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  #1  
Old 11-08-2011
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To wheel pilot or under deck pilot?

Hi,
In the next few months we plan on installing our electronics. Sometime in January we will make the purchase. We have not decided what brand to purchase.

At first I liked the Raymarine brand.

Now it seems we like the Gamin brand. The Garman seem easier to self-install and the touch screen gives you more screen space by eliminating the knobs. We do not need a big screen.

But it is not decided what brand.

We would like to have one multi-function display.
We would like a chart plotter.
Radar
Depth
Autopilot
Possibly wind and all on the display, well mybe not the autopilot.


We currently have no instruments and sail just fine. When we had our last sail boat a Catalina 30 we had a hand held chart plotter (Garmin, it broke). We do have a hand held VHF radio.

We liked the chart plotter to get back into the harbor in the fog.

We will be cruising Mexico and as far south as Ecuador Pacific side.

We will have SSB\Ham and VHF. We also will have Charlie’s Charts.

So here is the rub. Our 36’ sail boat is 17,000 out of the box with no gear on board.

The autopilot is the question.

First the under deck ones offered by Garmin are not only expensive but on our boat (Islander Freeport) it has been said that you lose some steerage. We have a skeg hung rudder and these boats are no Catalina’s when turning happens as is. So we really do not want to lose some steerage.

If we go with the Raymarine wheel pilot SmartPilot X-5 Wheel it is rated for 16,500 fully loaded. Now we have a friend who has a Gulfstar 43’ at 23,000 lbs that has an older wheel pilot 4000 and it works great and has for many years. We also know Islander Freeport owners who have the 4000 wheel pilot and they work good. But of course it would seem the warranty would not be good and the time for it to break is when you need it most, during bad weather when the seas are high and wind is high and the crew is tired. Thats just when the wheel pilot would be working hardest.

So let’s see the wheel pilot is $1.400 or so and it with a black magic box interface with the Garmin chard plotter to work with way points.

Ok I know there is CPT and I have seen one in our type of boat but I did not like the way it took up cockpit space. It also does not interface with the chart plotter which would be nice while motoring.

So can someone cosign on my crap?

Do we want to take a chance for the wheel pilot and not lose steerage and save some big $$ and install head aches?

Or play it by the book and get the under deck autopilot and loose some steerage but not a worry about it breaking when needed?

Is there even a good answer to this question?

We could get both OK not going to happen.
Thanks,
Chip
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Old 11-08-2011
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How would you loose "steerage" with a below deck pilot?
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Old 11-09-2011
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Also, don't know what you mean by lose steering. I think if you are close to the limit with a wheelpilot and you are going as far as Ecaudor get the underdeck. It is so much more powerful and also installs out of the weather so, everything being equal, should be more reliable.

One comment about chartplotters - in the US, all companies use NOAA charts for their cartography but in certain locales different manufacturers have licenses to use particular private charts. If I was going to spend a lot of time in the Bahamas Garmin would be good because they have Explorer Charts that are just wonderful. In the eastern Caribbean, Navionics (used by Raymarine and others) have Imray/Iolaire info. You will have to do some research to see if there are special packages like this where you want to go.
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Old 11-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
How would you loose "steerage" with a below deck pilot?
I was afraid that it was because of my ignorance that I did not understand about loosing steerage with a below deck autopilot. It's good to know that I'm not alone.

A side benefit of below deck AP is that if a steering cable breaks, you can still steer the boat by using the AP interface.

Below is the only way that I would go... unless I loose steerage.
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Old 11-09-2011
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If I lived in San Diego and wanted to go out into the ocean, even just for the day, I would NOT get a wheel pilot. I used to have one that worked OK in Chesapeake Bay but once out of the bay you need something more beefy
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Old 11-09-2011
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A properly installed below deck autopilot, with its tiller arm above the quadrant on the rudder shaft, will "not lose steerage". If it does it was installed incorrectly.

Here's a pic from this site Installation of Raymarine 6001 Linear Drive Autopilot
which details the entire installation well.
Attached Thumbnails
To wheel pilot or under deck pilot?-image036.jpg  
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Old 11-09-2011
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OK guess I should have clarified that losing steerage statement. Funny that because I think I know what I am talking about and usually do not that every one else is supposed to know.
The few that have installed a below deck autopilot on our boats, the Islander Freeport have said that is causes loss of steerage, meaning that because of the limited space etc. under deck that you cannot turn the wheel all the way to port or all the way to starboard any more. The rudder stops before reaching it’s maxim turning ability. It is enough steering loss to affect getting in and out of a slip or truning in the fair way. Probably not much when in the open ocean.
I will look for the latest post in our group to better explain it.
There are also some pictures I can post of that install.
Thanks,
Chip
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Old 11-09-2011
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Here are the pics of this persons install. I will get more details.









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Old 11-09-2011
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It does look a bit tight. If you are not able to get lock to lock with an installation as shown a shorter tiller and/or different location for the ram mount may help. Of course it will have to work harder if the tiller is shorter.
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Old 11-09-2011
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Here is part of the thread that speaks of the autopilot and install with limited steerage.
He does mention a custom arm was made:
I will try to find out more info from him if he is still active.

"I'm having our original under deck Sharp autopilot replaced with a Raymarine
X-10 Smartpilot system with linear drive mounted under the deck. The custom SS
tiller arm was installed today and the rest will be completed next week. The
person I have doing the install didn't think I'd be happy with the smaller unit
while under sail with seas on the quarter (which is the prevailing direction
returning from the Channel Islands). I'll let you know how it works after I
test it next weekend.

We're finally finishing the install the Raymarine X-10 with linear drive and need to re-position the rudder stops. The current stops are set to over 70 degrees which is probably excessive. I've heard that after 33 degrees the steering effectiveness drops exponentially. My installer says that Raymarine recommends 25 degrees and that the Type I linear drive unit can't handle more than 33 degrees (the ABYC standard)... so I'll probably re-set the boats to around 30 degrees.

I was limited to about 30 degrees due to the travel of the linear drive ram. I used the existing steering quadrant so that put the pin (on the outboard end of the linear drive ram) at the recommended 10 inches away from the center of the rudder post.
And yes, my steering is much more limited than I would like. Its just something that I have to account for when operating the boat.
Its really important that the linear drive ram doesn't hyperextend itself. I put my stops at the point to just limit this.
Aside from the limited steering, we love the autopilot. I tested it out under lots of different conditions and it has only kicked out once on a large quartering sea with 20 knots of wind (and probably not a very balanced helm).
"
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