I am very seriously considering a Hydrovane autopilot for my Union Polaris 36, a double ender.
My ship is worm-gear steered, and does not have facility for an emergency tiller, so the self-contained Hydrovane system is attractive for that reason. It will serve as a spare rudder, effectively.
Because of the boomkin and its supporting centre-line strut, I will have to mount the Hydrovane slightly off centre, perhaps about 6", but I am reminded that it will not affect the performance much, if at all.
What do you think, guys?
The Hydrovane looks like a very nice bit of gear.. a friend mounted one before sailing to and around Mexico's Pacific coast and the Sea of Cortez.
The 'auxillary rudder' feature is a good one, though having to mount it underway would be a chore, I think... I believe that for the most part they relied on their RM autopilot, but did use the vane for the longer legs. It performed well for them AFAIK...
Don't think 6" off center would be a huge issue...
We have a Hydravane on the new girl although to date we havn't used it in anger. Reports however from previous owners are all positive. That thing has steered her from Sweden to Australia via Panama plus two tours of duty around the islands of Oceania and thus far without any failures.
It is quite capable of acting as emergency tiller. Ours also has an attachment for a tiller pilot giving a back up auto pilot if required.
I've also heard they can be mounted off centre without effecting performance. I wish ours was though I doubt we'll move it. I'm not all that keen on drilling new holes in the transom.
We were down to a choice of Hydrovane and Monitor and started doing the really detailed research. Because the Hydrovane steers the boat rather than steering the wheel like a Monitor it must have a much stronger mount and often transoms have to be reinforced. Our transom is very strongly built so that was not a problem. What was the problem that our boat was built with a variety of hoses (exhaust, bilge, fuel vent) looping up and then down inside the transom. Having to remove and reroute all of these would have been a nightmare. With the Monitor you only have to drill four holes and mount the unit with fender washers - whole thing took about a day. Monitor make an emergency steering option but I no nothing more about it than it exists. We have been very pleased with the Monitor and can recommend it.
We are very pleased with our Hydrovane. It has served us quietly and efficiently from about two knots of true wind all the way to forty-five. One of its features is its ability to be mounted off-centre; ours is displaced 22cm to allow access through the transom gate. In an emergency, it also serves as one of our two spare rudders.
I have no emergency steering position.
It has always made me wary.
The weather is closing in on me anyway. I really must get to Fort William by Dec 23, or I will have to wait to March 19 before I can get through the canal again and to the boatyard at Ardrishaig. I trust the guy there, he does good stuff.
The weather for the next two weeks looks terrible..... snow, and headwinds..... some of them full gales.
If only the wind would swing behind me!
Such is life.
I guess it will have to wait a while.
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