No wonder my autopilot reading was 100 degrees off...! I was chatting late last night to my boater neighbours, rafted up beside me here in the St Peterport Victoria marina, about needing to dive on a firmly-stuck anchor to retrieve it some years back in a bay off Isla Graciosa, north of Lanzarote in the Canaries... and suddenly realized that my new dive tank had been positioned right beside the fluxgate compass with only a wooden wall dividing them. No wonder my autopilot tried to make a violent turn on the way here from the Queen Elizabeth marina not so long ago when I activated it so I could organize fenders and mooring lines.... I moved the tank away today to check my theory - and sure enough, the AP reading was promptly in agreement with the ship's compass. So now I have to move the fluxgate compass from its well-tucked-away position to somewhere else - another job to be added to my already long list....grr!
Trouble is - I opened up the compass thinking maybe I could undo the wires from inside it, to avoid problems in re-locating it (It's way too big to pass through the holes the wire passes through). But that was clearly not a good idea, so I quickly put it back together again - cursing as I did so, because that means now that I have the job of tracing the wire back (and releasing it as I do so) to where it's connected to the course computer (- I hope! Otherwise I have to trace it to the chart table area which is even further away). Then I'll have to disconnect it and pull all the wire through to re-locate the compass in a new position - yet to be decided on.... I found that the minimum distance needed from the steel dive tank so as not to affect the autopilot heading reading was 0.5 metre - not that much but a lot of work and time will be needed to sort the problem out.
At least today the sun is shining brightly again after a week of overcast, strong winds and frequent rain. The not-so-good news is I think I may have broken (or at least badly bruised) a little toe when I knocked it some days ago .... it may be 'little' but it can definitely hurt...! And I'm having to get a tooth problem seen to also! At least that's happening now when I can get it sorted - better than when I'm mid-passage with no way of getting it looked at!! (Very nice to have a son who's both an excellent dentist & not too far away.) Fortunately, I'm so busy I don't have time to notice a bit of pain too much!
Present preoccupations include completing my dry provisioning for an assumed 7-month non-stop passage - that's a lot of food!! I've been making lists galore, including sticking them behind locker doors, etc, several revisions & updatings, re-thinking about the best, safe way to stow it all... it's been going on for many days ... but is virtually complete now. I've been lucky in getting help from people here with cars who have taken me to major supermarkets this week - including a run to the local hospice bookshelves to get some light reading matter in case I find I can relax occasionally over the next few months! My grateful thanks to Liz and Lucy for their help!
Other concerns have been :
looking over my foul- and cold-weather gear (especially base and mid-layers), finding out what's available and making sure I top up with what I might need in the Southern Ocean, on the assumption that I'll get doused occasionally and then will maybe find I can't dry the clothing out;
checking on my paper charts and organizing stowage of them - realizing I have gaps & need a few more, at least for passage-making, in case my electronic ones become unavailable for whatever reason - so I have had to find out what's available & then arrange for the ones I need to be sent out. Kelvin Hughes have been really helpful over the supply of charts & books;
organizing getting lots of fax paper rolls for my Furuno weatherfax - thanks to Furuno UK for discounting them & sending to me;
acquisition of a new 'back-up' laptop - and setting it up with all necessary software to duplicate what's on my main laptop .... what a lot of time that has taken - and is still taking up!
......and everyday living.... with little time to relax!
All not helped by the need to make occasional quick (2-day) trips back up to London to deal with an ongoing concern there!
The high-tensile anchor chain is continuing through its two-week-or-more production process by Maggi Catene in Italy - might be ready to send out within a week, with any luck.
Wi-fi Internet access on board is really frustrating - often unreliable, so another regular time-waster... I have to make frequent trips to the Visitor Centre or to the nearby friendly 'Ship and Crown' for reliable access, restricted to their opening times.
A regular amusement here is the to-ing and fro-ing of boats at high water when they can get over the entrance sill into the marina from the waiting pontoons outside in the harbour. Mostly people get it absolutely right when coming alongside but there's the occasional panic! And I've been surprised to see the nearly horizontal ramp to the dock from the Albert Pier at high water - it's 'spring' tides now & so the water level is particularly high. (I hear that the water often rises to above the road level.) But at low water, the same ramp is really steep - not a good time to bring heavy shopping to the dockside.
This week, several boats have dried out over LW on the nearby ledge to look at prop or shaft problems - two had lines to remove from around their prop and another had a major propshaft leak to be dealt with. It's handy to have the drying ledge there to be used so easily and safely.
Looking at the weather, as I continually do these days, I'm wondering how much of a problem I'll face getting away from here once I'm finally ready - the winds seem to be almost constantly from the SW quadrant - exactly the direction I'll be wanting to make....