Monday, September 27, 2010

9/16/10- A rough day for Jon

Thursday - grey drizzle
Anomaly in the "rare" fog of Baddeck

Ann writes:

After a bagel and espresso at Been There, Jon discovered that the auto-pilot head died again. We would have to delay our departure in an effort to revive it. I'll let him give you the details.

Not quite Starbucks
By 3:30, we decided to depart with no auto-pilot controls- the auto-pilot itself is working, but you can't adjust any of the settings. I suggested to Jon that he make a proposal to Raymarine that he go and fix all this buggy equipment that they are producing. There are a lot of "features" that just shouldn't be in equipment of this caliber!

The sun was peaking through, but the weather quickly deteriorated into steady rain and poor visibility. We passed through the Barra Strait Bascule-type bridge during a dry patch, but soon both retreated below for a time. Passing through another narrow entrance, this time to Little Harbour, we disturbed a Bald Eagle and 2 Gr. Blue Herons. The warm light from the windows of the German-run Cape Breton Smokehouse was a beacon in the grey dusk. We bundled into the dinghy and I struggled onto the high dock in full rain gear. There were only 2 other parties in the dining room, both german speaking. We proceeded to have a delicious dinner of Smoked Salmon appetizer followed by my tender grilled stiploin with garlic butter while Jon had a moist cajun salmon and 1/2 a head of cauliflower. The hostess could see Jon was not eating the cauliflower and asked if he needed more butter! She talked a long time to everyone in the restaurant. Though it was difficult to communicate, we managed to learn that the large ketch in the harbor, Nessie of the 7 Seas, is theirs and up for sale. She sounded sad to sell it, but it's a great ocean going yacht and not much of a daysailer.

Jon writes a rant:

Intending to leave just after espresso, I switched on the instrument system only to observe that the Raymarine ST70 Autopilot head had failed in exactly the same manner as last month in Cap a l'Aigle: splash screen, then nothing. Since we had both internet access and cell phone service at the dock, I began an effort to get it replaced prior to our leaving the Bras d'Or. The service technician at Raymarine's Canadian representatives wanted me to attempt to reflash the software, and so we waited until nearly 3 PM for the emailed file to arrive. By this time the weather was threatening, but we set out anyway towards a dark sky in the south.

Soon it was raining, and beginning to blow directly (as always?) from the direction of intended travel, and now time was short to arrive at the reportedly narrow entrance to Little Harbor. So we motored into it as the rain began to come down in sheets. I soon had quite enough of it, and began to hide in the companionway to keep the rain from stinging my eyes, navigating by looking at the nav station chartplotter below and steering the boat using the autopilot remote control. This control allows us to engage the autopilot even though the normal display head is broken, the caveat being that one cannot adjust the "response" setting and so the autopilot saws the wheel back and forth in a mad and frenetic attempt to keep the boat exactly on assigned course when a variance of one or two degrees would be perfectly acceptable with only 1/10th of the steering action. However Raymarine has seen fit to reset this response setting every time the autopilot is powered up, and requires a working display head to adjust it down, the same display head that had failed twice in a month.

And so we motored in rain, fog, headwinds and a nasty short chop through the various islands and shoals towards Little Harbor. The entrance was narrow, but deep right in the middle and we were able to drive in and anchor close to the southwestern shore. The harbor is quite sheltered and the anchor seemed well set, so even though the rain continued I decided to launch the dinghy and see if we could land at The Smoke House, which was the reason for coming here. We did not even know if they were still open for the season. The Smoke House was offered up by several people we had met along the way as something not to miss. Run by a German couple, it features smoked salmon (and other) dishes served in a finely finished log structure. We landed the dinghy on their wharf (still wearing full foul weather gear) and walked up the lit path (it was by now dark) and into a beautiful log building cozily heated by a large stone fireplace. Yes they were open for dinner, have a seat.

We quickly noticed that there were only two other tables occupied, and that we were the only non-German speaking people in the restaurant. We ordered and were presented with perfectly prepared food artfully presented, a stunning contrast from the deep fat fried food in Newfoundland and even the unremarkable restaurants in the tourist haven of Baddeck. All prepared and served by the couple who had sailed the large steel ketch anchored in the harbor from Europe and built the log restaurant by hand.

The following day it blew hard and rained continuously, simply a miserable day to go anywhere, so we stayed below. I used the time to reprogram all of the Raymarine instruments with the latest software, this experience similar to a Microsoft Windows update complete with stone age user interface and false error reports (written instructions: "ignore the error message which will report failure half way through…."). Then a couple of hours of fiddling to recover all of the settings lost in the process.

'Nessie of the Seven Seas' anchored in front of the Smoke House restaurant on a nicer day

'Anomaly' is currently lying Pilotage Wharf, Halifax, Nova Scotia

No comments:

Post a Comment