Monday, 27 February 2017

Winter in the UK

Hi everyone,
It's been a long time since our previous post.  Zen Again has been resting in her berth in Hull Marina.  Happily winter has been mild this year, albeit with several "named storms".  We've been visiting the marina regularly to check all's OK aboard and to top up the electricity meter which keeps the four onboard tube heaters running.

While Zen Again has been resting we have been busy at work and exploring Yorkshire when opportunities presented.  We've had some great walks in lovely countryside.  Some weekends were write-offs due to weather or bad colds but overall we've been really enjoying Yorkshire.

One of two slightly snowy mornings
We spent last weekend in London, principally to present at the Cruising Association.  The bluewater section asked us to present on AIS, HF and Satellite Imagery in an all-day event.  We had 58 participants and the day seemed to go very well.  We stayed in one of the CA's cabins which are very convenient and affordable.

At the Cruising Association
We extended our stay in London so we could visit some of London's great museums.  On Sunday we visited the Natural History Museum and particularly enjoyed their vulcano, mineral, jemstone and dinosaur exhibits.

On Monday we visited the the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  The museum has excellent displays on many nautical themes.  We particularly enjoyed seeing Harrison's clocks, the Nelson's Navy exhibit and the array of amazing paintings.

Nice painting of a warship launch
One of Harrison's famous clocks - fully restored and running
A very famous painting of James Cook
This weekend we took Zen Again's mattresses and sails back aboard.  A little early perhaps but we are preparing to move from Yorkshire to Surrey in a few weeks.  New job opportunities beckon so we are moving south.  Zen Again will stay in Hull until summer when we hope to sail her north to transit the Caledonian Canal to SW Scotland.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Autumn in the UK

Hi everyone,
We have now moved ashore and are both working full-time.  We had thought we might live aboard for a year or so but the cost of commuting from Hull to our workplaces made that uneconomic.  It was costing close to 100 pounds each week for petrol alone!

Our "local" - dressed overall for halloween
So we're now living in a small apartment half-way between our workplaces, with reasonable commutes for both of us.  After 18 months aboard the move ashore was a big deal.  We filled our car twice with "stuff" and discovered the boat has better storage than our apartment.  The apartment is considerably warmer however!  And the local pub (above) has great beer and food.

Speaking of warm, that's something Zen Again isn't going to be for quite a while.  We will soon have to "winterise" the boat - something we've never had to do before.  Here's a rough list of what we expect to do:

  • Move stuff ashore to a warmer & drier environment (well underway)
  • Stow loose items staying aboard in sealed containers to prevent rust/mould
  • Empty fresh water tanks and hoses to prevent damage from water freezing
  • Change the engine oil and filter
  • Change the engine fresh water systems' coolant
  • Drain the engine's raw water system and remove the raw water impeller
  • Slacken off the engine's V belt
  • Install a dehumidifier to keep the boat dry and (perhaps) warm

We bought a dehumidifier today after looking for reviews.  Practical Boat Owner recommends the Meaco DD8L Junior.  As it happened there was a unit in stock nearby so we're now testing it at home.

By the way, our next talk at the Cruising Association is now being advertised online here.

Trust all's warm and comfy where you are!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

VentureFarther's Satellite Imagery KAP File Generator

Hi everyone,
Last weekend I presented a talk at the Cruising Association on Using GoogleEarth Imagery for Marine Navigation.  Over 40 people attended and I think the talk was well-received.

After the talk a tutorial session was held so attendees could load imagery in OpenCPN and generate their own imagery.  Attendees brought a variety of platforms with them, including Windows PCs, Macbooks, iPads and Android tablets.  This made the tutorial quite challenging and brought home the limitations of using the Windows-only program GE2KAP to produce KAP file images.

Earlier this year a cruising friend mentioned a new web site which allowed the sharing of routes and similar information.  I had a look and quite liked what I saw but the site seemed not to offer anything uniquely interesting.  Over recent months the site has developed rapidly and now supports web-based interactive creation of satellite imagery.  No need to install any software.  The site is VentureFarther.

As of today a total of over 70,000 images have been made by VentureFarther users.  Creating imagery is very simple.

1.  Go to the VentureFarther web site.

2. Register and/or login.

3. Use the tool bar go to Navigation & Planning => Satellite Charts.

4. Pan and zoom in the image pane to the area of interest.  The red-shaded box shows the area of your chart.  For example here's Hurst Castle in the Solent...

Panned/Zoomed to target area (Hurst Castle in the Solent)
5.  Select the desired options above the image pane:

  • MultiKap = On produces a zip file of 9 tiled images of and around the red-shaded area - use the Tile buttons to see each of the tiles in turn
  • MultiKap = Off produces a single image
  • Format = Zip produces a KAP file (ie not a zip file)
  • Format = KAP produces a file which does not appear to be valid
  • Resolution = Hi produced a good image
  • Resolution = Low produced an image about 1/4 the size of the Hi version

6.  Click on Generate Chart.

Image creation underway
 7.  The file is saved in your Downloads folder.  Move the file to the location where your imagery is read by OpenCPN.  I keep my UK images in /Users/Shared/charts/ge/Europe/UK.  The Windows equivalent would be /Users/Public/charts/ge/Europe/UK.

8.  In OpenCPN go to Options => Charts => Chart Files, tick the "Scan Charts and Update Database" check box and click OK.  When done zoom/pan to the location of your new image charts and check they're there!

Tiled images (array of 9 images) loaded in OpenCPN
9.  For use in SEAiq I suggest combining all imagery for an area in a single zip file.  Then download the zip file to SEAiq.  When running SEAiq on iPad this is done using iTunes as described in my post here.

VentureFarther's web-based satellite chart generation is great.  It makes satellite imagery-based chart creation easy.  I expect to be using it a lot!