The best helmsman on the boat

Sun 26 Nov 2023 22:51

11:57.540N 44:45.690W

We have sailed pretty much the whole way from Poole to here on Autopilot. There are several ways of using our Autopilot; you can set it to stay on a selected compass bearing, or you can create a route and ask it to follow that route exactly without deviation, or you can, as we do most of the time when sailing, set it to steer to a given wind angle, this is called “wind steer”. Using wind steer means you don’t need to keep trimming the sails every time  the wind shifts and you can also take advantage of any favourable shifts. However you do need to pay attention, because if there are any large changes in wind direction you could end up going the wrong way, worst case scenario, back to where you came from. 


The Autopilot is a very useful tool and means once set correctly, Moose can virtually sail herself. It is often referred to as the best helmsman on the boat ! 

This morning at 03:45 my alarm sounded to remind me I was due on watch in 15 minutes, Dicky and Kath were on watch and I was due to take over from Dicky at 04:00. Anyway there I was getting ready (on the toilet) when I heard Kath calling me, “I’ll be up in a minute” I replied. Turns out while Dicky was below making the coffee, a couple of error messages had appeared on the plotter screen and the Autopilot had failed, and Moose was now sailing off on her own. When I got on up to the flybridge Dicky had already fired up the engines and we started to try and recover the situation. It was pitch black and blowing 20 knots off course, these things never happen when it’s calm in the daylight !! With the Autopilot in error mode we had no rudder feed back, ie we couldn’t tell what angle the rudders were at. The steering also felt light so we questioned if we actually had any steering at all, turns out the light steering was because moose had gone head to wind and stopped, this is much better than the alternative,  which would be another crash gybe, good girl Moose. So after a quick “switch it off, switch it on again” for the whole navigation system, we were soon back on track and pleased to find the autopilot was working again. Don’t know what caused it and probably never will but it’s all ok now. Just like any computer, seems it needs a restart occasionally, after all it has all been running for over a week now. 

While some boats fly their coloured sails (spinnakers etc) at night, we don’t !! Things like this confirm this is a wise decision, this would almost certainly have resulted in serious spinnaker damage. On the subject of which one captain came up for his watch the morning to find his spinnaker in the water beside his boat !! 


The above shows our track during the incident, the missing bit is where the nav gear was being rebooted. 

Another thing that happened during the night was that we passed the halfway point !! So a celebratory breakfast was obviously in order !! It was fabulous, thanks Kath. 


As we keep losing lures, I took a tip from the group chat and decided to make my own, it’s in now, I’ll let you know how I get on. 


Another milestone has just passed, we have now sailed 6000 miles since leaving Poole in May. Ignore the max speed, I have no idea where it got that from !