I have often said that the most enjoyable part of writing is not getting the material down the first time, but the editing, revising, and reorganizing after that.

Now that the sailing book is about half done, I am having second thoughts about the organization of all the information. My initial plan was to make each chapter be a year, subdivided into sections about the planned changes and repairs, the summer sailing activities, and the autumn review for the next year. As appropriate there were to be small call-outs on individual topics… instrumentation… painting… anchoring… rules of the road… heat…refrigeration… electric supply… running lights.

But now I’m leaning toward fully discussing each technical topic in its own chapter such as dinghies, navigation, epoxy work, mast building, trailering. Then all the discussion would be in one place as well as the wisdom gleaned over a decade grouped by topic. To satisfy the chronological record urge, I could include an outline-format listing of the modifications of each year, with links to the appropriate chapters.

A separate year-by-year section could include the descriptions of the sailing trips made, but that section would be free of the distraction of technical digressions. The result would be a technical part and a sailing part.

Then again, I could group things by mistakes, in keeping with the title of “Never The Same Mistake Twice”. Perhaps I could simply lead into each technical section with the ‘mistake’ that started the modification.

So after discussing this with myself for about 20 minutes, here is a general outline:

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Sailing trips (by year)
  • 3. Modifications and Technical topics
    • Head/toilet
    • Water systems
    • Storage
    • Heat & ventilation
    • Hand grips
    • Lifelines
    • Navigation…compass, charts, dividers, magnetic vs true north
    • Depth Sounding…fishfinders… use of sounding lines
    • Knotmeter…timing of a float’s travel
    • GPS/ chart plotter
    • Radio/antenna
    • Navigation/ cabin lights
    • Refrigeration
    • Bunks & cushions
    • Bilge pump
    • outboard motor… remote controls… ventilation… fuel tank
    • dinghy… inflatable vs hard… davits… stitch & glue construction… seating
    • anchors and moorings
    • severe weather… steering to avoid broach… serial drogue
    • on-deck lighting
    • trailering
    • mast…lowering & raising…design…access to top
    • radar & radar reflector… design of reflector
  • 4. projects and mistakes listed by year

[Note: In mid June I sought input on the reorganization of the book and ALL the inputs from my writing group said they would prefer a mixed-together chronological organization where the topics are covered in inserted boxes rather than in a separate section. So I bow to the readership and retain the original organization.]

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Formatting Pictures for Coming Book

Spinnaker Night in Charlottetown
Spinnaker Night in Charlottetown

Now that I have decided on the size and fact that the interior will allow colour, I am going through all the photos again… I had spent some time converting them to gray and sized them for a different layout. Since Lightning Source has made the inclusion of inside color much less costly, it seems like the thing to do… especially with a grant from the Southern Kings Arts Council!

Fishing boats at Wood Islands
Fishing boats at Wood Islands

Since 7.44″ x 9.69″ is the largest of the lower per-page cost sizes, I’ll go with that. To pack the most material in with easily-read text lines, I’ll go to two columns. That means I can put pictures in columns with a width of 2.9″ or across both columns with a 6.1″ width… that gives me the width numbers. The height will become whatever is necessary to save the aspect ratio. I expect vertically-oriented photos will go in columns while horizontally-oriented ones will go across the page. Since as soon as one interior page has color the entire thing might as well be so, I plan to use lots and lots of pictures.

The one thing I learned from doing Loman’s first children’s book is that it is possible to set the color too intense/saturated and risk rejection by the printer, I will set the darkness of the pictures up from full “black” along with dropping the “white” down if there are large areas of gradually changing sky…the transition from full white to slightly colored produces visible bands where the printing changes from no ink to a few dots of ink… just make sure there are at least a few dots everywhere… going from a few dots to a few more dots is not so noticeable.

Rainbow at Wood Islands
Rainbow at Wood Islands

Called my bluff!

I recently received a grant from the Southern Kings Arts Council partially underwriting the printing of my sailing book. Unfortunately not much has been happening on the sailing front…the boat sits in the yard covered in perhaps 12″ of snow, which puts a damper on projects. But the grant did inspire me to get out the chapter drafts and fill in the activities of 2012…they called my bluff!

There was relatively little sailing done in 2012…my “crew” had mutinied and all the sailing was single-handed. It was a good time to make sure I had the autopilot technique down and that I could work out a sequence for sail raising and lowering.

The trailer was a major focus, since its rebuild the year before set it slightly too narrow, crushing parts of the outer hulls when the boat was pulled. I had to repair those spots as well as adding in new sensors for depth and boat speed to go with a new fish-finder. Also I got to break in a new GPS/chart-plotter…particularly useful for entering unknown harbors.

For several years I have been saying I will not release my book until I have a big accomplishment to report. More and more I think that must be an around-the-island trip. PEI should be easily circumnavigated in 10 days, assuming the wind cooperates. Since my (former) crew would be within easy reach of my cell phone and since any part of the Island can be reached by car in under 4 hours, she can serve as my emergency land support. I can use the time taking lots of pictures and should have a lengthy report ready for the book by the end of the trip.

Since there is a slight underwriting, and since Lightning Source now has a low-cost color option, I expect I will insert all the pictures into the book in color. Just thinking about it re-inspires me!

Book status report

Color: Over the last few months I have gotten into publishing color books…even with the color going right to the edges…bleeds. And my primary printer, Lightning Source, has come up with a lower-cost color option. So I definitely think the book will graduate to color pictures of the trips and construction. 

Trip: My around-the-island trip has yet to happen, and I have pretty much lost the services of my first mate, who mutinied after getting seasick the year before this. But that cloud has a silver lining since she can serve as my ground crew if something goes wrong or I need supplies. After all, Prince Edward Island is no more than a 4 hour drive from end to end and with her living on the island there is no water to cross…a trip to Newfoundland would be a different story, So my resolve is strengthening to do the trip next summer.

Grant: The Southern Kings Arts Council has advertised grants to support struggling artists and they consider writers as qualifying. The grants are up to $1200 if one qualifies, and so I have applied for the sailing book. The color option will increase the price and none of these publishing activities are great profit activities. While my current focus is on the Revisiting Scripturebook(s), a grant would be the incentive to get going on the sailing book as well.

autumn last leaves


Projects:So as of now the boat sits in the side yard, waiting for the snow, with only minor work to do…the trailer modifications are about done and the radio replacement can happen in the spring. The last of the autumn leaves are still a brilliant yellow on the maple trees, but winter feels close.


Compleat Cruiser

I am almost done reading  The Compleat Cruiser: The Art, Practice and Enjoyment of Boating by L. Francis Herreshoff (first printed in 1956). It has been one of the most enjoyable books on short-distance (non-blue-water) cruising I have encountered because it is told as a story. The reader casually is introduced to Mr. Goddard and his young-teen daughter, Miss Prim (for Primrose) who are taking short sailing trips around  the North Shore above Boston, MA.  While there are details slipped in about boat designs (the author’s skill and fame), the account paints a picture of the enjoyment of the journey. The moments of concern due to occasional squalls or shallow water fade as we are go along experiencing the cooking of meals and sitting on the boat in the quiet of the evening or engaging in informal ‘races’ with fellow sailors who happen to be going the same direction. The evenings often entail sitting around with these other boaters discussing everything under the sun…with a focus on sailing. More than any other book I’ve read, this one brings out the fun of simple short-run cruising.

I have often read books promoting the benefits of simplicity in cruising…no motor…no special electronics…no water heater or pressure…etc. Herreshoff makes some of those same arguments relative to initial cost of boats, maintenance costs, insurance costs, and so on. If he were still living and still making the same arguments, however, I would take him to task over a few items which were either prohibitively costly or totally unavailable back then.

  1. I think every boat above 20′ ought to have a depth sounder/fish finder. These can be had for about $100 and make running aground much less likely…especially if you are single-handing and couldn’t use a line.
  2. Navigation without a GPS in this day is foolish…especially if you might get out of sight of land. I recently changed my hand unit (~$200) for a low-end chart-plotter which cost about $450. Half of its value is the inclusion of charts which otherwise cost about $20 each.
  3. LED running lights and cabin lights are far superior to the old incandescent ones and the oil lamps in the cabin (I ;know some argue the atmosphere is better inside with oil). Add a solar charger (say 15 watts) and a deep-cycle battery and you have all the   power for your lights unless you run all night every night.

To be sure, power boaters define ‘necessities’ differently, but I consider the above items to be essential and affordable for those with small cruising sailboats. 

Sailing on PEI

A true account: I herewith endeavour to give a true account of my sailing experiences on Prince Edward Island interspersed with bits of advice and warnings, often derived from the writings of others. These experiences arose out of acquiring, and then modifying, a small used sailboat for coastal sailing. When Luke, the author of two Bible books, began writing, he pointed out that, while many others had already written about the same topic, he was going to write an orderly account resulting from careful investigation.[1] In the realm of sailing, this is beyond my grasp! Much of the technical information presented here echoes the writings of others who have come before me. Instead, it is my goal to give a personal account of my journey on the path to becoming a sailor. Continue reading Sailing on PEI