Friday, April 23, 2010

A Bit of Wind and Autopilot Woes

I had some nice moderate wind for a little while yesterday, 15-20 knots. I didn't fully realize that the conditions would be like this down here. Ever since I have been in the south Atlantic it's been either tons of wind or no wind. If it was earlier in the season I could go further south where the wind is more consistant but, though frustrating, it is safer up here.

Today there hasn't been much wind and I was moving earlier but right now I have 2 knots and I am just drifting. I had a bit of a scare earlier today. I have had trouble with my auto pilot pretty much from the beginning of my trip and it hasn't gotten better with time. There seems to always be some new problem. As most of you know I am down to one auto pilot with spare parts for repairs but it hadn't been working all that great. It really seems like he had just gone insane - not correcting when I was off course, steering all over the place when I was on course and occasionally steering the wrong way. There is nothing like auto pilot alarms and accidental gybes at four in the morning to start off the day.

Well, this morning my auto pilot was acting normal - normal being pretty abnormal. I was fiddling around with it trying a few different tricks that usually help it to behave a little better but this time when I disengaged the auto pilot and put it back into pilot mode it didn't work at all! I could hear the engine trying to turn the rudder, but the tiller was completely loose. I could steer with my hand while the auto pilot was engaged. Long story short I talked to my team, tried a few things but it still it didn't work.

The whole time I was thinking about hand steering across the rest of the Atlantic Ocean... not a very nice thought. The great thing about auto pilots is that you can go round the clock, you don't have to stop the boat to sleep or eat, you just keep going. If I was going to hand steer I would have to stop at night to sleep which would make my progress much, much slower than it has already been.

Also, hand steering on a warm sunny day is great, but not so great in the pouring rain with no sun and weather that seems to always be extreme - either no wind or a storm. I can safely say I was unhappy about the whole thing, of course I did appreciate that it had decided to act up during day light. That doesn't often happen. In fact, the last time I had serious trouble with it was about 10 at night, I wasn't able to get it going again till about 6 or 7 the next morning, and the conditions weren't nearly as nice and calm through that long night.

What I ended up doing is wiring the main auto pilot hydraulic ram and engine in the back to the back up auto pilot brain box. And its working!! The new problem is that the transmission fluid reservoir for that ram has a bad leak. So now I'm working on getting the leak stopped.

I am also trying to wash off the notes of which wires go where off of my arm. I didn't want to forget while I was in the back as it is the kind of place that you want to limit your trips in and out of, not the most comfortable thing climbing in and out. While I was looking at the wiring diagrams, I couldn't find any paper, and the only thing I could find to write with at the moment happened to be a Sharpie. I'm a little sore, and a little covered in sharpie, but, extremely happy to be down in the warm cabin tonight instead of out in the pouring rain!


  1. Hope there are no more woes. We hope there are more good news.
    Thanks from

  2. Thanks for the post.
    Hope for the best

  3. We are glad your story had a happy ending. We will keep praying for the auto pilot to keep working for you! Be safe Abby!

  4. Evenin' Abby! . . . good to hear from you as I was wondering how things were going.

    Interesting that what worked was to essentially swap autopilot "brain boxes." That should give you an idea of where the problem . . . and it may not be easily fixed at sea if the problem is with the circuitry on the "non functioning" brain. But for now you've got a solution. Get the fluid leak on the ram fixed and you should be good to go.

    I had a *laugh* at the Sharpie (c) notes on your arm! I wouldn't worry 'bout washing them off cuz there's nobody to see your "tattoos" anyway. Nothing like a utilitarian solution.

    Went running along the ocean here the other day and as I looked out to sea I was visualizing the view from Wild Eyes and thinking of what it must be like out there for you. It was a very soothing feeling.

    Anyway . . . must get home to feed the kitties and make something for me . . . take care, be well, and stay clipped in!

  5. Dear Abby:

    I know you are having your challenges. Don't let it get you down. Keep moving forward. You can do it.

    I know those of us here on dry land in comfortable surroundings are not dealing with your challenges, but we know that if anyone can deal, its you. Our heroine!

    Getting ready to try and eat something this evening, and listen to some great Brasilian Music. And when I do, I think of you. You are never forgotten, and never alone. We think of you always. Sending you the spirit of Brasil, and lots of great wishes.


  6. I'm so glad you gotting it working again! That would have been terrible. Good Job!


  7. Hang in there. At the end it will be worth it. Remember, This is your game, you can play this.


  8. I love reading your blogs--you are so impressive!

  9. Hi Abby.. I have seen grown men on yachts become raving manica's when confronted with
    less challenging problems than what you are
    working your way through,sailling is one thing
    but keeping your act together when the going gets tough puts you above being ordinary.But would love to listen to the transcripts of your Sat-phone calls to the team at home,i suspect they would be rather more colourful than your blog writtings. Safe sailling Abby,
    'different drum' fremantle

  10. Well done Abby, great work. That is really innovative thinking. Fantastic. I hope that the rest of your trip is easier. Regards, Jeanp, Australia.

  11. Boy oh Boy Abby - You are some amzaing young lady. After all that - you still take the time to write to us. You have to know you have a huge following. I check your blog every day - more times than once actually. Thank You for sharing your wonderful (some days not so wonderful) adventure with us. Take care Kiddo.

    YOU GO GIRL!!!!

    Trenton, Ontario Canada

  12. Abby,

    Boy, am I glad that you were able to get the autopilot going. Now if you could resolve the hydraulic fluid leak it would be a huge success. You don’t know how much I’m hoping that the autopilot continues to work for you, but if it does quit, just remember how important it is to get enough rest. I know how frustrating it would be to have to stop to sleep, but it’s much more important to stay well rested, even it costs you some time. You really have been making very good progress, even if the weather has been a bit flaky. Take good care of Wild Eyes but even more important, take good care of yourself, Abby.

    From Seattle, WA, USA

  13. Your resourcefulness is astounding! It's hard to not laugh out loud at anyone who questions your abilities, intelligence, and that of your parents!

    Keep up the good work!

    Tray M.

  14. It'll make good reading in your book, Abby. :)

  15. I understand how annoying your autopilot problems have been, but look at it this way, if sailing around the world was going to be easy, you wouldn't have chosen to do it. Keep your spirits up and good luck with the repairs.
    Hervey Bay

  16. Bonjour Abby & Wild Eyes,

    Aren't you a piece of works, tons of it?! :-)

    Guess you'll like this:

    "Aber auf dem Meer kann man nicht einfach die Stopptaste drücken. "
    ( But at sea you can not just press the stop button.)

    Bernt Lüchtenborg,
    23.04.2010 09:50(UTC)
    01° 49,220' S, 021° 48,490' W
    4.7 kn, 232°

    Go Abby, Go! Take care, Be safe.

  17. Abby, God bless you. That auto pilot is surely a trial that you must meet on a daily basis. You have many followers that would like to lend a hand if only we could. I have faith in you being able to apply your intellect and experience to resolve this problem as you have all challenges along your way. Just know that I and many other people have you on our minds and in our prayers.
    John & Darlene
    Kerrville, Tx

  18. Deep peace of the running wave to you
    Deep peace of the flowing air to you
    Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
    Deep peace of the shining stars to you
    Deep peace of the gentle night to you
    Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
    Deep peace of Christ, of Christ
    The light of the world to you
    Deep peace of Christ to you.~A Gaelic Blessing

  19. I am sure you know -- but I can't not say -- that there are ways to jury rig self-steering rigs with a tiller to keep you on the wind. It's not autopilot, but it's better than hand steering. You can probably program a GPS alarm to alert/wake you, in a second hand sort of way, to a wind-shift at night so you can adjust it, and get back to sleep.

    Bill Smith

  20. HAY! ABBY!

    Hang in there kid. Sorry about the autopilot, but love that spirit of determination.

    "Failure is not an option" Gene Kranz
    NASA Flight Director

    Keep all us fans posted, want to know whats going on. As always your in my prayers stay strong.

    GO! ABBY! GO! GO! GO!

  21. Hi Abby! Your song of the day: "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!" Well done!

    WA St.

  22. Just a stray thought about your reservoir leak... if it is at a fitting and gets or has gotten worse when you attempt to tighten the fitting, you might want to discuss the following with your support team. The problem may be that the o-ring on the fitting is partially over the threads and is being cut as you tighten the fitting. If you have spare o-rings and can temporarily depressurize the system without losing too much fluid, you might try loosening the fitting, replacing the o-ring with a new one and retightening it... ensuring that the o-ring does not ride up over the threads. I've experienced this with aircraft systems. Jack - St. Pete, FL

  23. How 'bout you Abby!! You rock, girl. Definitely, you are self sufficient and able. You write fun blogs too. (do wish you were able to post pics tho) I've been watching and following you from the start. Great fun. You are a sailor.
    Keep up the spirit and enjoy.
    Thanks for taking me along.
    39°50’N, 86°9’W

  24. Never lose faith. You can perservere through all of this and come out a winner. Pray when you need to and know you are never alone. The frustrating times are when God will guide you the most when you let him. Praying for you and your autopilot, etc. LOL...

  25. Good job with the auto pilot fix, hopefully it'll settle down for a bit and keep you on course. Here's to a few days good wind and smooth sailing.

  26. Abby
    Years ago I installed a Morse hydraulic steering in a boat for a long cruise. I inquired about what types of fluids would work in an emergency. I was told, to my amazement, that in an emergency salt water could be used.

    This is not a recommendation, just a piece of information to discuss with the crew and the pilot manufacturer. You sure have plenty of salt water.

    Keep up the good work. If it fails, it will be a mechanical failure, not a personal failure. You can hand steer to a place where repairs are available and then continue on a great adventure.


  27. Barbara in MelbourneApril 23, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    Gosh Abby,
    Your faith & stamina are certainly being tested out there in that big wide ocean!! Must be a little (perhaps that should be pronounced "lot") scary at times BUT I think it's time to give yourself a pat on the back - who knows, all these greasy wires and dark holes you jump into might lead you to a future in engineering, boat design? Happy is the girl who dreams big dreams. Lotsaluv from Oz.

  28. Wow Abby, as a mother of a 15 1/2 year old son, I just marvel at the life lessons you are learning. You don't quit, you just find a solution, if it's not obvious you find another! I'm proud of you!. As a teen I loved sailing raced on my college team. Never had the opportunity for a great adventure as you! But I'm living my own dreams through your journey! Keep going, never quit.... It will be worth it in the end. TEXAS MOM wishing you the best!

  29. Hi Abby -- You are just amazing at identifying and correcting the challenges you have had!! Great job!

    I'm sure it is pretty tough for you out there but, if it is any encouragement, everyone has trials of some sort....even here on land. Things hardly ever go exactly as we plan but we make adjustments and keep moving anyway. A wise person told me many years ago ' it isn't how far you are from the goal, it's that you keep moving toward it.' That saying has helped me in numerous times when I thought I could go no longer. Help it will be helpful for you too.

    Stay flexible and keep focused on your goal. Won't be long now til you will be reaching another great milestone. :)

    Janell in Oklahoma, USA

  30. Hi Abby;
    Congrats for getting the autopilot going; the electronic guts have ways of going completely insane at times. But one more time, YOU DID IT!! And you're gonna keep doing the right thing each and every time. Now we hope you'll get some sleep!!! We're so proud of you. God bless and hugs John and Louise

  31. Hi Abby - -just to add you are only a day or 2 sail from Gough Island just NE of you. Maybe swing by (without stopping) and smell the land!!!!!!!!!!! John and Louise

  32. Hi Capt'n Abby,

    A recent email listed all things WD40 can do.Most likely easily clean sharpie off skin. Later it went on to say the secret ingredient was a percentage of fish oil.

    The detail of the autopilot saga and its effects on lifestyle aboard Wild Eyes including the wind pattern informs,fascinates, makes me shake my head and think "Thats what it's really like? I like that you give us a glimpse of your own expectations of what it was to be like while telling it like it is so vividly. You really are special.

    Have you heard about the two gals each who are climbing the last of the world's 14 largest mt. peaks? Both trying to be the first woman to do so. Each are on a different peak. One is from S. Korea.

    Engage safely.

  33. Hi Abby,
    Have been following your blog from the start,and just had to tell you how totally amazing you are
    to undertake this journey,just you and "Wild Eyes" all alone out there just blows my mind!Keep
    up this fantastic job,and know that there are thousands of us landlubbers pulling for ya!!
    God Bless you girlfriend!!

  34. Abby, you totally rock!! I am so very blown away by you. Keep up the great blog. Can I pre-order your book?

    Neil Porter
    Victoria BC, Canada

  35. Man. Maybe Mom can send you Saito-san's logs for the past two days. EXACT! same problem just started for him. Leaking hydaulic, the more force from bigger winds and waves on the rudder to keep it on course, the more pressure on the hydraulics, and the more fluid leaks outs :-( same story for the last 2 days, squeezed up back in the boat trying to solve the same problem. On top of that some tiny cotter pin fell out and dislocated everything. Sounds like a coupling has failed or is loose on Wild Eyes if you can hand steer while it is engaged. Make notes if if weather (air / sea temp, direction, wind speed, wave height etc.) have an effect on what has happened throughout. From quick memory, first sight of problems was in warm regions, then stopped at the horn, coldest region, now back again in warm region? Make notes to see if anything like that is actually happening and how it all can be minimized by that way.

    Failing that, and like with all electronics and mechanical things, give it a good hard kick !! :-)

    If the 'brains' fail what about the weather van mode? The understanding is that instead of programming gps headings into the computer, you have a mechanical windvane plugged in that will control it against the wind. Does it bypass any wonky electronics that way or are they all tied in?

    In case of the worst of the words can the software of the brain be dumped into the lap top and run from there? If not is there software out that for a laptop that can be substituted if both brains decide to fail. If so get that software installed and tested while everything is opertional, that way at least the electronics side will be covered 3 x's and you can continue to focus on the mechanical.

    Here's saito's saga, if of interest even from the limited notes, maybe it can spark some ideas, specially that cotter pin

    One last idea. You got those tiny cool HD cameras from one you of your sponsors. If you're unable to "see" everything in and around all the mechanics of the drive and fittins to the rudder post and wherever back there, I take it the video camera's smaller than your head :-)) duct tape it to a pole and stick it in the tight spots and video all around, top bottom as well, and review the tape to see what is going on back this cotter pin that fell out and is laying on the floor, recon with the video camera everywhere if you cannot fit yourself in some of the places.

    That's I am afraid is as what everyone has always said, sailing is 80% fixing things, 20% not..or is that 90% fixing...:-)

  36. Abby,
    Ask and God provides! Leaked transmission fluid just happens to be a solvent for Sharpie pens!

  37. Hey Capt'n Abalone (term of affection!),

    Just a note to let you know a lot of folks have you in their thoughts. Thanks for the great post... much, much appreciated. My bet is that you'll fix that ol' A/P problem... stay focused and don't give up. There's a solution and you and your team will figure it out. Stay safe, be smart and hang tight.

    Capt'n Mudgie
    Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA

  38. Abby girl, I'm a 31 yr old yachtie and give you so much credit girl, because I couldn't do what you're doing. Please keep up the good work and just stay safe out there! So proud of you!!!

  39. Your journey is already a successful adventure. Be safe, if you need to stop for repairs don't hesitate.

  40. CourseMaster is, obviously, a pile of junk. Don't they realize the damage that this is doing to what might be left of their reputation? This bad publicity is on a blog that is seen worldwide and they don't seem to care. Have a lawyer get in touch with them and maybe, then, they will give you a call.

    Really glad that they don't make autopilots for airplanes; that seems to be way out of their league and they'd never get it certified.

  41. Hallo Abby Schönes Fräulein

    hab Blumen auf der Webseite für Dich Dein
    Schönes Lächeln sagt mir Jetzt Afrika in Sicht.
    Auto-Piloten da hilft nur Heiliger Antonius
    Wünsch Dir Schönes Wetter
    und Sonne und viele 20 Knoten
    und eine Gute Heimfahrt.
    Grüße von Markus aus Germany

  42. auto pilots! show me a boat where they work initially & keep on working! hand-steer is fun in the sun but not for too long when there's other things to be taken care of. Glad you found a solution - impressed with your wiring skills and attitude that anything can be fixed...just a matter of finding out how! fishing? are you doing any? take care out there! we'll see you soon :-)

  43. Hi Abbey,
    I am sorry to hear that your autopilot has packed up. Great work in jury rigging, to keep you going for now. The thought of you heading into any kind of storm in that shape makes my blood run cold! I have complete faith in you, your dad and crew to make the right decisions when the time comes, regarding an interruption of your trip for repairs. It sure would be comforting if they would give your blogging “family” some idea of what they have in mind. I for one would be grateful. I will say no more.
    For what it’s worth, I have noticed that your days at sea were not reset at Cabo San Lucas if that makes any difference.
    My very best wishes for your safe passage!

  44. Hi Abby, I know you won't want to hear this but I think you should make a stop at Cape Town to get your autopilot fixed. Seriously, you don't want to carry on without a reliable one and reliable backup. This 'youngest round the world' record is not worth getting into big trouble for and conditions are likely to be challenging enough for the best equipped boat as you get further into the souther hemisphere winter.

  45. Wow Abby you just amaze me with your keeping it togetherness and I know its got to really frustrating to have the A/P acting up as a girl has got to get her beauty sleep now and then and from what I've found out about sharpies is Dawn dish soap works wonders if you have any on board Wild Eyes or baby oil and it really works great and its not going to eat your arm off. You really need that A/P so I'm glad you've got it fixed but you have to deal with that hydraulic leak before it gets any worse. Well enough of this babbling on at such a late hour. As always Stay Safe And When Up On Deck Tethered. 38º43"N/122º67"W

  46. Hello Miss Abby!
    Thank you for the great blog!
    Sorry to hear about your autopilots troubles. From the very beginning, we know that these guys have a betrayal high potential. They hit hard, this time! You did a really good job lobotomizing one to build a contraption able to work and steer Wild Eyes! Congratulations, Captain Frankenstein!
    Your weather options are shrunk ones, I think. It is South and Storm, or North and Drifting? Two poor answers. Better getting bored than battled, probably, but merely exciting.
    What remains worrying is, still, ever, again, the autopiloting. One bad leak to start, that should be tackled soon, and then, how long will your wired monster work without breaking down too? If it had to occur, I wish it would be near some port, having to handsteer in any weather for one week or more, 24/24, wouldn't be a walk in the park, as says Captain J.W....
    Take care, try to fix that leak, and stay vigilant and clipped on, the weather can change all of a sudden. And your crew too! Remember you are in a world natural reserve, and it is forbidden to toss food to sharks! Your ORDERS are to stay on board!!!
    Go, girl, go, plumber, go, electrician, go, sailor!

  47. Hi Abby,
    Very sorry to hear about your persiting problems with the Auto Pilot. I just can't imagine how difficult it will be to hand steer for the rest of the journey; the auto pilot has to work. All the best with the repairs and our prayers are with you.
    I work in a shipyard and even then can't imagine one as young as you successfully carrying out repairs to the auto pilot, poring over diagrams etc. Pretty rare but how many young ones sail solo round the world ? I just wish there are more teenagers like you - at least I hope my daughter grows up well inspired by people like Jessica and You.
    In case you have not been following, Cdr Dilip Donde is reaching home in mid-May and will become the first Indian to solo-circumnavigate. The next officer will hopefully try it non-stop.
    Take care and may all your repairs come good.
    Cheer up and Chin up. Varuna will care for you.

  48. why not put into Cape Town and fix your problems just as Dilip Donde did.
    Better to be safe than sorry in the middle of the ocean

  49. Hi Abby,

    Remember this...we are proud of you and you are doing a great job.

    God bless you,


  50. I can't remember who said something like "everything comes to those that wait (have patience) but it comes sooner to those that continue to try while they are waiting". Gather all the information you can about the auto pilot problem and a solution will present itself when you least expect it. Your subconscious mind keeps grinding away even while you sleep. Have faith in your ability to innovate. Failure just isn't an acceptable option. Stay positive...
    Kerrville, Tx

  51. Hi Abby,
    That auto pilot is certainly giving you a head ache isn't it. Hopefully it will behave itself from now on. You are very capable and I am sure you will manage to keep things going. All the best.

  52. We are on holiday at the sea, tide is pretty hectic, and we were discussing you in the middle of the ocean alone, we are thinking of you, and praying for you

  53. Abby, I hope you took a photo of that "wiring chart" before it became a mild rash. When in the future you are facing a college/job interviewer and she/he asks how you to describe an unexpected problem you faced and how you overcame it, she/he will be in for quite a ride! Photos might be an asset - or simply hand her/him a copy of your book (one heck of a resume, yes?)... so many ways to have fun! You'll have earned that fun-time.
    Good on you, young lady. Go Abby Go.
    callmecrow, Gloucester, MA

  54. Hi Abby,I'm sorry to hear of all the problems you're having with the auto pilot.In the event everything fails,get some rope and tie the rudder in amidship position ( straight course)and making adjustments when needed,this way you don't have to be on deck hand steering all the's not the best situation,but it's better than drifting.
    Abby I've been in situations before and I really feel for you.
    May God give you strength to carry on,and don't forget you have millions of people praying and pulling for you.
    God bless

    Libby Di Bernardo
    San Pedro,Ca.

  55. Hi Abby. Thanks so much for the great post after such an "interesting" day! Like some of your other followers I check at least twice a day for updates! I myself LOVE troubleshooting problems and know very well the feeling of accomplishment when a solution works to fix a tough problem! Great job! Now just a few loose ends to clean up and your auto pilot is back! I must say you astound me with your resourceful levelheadedness and raw ability! Here's Abby: expert sailor, author, electrician, mechanic and hydraulic technician (oh, and bottomless pool of coolness)! Keep up the great work! Say hi to Charlie for me!
    Kevin, Aiken, SC

  56. Dear Abby,
    I am wondering if you see any mammals.Do you watch tv on the wild eyes.
    Love Brielle

  57. You are so amazing and resourceful. Keep at it, girl!

  58. Abby, what is your strategy if the autopilot fails completely? Will you be lashing the tiller in place, or heaving-to when you're sleeping? (Does Wild Eyes heave-to well?)

  59. Hi Abby,

    If you have any olive oil on board, use it on your arm. It will help dissolve the Sharpie markings and soothe your arm. Vaseline will work as well. Regular cooking oil might work, not sure but it would be worth a try. Best thing would be either CHEAP hairspray or finger nail polish remover(I'm "sure" you brough tons of those LOL). It will wear off LONG before you see anyone so don't stress on it. I know this because my son drew very expressive (and big) eyebrows on his little sister. Look at it this way. If Auto keeps acting up, you will have quite a handy wire layout at your disposal.

    Stay Safe,
    Linnea - Seattle

  60. Is your reservoir leak the same leak you reported a few weeks ago? I'm sure you and your team are working hard at figuring out what can be replaced from the backup system. A stop at Cape Town wouldn't be all that bad as you could still claim the youngest with stop(s), stock up on all your favorite food treats you've probably run out of, have a 50 minute HOT shower.......YES!!!.......,your legs would LOVE a long hike on the beach, and how good would a nice warm still bed feel at night? Hmmmm....wouldn't be all that bad, but expensive if your Dad or another team member has to fly in.

    You're in my thoughts as we wait for your next blog entree.

  61. Technically you could stop in Cape Town (I think only anchored), a boat could come along side and you could receive instruction from there. Provided no parts are handed over, no one comes aboard, and you're not physically docked, the non-stop unassisted aspect remains. We could go modern day super high-tech. Setup up a webcam around the autopilot, mechanics and engineers from coursemaster or whoever in Cape Town, can guide and instruct from right alongside the boat. :-) Kind of like surgery via satellite which is done quite often today.

    Even though this and all the others are not "offical" records, the benchmark rules of the WSSRC apply:

    "e. With or without assistance
    i 'Without assistance' means that a vessel may not receive any kind of outside assistance whatever except for 21.h. and 21. i. nor take on board any supplies (beyond the harvest of the sea), materials or equipment during an attempt. A vessel may be anchored or beached during the attempt, but any repairs must be made entirely by the crew without outside resources or materials. It is never permitted to take on board stores or equipment or get any other kind of help from another vessel whilst under way (except as 'i' Emergencies below)."

  62. Continuous safe journey Abby..
    I check in on you every day and live your adventure through your blog. You are amazing for a 16 year old and you have so much more than I, a 62 year old *smile*. Be safe, eat healthy, rest often and enjoy this adventure of your life. Looking forward to more of your reports.
    Hollywood, Florida USA

  63. We need to get rid of the Public Service Ad from Google. It's still there after two new entries. Something changed in the last week or so, suspect it is that blogger ad that wasn't there before. The Public Service Ad, should not be displayed, it's an indication of something wrong. Maybe Mom can get the Abby's website people to trouble shoot it, there are tons of complaints and solutions about that annoying ad on other people's blogs as well.

  64. Glad to hear your ok! Life is full of bumps in the road which create character! Not the you need anymore, you sound like a strong young lady but these trials and tribulations will be a benefit to you somewhere down the road. Is it possible for you to get new parts or a new system on your next ship to ship re supply or don't I understand how this works?

  65. A true Sailor! A true Captain!

  66. Abby,
    I don;t know much about auto pilots systems on sailboats, but perhaps they don't always work properly unless the conditions are just right.
    Check with your technical people as to the limits of the devices accurracy. I could see a powerboat auto pilot being much more reliable, but perhaps if the wind is too low or in just the wrong direction that could be a problem.
    I hope you get the problem resolved. I sailed once with a French sailor Jean LaCombe who held a few solo atlantic crossing records for very small sailboats. Jean used a primitive wind vane auto steering device back in the 1960's. There was no GPS or much electronics then.

  67. Hi:

    With the problem solving abilities that you have shown I am confident you would come up with a reasonable solution for the autopilot. Remember life (your blog or your book for that matter) wouldn’t be as interesting if there were no problems to solve.

    Wishing you the best

    Some information about sailboat steering mechanisms


  68. Hi Abby,
    Something to look forward to!
    Jesse's been enjoying "10 metre liquid mountains, rolling past with tumbling white tops."
    Hope your autopilot is working solidly before you reach the Southern Seas! Also, as someone else said...absolutely nothing in the water as you approach South Africa - this is Great White territory!

  69. Hi Abby:
    Several people have mentioned it already, but I think it's high time your team considered sending you north to Cape Town where they have facilities to repair your autopilots. You do not want to be caught in a storm in the Southern Ocean with no steering. Your boat is an extreme racing design that is vulnerable to capsize in heavy seas if it is not actively sailed, and you simply can't steer by hand for more than a few hours at a time.
    The proper seamanlike action to take now is to head north to the Cape. It is not dishonorable to seek repairs in an emergency such as this, one that eventually might call for you to be rescued and put other people's lives at risk while doing so.
    You have shown yourself to be very resourceful in dealing with an excessively challenging boat but it is simply not sensible to head into the Southern Ocean in the growing winter with a chronic problem that is known to be life-threatening. Abby, the risk simply isn't worth it. You've done your best. No one could ask more.
    Start heading north. I wish you all the luck in the world.

    John Vigor, Bellingham, Washington.

  70. Hi Abby,
    I hope you have no more auto pilot woes but I am dubious. You need BOTH of them working for the southern ocean. Jessica just had another knockdown in 30 foot seas and I dread the thought of anything similar happening to you with only one jury rigged system working. You have proved your courage and commitment and I hope your team demonstrates the same common sense you have shown and will decide to get the auto pilots fixed in SA before tackling the most treacherous part of your epic journey

  71. Dear Abby,

    I wish I would have been able to post this comment to you last night, but for some reason my Blackberry wouldn't allow me to post a comment, my home computer wouldn't load up, and everytime I tried to type a post on my son's laptop it would mysteriously delete everything!! It was very frustrating to say the least!

    Today it seems silly considering the kinds of things you are having to deal with Abby!

    I usually don't check your blog on the weekends but last night I couldn't stop thinking about you and so I checked on my Blackberry. Pathetic, I know....well anyway, here is pretty close to what I was going to say last night!

    Dear Abby,

    We have a house full of people over tonight, plus my daughter (almost 10) is having a sleepover and I can't stop thinking about you!

    I checked your blog and was so happy to see that you had posted that I couldn't stop reading and re-reading your post. I know that you hear this many times every day from others like me who have sort of adopted you as their own 16 year old daughter :), but I just can't get over how wise you are for your years!

    You are sharper than most of us grown adults walking the planet and I am in awe of you! You keep your chin up, you figure out how to solve problems (hard problems I might add) and then you sit down and write an amazing update for all of us to read!

    I would love to meet you in person one day! I'm sure I would burst out crying just from the sheer emotion of seeing someone as amazing as you in person. You are special Abby!

    I read everyone's posts and I know that I am not the only one who feels this way! I wish only the best for you, and I pray for you so many times every day that I can't even count them any more.

    Your auto pilot problems have me very concerned, but I'm sure you will figure them out, and it appears that you have some great suggestions from others that will probably prove to be very helpfull.

    I will continue to think of you, pray for you and wish you well! And, I will likely even start following your progess even on the weekends now! I'm hopelessly hooked :)

    And thank you to everyone who has offered Abby so many great suggestions about the autopilot, the permanent marker on her arm, suggestions for her book title, ways to catch fish, everything!

    Warm wishes from Kansas!

  72. Abby!

    I followed your brother Zac around the globe, and now I'm following you. I check on you daily and enjoy watching you progress and reading your narration along the way. Best of luck and hope the auto-pilot behaves itself!

    Tripp Holmgrain
    San Antonio, TX

  73. I think we still have one whole auto pilot left.

    1. primary: working display, leaking reservoir
    2. secondary: non-working display, non-leaking resevoir

    1a. working display was swapped to secondary
    1b. secondary with working display, now loose joint to rudder post

    2a. working display returned to primary with affixed joint to rudder post but leaking resevoir

    3. How to solve: transplant non-leaking reservoir from secondary to primary which has working display and affixed joint to rudder post.



    No need just yet?

    Too easy to pull into port and have someone else fix it. Need to try all possible combinations and possibilities before giving up. Haven't even started yet !

    Even build a drip into leaking reservoir. How many empty diesel jerry cans we got on board? Cut a hole on one as a catchment, and place under the leak, grab some piping, fill another with make shift hydro oil and drip it into the reservoir from on top. Check every two hours subject to strong wind and seas straining drive and forcing more to leak.

    Lots of resources and supplies onboard.

  74. Hi Abby:
    Well It's the old hydraulics again. Well all I can say is, turn of the pressure to the ram, and take apart carefully, and find out why it keeps happening and fix it. When you take it apart keep the fluid and look carefully for metal or rubber shavings.Hydraulic rams are fairly simple. Just make sure the pressure is off.When you find out whats been causing the problem, repair it and put it back together, carefully,paying attention to details. When puting pressure back in the system and it doesn't leak a drop, that part of your a/p system is not the problem. It has to be electrical or a cable or some other mechanical part. Be careful when taking out the old "0" rings. When they are exposed to the air they will slightly expand and won't go back in there groove. I hope you have a box of spare "0" rings on board. And remember if you run out of hydro. fluid you can always use 10,20,0r 30 weight in a pinch. This will get you the rest of the way, but is not the best for the system in the long run, but it will get you bye.
    That posting who said to use salt water is wrong. The water will push wright passed the "0" rings, not thick enough!
    Stay clipped off...... Woodrow Wilson from San Diego

  75. Abby - you seem to have earned your PhD in Jury-rigging!! Well done! As a retired Navy guy, I can appreciate your sensibility and good humor, even in times of concern. My question has to do with navigation - if your GPS, etc. happened to go out, do you have knowledge of Celestial Navigation to keep you on track?

    Ron Knox
    CDR USN (ret)

  76. Hey Abby you are without a doubt unbelievable!! Great spirit--beyond belief in yourself--super skills--and one fantastic attitude! Forget American Express I say DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT ABBY! The best to you and remember nothing happens by accident! All is well~keep making yourself a great memory making record setting trip!

  77. Abby I think it was you that said "if I have to stop it's not the end of the world". Please Abby dear don't take any chances that could endanger you. You can get the repairs you need and still continue your "adventure". No one will every think less of you. You're going to need all your equipment 100% when you reach the Indian Ocean. Ask Jessica. She'll tell you what fun that will be if she hasn't already. Stay safe girl. Thinking of you from Florida

  78. Wow Abby! You must be brave to do that by yourself!

  79. Hi Abby,

    I was thinking the whole afternoon about you, your autopilot and the possibility of stopping in Cape of good hope. Even if that sounds like a good idea, i really wish you can solve the problem and things are safe for you to continue your trip. It would had been much better to stop in the Farklands than stopping in cape of good hope. I hope that your team think about all the pros and cons about this, as this is a zone known for pirates activity.

    Best wishes,


  80. No pirates in Cape Town :-))

    Maybe in the townships copying the latest music CD's. But non on the waters. Guaranteed. ;-)

  81. PS: Abby, my husband and I hand steered (after our autohelm packed in) for more than two weeks across the Pacific to the Marquesas and believe me it was NOT fun, utterly exhausting and there were TWO of us! You are definitely doing the right thing. Good for you girl!
    Fay, from the Gold Coast

  82. Hey Abby, Maybe you should ditch the Coursemaster autopilots and go for something like a Simrad? You have enough celebrity and pull right now that another autopilot maker would die to help you get set up with their instruments. Abby, the professional autopilot tester! Now the pressure is off and you can have more fun, so I hope you will have enough to write two books!

  83. Abby,

    PLEASE take the Piracy warnings that you have received from a number of your blogging fans VERY seriously.

    Have you considered the following simple fact? I know you're extremely smart, but you may not have fully thought out the following:

    You have become so well known internationally in the last three months, those m$%*&$( a$(#@&$es (yes, I bleeped myself so, I hope, I won't be censored) could well be actually lying in wait for you. If they caught you, they could make a lot, lot of ransom money.

    I know I'm talking about something depressing, and you already have your hands and your mind and your heart full to overflowing. I don't mean to be dramatic or to be a drag or a bummer. I follow you every day, I love you, and I wish you only the very, very best. You are just amazing. One in a million. Wow.

    I just think the pirate issue is something you should keep in mind.

    Go, Abby, go!

  84. 04-24-10 @ 22:56
    Hi Abby,
    In my last post I blundered and in my remarks about your tattooing yourself I addressed you as Jessica, my head is so full of both of you girls, thinking, worrying and praying for the both of you that I got a little ‘feebleminded’ for a moment, sorry about that!!!!…lol…
    It seems to me, with a rough calculation, that you’re right above the “good” wind stuff. Hope you’ll get into some good wind soon.
    I hope that your having some luck fixing the A/P, looks like you have had some pretty good and helpful advice sent to you. Maybe if you filter through it all you might come up with a good fix. Good luck to you on that.
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand and may the Angels keep your sails full, and I, I will be praying for you.
    Your faithful friend, fan and follower.
    Michael (75) from Kingwood, WV

  85. The fact that you can troubleshoot these problems and fix it enough so that it's working is a tribute to your intelligence and your parents' teaching. As a teacher, I am always amazed, reading your (and Zac's) blogs, and reminded of the potential that all children have. As a sailor (novice) I love reading your accounts and marvel at the strength you have to endure so many hardships but keep going. There are many critics, but you will never please everyone in life. Just keep following your dreams! -Cindy in NH

  86. I know others have said it already, but it is NOT failure to do the right thing. Some of your equipment has been sketchy from the get go. So be it. The life lesson is what you do with that information and so far you have made great choices, that's why you are half way around the world. It is no minor feat to sail around the world solo (let alone at 16), whether with ports of call or not. Smart choice. Good luck, have fun and we are all still rooting for you.

    Best wishes,
    Kerri from California

  87. To remove perm. marker, use tooth paste. ;)

  88. So happy you've decided to stop. Being a parent, I can't imagine your mom's fear, and I'm glad you're making the tough but safe decision. I'll be thinking about you and wishing the auto pilot a couple more weeks. Be safe.

  89. abby you are so brave. Being your age you amaze me you have such courage to go solo! keep up the good work! I just heard about you today and have read your whole blog and love your quotes on facebook keep up your spirits during your journey I will keep you in my prayers :) good luck with the auto pilot. book suggestion bloomability by sharon creech its a good book

  90. Hi Abby i am so inspirerd by your dear ness to sail around the world, this is something that someday i would like to do ! keep up the good work i just heard of you today and was amazed ...
    Good luck with your navagation hope all go's well.. know you will accomplish and do well and my prayers are with you [:

  91. You Go Girl!

    I'm enjoying reading about your adventure. Best of luck w/ getting everything thing fixed and back on the road...or ocean. :)

    Andrea ~ St.Louis

  92. Good Call Abby! And you are definitely not a failure in any sense of the word. We follow your every move here in Alaska and pray for you daily. Getting the auto-pilot fixed is the mature thing to do, and the right thing. Looking forward to seeing where God leads you next and praying you will be able to continue on in your quest. God has given you a spirit of adventure and you honor Him with it.

    Proud of you,

    Jon & Nancy ~ Alaska

  93. Abby Sunderland, keep going. Get the thing fixed and keep going. Wishing you a successful and safe journey.

  94. Hey Abby

    Must say im very proud of you girl!!!
    You go Girl
    Hope to see you in Cape Town!!!
    Its a stunning place and i Hope you will get everything sorted out with the boat!!!
    Good Luck