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post #1 of 10 Old 10-16-2011 Thread Starter
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Best Autopilot for Offshore Work?

For the first time I'm contemplating using an autopilot instead of a windvane. Apparently autopilots have gotten much better than before and there are many reasons I don't want to totally clutter up my transom. Also with a mizzen boom overhanging the stern, I am limited in vane choice.

Can anyone point me in the direction of a few choices for offshore autopilots?

I am interested in a direct to rudder shaft connection as there is good access down there and if my steering cables give out, I'm not totally SOL. (already had that happen once)


Preferably the system would be:
Bombproof, perhaps rated for a NIMITZ class boat?
Able to steer to the wind as well as just a compass course.
Have minimal power usage.
Be easy to service and repair.
Be easy to use.

Now that I've given the impossible list, the compromi$e$ will begin....

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post #2 of 10 Old 10-17-2011
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To start off with and to eliminate unsuitable systems you should post the max gross weight of your boat. I guess that you might be in the border area between a linear electric and a hydraulic system. You can go to Raymarine Marine Electronics - Welcome and use their online autopilot selection system to get their recommended specs (then go one size up). I'm on my 3rd Raymarine now and am happy with what they do, but haven't used any other autopilots to compare against. What I have noticed is that energy consumption goes way up if the boat is not balanced well, and in very heavy weather an unbalanced boat might not be steerable with the autopilot.


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post #3 of 10 Old 10-17-2011
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Sounds like a below deck system is what you are looking for. I have a Raymarine below deck with an electric linear drive hooked directly to the rudder shaft on my UFO 34. However I think a Formosa 41 would be a bit heavy for an electric unit and you are probably looking at a hydraulic unit. My last yacht (Roberts 45) had a hydraulic unit that was 25 years old and was still going strong.

All the new systems can be integrated with wind instruments so they can drive via the wind rather than just a compass course.

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post #4 of 10 Old 10-17-2011
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Probably the most durable autopilot available and very capable, and in your area.

WH Autopilots

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post #5 of 10 Old 10-17-2011
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As the OP is heading back to OZ, this limits his choices of manufacturers to the "big boys" that also have a support netowork down under. I can only think of Simrad and Raymarine but there are probably a couple of others out there.


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post #6 of 10 Old 10-17-2011 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
As the OP is heading back to OZ, this limits his choices of manufacturers to the "big boys" that also have a support netowork down under. I can only think of Simrad and Raymarine but there are probably a couple of others out there.
Ahh... Support network in my cruising area. Good thinking! Things on boats do break.....

Fairhaven is currently nimble and lighter than before, as we're not living aboard, and weighs in at 28,000lbs if you believe various spec sheets. With gear and loaded she's likely going to weigh 30-32,000# (soaking wet of course).

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post #7 of 10 Old 10-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
As the OP is heading back to OZ, this limits his choices of manufacturers to the "big boys" that also have a support netowork down under. I can only think of Simrad and Raymarine but there are probably a couple of others out there.
Agree that Raymarine and Simrad are supported in Oz. I would also add Coursemaster which are an Australian manufactuer with a pretty good reputation. Not sure of availability outside of Oz. Their weblink is Welcome to Coursemaster

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post #8 of 10 Old 10-31-2011
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I'd like to jump into the mix here....I am likewise looking to add a under deck autopilot and have great company reviews from Garmin on their new GHP 12, for displacements from, I think 17,000 to 78,000. However I have not seen any independent input on the performance or installation...Any news or experience with the product?

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post #9 of 10 Old 11-02-2011
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SIMRAD got my vote after comparing the heft of the drive unit to its competitors at the same boat-size rating. There are big forces at work, so installation matters at least as much as the mfg. Read up and think about the physics before you jump in, if you intend to do it yourself. My AP24 with a split 300 single drive unit has had only 1 issue since its installation 4 years ago, and that one was my fault: rainwater got to the electronically actuated clutch solenoid. SIMRAD replaced the part for free.
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post #10 of 10 Old 09-07-2012
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Re: Best Autopilot for Offshore Work?

As an update on the autopilot search, I had the Garmin 12 installed by Cay Elect from Portsmouth, RI. and Jamestown Boatyard, both of whom did first class work in building the needed support structures under the cockpit and installing all elect.
I am very happy with the functioning in offshore conditions. My boat has about 17,000 to 19,000 displacement.

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