Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Website - Currently on the steep side of the learning curve

For those of you who may have subscribed to the new website, I have an uncomfortable feeling that you may have been deluged with "New Posts" as I have been progressing with the process of learning the new software characteristics.  If so, please accept my sincere apologies.

The good news is that I'm reading and experimenting diligently, and progress is starting to take place. I hope to get the 'Designs' section and the embryo 'Shop' looking more professional in a few days.

Concurrently, I'm working on the construction of a new mast for a customer, and it promises to be a major step forward in 'home-workshop-buildable' masts and other spars, without the need to cut 'Bird's Mouth' profiles. Many people don't understand that very small errors in the setting-up of the saw or router for 'Bird's Mouth' staves can have a huge effect on the diameter of the finished spar. Also, unless you have a very well arranged table-saw or router table, the potential for disaster is substantial...

They say that, '..pride comes before you end up with mud on your face...', but I'm quietly confident that the prototype mast I'm making will be faster, safer, and easier to build, and will have one REALLY substantial advantage over a 'Bird's Mouth' spar in that the wall thickness as a percentage of spar diameter will remain constant over the length of the mast. In the case of a 'Bird's Mouth' mast, the wall thickness (in percentage terms) increases as the mast tapers towards the tip - so much so that many masts become effectively solid towards the tip - not what is wanted at all! We need to keep masts light - especially as we go higher.

More to come when I get through this website business.

I've got a number of boats under construction or repair, but design will dominate before too long.

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Website (almost) up

For several days now, the skeleton of my new website has been up and running.

This has been a longtime coming, mainly because of my relative ignorance of things to do with computers and IT.

 My previous website was brought into existence to give people access to the vast number of construction and rigging photos which I have available, and to save me the costs and, primarily, the time involved in sending repetitive emails to enquirers needing help and illustrations - a picture being worth a thousand words, I'm told...

Because of my general ignorance of matters relating to computers, I decided to use the most simple of programs, even though many people had told me it was out-of-date. That program was Microsoft FrontPage 2003, and it has served my very well indeed. I was able to follow the simple templates, and before long, I had a website which was simple to navigate (lots of basic buttons on the left-hand side of each page) and allowed me to put up many expandable-thumbnail galleries.

Despite my lack of computer knowledge, and scant knowledge of graphic design, the amateurish website has pulled in an average of between 2.7 and 3.4 million hits per annum for many years. That is page hits, by the way, not numbers of visits - but still not bad.

The new website, which is WordPress based, will display better on mobile devices, will support a shopping cart, will interface with social media (another thing I know almost nothing about), and will incorporate this blog and lots of other things - including, hopefully, a forum. That way YOU can be involved.

For those of you who have already subscribed, please be patient. I will be having a meeting with the website developer, (Julie from on Wednesday, February 4, and that is when control of the site will be handed over to me for further action - at the moment I can't respond to subscriptions. Julie has done a great job, but has only had a few bits of content from my old website to use in filling out the page content. Once I have official control, and have learnt how to drive the site, I'll start filling up the pages.

In addition to a lot of videos and new plan information, I will be starting to run an on-line shop which will market fittings, books, boatbuilding supplies such as paint, plywood, fibreglass, fastenings, specialty glues, epoxy, and sails etc., etc., Because of my one-man-band status, the development will take a little time. As for the stock in the store, I will be partnering with a selection of very well-known companies, and the materials on offer with be of very high-quality. For overseas customers in particular, my plan sets will be available as instant PDF downloads in addition to the existing printed sets. Printed sets are nice, but the postage which I pay can be as high as AUD$36 for some of the plans. I don't charge that much, so it has a big impact on the viability of my chosen business.

Finally, I am in the process of up-grading my design software, which until now has been of the most basic type. Disregarding hull modelling, which I do in a combination of 3D modelling programs, carved half-models, and hand-drawn lines, my actual plans drawings are done individual line-by-individual line (i.e. manually) using a basic 2D CAD program - AutoDESK (the AutoCAD people) AutoSKETCH 9. Most of my plans contain between 16 and 32 sheets of A3 paper, plus illustrated instruction booklets of up to 70 pages, so the production of a set of saleable plans represents a HUGE investment of time.

My proposed path into the 21st century with regard to drafting should result in better plans presentation, and with luck, exploded diagrams of sub-assemblies.

So folks, thank-you for your patience and support over the years, and stand-by for a bit more action and communication!