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  #11  
Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

In a worst-case scenario, which is safer/easier to work on? Assume tools & parts aboard, but no help within 500km, which can you fix in the middle of a dark and stormy night without damaging delicate bits of your anatomy?
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Come to think of it, isn't there a less expensive option than Hydravane ? Yes I know they are very good indeed and for a round the world voyager probably the best option but with your boat @ 35' and working on the Pacific voyage ?

My old 28'er had a Plastimo which was more than adequate for what we needed and a damn sight cheaper than Hydravane.

btw ... has anyone any concerns about mounting a wind vane under solar array ? The top of the vane is getting close to the frame and I wonder whether or not air flow might be disturbed.
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Last edited by tdw; 08-21-2013 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
Come to think of it, isn't there a less expensive option than Hydravane ? Yes I know they are very good indeed and for a round the world voyager probably the best option but with your boat @ 35' and working on the Pacific voyage ?

My old 28'er had a Plastimo which was more than adequately for what we needed and a damn sight cheaper than Hydravane.
Yes in theory. In reality I am not havng much luck. I am open to recommendations if anyone does genuinely know of a cheaper suitable alternative.

In terms of brand new units I have quotes from 4 different manufacturers. All within $1000 of each other. Second hand there was a Hydrovane on Ebay a month ago, a 70's model that looked like it had been in the back of a shed for 10 years and it was for sale for 1.5k, i would of spent alot more money making it work.

I could look to used servo style vanes, and I very well might. But on a centre cockpit these would be a PITA, and mean a complete rebuild of our swim ladder as well.

Your right....I hope, but damned if I can find it at the moment!!!
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by chall03 View Post
Yes I realise this is another autopilot vs Windvane thread.
I would never ever put to sea with a wind vane. Never.

I am not throwing down the gauntlet, just stating I would never ever go to sea with a wind vane.


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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
I would never ever put to sea with a wind vane. Never.

I am not throwing down the gauntlet, just stating I would never ever go to sea with a wind vane.


Mark
I am really interested to hear that as I know you have been to sea once or twice

In reality I am not interested in the whole theoretical sailing forum discussion on this, but what people are actually finding and actually doing out there. For us to buy one would be a big chunk of change, the time and effort for the install one more thing to do and we would then have it attached to our butt forever more.

So ummm why??
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

I wouldn't go to see with out it. Zero mechanical failures in 14 years. No amp draw. Easy to use. looks good. better then any crew out there...
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Couple of things (what follows are my own opinions, YMMV):

Firstly, the modern auto pilots on a voyage use a lot less power than most people think. The computers used sense the sea state by checking for repetitive movements and if there are any they are over time, eliminated. By the time you have been at sea for a few days, all of the sea state has been removed and only course adjustment remains. We reached a stage in all our passages where the movements on the wheel were almost imperceptible and the current draw was the same.

Secondly, auto pilots work in almost all conditions. We sailed with ours from the USA to New Zealand in widely differing conditions and the time that we spent at the wheel would be less than 1%. We only took the wheel when we went into ports/anchorages, the rest of the time the pilot did the work. A windvane will not do this - you will spend a lot more time hand steering.

Thirdly, a wind vane does not steer a straight course - it basically waddles down a zig zag course correcting itself all along the way. How many miles does that add? I don't know but it does add miles.

Fourthly, a wind vane can't be made to adjust to shifting wind. If the wind shifts 10 degrees in the early evening and you're not paying attention, you could be well off course by the morning. A pilot can do both - steer a course or steer to the wind whichever you choose. You may ask why would you not want to follow the wind. Well when you're sailing off the wind (which is most of the time), an auto pilot will hold your course with very little effect on the set of the sails or boat performance.

Fifthly (is there such a word?), a vane takes up a lot of room, not only with its installation on the stern but with control lines coming into the cockpit. They're always in the way.

By now you're correctly of the understanding that I don't like wind vanes that much - I had an Aries on an earlier boat and even though it was at the time one of the best available, I hardly ever used it - it was too much work. I would not have another Vane even if given it for free. To add a few batteries to your electricity reserve is very little money compared to the cost of a "decent" vane.

Just a question (and I confess to not having any background) I have had discussions with sailors in NZ regarding a wind vane made in Australia called a Fleming. They gave it rave reviews in terms of performance but I don't think it was particularly cheap or small. I don't know much about it but have you had a look at it?
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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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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Mark -- Is your comment re: windvanes mostly about the risk of deviating off course with changes in wind direction, esp. when single or short-handed? As someone who singlehands a lot, what do you use for backup, if anything? Is heaving-to for rest realistic if all else fails?

Omatako -- Excellent description of the benefits of modern AP's. Without taking anything away from windvanes, I wholeheartedly agree and have an excellent AP which I've used in all conds., 99% of the time, with zero problems. I am still, however, wrestling with a suitable backup for my 47', 20T center cockpit sloop for lengthy passagemaking. Along with AP spares, the CPT wheel pilot & Hydrovane are the front-runners thus far. What, if anything, do you have for backup? The little I know about the Fleming, btw, is it's a servo-type, all stainless steel, and seems to enjoy a good rep.

JonE -- Always nice to have feedback from someone with direct experience. The servos have the rep of working better the worse the conditions. I've always been a bit dubious whether this applied to the non-servo Hydrovane, esp. on larger, heavier boats. In the conditions you described on your trip on the HR, do you think it would have been realistic -- hypothetically and assuming you lost your self-steering and were single/short-handed -- to have heaved-to when rest was needed? Nice pic, btw.

Thanks all for the helpful info.

Dan
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Jeanne has just completed her 3rd single handed circumnavigation.

Her blog is here CLICKY.

If you read it through you will see she had problems with her autopilots on all three. There were times when her wind generator was broken, both main engine and generator engine were U/S, the sun was not shining and her batteries were flat.

The back up was a Hydrovane which just kept on ticking.

If I was going on multiday passages I think I would fit one.
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