Jeeves, our faithful autopilot, has been showing signs of rebellion this season. Long days of motoring in flat seas seem to have taken its toll and Jeeves has occasionally gone on strike. Without reason he will sound an alarm: "Rudder Response Failure" and hand the helm back to the skipper. A few weeks of trying to identify the problem by fiddling with the settings, reading the Operator Manual (yes, a last resort most of the time) I think I finally identified the problem as a faulty Control Unit (the computer) which when the fault alarm sounding seems to want to switch the output voltage to the hydraulic drive unit from 12v to 24v. Hmmm.
When we arrived in Friday Harbor the first thing I did was to pull out the Control unit and post it off to Simrad for evaluation and repair. They said it would be back in 3 weeks. Two weeks went by and they had still not identified the fault. This is probably quite hard to do as the problem is intermittent. Navico, the Simrad agent were great. Emails were flying around the office but no response could be found. Eventually, feeling my frustration, the Navico technician decided that enough was enough and the said that they would send me a new one. Great! marvelous! In the meantime I had been hedging my bets and ordered a new Garmin autopilot head unit, compass and computer unit just in case Navico could not fix or replace the old unit. This duly arrived two days after ordering it, having spoken to a number of Garmin technicians to see if it would be compatible with my existing drive unit and heading sensor. Yes they said. Well it arrived but with a cable missing. I set about figuring out how to install the new autopilot which involved more discussions with Garmin technicians when one finally told us that it would not be compatible with our Simrad drive unit. Oh b****r. we would have to return it.
Navico sent off a new unit, Fedex overnight, will be there Friday. You guessed it. Friday came and the unit did not arrive. More frustrated calls and Fedex apologised and said that they would get it to us on Saturday, which they don't normally do. Saturday morning arrived and I received a call to let me know that they had delivered it. Thanks I said. Where did you deliver it? To Blue Bonnet lane in Olympia the rep said. OMG. Lost. Well to cut the story short it arrived this afternoon. I installed it, set it up, and did a dockside test and all APPEARS to be OK but time will tell.
Now that it is tested we are frantically getting the last minute projects done and getting ready for the 800 mile passage to San Francisco. Hopefully tomorrow will be the day.
We shall miss Friday harbor and the wonderful friends we have all made here. We will be back though as we left our car here, but it will be at least 12 months before we are back.