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· Schooner Captain
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Alpha 3000. good luck finding a used one, people do not get rid of them typically.
If I had no autopilot, I would go with a windvane. We are going to get one anyway, but they use no power, are not prone to power surges, ect.
 

· Schooner Captain
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Although our primary auto-pilot is a Robertson AP, as a back-up we have an inexpensive Ray-Marine ST2000 Tiller Pilot that attaches to the wheel. For this we have a bracket that attaches to the wheel hub and the rim. Approximately 2/3rds of the distance between the hub and the rim--roughly level with the top of the seats in the cockpit--is a pin that is free to rotate with a small transverse hole that will accept the pin from the tiller-pilot. The stock length of the push-rod on the Pilot is about 2' but you can purchase extensions, if necessary. This arrangement will give our wheel about a 1/4 turn in each direction which, for our boat, is more than enough to maintain a steady course under most conditions. The tiller pilot is entirely self contained and merely needs power and has more than enough thrust to handle our boat given the advantage of the wheel.

FWIW...
Thats a fantastic idea. Did you come up with it? does it have enough power to turn the wheel, and how does it do in following seas?
 

· Schooner Captain
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It's not my idea. The design originated in the late 1960's. We used the bracket with an earlier version of the TillerPilot on our former yacht for 20+ years but the new owner didn't want it, opting instead for a more elaborate system (which I understand he now regrets). With properly balanced sails, the system is quite effective regardless of the point of sail. Like most AP's ones course wavers a few degrees +/-. On the newer TillerPilots there is a "learn" mode that allows the Pilot to "learn" the rhythm of the yacht's track through the sea, and a "Gain" control, so that the Pilot isn't unnecessarily correcting the course and needlessly working the rudder. There is also a wind vane adapter that will allow the Pilot to keep track relative to the apparent wind using a small vane attached to one's stern rail although we don't have one.

FWIW...
Wow. Thats quite awesome. Would make a great spare AP to keep safe in case of lightning strike, or primary AP failure, will look into the windvane thing. The sad part is, I had a chance to buy one of these brand new for $100, I passed it up because I do not have a tiller.

We would all love to see photos, but I doubt it will look much different then what we picture in our heads. Does it plug into a cigarette lighter? where is the compass located?
 
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