Originally Posted by northoceanbeach
I've been reading about windvanes, I'm not sure any would work on my small transom. I don't know how the new autopilots work, I should look into those next, but I was reading they use them single handed on the single handed transpac. I don't think I would be able to get enough power to one though.
A decent sized solar panel should keep a Raymarine ST2000 (more robust than the ST1000 for barely more money) running nicely all of the time. A windvane system is likely a lot easier to repair though, a nice feature if it breaks while you are on the water. Of course you could carry two Raymarine-style autopilots, they aren't very big.
They are quite simple. Normally they just follow a compass direction and will steer to keep you on that direction. If you have wind instrumentation that can tell the autopilot computer the apparent wind angle then they will steer to a wind course, which is safer if there is a wind shift (better to go off course then to accidentally jibe).
Installing one (without the wind instrumentation) takes a couple of hours. You to install a pin on the tiller and a mounting point into the edge of the cockpit. Power is just 12V DC. The tiller plugs into power and bridges the tiller and cockpit edge. I hid the power plug in a cockpit coming box, where it is out of the weather. There are photos here:
Raymarine ST2000+ Installation - AlexAndChristine's Photos | SmugMug
Average power consumption is pretty low if you have the sails well trimmed and are just using it to hold a course.