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  #1  
Old 02-27-2009
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Question Which tiller pilot to buy?

Well, I got my tax return, and need to quickly spend it on the boat before I 'waste' it. Thus, my question is:

What do current owners think about purchasing a Simrad TP22 vs. a Raymarine ST2000+? (both available here at Sailnet)

My boat is 32' (in spec for both) and I plan to hook it to my NEMA GPS (which both appear to support). I don't have experience actually using either unit, and as such your advice is appreciated.

Thanks,

--
Joe
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Old 02-27-2009
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Regardless of which unit you get, I would highly recommend making a splash sleeve for it, as that will help prevent problems with water intrusion—which is the main cause of them dying prematurely.
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Old 02-27-2009
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Hello,
I am thinking of a Raymarine X5 for my First 31.7.
It seems that Raymarine has postponed the release a few times since last year, but it is now available, and supposed to supersede the ST4000. It integrates a gyro, and doesn't need any "tiller sensor", which makes it very easy to install, and probably mechanically more reliable as well. The few comments I read about it are really good, so you may want to give it some thoughts too
My 2 cents.
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Old 02-28-2009
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I have a Simrad TP22 on my Westerly (26', about 7,000 lbs). The TP10 is the 'right' size for my boat, but I went 1 size up to ensure performance. I've had it for about 2 years and it's worked very well.
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Old 02-28-2009
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when shopping for these most of the electronics guys said its better to go with the simrad so we did, just have to install it now..
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Old 02-28-2009
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Lightbulb

Yes. Simrad wins hands down. I have has numerous Ray TP's, and they were all marginal. My Sim 30 beats them all. Faster, stronger, and less aggravated by anomalies, electrical or otherwise. BTW, the Ray and Sim units will interchange on the same mount and tiller pin, with the only install differences being in the wiring plug.

Do go up a size when possible. It is definitely worth the extra money. The faster hardover time will be appreciated. I would go with a Simrad 32 for your boat. The similar-sized Ray requires a separate panel, whereas the Simrad is all self-contained, just like the wimpy, undersized Ray units. BTW, you may find a NOS or eBay Sim 30. Same guts, but only NMEA 0183, not NMEA 2000.

And do verify that the gaskets are good. I had one fill up during a "biblical" rainstorm. Simrad warranty fixed it, but I nonetheless advocate a ziplock with a small hole for the ram to keep the controls out of the weather.

Keep in mind that none of these can actually steer well when pinching or running. Certainly not when running under Chute. Only a helmsman can see a wave or a puff; the autopilot must sense that it has [already] gone off course before correcting.
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Old 02-28-2009
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You'll find my negative comments on Raymarine elsewhere in these pages. They have noting to do with Raymarine's product but their business practices.

Encre2Chine is incorrect. The X5 does not replace the ST4000. The S1 replaced the ST4000. The X-5 replaces the S1. You don't remember the S1? That's funny because it's introduction date was pushed back about six months and that's how long I had to wait for it while the 4000 was unavailable pending the arrival of the S-1. Sound familiar?

I didn't have the S-1 in my hands for six mionths, it wasn't even installed on the boat yet, when Raymarine replaced it with the X-5. That I might have elected to wait for this next generation autopilot from Raymarine apparently never occurred to them as it was news to everyone that yet another new pilot was following so closely on the heels of the S-1. Kinda soured me on them. Oh, a FYI, all the components are made in Hungary if that's a factor in your decision-making.

All that being said, I've been relatively happy with the performance of the S-1. I bought their largest model which is wildly over-sized for my boat but, it being a tiller pilot, I can envision taking it with me to the next boat if there is one in my future and the general consensus among those experienced with these units is that you're best off getting one size over in capability. An autopilot that becomes undersized due to sea conditions becomes an unreliable unit. And reliability should be a primary focus. Get more than you need and you'll be much less likely to be disappointed when you really need it to perform in extremis.
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If you move up to the X-5 you do not have to worry about the controls watertight integrity as they are mounted separately from the ram at the tiller. There is a certain convenience in having the control panel right at the tiller but at the risk of it being more easily damaged or otherwise compromised.
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Old 03-27-2009
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Results

Hello all, and thanks for your replies.

I ended up getting the Raymarine SmartPilot X-5 because of integrated gyro (as mentioned here). I just finished using it for almost 4 full days of sailing over the past weekend, and am very happy with it. It is sufficiently 'oversized' for my boat (since it is for displacements of up to 13k lbs and I am 8.5k lbs) but it did a great job of steering in heavy wind, including downwind. It did loose course a couple of times surfing downwind in 20kts heading back into the golden gate bridge, but I don't really blame it -- I do too under those conditions.

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Joe
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