Steer­ing by hairdryer

Yachting Monthly - - YACHT CHARTER -

By Michael Salano The cruise had started well enough, sail­ing along the Turk­ish Aegean coast. We set sail for Çift­lik, some 30 miles dis­tant. A reach­ing wind took us jaun­tily to the way­point at Buzuk Buku where the sea was busy with other ves­sels that were also cut­ting the cor­ner. We bucked in the cross­ing swells and I trimmed the au­topi­lot to be­gin our turn. Slowly the boat be­gan a gen­tle turn to star­board; I checked the con­trols – I was sure I had se­lected for a port turn. An­other swell lifted the boat and as we came down into the trough with a thump, the au­topi­lot went berserk. The boat slewed side­ways and we were strug­gling for con­trol in the busy sea­way. I hit ‘Standby’, grabbed the wheel and wres­tled us back onto course. I looked at my wife Ju­lia. ‘Have you just been be­low and moved any­thing?’ ‘No, ab­so­lutely not,’ came the firm re­ply.’ Set­tled on our new course, I tried the au­topi­lot again. The boat im­me­di­ately veered some­where to­wards Libya. Hand steer­ing it was then. It was only when we reached har­bour that I could in­ves­ti­gate. Even­tu­ally, I went in search of the flux­gate com­pass. De­spite know­ing ev­ery inch of my boat, it took a while to lo­cate the tiny unit tucked up hard un­der­neath the locker work­top in our cabin. I could see noth­ing out of place, but as I re­moved my head from the locker, I caught sight of the cul­prit. On the shelf above, within half an inch of the com­pass, was Ju­lia's hairdryer, which had slid out of place when we heeled over. At least I know where the flux­gate com­pass is now!

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