There are the two of us on board – Heidi and I. So obviously everything has to be done by one or the other of us. That is not such a problem until we do a long journey when one of us has to be at the tiller (stick at the back that you push from side to side to steer) all the time leaving the other one to do “everything else”.
Luckily we have help on board. We have an autopilot that we can connect to the tiller and set to a fixed course. It is a hydraulic cylinder and a bunch of electronics that eats power from our batteries. We call this “crew member” Steven (named after a great mechanic in Ardfern). This device is great for the occasions when we have the motor on, generating electricity, but no use when sailing – which is what we mostly do.
We also have a Monitor Windvane. This is a truly amazing device that detects changes in the wind caused by the boat turning off course. It uses these tiny changes to move a paddle in the water and the power created by this to move the tiller the correct way to compensate. It does this constantly without any electronics, hydraulics, noise or whatever. This device is a “she” and we call “her” Chiara. Neill and Chiara are learning to get along. Mostly she will do what he wants but sometimes she takes a long time to do it and sometimes she just flatly refuses to follow his instructions unless he changes the sail settings. She is slowly getting Neill properly “trained” and Heidi only occasionally has to calm Neill down.
Occasionally things get really “tight”, particularly entering hidden anchorages. “20 degrees to port until we pass that covered rock then starboard stemming the flood until the small cliff then immediately hard port on a heading of 330 degrees”. It is like the scene in Hunt for Red October when they are avoiding seamounts underwater. These are the times when only a Heidi is good enough on the tiller
Together the four of us are doing a good job until now.