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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-08-2002 07:49 AM
monitor windvane

I agree that scanmar was being cautious in advising against using the vane under power. I have had the engine running with the vane in the water and it was not harmed. But, the norsea only had a 13hp engine so the force of the prop wash is relatively small. Since they spec the vane for boats up to around 40 feet I suspect they are more concerned about the prop wash from bigger boats. The forces on the vane when sailing fast are not small, especially if the boat is not perfectly balanced.

One of the things I like about the capehorn is that it can be installed off center. There is a boat like my new one here in the bay with on installed to port and, in photos, it does not look like the vane even sticks out behind the boat at all. Its a canoe stern as opposed to a flat transom boat.

With the vane installed off cener the prop wash problem is probably reduced. But, the capehorn literature does not say you need to worry about an off center installation if you want to use the vane to steer under power.

Another factor that may allow the capehorn to deal with propwash is that the vane is not short and wide like the monitor. Its long and thin. Much of the vane would normally be out of reach of the prop wash and the part of the vane in the prop wash would not have that large of a surface area to absorb energy from the prop wash.

I have not heard anyone here in the bay say anything but good things about their monitor vanes. The one exception is a member of our yacht club who did a circumnavigation in a custom designed cold molded 50 footer. He tried a monitor vane and it could not function in the wake of his big spade rudder. He said he would have had to install two of them (one port and one starboard) to be able to use a windvane on his boat. He really wanted it to work. An autopilot to steer a boat that big can really suck some amps. It was not really a monitor problem, any vane would have had the same problem.

One of the reasons I did not pursue the issue with the monitor on the norsea was that the small autopilot that I would have used on the vane did a perfectly fine job of steering the boat under power when I hooked it to the tiller (even when I mounted it much farther forward than the manufacturer specified.) Under power the tiller pilot did not need the range of motion that it needed to steer under sail. On the aft cabin norsea it would have been a pain to be constantly climbing back to work with the tiller pilot mounted on the vane. I did consider using a flexible engine control cable to transmit the tiller pilot motion back to the vane, but always decided to go sailing instead of screwing around with it.

12-08-2002 02:56 AM
monitor windvane

John, I thought your comments on the +/- of the Monitor were right on. (The ''oil derrick'' extension was one reason I went with a Sailomat, altho'' that choice has trade-offs, as well). And I suspect you find L38-advertised Monitors disappearing so quickly due to your location: lots of readers and lots of dock talk about Monitors given Scanmar''s location.

However, I''m wondering if you actually motored any extended periods with your servo oar in the water? Sailomat, like Scanmar, warns against this. In Sailomat''s case, the designer/builder says the prop wash will unduly wear the bearings and/or other parts of the structure via shaking/shuddering/etc. However, I just haven''t found this to be the case and wonder if this is an example of the manufacturer being cautious vs. working off empirical data from the field. Did you have any experience with this on your Norsea? In our case, I totally disassembled the unit to clean and repaint it and found no abnormal wear nor ways in which the wear would occur, even after doing a lot of motorsailing and some motoring with the oar trailing in the prop wash while in the Caribbean. Have you seen other vanes in the SF Bay area where this occurred? Just fishing for more data before going offshore again...

12-07-2002 06:30 AM
monitor windvane

About twice a year I see a monitor for sale in "Latitude 38" here in San Francisco. Twice I called as soon as I saw the issue and the monitor had already been sold. One person I know who bought a used monitor ended up within $500 of the price of a new one by the time he had the mounting tubes for his boat fabricated.

I had a monitor on my NorSea 27 and really liked it. It steered the boat all the way to Hawaii with the exception of a brief 20 minute experiment with the autopilot.

The only negatives I noted were that the monitor on the stern made stern anchoring very difficult and my plans to use a small autopilot to operate the vane while motoring were nixed by the monitor folks who said that the prop wash put a lot of stress on the oar.

Im having a new boat built and plan to put the capehorn vane on it. This elegant device only extends 4" beyond the back of the boat and connects directly into the boats steering system. The oar that goes in the water is custom made for the size and steering characteristics of your boat and is only about $180 to replace. The oar on a monitor is $1000. The capehorn folks endorse the idea of using a small tiller pilot to operate the vane and even provide the below deck attachment point. Their web site is They have several models for different sized boats and they are cheaper than monitor, especially if you consider that monitor sells you a $200 bag of spare parts and capehorn does not need any.

The capehorn vanes can be highly customized for the boat (taller vane, differen oar, different mechanics) so buying a used one might be more complex than buying a used monitor. But, the parts are cheaper so making a used vane fit a new boat should cost less.

The monitor worked fine and, like I say, I was happy with it. But, the capehorn has a good reputation and overcomes most of the problems with the monitor and is cosmeticaly superior.

Also consider the cost of berthing the two and 1/2 feet of a monitor vane versus the 4" of the cape horn vane. My slip rental went up about $15 per month when I added the monitor. slip rates were about 4.50 a foot at that at 7.50 a foot the monitor would cost over $22 a month. A lot of people remove the monitor when they are not going cruising.

The monitor folks asked me how I would feel about trying to fix problems with the steering attachment on the cape horn when the weather was bad. I think I would rather be upside down in a lazerette than upside down over the stern of my boat. In my experience the vanes are so reliable that the probability of a failure is small. Also the capehorn control lines are out of the sun and should last much longer that those on the monitor which are always exposed to the sun and weather.

A windvane is a wonderful addition to a boat. Its silent and leaves all your spare amphours for cooling the beer. It does not get tired or complain and the harder the wind blows the better it works. Getting it to work under all conditions also teaches you a lot about sailing your boat in a balanced state.
12-07-2002 06:27 AM
monitor windvane

Paul, Jeff''s right about the mounting frames but Scanmar is eager to provide a new frame suitable for your boat that will fit with the used Monitor product you buy. (They''re at

A good friend purchased a used Monitor a few years ago for his 40'' sloop but, after a Caribbean trip, has concluded he doesn''t use it enough to justify the investment. As of two weeks ago, it was still for sale. If you''re interested, email me at yahoo and I''ll forward it, putting you directly in touch with him.

We were docked in Trinidad near one another less than 18 months ago and it looked to be in very good condition at that time.

12-07-2002 05:45 AM
monitor windvane

One problem with used Monitors is that the mounting brackets are generally custom to the boat in question and so may require a new Monitor base and mounting structure.

12-07-2002 02:19 AM
monitor windvane

Thanks for the information about the autopilots. I had looked at the CPT thinking it would be a sturdy unit. Along the same lines, a Monitor windvane would be good too. I have searched all over the internet for a used one and come up empty handed. anyone have an idea who would be selling these?
thanks Paul

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