Hi Rab, I never took off the vane on my fleming
except when tied up in port. Though I often tied it to the backstay to stop it flopping about. I broke a weld on the flemming vane carrier when becalmed with a big swell causing the vane to bang from one side to the other. Since then I have been more careful about lashing it. Ideally I should have had some bungy to secure the vane.
I tied the vane itself not the carrier on the windvane
, to reduce the fatigue on the unit.
At sea I experimented with a bunch of different vanes. The most successful was a reefable oversize one with big lightning
holes covered with a nylon sleeve. When the wind
got to about 25 knots I removed the sleeve. With the sleeve on it would steer in any wind that would move the boat. Without the sleeve it was good for most stuff.
My best heavy wx one was as tall as the normal ones but tapered from 250mm to 100mm. This one was brilliant from about 15 knots+ and was made from heavier plywood
Balance is critical with the vanes, too heavy or too high and they don't work, too light or too low and they aren't sensitive enough. Even a coat of paint
can throw the balance out. The light air ones must be perfect, slowly coming back upright if deflected. The heavy wx ones can be lighter (or lower) and should come back upright more quickly. The reefable light airs vane changed balance as I removed the sock.
The worst was a twin wall polycarbonate one. In 30 knots it started flapping and disintegrated.
The little stubby storm vane I made was not responsive enough even in 35 knots.
I occasionally switched between the light air and the tapered as the mood struck me, but either worked fine most of the time.
My standard vane was the light air vane.