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Attrition and Black Boxes

On the first attempt last year the challenges I had to continuing were mainly mechanical: loss of battens from the sail, damaged staysail furling, extensive damage to the end of the boom. These I repaired and felt comfortable they would not be show stoppers. However it was the failure of the fixtures that hold the shrouds that support the mast that caused the alarm. Farr Yacht Design said they were unsafe and that I had to quit - soon all team members agreed and so I put in to Cape Town.

This time it’s the electronics that are taking a toll. I have two sets of winds instruments atop the mast. They give both wind speed and true wind direction. One set has failed and I am on the second set - so soon. Next I have three auto pilots and now one, the primary Auto Pilot has given up the ghost. Let’s hope I have seen the last of my electronics problems, but I fear not.

The autopilot did not quietly into the night. Once it failed it simply would not turn off at the breaker on the electrical panel and kept sending out load beeps every seven seconds. Then for no reason at all, perhaps I was being too calm about it all, the dying Auto decided to sound the Man Overboard alarm which really screeches. When I finally figured out to turn it off, it found another way of coming on. Eventually however it totally died and I had peace and quiet.

My Project Manager Steve Pettengill said "Look after the boat and it will look after you." Believe me Steve, I am doing my best but while I am somewhat mechanical, electronics are just a black box to me.

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