Wheeler is now going steady!
Last September, I introduced our third crew member, Wheeler, our auto pilot. I am happy to announce that he is now ‘going steady‘ with Carmine (the Garmin chartplotter). You see, up until the other day, we had a chartplotter on which we could plot routes and we had an auto pilot that could steer a course. They weren’t in a position to communicate though, having never been introduced. Now, with the help of just 2 tiny wires, that has all changed.
Having heard that others (most people?) have them connected, I decided to do the unthinkable, read the manuals. In doing so, I was inspired to believe that yes, it might be possible, but it still wasn’t at all clear how to make it happen. I then Googled to find the info on how to connect them, but still had no luck. Ultimately, I just took a bit of an educated guess and connected the NMEA output on the Garmin to the NMEA input on the autopilot. That wire, plus one other going to the ground bus bar and bang, it worked!
So, when Wheeler and Carmine are talking, they function like this:
- We set up a route on the chartplotter
- Begin navigating the route on the chartplotter
- Steer the boat onto a course close to the first leg of the route
- Engage the autopilot
- Hit “Track” on the autopilot
- It will then ask us if we want to adjust course to follow, giving us the new bearing
- Hit “Track” again to confirm yes
Engaged as such, the autopilot will continue to make adjustments to the course to follow the route to the waypoints we plotted.
What this won’t do, that I thought it would, is automatically turn onto the next leg of a route when a waypoint is reached. I guess that would make the liability lawyers crazy. Instead, the autopilot will beep at us and we have to hit the “Track” button to say yes, please turn onto that new leg. Oh well, it works, and we love it! Let’s hope that Wheeler and Carmine continue to get along for a long time to come!
I wrote yesterday that we bailed on bashing across the banks to head to French Cay. Well, you have to pay the piper some time and we did so yesterday, motoring for almost 8 hours to get across the shallow water with a 15-20 knot headwind. What is amazing to us is that this body of water is so big that when in the middle, you can see no land and yet for as far as the eye can see, it is no more than about 10-12 feet deep!
After rounding the final corner we were actually able to SAIL! The sad part is that we were able to make virtually the same speed under sail for that small leg of the journey that we had for the previous 7 hours of bashing while running both engines.
Cockburn Harbor in South Caicos, where we are currently anchored. Today will be a non-travel day.