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Old 25-10-2015, 00:48   #31
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

Some friends of ours are sailing their Wauquiez 48 around the world and their insurance company (I believe it was Admiralty in the UK) required them to have two autopilots installed even though they also had a wind vane.

We have no wind vane on our own boat and somewhere on my 'To Do' list is to install a second autopilot. However, in the last 30,000 miles of sailing, we've had no a/p problems.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 25-10-2015, 08:14   #32
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
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).
As too leaving the main rudder free to swing I have done just that on the small boat and large. Mostly through stupidity not understanding how things were to work, even though now it seems dead nuts obvious. Bottom line, on my boats it works.

As you know I have done the tiller pilot thing to an Aries on the big boat and I find it works well but you need a couple of knots to get drive. The issue I had was the first Raymarine ate it's thrust bearing with bits getting stuck under the gyro which drove me off course. Then the TWO brand new replacements both came with hosed gyros. Raymarine made them good but would not take them back.

So I put a CPT on the big boat and will see if I can run the small boat with the tiller pilot either directly via the aux rudder tiller or through the wind vane attachment. I've got 3 new tiller pilots so I might as well find a use for them. I'll keep one on the big boat as a back up to the CPT.

With the right vane, and when bucks are dear, the tiller pilot to vane solution is the cheapest way to have both vane and AP. It may be cheaper to do that combination than a below deck AP.

Yes, I saw Hawk went through. I can't imagine your emotions related to that. Bitter sweet comes to mind.

We didn't get much sailing in this year, got to the Annapolis Gam and Tangier Island. But I am finally retiring Jan 15. Shortly thereafter (I hope) we will head South on Safara, until May. Then we will come back to Delaware and get Chouette and take her back to The Rock via the Erie Canal. I want to see more of the Quebec coast and the Madgeleens and it will be a easier, more interesting trip for Doris. Chouette will stay in Lewispotre then and we will fly South, like Canadian geese.
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Old 25-10-2015, 08:34   #33
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

BTW . . . related to the '2 autopilot' solution - there are two schools of thought

one is to install both - the other is to have the second identical and keep it in parts in sealed dry place.

We did the later.

There are arguments both ways.
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Old 25-10-2015, 09:02   #34
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

Autopilots have become very reliable providing you get a good quality under deck unit. These days there is only a small practical difference between autopilot and windvane reliability. Most cruising boats have multiple sources of electricity generation and storage so complete electricity failure is rare.

I have had two autopilots fail simultaneously (lightning), but the risk of this is very small. It was surprising to me how long my boat would sail quite happily on her own at least in some situations, without any helm input. I would imagine a long keeled boat like an Island Packet would be even better in this regard.

The ultimate back up of hand steering, then heaving to when tired, is frustrating, but manageable and safe.
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Old 25-10-2015, 10:45   #35
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

I am always amazed at how people panic about autopilots...


Our Raymarine SG3 took us 10K NM from San Francisco to Florida, with one breakdown... The bolt the holds the linear drive to the rudder post tiller sheared.


Had to hand steer the boat 250 miles by hand with following seas, which was no picnic, but we survived.


I later found the bolt is designed to shear when pressure from following seas is placed on the rudder so that the linear drive isn't broken... I have yet to find anyone that carries a spare $45 bolt/clevis pin, but many sailors run around with a second autopilot rusting away in the bilge.


If I was going across an ocean, I would use a monitor as a backup to the Autopilot.


Otherwise I would make sure my autopilot is in good shape and spend the money elsewhere.
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Old 25-10-2015, 11:20   #36
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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The bolt the holds the linear drive to the rudder post tiller sheared.
The Raymarine linear drives are very reliable, but this does seem an occasional problem. Repairs offshore are about 1000x more difficult than in port (OK, I am exaggerating, but do not underestimate the time and difficulty of even a simple repair when one hand is needed for holding on).

A spare bolt (or even better the correct pin) cable tied close by is a good policy if you have one of these drives.
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Old 25-10-2015, 15:32   #37
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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I have yet to find anyone that carries a spare $45 bolt/clevis pin, .

We do. I think it was a posting by you several years ago that led me to get one. It is tied to the drive to be ready for use.

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Old 25-10-2015, 15:39   #38
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
BTW . . . related to the '2 autopilot' solution - there are two schools of thought

one is to install both - the other is to have the second identical and keep it in parts in sealed dry place.

We did the later.

There are arguments both ways.

For a mono or tri, I agree with your second option. For a catamaran, I prefer setting up a complete spare system on the opposite rudder and keep it electrically disconnected. This allows not only a spare pilot, but also spare steering in case of loss of one rudder and broken cable.

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Old 25-10-2015, 18:58   #39
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
The Raymarine linear drives are very reliable, but this does seem an occasional problem. Repairs offshore are about 1000x more difficult than in port (OK, I am exaggerating, but do not underestimate the time and difficulty of even a simple repair when one hand is needed for holding on).

A spare bolt (or even better the correct pin) cable tied close by is a good policy if you have one of these drives.

Had a Raymarine linear drive die 300 miles form Bermuda. Got a new one installed there by the Raymarine dealer. It died 3 months later. So much for "very reliable". BTW, the tech guys in Nashua, NH were next to useless.
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Old 25-10-2015, 20:06   #40
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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To the sailing community-

I'm considering purchasing an Island Packet 38 with one autopilot and would like to add redundancy. Am I better off adding a windvane (a totally different system without energy consumption) or a second autopilot (easier to use)? Has anyone had two autopilots fail? I understand that a windvane would also give me a second rudder. Thank you.
It depends if your gunkholing up a coast or crossing oceans. If youre just day sailing and overnighting occasionally, a vane may not be the answer. A vane is expensive and cumbersome. But awesome for long passages. For short distances a single autopilot is probably fine. If it breaks, you just fix it in the next port.
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Old 26-10-2015, 06:20   #41
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

Well, on Momo (a Mason 43) we've been using a Sailomat servo-pendulum unit for the past twelve years and some 40,000 miles or so. It steers the boat incredibly well and it's easy to use (not that I'm touting Sailomat; I think other models are probably just as good). When motoring we hook up a little tiller pilot to the windvane part, which with little effort triggers the servo-pendulum. But if there's enough wind to move the boat, there's enough wind to operate the windvane. For a boat like ours (not too fast, aft cockpit, cable steering, keel-hung rudder) the servo-pendulum is great and I would never opt for a autopilot (I'm aware of at least two failures in the relatively small fleet crossing the Indian Ocean this year). Things get a little more complicated when you start dealing with units that use auxiliary rudders, etc. They don't appeal to me for various reasons, but I don't want to go there right now.

That said, servo-pendulum units need to be set up properly, and I suspect that a lot of people haven't done that, which makes anecdotal reports on windvane performance somewhat problematic. For example, an acquaintance with a Monitor was unhappy with its performance, but when we re-rigged the lines and blocks in a way that doubled the line travel this made all the difference in the world.

I understand that servo-pendulum units don't come cheap, but if you're short on cash you can make one yourself (Bill Belcher's *Windvane Selfsteering* explains how to make a number of different types, complete with plans). And I imagine, too, that they are cheaper than autopilots over the long run because they are easy to repair. Apart from their basic reliability and excellent performance in extreme nastiness, they are well-suited to low-budget cruising.
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Old 26-10-2015, 07:07   #42
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

All interesting posts - great to read people's different experiences.

I've hand steered for weeks when the new Raymarine had to be sent away for repairs ( hardware problem,is Never checked before it left the factory!)

Cape Horn windvane works great.
It can also be hooked up to auto pilot so that ap gives course but power of wind vane does the steering, thus saving loads of electrical power.
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Old 26-10-2015, 07:17   #43
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

I've now had two Raymarine products DOA - ie did not work when new out of the box! The Vhf radio I ditched for an Icom which has worked faultlessly for years, and the autopilot was repaired ( hardware faulty as new) but impossible to contact anyone at ?Raymarine in Maine. They have an electronic barricade and don't answer phones or emails, don't reply to phone messages or messages sent through their website. six weeks and numerous attempts and never managed to get any answer about repairs. I'd never buy any ?Raymarine product again. If they spent less money in marketing and more on the product and service they might retain more customers. This seems to be a very common sentiment in the boating community.
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Old 26-10-2015, 07:28   #44
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

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Two autopilots won't provide more reliability if there's no electricity.

Modern autopilots conservatively sized and installed inside are quite a bit more reliable than expecting an engine, alternator, regulator, batteries and fuel supply to ALL work.

Solar panels are the best answer (with a spare regulator aboard). A genset is OK too if you're confident of your fuel and have enough battery to run the genset only a couple of times a day.

Autopilots will use a lot of electricity if your boat is tough to steer. This is especially problematic downwind in a sea. Some boats have to be hand steered in this situation.
I am curious it anyone has tried a towed generator to power their autopilot on passage?
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Old 26-10-2015, 07:41   #45
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Re: Two Autopilots vs One Autopilot and a Windvane?

My autopilot uses less current than my fridge.
Myself I have multiple and redundant sources of power and two battery banks, even a lightning strike shouldn't take me out as second AP is down below in a waterproof box.
Pretty remote to lose all electricity that you can't cob something together, and on delivery I had no auto-pilot and that part from the keys to the Fl Panhandle hand steering wasn't pleasant, but it's not like your taking on water or something.

I believe towed generators are used often in racing, and for some reason seem to not be very reliable?
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