It’s been exciting times since yesterday morning!
In the afternoon, I passed a massive offshore drilling operation. This was some 180 miles off the coast, in water 7000 feet deep. 4 massive platforms and a huge floating refinery were at work, and a super-duper-tanker (bigger than your ordinary super-tanker) was idling nearby to receive the product and ferry it to a shore terminal. This was one of those ginormous boats that is too big to go through the Panama Canal. Its one thing to see it in pictures, quite another to sail by…
Good progress was made through the day and night, and this morning I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, meaning I am officially back in the tropics. Woohoo!
About 5:30am, while waiting for the sunrise, a solitary dolphin swam behind the boat, just a few back and forths, then he was gone. I thought about dolphins being Neptune’s messengers, and then the dreaded “Autopilot Drive Failure” alarm started going off. Yikes! At first I thought that darn Neptune sent a dolphin with bad news. Then I thought better, and realized it happened when I was sitting right next to it, in relatively benign conditions, and at the start of daylight. Had I been sleeping, or busy below, in wilder conditions, the boat could have crash jibed and spun out of control, so I guess I wont curse Neptune more than normal.
I first found hydraulic fluid under the drive ram, and thought a seal had blown, similar to what happened about 8 months ago. But on closer inspection, it seems the end cap on the ram had unscrewed itself somehow, just enough to lose the seal. I tightened things back up and refilled the reservoir, but it’s still a no-go. I think I may need to bleed the system, and the drive motor may have blown a fuse somewhere, as it is non-responsive. Anyway, I’ve more work to do on that, and hopefully I can solve it.
I am currently running with the back-up autopilot, (I am sooo glad I installed that), but it’s not as robust, and likely not up to handling the entire journey. So if I can’t fix things myself, I may make a brief pit-stop somewhere, and partake of some more Brazilian hospitality.
3/20 8am 23.47S 41.51W 1162nm gone, 4231nm to go.