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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thompson Bay

We arrived here yesterday afternoon. We are disappointed to report that the autopilot gave out after the first hour of an eight hour journey. Since the recent autohelm installation was all new except the very old motor, the motor became highly suspect. The seas were too rough for any kind of diagnostics while underway, so Myron will take a hard look at it today. We are having significant tides right now, which makes for significant tidal currents, and it was no fun hand steering when an 18 to 20 degree heading correction was required due to current. The helm was light enough, it was just hard to hold a course with no land or other visual reference. We pulled out all the gear for 'Windy' our wind vane and, praise God, we managed to install the tiller arm underway without a hitch. Myron got all of Windy's other necessary gear working and she took over the helm - splendidly too with twenty knots flying over her paddle. Our track provides an indication of the current effect and wind shifts on Windy. Broken gear is a part of cruising and I have heard the saying many times now "Cruising is just fixing your boat in exotic places."
One piece of equipment I hope never fails is our GPS. The Explorer Charts highly recommend holding close to the routes for the Ragged Islands since most of the area is uncharted. We proved out their disclaimer when we discovered by dinghy a number of reefs that were not on the charts. On Friday a large cat named 'Amazing Grace' sailed north from the Raggeds about the same time as us. Amazing Grace was broadcasting AIS which allowed us to see their position on our chart plotter. They continued north at Water Cay ahead of us, but not on the recommended route. We speculated that they departed the route to head toward a dangerous reef because they wanted to dive or fish that area. Subsequently the skipper called us and asked if our GPS was working. He discovered that their GPS had lost its accuracy. He seemed sure that the reef was incorrectly located on the charts, yet on our chart plotter what he saw and what was charted appeared correct. We are not sure the cause but had heard that solar flares might affect GPS and they were certainly affecting our Ham and SSB reception. Amazing Grace made it fine through the hazards though not without a little stress. Our GPS/chart plotter lined up with our visuals and our soundings - but I could not imagine trying to navigate the Jumentos, Raggeds and transitory channels with their three knot currents without GPS!
We will relax for a bit here at Thompson Bay. Yesterday we had a brief time on land for some internet, a walk and the purchase of chips. We will not have much internet at $5 per hour - I expect this posting will be accomplished by Ham. The chips are for a conch salad I plan to make today. The walk provided some needed giggles. A sign outside the car rental place stated "Competitive Rates - Unlimited Mileage." How many miles could one get? "It's an island 'mon."
Love to all,
P.S. - The new autopilot motor was installed in the time it took me to write this post!

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}23|21.427|N|075|08.015|W|Anchored|Thompson Bay{GEND}

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