Log Preparation

//Log Preparation
Log Preparation 2018-07-09T16:33:37+00:00

In this section, clicking on an image will usually enlarge it

Click on the tabs below to access explanation and links to tutorials that explain the workflow (see diagram below)

The deck Log is the essential note book that will guide you through the story of your voyage in the right sequence 6 months later when you get round to assembling the Log, and have forgotten the detail. There are many beautifully produced and complicated deck Log books, often given as Christmas presents that are frankly worse than useless. I like a very simple log book shown in the illustration above . It has a number of columns that do not have column headings (and so can be used flexibly) on the right hand side and a blank page on the left. It is contained within a tough cover and small enough so that, for most purposes, one page a day makes sense.

When thinking about the next day’s passage, I will start the Log page for that day and write down relevant tide times on the blank left page. (For the Solent these are usually Portsmouth and Cherbourg — because my tidal atlas is based on Cherbourg)

I try to start the Log each day on the right with a very brief description of the weather such as “cold and sunny” or ” raining hard, very windy, snatching at anchor”. Those words set the mood for the day. Additionally I like to take down the shipping forecast, if I am up early enough! This can be scribbled on the left hand blank page. Usually this means listening to the 0730 maritime safety information broadcast from coastguard. You have to learn how to take down the forecast at the speed that they read it. This means developing a form of shorthand. I was first introduced to this in the lovely weather books published by Alan Watts. For example, the forecast which reads ” Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis; east four or five becoming variable three or less then southwest 5 to 7 later, perhaps Gale eight later; slight or moderate but smooth in the west at first, occasionally rough later, occasional rain later, moderate or good, occasionally poor later” can be represented by

If you are in Ireland, forecasts go right round the coast in a clockwise direction, and also give weather conditions and wave height at certain weather buoys. Extremely useful, but you need to find a chart that shows where the weather buoys are and the headlands they use to define the areas. If you’re in France, you need to be able to understand the weather terms. I recommend purchasing Bloc Marine, an absolutely excellent bilingual almanac showing all the terms, and lots more information as well. More on other weather sources later.

I sometimes use the blank left hand page to note down interesting information heard on the VHF, for example the position of a casualty broadcasting a mayday

When we were sailing, we used to, religiously on the hour. log position course and speed. If using a way point, we would also record bearing and distance to way point (having first recorded the way point position). On a motor boat, the passages tend to be shorter in terms of time, so reporting can be a little less dense. Here is the close up of the deck log page above  which I wrote when we crossed the Channel from Dielette to the Needles.

On passage I like the chart plotter set to the chart with an AIS overlay. This enables me to see any other shipping, and by simply placing the cursor on any point, I can get an accurate range and bearing. (This would enable me to plot the position if all electronics failed) So the first 2 columns are ‘R’ and ‘B’. I thought I might use Bearing and Distance to waypoint, so 2 more columns were marked for that.

This was the first time I had used the Logbook for a longer passage on a motorboat. Another time I might use the columns for “rpm”, “bearing” “Distance”, “Eng hours P”, “Eng hours S”. If using waypoints, different headings would be appropriate. That is why I like the flexibility of this Logbook layout. It is also useful to write down engine hours at the end of a passage, and any fuel purchased.

I’m very bad at writing down the things that we do in harbour. It sometimes makes it difficult for me to remember what we did or who we met and in what order. It is an interesting change of emphasis. In a sailing boat there is much more emphasis given to the passage, whereas on a motor boat it is what you do at the destination that is more important, and I have not yet got used to the change of emphasis. We also keep a visitors book. Immensely useful for recording names of boats and their crew that we have met on our cruises, especially when you meet them again 5 years later!

I have recently started to take a photo with my iPad of the track on the plotter at the end of each day. It is a useful adjunct to the Deck Log and can be used to aid drawing a track on a chart in your photo editor (see track charts)

So with the forecast (and other information) on the left, and what we did on the right, the framework for the Log has been constructed.

My early logs use photographs scanned from very small prints taken with a very basic camera. Time has moved on, and we now have the Internet, digital photography, and desktop publishing; as well as the ability to stitch photographs into panoramas and all kinds of other magical tricks. Yes I use all of these from time to time, but they are not strictly necessary. The best camera is the one you have with you at the time you need to take the picture. This might be your phone, your tablet, or a pocket camera, or a Nikon with a big zoom lens on it. I will say that I have seen very few photographs taken from a boat with a phone or a tablet that are sufficiently sharp to use unless printed very small. Some kind of proper camera seems to be the best choice (preferably with vibration reduction and autofocus), but provided it is digital, it does not matter too much which one.

Logs, especially videos, are voracious consumers of photographs. It does not matter how many you take, you will wish you had taken that extra one. With a digital camera, there is virtually no cost. For example on our 6 day trip to France I took about 150 images, i.e., about 25 per day.

Unless the primary purpose of your cruise is photography or making a video, there will be times when you forget, or do not want to use the camera (e.g. inside a yacht Club lounge, or some restaurants). One tip is to avoid using flash. I have a 35mm f1.4 lens on my Nikon that will take fairly good photos in artificial light that can be adjusted in post processing. It is amazing what a computer can find in a dingy looking photo. (How to plug any gaps still left will be covered in the Autumn article)
f you are in remote places such as the Hebrides or W Coast of Ireland, a camera mounted GPS may be helpful, though I confess I find I often cannot wait for it to acquire a fix. Another alternative is to take a photo of your chart plotter from time to time as this can help locate the photos taken before and after that.

St Peter Port

Some things you may not have thought of photographing could include your bow wave or wake, burgee and courtesy flags up the mast, town streets, the pub or restaurant that you used, the meal itself, shingle on the beach, interesting skies, brochures or interpretation boards of places you visited, flowers, markets, forts, buoys with the tide rushing past, reflections of skies in calm water (especially at dawn or dusk}, sunrises and sunsets, a foggy day on a mooring, a moonpath, other yachts or motor boats to illustrate the weather, lighthouses, headlands, marinas, beaches, dolphins (be quick!), birds. Above all take every opportunity to get pictures of your own boat (in a marina, at anchor (from the dinghy?), dried out, when launching), and get your friends to photograph you at sea. Good portraits of your own boat are like gold dust for a Log. [Fig 8 – my photo of Star Ruby] So be kind, and take photos of your friends as they sail past, and send them a copy.

Remember the photo can always be doctored and given a new background or sky.

Recently, now I have a large plotter screen, I have taken photos of AIS plots and AIS data screens. I have also shot pictures of the weather map on our portable television when I did not have internet access. All useful!

(As an aside, I think the next major development is going to be using dashcam and drone images, but we are not there yet, and I believe drone regulations have not yet settled down).


Which brings us neatly to video. In 2010, we were away in Biscay for nearly 4 months, and generated two 50 minute “videos”. They can be seen by clicking on these links

Ariadne 2010 cruise – Southbound

Ariadne 2010 cruise – Northbound

There is probably less than 10 minutes of actual video in total in each video. The rest is made up from animated charts, and still photos using various video effects and fades. To produce 100 minutes of all video would mean that you did nothing else during your holiday, which is not the purpose of the exercise. Tne problem is that the most interesting video is when you are manoeuvring, which is when you are so busy that taking video is not possible (though you may be able to snatch the odd still image). This is where I think the dashcam will come into its own in future. To get good video footage, I think you need to be in relatively open water, proceeding on autopilot. On the motorboat, I have shot video through the wheelhouse door, and from the flybridge. Both work, but, frankly, neither are that interesting. I am still experimenting! On the yacht I once hand held the video camera while hand steering on a very windy fast reach through the Tas de Pois near Camaret. The result was surprisingly good, but I have still to publish that moment on the Internet.

One problem of boating is that most breathtaking views are essentially panoramic. I will cover how to create panoramas in the autumn article, but in the meantime if you see a view that is really wide, try shooting the photos needed to stitch a good panorama. There are a few steps to look out for

 Point you camera at the ground and take a picture. This will mark the start of you panorama sequence
 Point your camera at the best part of the view, and if it is automatic let it set aperture and speed. Then change to manual mode (so you don’t get different exposures for each part of the image. If there is a horizon, use it to get your camera level
 Start at one side of the view (let’s say the left) and take the first frame. Note some object about one third from the right and side.
 Pan to the right until the object you noted just shows in the frame. Take the next shot, repeat the process till you reach the right of the view you want.
 Point your camera to the ground and take a shot to mark the end of your panorama sequence
 Note: You can take vertical panoramas too

The procedures for stitching the images into a panorama can be seen by selecting the Preparation tab on the left and selecting “Pre-Process Images”

One final point about photos. If I am producing a Log (Narrative text or video) for my own use, I will include quite a few photos of people. So it is often the case that the version published on the Internet has these edited out. I do not think it is safe or desirable to publish too many personal images on a broadcast medium, especially if you do not have the explicit consent of the ‘model’.

Having done all that, there could still be gaps. If you have been at a rally or an organised event, there may be an ‘official’ photo cd or arrangements for borrowing images taken by others. Local newspapers can be another fascinating source. In FranceI have relied on the Ouest FRance newspaper which has a wonderfuldouble oage spread about the weather. I keep the weather page for use when I get home. Not many are used, but headlines often make me smile!

I also use images scanned from pilot books and tidal atlases. There are probably copyright issues, but, because I have never sought to make money from my Logs, I have not had a problem. [Fig 9] I particularly like Pilot book diagrammatics that can be compared with photographs which I took at the time.

All our cruising takes place in the context of the weather. It can dictate where and when we go, and affect our mood. It therefore provides a wonderful background to a Log. Over the years I have put together a set of weather websites that I found useful sailing on the South Coast and the coasts of Ireland and France. They can all be accessed from my website  by clicking here(see diagram above)

Apart from the useful overview, 4 days ahead, given by the Windfinder app, it is divided into these sections
(a ) Synoptic charts and official weather forecasts
(b) Current wind and wave conditions at useful places
(c) Tidal data
(d) Other useful sites

One problem with weather maps is that they are not easily available later. So you have to collect them as you go through the cruise. I would recommend extracting and saving at least one synoptic chart a week (i.e a chart that shows weather fronts). Indeed, before a longer passage (such as a Channel crossing), I tend to record weather maps for several days ahead. Then, if I wish, I can review in the Log the effect of the weather on my thinking at the time,

On the same page on my website there is an explanation of grib weather files and their value. One great advantage of saving a grib file is that it contains masses of data at a point in time. If you save that grib (and carefully note the date on which it was generated!)  then you can decide much later – when you are writing up the Log – which presentation of the data suits your purpose.

To make use of Grib files you will need an app on your phone or computer. I use SailGrib Free on my phone and Zygrib (which is also free) on my laptop, There is more about this on my weather web page – go to the links below met office data]

This video is an example of how to use Zygrib files and extracting the information for use in Logs.  It also covers the technique for copying and using any screen image for use in your Log. So you can copy any of the weather maps or forecasts shown on my weather site and save them for use in your Log later.

I would particularly commend the forecast published by Meteo France. Swell is a feature of the French Atlantic coast (and the French Channel coast too). They distinguish between the wind waves and the swell, which can have a different direction and height and produce nasty cross seas. Ireland is also better than UK at publishing wave data.

Wifi is now commonly available at marinas, and if there is mobile phone coverage, but no Internet, your phone can act as a modem to your laptop or just record the weather data direct. Most of us rely on the Internet, where weather data is prolific. For Log purposes, you need to be able to record what you can see on the screen. I take a laptop when I am away on a cruise, so I can do a screen grab and save the image which I name with date + source. If you are using a mobile or a tablet, you can save the image, then mail it to your home address, so it is there waiting for you when you get home. Be careful about including the date in the filename in the format yyyymmdd!

Other information from my weather web page covers the following

– Comment on other aspects of weather data including links to an explanation of GMDSS. It sounds boring, but it is important.

– Few  boats are in remote places, so the need for weatherfax by SSB (single sideband radio) or satphone) e.g. Iridium) does not really arise unless you are making ocean passages. But on an ocean going yacht they can be valuable resources, even as close as West Coasts of Ireland or Scotland. Some more detal is available under the ‘Ocean’ tab on my weather website.

– Often we need local actual weather. For example you might say in your Log “we decided not to cross the Channel because the waves at Channel Light Vessel were more than 2 metres”. I have put together a south coast weather picture on my website  and it can easily be adapted for other areas. Help yourself!

No Log is complete without a chart showing the track we took. In the early days, I photocopied and scanned bits of chart and then drew lines showing the track with whatever software I could find. In those days, I used the Autoroute maps. Then I got the chart images into PowerPoint so I could draw the tracklines on more elegantly with some limited animation for presentations. Eventually I graduated on to electronic charts.

How you save the data about your tracks depends on the navigation equipment on your boat. We do not need to be too precise with the track, but it should be sufficiently detailed to show the important features. The main alternatives are

SOB Track colour coded fo rboat soeed

(a) Track recording
Some systems will record a lot of data so you can produce a chart image with the actual track alreadydrawn on it. I have used the Australian Software On Board (SOB) system that records course; speed (SOG and boat speed); true and apparent wind; depth and other features. It is basically excellent, but as you will see from the tutorial videos, even this system has its limitations.

Teal’#s plotter showimh track to Newtown

(b) Track display chart plotter

I am currently using a Raymarine chart plotter with Navionics software. While it may be possible to extract the chart data I have not done so. I find that it is adequate to save each day’s track so I can display it later. I am also taking a photograph of the display at the end of each day showing the track. For this purpose, the wide angle lens on my iPad camera works well. As an aside, photos of the chart plotter with AIS data displayed can also be interesting

(c) Deck Log
When we were sailing, it was a strict discipline on a longer passage to record position (lat and long), course and speed each hour. We rarely plotted the position on a paper chart, but knew we could do so with the information no more than 1 hour old. On our motor boat I record position less regularly, and I find that it it easier to place the cursor on the plotter over some significant landmark or buoy and note distance and bearing. From this data. you could reconstruct the track on a chart. I keep the deck Log if only as a protection against human error (forgot to turn the plotter on; or forgot to save the track)

Using one of these methods, it is possible to construct a chart showing the track for use in a Log. The important point is that you will probably be doing this weeks, or months, later. The three methods above allow you to do this.

Some electronic chart systems, such as Software on Board (SOB) operate on a laptop or other computer. Most of us however, use on board plotters with software such as Navionics. Usually there is an associated software package that will run on a PC. In the case of Navionics this is called PC Planner, which is what I currently use.

The basic steps required to create a chart of a cruise are
– Find (or create) a chart covering the cruising area you wish to display. This could be for 1 day, or for the whole cruise
– Draw the track on the chart

. The procedures for this, and links to video tutorials are under the Preparation tab on the left.

Provided you have adopted one (ormore) of the trhee steps above, you will have collected the material you need during the cruise for processing when you get home.

New sources of digital information appear all the time. Among some of the recent candidates, here are some suggestions

1: Google Maps as an alternative to charts (e.g. for a land expedition)

2: Google Earth
(a) Street View ‘screen grabs’ to supplement gaps in your own pictures
(b) Street View panning shots and even driving along a road using screen capture software such as Movavi (see example on right)
(c) Map view grabbed from an altitude to simulate an aerial shot, either as a single image, or as a simulated flight using Movavi (or similar)

3: Copies of photos embedded in electronic charts such as C-Map as implemented by SOB (Software On Board)

4: Image scanned from Newspapers (especially weather maps) or Pilot Books (especially books out of print)

5: Some chart software (e.g. Nobeltec) offer 3-d views of the seabed with an exaggerated vertical scale. In the right circumstances, this can offer a dramatic illustration.

6: Data gathered by the chart plotter. For example, track recording using SOB (Software On Board) creates a database of true and apparent wind speed, boat speed, SOG, COG, depth and other parameters. These can be accessed in Microsoft Excel, and plotted using all the power of Excel. This can be useful in illustrating sudden changes of depth, or windspeed , or direction. You never know when it will be useful, but as you will probably need to record the track anyway to put on your charts  the data is there, and just needs digging out. For more detail see the Charts section.

This video  of the Portsall Passage  illustrates a few techniques.

If you have collected leaflets or brochures; or articles and weather maps from a local newspaper, you will need to digitise them. I tend to do this only when I need to, because I have usually collected too much material! For example, when in France, I keep the weather page from the Ouest France newspaper nearly every day, but I will probably only use 3 or 4 of them in the final Log. Here is an example.

Many photo shops can scan images for you if you do not have a scanner.

I use the free Faststone image viewer. It is great for a quick look at your pictures either individually or as a slideshow.

Faststone Image editor

It also has some very useful batch facilities not always found in other software. In particular, resizing images is important to stop your files getting too big. For example there is no point in images for a video being more than about 1600 pixels wide, and pictures in a text Log will rarely be more than 10 cm, One feature I have not seen elsewhere (except in Nikon NX2 software) is the ability to batch rename files. For example I run two cameras, and sometimes borrow images from other people. There is a risk that images could have the same filename. So I add a suffix to all my images. It might be my initials, my camera designation (e.g. D51 for my Nikon D5100 camera), or the name of the person whose image I have borrowed.

At the most basic level, Faststone, or the software that came with your camera will do many of the picture editing tasks. So that costs you nothing. But for more elegant images, you will need something more sophisticated. There are numerous alternatives. At the top of the range, if you cut most professional photographers in half you will find the word “Photoshop” or “Lightroom” written through them like a stick of rock. BUT it used to be expensive, and is now only available on a monthly subscr iption starting at about £15 a month. For years I have been using Serif products, especially Serif PhotoPlus. It can do many of the things we need, though it has now been superceded by Serif Affinity which can be bought for about £50 as a one off cost. For more details about Affinity go the media tab on the home page and select “Affinity”.

Serif Affinity has many modern features, such as a better raw processing engine, and works better for tasks such as haze removal and complex selections. But if that is a bit much for you, Serif PhotoPlus is still available as a legacy product at about £20 (or less on eBay or Amazon). Support is limited, but the tutorial videos are excellent. I am using Affinity and will assert that it can do almost anything that Photoshop can do. No doubt there are other solutions. No doubt there are many 0ther products available, but I hope I have indicated how wide the range of options can be. All the quality producers of software produce excellent official tutorials, and there are often many more on You Tube or Vimeo by enthusiasts. I have found the lecture series by Simon Foster very useful (and affordable) I promise I have no commercial connection!

If you are looking at other software, make sure that (a) you can draw lines on the image (b) select areas of the image for correction (c) mask areas of the image and (d)control the opacity of a layer. The video above gives a very basic introduction to these essential concepts.

I hate typing, and modern computers are getting better at speech recognition. Currently, I am using the Speech Recognition on my Windows 10 machine that you will find hidden under “ease of access” -so it is already there, another freebie. I use it to prepare scripts for videos, which can then be used in the text Logs.

It takes a bit of time to set up, and works best with a digital microphone on a headset. But once set up, it makes life a lot easier. Well worth the effort.

(Only required for video Logs). For a couple of years I have been using Audacity which is open source, and therefore free. It is quite adequate for recording for a video Log.

Good quality recording of sound is vital for a good video, and it can be the most difficult part of the process. I now use a digital USB microphone on a headset. The quality of the sound recording on my video editor was not good enoug (which is why I installed Audacity), but recently I have started using Cyberlink Wave Editor but only because it is linked to the Cyberlink video editor I am now using, That said it seems to produce quality equal to Audacity.

If you have Word or similar that will probably do the job. However, I find it easier to use a desktop publisher. Currently I use Serif PagePlus. This has been declared a legacy product, so will soon become obsolete, but it can therefore be bought at the very low price of £20. Like all PagePlus users, I am waiting for Serif to launch their new flagship Affinity Publisher product.

Only required if you want to produce a video Log).


If you are not familiar with video editing, there are some concepts that need to be grasped. The very basic ideas are well set out in this starter video by Cyberlink.  Other editors that use a timeline will look different, but have broadly similar features.

There are other concepts, probably the most important, but difficult to grasp, is the idea of ‘keyframes’ Here is another video that explains the concept.


For a decade I have been using Serif MoviePlus as my video editor, but Serif have decided to focus on their Affinity range (which I think is a world beater) and they have withdrawn MoviePlus (though it can still be bought cheaply on eBay and will do a good job). So I was forced to look around. It is a wide field, and I do not yet know whether I have made the right choice. All I can say is that my early experience with Cyberlink Power Director has been generally positive (I managed to find a relatively cheap deal, I think it was about £50), though I miss a few features of MoviePlus.

Increasingly I am starting to use mobile platforms such as iPad Pro. Maybe I can leave my laptop ashore? But to do so, I need some video editing capability. After looking around, I have opted for Luma Fusion. At under £20, it seems like a worthwhile risk. It has the types of capability I am looking for, including the ability to process multiple tracks. We shall see whether it works!! It means I can record simple clips such as weather forecast sequences from sites such as ventusky and process them for inclusion in video Logs.


In the early days I used Windows Media Player for playback of video clips. However, there was a problem using it on Windows 8, probably solved by now. I took advice and settled on VLC  Media Player 64 bit. It is free and works well.

(Warning! Some of the download sites will try and lumber you with unwanted search bars. Make sure to say ‘NO’ to all additional software offers when downloading)

Sometimes it is desirable to copy what you can see on your PC screen (which is how I make the tutorials, for example). It is a bit of a luxury, but nice to have. I am currently using Movavi Screen Capture.

I am coming round to the view that it may be useful to record weather forecast sequences from sites such as Ventusky. As I am hoping to rely increasingly on my iPad Pro when I am away on a cruise, I need an app that would work on the iPad. Incredibly, I have found an app called “Record it!” which seems to work incredibly well. What is more, it is free.

Here are some simple housekeeping rules that make it easier to keep track of all the information that accumulates round a Log.

I download all pictures from the camera using the camera-generated using my Nikon software. Then I copy the images to a working directory from which various copies can be made for various purposes. The directory structure I used in 2010 gives some idea of how complex this can become. But it is the only way to find the image you want.

As soon as possible I transfer the pictures to an Archive, which is grouped by date within years (I am now using Elements Organiser). If I borrow pictures from other people, I batch rename them (using FastStone), adding the persons name to the end of the filename to eliminate the risk of filename duplication.

If I generate weather maps, or other screengrabs, I keep these in  separate directories, usually starting the filename with a date in the format YYMMDD.

All the above items maintain a basic time related data sequence which makes things easier to find

I create a working directory (or directory set) for each application, such as Narrative for text Log, DVD/Movie, Presentation. In these directories I place copies of the pictures with a literal name added at the end. For example a picture might be IM0008200FourLight, and a weathermap might be20090811ECMWF, and a chart might be just SolentAlderneyTrack. I may resize these images in batches to keep the filesizes smaller. This can be quite important when preparing Movies (1080 pixels wide), PDFs (usually I resize to 4 inches width, Powerpoint presentations (900 pixels wide), and Web pages (tiny images on page, larger enlargements, or 800 pixels wide if using a lightbox)

This is the most important and most challenging task of all. Showing where we went is one of the key features of a Log.

Just copying bits of charts and drawing the track line does not work too well – too much detail is lost. Assembling the tiles you copy into panoramas is complex, so I have prepared a series of video tutorials covering different types of track. Here is an introductory video for the series.

The demonstration videos are set out below

(a) Producing a track chart for a long passage

In this demonstration we look at the situation where you are looking further ahead at the weather, possibly because you need to make a major decision.  For example you might be in the Scilles, and wondering whether to go north to Ireland or south to Brittany.

In any case, I like to take a long look ahead at the weather about once a week when I’m away on a cruise, and occasionally it is nice to include this in the Log.  My preference is to use the Met Office synoptic chart for this purpose.  Sometimes I choose the colour version, and on others I think the black and white version has a more official feel.  It is one of the few charts that shows the position of the fronts and we know it has been looked at by a professional forecaster and not just spewed out of a computer model.

This video starts by constructing a chart with sufficient detail by stitching together a series of tiles. The track is drawn on this base. The result is a track that can be used in text Logs. The demonstration is in three parfts

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

(b) Simple chart (e.g. a local passage)

If no tiling is needed to bring out chart detail everything is much simpler. In this video, it is also assumed that you only have a photograph of the track on your plotter, so have to draw the track by eye.

(c) Tracks on land maps

This video illustrates how certain forms of land map, such as Google Earth, can be exploited to produce a track chart. The first illustration is straightforward, while the second makes use of Google street view to find a minor track road. To exploit this requires a tiling technique.

(d) Animation of a marine track for a video

If you are wanting to produce a video, it is fun to be able to animate the track. This video explains the techniques for doing this for a sea passage

(e) Advanced technique for an animated land track

The same techniques can be used to produce an animated track for a journey on land or sea. However, I recently discovered an easier way to achieve the result which works well on land, especially where the road has a lot of wiggles. The procedure depends on being able to draw lines within the video editor, which my new editor can do (Cyberlink Power Director). There are possible workarounds, but I have not tested them. I also think it would be tricky, but not impossible, to develop this technique for marine tracks, and I hope to publish a video on this when I have worked out the detail procedures.

All our cruising takes place in the context the weather. It can dictate where and when we go, and affect our mood. It therefore provides a wonderful background to a Log. Over the years I have put together a set of weather websites that I found useful sailing on the South Coast and the coasts of Ireland and France. They can all be accessed from my website at https://mvteal.co.uk/weather/ .
Apart from the useful overview, 4 days ahead, given by the Windfinder app, it is divided into these sections
(a ) Synoptic charts and official weather forecasts
(b) Current wind and wave conditions at useful places
(c) Tidal data
(d) Other useful sites

Grib files are an incredibly efficient way of downloading and saving weather data for future use in your Log (including wave and swell patterns). For example, when we were cruising with our son in New Zealand over Christmas in 2011, we were able to download weather maps like the one on the right. We opted to include only wind and pressure data. On this basis seven daily forecast maps for week ahead required only 23 kilobytes, using a service available from Mailasail. The service can be accessed by single side band radio, satellite phone, or on the Internet. The small file size makes for efficient transmission, and low call charges.

While in New Zealand, the grib files were displayed on our Software on Board chart plotter system. Most modern multifunction chart plotters have the capability to overlay weather Grib files on the chart. However, I prefer to use an independent grin reader. The one recommended by Frank Singleton (my weather guru) is Zygrib. It is available free on Windows machines. (On my tablet I am using Gribview, though some functions, such as wave data, attract a charge. Generally I prefer to download data to my windows computer, and mail it to myself if I need to see it on the iPad)

Here is a simple demonstration of how to extract images for use in your Log using the same grib file as the example above.

Here is a video about making the most of the flexibility of zygrib files and extracting the information for use in Logs.

It also covers the technique for copying and using any screen image in your Log. So you can copy any of the weather maps or forecasts shown on my weather site and save them for use in your Log later.

The weather page on my website also includes comment on other aspects of weather data including links to an explanation of GMDSS. It sounds boring, but it is important.

Occasionally, it will be desirable to take a longer look ahead at the weather. There are some helpful techniques for assembling such information which are described in this video


Whole books are written about this, and there are now many good tutorials available on You Tube, Vimeo and elsewhere. All I can do is express my personal choices. The most important thing is to use the photo processor with which you feel comfortable, and which delivers what you need. For years, I have used Serif PhotoPlus, and improved my skills as the product has evolved. But when I started shooting raw images, I was advised to switch to Photoshop Elements. It was a successful move and I am still using the Organiser to store and catalogue my photos, now numbering more than 10,000.

More recently I have switched to using Serif’s new flagship products – Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. I think this is a world beating piece of software and it is not expensive. (There is more discussion of Affinity under the media tab at the top of this page)

Affinity Photo and Designer are available for Windows and Apple Mac computers, and there is a fully featured version available on high end versions of iPad Pro. All files are interchangeable between platforms.

Affinity Publisher is eagerly awaited later this year as a desk top publisher, but the Data Asset Manager is still further down the pipeline. That is a pity because Photoshop Organiser will not accept Affinity files, which I have to keep separately. This is causing some chaos!

Whichever image processor you choose to use, there are some basic steps that need to be observed. These are well described in the ‘taster’ video by SimonFoster for one of his courses on Udemy. The courses are good value, and I have found them very helpful in improving my photo processing skills.

Here is another static example. This sequence is based on a photo of my boat Teal taken by a friend, who was sailing his own boat single handed on a grey say in the Solent – far from ideal circumstances,


The human eye will pick out a slanted horizon, even if the angle is only 1 or 2 degrees (You can get away with a slope of 20 degrees if it is there to produce a special effect!). So step 1 is to straighten the horizon and crop the picture to bring out the subject.

Rotate and Crop






Light and Dark

In step 2, sort out the lightness and shade, using the many tools available in most good photo processing software,





Colour correction

Step 3 is to correct the colour. We are lucky  when taking photos at sea in natural light. There is often little to do to correct the white balance. In this case I took a few liberties, (including changing the sky in step 2), tinting the water, and brightening the trees

Most digital images require sharpening, and there can be a problem with ‘noise’ (that nasty speckled effect you can get, especially with images taken in poor light or at high ISO values). There is not much difference in this case, but the image is a little crisper. There are advanced techniques available, but I did not use them here,except one little trick which makes the image ‘pop’!


The fifth and final step is is to deal with any local blemishes. I omitted that step in this case.


It is extremely difficult to get good pictures of your own boat at sea – we once went 3 weeks onnthe west coast of Ireland without seeing another boat while we we were at sea. The only option is to cheat. In the set of images above I changed the sky. That requires the ability to accurately select the sky area, and replace it with another. In recent years the capabilities of the best editing programs such as Photoshop and Affinity Photo have improved enormously, but there are some specialist standalone programs available such as Vertus. For example, before I had any good pictures of Teal at speed, I “borrowed” a photo of an identical boat, changed the name; removed the people from the bridge; changed the ensign and burgee; changed the background  to the Needles, and added a new sky.

The essential procedures to achieve these results are selection and masking. There are numerous tutorial videos on You Tube, Vimeo and other sources about this. By way of example, I include one of the official Serif Affinity Photo tutorials, featuring the sonorous voice of James Ritson (how nice to have tutorials with an English accent!)



Sailing is essentially “panoramic” – we like “wide horizons” These images can be used as banners  at the head of a page, converted to video ‘pan’ shots (much steadier than panning hand held from a boat), or just inserted into the body of a text Log

There are two basic ways to create a panorama
–   Crop a panoramic image from a standard photo. This requires a fairly high resolution image to start from
–   Join a series of carefully overlapped images using ‘stitching software s. There are standalone panorama stitching programs, but in recent years, the capability has been integrated into the better photo processing packages.

Long thin panoramas can be used to create a video pan shot using software such as Serif MoviePlus.

The option of taking a burst of photos while panning only works if high shutter speeds are available. A more considered approach taking carefully overlapped images is better. BUT be sure to lock aperture and shutter speed

Once you have the set of images, the process of stitching them together may vary a little from one photo editing program to another, but here are the steps using Affinity Photo.

Storyboard content

Commentary Script  AND record commentary content herecontent

Your Content Goes Here

Add Soundtrack and adjust content here

Edit Video content here

Title and credit content here

Your Content Goes Here

Add music content here

Your Content Goes Here

PDF Template copy here

Text Prep  content here

add images  and captions content

track charts and weather content

Covers content

print and publish content

Your Content Goes Here