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Day 203 Tues-Wed 23-24 April 2019 Problem with autopilot - will need to stop to try to fix it

Wednesday 10:30am Having breakfast after radio session on 7160. Feeling rather tired so will take a quick nap before starting on boat jobs - must not have slept too well last night.

Wind has backed more to W, from WNW, so have had to change course a bit to keep the sails filled - we're not far off heading dead downwind.

Sun is getting out between scattered white clouds after earlier (overnight) rain. Swell has increased a lot from yesterday's relatively calm 3m seas - going to make working on removal of wind steering rudder that much more difficult, maybe impossible, with the seas coming onto the stern where I'll be working at water level - I'll try it and see how it goes but we're rolling around a lot now....

Will try lashing the liferaft before getting back to the rudder removal.

2:20pm About to head to the stern after having donned boots and overtrousers, to see what I an achieve there.

4pm Not getting very far today - seas were too big to allow me to work safely off the stern on removing the rudder. Autopilot (AP) is working fine mechanically but "Heading Not Available' is frequently coming up on instruments (plotter display) with occasional 'Position fix lost' - which then causes AP to go into 'Standby' mode - and we start heading well off course. Just had 'Seatalk failure' message on AP display- putting AP into 'Standby ' mode again... Another time, AP display showed NO SPEED message - and went into 'Standby' yet again...

9:45pm Just finished a long radio discussion revolving around present instrumentation problems and how to overcome them. Many thanks to Tony, VK2RI, and several others on frequency who were trying to help - much appreciated! Can't continue for long like this - the AP keeps going down when error messages come up and I have to be close by (and awake) to turn it back on from 'Standby' and reset the course quickly. Amazing how fast we start heading upwind and on to a NNW course.

With stormy weather coming in later tomorrow, it seems the only way to try to resolve the problem is to stop the boat by deploying the JSD again ready for the strong conditions (big 8m/26ft seas expected) so I can try to look at various possible sources of the problem and deal with it without being underway and the AP continually going down.

Later: Spoke to Robert in Glencairn, S,Africa, who knows the boat's instruments well from when we were in Simon's Town a few years ago. He has suggested first checking the course computer and then, if that looks good, changing out the fluxgate compass - I think I have an old one that might still be good (fingers crossed!). Those simple steps very much depend on the exact wording of the 'Seatalk Failure' error message - fingers crossed again... (Later: That's looking good in that it's just 'Seatalk Failure' and not 'Seatalk 1 (or 2) Failure')

Having a Chicken Gumbo tonight (another freeze-dried meal). Not one that I'd buy again... not keen on the 'Gumbo' mix of ingredients so I'm glad I don't have another one. As if I didn't have enough on my mind, I managed to spill some of the dry contents of the packet just after opening it and, in trying to clear it up from the floor in front of the stove, must have leaned against the stove and at one point an stopped it from gimballing - and my freshly-made soup in a mug spilled all over me... Grrr!!!

5am LT Thursday (1900GMT Wed) Been sleeping at chart table to be ready to re-set AP when needed - not too often, so have been getting some sleep.

1900GMT (= 5 a.m. LT) - end of Day 203. We made 95 n.ml. DMG, over the 24 hr period, measured in a straight line between the two 1900 GMT positions.

Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 203 (by daily DMGs):17,901 n.ml.

Distances (at 1900GMT): Cape Leeuwin LH (SW Australia): 998 n.ml. to WNW; Melbourne (VIC, Aus): 460 n.ml. to ENE; SE Cape,Tasmania,LH: 582 n.ml. to SE; SW Cape, NZ: 1474 n.ml SE.

(857 n.ml. ESE of Albany in W.Australia, 339 n.ml. SW of Adelaide, S.Australia)

Position & weather report for 1900 GMT posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):

TIME: 2019/04/24 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 39-54.58S LONGITUDE: 134-54.58E

COURSE: 075T SPEED: 4.8kt


BARO: 1017.5hPa TREND: -2 AIR_TEMP: 17.0C SEA_TEMP: 17.0C

COMMENT: Problem with instruments - AP often going down & needing re-setting

Written by : Jeanne Socrates