I have to assume that some posts here are still using autopilots powered by steam. Things like high power consumption and all that noise and how do you control the yaw off the wind, whatever. What kit are you guys using
Your autopilot should be used when the boat is properly set up so that they're not in a contest. It isn't supposed to "drive" the boat. It's only supposed to make minor course adjustments. Then it will learn the sea-state as it works and course adjustments will become less and less until they are almost imperceptible. If yours doesn't do this then it's either archaic or you're doing something wrong.
We have a Raymarine ST6001. It can only be heard if you put your ear against the bulkhead it is mounted on. After a few hours on a course the wheel twitches every now and then and if you're not watching you'd not notice. While it is not twitching it uses no power. It holds a proper course in strong wind, light air, down wind, on the wind, no wind, following sea, huge sea. I can't recall time when I had
to take over from the autopilot and on those occasions when I chose to, l couldn't hold the course anywhere near as well.
Nuff said, I'd never cruise without one. Nah! I'd never go out daysailing without one
On wind pilots I've not sailed with a Fleming, I understand they have revolutionised wind pilots. I sailed for years with an Aries and while it was OK, I don't miss tripping over those control lines. It'll be a cold day in hell when I swap my autopilot for any windpilot. I may have both one day but never just a windpilot.
As for wheel pilots, I had one once, if that is my only choice I guess it would be a windpilot or I'd be hand steering from here on in. I wouldn't have another one of them on my boat irrespective of it's size.
And while I'm throwing cats amongst pigeons, I now cruise a 44 ft boat and hold the view that the people who cruise 28 feet are either trying to prove a point or can't afford the upgrade
. I can't even conceptualise fitting food, water, clothing and fuel for any decent length voyage into 28 feet. The lists of stuff that are apparently packed into these little vessels (see above) can't leave a lot of space for the people.
And our 44 feet is easily managed by me and my partner.
Just my own choices . . . . .