Day 39 - Bright sunny, 'Trade Winds' day ... AP drive replaced - but still problems....

Friday 3rd December 2010 Day 39

10am Up before 4am, with AP frequently giving 'Drive stopped' messages still - but at least I got 3 or so hrs sleep lying down - I'd started out sitting at chart table beside AP control unit, trying to get naps in betweeen error messages!! Took a very long time connecting in to send position report and download emails... Had email from UK - weather causing chaos there!! So my Raymarine contact has been unable to get in to work .. and has been having email and telephone problems.. Spoke to him on satphone about ongoing AP problem - he suggested I try replacing drive unit with spare, to see how that goes, before changing course computer over, since doing that would give rise to immediate problem with calibration, not being able to motor gently in calm seas for 2-3 turns, etc...!

So spent some time on that ... and now have spare autopilot drive working in place of faulty one - and, after a few initial hiccups, it's been doing fine. So that also means course computer seems to be OK, which is a relief! Still one or two settings to check in calmer conditions, but at least I can relax over that problem... Next on the list is the wind steering 'fix'.

Sun is getting hot now, ...time for some breakfast... and some sleep...

5.30pm Sun getting low in clear sky - must watch it go down . Has been a beautiful day with good steady wind, mainly ESE. Headed due S now.

Woke up from sleep soon after 1pm. Managed (with usual time-consuming difficulty finding a suitable station!) to download emails and weather info ... Got reply I'd been expecting on fixing wind steering problem so will do that tomorrow - with wire &/or hose clamps - need to allow plenty of time to do the job and must make sure I'm clear in advance as to what to do. Looks fairly straightforward, but I may need to heave to, if doing while underway doesn't feel comfortable .. or safe!!

Checked in to M.M.Net on 14300kHz - only problem now is an awful squealing noise on that frequency, from AP motor working! So after making contact, moved to 14305 to give position etc. Gary, WB6UQA, has been taking my details for several days now and posting to Shiptrak for me. Also spoke to Tom, WA6TLL, in California - he's been watching out for me for some time now and was able to relay to Steve, VA7SKM, now in Cabo San Lucas, who I had trouble copying clearly. Bill, KI4MMZ, came up on frequency also - he's also part of the M.M.Net team of 'hams' and has also taken my position/weather details in the past... He's trying to get a Pactor modem working for Winlink connections, which would be great, but he's a 'newbie' at that, so needing some help! It's getting increasungly difficult to hear people in N. America and Mexico now - although plenty of people are hearing me fine - tell me I've a good radio signal which is nice to hear!

Time for tea and my 'sunset watch' followed by a meal and early to sleep tonight..

Much later..... Well, that was the plan - but AP began giving out error messages just before time of Pacific Seafarers Net check-in (0300GMT/7pm PST) - which I did, but rather late. Never did get to my meal... was tied to chart table instead, trying to cope with AP messages and keep us from going' hove-to'. Felt pretty devastated, having though AP problem was resolved and all was OK. Some time later, realizing I was never going to get any sleep that way (forget food!), I decided to lie down for some much-needed sleep, knowing that at some point we'd end up hove to... although with wind down a touch, AP was behaving just then and we were sailing nicely on course... Being hove to is a perfectly safe state to be in, so that thought was of no concern - I needed to sleep!

24hr DMG to Friday morning: 128 n.ml. Marquesas 1120ml; Pitcairn 1127ml; Easter 1260ml; Galapagos 1750ml; (Cabo San Lucas 1967ml.)

Written by : Mike

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