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Been spending some time. investigating TP units an. have a few questions that haven't been addressed; at least to my uninformed satisfaction

What you do with the unit when you go opposite tack? does it get in the way, need to be disconnected and hooked up again oncethe turn's been made? WTF do you do with it meantime? Let it hang? Swing it outta the way? Must it be re-set/adjusted for each point o. sail? Seeing someof the myriad posts on the innawebs, it seems that good sail trim is necessary. It's a rare occasion when get trim *just right* :D What about going out,coming back in or. tight maneuvers? Is a TP al. that better at holding a short course than acouple of bungees or a tiller clutch/lock for short-handinglines/sails?
Just wonderingif a TP is any less fiddly than the self-steer set-ups using lines and bungees; especially for shortish runs about the N Bay? Last thing I need is something elseto d%#k with and/or break down; let alone the cost.

TIA,
Paul.
 

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for inshore stuff and in the bay or bay or estuary or enclosed water and even outside nothing beats a tp and a remote...really

anything longer distance where you set and forget a windvane is always less of a hassle really

we used to tack our boat on long cruised using the plus 10 degree feature in steps, plus 20 plus 20 plus 20 or so and reset

if you go crazy with that button you can severely damage the piston rod on some older pilots and new alike...its just too much

we found that a tiller pilot on the poop deck is about as out of the way as you can get

we cruised on one for over 10k miles and many many hours piloting on a well balanced full keel boat...it only was a nuissance when bad weather or on a broad reach and or in choppy slow moving powersailing

just get any model really 1 size above your normal displacement and youll be more than ok

I also loved that a tiller pilot does great when motoring back in a long harbor entrance or port where being on deck and getting a good sight of the scene is better up higher...just motor in and disconnect right before turning into where you need to go dockwise or anchorage wise
 
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+1 ... What Christian says!

I gather you've never used one deltaten. Try and get on a boat with one operating. All your questions will be answered very quickly.

No, the TP stays on the same side. It should have enough range (piston length) to swing the tiller through a sufficient arc for standard sailing. Our TP does tap out at the far ends, but ours is undersized for our boat (we use a windvane most of the time).

Ours easily sits out of the way when not in use. I guess it will depend on your cockpit. Ours easily detaches when not in use for long periods.

I don't think I understand what you mean by having to re-set it for each point of sail. Just as you have to move the rudder (tiller) when you change direction/point-of-sail, so too with the TP.

Proper sail trim is always important. If you don't want to over-tax your TP, then it is vital.

Yes, you can use a TP to tack if you have enough piston length. It's not very refined, but on our Raymarine TP you hit two buttons and it moves you through a 90 degree (I think ... never checked) angle. It's good enough to get the jib over and then you need to refine the angle.

A bungee setup might work, depending on your boat, sail trim, and point of sail. Regardless, a good TP will be leaps and bounds easier, and more reliable at holding the course -- until it dies, of course ;).

Personally, I prefer a windvane for reliability and simplicity.
 

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It hooks up fairly far back on the tiller and so it should be able to reach through a full swing. If it is just a touch off as Mike says it should be OK. They not only come off quickly, but can be (and should be) stored below. I have never actually used one but have tested on at the dock on a boat I looked at and it went from stop to stop. I have used wheel pilots and they are great even when not on a long trip as they free you to move around, either to single hand or even to go relieve yourself or get a cold beverage. Kind of one of those things that once you use it, you are like how did I ever get along without it?

The newer tiller pilots seem to not last long from what I have heard, if used a lot. Especially if you sail in rough weather or rain. It might be worth looking locally to see if you can get a used one to try out for a season or two, then keep it as a backup. I believe Cruising Lealea went though a few on there crossings but seem to do well with surgical rubber hose. Not sure how that would work on day sails where you might change direction several times. Generally completely self contained and should not take more than a couple of hours to install, even if you pot out the holes with epoxy as you should. Hardest part likely will be running the electric.
 

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On the Raymarine you can press both green or both red buttons (depending on the direction you want to tack) and it'll seek a course 100 degrees off your previous heading. More often than not though we just hit Standby, pop it off the tiller bracket and swing it out of the way, hand-steer to the desired heading while handling sheets, then pop it back on and hit the auto button for it to take over again. It's pretty easy peasy either way.
 

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You can actually 'set' the degrees of the 'tacking' turn in the menu on these things, I believe. At least you can with the wheel pilot, so probably with the TP too.

If you sail a lot short/single/double handed any kind of self steering is very helpful. While our RM wheelpilot does not do a stellar job in a seaway, it is great steering a straight line while we set/douse sail, motoring those long windless days, and even 'drives' through our doublehanded spinnaker gybes leaving both of us to pull strings and handle the pole.

In conditions where 'otto' won't handle things all that well I'd rather be steering myself anyhow.. and it will 'fill in' however poorly if you have to throw a reef in etc.
 

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I had the ST1000+, the smallest Raymarine TP..
Hitting both buttons on the same side (they are gray and red on the newer models)... allows for tack.... and yes you can set the tack degrees. defaults to 100.

The tiller pilot pops on a pin, and back on in a flash. If you don't want the TP to steer the tack, you pop it off, tack and put it back on.

It keeps a pretty good course though... the bungee is no comparison. yes if you get huge varying sea states it cannot easily keep up, but how fast it reacts can also be adjusted.

They use a surprising little amount of power. They are indispensable for single handers, especially motoring back, and buttoning up the boat. With a proper set of electronics it'll steer nicely to the wind as well, or integrated with a chart plotter to a course.

Maybe this will help... I was solo sailing in 8-12 knot winds... with the tiller pilot on, running upwind with the 155 up, and full main on my Capri 25. You can watch the horizon as I sit on the low side, you'll see the TP correct for 2 different puffs while I don't move while on the rail.

 

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Additional plusses:
+ the TP will "learn" how to respond to sea state. In a few minutes its steering action becomes more refined. It'll steer a straighter course than you.
+if maintain a constant course is not critical, many TP's can link with the wind instruments to maintain a constant point of sail as the wind shifts.
+many TP's link with a GPS signal. If you set it to follow a course via GPS you eliminate cross track error.
 
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