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Old 21-02-2013, 06:01   #46
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Re: Downwind Running On A Windvane - How Do You Get It To Work?

My bag of tricks:

- avoid dead runs; if you cannot, then trim sails so that the boat has a clear tendency to turn one way only (preferably away from the main boom, if present); somehow, weaving a track across the 180 line does not help the windvane to take adequate and timely action,

- go fast in heavy winds, go broad in light winds, limit roll,

- use lighter vane on lighter days,

- avoid some vane rigs: (IMHO and biased: bad guys are old Windpilot, new Windpilot with rudder, Hydrovane; good guys are Navik, new Windpilots, Monitor, Sindbad),

When light, I tend to go AP rather than windvane.


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Old 21-02-2013, 14:46   #47
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Re: Downwind Running On A Windvane - How Do You Get It To Work?

Barney, what are the definitive differences between old and new Wind Pilots?



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Old 21-02-2013, 15:06   #48
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Re: Downwind Running On A Windvane - How Do You Get It To Work?

Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
My roberts 34 sails well downwind with a rollerreefing genoa poled out on a overlong telescopic pole, this flattens it and reduces much of the rolling. In light airs it actually overpowers the main and she has slight leehelm and is very course stable, if she sails by the lee the main blankets the genoa and she seems to want to come back up, to far towards a reach and the genoa powers up and pushes the head back down.

I also like to have a big light drifter hanked on the removable solent stay and sheeted off the boom to leeward. This helps with any rounding up issue and gives extra speed. If this is set I come up just far enough for it to set nicely, it normaly only takes 10-20 degrees, with the genoa feeding wind into it, and it in turn powering up the main.

This often requires the windvane control lines to be set slightly to leeward to actually steer the boat onto a reach with the windvane upright. This is important in light air (less than 5-10 knots) as it ensures the boat will not gybe in a lull, instead she steers up as the wind goes light and down in the puffs, as a good helmsman would.

As the wind picks up I roll away some of the genoa to flatten it and angle it forward. both help enormously, but it needs either a long pole, or a small sail to achieve. I then progressively reef the main, drop the drifter and roll away more headsail.

The other half of it is to get the self steering working properly, going to a tiller rather than a wheel helps enormously, as does roller blocks and spectra lines and such, but I have found the vane size and balance is critical.

I usually have my very tall light nylon covered wind vane on the flemming, it has been very carefully balanced to slowly return to vertical. And is made from 6 mm ply with large tapered lightning holes cut in it. I kept cutting the holes out until it balanced just right, then painted it.. duh and had to cut out some more holes!.

A light nylon sock slips over it, and gets removed if the wind picks up to much (about 25 knots). For regular stronger winds the best vane I have is a tall tapered 6mm ply one, it goes from normal width at the bottom, to about 50mm at the top, and flexs nicely. It is more strongly balanced to return to vertical. On a horizontal axis vane short fat vanes to fit under a mizzen don't work well downwind, height is king.

Adjusting the tiller lines to dial in the right weather/lee helm is also very important, as is the right position for the lines to make fast on the tiller, to far aft and you get wicked oversteer. To far forward give a nice smooth fast ride but not enough helm to cope with puffs and waves pushing the boat off course. Once you get this right it shouldn't need changing. It's much harder to get this ratio sorted if it goes to a drum on a wheel. In this case you might need a reverse tackle to get more movement at the helm, or a normal tackle if it is oversteering.

I added a small delta shaped wing to the bottom of Snow Petrel's rudder which helped her steering in all conditions, and I have seen a few boats improved considerably by lengthening and reshaping the rudder.

Sydney would be a hard place to get one working right, the conditions always seems quite lumpy outside. Also, even on the best set up the wind vane will still often wander more than a good helmsman and it can take time to trust that it won't gybe or broach.

Good luck with it. It's wonderful when it's sorted out.
yeah going north from sydney in a southeasterly is a PITA - i think the current causes the swell to pile up against the wind. Thanks for that - my hull is probably pretty similiar to yours, i'll add some of those ideas to my seatrials.
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Old 15-04-2013, 04:28   #49
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Re: Downwind Running On A Windvane - How Do You Get It To Work?

One of the things to look for is reducing internal friction in the total system, from the servo pendulum system to the steering system itself. The more friction, the more wind is needed to get any part moving.

I have ball bearings just about everywhere in my ss system. I can blow against the vane and it moves.
You can get some of this effect with a bigger windvane blade as mentioned earlier. If you take this route, keep the vane blade and counterweight balanced. If the centre of gravity is not in the axis of rotation, steering will go bad.

But if you have a sensitive self steering system but the boats rudder is stiff to operate, course keeping is still not optimal. Keep those parts nicely lubricated for the best steering.

As far as lubrication goes, a splash of fresh water on the bearing in the servo pendulum system may help as well.

With all of this my steering starts at 4 knots apparent wind, also on running courses. I usually prefer my system to steer rather than do it myself.

Sven Heesterman
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