We’ve settled comfortably into life here in Georgetown. It’s a wonderful place abound with supplies, beautiful water and beaches, and great people (both the locals and the cruisers). Since we arrived a week ago we have, as usual, done A LOT. Sunday night I woke up about three in the morning with NASCAR brain. I couldn’t slow her down so I put together The List — a boat project to do list.
Laying with my head propped up against the “headboard” with my two pillows as cushions I grabbed my iPhone and tapped on Notes. For the next 45 minutes I tapped out words as fast as I could think em missing a few as I went along. My thumbs just couldn’t keep up. I decided to jot down anything and everything that came to mind and deal with categorizing them later. After about forty five minutes of listing, my brain slowed and I rolled over for a couple more z’s.
Three short hours later I was wide awake again ready to take on one of our larger projects. Our autopilot (Otto) hasn’t been working for a while now and me missed him. A lot. Otto just could not figure out which way we were heading. Sometimes when we were on a port tack and the winds were blowing pretty good he could track fairly well, but otherwise he always wanted to tell us we were traveling 100-200 degrees from where we were. We tried turning him on and having him point towards the “wrong” heading but he wanted to steer erratically and we just couldn’t trust him. We’d talked to numerous people, read the manual, and searched the Internet for guidance. The theory was consistent: something is interfering with Otto’s fluxgate compass.
The first step was to take a look at the Otto’s brain and try to trace the wires to the compass. So out came hundreds of pounds of gear from the cockpit locker and down I went into Stella’s bowels. I squeezed my way down into the locker, sprawled out slowly under the cockpit, then inched my way under the cable steering slid up the other side. I was met by a fairly neat mess of wires coming from Otto and the engine control panel. After half an hour I had learned a great deal but hadn’t found the fluxgate. Frustration and a touch of claustrophobia sent me back up top to meet the Gillian in the kitchen preparing breakfast.
Over breakfast we categorized wrote down The List on a legal pad and separated it into three categories ASAP, Nice to have, and wish list. Then we carefully planned our next move to solve the Otto problem. Gillian would strap the GoPro on her head and I would watch her wiggle around underneath with the GoPro iOS app. Four eyes are better than two. She found a promising lead but after following that rabbit, we ended up at a dead end.
Where could this damn thing be? I had a faint memory of this round black knob that I knew I had seen before and just may be the fluxgate. My brain had been working on retrieving this memory for the past four hours now. All at once it hit me and I began tearing everything out from the cubby hole underneath the nav station. Finally I remembered where the little round black knob was hiding. There it was! I had found Otto’s sense of direction. Unfortunately all I had pulled out of the cubby was some transmisison fluid, a little two stroke engine oil, and some rags. None of that could have been causing him to wander aimlessly. Then as I sat there partially defeated, I saw it. Our bag of Ryobi power tools had been sitting just on the other side of the cabinet. Surely that was the cause of the interference. As for Otto coming to his senses on a port tack occasionally…well we had heeled over enough to cause the power tools to tumble over into the galley
A quick check of the compass heading with the bag close to the fluxgate and then again when it was moved away saw a giant fluctuation. That was it! All that was left was to run the calibration again and Otto would finally sober up.
The rest of the week we continued to pick at the list, meet people, and hang out. We had a great deal of fun celebrating Independence Day with our neighbors Craig and Vicki aboard Wings. We’ll continue our wait for weather here and do more of the same. A window looks like it may be opening up come the end of next week. Fingers crossed!