Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Autopilot sea trials

Autopilot sea trials

We were floating, but we weren’t gone yet. We had some last minute projects to do before we could depart from Port Angeles: installing heavy duty cleats for our Jordan Series Drogue, figuring out how to work our heater, and trouble-shooting our autopilot issues. Ace Sailmakers specifically says not to run your drogue to your primary winches for fear of tearing them out with the load, but we had no other strong points on the stern. We made some by installing cleats with huge backing plates.

Kerosene/diesel heater

Kerosene/diesel heater

The heater was a slightly bigger problem: so far we hadn’t been able to make it run at all. With Cliff, who’d installed it, standing by, we got it roaring with a fire starter brick. It roared way too much, though, turning the chimney a psychedelic purple color. . . . We rushed to turn it off and spritze the chimney and bulkhead with water, cooling it down before it could melt the bedding compound where it goes through the deck. We had new respect, and a little fear, for our heater now. We finally deduced, however, that the regulator on it was set up for diesel and we were using kerosene which is a much more fluid fuel. Essentially the heater was getting too much fuel. Seth e-mailed the manufacturer and a few days later (after our departure) we received the answer complete with a photo. It took a little bit of trial and error, but we now seem to have it sorted out and have heated the cabin nicely quite a few times.

The other issue took a bit longer to resolve. Seth and I took Celeste out into the harbor to calibrate our autopilot and we kept coming up with a crazy compass deviation of 180 degrees! I then read the manual more closely and discovered that the new version of the autopilot calibrates automatically. I read Seth the instructions while he went through the various commands on the control head instrument. What he was seeing and what I was reading didn’t line up, which made us realize that the control head had the wrong software. Back to the marina and a long walk to town to get WiFi and download the new software. While we were at it, we downloaded software for all our electronics just to make sure everything was up-to-date. The autopilot calibrated itself then and all seemed reasonably okay.

Author: Ellen

sailor, writer, photographer

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