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Old 26-10-2015, 19:40   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Kemah Tx
Boat: Gulfstar 51
Posts: 58
Best Auto-pilot for Boat

I have a 51 ft Gulfstar sloop- (it is a Gulfstar 47 with a 4 foot factory extension at the stern). We are in the process of refitting her for cruising in the Caribbean and it is time to address the autopilot. 4 yrs ago when we bought her and were ferrying her back to Houston Tx, the voltage regulator went nuts and fried everything eletronic in the boat including the Sitek autopilot- hydralic pump and ram are fine but the "brain" is gone. Sitek will replace it for me with a rebuilt one for 600 bucks but i would like a good high quality 2nd unit ready to go. Within reason price is not a big deal to me as i regard the autopilot as a key piece of equipment for enjoyable short handed cruising. What recomendations can anyone make? Was looking at a unit called the Whale, but would like some real world unbiased opinions.
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Old 26-10-2015, 20:12   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: England
Boat: Custom 55
Posts: 281
Re: Best Auto-pilot for Boat


They're not found on all that many boats save the singlehanded race boats, but I have had some really good luck with my NKE pilot. It replaced a Simrad AP20, and the difference is remarkable.

I use a Whitlock drive. The unit will work fine with your hydraulic system too.

Pretty expensive, though. I think that it was about $6500 for just the electronics, but it's a very good pilot for sure.

Good shopping, TJ
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Old 03-11-2015, 18:54   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Houston
Boat: CSY/Gulfstar 50 "Rasta Mama"
Posts: 8
Re: Best Auto-pilot for Boat


I have a Gulfstar 50 sloop, I sail out of Kemah or port Isabel.

I use a Navico hydraulic ram, with a Raymarine "brain" coupled to a C120 chart plotter which can control it, and also have the Raymarine control head which can also control it, so they are redundant
Works flawlessly with maybe 4,000 blue water miles spread over 6 or so years...only issue the control head failed and I bought another...then had the failed one repaired at the factor for a spare.


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