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Old 24-10-2015, 13:57   #16
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

regarding power for an autopilot . . . . we had two alternators mounted on the engine. Two solar panels. and a honda. We had a wind gen at the start but threw it out after 2 years. We had all that even before we switched for the '2 autopilot' approach. In 10 years on Hawk we never even ever lost the primary source of power generation (the biggest alternator).

So, at least from our experience, (1) properly installed electrical generation systems are pretty reliable AND (2) it is not hard to carry redundancy and (3) you probably want to carry redundancy no matter what you pick on this steering issue.
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Old 24-10-2015, 14:37   #17
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

No question that a below deck autopilot and windvane is the way to go if you are going off shore. My set up is an Alpha 3000, which is fabulous, backed up by a Monitor Windvane. I've used the windvane to be sure that I can do so effectively but have not needed to because my Alpha works so well. I have a Buddy who had the same set up (I copied his) who circumnavigated in his 40 footer. He used the Alpha all the way around but had the windvane just in case. But he never needed to drop the oar into the water even once. Belt and suspenders is a good way to approach sailing off shore.
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Old 24-10-2015, 15:30   #18
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

I go for a wind vane with an autopilot backup. Have done many thousands of miles solely steered by the wind vane. No noise, no battery charging issues, no breakdowns, just steady reelable steering Both boats have been full keelers, Westsail 32 with an Aires pendulum-servo and current Pearson 35 with a WindPilot Pacific Plus auxiliary rudder. The vanes steered the boat if it would sail which was about 95% of the time.

For the few times that I had to motor long distances, the autopilot was a great addition. Unfortunately the Raymarine X-5 wheel pilot just wasn't up to steering the Pearson under sail. Would have taken a heftier autopilot with a lot more electrical drain to steer the boat. Fortunately, as long as I tightened the mounting bolts on the WPPP, there was no need of a backup.

I'm a heavy user of the Self Steering Vanes. I don't drive, whether power or sail, if I can help it. Long distance sailing or a daysail, the vane is doing its magic as soon as the sails go up.
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Old 24-10-2015, 15:38   #19
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
regarding power for an autopilot . . . . we had two alternators mounted on the engine. Two solar panels. and a honda. We had a wind gen at the start but threw it out after 2 years. We had all that even before we switched for the '2 autopilot' approach. In 10 years on Hawk we never even ever lost the primary source of power generation (the biggest alternator).

So, at least from our experience, (1) properly installed electrical generation systems are pretty reliable AND (2) it is not hard to carry redundancy and (3) you probably want to carry redundancy no matter what you pick on this steering issue.
With all respect to your decisions, experience and general knowledge, I would say that it is the boat that determines the best solution. We have a wind vane and I'm putting in an AP this winter (we hauled today). Our steel boat has a longish box keel and is therefore pretty directionally stable; we have a keel-supported, transom-hung rudder with a tiller head steered by a hydraulic ram that can be bypassed, and we also have a rather high stern that allows plenty of air make a vane work. And no davits.

We wanted the AP for motoring or motorsailing off soundings as the amps produced make the power issue a non-issue. We wanted an entirely separate way to steer the boat should the electrical system fail or need service, or the hydraulics fail or need service. It is also more pleasant from our point of view to have the wind steer the boat, but that's more philosophical and an esthetic concern than an engineering one. The boat was made (it's a custom one-off) to take a tiller and a vane, so it does well with that. Other boat won't. Everything's a compromise.

The circumnavigator Tony Gooch took the latter approach when he evaluated the performance of a then-new AP versus a wind vane. It's interesting reading: Windvane, Autopilot, steering systems
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Old 24-10-2015, 15:48   #20
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

^^ tony is a good friend . . . just to add some perspective to his article . . . .his autopilot was incorrectly installed and he did not use 'steer to wind' with it. And remember - he was doing a solo non-stop and did not carry enough fuel to use the autopilot all the way. When we used our autopilot we actually use 'steer to compass' the least of the three modes - steer to wind used (upwind and downwind) #1, steer to waypoint #2 (used when crossing current or hazards require staying on a set track line) and steer to compass #3 (reaching or very light wind where its angle moves around a lot, no current, no particular need to stay on track line).

I am just sharing what we found for ourselves . . . if you think your situation is different - then great.
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Old 24-10-2015, 16:07   #21
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

So we use a wheelpilot, a quadrant pilot, an Aries, and a
tiller pilot on the Aries, actually two as we have a spare.

All the autopilots are stand alone installations.

Could it be an obsession?
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Old 24-10-2015, 16:22   #22
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

Obsession, or just experience with tiller pilot reliability.

Our big boat has an Aries. I used a raymarine tiller pilot to drive that. Generally that worked well. But there were sometimes when that just wasn't a real good solution and I really wanted a more robust AP. So I've opted for a CPT due to cost, reputation for reliability, and ease of installation. But it only steers to compass heading.

However, I come to find that the CPT will not recover well if the heading gets off by more than about 30. Then again you can buy a CPT and spare for less than the base cost of many other units.

Now our big boat is also steel with a big keel and barn door rudder. It has wheel steering but also a permanently affixed tiller. So the Aries drives to the tiller not the wheel. That simplifies things IMVHO. Also it is a built in back up steering system. It's pretty hard to imagine that rudder failing. Knock wood.

Evans,

I wonder if your experience in needing the main rudder for trim has to do with Hawks underwater profile. I don't have that issue on our small boat which also has an auxiliary rudder wind vane. But that has a longish fin keel and a pretty big aux rudder.
http://www.tedbrewer.com/sail_steel/murray33.

Now if the rudder were jammed to one side then things would be different.
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Old 24-10-2015, 16:39   #23
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
"Better off"?

You are offshore with your main autopilot working just fine, but your rudder hopelessly disabled; would you rather have an entire spare AP stowed away or a functional, self-contained (with own rudder), wind vane self-steering?
How often to rudders like your Freya have, fail?

Our main concern with two autopilots is lightning.

We recently experienced an electrostatic discharge that took out our autopilot, so my vote would be both two autopilots and a windvane! Or if pinching pennies - 1x Auto & 1xWindVane.
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Old 24-10-2015, 17:10   #24
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

One point to consider is the best AP drive system for the IP thru the leg system is to use a rotary drive coupled with a chain and sprocket mounted to the aft end of the steering shaft (a keyway and key are provided from IP with the boat). This is a low power consumption configuration along with a robust addition to an almost bullet proof steering arrangement.

I set up Cbreeze this way and the typical power consumption of the AP is very low. Also have a mechanical clutching arrangement to reduce the power consumption even further.

We use more electricity making popcorn than feeding the AP on Cbreeze.
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Old 24-10-2015, 17:43   #25
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Evans,

I wonder if your experience in needing the main rudder for trim has to do with Hawks underwater profile. I don't have that issue on our small boat which also has an auxiliary rudder wind vane. But that has a longish fin keel and a pretty big aux rudder.
http://www.tedbrewer.com/sail_steel/murray33.

Now if the rudder were jammed to one side then things would be different.
I can say for certain that if the rudder is jammed at an angle the aux rudder will not work at all - really not on any design - that happened to us in iceland. Afterwards I started carrying a strongish hydraulic jack to be able to press the rudder shaft down to unjam it even when really strongly jammed.

You may be right that the 'rudder missing' case would be a lot better on a long keel/small rudder design than it was on Hawk (fin keel/spade rudder). This is sort of hard to test without actually removing the main rudder (which is what we did - relatively easy to do with a spade rudder)) but people would learn something if they just left the main rudder free/unlocked/untrimmed and tried to steer with the aux rudder (in offshore waves - no question it will work in flatish water). If that works then there is a chance it will work with the rudder actually missing - but perhaps a bit less well because the underwater balance will (probably) be a bit different worse with the rudder missing.

How was your summer? Do know if you noticed that Hawk went thru the NWP.

edit 1:I should note here . . . I am not at all 'anti vane'. We have used them for a bunch of miles. They are nice useful devices. Just sharing our experience that given the choice we prefer the autopilot . . .so much we eventually removed the vane, and properly installed they are pretty reliable.

edit 2: I don't remember if it's been mentioned yet . . . but you can connect a small/inexpensive tiller pilot to most vanes and it will steer the boat when motoring (or in very light winds).
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Old 24-10-2015, 18:19   #26
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
...I would say that it is the boat that determines the best solution...
This is very profound because many boats are ill suited to carrying a wind vane self-steering. And many, perhaps most boats have compromised auto pilot installations, both from the wrong choice of pilot and from installation shortcomings.

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So we use a wheelpilot, a quadrant pilot, an Aries, and a
tiller pilot on the Aries, actually two as we have a spare.

All the autopilots are stand alone installations.

Could it be an obsession?
Actually it makes a lot of sense to have options for such an essential system, especially if you are single or short handed.

TN came with a wheel pilot. And has a self contained wind vane self-steering system not yet mounted. Additionally I plan to add a below decks AP.
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Old 24-10-2015, 18:30   #27
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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One point to consider is the best AP drive system for the IP thru the leg system is to use a rotary drive coupled with a chain and sprocket mounted to the aft end of the steering shaft (a keyway and key are provided from IP with the boat). This is a low power consumption configuration along with a robust addition to an almost bullet proof steering arrangement.



I set up Cbreeze this way and the typical power consumption of the AP is very low. Also have a mechanical clutching arrangement to reduce the power consumption even further.



We use more electricity making popcorn than feeding the AP on Cbreeze.

The CPT is at least mechanically very similar, and my experience is the power consumption is very low, sort of in the noise of everything else, but I believe I have a power hungry boat.
But driving a rotary motion directly is more efficient than pumping pressure, to move a piston to push or pull a ram to convert to rotary motion.
Franks solution is more complicated than a CPT install, but it is a way to get the power consumption of a CPT, in a modern autopilot, best of both worlds for an IP.


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Old 24-10-2015, 22:16   #28
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

Here is a link to a thoughtful 2010 article re the Hydrovane which would lead most readers to look for something else. Cheers, Pappy
S/V MOMO: An Expression of Doubt — How can Hydrovane Self-Steering really be any good?
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Old 24-10-2015, 23:29   #29
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

We have a 13m / 43ft steel ketch with mechanical mathway steering (driveshafts and uv joints) and use a heavy duty autopilot (linked to our Garmin nav system) along with an Aries. The setup works reasonably well - we use the a/p for motoring and the Aries for sailing.

Personally, I'd swap the Aries for a Hydrovane or Wind Pilot if one came up cheap - we've met enough people who've done a circumnavigation to feel either of these two self steering solutions would work.

As for the OP's boat, as someone else said - horses for courses. If you have the space and $$ to fit both a wind vane and a/p, that'd be my first pick.

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Old 25-10-2015, 00:23   #30
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Here is a link to a thoughtful 2010 article re the Hydrovane which would lead most readers to look for something else. Cheers, Pappy
S/V MOMO: An Expression of Doubt — How can Hydrovane Self-Steering really be any good?
Might be thoughtful, but it is completely uninformed and based on conjecture.
And I have an Aries.
I suspect there are not many options but a hydro and if you have hydraulic steering.
Surprised though they just use a rudder, I would have thought that using a trim tab on an auxiliary rudder would give them a lot more power.
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