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Barry's Blog #137 - Two well travelled items

Let's start off by talking about the cutlass bearing saga. We figured that while we were hauled out at the boat yard here on the Greek island of Evia that we should complete some of the bigger maintenance jobs that should be done every 5 years or so and can't be done while A B Sea is in the water.

Removing the prop and prop shaft meant that we could replace the stern gland and the cutlass bearing. Both relatively straightforward jobs if you can get the parts either locally or delivered by courier.

The stern gland was easily delivered from the UK and so was the first cutlass bearing. Unfortunately the diameter of the bearing was 0.5mm too big. After much emailing a replacement bearing was sent from the UK but it got stuck in the office of Speedex couriers in Chalkida, the big town 1.5 hours drive south of the boat yard. After a month of waiting for delivery and with the assistance of Evgenia, the lady who runs the boat yard, we contacted Speedex head office in Athens and they informed us that the bearing could not be delivered as there was no phone number for the courier to contact anyone.

The eye rolling part of me wondered why they couldn't simply turn up at the address on the package and see if they could talk to someone at the boat yard.

Speedex Athens assured us that they had the package and now armed with Evgenia's mobile number they said they'd get the bearing sent to us.

About 15 minutes after I thought it was all sorted and we'd be seeing the new bearing soon, Evgenia came to the boat and said "There is a problem." It turns out that Speedex was no longer in possession of the bearing and had returned the item to DHL couriers. A phone call to DHL Athens and we were once again assured that now armed with a phone number DHL would get the package to us.

A week later and slightly surprised that the package had not been delivered on Thursday or Friday, the usual delivery days for Speedex in this part of the world, we received an email from Tom at Exalto UK saying that he'd just had a returned item notification from DHL. There was more rolling of eyes.

Tom very generously said he'd get the bearing sent straight back out at no cost to us. We are now armed with a new package tracking number and I intend to stay on top of monitoring the progress on a daily basis. Hopefully there will be no more eye rolling.

The autopilot saga

When we bought A B Sea she was equipped with an ancient Autohelm ST7000 autopilot control unit and it worked very well until one day, as we were coming back into our berth in the town harbour of Kaş, Turkey, it just reached the end of its electronic life and packed up.

We spoke to the Raymarine guy who serviced the area and he assured us that it could not be repaired due to its age. However it could be replaced with a Raymarine ST6002 and he had a pre-owned one he could sell us and could install it next time he was in the area. Perfect.

As spring sprung in Turkey we took A B Sea out for a shakedown cruise before heading off for our summer trip through the Aegean Sea. Sadly the newly installed ST6002 packed up after an hour and a half. We made a plan to hand steer all the way up the Turkish coast to Marmaris where we'd get a highly recommended tech guy to fix the unit. All was well and within a day or so we had the repaired unit reinstalled at the helm. We then sailed quite a distance through the Aegean Sea until we reached the Greek island of Ios where we stayed at anchor for about 10 days. I had a morning routine of powering up the navigation system so that we could transmit our AIS signal. One morning after powering everything up and going below I was greeted by alarm bells going off in the cockpit. Once up there I saw that the ST6002 had packed up again.

Ios to Marmaris

Luckily we'd met up with our mate Jim on his yacht Acheron and as he was going back to Turkey and would be stopping off at Marmaris he offered to take the broken unit with him to get the tech guy to find out what was wrong.

About two weeks later we heard from Jim who told us that he'd taken the unit to the guy, who'd proceeded to connect it up on the test bench and it had powered up instantly and worked perfectly.

The question now was how were we going to get the unit back on board A B Sea. Between us we hatched a plan. Our son Luke had said that he'd be visiting us somewhere in the Greek islands that summer (2019) so if Jim could mail the unit to Luke in Brisbane, Australia he could bring it to us when he visited in a couple of months. More hand steering in the meantime.

From Marmaris, Jim eventually sailed back to Kaş marina where his son would be visiting him for a holiday the following week and his son would take the unit back to Dundee in Scotland where's Jim's company, who ship things worldwide all of the time, would mail it to our son Luke in Australia.

The unit arrived in Australia just as Luke landed himself a really good job and as he'd only just started he didn't have any leave time available, his holiday plan to visit us was then dead in the water. No pun intended.

Brisbane to Limni

As we were still enroute to our winter haul out destination and wanting to get there before winter weather began we would not be stopping at any one Greek island long enough to wait for a package to arrive all the way from Australia.

Once A B Sea was hauled out and we'd settled into life at the boat yard we gave Luke the address and we were eventually reunited with the autopilot in November 2019.

In total the autopilot travelled 19,987 nautical miles or 37,017 kilometres or 23,001 miles.

Fast forward to June 2020 and as you'll see in this week's YouTube video we finally got around to installing the much travelled ST6002 autopilot control head. Does it work? To find out take a look at the video, there's also heaps more stuff in the episode that I don't have time to go into here, but I promise you'll enjoy it.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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