We are up early on Thanksgiving morning, pulling anchor, hailing the drawbridge to confirm their 7am opening, and hailing the St. Augustine Marina to secure a spot on their dock for fuel and pump-out. Fully fueled and pumped-out, we make our way down the ICW for Daytona Beach and our new autopilot – Mark 2.0, or Super Mark: he is scheduled to be delivered to the UPS store the following day.
Eight hours and two running-agrounds later, we have a new saying:
“We are the dynamic duo! Sara runs us aground and Stéphane gets us off!” (I now pay much more attention to the channel markers than to our iPad navigation).
Daytona does not have too many anchorages that work well for us since we have a draft of six feet. Because this, we have to be very careful when leaving the channel and must always consider the tides. For example: say we anchor in eight feet of water at high tide and say the tide range is three feet. Come low tide, Free Range will be sitting on the river bottom with a mean lean in five feet of water. Ce n’est pas bien (this is no good)!
Anyways, we secure what we think is a decent anchorage – deep enough and near to a park where we can dinghy ashore and catch a bus to the UPS store.
Free Range anchored securely, we get to the business of prepping Thanksgiving dinner, Free Range style: steaks, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy.
We spent a ROUGH night at this anchorage – lots of chop and lots of rolling. Next day, it’s time to get Mark 2.0. We dinghy ashore, grab a bus, and pick up Super Mark.
Do you know how an autopilot works? It’s okay, I didn’t either.
Super Mark is two parts: the brain (computer) and the brawn (mechanical arm). You, the human, tell Super Mark’s brain where you want to go. Super Mark’s brawn keeps the boat headed in the direction that you have chosen by taking orders from the brain. Super Mark’s brain is installed in the cockpit and his arm is installed under the cockpit – it is attached to the rudder post (the rudder is what steers the boat).
So say you want to go south. You plug in a heading like 180 degrees into Super Mark’s brain. Super Mark’s brain will now talk to Super Mark’s arm telling the arm if it needs more or less power and how to apply that power to the rudder in order to keep the proper heading. The arm then moves the rudder in such a way to keep the boat on its 180 degree heading.
And…we believe we have success! Tomorrow we will take Free Range out and about and test Mark 2.0.