Las Palmas to Cabo Verde, Day 4

Total trip distance 442nm, or almost exactly halfway to Cabo Verde. Made 179nm in the last 24 hours, helped by sustained boat speeds around 9 knots all night, with extended surfing on some waves bumping our speed over the ground to 12 knots. The ride was comfortable despite the 3-4 metre seas because we were running with the waves and accelerating with every swell in stead of being rolled by it. On the whole it was stable and peaceful down below except for a big roll every so often. Batteries at -200Ah (50%).

The autopilot disengaged around 4:30AM while Gabriele was on watch. He took the helm immediately and Mariona, who happened to be in the cockpit at the time, alerted the rest of the crew.

The #3 genoa was furled, leaving only the staysail on starboard. This slowed the boat to about 6.5 knots, but the ride became much more rolly.

While hand steering in winds gusting to 30 knots and short confused seas of 3 – 4 metres we attempted to restart the autopilot a few times. It would hold the helm but would not turn it. After a few seconds it disengaged with “Motor Stalled” error on the display. We gave up and concentrated on steering the boat. Gerhard remained a the helm after a few cups of coffee and the crew tuned in.

When it got light, around 6AM, Maria came up. We tried the “Auto” button, and suddenly the autopilot was working flawlessly again, only its reputation still in tatters…. Investigations (the Spanish Inquisition) are about to start!

The crew were all asked to spend most of their watches yesterday hand steering, which was either fortuitous or the cause of the autopilot going on strike in protest, who knows? The watch schedule has been amended to always have the next watch on deck as backup, in case of another hissy fit on the part of the autopilot.