Autopilot Trouble..


d'Albora's Action Project: AUS 360 Blog Update

Presented by Pivotel

Afternoon All,

I have to admit that I am starting to go a little stir crazy with the unbelievable bad luck I seem to have had with the winds on this trip and now I am having an annoying little issue with one of my autopilots.

Last night the winds were the same as they have been for the last few days so I was sailing along well in 20 knots from the South. Even though I am having to tack my way South I was still making okay speeds so I was content. At around 10 pm for some reason, the autopilot just started to drive like a mad woman steering all over the place. It was basically steering 30-degree changes so I was either way too low on the wind angle so the boat would power up and then I would be the way too high as the boat would round up to the windward and all the sails would flap before it would oversteer away from the wind again. With my autopilot system I can drive the boat off a compass course or a wind angle and once set the hydraulics will turn the rudder to keep the boat holding said compass course or wind angle. Last night I was steering wind angle so I decided to try the compass option and it wasn't perfect but the boat was able to hold a somewhat steadier course.

My problem, aside from it just not working right, is that the winds at the moment have been all over the place. One second I am getting winds from 180 and another second from 160 Degree. It simply isn't consistent enough to keep the boat steering with the compass, however, every time I changed it to wind angle the boat was all over the place. I finally worked out that I had lost the boat speed input so I climbed forward to the sail locker where the log is located and checked for any damage. Everything looked as it should but I still couldn't get it going. Given the late hour, I decided to let the boat drive as it was for that night and phone a friend in the morning.

Unfortunately, I have yet been able to work out the problem or find a loose connection so I have spent all of today just getting frustrated sitting in the nav station near the autopilot controls manually altering my course every 10-15 minutes to try and catch the winds. It has meant that I am not holding as good a heading as I would by wind angle and that my boat speed is suffering as the sails keep going out of trim every time the winds change and after all the delays with the light winds around the top of Australia and now this infuriating time sailing down the west coast I am starting to feel the need to vent...

I will keep working on the Autopilot and see if I can solve the issue but until then the boat performance is way down and the going is slow. On the plus side, the swell is a little less today and the winds are also easing off for a little while although I know that there is more to come.

In other news, my Dad still hasn't woken but went through another successful surgery today and the doctors are happy with his progress so that's something.

Right, I am off to fiddle with the autopilot again. Cheers.

Thanks to the following Sponsors for all their continued support: d’Albora Marinas, Pivotel  B&G, Australian Geographic, Zhik , Park Fuels, Karver, 3M, White Bay 6 Marine Park, and Great Circle Life Raft