I am currently just feeling relief at being stopped. Although I spent much of the time just reading, I was constantly ready to jump up and attend to an emergency.
I departed about 3pm, two days ago, after going for a swim to scrape the bottom - I had a long way to go so going a little bit faster would make a big difference. But by the time I had all that ready, it was late afternoon already. Anyway, I knew I'd be sailing over night, so it didn't make so much difference when I left. I wanted to test the new self-steering, but also I wanted to test myself
The old-self-steering was enough to demonstrate that a design was possible, but it didn't really work that great. Since then I have been day dreaming about a better version of that design... in the last couple of weeks I built that on the hackland cnc:
Same basic idea as the old one, but everything is more deliberate. Anyway, that was ready last week. I was just gonna sail to waiheke, but it worked, so I kept on going. Also, @lucas and @dangerousbeans were out, so we all sailed to coromandel and hung out there a while.
I wanted to give it a good test - the previous one I had constructed in the bay of islands, and used it to sail back, so the obvious test was sail to the bay of islands. After a while, the perfect mix of fairly promising winds and not needing to be on a video call for a few days happened.
I set out in pretty light winds, but sailing smoothly, taking this opportunity to write some code: I had previously made a small js app that used the phone's GPS to tell me current location, heading and speed. http://odominictarr.github.io/geolocation-demo I wanted to update that a bit to get average speed over the last minute, 15 minutes, etc... I took this opportunity to do that...
Until just a few hours in I was becalmed... right next to an island that I had camped on for a week, 11 years ago so I stopped to check how it was doing. The main thing I remember was: a lot of rats! It had gotten a lot bushier since then, maybe the rats had been exterminated. I didn't stay to find out. There was no wind, so I went back to my boat and made dinner...
And then just as it was getting dark, the wind started gusting through the gap between the two parts of the island! I weighed anchor and got underway. I was going fast on a beam reach, (sailing across the wind, the fastest point of sail).
But now I was getting quite remote, and sailed out of cell tower range, and then I discovered that the location api does not function in android chrome when a page is in offline mode! Luckily, I had this alcatel one flip phone, that would you believe it, has a modern browser in there, and had an older version of my demo app happens to be cached on it. That's how I navigated: get lat/long from the phone, and mark it on the chart every hour, using the compass as a rough guide where to point the boat (my boat is quite small and gets pushed around a lot by the waves so it's hard to sail it to a compass bearing more accurate than 5 degrees, and it's impossible not to veer from side to side in gusts too)
As I got around Coromandel peninsula, I turned and was now sailing with the wind on the quarter (from the back, but to the side) it seems this is the most difficult angle for the self steering, because the waves push you to the side. The wind was also building, in my log book I noted I had reefed the mainsail at 2242 (analogy: gone down a gear, for more control) But I made progress anyway, starting to pass great barrier island around 0130 hours... by 0400 I was passed great barrier, and just had the mokuhinau islands to pass to my port (left). At 0445 I put the second reef in the main, and set the jib poled-out, one sail either side, and it balanced down wind quite nicely.
All this time the self-steering was doing most of the work. I spent most of the time in the cabin, reading or taking quick naps (when not too close to hazards, such as rocks) jumping on deck periodically to check progress, or whenever their was a weird noise, or the the way the boat moved felt different.
At 0500 I noted that "a very slender cresent moon has just risen" Indeed, I realized that I don't think I had ever seen the cresent moon rise before - you need to be up very early. It was very thin and bright orange.
By 0630 I was clear of the mokohinaus, and now had only the pacific ocean in front of me. I took a longer nap this time, when I awoke, 0753 (I think I had an alarm for 8, I would never not set an alarm, in case the wind changed, and blew me back towards land) I realized this was the farthest out I had sailed.
Next, I had to figure out the next landmark the poor knight's islands. (I was disapointed to learn that the name of this island is nothing to do with a sect of knights that take a vow of poverty, but that someone thought the islands resembled french toast, aka, poor knights pudding)
Although the islands are towering cliffs all around, when I found them they where just a smudge on the horizon... so I sailed towards that.
At 930, I was getting hungry, I had breakfast, and second coffee. While relaxing with the coffee I heard a funny noise. It wasn't a banging, and it didn't happen again, and I was drinking a coffee, so I left it. When I did next go on deck, I was surprised to discover my jib (the front sail) was completely torn across!
I was surprised, because it wasn't even that windy! and this sail had already survived so much! This is my old sail that I practice sail repair on, so I'll have a good practice job when I get back to a sewing machine. The we were heading down wind, and the waves had settled, so I set the spinnaker and we tore off down wind towards the poor knights.