Over Hill Sailing Club
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Adirondacks NY
Thanked 99 Times in 96 Posts
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The Norvane works well in strong winds as long as the helm is balanced and the wind is not too gusty. It is best when well offshore, away from changing wind conditions. In a steady wind, it is a real pleasure to be able to get away from the wheel. The thing will steer for hours on end. The effects of shore on wind direction and intensity happen too quickly for the vane to deal with. It needs to be adjusted if the wind direction changes to maintain the same course. It cannot correct enough to overpower gust-caused windward helm. It will try its best but just cannot turn the wheel enough to deal with this. I have arranged the wheel lines so that they can be immediately released when this happens. It is not as efficient as a good autopilot which will correct immediately but requires no power drain.
With a following sea, I would estimate that it is really not very useful below 5 knots but I have not done that much serious experimentation with it to see if I can improve its performance in those conditions. Also, a following sea causes the boat to slew around a bit coming down the backsides of waves and this complicates its mission. The apparent wind is often close to 0 when going downwind below 10 knots so there is really not much wind for the vane to detect. Once the wind gets to blowing faster than the boat can go, it is more effective.
Alberg 35: With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.