Day 38 More problems on board.... wind steering fails - AP works (more-or-less)

Thursday 2nd December 2010 Day 38

10.30am Struggling again to make radio connections for emails and weather info. We're just too far now from the nearest shore stations to make contact to transmit/receive well enough.

Grey skies - gusty conditions... seas well up... very poor course keeping - wandering around badly... windsteering not coping - seas too big? .... found us hove to.... Had to gybe around to get out of it...

Managed good contact with Manana Net on 14340 kHz but sails got backed while on frequency, so we went hove to again... grrr! (...very calm & peaceful though!!)

11.30am No wonder wind steering has not been coping this morning - the knob holding two parts together has broken (or fallen) off... so it's not able to keep the rudder in place for a given wind angle. Somehow, I need to hold those two parts together - the one is moving about freely at present... So we're now on (hydraulic) autopilot - which IS holding our course, amazingly.... None of the problems I had before have shown up yet. Only problem now is that radio reception will be hampered by the awful RF interference on 14300 kHz from the AP and /or the course computer controlling it...

Decided a late breakfast should come first - and will then have a look for bolts etc in spares, .... anything that might possibly be of use to fix that wind steering mechanism ....

1pm... Sun's out ... getting hot down below... bare-legged for first time in ages! I've rooted around in the spares locker and found several clevis pins and bolts and rubber sleeves that might come in handy. Need to look in another place to see what I've got there, by way of nuts and bolts. But I've actually paused now, since AP is coping fine still, and I'm looking at VHF radio connection to AIS unit for DSC calls. Seems like just a very simple connection needed for the black & red (power) wires I found dangling the other day. Now I know what to do (had email this morning from Navionics UK, answering my queries) I want to finish with that problem completely - at least then I'll have achieved something positive today!!

1.45pm - success! The AIS unit is now 'seeing' the VHF radio to send a ship's MMSI number to it, should a DSC VHF call be wanted - as in a possible collision situation!! So with the VHF speaker also seen to (I hope!), that should mean the present VHF radio/AIS problem is finished with.

Back to finding what big nuts and bolts I've got on board, to begin trying for a possible 'fix' of the missing windsteering (spring-loaded) bolt. Even assuming that my present vague idea of what to do will work in practice, it's not going to be easy, quite apart from the fact that I'll have to perch on the stern of the boat, leaning out aft, to reach the area concerned. It's definitely going to be an 'interesting' job in the present big seas we've got...!! At least we're in fairly steady Trade Winds.... Will probably have to heave to and definitely have to strap myself in, for safety....

Made a point of spending time on deck, just gazing at the scene around, with a mug of tea .... Pleasant sailing conditions, so a pity not to take time out to enjoy them for a few moments!

Later: I've taken a photo and sent an email to see if any bright ideas other than my proposed 'fix' are forthcoming... and maybe confirm that my idea would work in practice.... "All" it needs is somehow to clamp two parts together rigidly enough, so that it can work as usual... that's all...!

Checked in as usual to Pacific Seafarers Net at 7.20pm PST - they're all very familiar people now - friendly & supportive - so it was nice to chat to some of them - even if they are 2-3 thousand or more miles away (-in Aus, NZ, USA mainland and Hawaii)!! Only problem was that awful squealing I could hear on 14300 from the AP - so we moved to 14305 to chat, free of that noise.

Meal & then early to sleep - hoping not to be woken too many times by AP failing (it's gone off 5 times in the last 20 minutes - might have to nap at the chart table...) Must try to sort out the wind steering tomorrow, if I can.... Weather won't improve when I get much further S but, for the time being, I'm in reasonably steady SE Trades.

24hr DMG to this morning: 142 n.ml. Distance to nearest islands: Marquesas - 1160ml WSW; Pitcairn - 1275ml SSW; Easter - 1365ml SSE ; (Cabo San Lucas - 1482ml NNE, Peru - 2286 ml E)

Written by : Mike

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