Closing in on the half-way mark...
23 39 N 63 40 W
Now just passing the “2 days” point on our passage to Bermuda; conditions remain excellent…only one minor squall line to pass through in the middle of last night and it was nothing and, although a fair bit of rain cells could be seen on radar as part of the line, no rain landed on us. Dawn arrived this morning with clear blue skies and winds have been constant at 15 – 18 kts on our beam with seas around 3-5 feet so overall Sea Mist and crew are HAPPY!
Of course as any of us who have lived this cruising life know, there is always something that will give you a surprise as one of the many systems decides to make you pay more attention to it. Last night, about 2 hours after darkness had settled in, the autopilot decided to quit on us. While Ian handled the steering for the next hour, I proceeded to empty out most of the “packed” aft lazerette so that I could access the steering system components. As I quickly eliminated possible causes of the failure, I zeroed in on the electric motor that drives the hydraulic ram as the likely culprit. It is a tough job to change brushes in this installation but I have had to do it at sea before (happened in July 2008 as Cheryl and I were making our way from Spain to Morroco), I tackled the motor and made the change….doubly difficult due to the conductive copper wire that is attached to a brush having made itself welded to the motor armature. Anyway, all resolved and AUTO was back in charge of managing our direction…..on this passage, that would be by “wind control” all the way.
And then, shortly after all was back properly stowed in the lazerette and the other crew had hit their berths, I noticed a strange sound…???...and soon determined that the propeller shaft was turning….meaning the new MAX PROP that was installed in Antigua last month was not feathering properly and the movement of the boat through the water was spinning the propeller and thus the shaft…NOT GOOD!...it would be like towing a car with an automatic transmission with its drive wheels on the pavement. That would be a no-no as bad for the transmission/gearbox. Same applies to the drivetrain on the boat….so I had to find a way to stop the shaft from spinning since the standard engine shut down options were not working to make the prop feather. I got out a pipe wrench and emptied a locker in our cabin and got the pipe wrench to grab and stop the shaft turning…..and…I was very pleased to find that once I got it stopped, the prop did feather and no more spinning. We will have to see if this is a continuing problem or not. We would never have discovered the issue if it had not been for the steering failure as this was the only time we turned on the engine since we left St Maartens….I needed the boat flat and controlled in speed so that I could do the work on the steering system so Ian had the motor driving the boat. Once that problem was behind us, we of course then got the sails redeployed and shut down the engine…..and hence the discovery.
That is enough rambling for today; Ian just came down from the cockpit and saw all the text on the screen and said “who will be so lucky to read that LOOOONG email?”. I guess that is true so I had better quit.
DTG > 544 nm….currently showing our arrival at St Georges at dawn on Friday the 29th. Will have to download weather in a couple of hours to see what the forecast is for the next 3 days in the waters we will by sailing.