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Old 02-07-2013, 15:26   #1
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What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

For a solo or short handed sailor, what are the options for self steering back up should a self steering wind vane fail?

I have a Raymarine Autohelm rigged up to the wheel steering but the less than waterproof remote unit and general look of the system doesn't give confidence.

I'm looking for either no power needed or as little as possible if anyone can share their experiences.
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Old 02-07-2013, 22:24   #2
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

Search for "sheet to tiller steering"
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Old 02-07-2013, 23:28   #3
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

I had a Raymarine (Autohelm when I bought it) linear drive 6000. It was named "Matt Helm" and was considered a crew member. The remote drowned within two years.
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Old 03-07-2013, 00:34   #4
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

For the most part, wind vane self steering is pretty much bullet proof or at least reliable enough to get me to where I could do any minor repairs needed.

Big problem I've had was a mounting bolt falling out which I can only blame myself for. That was a near catastrophe as it was the lower bolt on an auxillary rudder system that actually steered the bolt. When the bolt left the premises, that left only the top mount holding the vane on and torque on the vane rudder twisted it out of the transom. Managed to hang on to the vane but needed to do a bit of glass work to the transom. Powered a day and a half back to Sausalito to do the repairs to the boat. The vane was fine and just needed the 12mm bolt that had take a holiday. The vane steered the boat all the way to Hawaii after I made sure all the bolts were tight on the second attempt.

Had a Raymarine wheel pilot which steered the boat back to SF. It was not powerful enough to handle the very high force needed on the wheel to steer the boat under sail. Worked fine under power and light air sailing. Couldn't handle steering the boat sailing when I was making good time, however.

To answer your question. If the vane works sailing around your home waters, the sheaves are not wobbling, the control blocks good quality and in good condition and any wear points on the vane taken care of, the vane should work just fine. Only thing I'd bring is a spare rudder couplings or two, if it has such a thing, and a couple of spare of windvanes. Underway, the breakaway coupling broke when it hooked up on some kelp and a wind vane disappeared one night. Other than the lost bolt, those are the only things that have gone wrong with the two self steering vanes I've used sailing from SF to SoCal, the Marquesas, through French Polynesia, Hawaii and a solo sail from SF to Kona
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Old 03-07-2013, 00:39   #5
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

I have the typical x5 wheel pilot. It's steered the boat a few thousand miles at this point, even through some gunk. I'm fine with that as a back up to the two hundred pounds of stainless on the back.
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Old 03-07-2013, 00:44   #6
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

We were lucky! if the vane went out we had 4 kids who could stand helm watchs LOL and with Connie and I we were in pig heaven !! Never need a backup steering when ya have a bunch of bread snappers !!!
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:58   #7
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tenchiki View Post
Search for "sheet to tiller steering"
There is the correct answer. Related to this is "sail balance"...a properly trimmed boat can, if the boat is well-designed in the first place, have very little in the way of weather or lee helm. Just remember that the goal cannot be optimized speed, but rather so little helm pressure that a piece of shock cord can handle the pressure on the tiller. Basically, you will oscillate around your chosen heading, but you can, unless the sea state is up, generally proceed safely in the right direction. I've experimented with this on a tiller-steered sloop, and while it is a finicky process to trim for course and conditions, it will work surprisingly well. Recall Slocum had no vane...
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Old 03-07-2013, 15:22   #8
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John A View Post
I had a Raymarine (Autohelm when I bought it) linear drive 6000. It was named "Matt Helm" and was considered a crew member. The remote drowned within two years.
Just as I imagined, it just can not be relied on. Thank you John.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John A View Post
Had a Raymarine wheel pilot which steered the boat back to SF. It was not powerful enough to handle the very high force needed on the wheel to steer the boat under sail.
Thank you for the informative post Peter. What you said above regarding the robustness of the Raymarine device cements my decision, its coming out and going in the bin. Mine is the ST3000.
Regarding the bolt problem you had, I was also considering adding to the already heavy lay up around the transom with some woven cloth, once I have decided which wind vane to go for. You experiences have helped no end thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobconnie View Post
We were lucky! if the vane went out we had 4 kids who could stand helm watchs LOL and with Connie and I we were in pig heaven !!
Bob, were just getting rid of the kids to University hence the yacht purchase. God help me if they ever want to come along without Wi-Fi and a phone signal. I will be sooooo un-cool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
....Basically, you will oscillate around your chosen heading, but you can, unless the sea state is up, generally proceed safely in the right direction.
I like this idea of tiller/sheet steering and could cope with this. Even tuning it would be a pleasure to hopefully master as best as it can become. I think this is it, tiller/sheet steering.

Thank you.
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Old 03-07-2013, 17:37   #9
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

Originally Posted by John A
Had a Raymarine wheel pilot which steered the boat back to SF. It was not powerful enough to handle the very high force needed on the wheel to steer the boat under sail.

Hey Mods!!
Somebody is being terrible cute as I never posted this!! I never sailed my boat back to SF, I donated it to a charity in Lake Worth, Florida.

My Autohelm saved my life in 50 knot winds with 20 foot seas, during a continuous 4 day gale.
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Old 03-07-2013, 17:40   #10
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

Hi John. I apologise as something went awry when I was multi quoting. Seems strange this happened but no malice was intended, as the reply was noted as "thank you Peter".
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Old 03-07-2013, 17:58   #11
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

What is a solo short handed sailor? How does it differ from a solo sailor?

I think here are some of your options:

- hand steering,
- heaving to,
- balanced sailing upwind or downwind,
- AP.

AP requires some el-power but modern APs are very efficient and can be run from solar power/windmills.

Balanced upwind and downwind may/will be limiting to your choice of courses.

Heaving to will be limiting on your daily runs.

I am not sure windvane or AP are necessary but sure they are a nice add-on - one that I would place way above many other boat toys.

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Old 03-07-2013, 18:28   #12
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Re: What reserve self steering when windvane goes down?

FWIW,

Way back in 1983 Ann and I sailed our Yankee 30 to Hawaii and back to SF. Had an Autohelm 2000 tiller pilot which worked well all the way over,and three days on the way back. Pressed onward... that boat would sail itself to windward quite well, so things went ok 'till it was time to turn down and head for SF (about 39 north). She would not sail stably on the necessary beam to broad reach, so I spent a day concocting a sheet to tiller rig. Had to cobble up an end of the boom mainsheet and a bunch of turning blocks, but in the end that mickey mouse rig steered the remaining 15-1800 miles home. It wouldn't steer untended for hours, but would require tweaking every 15 minutes or so... way better than hand steering when only two up on board.

So I would say that such a device is a useful backup to either a vane or an a/p. However, wind vanes are damn reliable, unlike electronic a/ps, and with a good one you are unlikely to have much trouble.

On our current boat we don't have a vane and wish we did. Do have backup a/ps, though, but they surely suck up the power and on our "drum head" hull, they make annoying noises. Sure miss our wind vane that I built for Insatiable One.

Cheers,

Jim
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