Self steering on wheel steered boats - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

Another vote for the leccy AP.

Had a wind vane and while they are great for crossing oceans they are often a bit critical on sail balance and totally useless when it comes to holding the boat into wind so you can raise or drop the main while single handed.
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

In addition to being a redundant system on my boat, my windvane maintains control of the boat in much heavier weather than my below-decks autopilot. Off Puerto Deseado, Argentina, it maintained course in 45+ kts for well over 24 hours without any tweaking. Also, it is MUCH quicker to respond to the roll of individual swells and keep a steady course when the seas are aft of the beam which greatly reduces big sail dumps when broad reaching (especially when there is large swell and not a huge amount of wind).

I just installed mine on the boat in 2009 after my autopilot crapped out just hours after leaving Cape Verde for Brazil and I spent 15 days hand steering. Bottom line: The best money I have put into the boat for upgrades.

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post #13 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

My autopilot is attached to an emergency tiller, which works fine on my wheel steered boat.
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post #14 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

I have been using a Monitor for over 25 years and 50,000 sea miles. they are great. I have a wheel with a worm gear, no problem. I also have an auto pilot
for motoring. I vane is more reliable and most importantly does nor use Power
just the wind.
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post #15 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

I switched to a below deck autopilot for my wheel-steered 35' sloop after several years of problems with my wheelpilot. My first below-deck pilot worked virtually flawlessly for 10 years, until lightning scrambled its electronic brain.

Now, lightning is a statistically rare event according the the surveyor for my insurance company, but when your number is up, you need to be prepared. Self-steering is attractive as a hedge against Thor, particularly when you are a long way from repairs. That said, the Bahamas may not be that far from repair/parts options.

And then there is Murphy. My replacement AP suffered a mechanical failure of the linear actuator with less than 10 hours on it. It was the same design as my 10 yr-old actuator that had never failed!

So what to do for an AP spares philosophy? I really don't know, but suspect if I were to go to the Bahamas I would stick with my below deck AP and consider that there were not any long passages that we couldn't handle with a 2 person crew in a pinch. I'd consider that any repairs might take a while, but hopefully I'd be on island time at that point.

My bottom line: an integrated, below deck AP will work over a wide range of conditions, including motoring into the wind, sailing/motor sailing in light winds and can take you to a waypoint while compensating for currents and leeway. For the Bahamas I'd take a chance on not needing a long list of spares.
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post #16 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

Had a Fleming on a Tayana 37. She steered the boat more than me and did a far better job except downwind and in very light air(as folks have mentioned). Don't have one on the PSC 34 just the below deck autopilot and found didn't miss playing with the vane. It was nice having a stern ladder. Forget where but there was an article comparing noon to noons between a vane, an autopilot and a live helm's man. The vane won out. Having said that now that autopilots are so much better have gone to the dark side and joined Minnie in the way I think about this. Be real interested in what spares he thinks you should carry.

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post #17 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

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Originally Posted by outbound View Post
.....Be real interested in what spares he thinks you should carry.
To really be prepared, you probably need almost an entirely redundant system. For sure you need the motor. But you probably need the processor as well as a controller. Linkage next, at least the cabling. A spare remote compass, not sure.

Wouldn't you just love to have an entirely redundant AP installed and ready to flip a switch. All it would really need to do is hold a heading as a backup.


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post #18 of 20 Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

We agree
Self steering is as important with little (or no) wind as with wind.
That is why we suggest retrofitting a wind vane (like our Moniitor) with an 'trick-assist' electric or separate electric wheel unit.
NOTHING is as important as some form of self steering.
This is not just for like us old folks like us (70 about ready for our next trip back across the Atlantic). No one should be be 'out''there' without an autopilot.
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post #19 of 20 Old 03-03-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

Interesting and helpful posts... thank you all...
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post #20 of 20 Old 03-03-2013
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Re: Self steering on wheel steered boats

I've considered that a wheelpilot as a backup for my heavier duty below deck AP might be more practical than carrying a complete spares kit for the primary AP. Installing repair parts in my 35 footer is not something I'd want to do at sea, considering where the repairs would have to be done (on my head in a narrow lazarette.)

My only caveat on having an installed backup wheelpilot is protecting the electronics from lightning. There are ways to handle this, perhaps with a partial installation of the wheelpilot, with the sensitive electronic parts held in reserve (in a faraday cage). In my experience with lightning, you will lose all of your exposed electronics--even if it isn't a primary strike. In my first strike, the detachable control head for my early wheelpilot was sitting on a shelf--not connected to anything--and it didn't work afterwards. Had it been wrapped in aluminum foil or stored in the open, it might have survived.

That said, my most recent AP failure was the linear actuator due for mechanical reasons. If I had an completely installed wheelpilot I might have switched over in minutes. That would have been convenient to allow me to trouble shoot the raw water failure that occurred half an hour later as we were motoring dead upwind. (Murphy likes to gang up on you!)

BTW, the cost of my linear actuator is about the cost of a complete wheelpilot. Spares are not cheap!
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