Originally Posted by outbound
Jon- real interested in your comment about windvanes. Do you think the emergency rudder scenario and total loss of electricity are that frequent that leaving having an oversized AP with appropriate spares ( ram, rudder indicator etc.) is not sufficient. For a lot of boats either due to speed DDW, displacement, stern configuration or other issues a servo pendulum may be quite difficult to install and function. What's your cut off for a Hydrovane or like product? Have trouble believing anyone's promo literature.
Thought between two battery banks, wind, solar, generator and oversized alternator supply to the AP is as bulletproof as I can make it. Thinking was with two complete systems or one installed with extensive spares odds of hand steering were low. See fewer and fewer vanes on backs of boats as A.P.s have gotten better.
Well, I'm obviously among a rapidly diminishing minority when it comes to vanes. What can I say - I've always loved mine, its elegant use of nothing but wind and water represents what sailing is all about in the first place, for me. I'm guessing many who diss the use of such Old School self-steering technology have probably never actually tried using a vane, and while autopilots have definitely improved greatly in terms of performance and efficiency, I think all the crap many cruisers are now carrying on the back of their boats, and the increasing number of tenders being stowed on davits, and the prevalence of stern arches and cockpit enclosures that can preclude the use of a vane, has more to do with fewer vanes being fitted, than anything else... Of course, I've always thought the primary reason many people today have so little interest in windvanes, is that they cannot be put into TRACK
mode, and interfaced with a chartplotter to automatically take you to a distant waypoint :-)
I don't view my Sailomat as a very likely means of self steering in anything other than pretty benign conditions. It could be pressed into service as such, but it's not really designed for such a purpose, and in open ocean and bigger seas, I'd probably have to rely on other methods...
I've only used a Hydrovane once, and I must say I was underwhelmed, it's performance was not remotely close to that of a true servo-pendulum vane like my Sailomat, or a Monitor... I may have been able to dial it in a bit better over time, but it's a pretty simple device and the principle is basically the same as a Sailomat, so I don't think the fault was necessarily mine. The rudder was simply too small to steer the boat in tradewind conditions, and as we were sailing DDW so much of the time, I wouldn't trust it to avoid an accidental jibe...
Originally Posted by outbound
So Jon -In your view what's the upper cut off for the typical mom and pop cruiser? 40'? 45'? 50?. Or is it by displacement ? Or sail area?
I'd say 42.4672834 feet, nothing more... :-)
Impossible question to answer, of course, I can only speak to the upper limit of what I'm personally comfortable sailing alone. So many variables among boats, of course, something between 38-40 seems ideal for me at the moment. I could imagine going as large as 44' or so, for something like a Boreal, or for a comparatively 'small' 44-footer like an Alden...
Naturally, I have other constraints regarding boat size that many others may not. I only have 50' of waterfront at my home, and am restricted to about 5.5' draft for Barnegat Bay, and a 65' air draft to the north, and only 60' to my preferred access to the ocean to the south... I'd always want a relatively shoal draft for my preferred cruising grounds anyway, and at this stage of my life would never want to own a boat that wasn't ICW capable, and I'm not talking 64.5' either :-) Few things are more nerve-wracking, to me, than dealing with a bridge clearance of mere inches...
As you suggest, this is very much a combination of length, displacement, and sail area... I've always liked the general principle of Steve Dashew's designs - long, lean and lighter hulls, coupled with a relatively modest rig size. Such a boat 'scaled down' could be very appealing, and I could consider going for something closer to 50' in such a boat, but nobody really seems to be building such boats today... Not to mention, such a boat would be out of my league price-wise, anyway... :-)
As for doing deliveries, anything much beyond 50' starts to make me nervous, at least for an offshore passage. I'd generally much rather make the passage to Bermuda, or the Caribbean, on something like a Valiant 42, than on something like a Hylas 54...
I've always thought a good 'marker' for determining boat size relative to one's personal strength, is the ability to furl a headsail by hand. I'm of the opinion that I should be able to furl the jib in 'normal' conditions without having to resort to the use of a winch... If I cannot, it means either that the furler itself is undersized, or the furling line leads are not sufficiently fair, or I've waited too long to reef, or I'm simply not strong enough to be sailing that particular boat... Having to take a furling line to a winch - particularly a powered one - can be a very risky practice, as so clearly demonstrated recently by Stanley Paris when he destroyed one of his furlers aboard KIWI SPIRIT...