When you have to fix it

Published on July 7th, 2022

by George Day, Cruising Compass
Rosie likes to quip that I can fix just about anything on a cruising boat but not so much around the house. I suspect it is more about attitude than aptitude, but so it goes.

The thing about cruising is that more often than not you are not near marine professionals who can work on your engine, rig, or marine electronics. So, if you can’t fix whatever is broken, you have to live without it.

We were half way up the Red Sea when our Magellan 1000 GPS, our only GPS, gave up the ghost. Navigating the reef-strewn coast of Africa required accurate positions and a working GPS was critical. But, in Sudan we were 500 miles from the nearest marine electrics professional. What to do?

I took the back off the unit and tested all of the connections for corrosion or loose ends. Then I used the multi-meter to check circuits, power supply and the batteries. All seemed fine. The next step was a bit of a flier. We heated the oven up to about 120 degrees, turned it off and placed the disassembled GPS inside on a cookie sheet.

After an hour, we retrieved the warm GPS and carefully reassembled it. I plugged in the power supply, hit the on button and, hey presto, the screen lit up and the unit started scanning the sky for satellites. Within two minutes it was locked in and had calculated our position.

In five years and 40,000 miles of cruising, that was the only time the Magellan failed. And, in the end, all it needed was a warm nap and I never really knew what went wrong. But it worked.

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