Vendée Globe: Miranda Merron: “The Black Art of Electricity”

by Vendée Globe 14 Nov 09:01 UTC 14 November 2020 Vendée Globe: Miranda Merron © Campagne de France

It’s a beautiful starlit night. Wind speed 3 – 4 knots, gusting 5… (measured at the masthead 30+ metres above sea level – not quite as windy down here!). This is an improvement nevertheless. Being beclamed on the ocean does not mean a flat sea. The boat rolls in the swell, causing the sails to slat from side to side, which is not very good for them or the rig.

My biggest fear on a boat (apart from lightning, and fire) is to have to deal with the black art of an electrical or electronic problem. On Campagne de France, I have the luxury of being able to switch between the B&G and the NKE autopilots depending on conditions. Given the distance, it’s a good thing to have two reliable working autopilots. So I was rather dismayed when the NKE autopilot stopped responding on day 2 of the race.

However, of bad things come good – the light airs provided the ideal time to sort out a couple of matters, and especially get the NKE autopilot working again. Technical advice being allowed, David from NKE did an excellent job of helping me through the diagnosis, which turned out to be a faulty switch, and fix via a process of elimination. It did involve the use of a voltmeter and some re-wiring, something I might do once a decade. Whatsapp via satellite is extraordinarily useful. Getting it working felt like a victory. I finished just before sunset. – Miranda/ Campagne de France

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