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post #1 of 6 Old 10-16-2013 Thread Starter
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autopilot for coronado 45 - wheel or not

Im looking at adding autopilot. Anyone have experience with wheel pilot with a boat this size or any size? After reading extensively about each major company it seems like they have a weight rating. Seems to me like that should not be a factor. Seems like it should be based on how hard it is to turn wheel. Any thoughts or ideas?

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post #2 of 6 Old 10-16-2013
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Re: autopilot for coronado 45 - wheel or not

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Originally Posted by boknows View Post
Im looking at adding autopilot. Anyone have experience with wheel pilot with a boat this size or any size? After reading extensively about each major company it seems like they have a weight rating. Seems to me like that should not be a factor. Seems like it should be based on how hard it is to turn wheel. Any thoughts or ideas?
For what it's worth, the weight of the boat is used merely as an indicator of the amount of effort needed to steer the yacht in various conditions. The list displacement of your boat is about 25K lbs and fully loaded I suspect it is closer to 28K. To get an idea of the effort needed to manage the boat by a wheel pilot, try steering by holding the spokes of your wheel within 4-6 inches of the hub, rather than the rim, in a good stiff wind and moderate to heavy sea. Then think about that effort having to be applied by a toothed belt tensioned over an idler wheel and turned by a relatively small drive motor. While a pilot utilizing a below-deck ram connected directly to your rudder-shaft or quadrant will be more costly, they are much stronger and more robust which is important if you want to be able to depend upon the equipment for an extended period at sea.

Again, FWIW...

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post #3 of 6 Old 10-16-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: autopilot for coronado 45 - wheel or not

Fantastic answer

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post #4 of 6 Old 10-16-2013
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Re: autopilot for coronado 45 - wheel or not

On a boat that size I think you only have the choice of CPT wheel pilot or an under deck system. The CPT is not really able to be connected to a chart plotter or other automatic systems but is quite simple and from what I have read very reliable. Kind of the KISS concept, nothing more than keeping a heading, but does it well. If you want to be able to tie into a chart plotter, then you are locked into a below deck mount, and your price goes up from there.

As a side note I have read someone has successfully hacked a CPT to connect to some other controllers, but I don't think I would want to attempt it, and I am a hacker by nature. I think systems like this are best left stock. CPT's support is supposed to be good and most of the components are common parts that can be sourced locally almost anywhere in the world (the motor is a windshield wiper motor).

If you use an auto pilot that is not intended for that heavy of a boat, and I think the Raymarine X5 is rated at 16,000 pounds, you will obviously be on your own and likely void the warranty. You might be OK with very well balanced sail trim, but if you have a rapid change in wind direction you could easily overpower the system and do some damage to the components. I think Ray is the only other wheel mounted available anymore in the US at least.

Last edited by miatapaul; 10-16-2013 at 05:40 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-16-2013
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Re: autopilot for coronado 45 - wheel or not

Had a wheel pilot on a 36 footer - made it halfway between Africa and Indonesia and it stopped working - never worked again.

Now have a 44 footer with a below-decks pilot (Raymarine ST6001) onto the rudder stock and it steers me through the toughest weather you can imagine. Uses almost no power on a long voyage and it's really set-and-forget.

With your boat I wouldn't consider a wheel pilot.


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post #6 of 6 Old 10-17-2013
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Re: autopilot for coronado 45 - wheel or not

In 1999 I installed a Navico YP500 (pity they don't mfg them anymore) on a 45 Coronado Center Cockpit (Tks Mr. Tripp). Only issues were the following.

HUGE amount of force on the mount points for the Hydraulics. You will have to have a "tiller arm" to connect the rudder to the cylinder shaft. We added a tiller to the rudder quadrant sleeve and the initial design was not strong enough. Snapped off in 18' seas 100 miles NE of Panama. Had to go back and repair. Overbuilt the dickens out of it and never had another issue with that end... The other high stress point is the mount for the cylinder itself. Again we underestimated the force as the boat was always light on the helm, even with a small wheel. Anyway the mount never gave way but the initial flex was alarming and required much jury rig re-enforcement. Would have been much easier to over build it in the first place.

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