Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fixing Boats in Exotic Places

The standard cruiser, in response to some starry-eyed friend who gushes about how wonderful it must be to be cruising, responds with "It isn't as glamorous as you imagine--it's mainly "fixing boats in exotic places"."

Well, yesterday we did just that. The weather was still gorgeous, and our friends wanted to go play--but we really had a couple of things we needed to attend to before we could sail out of Ant.

The most important was the autopilot. On the trip from Kwajalein, our autopilot was struggling with steering properly. It would steer well in one direction but then fail (with tiny movements) to go the other direction. During the trip, Dave hot-swapped the motor part of the CPT autopilot with a spare of "unknown condition". It seemed to work for awhile, but on the trip from Pohpei to Ant Atoll, it, too was having the same kind of troubles. We know from experience that it's probably the relays that have failed. So it was time for Dave to get all 3 CPT autopilots out and assess and repair as necessary.

Dave spent all day on this, taking apart each one, and checking them out. He ended up replacing the relays on one (we have spare relays--they are just $2 car windshield wiper relays), and swapping the motor out of one with bad relays into another with known good relays but a motor issue. So now we think we have a good autopilot, a good spare, and one for parts with a known hard-to-repair problem. Plus we still have some spare new relays left and a spare new motor, for the next time we need to make repairs. We'll test the fix today when we're moving about inside Ant Atoll.

I spent all afternoon scrubbing bottom. With an anticipated light air passage coming up, it's worth making sure the bottom is as clean as we can get it. We put new paint on in Fiji a little over a year ago, and it's holding up pretty well. So a light scrubbing did the trick. But there's a lot of surface area on our big tubby 44-foot boat!

With really light seas now outside the reef, Westward II and Aurora Star went out in a dinghy in the afternoon to fish and dive on the reef. Brent speared one really nice big Trevally (a good-eating Jack common here), and two smaller fish were caught on a hand line. Stephen and Sara had a nice dive on the wall outside.

We had a beautiful evening, with starry skies and a new moon, eating grilled fish on Aurora Star.

At 03/04/2014 8:11 PM (utc) our position was 06°43.78'N 157°56.20'E

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