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SHTP Day 6

Day 6 - A little belated - things got a bit fraught yesterday!!

Discovered around dawn that the autopilot wasn't working, nor the GPS (I'd recently wired a new GPS antenna into the autopilot course computer). Seems to me like a loose wire since sometimes GPS comes on (but autopilot never does)- will need to empty aft bunk area to get under & have a look - major job!.
Fortunately, the wind direction (SSW-WSW) was such that I could keep going close-hauled and "Nereida" normally steers herself beautifully upwind. Unusually, I had to help her by constantly hand-steering & then locking off the steering wheel because the biggish seas kept knocking her off otherwise. I had to dive up to the cockpit on a regular basis to check on things - found us 'hove to' several times! Our course wasn't quite what I had wanted (was going SE earlier when wind was SSW) - but by 2pm we were doing fine on a close reach - actually going S! Our speed was excellent - I even had to reef down twice as the night progressed because the winds (and seas) got up - to around 25kn apparent. I'm trying to keep in the good wind near-ish the coast (shown on weatherfaxes I download on Winlink), while remembering I'm trying to get to Hawaii, but also trying to avoid the high pressure wind 'hole' now forming W of me & beginning to affect the middle-back of the rest of the fleet. A balancing act!

Having to mess about with PCs didn't help matters over the day - trying to get backup Garmin handheld GPS's connected and talking to each of them (one PC normally lives in my aft cabin by the SSB for emails/wx , the other normally lives on the chart-table for charting (via Nobeltec) and AIS - but this one has been giving problems with the new mains charger suddenly deciding to stop charging so PC closes down unexpectedly & the new 12V charger no good either. So having to move comms PC from aft cabin to saloon on regular basis to do Nobeltec/AIS - a pain reconnecting all the leads each time, and had to load AIS software and charts onto 2nd PC via memory stick (CD drive not working!) - PCs are fine when all is going well but what a pain when they start misbehaving!
AIS has been so useful that I didn't want to be without it - and it needs GPS info as much as Nobeltec does. I could cope with paper charts OK but when the autopilot and GPS both went down simultaneously, and then the wind (I'm delighted to say!!!) got up so strongly over the evening and night - with no autopilot - I had my hands full trying to cope. (Not much by way of a meal yesterday!).
Just to add to everything else, when Lou on 'Seabird' mentioned generator problems, it occurred to me to check on the date of my last oil change as I went to check the oil level. (I'm relying on my little generator for charging my batteries, rather than the main engine.) To my horror, it was way overdue (and the oil level was low anyway) - so I had to change the oil immediately - the afternoon's job. So I was unable to get my usual afternoon catnap yesterday - hopefully I will manage it today - I feel quite tired.
Good news of the day (apart from a happy generator!) - actually saw blue skies and sun for about 2-3 hrs mid-afternoon - first time this trip!

Written by : Mike

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