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post #36 of Old 04-28-2013
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Re: Amuse me, sailing small boat offshore.

Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post question remains, what is the best self steering system for long passages on a small boat?

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.

That leaves jerry rigged systems like um..thinking...sheet to tiller?
An auto pilot is definitely the way to go for you. A simple tiller pilot uses very little electricity and does a very good job of steering a nicely balanced boat. An extra battery and a small solar array is enough to keep a tiller pilot running indefinitely. And they take no space to speak of.

When you're out there it is generally a case of 90% cruising and 5% getting bashed and even then that depends on your idea of getting bashed. The reality though is that it is rare for any meaningful voyage to be without some tough weather times however short.

But boats can be made to withstand weather, the question is are people? Having never voyaged, you don't know whether you are or not. The worst time to find out you're not is when you're 1000nm from the nearest land and you're ALONE. And therein lies, for me, your biggest challenge.

After considerable experience at sea while not alone, I have also done long voyages on my own (single-handing)and the difference is very significant. It's not, as most will tell you, about sleeping and keeping watch and complying with the Colergs and all that stuff. We all now you're not allowed to do that and we all know that all single-handers do anyway.

It's about you and how you stand up to life-threatening conditions when you're alone, haven't slept for two days and haven't had a decent meal in twice that long and whether or not you can continue to make clever decisions when you think you're going to die. If you can't then you may well die.

I note that some people have discussed a book by John Vigor. Do yourself a favour and Google "John Vigor's Black Box" - that's an interesting concept and one that makes great sense when you're contemplating going to sea.

Good luck if you decide to continue with your quest.

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