July/August 2010 Sailing Trip — Day 22

It’s started to get hard to remember what day of the week and what date “day n” is. Today is Monday, August 16, and it’s day 22 of our trip.

Last December, when we were motoring back to Clearwater Beach from Ft. Myers Beach, the autopilot clutch started popping “out of gear”. We have a wheel-mounted autopilot currently (although we’re saving to install a belowdecks autopilot before too long) and the clutch handle would just suddenly swing out of the “engaged” position to the “free” position! “What now?” was our immediate thought, and we ended up tying the clutch handle into place.

Well, today, we took a long hard look at the autopilot. We removed the wheel from its shaft, then took the autopilot stuff off. It took a while to get all the pieces sorted out, and a couple of items arguably needed to have some dirt wiped off, but nothing was obviously wrong. So we reassembled it and remounted it on the wheel, then remounted the wheel. We exercised it a bit at the dock and the clutch wasn’t popping out of position, but we won’t be convinced until we’ve taken it out into the Gulf.

For many months now, I’ve been intending to put some strong padeyes into the cockpit to which we can attach our harnesses when things are really rough. I think what’s been stopping me is the as-yet-uncrossed barrier of drilling new holes in the boat. But, today, we took the plunge and carefully marked, then drilled three little 3/8″ holes on the outside wall of the aft-most lockers in the cockpit. We then mounted the padeye with the right screws (Barbara operating the screws and me below in the “garage” operating the nuts). And then we promptly realized that we still needed to bed the padeye and its backing plate.

And now I’m really tired and frazzled and not a little anxious about having drilled holes in my boat!

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