Thursday, August 12

August 12, 2:30 PM PDT Position: 39-02 N, 129-59 W (359 miles to the Golden Gate Bridge) Speed: 7.2 kts, Course: 085 degrees magnetic
We are screaming home, with great winds and six-foot seas, and pointed directly towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We expect the wind to drop by tomorrow morning, but we are still on track for a Sunday arrival.
Yesterday saw us break our return-passage 24-hour speed record, with an 8PM – 8PM run of 170 miles. The skies have been cloudy, with occasional drizzle, but there have been patches of blue. At the moment we are enjoying some sun, sailing fast through the sparkling dark blue water.
This morning the autopilot shut itself off, which caused the boat to head off-course into the wind. Carl was on watch, and he quickly grabbed the wheel and put us back on course. We re-engaged the autopilot, only to have it shut off again after a few minutes. We then reconnected the Monitor windvane and it is once again steering us smoothly towards home.
The autopilot does consume a lot of electrical power, and the batteries have been depleted pretty far, so the low battery voltage may have caused the autopilot failure. We haven’t wannted to run the engine to charge the batteries as we will want the fuel for motoring later, but we relented and charged for two hours. For now there’s no need to disengage the Monitor (which is mechanical and uses no power), but when we begin motoring we will try the autopilot again. It’s always possible that the autopilot is sufferiing from the effects of salt water (and not low voltage), and if this is the case once the Monitor no longer has the wind it needs to operate we will hand-steer instead. VALIS was hand-steered all the way to Hawaii, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Our AIS system is once again detecting freighters, but over the last couple of days only one or two have been close enough see by eye. We are also seeing the vapor trails from jet planes, some obviously heading towards, or leaving from San Francisco. Signs of civilization!
And that’s about it. Nothing very exciting, but these days we enjoy the simple pleasures of our fairly random discussions, the beautiful surroundings, the way our boat responds to the wind and waves, and the anticipation of seeing our loved ones very soon.
Paul / VALIS

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