Today’s the day! Haul in day. (Or rather March 7th was the day)
We were a little nervous because only a few days earlier another boat had been dropped out of the slings onto the concrete floor as they were hauling in, but we placed the slings exactly where I wanted them and not long later Hannah Penn was being lifted and driven to the launch spot.
We had fenders at the ready but it all went smoothly, we weren’t quite ready to leave yet so after we were in the water we rafted up next to SV Danae who were due to be hauled out in a couple of days.
The main thing we wanted to do was tidy the boat which still had tools everywhere! And make sure the rudder stuffing was no longer leaking.. it wasn’t! Yay
After a night there we were set and headed off to the mooring buoys across the estuary from the marina, but on the way out I went to put the autopilot on and it didn’t work..
A quick skip back to right before getting hauled out.. we were sailing toward the marina and the autopilot made the wheel jolt quickly, sitting in the cockpit I didn’t think much of it immediately as it seemed like we were maintaining a straight course and the wheel was turning only very slightly from side to side as normal, but after a few minutes when I clicked a button to alter course, nothing happened.
The autopilot was still making a noise but wasn’t engaged with the wheel. After turning it all off an on again and it still not engaging there wasn’t much to do as we were being hauled out that day anyway. I decided to lock the wheel off and continue sailing, at that point Hannah Penn was lovely and balanced so we didn’t veer off course, we were about an hour out from dropping sails anyway.
Skip forwards and we were hauled out, and checked the autopilot which started working perfectly again, we thought ok, we’ll keep playing with it on land and if it stops working we will look into it further and if it keeps working we’ll leave it. Well, it kept working so didn’t give it another thought.
Back to the present and the autopilot failing. It was time to do some serious troubleshooting.
Hannah Penn has an Autohelm Type 1 chain drive motor which is a heavy-duty motor that connects to a large cog ⚙️ on one of the rods which runs back to the rudder. It has two pairs of cables running to it, two of which are for power, and the other two went to the brains of the autopilot and told the motor to engage/ disengage the clutch inside.
The port cockpit locker had to be emptied and the inside locker walls half dismantled along with the prop shaft lubricant applicator removed before being able to access the motor.
Finally, we were in and some greasy awkward positions later the chain was removed from the drive cog, motor, and wiring removed and the whole thing was out in the cockpit.
We soon found the problem, an easily fixable corroded connection which tells the motor to engage and disengage the clutch. Thankfully it was not too serious but we were very glad we fixed it on a nice stable mooring and not under sail halfway across an ocean!
So with it all back together, we could enjoy the rest of our time in Guadeloupe.
We had such lovely conditions sailing to our next anchorage on the island of Marie-Galante that Adam got in the dinghy and took some pics whilst I tacked back and forth in front of him.