Day 17 - Things Start to Break
04 May 2010 | Underway from Mexico to Marquesas
Day 17 Mon May 3
The autopilot seemed to get very sick and die today. It gave off some pitiful little squeals and kept saying its name, like a neurotic to his psychiatrist.
It had ingested considerable amounts of rainwater, so it was quite understandable. Attempts were made to dry it out, but so far no cure has been found, and we fear the worst.
In the meantime the wind has come to draw us out of the doldrums, where the Bluebottle wallowed ungracefully while I tried to fix the alternator regulator. This device had apparently malfunctioned, so we were faced with overcharging the batteries or not running the engine at all, and if no engine then how to get out of these windless doldrums? Rain drizzled down and we rolled heavily in the beam on swells.
Disconnecting the alternator was the eventual solution, after hours of chasing the fascinating alternative of an INTERNAL regulator, a built-in one, that could come up for the job if only we could solve the wiring puzzle. Adrienne pored over the manuals awhile I did schematic drawings, naming the colour of each wire, and losing tiny screws into the bilge.
I make fun of it all, as a means to put it in perspective and stay hopeful. After all to have two major pieces of equipment quit on one day, 1,000 miles from landfall can seem daunting. Later on, in order to charge the batteries, I reconnected the alternator and the regulator, and it seems to work okay. Either it fixed itself or it was a false alarm.
With no wind and engine running we hand steered for a some time in rolly confused swells, just to feel we were getting out of the cloudy rainy old doldrums and stretch out towards the Southeast trades. Then a light breeze sprang up from the South, which is where we wanted to go. Re-configuring the Monitor self-steering vane we started to sail, sometimes at 5 knots. But mostly West. Not the best, but it was night and at least the vessel was steering herself. The stars were out and the sound of the bow wave was comforting. Such it is now.
PS To my daughter Kate - Happy Birthday, darling.