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

Andre,
Interesting point re power consumption. I guess it also comes down to just how well balanced the boat is.

JonE,
I confess I've never fully trusted our windvane, though that may be inexperience on my part. Ref the fitting of the rudder .... you are correct, it is a pain in the arse. We find that rudder needs to be shipped before we leave port. The idea of having to ship the thing at sea is not worth considering.

Andrew B

SeaLife Mark,
Why not ?

For me I'd not replace AutoPilot with Windvane but I'd like to have both.
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
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.
True, if you have a boat that balances well and are a good enough sailor to be able to trim to conditions. What we see repeated in anchorages from the US to Thailand is boats with broken autopilots(motherboards in auto helm 5000, 6000 series) broken rams and hydraulics(most) broken fittings on attachments from ram to rudder post(all). All sorts of electrical issues, surrounded by NEMA interface issues(trying to make everything talk to each other) Power consumption has gone down for most, IF, and that is the big one, your sail trim and balance are in accord. Most new offshore sailors will be "over" canvased" in the belief it is faster and the
"AP" can handle it.

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.
True & False- Yes electric works in most conditions, until it doesn't. Then what? I still like a stint at the wheel, pretty boring to have the AP and Windvane do all the work. Most folks will not know how the boat is really sailing unless they get on the wheel. The electric AP will falsely let you think everything is fine...

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.
Somewhat true-This is the big key in the learning factor on using a wind vane. Windvane steering favors a a reduced main and more headsail (tradewind sailing, Off the wind). Also sheets need to be a looser. If your zig zagging all over you probably have to much main and are rounding up, the electric AP's are correcting for this all the time, maybe just a bit faster. The additional miles are so small as to be insignificant for me. I think we go a bit faster with sailing the vane, the sails trimmed to the wind, our Polar's suggest something in the 135 degree range anyway, which is darn near perfect in trade wind conditions.

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.
True & False- The electric pilot will steer the course, if the wind shifts it will affect your sail trim. Why would you not be paying attention all night? Not looking at the course or trim for 12 hours? OK, trade wind sailing is easy but still, you need to be looking at things....electric or windvane.

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.
True & False- Boat design is a huge factor. Center cockpits are really tough for Windvane steering. However, Double enders are darn near perfect...Sugar scoop sterns, swim steps etc all make the windvane steering installation a challenge. A lot more thought needs to go into leading the lines into the cockpit... A proper set up minimizes the run and reduces friction. When not at sea, I remove them from the wheel, a 2 minute operation.

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.
Maybe just part of the learning curve and installation...

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?
I have heard good things about the Fleming as well.

I have a small wheel pilot and use it for motoring and some light dead down wind work. This is a good combo for me. The Monitor has more then paid for itself in reliability and durability. Never had to wait for wind vane parts in exotic ports. I
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Last edited by aeventyr60; 08-21-2013 at 07:29 PM.
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  #23  
Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
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.
I can't help feeling that it is a tough indictment on APs suggesting that "she had problems with her autopilots on all three" when it seems to me in real terms she had problems with a whole lot of other stuff that negatively influenced her AP. Just fix the other stuff and the AP will work again. Sorry, I never read her blog (no time) so maybe I'm supposing things again.

But to me that's like saying "I removed those controls lines to get more comfort in the cockpit and now that that d@mned wind vane isn't working again".
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
I have a small wheel pilot and use it for motoring and some light dead down wind work. This is a good combo for me. The Monitor has more then paid for itself in reliability and durability. Never had to wait for wind vane parts in exotic ports. I
So I have an AP that has worked flawlessly since I got the boat. A friend has sailed for several years with the same model AP and not a hiccup. So I guess that also qualifies as "paid for itself in reliability" especially since it's way less expensive than a good quality wind pilot.

Wheel pilots IMHO are for small boats - once you get to 35ft or more they're not going to do the job and then a wind pilot would be better (even though I don't like them )
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Old 08-21-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
So I have an AP that has worked flawlessly since I got the boat. A friend has sailed for several years with the same model AP and not a hiccup. So I guess that also qualifies as "paid for itself in reliability" especially since it's way less expensive than a good quality wind pilot.

Wheel pilots IMHO are for small boats - once you get to 35ft or more they're not going to do the job and then a wind pilot would be better (even though I don't like them )
Good for you, probably an exception, and maybe a more experienced sailor then most.

The CPT works fine, all about balance.
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
Andre,
Interesting point re power consumption. I guess it also comes down to just how well balanced the boat is.
That is a really important point. Our ST 4000 tiller pilot seems to only sip power but our medium-heavy cruiser type boat tracks well and sail balance is easy to achieve. Might be different in a lighter boat.
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Had a Fleming on a Tayana. Beautifully made and worked flawlessly.Was sensitive to which sized blade you had up and tilt of that blade but easy to learn what to do. On current have raymarine. Have little experience with it. Told if I carry a spare ram and rudder angle sensor should be fine. Told once you get rid of software hiccoughs electronics very unlikely to break. ? What spares do folks using AP carry?. Is it worth the money to carry spares? Or is money better spent toward a hydro generator? ( have solar/ wind already).
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  #28  
Old 08-22-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Thanks Andre, Jon E, aeventyr60, outbound et all. Alot of food for thought.

On power consumption I must say that we have found our existing wheel pilot to be more reasonable than we thought on the multiday passages we have done up and down the coast. We have always been conservative ( perhaps bordering on paranoid) in running the engine periodically and keeping the batteries well fed.

I have heard similar comments to what you say Jon about the Hydrovane on larger vessels, but for every naysayer there seems to be someone who swears by them. I personally think that for larger vessels there seems to be no doubt about the superiority of servo-pendulum systems. We are however 35ft and centre cockpit, so the Hydrovane is kinda a neat(but expensive) fit.

Have had a look at the Fleming, they do make an auxillary rudder system, but seems to be on par pricewise with Hydrovane.
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Old 08-22-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

A few hours of battery charging on passage for the AP isn't going to break the bank.

As far as spares go...good to check ebay and the garage, boater sales type events. Never know what you'll find. Those spare's going to be worth gold up in de islands!

I did at one time have a tow generator, but got rid of it last year, 360 watts of solar and the wind generator are plenty. We rarely start the engine for battery charging purposes.
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Old 08-23-2013
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Re: Self steering dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
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.
This was one of our concerns. Hydrovane tell us that we would need the 'stubby vane' to clear our frame and 2.88m between waterline and the bottom of the frame.

Maybe email Hydrovane some pics and get their take on it??
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