed the bottom of the outer hulls (its a trimaran).

A few days ago I started by cutting out the damaged bottom plywood about 6″ up and covering the span between bulkheads (about 24″). I had known the hull cover is thin but It was surprising to actually see that the sheathing is 3/8″ plywood with glass only on the outside (but Epoxy coating over everything both inside and out). This boat would not do for the Arctic North since the ice would probably puncture it quickly. Still, in more temperate waters it has lasted 16 years.

Repair of plywood/epoxy/glass hulls is much simpler than fiberglass-only hulls. Having cut away enough of the damaged hull to reach side-to-side and lap over the bulkheads, I will replace the V-shaped frame piece on the bottom edge, and Epoxy on some plywood strips on the inside tops of the cutout area to support the top edge. With support now on all edges of the cutout and the Epoxy having set, I will Epoxy the panels (pre-coated on the inside) against the supports and use a few (drywall) screws to hold hold them in place. Once the Epoxy has set, pull the screws, do a bit of smoothing with an angle grinder, and I can Epoxy a fiber-glass layer on over the raw wood. I do want to add a drain plug on each side in case water gets into the hulls in the Winter (somehow the snow plies up on deck and runs up over the lip of the access hatches in the Spring thaw). The final steps are to smooth the glass/epoxy and paint the outside. Since the damaged area is below the water line, it will be bottom paint. Since the repair will be under water, aesthetics are not very important and a perfectly smooth surface is irrelevant. I might add another coat of Epoxy on the inside for good measure since the repair areas are accessible through the hatches. The entire process will take a couple days due to the set times but is not actually much working time. It would have been impossible in the Winter since the set times would have been much longer.

Did I mention another delay may be a bird having already nested and laid eggs in the radar reflector on the top of the (presently horizontal) mast? Oh well, it will give me time to really get the boat in prime condition.

Cold water

Garden projects seem to demand time now in the Spring because the new plants need to get started, etc. etc. There is not much hurry to get the boat in the water since the water is so cold. I was amazed to see 6 small sailboats out on Charlottetown harbour yesterday; I suppose they might have been a class…or possibly a race. I have seen tem other years and they are open boats which hold two or three…perhaps including an instructor. They are the sort of boats that could go over and the passengers would cling to the sides while the rescue speedboat would quickly come aside. Still the water would be very cold.

Incidentally I ran across some information about hypothermia and drowning. Apparently the effect takes quite some time and most people who go over in cold water (say 40F)drown because there is an immediate paralysis action and inability to breathe. Without a lifejacket even a strong swimmer can go down in the first couple minutes, while hypothermia would probably take at least hour. So much for, ” I’m a good swimmer; I don’t need to wear a life jacket.” Even when rescued, victims of hypothermia should stay laid down and avoid moving–aparently when the victim tries to move around the heart can ‘flutter instead of pump’ and that is the end.

In conclusion:

  2. Get a life ring to the peerson first…make sure it is handy
  3. Wear Flotation on deck

Hire an interface person?

I have just completed a frustrating process of getting files to my primary print contractor, Lightning Source. My primary publishing role is to take client’s WORD draft and lay it out with page numbers, headings and table of contents as well as positioning and processing photos for best printing. That is enough of a job, but all of that can be done in WORD (and Photoshop). The latest challenge is in getting the cover in the right format. My printer has always required a PDF-format file with all the fonts embedded…something that WORD does not always do when you tell that program to save as a PDF.

The frustration has arisen because Lightning Source has established stiffer specifications for covers of books with colour interiors. 1) They MUST be laid out on their template. This allows the automatic generation of the bar code for the ISBN, but it also specifies a very large sheet with the actual cover fitting on that page. My failure to understand was that this huge sheet cannot have the cover colour outside of the bleed edge (but must be that larger size) 2) In addition the PDF must be in PDF/X-1a (2001) format. Wouldn’t you know, Photoshop Elements does not produce this. I suspect the need relates to color being mot in RGB but in CMYK, but there may be other issues. Buying full-blown Photoshop is expensive beyond imagination, but I have Adobe Acrobat Professional which includes Acrobat Distiller. Following a circuitous route I am able to get the cover to the required form!

Why am I saying all this? Basically I am suggesting that paying $100-200 for the services of someone, who has gone through all this pain, to do the interface to the printer is not a bad price if you don’t own the expensive software packages or have the computer experience required. Having someone who has been through it can save a lot of grief. Just a thought.

Racks and local sales

If I supply Postcards and photo-magnets to local gift shops, should I provide display racks? This has been a question for several years, but the cost of new display racks compared to the tiny profit from such sales made such purchases ill advised. Would enough extra sales result from better displays to pay for the racks in a year or two?

Since the postcards cost about $0.15 to buy from VistaPrint and wholesale for $0.25 or $0.30, if a new display rack cost $15 (a simple 7-card wall rack) I would need to sell 100-150 cards to break even and table-top rotating units cost at least $30 (200-300 cards needed to be sold). Short of building something of my own, it looked hopeless.

I was recently made aware of a program sponsored by the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce and Southern Kings Arts Council called “Artisans on Main Street.” It is renting the vacant storefronts along the main street in Montague and promoting ‘the arts’ in most any form. One of their 3 stores is to carry consignment, which might include my postcards. But the fascinating thing is that one of the ladies there indicated that she had seen used display racks at Habitat for Humanity. I guess businesses that fold sometimes give their equipment to charities. A visit revealed two LARGE racks–4-sided, chest height, free standing–for $20 each. One was quite unsuitable but the other could suffice for postcards and books. With a little innovation its 4 pieces could be adapted for multiple uses. Even better, one of the people there said they had gotten more suitable ones in before and expected to get more in soon. So I have re-entered the display hardware market!

Sailing Around the Island

A (non-sailing) friend I was telling about my requirement of sailing abound Prince Edward Island before finishing my sailing book recently said, “That can’t be hard. How long should it take…2 days?”

The reality is that it is about 475 km or 300 miles around. If I were to sail day and night It could perhaps be done

  1. if I had night sailing skills
  2. if I had at least two others to share the watches
  3. if I didn’t care to stop and see any of the shore
  4. if (and here’s the big IF) the winds cooperated.

In comfortable winds the trimaran makes 6 knots with no difficulty and has been up to 9 or 10 knots, but the stronger winds are accompanied by rough seas especially in Northumberland Strait where the side shores serve as a wave guide. 6 knots would involve about 45 hours of sailing as long as the winds held and conveniently reversed as the boat rounded the island—that would be the 2 days. Of course, if one used a speedboat with lots of spare gasoline, found a really calm day, and pushed at 20 miles per hour or faster, the trip might be done in one day, but that defeats the purpose. Continue reading Sailing Around the Island

Preparing postcards

On the photo-business side of Wood Islands Prints I have for several years gone to selling postcards to the local gift shops. The market in SE PEI is not very crowded with local image products. The challenge is to find an affordable route for very small runs (100, say) so there can be a limited stock of each picture but have a wide selection. I started with home ink-jet printing but the costs of ink and card stock was high and the result was not very water resistant. Then I found Vista Print. They have printing operations in the US and in Canada, so the duty/agent fee is not an issue. Their focus is on marketing products for small businesses, but they are quite willing to print photo products as well as reminders to “Come in for your automotive service.” If you follow the special sales notifications by email, you can get sometimes get 100 cards for the cost of shipping, and sometimes even save the upload fee as well. Even at worst case I can produce cards for less than $0.25US. I then go around letting customers pick a mix of whaterver cards I have in stock.

The production challenge is to obtain images with just the right resolution and pixel count. This is quite easy in Photoshop and probably in most image-editing software. I have developed a system to make up postcards with colored borders and captions…it is easiest if one develops blank templates that are just the right proportions for the image and for the overall card. My own cards all have blue backgrounds and gold-colored captions on the front as well as B&W description on the back to make it a ‘real’ postcard.

The process is ‘better felt than telt’ and I am going through the steps in a class I’m teaching this coming Saturday (May 19, 2012) for the Photography club that meets at the Montague (PEI, Canada) library at 1PM. If any of you reading this are close you’re welcome to come…there is no charge. Contact me at (902) 962-3335 for information.

More printing options

I have some good news for potential writers who have held off because the (relatively) low cost option of Lightning Source has some definite restrictions to do with size, paper type, and bindings. These restrictions are probably and justifiably due to the POD (Print on Demand) nature of their product–someone can order a single copy of a book and it is (I assume quite automatically) printed, bound, trimmed, and shipped.

I have just two days ago run across InstantPublisher. The company is also located in a small town in Tenessee, but does not deal in orders of less than 25 books, nor can books be supplied directly via Amazon. In return the company offers several choices that are not posslible with LS:

  1. Binding choices include several forms of spiral (lay flat) edges which are well suited for cookbooks.
  2. It seems that other sizes can be had by trimming afterwards…I think they produce the standard size book and then trim it smaller if requested.
  3. Interior paper choices include glossy in two weights and even card stock (for cookbooks?).
  4. Interior pages can be a mix of B&W and color…somehow the press identifies each page as it is printed and decides whether it needs the color inks. The cost of the two types of pages differs and this allows savings where only a few pages need to be color.
  5. Like LS, there are a number of cover choices.
  6. Finally, the costs per book seem comparable on first glance.
  7. They have gone to great length to be able to work with WORD manuscripts (modified on your own computer as part of the upload process)

So, any of you out there who MUST have spiral binding and partial color or glossy interiors, here is good news! Anyone want to be the first to try them?

Winter Dreaming

Well, it is not technically winter here in Atlantic Canada, but it isn’t really spring either!

I spent some early morning hours today dreaming with my yet-to-be-installed GPS chart-plotter (Lowrance Elite 5m). The GPS part is nice, but the chart function is great too. With charts costing $20 each (and they still require someone to plot the coordinates before you can find out where you are), the $450 for the unit was a bargain. One hand-held GPS easily costs $150 and if I had to buy 15 charts I would come out even. Now I  have charts for all of North America and even rough outlines for the rest of the world. I couldn’t find out the harbours of Tasmania but I could at least head for land. Add a simple world atlas and  basic navigation would be possible. Admittedly I have to click the no-liability statement at start up, so the fact that my electronic charts are easily 15 years behind (the Confederation bridge connecting PEI to the mainland is not there and that is hard to miss) is not a big problem…assume most shores have not moved significantly. and come into harbours carefully using the depth sounder.

Back to the dream. It is fun to move the pointer around the Island and imagine sailing into the various harbours. Which ones would be sheltered from strong NW winds and waves? Which ones would most likely have access to supplies? See how the most tempting direct path to the wharf would take me over shallow water…would my 3 foot draft get me in trouble? How far could I go in a day? Are there enough intermediate harbours in case the wind changes? As I say, it is fun to plan a hypothetical trip. I still have the around-the-island goal and requirement before I will release my book, and the GPS is a significant part of that.

Its too cold for Epoxy to set, so I might as well dream.

Pictures for colour books

I am working with a friend, Tom Rath, redoing his book of poetry about cats for children. It is a challenge, not just because the format changes but also because the addition of colour is new for me with Framemaker (the layout program I use). Sure enough, lurking under the surface for the last decade have been features for just such options, along with far more than I ever wanted to know about spot and process colour and separations. Fortunately Lightning Source, the printer, will happily work with pdf format files having embedded jpeg format pictures. All they ask is 300 dpi (dots/pixels per inch).

Here is where my Photoshop Elements comes into play. I still have colour versions of the pictures that went into the original black and white book. They are sadly low resolution for the 8 1/2″ x 11″ format being used this time, but I have a procedure to squeeze out the best I can: Continue reading Pictures for colour books