Join Date: Jul 2002
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Windvane Steering Necessary for Long Ocean Passages?
"...for offshore on a small boat (40 feet and under ),a wind vane is required crew."
I''m not sure it''s that simple, altho'' in our case we certainly put more of our limited ''self-steering budget'' into an expensive Sailomat vane than we did in the cockpit-mounted CPT a/p. Both vane & a/p can fail (vanes can fail for numerous reasons), the ease of use and even interfacing capability of the a/p seem important to some sailors, and vanes are definitely less effective in more variable conditions (e.g. around the Azores High or along the SoCal/Mexico coast & Baja. Let''s not overlook that one''s cruising intentions and the size of the crew should in part shape the self-steering choices made. The power demands of an a/p may be more or less a concern, depending on how the under-40'' boat is set up. These days, the panels, wind gen and even aux generating capacity on many under-40 boats used offshore make the (now lower) power demands of an a/p less of a driver in the decision-making process. And to throw in another variable, some of today''s boats are designed & built to be extremely fast by conventional standards (e.g. Beth Leonard''s current HAWK, a commonly chosen VandeStadt design), where vanes are more problematic in use since boat speed can more directly affect relative wind direction.
Having said all that, I think the biggest single advantage offshore with a vane is its relatively high degree of operational reliability (assuming regular servicing) and ability to function independent of other (e.g. electrical) systems. But there are numerous variables operating (boat, crew, systems, cruising plans) and the ''required crew'' claim just seems a bit too ''absolute'' in my mind.
"Is to the azores and back a book?"
Yes, East to the Azores was written by Henderson to - IMO - capitalize on his growing name recognition at the time rather than any extensive offshore sailing experience. But since it''s linked directly to preparing his Ohlson 38, you might find it helpful in learning more about the boat you''re considering.