Saturday 4th December 2010 Day 40 Hove-to for work on self-steering systems...
4am Position report made.... I'd got us sailing so I could tack around and then heave to on the opposite tack before that- so we're now fore-reaching SW instead of NW! Always nice to be going roughly in the right direction, even if at less than 2 knots!! Mounts up over a day or so...
4.45am - First light....Checked emails - nothing from UK re AP problem queries so phoned: Told to "change course computer over - use your spare".... error messages I've been getting indicate problem lies there..... grrr!!
Getting back for a short sleep before looking for spare course computer to make that changeover - and to try to fix wind steering... still tired...
1.30pm Woke up at 8.10am feeling refreshed ... Bright sun, boat still hove-to & moving gently up and down in quite big seas (3-4m), feeling peaceful and calm.... Decided to treat this as a 'holiday' (it is the weekend, right?) since not going anywhere very fast (fore-reaching at 1.6-2.4kn SW) and expected repairs to take up the whole day. What's one day in seven months?? The song "Messing about on the water" came to mind .... that was going to be me today!! Had leisurely breakfast sitting out in cockpit with some nice fresh coffee as a treat (not often having coffee these days - more often just drinking water).
Got myself organized to start on the wind steering problem. Tied on to my harness the few items needed... pliers & two different spools of wire.... and had sunglasses & reading specs dangling on cords also. I'd previously fixed the rudder midships and removed the vane, so the gear ratio part I needed to fix in place was easily held in the position I wanted to wire it into.
As I was about to get to work, it was time for the Manana Net on 14340. Without the AP noise on frequency, nor any noise from instruments (I'd turned them off since not needed), I was able to hear Jerry (KC6ILH), Tom (WA6TLL) and later Randy (KH6RC). Jerry and Randy were able to hear me so I gave my position,
updated them on the situation on board and told them what was on today's joblist. It was good to be able to make the contact and chat to people. There's
really nothing to worry about in the present warm, calm conditions - so long as I could fix things - and I felt that seemed very likely, given time.... and I've
plenty of that!
I set about the wind steering wiring. The good news, apart from the bright, sunny, calm weather (wind ESE-E 14-16kt), was that the sun was behind me, not shining in my face, and also I could sit on or stand between the two strong struts of the wind steering installation fixed to the stern of the boat - so I was very safe, quite apart from being strapped to the backstay - there was no way I could fall overboard, even when a bigger wave came along to rock the boat from time to time.
In fact, I felt very comfortable, and my feet and legs being washed by the seawater from time to time was actually very pleasant and refreshing. I've not
been for a dip since I don't know when and the sea temperatute is up at 28C!! Just to increase my enjoyment of the day further, I played my 'sing along'
music to work to - all very pleasant - definitely felt just like "messing about on the water"!!
I've finished the wiring now - lots of twisting with pliers. I've fixed all the different bits of wire to each other, while keeping the moveable parts fixed in place where I wanted them. It looks pretty solid - I don't want it to slip... so it just needs the vane to be attached and the rudder to be allowed to move for it to operate as usual - should work fine - but I'll wait to check it out until I'm ready to sail off my hove-to position after dealing with replacing the AP course computer....
Time then to check in with the M.M.Net on 14300 - with no RF noise again, it was so much easier, despite the distance involved. Then I went to 14305 at 2.30pm, had short chat with Tom (WA6TLL) - but he was struggling with noise his end - and then chatted with Steve (VA7SKM) on 'Silas Crosby' - now in Muertos on the way to La Paz .... He gave me details of a Radio Net in Chile which might be useful soon.
Had to dig out the spare course computer from where it was buried in the forepeak, a few layers down, before I could start disconnecting the old one, labelling all wires to be safe, even though I was sure I could see clearly where each went - I did NOT want to risk making any mistakes! I'd turned off power but taped over the ends of the 'live' power wires - again just to be extra safe. Cable ties had to be cut, and I took great care with the delicate plastic bits that needed to be pushed to open up the 'jaws' that held so many of the fine wires - I'd had warnings not to break them... I was interested to find that the back plate of the computer was metal - I'd thought it was plastic, as the front cover was... There was also a clear threaded hole for a grounding connection - but later I read a warning in the manual NOT to use that to ground this particular version of the course computer, although it was essential for another version - to avoid RF problems.... mmm! Here I am with a major RF noise problem, seeming to come from this computer when controlling the AP motor .....
By 6.40pm, all was done and tidied away in the aft cabin & I was at the chart table, ready to check over the many calibration settings - wondering what I should do about not being able to calibrate by the usual routine of motoring gently in 2-3 circles and then setting the boat on an 'AP auto-learn ' routine ... The headings on display were badly out, but in the end I took my hand-held compass and used it to set the boat's magnetic heading - at least it will be roughly right! And the GPS is clearly still giving us correct SOG and COG readings... so it all looks ready to 'push the button' after sailing off our hove-to position. But it's dark now, so I'll eat first and then think about trying it out - If there's the slightest hint of a problem, I'll heave to again and wait until daylight to set the wind steering going....
24hr DMG to this morning was 100 n.ml. (We lost effectively 20 miles overnight, fore-reaching 10 miles to the NW when hove-to initially)
If there are two photos showing (one of my wind steering wiring efforts and one of me 'ready for action', it will be thanks to Bill, VE7WSM, who has kindly agreed to try to 'post' photos with my 'blogs' from time to time. Thanks, Bill!