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post #18 of Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Sorry to say, after my one & only experience with a Hydrovane, I was not particularly impressed...

One was fitted to the Hallberg-Rassy 43 I delivered from Trinidad to Annapolis earlier this summer... It did not handle the typical tradewind conditions pictured below very well at all, we gave up on it after fiddling with it for a few hours... The boat had a generator - a Fisher-Panda that at least worked in F-P's typically 'intermittent' fashion - so being able to run the AP 24/7 was not an issue for us...

In fairness, the owner swore by it... And, I realize there can be a real learning curve to dialing in a vane to a particular boat... But I have considerable experience with the Sailomat on my own boat, and with Monitors on others, so I believe my understanding of servo-pendulum vanes is at least adequate... I simply couldn't get this Hydrovane to perform satisfactorily, and of course perhaps that's just me, but the performance wasn't anything close to what I've typically seen with a servo-pendulum vane... The H-R 43 is a pretty powerful rig, and we were pressing her pretty good in some fairly boisterous conditions, but I would have expected better results.... but again, that is only ONE experience, I could be happily surprised the next time around - but my general impression is that the size of that auxiliary rudder simply isn't sufficient to steer such a boat, in such conditions... It could very well be fine on a smaller boat, perhaps...

One thing I really didn't like, was the mounting of the rudder, how 'permanent' it has to be on passage, always immersed with no provision for folding it up out of the water... We removed it once we entered a period of flat calm and had to motor for a few days... Without the sugar scoop configuration of the 43's transom, that would have been a very difficult operation, and I can't imagine having to re-install the rudder at sea without such a transom, or having to go over the side in a dinghy to do so on a larger boat...

Obviously, I'm in the camp of those one who is a big fan of vanes - if I had to choose a single piece of gear on my boat as my favorite, and the best money I've ever spent, it would be my Sailomat...

Modern autopilots are fantastic, no question about it... But if I were doing long passages shorthanded relying on a pilot alone, I'd certainly want to be carrying the makings of pretty much a complete spare...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 08-21-2013 at 08:40 AM.
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