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Day 29 - working on AP all day.... Becalmed in sunshine - until evening rainsqu

Tuesday 23rd November 2010 - busy on AP all day long.... not much sailing in calm conditions - drifted with good E-going current!

(Last night, a bird - petrel? - finally managed to roost on solar panel overnight - after many attempts to land there, with swell making it difficult!)

1am conversation with Raymarine UK - plan of action on AP repair... back to sleep...

Up early to start work - tested drive unit from course computer - seems OK - confirmed actions correct with UK - more testing.. drive still looking good - but rudder reference unit now looking suspect. Managed to short across circuit while testing AP drive motor ...40A fuse blown - no spare...!

Went to use multimeter to check fuse - 'dead as a Dodo'...! Battery gone - no spare - I can't believe that with so many spare batteries on board, I omitted getting some flat 9V ones of type used in multimeter.... Fortunately, have spare multimeter, so eventually found it & used battery from that to replace in the other one which has continuity-testing 'beeper') - to have no multimeter available would be a disaster! (Had been trying to figure out how, in absence of flat 9V battery, I could use SIX ordinary 1.5V batteries, soldered together in a container somehow, to supply multi!!)

Used heatshrink butt joint to bypass fuse and join wires together - there's another 40A fuse in same circuit so protected still... Discovered instruments now permanently on - despite switch at chart table - seems I damaged relay in blowing circuit - but no big deal - not too important, except occasionally because of RF noise when using HF radio...

Wrapped course computer in Al foil before finally replacing it (for umpteenth time...!) and grounded wrapping to conveniently close by battery negative terminal - hoping to cut out RF noise from course computer to SSB/HF radio when AP drive motor working - we shall see how well that works out when drive system is fully repaired - tomorrow, hopefully, if I can find that rudder reference unit - it's on board somewhere...!

Tidied up in aft cabin, .... main cabin .... and forepeak...., after having emptied several areas for work, or to find items...!

Rainsquall mid-morning gave passing excitement for a time.... but otherwise it was fortunate in that we were basically either becalmed or sailing gently along in small swell, so work on AP wan't made too difficult. Had to stop late afternoon with big grey rainclouds close by - we managed to skirt along the edge of them for quite a time around sunset, with me handsteering to make sure we didn't head into some nasty-looking grey-black squalls. Some lightning around - but none too close to worry about!

Paul at Raymarine UK has been excellent - very helpful, as always. He knows the system inside out, so no problem sorting out actions I needed to take to resolve my problem. I'm hoping that by tomorrow evening, all will be working fine... Just need to replace rudder reference unit & check through system settings with him .... and that should be that... Will be nice to have a reliable AP working again! Fred, my Hydrovane windsteering helper, uses no battery power, of course, and is excellent a lot of the time, especially in light conditions, even dead downwind if no big swell, but gets easily overpowered in strong gusts and if we're over-canvassed (as all windsteering systems do) - so life has become a mite difficult at times, of late...fortunately, we've not had too many strong ITCZ squalls - most unusual, that!!

We're still trying to make Easting, with a helpful E-going current quite strong at times. Should get to SE Trades fairly soon, but likely to need to get through a band of southerlies first.

No big mileages being racked up just now (marginally under 100 n.ml. to this morning and very small distance today in calms a lot of the time) - and forecast is for continuing light winds for several days - rainsqualls apart! At least the calm conditions mean it's that much easier to do jobs on board - I still want to sort out the external VHF speaker - hoping for a good outcome there, too, after receiving emailed Navico UK help the other day.

Managed to dry my washing in sunshine while working this morning. Didn't get breakfast or lunch - too busy - so enjoyed a prawn pasta tonight all the more!

More tomorrow.....

Written by : Mike

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