Originally Posted by JonEisberg
Well, every boat is different, of course, there is
My friends Justin and Chris have an NKE autopilot on their J-120 SHEARWATER, and yet there are still times when they've chosen to hand steer:
Shearwater - What 30-40 knots looks like, Porto to Gibraltar - YouTube
And, as their recent passage from FL to Texas illustrated, there can be times when one has no choice - even with one of the world's finest and most expensive autopilots :-)
I'm seriously late to party here, but to set the record straight regarding the autopilot crossing the Gulf. It turned out not to be an internal fuse, but the bushings in the motor that burned up while the pilot struggled to do the impossible. The positive of that is that bushings are easy to carry as a spare and easy to replace underway. Now we know better...
This topic has probably been beat to death, but for our boat, if I wanted a belt & suspenders approach to steering I would simply install two separate autopilots. A vane is just pointless on our boat.
Just to poke the bear... A vane would not have helped much after our autopilot blew crossing the Gulf. We motored a good chunk of the remaining 96 hours.