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Old 18-08-2015, 15:06   #91
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

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Originally Posted by MarinerJo View Post
No, not ALL boats in around the world races use AP. In the Volvo Ocean race, the crew steers and trims 100% of the time. To get the "best possible performance" out of their boats.
I did mention the fully crewed boats hand steering for maximum performance. They rotate 8 professionals through very short shifts because no human can take it for very long and still maintain performance above an AP.

The Volvo Ocean race is one of these. There are others that rely heavily on autopilots.

Are you in the habit of rotating 8 professional sailors through short helm shifts on your passages? Or perhaps you are that impossibly rare short-handed crew who hand steers continuously better than a good AP. If so, I stand corrected about AP's steering better than humans on passages.

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Old 18-08-2015, 15:43   #92
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I did mention the fully crewed boats hand steering for maximum performance. They rotate 8 professionals through very short shifts because no human can take it for very long and still maintain performance above an AP.

The Volvo Ocean race is one of these. There are others that rely heavily on autopilots.

Are you in the habit of rotating 8 professional sailors through short helm shifts on your passages? Or perhaps you are that impossibly rare short-handed crew who hand steers continuously better than a good AP. If so, I stand corrected about AP's steering better than humans on passages.

Mark
I think that's the important point that people aren't understanding about your point, Mark. A skilled helmsman can outperform an autopilot at sea for short periods. For any practical purposes, though, a typical cruising boat is better off just letting the AP do the job instead of thinking the helmsman can keep it up for their whole watch and not let other things like sail trim and their reading list suffer.

The exception might be in extreme weather where an AP might not do an adequate job and the cruiser will need to either hand steer or take a more passive storm strategy. There are probably some scenarios we could dream up where hand steering for 6 hours to get into the lee of land or something is the best choice to make, but 99.99% of the time, the AP will do just fine and then it's time for a series drogue.
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Old 18-08-2015, 15:43   #93
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
I may have missed it in scanning through the pages of this thread, but integration of the autopilot with the other electronics on board, presumably a GPS with a single waypoint to steer to, or to a route on a standalone GPS, or to a chartplotter with a single waypoint or a route. The real issue is having the AP set at all, regardless of whether it is set to GPS coordinate at all. You get the same problem by just setting an AP on a course heading and then not maintaining the proper watch. So saying that you avoid the issue by not integrating your AP does not solve the problem at all. It just means you have to determine manually when you need to change direction to get from A to C via B. Ditto with a wind pilot too. Same thing only it may be harder to "turn it off" to change course to avoid a collision.

When the autopilot is integrated with GPS the boat will follow the very precise line between two points. For well travelled routes between locations with choke points a significant percentage of boats will use the choke points as waypoints and will thus be traveling the exact same route within 50m or so.

On the other hand those without integration will drift off the most direct line. For a 1* drift they will be 90m off the direct line after the the first 3nm. Even if they pay no attention to anything around them they are less likely to hit other boats than the boats with integrated autopilots that are also not paying any attention.



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Old 18-08-2015, 16:18   #94
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

Was number three crew on the delivery of a 46' Carver with two big Cats and modern electronics. Did all the trip planning and navigation since the Capt. and 2nd had never used any electronics.

On the leg from Egmont Key to Dog Island, a day trip at eighteen knots, I plotted a waypoint route ending right in the middle of the channel at the first pair of markers.

Me and 2nd swapped out on the helm all day while the Capt. slept mostly. Approaching the pass I was ready to give the helm over but was told to keep it and don't slow down. All that mattered was eighteen knots to the Captain.

The boat split the channel markers on center. A couple of +1 or 2 curved it around the pass and through. Then -30 or so lined us up on the first ICW pair of markers. Enjoyed the hell out of that and got to see how the other half lives.

The next day I got to hand steer that beautiful curvy section going in at Appalachicola. At eighteen knots, that was even more fun.

Edit..... forgot to add we didn't see another boat all day on that crossing. And there were two or four eyes at the helm always.
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Old 18-08-2015, 16:27   #95
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
When the autopilot is integrated with GPS the boat will follow the very precise line between two points. For well travelled routes between locations with choke points a significant percentage of boats will use the choke points as waypoints and will thus be traveling the exact same route within 50m or so.

On the other hand those without integration will drift off the most direct line. For a 1* drift they will be 90m off the direct line after the the first 3nm. Even if they pay no attention to anything around them they are less likely to hit other boats than the boats with integrated autopilots that are also not paying any attention.



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So instead of getting to the "choke point", they run into the reef which created the choke point?
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Old 18-08-2015, 17:46   #96
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

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Originally Posted by cwyckham View Post
I think that's the important point that people aren't understanding about your point, Mark. A skilled helmsman can outperform an autopilot at sea for short periods. For any practical purposes, though, a typical cruising boat is better off just letting the AP do the job instead of thinking the helmsman can keep it up for their whole watch and not let other things like sail trim and their reading list suffer.

The exception might be in extreme weather where an AP might not do an adequate job and the cruiser will need to either hand steer or take a more passive storm strategy. There are probably some scenarios we could dream up where hand steering for 6 hours to get into the lee of land or something is the best choice to make, but 99.99% of the time, the AP will do just fine and then it's time for a series drogue.
The key word in the above is "skilled" helmsman. Like, really skilled - and with a boat that can respond to that skill level. Many cruisers and their boats don't even come close this.

Nobody on this forum, of course - I'm talking about the other cruisers.

About the only time I can see it going the other way is beating in very light shifty winds.

Sure, a half-drunk and sleepy cruiser can consistently out-perform for long periods a lot of the old AP's or wheelpilots that are on cruising boats, but the new AP's are a different breed.

In heavy weather that does not require survival tactics, there is no reason an AP should not be able to steer the boat other than it being undersized, poorly mounted, or improperly wired.

I know that by the time our AP would have trouble steering, I wouldn't have any better luck and would be looking for a different, more passive, tactic.

Mark
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Old 18-08-2015, 19:22   #97
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

Did not mean for this AP vs Human tangent to dominate but here is my take.

AP is the preferred workhorse when you have limited crew and steering talent/stamina.

In weather extremes (very light or very strong)... An experienced person's ability to anticipate light wind shifts or breaking seas is far superior to an AP.

On passages... I always made sure that on every 4 hr watch.... Each crew member logged at least half an hour hand steering (day and night) in different sea conditions.

It was an amazing confidence builder and something I believe should not be forgotten
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Old 18-08-2015, 20:05   #98
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Did not mean for this AP vs Human tangent to dominate but here is my take.

AP is the preferred workhorse when you have limited crew and steering talent/stamina.

In weather extremes (very light or very strong)... An experienced person's ability to anticipate light wind shifts or breaking seas is far superior to an AP.

On passages... I always made sure that on every 4 hr watch.... Each crew member logged at least half an hour hand steering (day and night) in different sea conditions.

It was an amazing confidence builder and something I believe should not be forgotten

+1...


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Old 18-08-2015, 21:01   #99
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Re: Autopilot does not equal Stand On Vessel!

Really great points, Mark and Pelagic

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