Thursday, September 12, 2019

Nirvana's New Auto-Pilot!

Over a year before this installation, we ordered the Raymarine EV-100 autopilot for Nirvana. With plans on sailing long passages, we figured we'd take the advice of other cruisers and make our lives simpler when sailing all day. With the autopilot, we can free ourselves from standing at the helm for hours on end.

When finally opening the contents, we found four components .. with four manuals! The installation wasn't real difficult, but with the different manuals and components it took patience. One thing that we wished we'd had known before ordering & starting the installation ... the EV-100 autopilot requires SeaTalk cables between its four components. One cable was provided, but it wasn't long enough to do anything so we needed to purchase the SeaTalk Spur cable. It's a bummer when you finally get ready to tackle a project and realize you don't have all the parts! Hopefully, this post will prevent others from learning the hard way.

As I mentioned, we ordered the EV-100 over a year before installing it and we installed it around November, 2018 .. I'm really doing a poor job of keeping this blog up! Now that I'm finally writing about the installation .. my mind is a blur. Honestly, I can't remember all of the installation details, so I'm gonna give you the basics .. sorry!

Ken installed the gray control unit in the aft cabin, where he also added the sensor core. The aft cabin seemed like the logical place for our situation, with it being in between the cockpit and our electrical panel. The wheel drive was easily added to our wheel in the cockpit, and the p70 control head was also added in the cockpit by running wire up our steering column .. not so easy, but we got it done. During the installation process, Ken did make a couple of calls to Raymarine for assistance. I can say that we were very happy with their customer service! 

A close up of the sensor core ...

The sensor core in the aft cabin .. near the companionway. The control unit is just below and to the right of our dinghy oars (notice how we added straps to store them, along with our boat hook).

With the components installed, our cockpit now provides the autopilot, a compass & an older Lowrance GPS. There were two more things we needed to do before our installation was complete .. we needed to program the unit's "hard over" time and we needed to take the boat out on the water to calibrate the unit. For those with a Catalina 30, we set the hard over time to "10".  Once everything was hooked up & programmed, we were finally ready for calibration on the water .. but this wouldn't happen for another 8 months! Yep, we were distracted by Puerto Rico. Once we were back home, we finally took Nirvana out on the water and calibrated the autopilot this past July. Luckily, the directions were easy, our hard over time seemed correct, and everything went as hoped. We finally have a working autopilot on Nirvana!

It was so good to get back on the water! We've got more projects (and sailing) to write about, but that's for another time.

Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!

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