After 3 days in Newport, our autopilot issues were finally resolved, thankfully under warranty, and we were able to get underway again.
I’m happy to report that in all of our digging into the pilot problem, we discovered that the NKE system does not send enough voltage into the clutch for the electric drive. The pilot had never worked right, refusing to develop enough power to steer the boat properly when the rudders were loaded up. Here was the root of the problem, and after some wiring changes, the pilot now works as it should. We put it to the test pretty well in some fast broad reaching in big seas, and it’s flawless now.
So, the shorted out display ended up with a very good outcome.
Since we were all the way up in Narragansett Bay, our route to St. John’s was through the Cape Cod canal. This is a handy short-cut, avoiding all the shoals around Nantucket.
We had a pretty comical display of waste of taxpayer money at the southern entrance. A small hard dinghy had been lost off of a passing boat, the owner of the dinghy had been identified, and there was no possibility of anybody in the water. Still, an inter-agency response had been organized, and we passed 3 state vessels, one USCG vessel, and finally a USCG helicopter also arrived on scene to assist in the recovery of a $200 dinghy. We got some good laughs out of this rather absurd display for some time.
We had a pretty mixed bag of conditions on the trip. The first 30 hours or so after Cape Cod had some strong winds and fast sailing, followed by hundreds more miles of dense fog and flat calm. The engine was called on for most of the trip.
We made a single stop at Louisburg, NS, mostly for an oil change. We just spent a single night there, carrying on the next morning. There wasn’t a bit of wind for all but about 2 hours of this entire trip, and we had dense fog throughout.
We didn’t see a damned thing until we were about a mile off of St. John’s. There, the fog abruptly lifted, and we were finally treated to a nice, sunny day.
The foggy conditions have been more stressful than usual. Last winter, I purchased a new B&G plotter/radar. The radar is an absolute piece of garbage. I learned later that the 4G was much better than the 3G (which I got), but nobody bothered to tell me that at the time of purchase. So, we’re stuck with a total piece of crap until I can try to return the lousy radome for one which is hopefully better. I’m pretty annoyed by the whole thing. There’s only a few hundred dollar difference between the 2 units when you buy the whole setup, but to buy just the radome is a couple thousand. I really hope I can work out some kind of a swap.
Otherwise, all’s well on Rocket Science. We got through our work list in good time after we arrived in St. John’s, and we’re now standing by for a good weather window for departure to Ireland. We’ve got our eyes on a developing low, which may or may not bring strong to gale force headwinds on our route later in the week, so once that picture resolves itself, we’ll make the call on when to depart.
St. John’s has been a pleasure to visit, as it was last year. Thanks to Tim’s SPOT tracker, some friends of friends, Ted and Karen, met us at the dock, valiantly took some really stinky laundry home and did it for us, and generally made us feel right at home here. Thanks, guys!
A nice couple whom we met in Ramea last year also happened to be in the area, and we spent a pleasant evening with Louis and Joy. We also decided some exercise was called for and climbed up Signal Hill. Good times.
That’s about it for now. There’s been a rotating cast of international boats passing through. We had the very capable Exploration 45 ‘Arctic Monkey’ alongside for a few days, enjoying hearing about their exploits in both the Arctic and Antarctic. We feel like we’re generally pretty accomplished in our sailing by now, but coming to places like this tends to remind one that there’s a whole other set of sailors out there who are doing some true adventure cruising. We’re feeling pretty lame by comparison.
Walton & Stettler (poor Jenny… she’s being tortured…)