Well today we cut the dock lines and left the slip for a week of adventure. The morning started by getting FatDash ready to leave. Sail covers off, everything stowed, engine running. Our neighbor Rob came back to his boat and helped us get out of the slip. It was not pretty. FatDash is like a woman that when se is dancing backwards she only turns to the left, in nautical terms she only backs to port. To get out of our marina we must back to the right, starboard. Fortunately the fairways, that is the space between the boats parked on different docks, are wide at Marina Palmira. We backed out going a little to port until we get to the boats on the neighboring dock. Then forwards with a hard port turn until we get back to our dock. Then again backing with a little turn to port, then forward with a hard turn to pot.
Well after this we are on our way. Oops in all the excitement we actually left early and our friends, Dave & Lorie on Double D, are not leaving for another ½ hour. Well we will motor slowly and we have some things to do to sea test the new autopilot. We go ahead and check out with the port captain and we are on our way. Keeping a watch for other boats is one the the important things that the helms person must do. On our way out we had the Sea Shepherd. This is an environmental group based in La Paz.
After we get outside of the La Paz harbor we start going in slow circles to align the compass as part of the setup of the autopilot.After a while the compass is aligned and we try out the autopilot. See we sailed/motored from San Francisco Bay to La Paz, over 2000 nautical miles, with someone standing at the helm always. This is the first time that we have had an autopilot. So we get FatDash headed for the islands and I push the button. Lisa goes now what? I say let go of the wheel. She lets go and the autopilot is steering the boat. Then Lisa asks, so how do I take over again? I reply, I don’t know. I start pushing buttons but nothing seems to turn it off. I press one button and it says STANDBY and I press another button and it says AUTO. We turn off the autopilot. Back to the instruction manual. Lisa is steering again. After reading the manual I find out that STANDBY is that the autopilot is no longer steering FatDash. Ok time for round two. I turn on the autopilot again, Lisa is steering the course we want to go and I press the button. AUTO is displayed and the autopilot is steering. I press the other button and Lisa is steering. Well now we know how to engage it and disengage it. I again press the button for the autopilot to take over and Lisa lets go. She sits there for about 10 minutes watching the boat maintain a steady course. Then she says “now what?”. I say relax. After another 20 minutes Lisa goes “This is cool but now what do I do?”. Having the autopilot is truly like having another crew person onboard except it doesn’t eat, drink, complain, or poop.