To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Dymer Creek near Fleet's Bay

Started: Mill Creek (Solomon's Island) 38°19.71′N 076°27.07′W

Anchored: Dymer Creek 37°40.30′N 076°21.20′W

Distance Run: 53.6 nm. Time 7½ hr.

Almost a flat, calm motor down the bay to a totally new anchorage. Almost a quiet night an anchor in a secluded creek.


But not quite.

There were two changes to our expectations today.

Major Change

After getting out of Mill Creek and into the bay, I tried to turn the helm over to Mr. Benmar. He could not steer.

Could. Not. Steer.

We went in small circles. We went in big circles. We went in largely random directions.

The hydraulic pump was clearly working — Mr. Benmar took control of the wheel and started turning. Either the compass was dead or the control unit was somehow flaky enough that it "kind-of" worked, but couldn't figure out the difference between the required course setting and the actual compass reading.

Sigh. Hand Steering for the foreseeable future.


We have a fall-back plan.

Actually we have several fall-back plans.

Plan 1. B&G Triton system with the Zeus multi-function display. Sweet!

Plan 2. Diagnose the Benmar Course Setter 21R problem. Work.

An Aha Moment

CA's a master of diagnosing extremely complex problems (like web servers) by remote control (talking to folks for whom English is not their native language.)

A master diagnostician.

Her question #1. "Did it ever work?"

Her question #2. "What did you change?"

For software, that's all there is. For hardware, it's possible that something wore out and failed. But failures are rarely both sudden and weird. They often have a degraded performance phase where things are getting progressively worse prior to failure.

What we have here is a failure that's both sudden and weird.

Did he ever work? Yes. Perfectly on October 4th. I even calibrated the course setting controls on that day because he was working so perfectly.

So what changed?

It turns out that we tossed a coil of Cat 5 network wire into the cabinet with Mr. Benmar's compass.

A coil of wire underneath the compass is immediately fatal to our autopilot.

Immediately. Fatal.

Problem Solved

Once we moved the cable, we had a quiet and pleasant chug down to Fleet Bay.

Other Expectations

We anchored in a new (to us) spot in Dymer Creek. There are some side creeks and side bays that are kind of protected.

The main channel is totally exposed to wind from 121° (ESE). Otherwise, it seems pretty secure.

We dropped the hook, did some anchor watch, updated our position reports and our motes. All the usual things we do before settling down for some dinner and story time and sewing.

Then we got a call on the radio from one of the other boats that had chugged up Dymer creek: Sandpiper. They'd seen us in Annapolis. They'd seen us in Mill Creek. They saw us driving in circles trying to sort out Mr. Benmar's problems.

They saw us at anchor as they chugged up Dymer creek to their friend's dock.

They invited us to dock with them. CA's comment?

"That's why we're doing this." Of course we went to their completely unknown dock. They had a huge boat; we were pretty sure they required the same depth we did.

Now, we're tied up behind Sandpiper and Wayward Wind. We washed up. Pizza is on order.

IMG_0747 ""

How cool is that? Random strangers invited us to their dock. We've moved to 37°40.82′N 076°21.99′W. A short distance further up.


Attribute Value
Depart Started: Mill Creek (Solomon's Island) 38°19.71′N 076°27.07′W
Waypoint Anchored: Dymer Creek 37°40.30′N 076°21.20′W
Arrive Docked at 37°40.82′N 076°21.99′W
Run 53.6 nm.
Time 7½ hr.