How much hassle is using your windvane? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-29-2012 Thread Starter
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How much hassle is using your windvane?

I'm back in the mental debate of "Windvand vs. Autopilot for primary steering." I've gone back and fourth several times with this issue before and I'm doing it again.

Recently I've been in the autopilot primary camp based on some really good offerings from ALPHA and W-H and the endorsements that follow them. I have serious reservations about if it's even possible to install one with my mizzen and davits and neither of them are going anywhere.

The main reason I've been in the autopilot camp is that even in a circumnavigation most of the sailing is coastal. I have a hard time imagining throwing down 5-6K on something that will only be used on overnight passages. But maybe that's too much of an assumption.

How difficult is it to "fire up" the windvane? Do you do it for 3-6hrs of coastal sailing? Is it even safe in coastal waters with traffic, shallows, and shifting winds? Is it effective inland with said shifting winds? What's involved in "firing it up"? Do you have to put the blade in the water, hook up lines? How much hassle is it? When do you use your vane?


I have a sauna on my boat, therefore I win.
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-29-2012
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Re: How much hassle is using your windvane?

I don't know about "most of the time you are coastal sailing." I have a monitor on Reboot. It takes about 1 to 2 minutes to set it up. I use it all of the time except when within 5 miles of shore (this is because I single hand and take 20 to 30 minute naps - you can't hit shore 5 miles away in 30 minutes (at least most of the time.) It has steered for 21 consecutive days crossing the Atlantic using no power.

Yes I also have an autopilot. Very handy coming into and out of port when I need to be on deck and have Reboot continue in the same direction. Very handy when close in coastal and I am concerned a wind shift would put me on shore.

Hope this helps

CAPT Roger J. Jones USN (ret.)
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-29-2012
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Re: How much hassle is using your windvane?

Although I have a Monitor windvane for our boat I have never used it. We are inland sailors and I don't think it's a good application for a vane. I only have a total of one full day of sailing using a wind vane (my son's boat, Monitor, Bahamas) so I'm no expert, but that one day convinced me that I wouldn't go offshore without one. It was very easy to get it going and even easier to maintain a steady course throughout the day (downwind, reach, 20 knots, 4-6' waves/seas). Here is an interesting story about a vane. I found a letter from the original owner of our boat that he wrote to Monitor after returning home to the PNW from the So. Pacific. He made a 5800 NM crossing from Samoa and encountered three major storms. He wrote Monitor to thank them for building such a strong product and for making sure everything was in the kit they sent him in Samoa prior to departure (he installed the vane there and left without sea trialing it). He went on to say that practically everything else on the boat broke during the crossing (engine, instruments, etc) but the Monitor, which was used continuously, went the entire trip without a single problem .
Our boat was equipped with an Autohelm 7000 (top of the line at the time) autopilot when new, I guess the owner decided after going across the Pacific that a windvane was the way to go and that was why he installed one in Samoa.

SV Laurie Anne

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-29-2012
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Re: How much hassle is using your windvane?

While we don't use ours all that much I wouldn't be without it. At sea using the auto pilot 24/7 would simply be drawing too much power for my liking.

Other than that I do like the quiet.

Andrew B

“Life is a trick, and you get one chance to learn it.”
― Terry Pratchett, Nation

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