Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hot damn, he's good!

Please welcome our newest crew member: Ray!

Ray steered us tirelessly all over Puget Sound this weekend - doing a much better job than I could have done myself.

In this photo, Ray is helming us across from Shilshole to Port Madison, basically straight west on a compass course of 280° (as always, if you click on the photo, you can see a full-sized version). You can see that in the fierce tidal cross-current, Ray has decided that to get us to follow the desired 280° course, he needs to actually steer 266°. He did this all on his own - I didn't have to prompt him in any way.

Further, he is maintaining that desired course while holding us within 7 feet of our desired track. I am not embarrassed to say that I could not do that, except possibly for a transitory instant.

Ray does not become tired, nor is he distracted by events in the cockpit, or on the water.  Otto, our previous autopilot, would not only get distracted when we crossed a big wake - he would loose his freakin' mind, running the wheel from one stop to the other.  Ray takes it all coolly in stride.

Finally, Ray steers with finesse.  Otto would turn the wheel a minimum of 1/8 of a turn each time he decided that a course correction was required.  Of course, that meant that we zigzagged back and forth over the desired course, never actually settling on it.  As for the track?  Well Otto professed to not know anything about this thing called 'track'.  All he would do is steer a direction.  Poorly.

On the other hand, our new steersman can make the most minute corrections to the rudder position... he actually can accept and properly respond to course correction requests of 1°.

I guess it is time to grant Ray a permanent berth on Eolian.  No more just hanging on his wires in the cockpit - he needs a proper, permanent mount.  The UHMW polyethylene sheeting to make it is on order.

And he also needs a better report of the rudder position.  Tho the glassed in foam block/plywood mount for the transducer is solid, the bailing wire and string setup connecting it to the rudder quadrant needs to be replaced with a real, solid connection.

He has earned it.

Welcome aboard, Ray!



Mike said...

I like the name Ray!

We have a ST6000 but I can not get it to steer a course that accurately. How do you adjust the XTE to that small an increment? I think ours only makes a course adjustment when it is off by 100' or so.


bob said...

Hi Mike -

I am not very familiar with all the adjustments that the ST5000 offers yet... but I suspect that the right knob for this might be the "Rudder Response" (aka rudder gain?) I have mine set to 7...


Courtney said...

Congratulations on your new addition!

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