I buy the windvane
first then find a boat to put it on. Wouldn't go anywhere more than a few hours away without the vane. Had an Aires on our tiller steereed Westail and would steer the boat if the boat would sail. It did more than 10,000 miles with us and double that with the next owner all with very few complaints. We didn't have an A/P on that boat so powering was a bit of a pain. We solved
that by sailing almost all the time.
35, came with a Monitor
. The Monitor
didn't work well with the wheel
on this boat. The vane's servo rudder
just didn't generate enough power to turn the wheel
and steer the boat under about 4 knots. The faster we went, the better the vane steered despite the increased forces required on the wheel.
Came across a used WindPilot Pacific Plus auxillary rudder
vane before I had a chance to see if there was any way to make the Monitor work. This vane has a servo rudder that turns an auxillary rudder that steers the boat. The boats rudder is just used for trim or centered depending on my mood. The WPP has worked a charm in both light and heavy winds, upwind and down. Steered all the way to Hawaii
with most of the way DDW with seldom over 8k of relative wind
and usually less. I made up a larger lightweight plastic windvane
that helps out in the light air downwind condtions.
I bought a Tiller Pilot to work with the vane but have to make up brackets to connect it. Once it is up and telling the WPP vane how to steer, will have an extremely low drain A/P for very light air sailing and when I want to maintain a compass
Also have a Raymarine
X5 wheel pilot that has worked well under power steering
for up to 36 hours at a stretch. It does not have enough power to steer the boat under sail with any speed on the boat, unfortunately. The motor
just doesn't have the oomph to fight the weather helm
as speed climbs much above 4 knots.
Personally, I've found vanes extremely reliable and easy to live with. Both of my boats have had a pretty strong weather helm
at speed and the vanes handled it without complaint. Can't imagine how much juice an autopilot
would require. Usually make a couple of course tweaks a day to keep the boat on the Magenta line. Basically, it's set the vane and forget it.