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!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Summer in the UK

Hi everyone,
We've been here in Hull for over a month.  It's been a lot of fun.  The weather has been very good for most of that period with it only starting to cool down over the last few days.

Zen Again in Hull Marina
We've done a few bits and pieces of work on the boat including:

  • End-for-ended the anchor chain
  • Stowed away the mainsail, headsail and staysail
  • Fitted a replacement gas detector sensor
  • Fitted a replacement raw-water temperature sensor to the engine
  • Scrubbed the bottom (as far as we can reach in the dinghy)

While end-for-ending the anchor chain I discovered one of the pins on the swivel which fits between chain and anchor was badly corroded.  There was very little holding the pin in place.

The raw water temperature alarm had been misbehaving since Bermuda where it forced us to take a tow into harbour.  In the Azores the alarm was going off more often and we ignored it while keeping a close eye on the fresh water temperature (for which we have a gauge).  By the time we arrived in the UK the alarm was on continuously - even with the engine cold.  So it is now nice to run the engine without having to find inventive ways to muffle the alarm!

Most of our time here has been spent either at work (Mike) or looking for work (Nicki).  At the moment it looks like Nicki has found a job too - just waiting for final confirmation.

We've been using AirBnB to try out different localities in the Sheffield area.  We spent a week in Chesterfield south of Sheffield and a week in Wickersley north-east of Sheffield.  One was an apartment and the other a two up two down terrace home.

Chesterfield is famous for its crooked church spire
A week after I started work we collected our car.  We bought it from our friends Anne and Graham of sv Kakadu.  It is a Chevrolet Lacetti - famous only as Top Gear's "star in a reasonably priced car" vehicle.  Drive's great!

Our Chevrolet Lacetti
We spent last weekend touring the Peak District with my parents who are on holiday in the UK for my father's 80th birthday.  Tis a very scenic area and we had a great weekend.

Stream in Snake Pass
The tombstone of Little John in the churchyard at Hathersage

Riverside in Bakewell
Bakewell - home of the tart and the pudding!
Rural scene in the Peak District
The "garden" of our rented cottage
Tombsone of an old soldier in Longnor - what an amazing life! 
Another rural scene
Juvenile tawny owl at The Devonshire Arms in Hartington
We'll be driving down to Kent for my father's 80th birthday party this weekend.  On the following weekend (1st October) we'll be training down to London so I can give a talk at the Cruising Association on "GoogleEarth Imagery for Marine Navigation".

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Humber Estuary to Hull

Hi everyone,
Yesterday morning at the top of the tide we moved from our anchorage outside the mouth of the Humber estuary to a better anchorage just inside the mouth.  In the early evening we caught the flood up river to Hull Marina.

Zen Again tracks
The 6nm morning passage took a little over an hour.  Getting the anchor up was hard work.  It turns out we weren't anchored in shingle but in rocks.  The anchor had a large rock wedged inside its "roll bar"!

The anchorage just west of Spurn Point was much better.  Pity the tide and wind stopped us getting there on Thursday afternoon.  We put about 8nm on the log while anchored there yesterday as the tidal current of up to 2.5 knots flowed past.  Lots of small overfalls all around.

Spurn Point
View across the Humber from our anchorage - a wide river!
At 1630 (about an hour after low water) we weighed anchor and motored up river.  We had an average of 2 knots of current with us for the 20nm passage which took 3 hours.  There was plenty of commercial traffic including tankers, general cargo ships and passenger ferries.

Passenger ferry passing by
We called Hull Marina when 15 minutes away and the lock keeper had the lock entrance open for us when we arrived.  The lock has vertical cables to which the boat is secured while the lock operates.

The lock opens!
We moored overnight at the waiting dock just inside the lock.  It was great to have arrived at our boat's new home.

Zen Again alongside the Hull Marina waiting dock
This morning we moved the boat to her new pen.  The pens are good with long (albeit quite thin) finger jetties.  There are no cleats.  Instead metal hoops are provided which work just fine.

Zen Again in her new home
Another view
The marina is right in the heart of Kingston-upon-Hull.  The city has been selected as UK City of Culture 2017 and there is a lot of work going on in preparation.  We went for a quick walk around this morning and it seems a very nice little city.  Lots of nice looking pubs and cafes.  Many old buildings but many new ones too.  Hull was the most extensively damaged UK city in WW2 with 95% of buildings damaged.

The main church in the centre of town dates from the 1300s and has a magnificent tower.  It is the largest in England - all those larger are actually cathedrals.  Apparently the church will be promoted to cathedral status as part of the City of Culture events.

The weather has been spectacular today with barely a cloud in the sky.  We spent much of the afternoon cleaning and tidying up the boat.  The river side area of the city adjacent to the marina is staging a live music festival today featuring 30 local bands.  Lots of people about and a great atmosphere.