1052 UTC, 44/09n 37/15w, solent, 3 reefs, broad reaching, 040T @ 9.5 knots. Yesterday was difficult. No wind in the 1042 millibar (mb) high in the morning. Turned off pilot. Let boat drift in circles. Tried to sleep, couldn’t. Then a bit of wind to let us sail and wrap around high, but still less than 5 knots of wind to push us into the afternoon and evening. Finally gybed in evening to go toward stronger winds away from high.
In the late morning the pilot alarm sounded. Switched to backup pilot. Talked several times with Mark Wylie, our electronics guru, and we determined that the hydraulic ram had air in it. It should have only oil in it. The ram is a sealed unit, so we can’t so anything to repair it. We replaced the it with our spare, but had a similar problem although not as severe. Went through night with the pilot on its highest settings to work the replacement ram hard enough to move air so that the central throw distance is solid. We’ll see.
Much downwind forecast, with solid to strong winds. Sailing downwind is the hardest for the pilot to manage, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Our backup pilot is an electric worm drive motor ram. So if the main pilot and ram stop working, we have a backup for that, too.
Terrible news about Raphael Dinelli and his broken boom. He must finish. It’s an incredible thing he has done to sail around the world on solar panels. He must finish.