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Old 05-01-2010, 07:53   #1
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Reversing with Autohelm-Type Windvanes

We're about to mount an Autohelm windvane on the boat. My concern is the maneuverability in cramped spaces. The boat is already hampered by a hefty prop walk, long keel, heavy displacement and a long a$$ bow sprit that must have been designed for the sole purpose of cleaning out floating bars.

The Autohelm windvane has it's rudder in the water at all times and cannot be lifted. The rudder is mounted on the transom and has to be locked down while reversing, this is done with lines. Ofcourse, it's impossible to have the rudder unlocked an flapping around when going backwards, at the same time, I'd like to have it unlocked while going forwards, so I don't hamper the boat even more. What are your experiencies? Is this a non issue? Is the maneuverability affected that much ? Should I just keep it unlocked until I need to reverse and then lock it? Looking for input from those with expereince Autohelm or Hydrovane type of windvanes.

/Hampus
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:52   #2
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Bumping this.
There has to be someone with experiencees from either Autohelm or Hydrovane?

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Old 07-01-2010, 07:06   #3
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I think that you describe the downsides of windvanes (as well as long keels & bowsprits) very well, which illustrates why they are intended for offshor passage-making. The obvious (& universal) trade-offs occurs when maneuvering, at anchor.
Unfortunately, I have no experience, that would help to mitigate these problems.
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Old 07-01-2010, 07:22   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hampus View Post
.......The rudder is mounted on the transom and has to be locked down while reversing, this is done with lines...... I'd like to have it unlocked while going forwards, so I don't hamper the boat even more......
/Hampus
I do not have experience in manuvering with the vane in the water, but we do have the long keel and prop walk in reverse. Your post makes me wonder about the possibilities of using the vane to your advantage. When you develop the strategy for reversing in a confined space and consider current and wind at the time, along with plans to timely hold and release lines or warp around a piling; why not consider the locking of your vane port or starboard as part of your arsenal to control your boat? Even if your plan were to back out straight, I can see how you could lock the vane in the position that would counter your prop walk. I think I'd be practicing the use of this new reverse aide out in open water so it would increase my abilities. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:11   #5
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Remove the windvane/rudder when inshore?
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:11   #6
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Hampus,

Feeling Good started out with an Autohelm windvane. As far a securing the rudder, it is just something that must be checked/done prior to starting the engine. Kinda like making sure there are no lines dragging behind the boat.

I should note that the Autohelm windvane never worked very well. For several years I tried everything I could to get it to work right. It was so sensitive that it caused the boat to wander +/- 10 degrees from it course while hand steering with the windvane rudder tied down. It never held a course for more then half a hour while under sail. I finally removed the vane and used metal bars to hold the rudder in place. Now the boat tracks straight as an arrow.

Paul
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:33   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
I think that you describe the downsides of windvanes (as well as long keels & bowsprits) very well, which illustrates why they are intended for offshor passage-making. The obvious (& universal) trade-offs occurs when maneuvering, at anchor.
Unfortunately, I have no experience, that would help to mitigate these problems.
There are vanes and there are vanes. the one we had on the old boat was a Monitor, a servo pendulum type which used the boats main rudder for steering and only had a small blade in the water for the servo effect. The blade was easily foldable and was always out of the way when I didn't need it. It also made me love windvanes as I did lots of single handing.

The Autohelm is a trim tab assisted vane and has it's own rudder, it weighs (above water) 75 pounds and can't be folded or easily removed. It has only disadvantages compared to the servo pendulum, except that the servo pendulum won't work on center cockpit boats, boats with hydraulic steering or boats with more than 4 turns on the wheel from side to side. Our boat falls under alls those categories.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viking Sailor
I should note that the Autohelm windvane never worked very well.
Ouch!
I still have high hopes for it though. Our boat steers herself quite well under sails only... Worrying though..

Thanks!

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Old 08-01-2010, 03:23   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viking Sailor View Post
Hampus,

Feeling Good started out with an Autohelm windvane. As far a securing the rudder, it is just something that must be checked/done prior to starting the engine. Kinda like making sure there are no lines dragging behind the boat.

I should note that the Autohelm windvane never worked very well. For several years I tried everything I could to get it to work right. It was so sensitive that it caused the boat to wander +/- 10 degrees from it course while hand steering with the windvane rudder tied down. It never held a course for more then half a hour while under sail. I finally removed the vane and used metal bars to hold the rudder in place. Now the boat tracks straight as an arrow.

Paul
How did the Autohelm steer the boat? Did you ever try not having it locked down while sailing and hand steering?

/Hampus
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:17   #9
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Quote:
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How did the Autohelm steer the boat? Did you ever try not having it locked down while sailing and hand steering?

/Hampus
I tried every possible adjustment of the Autohelm windvane to get the boat to first track well and second to steer the boat. I was never very successful at these goals until I removed the vane and locked the rudder in place with metal bars. The problem with the Autohelm is that the servo tab on the rudder is connected to the vane by cables that are not stiff enough to keep the rudder from moving in the turbulent wake of the boat. Thus, the smallest movement of the servo tab was translated into a large movement of the rudder and thus a large course change. These course changes could be somewhat mitigated by locking down the rudder using line. However, the elasticity in the line still allowed the rudder to move resulting in the +/- 10 degree course changes. Without any locking down of the rudder the boats wake look like the helmsman was drunk.

As a point of interest - I have only seen a few other boats with the Autohelm windvane and I have never had a chance to compare notes on how well their vane worked for them. So, I hope that others with experience using this setup will add their comments.

Paul
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:22   #10
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That is indeed worrying... I'd like to try it rightaway but the boat is frozen in in one of the coldest december-january we've seen in 20 years and the windvane sits on the living room floor...

I'm not surprised that you've only seen a few other boats with Autohelm, I havn't seen ANY and the info on the web is limited. The Autohelm isn't in any way as good as either of the servo pendulums, unfortunately, it's the only one that'll work on our boat. Waiting eagerly for other replies.

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Old 02-03-2012, 18:02   #11
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Re: Reversing with Autohelm-Type Windvanes

Hampus, how did it go with the auto-helm in the end?
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Old 04-03-2012, 14:59   #12
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Re: Reversing with Autohelm-Type Windvanes

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Originally Posted by leletty View Post
Hampus, how did it go with the auto-helm in the end?
It was OK. We sailed the first 3000 M with the Autohelm alone. Then we got spare parts for the autopilot for use while motoring.

I had the monitor on the previous boat and the monitor is better but didn't work with this boat. Having said that, the Autohelm is just fine.

This boat has an old fashion rig and she's a bit tricky to balance for the Autohlem while reaching, otherwise it steers nicely. The only problem we had was that our prop turbulence caused the entire rudder and stainless frame to vibrate heavily. I e-mailed a movie of this to the manufacturer and less than a week later they had sent us diagonal support pipes. Free of charge!

By the time we got to Portugal, our prop turbulence had cracked the diagonal pipes and we had them re-welded with reinforcements. By the time we got back home they were cracked again. I'll replace them with 6mm stainless flat iron.

Reversing was not a problem as long as we centered and locked the rudder with the centering lines. The boat was slightly more unstable while motoring and required a bit more work behind the helm but it was no big deal.

All in all a good experience and the manufacturer gives great support and service. We had problems with some of the other manufacturers of different gear, but dealing with the manufacturer of the Autohelm was refreshing and the entire experience kept us happy for months.

/Hampus
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