We own a Mariner 32 full keel Ketch
and have been trying to set-up a Windvane
auto-pilot for the last 6 months without much success.
We’ve been hand steering
the whole time and with only 2 people and sometimes 400-500 mile passages it just becomes unbearable and sleep/energy depriving to do this for 5 days in a row.
We’re about to cross the pacific and are getting really desperate about our self steering
situation since we just can’t hand steer for a whole month with only the 2 of us.
So here’s the problem:
The boat has an Edson
Worm gear/backward wheel steering
system which is great in a way that it’s the strongest most reliable system you can find on the boat, but it also could be part of the problem.
It is 40 years old and although maintained and serviced it does have a bit of play and slop and feels a bit heavy sometimes to steer.
The boat used to have a Monitor wind vane
and the previous owner crossed the atlantic with it twice and said it worked fine with that.
Unfortunately that wind vane
has been taken off and because of time and budget
we only managed to find an old wind
They are both of the servo-pendulum type so i assumed that the Aries
does the same job as the Monitor
But we found out that the Aries
only turns our wheel
¼ of a turn which Is clearly not enough as our wheel does 4,5 turn from lock to lock.
Monitor claims that their system works on any steering system up till 4 turns lock to lock.
When I center the wheel and turn over to port I count 1 ¾ of a turn and when I turn it from center to starboard I count 2 ½ turns.
Add this up and you have 4 ½ turns lock to lock which really surprises me because it should be the exact same turns to each side.
Does this mean that the worm gears are off centered or does the rudder
just turns more to starboard than port?
Anyways. That shouldn’t really matter because if a windvane
on ‘normal’ boats with 2 turns lock to lock only has to do half a turn to get itself back on course our windvane therefore has to do 1 full turn on the wheel.
So therefore we tried to mount a smaller pulley on the wheel where we connect the tiller lines to and hoped that that would make the wheel do more turns but as expected that put to much force on the whole set-up and the rudder
blade wouldn’t swing all the way to the side and the wheel would still only do ¼ to ½ turns.
Monitor points out 2 things on there website:
And the second point is that if your boat does require more then ¼ of a turn you can rig a reverse-purchase system to the operating lines.
I haven't found much info on that on the web of someone who has tried that it not sure if it works well.
We don’t have enough power to drive an electrical
auto-pilot system so that’s not an option either.
The only option I can think of that’s left is a wheel independent self steering
unit like the Hydrovane
But these things are not cheap
and who can guarantee me that it will work?
Anyone any ideas on this?