5 Tips for Better Writing

Check your facts

You know exactly what you think you know until you look it up.

Hmm, that mango looks like it would make some great guacamole.

Even if you’re positive everything is correct, take the time to utilize spellcheck, check your AP Style Guide, and run any bold claims through sites like Snopes.com or FactCheck.org.

Remember to check your graphics and photos for accuracy as well.

Keep your message focused

Cramming too many messages together causes clutter and confusion.

Those poor children.

Lead with what is important and keep your messages brief and to the point. Rambling is an easy way to lose readers. Make a new post for each topic.

Update your messaging

What was once inspirational can end up being offensive.

First step to helping, stop calling them retarded!

Revisit your strategy. Do the slogans and calls to action used in the past still make sense?

Be aware of cultural connotations

Stay sensitive to the culture and history of your target audience.

Was this craigslist user named Jim Crow?

I doubt this poster was even aware of the cultural history of his or her title, but if a business was to make the same sort of mistake, it could cause major backlash.

Focus your message to each channel

Hot links and video are great, unless you’re working in print.

What is this new paper technology? No batteries required!

Blogs are not the same as Facebook, which is not the same as Instagram, which is not the same as LinkedIn, and you get what I’m saying. Craft your message to best fit each channel, but to complement across all channels. Nothing is more irritating than messages that are cut off, links that don’t work, or the promise of photos or video when there are none.


How to: Washing and Re-tufting Boat Cusions

The salon cushions on Gimme Shelter are in pretty good shape, but after three years of dog butts on them, they needed a good washing.


The problem is that they have all of these tufted buttons, and they are threaded straight through the foam on both sides.  I finally bit the bullet and cut them all off.  On the back side they had these horrible metal pieces that had rusted and stained the fabric.


First thing I did was pull these out, and cut them off.  I had to put all my weight on the cushion to create enough slack.


Once you cut them loose, make sure to put the buttons in a safe place.  Unless you have scrap material to match your upholstery, there’s no way to make new matching buttons.

After I had removed all of the buttons I took the covers off and put them through the washing machine.  I used the cold cycle and then hung them to dry to avoid any shrinking. I then took the foam and sprayed it down with Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner, and left them in the sun.


After putting the covers back on (this was more difficult than you’d expect, I broke a sweat), the real fun began.  Although they looked pretty ok without the buttons, we buckled down and started the re-tufting.


First thing you need is a huge needle.  I got mine at Joann’s Fabric in the upholstery section.  Also on Amazon.  Needle


The second thing you need is some upholstery thread (or any kind of heavy weight thread).  It doesn’t need to be UV resistant, but I went ahead and used my UV-92 from Sailrite as I already had a huge spool of it.

For each button you will need a length of thread about two feet long. You can get away with smaller, but it’s a lot easier to just use more. Pull the thread through the needle, but don’t tie any knots.


Sorry for the goofy face.

If you don’t already have your button spots marked, this would be the time to do it.  There are several different patterns to choose from, but the main ones used are the star pattern I have or the single lines. The upside of having rust stains on my cushions is that it left me a nice guide as to where my tufts should be, so I just had to stick the needle through the back and try very hard to hit the correct spot in the front. Sometimes it took a  couple tries to get it straight. 12499592_10101671285547472_1258353963_o

Make sure that you don’t lose the end of the thread in the cushion when you poke it through.


On the other side, pass the thread through the button, then push the needle back through the center of your hole. If you didn’t get the thread exactly in the right spot, don’t worry.  It’s just important that you get it through on the way back. Then you can kind of arrange the button where you want it before you pull it tight.


When you have the thread back through, pull it tight.


Make sure your button is where you want it on the other side…and then tie it in a knot. You could also put it through a plastic button on the back if you like, although I don’t find it makes any difference.


And…tada!  New clean upholstery. We’ll see how many years they can go before I do all of that again!  We’re definitely going to scotch guard them while they’re clean!






How to use a French Press to make coffee

Most of you are probably thinking, what kind of idiot doesn’t know how to use a French Press to make coffee. However, many of us grew up in homes with an electric coffee maker. Some of us even invested in an espresso maker with a milk frother when we were in college. However, I had never even heard of a French Press and had no idea how they worked until I went looking for a way to make coffee on the boat without electricity.

Therefore, we decided to shoot a little video during our regular Sunday morning brewing session to help spread the joy of the French Press to anyone else who may need their daily caffeine fix.

Installing a NMEA 2000 backbone

One of the things we liked about our new Garmin chartplotter that we installed in December was its connectivity.


The chartplotter was our first electronic device with a NMEA 2000 plug.

NMEA stands for National Marine Electronics Association, and 2000 is the standard set for communication between devices. Garmin sticks with a NMEA 2000 nomenclature, but Raymarine SeaTalk, Simrad Simnet, and Furuno CAN are all rebranded NMEA 2000 systems that only need a plug adapter to be compatible.

Theoretically, any two NMEA 2000 devices will connect and communicate with each other no matter the brand. However, since we’re starting from scratch when it comes to the electronics on Gimme Shelter, we decided to stick with Garmin as much as possible.

The first step to setting up any NMEA 2000 system is to install the backbone. We went with this Garmin NMEA 2000 Starter Kit that cost about $60 through eBay.


The only directions that came with this kit was the diagram on the label. That’s it. It’s THAT simple. However, I chose to hook the yellow cable, which is the 12 volt power cable, to the chartplotter circuit on the back of my breaker panel instead of directly to the battery.


Once it was tied into the power system, I started adding T connectors. (Note that there was terminator plugged into the open end of the backbone when I finally took the photo.)


The starter kit came with two T connectors and two terminators. I ran a cable from one T to my chartplotter. I ran the other cable to my GWS 10 Wind Instrument.


I switched the chartplotter to the “gauges” setting, chose wind, and … nothing.

Nothing happened at all. It didn’t work.

I stared at the diagram. I retraced my wiring. I pulled the breaker panel off again and re-checked my power connection. It just wasn’t doing anything.

I finally resorted to Google and almost immediately I found out the most important detail of this system.

NMEA 2000 doesn’t work unless there is a terminator on every open T plug!

The starter kit had come with two terminators, and I hadn’t bothered to put them on. I figured they were just to keep the dust out or something. Wrong. It turns out there’s a resistor in those terminators, and unless they’re on the open plugs, no signal gets sent anywhere.

So after plugging a terminator onto the end of the backbone, I turned on the chartplotter again. This time I had success!


Now all it takes to add new devices to my system is another T and a NMEA 2000 cable.

Of course, setting up the backbone was the easy part. The real fun starts this weekend when I climb the mast to drop a new cable and mount the wind instrument.