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Barry's Blog #85 - The autopilot fix

Dead auto pilot

"If you want any boat work done you've got to go there."

"Hundreds of technicians. Someone will be able to fix that."

"Prices are good too, because there's so much competition for the work."

These and plenty more similar comments are what we heard from many different sailors when we told them the story of our pre-loved Raymarine ST6002 autopilot control head failure after just 3 hours of use.

The place they were talking about was Marmaris on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and we'd just dropped anchor there in the northern part of the big bay.

Hello Marmaris

It's an interesting town. Very layered. There's the attractive waterfront with an eclectic mix of expensive yachts and gulets and the usual overpriced bars and restaurants.

One street back from that there are a ton of bars and nightclubs which throb loudly until the early hours in the high season.

Then as you wander deeper inland you discover a myriad of shops and a fair sized bazaar selling everything you can imagine.

Eventually, if you wander far enough you find yourself in a typical Turkish town with normal priced supermarkets, restaurants and shops.

However none of that interested us, we were looking for a particular man in a particular shop on a particular street. His name is Nail and he'd been recommended to us by a Turkish sailor while we were still in Kaş. "If you have problems with your electronic systems, this man can fix it for you," was what we'd been told.

With some help from Google maps we found the shop we wanted which had a sign above the front door that proclaimed in bold red letters that "We buy and sell second hand yacht equipment".

Stepping inside, our eyes surveyed an Aladdin's cave of boat parts. There was an audible oooh from both Aannsha and I. We love shops like these.

Nail welcomed us with a big smile and a hearty handshake. "Please sit down. Welcome. Please." as he gestured towards two small chairs in front of his cluttered desk. While Nail finished dealing with his current customer we sat down and allowed our eyes to wander over the walls of shelves packed tightly with pre-owned electronic and mechanical boat parts.

What can I help you with?

After a brief conversation with Nail explaining about our autopilot problem we left the broken ST6002 with him and decided to have a look in one or two marine chandlers and see what price a bosun's chair would be.

Fatal mistake. In Marmaris all of the marine chandlers and repair shops are grouped together in three streets and there should be a checkpoint before you enter that zone where someone checks to see if you have any credit cards on your person and confiscates them for your own good.

We spent nearly 2 hours and looked in almost every store. I shudder to think how much we spent in total but it was all things that we really needed for the operational safety and benefit of A B Sea. Honest!

In no particular order we bought;

Stainless steel 50 metre (164 feet) drum of floating shore line.

Inline washable fuel filter for the outboard engine

Hose clamps

Rope splicing tool and whipping line

Bosun's chair

Throwable life ring

Stainless steel snap hook

Block of electrical cable connectors

An Australian courtesy flag

All round white LED light for the dinghy

Eventually I was lured away by the promise of a cold beer, plus we were meeting up with Cath and her husband who were following our journey on YouTube. They were in Marmaris to buy a yacht of their own and they wanted to pick our brains.

The autopilot

The following day around lunchtime I received a Whatsapp message from Nail. The autopilot was fixed. Please come and collect it. There was no mention of how much it was going to cost.

With butterflies in my stomach from excitement we headed back to the repair shop. Nail showed me the functioning unit and when I asked how much he said "100 dollars US." That converted to 597 Turkish Lira.

Haggling on price is normal in Turkey but whenever we'd tried it before we failed miserably. This time we somehow manage to get the final price down to 450 Lira. We have no idea how difficult the fix was or what the parts cost but we were so happy to have a working autopilot that the price, which converts to AU$108, seemed fair to us.

Back on board A B Sea I refitted the autopilot and fired up the electronics. It all looked good, the test of course would be when we started sailing and activated the autopilot controller.

Goodbye Marmaris

We'd arrived on Wednesday and we pulled up the anchor on Saturday. As well as the autopilot repair and the shopping we'd bought some fresh provisions, written our blogs and edited together another episode for YouTube. It was time to move on.

We had wanted to top off our petrol and diesel fuel as we left Marmaris but when we stuck the nose of A B Sea around the corner we could see that there was already another yacht at the fuel dock so we decided to just head on out of the bay and on to our next destination which was Bozukkale.

There was some wind and we got both sails out but as ever it was fickle wind and our sails were in and out several times on the 4 hour hop. I'm pleased to report that the autopilot functioned very well. It did switch itself to standby once, which is a slight concern. So we'll be keeping a close eye on it.

At Bozukkale there are 3 restaurant jetties in the beautiful bay. When we'd visited the bay the first time around in October 2018 we stopped at the first one on the port side as you enter the bay. This time we would be trying the restaurant at the head of the bay which had been recommended by Jim as he liked the way they brought you complementary biscuits and hot Turkish tea once you'd tied up.

I'll tell you how that all works out in next week's blog and explain why our buddy boat Acheron ends up towing another small yacht all the way from Bozukkale to Datcha.

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