At West Marine: Home Page you'll find advisory on selecting an AP. It's a good start. Basically, look for long/short passages to select a wheel/rudder mounted, then size of boat, finally, look at your budget. All other features will be evaluated when you drill down on prospects. You'll find many good AP on market, but I'm a Raymarine fan, due to good local support. I've had rudder installed for many years, fault free.
thank you...i was going for a rudder mounted one right off the bat, last year sailing from greenport to oyster bay one of the wheels on the idler underneath the pedistal sheered off and a rudder mount ap would have come in handy....thank you for the website
My advice is to buy the best you can afford. Don't scrimp and don't accept the sizing charts. Go for one that will handle a much bigger boat. You won't be sorry.
My first AP was a wheel mounted one and it handled things just fine until the seas kicked up a bit and then it just threw the belt. I replaced it with a hydraulic one mounted directly to the rudder and love it. Raymarine makes a good product.
Snooping the forums for reliable information on autopilots. Had a Ramarine wheelpilot on my 30 foot Islander and it's done great BUT about to close on a 44 Gulfstar Center cockpit so I'm trying decide on an autopilot for her. 26,000 displacement so I'm looking at below decks units. I would love some in depth good discussion here as I'm open to suggestions.
Unless one has had trouble with an autopilot, it is likely that everyone will support the one they have. I will not depart from that.
I have a Raymarine ST6001 which was on the boat when I bought it.
If I have the opportunity to replace it with no limit on expense, I would replace it with another exactly the same. It is a extraordinary piece of kit on which I would (and have) stake my life. There is no better recommendation.
I have several friends who have the same AP and all agree with me completely.
And no, I have no shares or financial interest in Raymarine
Does your autopilot have a linear drive? I'm looking at the ST70 control head. The x30 course computer and a type 2 linear drive all from Raymarine. However, I've seen several other brands but the literature on all the autopilots, including the Raymarine, is sparse and at times confusing. Looks like I'll be dropping around 4 grand and I want to make a good decision as I'm sure I'll be stuck with it for a while.
I've read a lot of the other stuff you suggested but I guess I need to be more specific.
I'm interested in some feedback on things like the linear drives -vs- rotary drives. How do the electric drives hold up versus going to the expense of a hydraulic drive? What about power consumption of the hydraulic pumps? I've seen linear drives with a hydraulic pump but then I read blogs and people talking about the frequency of the hydraulic pumps going out or running dry.
There's the issue of how they install on the steering quadrant of my boat or if they even will. Also some of the newer raymarines apparently don't need a rudder reference indicator. Is this a computer thing or does the linear or rotary drive send some sort of information to the course computer?
Dang, my mind just swims with questions and quite honestly none of the manufacturers do a very good job of supplying information. ie: W-H, went to their website and about all they have are references and a "we'll send a price quote" to you. No information on components of the autopilots or even if the remote control is wired or wireless. No information on networking them to MFD's or which ones they'll work with. I've been spending days looking for this stuff and am beginning to wonder if I'm the only one asking these questions or are they just such basic questions no one ask them or maybe I'm typing in the wrong parameters when I'm searching?
Sometimes I'm guilty of having the answers right in front of me and just not realizing it. Probably because I'm looking to hard instead of taking it at face value. Anyone able to straighten me out here?
- I believe the hydraulic RAM is the best solution, if properly installed. It's incredibly strong and reliable.
- The mounting to your hull must be a lot more robust than you would imagine. Pressure involved with hydraulic RAMs can far exceed the actual rating of the RAM, as you fall off a wave and the rudder kicks back.
- I favor a separate rudder feedback indicator device. Had an Autohelm with the rudder position indicator device built-into the chain drive motor unit. What a disaster and, as it turned out, a fatal design flaw by the manufacturer.
- I would not (and as a marine professional installer will not) interface an autopilot to a chartplotter or GPS; IMHO this just helps brain-dead "sailors" go aground much easier. I know lots of folks don't agree with this.
- the hydraulic motor does draw a bit, but in my experience it's not excessive. And, it only runs intermittently. Sometimes when powering in calm water I can put my hand on the 48" wheel and barely feel any movement at all....just a tad here and there.
- the hydraulic RAM arm usually attaches to a separate arm or quadrant attached to your rudder post.....not to the existing quadrant. As such, it gives you a separate backup steering system, inter alia.