Sven Takes the Helm, Finally
30 March 2011 | Back at Monument Beach, Elizabeth Harbour
There is a wind shift due tomorrow evening. A mild front is coming through and we should get about 15 knot winds from the west. there are no good anchorages at Conception Island with protection from the west, so we decided to come back to Georgetown and Elizabeth Harbour. I suggested we come today, it looked like decent sailing and it would get us in and settled a day early. That way if a lot of other boats come tomorrow in anticipation of the front tomorrow night and Friday, we won't have to worry about finding a spot to anchor, we'll have ours.
So that's what we did. We had just about perfect sailing weather. We had around 12 to 15 knots of wind, mostly on the beam. We tried our wind vane self steering again. Bud had tightened the controlling lines that run from the device on the stern up to our wheel. The installation instructions say not to over tighten those lines, but most boats have the cockpit in the back, so the lines are relatively short. With a center cockpit ours are about 20 feet long. Bud decided that if he tied them as tight as he could get them, they wouldn't be too tight since they are so long. Once again we set everything up and engaged the wind vane. This time it worked! So the Monitor wind vane, that Bud named Sven, steered the boat all the way, today. When I get Internet access I'll post a photo of Sven on the job.
We learned a bit more about using it. It's tricky, because it steers a course to the apparent wind. The apparent wind is the wind you feel on the boat, and it's affected by the actual wind speed and direction as well as the boat speed and direction. What gets tricky is that if the actual wind changes velocity, the apparent wind not only changes velocity, it changes direction. So when you set the wind vane up, you need to set it for the average direction, considering that the wind speed is never constant. We also figured out how to help Sven take control again by dumping wind out of our main until Sven was able to steer the boat back on course. That was only necessary when the wind got strong enough that it was creating too much weather helm.
Altogether it was a good day's sail. We left Conception Island at 8:15 AM, sailed almost 44 nm at somewhere just over 6 knots, and got the hook set at 3:30 in the afternoon. Of course then we had to tidy the boat and launch the dinghy. Bud even checked the oil in the outboard before we put it back on the dinghy. We fed Fuzzy so we could make one trip ashore, to check the anchor (it was set, of course) and take Fuzzy ashore for his evening walk. All that got done and we were back aboard by 6 PM.