Autopilot selection advice - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-22-2013 Thread Starter
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Autopilot selection advice

I want to install an autopilot this season, and would like some feedback on choices. I want an above deck system for wheel steering. Despite the small size of my 22' boat, it develops a lot of weather helm if it gets out of balance (classic catboat with 400sq. foot sail) so I am interested in the most powerful above deck systems. The manufacturer (Marshall) recommends installing a full below deck hydraulic system to really do the job, but I can't quite justify the cost of doing that and won't be using the AP for long distance work in any case. The only one I currently have in sight is the Raymarine SPX-5 Wheel Pilot. Any other viable contenders with decernt reputations in US market? Thanks for your thoughts.

Mike sullivan
1985 Marshall 22 catboat
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-09-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

Hi Mike,

Did you ever get any advice on your Autopilot choice? I'm in exactly the same situation with my M-22 and not sure how to proceed. I'd be interest in what you've learned.

Thanks,

Rob
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-09-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

Had the Simrad wheel pilot for ten+ years with great performance, when it died and I was unable to find parts for repairs I went with the Raymarine SPX-5 W-P. Have enjoyed the advancements in this new W-P. It holds a closer corse, has ajustments for how quick you want ajustments. Overall I am very satisfied with our now three year old pilot. As usual you have to balance the boat/sails but it has been what it said it was. Happy sailor here, went without a Pilot for almost a year and forgot how nice they are to have, mostly (99%) single hand.

Brad
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-09-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

Hi Rob,
Never got advice, but did buy RayNav Smart Pilot X5 (now replaced with an updated version I think). Got it installed with a bit of bother ( custom fabricated locator pin to replace pin that is supposed to attach to wheel pedestal and made a teak housing to hold control head without putting a big hole someplace near wheel). I am very pleased with outcome. The boat can overpower the unit in heavier winds but it serves very well for what I wanted- a second hand on wheel while I hoist sail, make lunch, etc. I don't use it for steering for long passages or heavy weather and never planned to. At 22 feet you are never far from wheel so i did not (yet) integrate with chart plotter.

If you send me you email I have a series of pictures for the install and a diagram for the fabricated pin. I am at title26" at" gmail.com.

Where are you keeping the Marshall? I am out of Portsmouth, NH right now.

Mike

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post #5 of 10 Old 05-09-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

There is an alternative.

CPT Autopilot Inc.

It has considerably more grunt than those mentioned above. It uses a Bosch wiper motor and simple analogue circuitry. I know of two people using them on 40 ft + boats on circumnavigations.
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-09-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

I have a wheel, my boat is 26 '.
Last year I installed an auto pilot from Raymarine, cost about 1300.
I absolutely love it! easy to use, easy to set up and really keeps a steady course.
I think that the placement of the compass module has to be spot on, right at the water line, as close to the center of the boat as possible.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-10-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

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Originally Posted by TQA View Post
There is an alternative.

CPT Autopilot Inc.

It has considerably more grunt than those mentioned above. It uses a Bosch wiper motor and simple analogue circuitry. I know of two people using them on 40 ft + boats on circumnavigations.
----------------------------------
Classic catboats have some unique issues re: wheel autopilots and I can't initially picture just how the CPT would be installed without being constantly kicked. Wheel is on a long shaft extending forward from aft bulkhead where it directly drives a massive rack and pinion gear. No pedestal, no cables, quadrants, etc. The main CPT unit would have to bolt to the cockpit floor right where your feet rest in the usual positions for steering the boat, and that space is pretty confined since there is also a large slightly raised engine hatch taking up 2/3rds of the cockpit floor. Due to the far forward mast with 22 foot boom and 400 sq. foot single square sail, plus large barn door rudder off the stern, there can be really a lot of weather helm in right conditions, far more than say my Dufour 35 could develop. Historically Marshall has recommended a below deck hydraulic pilot to really handle it well, but that unit is no longer available, the replacement is too large to be installed per Marshall, and they do not now have any real alternative to the RayNav with its known limitations.

Mike sullivan
1985 Marshall 22 catboat
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-10-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

The CPT can be mounted in a number of locations, which would preclude the kicking problem described above. Watch the videos.

Gary
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-14-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

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Originally Posted by mbsl98 View Post
----------------------------------
Classic catboats have some unique issues re: wheel autopilots and I can't initially picture just how the CPT would be installed without being constantly kicked. Wheel is on a long shaft extending forward from aft bulkhead where it directly drives a massive rack and pinion gear. No pedestal, no cables, quadrants, etc. The main CPT unit would have to bolt to the cockpit floor right where your feet rest in the usual positions for steering the boat, and that space is pretty confined since there is also a large slightly raised engine hatch taking up 2/3rds of the cockpit floor. Due to the far forward mast with 22 foot boom and 400 sq. foot single square sail, plus large barn door rudder off the stern, there can be really a lot of weather helm in right conditions, far more than say my Dufour 35 could develop. Historically Marshall has recommended a below deck hydraulic pilot to really handle it well, but that unit is no longer available, the replacement is too large to be installed per Marshall, and they do not now have any real alternative to the RayNav with its known limitations.
seems you should be able to find a pulley to mount on the shaft close to the back bulkhead and mount it there. I am assuming this is kind of like the wheel on an Island Packet? You might search for photos of installs on them. But I do find having a "massive rack" on my boat a good thing!
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-15-2015
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Re: Autopilot selection advice

We looked really closely at the CPT. I am a big fan however the cost of getting one down here to Australia made it a little prohibitive.

In the interim we have settled for a refurbished drive unit for our Raymarine ( as we got a good deal) but when the time comes to replace I will pursue the CPT.

I think it depends on how you sail. Is an autopilot a necessity or a nice luxury?

For us cruising shorthanded with the kids it is relied upon utterly where as on our last boat racing/cruising locally we only engaged it occasionally to put the main up and down or for an hour or two when we were lazy.

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