Originally Posted by Pblais
Wind vanes require one element an auto pilot doe not - a balanced helm
with properly trimmed sails
. Without properly trimmed sail a wind vane
is not very good. When sails
are trimmed the wind vane
uses no electrical
power. Thi is the sweet spot with wind
And of course the same is true for an autopilot
. The if boat is trimmed well and sailing a steady course by itself, all the AP does is checking it and holding the rudder
in place. The only power it needs is for checking it's sensors, no power goes to the rudder
A vane doesn't hold as steady a course as AP's can. This is not bad and it is wise to let the AP relax in the same manner, by adjusting it's sea-state setting. This way, it will not counter steer every wave, saving a lot of power and wear and tear on the unit.
The most important part of the AP is the drive unit. If you have hydraulic steering
it's easy, just order the hydraulic pump that is offered for the unit.
If you have cable steering
on a 41' boat, I would install some readily available hydraulic steering
components (cylinder, reservoir, valves (or ones of those "reservalve" combi units, hoses) and add that same hydraulic pump that is offered for the AP. This will greatly improve the reliability
of the unit (unless you have a WH Smith pilot which uses those standard components I listed) and reduce (maintenance) costs. You can even choose a standard industrial pump+electric motor
combo and connect the AP directly to that.... it's all compatible.