We found ourselves a little over 2* south of the Equator and in a torrent of sequential squalls – all day long. I don't think we have seen this much rain in 6 years - combined. The auto pilot doesn't like the force of the squally waves and chose a particularly gnarly squall in which to crap out. Carolyne and I took turns hand steering while Jim went to inspect things. The pump apparently blew itself apart. Hydraulic fluid was everywhere. It took an hour or so, but Jim fished out all the little pieces and rebuilt the unit – no specs and since he didn't take the unit apart he was just guessing how to re-build it – but she is back in working order... thankfully! We do carry spare auto pilot parts, by the way, including a spare pump – should Jim's re-build fail down the road.
When we bought Hotspur she came with numerous canvas and Strattaglass panels for an enclosed cockpit – none of which we have ever used with the exception of 2 small side panels we sometimes put up to reduce chill at night. With pouring rain, we dug out the panels and installed them – wishing now that we had replaced every zipper... no telling how old they are, but they are certainly shot. What luxury, though, to have a practically dry cockpit while being pelted by stinging angry gusty rain!
Our bimini was leaking a bit we noticed a few days ago during a drizzle so Jim filled a spray bottle with Thompson's and during a dry spell went to town on the Sunbrella. Thompson's is a fabulous water repellent (we got ours at Home Depot in Mexico) and now there are no raindrops that keep falling on our heads.
Chafe has been our biggest nemesis of late. It's shocking how the same line in the same place is totally fine for 2 weeks and then it moves an inch or two and in 3 hours time it is nearly chafed through. That is what happened with our jib sheet today – brand new! The two braid Class I nylon – chafed completely through the cover and partially through the core. We now check for chafe every few hours during daylight. Any chafe zones on the rigging that we can reach while underway we can wrap with firehose. Anything we can't reach will have to wait until we are at anchor and can hoist Jim up in the bosun's chair.
All the sails I went over with a fine tooth comb before I left Snug Harbor Sails. They are faring well overall. The jib needs some handwork at the leech near the clew and I need to adjust the puckerstring again at the head. The mainsail appears to be in good overall condition. We lost another slide at the batten end. And the lowest full batten has a tendency at times to twist inside the batten pocket. That's not good. The mizzen sail is brand new – I made it myself. It's beautiful – if I do say so!
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