"Too many collisions on the bus"
09 July 2008 | 19 06'S:079 29'W, Somewhere in the SE Pacific, 1,270 mi from the Galapagos Islands.
First of all, thanks so much for all of your emails. Always nice when ?it? says ?you have mail?.
Now, about the title- "too many collisions on the bus??"
We still are not sure what it means but it is a BAD message to see on your ?NKE? autopilot display. The next message, just as ominous was, "EPROMM corrupted"....and these were followed by a few others equally as confusing.
The ?auto pilot? is an electronic device in which you input either a compass direction or a waypoint(destination) consisting of a latitude and longitude, push the ?auto? button, and presto, ES sails (steers) all by itself. Hand steering is fun too, but only for the first 30 seconds.
We were sailing along in light winds, doing just fine, when the auto pilot alarm went off and I began our intimate relationship with the underneath of the helm station where all the electronics are. This happened July 6 around 1600-just when we were discussing our dinner menu - how rude. We spent quite a bit of time with the NKE manual and inspecting wiring by crawling in the compartment under the helm. We remembered the days on end seeing only the legs and feet of the electrician, Hector, at Alwoplast, thinking that it looked very uncomfortable. So, add 35 years (older) and the movement of a boat being hand steered to the mix??.not that much fun.Of course, it was Sunday so no technical support was available other than a few sat.phone calls to Chris (the designer, and user of NKE instruments), who had several suggestions, but, alas, no cigar. We wrote a detailed email documenting all the error messages, everything we had tried and what had happened. This was sent to Santi, (o wner), Chris (designer), and Roni(engineer) at Alwoplast. The next morning, we received an email from Roni with his suggestion - essentially re-booting the on board computer system. We tried it and it successfully brought back most of our auto pilot systems. Dale remembered once in the weeks of struggling with the NKE at Alwoplast that he had held down two buttons and restarted it, but none of my combinations of buttons had worked on Sunday. It is working now! We also received emails from Chris and tech support at NKE - much thanks to everyone who was very responsive to our plight.
We were a grateful crew to not be hand steering 24 hours a day - it was cutting into our reading time on watch and made group dining virtually impossible.
Anyway, winds are still light but have moved aft of the boat. So, spinnaker sailing it is! The wind/weather predictions from our friends at Commanders Weather have been very accurate. We are expecting SE winds (behind us) through the day today (Tuesday) changing tonight or tomorrow to E which will mean a beam reach with main and genoa. Despite the light winds, we are making avg 8 -9 knots with either spinnaker in the day or Genoa at night. On a beam reach, it will be great sailing too.
Talking about the spinnaker, there were issues here too. You see, sailing a new catamaran ?straight out of the box? like ES is great, but like any new, extremely complex ?device? there are many bugs to be worked out. For example, when we first tried to set the spin(spinnaker) a huge (approx. 1,000 sq.feet) complex, light weight, and colorful colorful sail that is used when the wind is coming from the stern(back of the boat), we discovered that none of it?s bits and pieces were assembled. Since in all our years at sea neither Dale or I ever assembled one, we put our collective heads together and after a couple of hours we got it right the first time, and 30 min. later it was flying as gracefully as any spin can. But as the winds often do, they slowly backed easterly and they were soon on the beam (side of the vessel) which required the dousing of the spin. It was then that we noticed that it?s halyard (the rope that pulls it up to the top of the mast) became badly frayed/chaf fed from rubbing against something at the top and INSIDE the mast. This required another excursion to the top of the 70?mast in order to install an external block (pulley ? I?ll make a sailor out of you(s) yet!).
To be pulled up to the top of a mast is scary at any time, especially for someone like me who?s only 2 fears are sharks and heights?.YIKES ! And add to this, doing it on moderate seas with fairly large swells, which tremendously exaggerates any motion 70? up. Just imagine trying to work 70? high, sitting in a little canvas chair at the end of a 15mm line while being thrown around like a fly at the end of a fly fishing line. It took every bit of strength just to hang on to the mast, notwithstanding the job of attaching a new block and threading the old halyard through it.This whole procedure lasted 1.5 hours and then I finally reached terra firma (ES), I was beaten up, and exhausted.The spin now flies freely!
Another problem occurred 4 days ago when we lost our wind sensor. It literally fell to the deck from the top of the mast and is now unrepairable?.probably not screwed down properly. While not a matter of life and death, this instrument is a huge time saver in that it tells us the wind speed, calculates the true and apparent wind direction, graphically displays the angle and where where the wind is coming from. This helps us immensely in the choosing of our sail plan.
We have a new-found appreciation of the small Chilean flag on the flag halyard. It is working very well as a directional indicator.
It has been some great fish eating onboard since leaving Valdivia with Monica's provisions and also with the lucky "catch" from Coquimbo. Tonight we will try some Robalo chilean style from Monica (our sushi lady from Valdivia). Alan made some homemade tortillas the other night and the fish tacos were been great. Last night we had our first homemade pizza onboard. As the days go by at sea, talk of menus and cooking become more and more prevalent.?
To Dale?s amazement, neither Alan or I had ever seen "Captain Ron", a classic movie and a viewing requirement on most boat trips. Dale brought the DVD. After seeing what a "swabbie's" duties are, Alan swabbed the decks this morning while Ness opened the window and said "get me another brewskie, swabbie," in classic Captain Ron mode. I think I may have created a monster...male bonding???
Today, we have cloudy skies but yesterday and today were in the mid 70s temp. We have graduated to a full time uniform of shorts and t-shirts! ?The graceful spinnaker is pulling us along at 7-8 knts in very light winds. All is well with the world. Dale calculated the fuel reserves and we have enough for 72 hours at 2200 rpm one engine at a time, which yields about 8 kts. We are sailing as much as possible to save those reserves for when they might be truly needed. During the last 3 days we have been averaging 180 miles a day. We have 1270 NM to get to Santa Cruz island in the Galapgos, Equador??.. Did I just see 9 kts, 9.6, 10???? All right!!
PS?once again, thanks to Dale for her help, and input, in crafting my blogs.