Travels of SV Far Niente

Sunday, December 06, 2009

We departed Vero Beach on Saturday, November 28th around 8 AM headed towards the Ft. Pierce inlet. Within minutes of entering the ICW, I engaged the autopilot and it immediately blew the breaker.

As we hand steered to Ft. Pierce, I wracked my brain as to what could be the cause. Shortly before we arrived the lightbulb in my head lit up. The old adage "what did you work on last" hit me. While installing the AIS system I had upgraded the buss bar that provides connecting points for several wires.

We dropped anchor in Ft. Pierce and I dove back into the aft cockpit locker to re-check my work. It didn't take me long to discover my mistake! I had inadvertantly misconnected one of the wires which supplies power to the autopilots drive unit. I corrected the wiring and we raised anchor and went out the inlet into the ocean. Our original plan was to proceed to the Lake Worth area and turn east and cross to Luycaya, Bahamas. Once in the ocean I engaged the autopilot and it blew the breaker again! Not good.

As we again hand steered south I read the manual and discovered a warning. "DO NOT ground the course computer"! It seems that when I mis-connected one of the wires that provides power to the drive unit, it in fact acted as a ground, frying the circuit board in the course computer. Not good!

Along the way we decided we were not going to cross until we had the autopilot working. We arrived at Lake Worth that evening in the dark and picked our way into the anchorage and dropped the hook. The next day my friend Bill from Veranda came over and doubled checked what I thought to be the problem and confirmed I was about to pay the price for a self-inflicted wound! I hate that.

I called Raymarine (the manufacturer) and discussed getting the computer repaired. They said "sure, send it in and within 4-6 weeks we'll get it back to you". 4 to 6 WEEKS! That won't work for us. I then attemped to buy a new replacement mother board only to find out they didn't have one. They only repair, not replace. CRAP!

Winding up this tale of woe, West Marine in Lauderdale had a new upgraded computer in stock...the X-30. The X must stand for Xtra expensive! Good fortune finally gave us a break as we learned that a friends son, who crews on a Mega Yacht was in a marina about a mile from where we were anchored....and he had a car!

Brian graciously loaned it to us and off we went. We returned to the boat with the new computer and a much lighter wallet. A weather window presented itself on December 1 and rather than install the new computer we headed for Ft. Lauderdale. We picked up a mooring ball that afternoon and said hello to our friends Bob and Mary Lou on Cygnus who also were there. The following day I installed the computer and did the basic programming. We were finally good to go.

Thursday morning we caught the 5AM opening of the 17th bridge and head for Bimini. Seas and winds were light in the morning but steadily built through out the day.

We arrived in Bimini On Thursday, December 4 about 4:30PM. It was our first time here and clearing Customs and Immigration has never been easier. We took a slip at Bimini Blue Water marina which is also a very nice facility. I expect we'll depart here tomorrow, December 7 and head for the Tongue of the Ocean and then proceed south.


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