Mark's general impression of wind
vanes - that they are fussy, old fashioned and perhaps past their prime as serious cruising gear
- is pretty common. Yet I'll bet he has seen many a boat with them when out in Big Blue. When we crossed to the Azores
- a typical multi-national cruising watering hole, like St. George's harbor in Bermuda
or Chag Bay, Trinidad - I did a month-long survey
on the prevalence of vanes on arriving boats just for the heck of it. Each day I walked the Horta, Faial waterfront (annual international arrivals: 800) and counted a) the number of boats with transoms in view, and b) the number of wind
vanes present on those transoms. The percentage of boats with vanes never dropped less than 75% and sometimes exceeded 90%. This was in 2003...but when calling into the Canaries
in 2008, where another gaggle of ocean crossing
boats gather in the late Fall, I found the same percentages among boats in Graciosa and then Lanzarote.
I mention this because sometimes a few data points helps offer a perspective, no matter what each of us individually chooses to do (or not do) when outfitting our boats, or what we think about gear
we are (or are not) using.
RE: spares, in WHOOSH's case, we do carry them for our self-steering: extra 8mm steering control lines and 2 control line blocks. <g>
"I have an old Sailomat 3040 that we are fixing up in anticipation to mounting on our transom." You are very, very fortunate. Best vane I've ever seen/sailed with. Sailed our H-R Rasmus 35 ketch
dead downwind in 3 knots of air like it was an autopilot. Really good kit that's w-a-y too expensive to manufacture these days, said the inventor and Sailomat owner Stellan Knoos.