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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Going round in circles

May 2, 2015

Dave was down below entering new waypoints when he accidentally turned off the autopilot. Mike was at the helm and took over steering manually, but the steering was frozen.  We double checked the autopilot was off but the steering was frozen good and we could only turn to port – hence we were going in circles.  Dave got into the compartment and mechanically disconnected the autopilot from the steering assembly and we got steerage back.

We thought maybe the steering actuator motor that Dave and Mike had fixed before we took Saltydog through the canal had failed again.  But no, this time it was the RAM assembly that had seized up.  Dave took it apart and poured motor oil into it and got it working again.  Not ideal as the assembly really should be greased, but underway, this wasn’t possible.  So Steve and Joan will have to have the steering assembly looked at once the boat reaches Antigua to at a minimum grease it up again properly.  After only an hour and a half, we are again steering just fine under the watchful eyes of Auto.

We put the last Gerry can of diesel fuel into the tanks later today.  We have enough to make it to Puerto Rico, but we won’t make Antigua without stopping for gas.  We pulled into the Ponce marina in Puerto Rico, arriving after dark - with only 10 gallons of fuel left in the tank.  The gauge was reading "E" so we were happy to later discover we were not as close to the bottom of the tank as the gauge would have us believe.  

Night entries into foreign ports are not Dave's favorite but we cruised right to the dock without a hitch. We have sailed 9 days without stopping.  It has been tough work going upwind day after day. It is impossible to walk without bashing into things. Dave is covered with scrapes and bruises. He doesn’t think he wants to do another boat delivery bashing upwind, but it’s been great experience.  Mike and Holly seem to feel the same.  Great experience – but no one wants to repeat it. Downwind for days, yes. Upwind, no.  At this point we have another 280 miles to go to make it to Antigua.  That will take another three days or so, but should be much easier going.

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