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  #71  
Old 02-14-2008
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Let's get back to autopilots. . . .

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 . . . . .

Andre
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Old 02-14-2008
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Andre, we've pretty well decided to go with a windvane to tiller offshore (bypassing the hydraulics), and with an autopilot under power. We understand that 9/10ths of the "battle" with an autopilot is proper sail trim for point of sail in the first place, mainly because it is easy to trim a well-found boat to steer itself in most cases with sails alone anyway...even a fin-keeler (see Giu's video on the topic).

Having a windvane to a tillerhead PLUS an autopilot to a hydraulic ram pushing a transom-hung, keel-mounted rudder gives us two entirely independent means of self-steering...and no buried quadrant, frayed cables or rudder post tube to crack open.

I've steered under tiller alone and while it's a tad more Viking than on my smaller (tiller-only) 33 footer, it's not unreasonable if the hydraulics went and the vane fell off...
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Old 02-14-2008
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Andre:

About your auto pilot...I looked up the specks it says it's for up to 20K displacement...arnt you more then that?...Im at 30K on a 41' Irwin..
I have cable wheel steering so I will have to go with some other model like the 10X ( 4 grand though *eyks ) and they say up to 22K displacement?
Anyway from your experience is this an underrating on there part and will work for bigger boats?

Ps: I can See where the PO had a wheel mount auto on my boat now gone...so they are really that bad as you say? I have zero auto pilot experience...I was just going to go that route..

Last edited by Stillraining; 02-14-2008 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 02-14-2008
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I can skip auto pilots, especially the over priced/overhyped ray marine garbage.
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Old 02-14-2008
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I can skip auto pilots, especially the over priced/overhyped ray marine garbage.
Rick please enlighten us to your experiences with Raymarine pilots?
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  #76  
Old 02-14-2008
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Nice thread, once again you guys have showed me how much I don't know.
My little costal cruising, always with in 30 -50 miles of the next port, isn't in the same league of what you are discussing here. Thanks for all the insightful information.
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  #77  
Old 02-14-2008
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What are the perceived problems with a wheel pilot ?

We have one on Raven that does the job nicely. I'd prefer it to be a tad quieter but it's not exactly horrendously noisy. We do have problem with belt slippage but this is caused by a worn wheel (pilot wheel that is) which is out of production and no longer supported.

This thing is fifteen years old and Ok it's ready for the heave ho but it does steer a most satisfactory course. Yaw is no great problem with it.

I doubt I would ever install another one if only because of the exposure to the elements but I'd rather than a wheel pilot than nothing at all even if it was only used when under power.

If I had my choice I'd also have a wind vane.
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Old 02-14-2008
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StillRaining...my old Irwin 44 checked in at 25k lbs....what have you got in that 41 !!?
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  #79  
Old 02-14-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
What are the perceived problems with a wheel pilot ?
I think you've grasped the nettle, so to speak. There's nothing wrong with them, except that they are relatively exposed to the elements (just like most tiller pilots) and just looking at them, there isn't the mechanical advantage that other systems possess. On the other hand, they are certainly accessible!
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I hate to jump into this one but I do want to complain about the lack of support for otherwise functional equipment. TDW's unit would work well with a new pilot wheel.

We suffered the loss of the mounting bracket for our Autohelm 3000 last season. My 3 year old decided to stand on the control unit and it broke the plastic mount. Raymarine did not have any nor did anybody they knew of. I called about 15 shops they ortheir shops recommended. I was quoted big $$$$ by several machine shops to make a new one. I know it is old but it works fine and will last a lot longer with our shorter seasons in the cold north.

Why not stock a few spares?

On the other hand my Datamarine knot meter seemed to be reading funny and when I contacted them they said no problem, try this and if it doesn't work we will turn it around ASAP. What they said to try is flipping the toggle between distance and speed. See little fingers mentioned above, I still feel stupid for that one but the difference in the two company's commitment to their product is night and day. I would buy more new stuff from Datamarine but not Raymarine because they do not back their products adequately.
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