It’s 0500 on Tuesday, and we are motoring along at 8kts on fairly flat water about 50 miles off of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. As of 0100 the repaired autopilot was no longer repaired. We feared that there may be problems again as we were not able to replace a deformed bushing along with the damaged gear in the unit. We had hoped that the repair would hold out until Norwalk, but no such luck. Normally, hand steering isn’t that big a deal but The Abby has a nasty pull to port under power. As I understand it, the prop wash hits the rudder in an unbalanced way and kicks the rudder hard to the left. I am unaware of a fix for this except to just “horse” the wheel to one side when under power. If we had a favorable wind we could sail and the helm wouldn’t be a particularly big deal. Alas, that’s not the way it is when you are making passage.
Fortunately, with calm seas, hand steering is easier than it would have been under more aggressive conditions. Besides, we will be home on Wednesday so that means only about 18 hours more at the helm. For now we seem to be doing well with half hour stints at the wheel and the plan is to adjust the watches so that we are on for 4 hours and off for 4. We’ll see how that goes.