Day 40 towards Cape Horn - Finally resolve autopilot problem - all's well!!! No

Friday 30th November 2012

Another lovely sunny day with nice sailing in good SE Trades - but I spent nearly the whole morning at the chart table and computer. I'd downloaded some emails and that got me making a resume of what I'd done, found and been advised to do over the last few weeks of trying to sort out the autopilot problem that's been worryingly unresolved since leaving over a month ago.... I went back over the chain of events, trying to be clear what had happened and what I'd tried to do about it... I noticed one comment which sent me back into 'calibration' mode to carry out a major 'system reset' again - and after a bit more fiddling with calibration settings and powering off and on, we finally had a 100% working autopilot .... That definitely made my day!! It's not that Fred, the Hydrovane, hasn't been keeping us well on track for the past 11-12 days, saving lots of battery power, of course, but there are times when the use of an electronic autopilot is highly desirable ... so it's nice to know that I can now rely on it again.

I'd intended climbing the mast early this morning, but on waking up around dawn, the seas and wind had clearly got up again - so I turned over and got some more sleep!! The wind calmed down again towards evening, as I checked out and adjusted the straps of my climbing harness - I got all mentally prepared for the event .. had the tools and wind vane unit etc all ready in their bag... Checked to see I hadn't forgotten anything then went on deck to prepare for heaving to in the cool air just before sunset.

Furled in the staysail, stowed the running backstay and reduced the genoa... The 2m/6ft seas weren't exactly calm but I doubted they'd get much better.... Went to check the spinnaker halyard lead to the mast top (for the 'gri-gri' safety line) ... Came back to the cockpit - we had reduced speed to just 2-3 knots.. But I then realized I'd mistimed things - light was fading fast and to start climbing now was not looking very sensible... I unfurled the genoa completely and we picked up speed nicely. Hopefully, by getting up just before dawn, the wind and seas will still be down (fingers crossed!) and I can heave to and get the jobs done up there before the hot sun gets too high in the sky ... Watch this space...

The W-flowing current has finally disappeared and the wind has been nicely from the E- ESE all day long, so we have easily been able to make our course of SSE. According to the 'smiley' plotter, we'll be close to rounding Cape Horn on Boxing Day - but that's far too optimistic!!

24hr DMG at 3pm: 142 n.ml. Cape Horn LH 3677 n.ml.away & our nearest land is now Pitcairn Island, 1075 n.ml. to the SSW, with Fatu Hiva, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, 1114 n.ml.away, WSW from us. The Gambier Islands are 1135 n.ml away to SW, and Easter Island to SSE, 1170 n.ml. We're presently about 2304 n.ml. from the closest point on the coast of Peru..

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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

Written by : Mike

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