Day 12, Wednesday, 16.02.2011, 12:00 UTC, 19:11.5N 40:05.5W, 25°C, 1017 mBar
The relative peaceful weekend with no more problems had lulled me into
thinking that I was on top of the game now, and that the rest of the trip
would be nice & quiet. Haha! Monday taught me better with the Chartplotter
and Furler causing trouble, and yesterday it went on in the same tradition.
I was just cutting the cake to celebrate the fact that I've covered more
than half of the distance, when the boat suddenly turned into the wind. I
climbed into the cockpit, saw in passing that "STLK FAIL" was written across
the autopilot display, and quickly jumped to the rescue of the tiller-pilot.
The rudder was lying far on port, and the tiller-pilot was extended as far
as I've never seen it before.
I steered the boat for an hour myself, thinking about the best course of
action. Then I decided to furl the genoa away, lash the tiller down and go
over the complete Raymarine installation while the weather is relatively
nice. I wanted to understand how the problem came about, fix it, and find
out what possible alternatives there are in case it happens again and I'm
pressed for time. Six hours the boat sat there without moving as I removed
panel after panel to check each connection. I'll spare you the details. It's
hard enough to connect the little wires in places you can hardly reach when
the boat is not moving. But when it's moving ...
Well, at least I think that I should not have any more problems with that
stuff in the near future. And should the autopilot quit it's job next time
with a "STLK FAIL" (Seatalk Link Failure) error, I know that it's enough to
simply disconnect it from the other Raymarine devices. It will work happily
on it's own. But if it detects a problem on the common bus it shuts down.
Unlike the other Raymarine devices, which just don't show the missing data.
Interesting, huh, considering that the autopilot is the only device of that
whole installation that I really need. My phone, the iPod, even the camera
has a GPS and can tell me where I am and where I'm going. But now that the
wind-vane is out of action nothing else here can steer the boat while I eat
my little celebration cake in peace. Think about it, Raymarine guys.
After I was back on course, with the spare tiller-pilot steering, I took
apart the other one and made sure it's going to move ok again. Then I
cleaned the cockpit, galley and floor, because I like cleaning. It's dirty,
you clean it, it's clean. That simple. No crypted error messages necessary
to tell you it's dirty (e.g. NT CLN), no rebooting necessary to find out if
the last two hours of work were wasted or not, and no jumping between
states. Clean or not clean. And it looks nice too.
In the meantime it was dark and the moon high above me in a clear sky. Time
to practice some astronavigation! You never know, the way it's going on this
trip tomorrow all the GPS satellites might suffer a catastrophic software
failure and need a manual reboot. Or cleaning. Maybe I should apply at
ESA/NASA for a position as janitor on the ISS after this trip. I could clean
the station and in my spare time fix stuff. Like plumbing, solar panels,
navigational computers etc. Hang on! The "Space Quest" adventure game series
of the late eighties comes into a whole new perspective suddenly! :-)
1310nm to go.