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Old 31-01-2010, 13:32   #31
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All the larger auto pilots are made up of components that work together. If the Course computer has the logic for a sail boat then there is no reason it can't be highly effective when paired with the correct size hydraulics. It's the software that differentiates power from sail not the type of unit. Power boats have more options and variations than sail boats do.

The hydraulics are just a dumb servo unit that takes instructions direct from the course computer and the rudder indicator reports back with the effective change. The hydraulic unit could be big or small, but the rate at which it responds is going to be a problem if the unit is too small. Less power with longer response times will make a sluggish response in heavy weather.

Usually it is the other way around when selecting a pilot. With larger engines the newer systems add a rate gyro to help when the boat is moving quickly such as with Express Cruisers. A rate gyro under sail is of very limited value. The cost of them now is low enough that you see them on small power boats too. The other issue is the steering system. Sail boats don't usually have remote assisted steering like power boats can have because the distances don't require them. The power boats have all the odd ball situations that may require changes for the best fit.

If you just read through the course computer manual you should see the type of settings you want for sail operation. If you want tighter integration with the rest of the instrumentation then of course those features can add more value - at a price.

With below decks systems the installation matters a great deal. In spite of anything else they all are custom installations. Getting the precise fit with the hydraulic unit and making strong attachments takes experience to do well. On a boat as large as yours the forces are very high and durability comes with the good install if you expect to last 15 or more years.

Many system can feed into the wind instrumentation and GPS to navigate with more parameters while under sail. The key to any design is in the course computer. I've found our older Simrad had a more automatic ability than does our current Raymarine. Most all the computers do have some degree of adaptive logic. The computer monitors the actual course against the desired course. It tries to compute how much extra rudder may be required vs just a change in direction because you altered the course. It adds and subtracts until it finds the best fit over time. It can take a minute or two to calculate that best rudder solution.

Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 31-01-2010, 14:37   #32
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Boats are very different. With a rod steering and a rudder position sensor my RM 6000 steers my 14,000lbs very well. I trim sails auto does all the steering.
I have steered some boats with cable steering and bad manners you would need something different. The advantage of below deck is they do not drive quadrant via the cables. Please don't forget you need battery power to support these units. Hydraulics are very power full but only 50% efficiency, a linear tiller drive is 95% efficient. A little engineering makes a difference on what you require also where you are going.

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Old 31-01-2010, 15:52   #33
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Raymarine often gets a bad rap here and often for no real reason. You dont build market share like Raymarine without doing something right.

In my opinion, dollar for dollar, Rarmarine is tops for value versus performance. I have sailed many boats with their units with little problems. The main issue did tend to be the output transistors in the driver section , but that has been improved. Theres no way i could justify what Furuno ask for their pilot for example.

A rate gyro under sail is of very limited value.
Nonsense, for an autopilot to handle quartering seas from astern, you need a rate gyro, especially in modern designs , like beneteau etc. Thats why raymarine now effectively builds them in, anyway they are peanuts to add as a on PCB compoment now.

Forget wheel pilots in all but the smallest system, and even then forget them, a good below deck drive system is far superior.

The things you need to be sure that the Garmin autopilot can do is adjust the helm for weather helm conditions, since a sailboats rudder will act differently than a power boat when you are under way, under sail, and it has the ability to adjust for yaw. The more the wind blows the more the autopilot needs to adjust the rudder angle and many power boat specific autopilots can not handle this.

As to to the garmin GHP10, The only things it doesnt have is a tack facility or sail to a wind angle ( which in my experience, very few users use anyway). by the way the comment in the quote is not how autopilots work they dont need to know about sailboats or powerboats, all they do is react to course change using a combination of compas input and now rate gyro input ( to detect movement before course change actually occurs). Autopilots know nothing about weather helm, that is merely a function of apply rudder angle to maintain course, a power boat can suffer similar problems, with windage or mismatch engines and the autopilot may have to apply helm to maintain course.

The Garmin unit should do OK, as long as Garmin say its ok. However the installation of the unit is really designed for Hydraulic streering. Gamrin now has a rate gyro in it as well.
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Old 01-02-2010, 16:13   #34
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I believe the ST6000 is no longer in production, here's the link for the new X5...
Raymarine Marine Electronics - Wheel Pilots
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I exist to live my life in a way that will make me happy.

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Old 05-02-2010, 12:19   #35
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to rate gyro or not

Definitely, go for the 'G' version if you can. I have sailed both versions and the G outperforms the earlier models. I believe it is because the G can disregard compass indications resulting from the boat being tossed by the waves, reacting only when the heading changes. Otherwise the units are the same but the G's ability to disregard the irrelevant movements and react only when the boat does change her course is a big step forward.

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Old 05-02-2010, 13:22   #36
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I'll put a good word in for Raymarine's tech support . . . When I submitted an issue via their web site support feature, a tech got back to me within a day, patiently listened to and assessed my specific setup and issue, demonstrated a genuine concern to get the problem solved, and gave me a working solution.

I second (or 50th) all the comments about not going cheap with the AP, unless maybe you plan to mostly use your boat at the dock or in 100% easy weather. I also have a 13K+lb boat, and would consider a wheel pilot a backup unit only. Yes it'll work, but I don't want to spend that kind of money repeatedly over time from wearing out a light-weight before its time.

Having the below-decks tiller arm attached to the rudder post (Raymarine doesn't recommend attaching directly to the quadrent itself) serves as a valuable backup for all steering components except the rudder itself. This has been great for the peace of mind.

I'll also second that the 'G' version is a very nice plus for the reasons stated by B., and also cuts down on the power use since the drive is being used in a smarter manner.
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Old 05-02-2010, 13:46   #37
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"The only things it doesnt have is a tack facility or sail to a wind angle" I would not purchase a unit without these facilities.
The issue with Raymarine is not whether the tech guys are helpful or not. The issue is their history of unreliabilty which in the middle of the Pacific or Atlantic oceans is a major concern. No tech or service calls in those locations so I would rather pay a little more for the renowned reliability of brands like Furuno.
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Old 29-06-2012, 13:09   #38
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Re: The Right Auto-Pilot?

I've had the raymarine x-5 tiller pilot for about a year, same unit as the 'wheel' but with the tiller drive motor unit rather than the wheel drive motor unit. Good for motoring but, lordy, don't rely on these units for extensive off-shore work. Current draw in moderate conditions on my 28 footer has been in the 3 amp-hour range (approximate; 72 amp-hours in a 24 hour period, assuming the conditions don't worsen). The software on mine has been a bit glitchy with an erratic magnetic heading (it's been in and out of RayMarine service: software upgrades but no change in problem status), among other distractions. There has also been the re-occurring question of drive motor longevity over extended use periods. That thing can get pretty warm in certain conditions. If you can afford both, get the RayMarine for short motoring stints, and a decent windvane setup for the rest of the time.
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Old 29-06-2012, 13:22   #39
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Re: The Right Auto-Pilot?

i sailed a seidelmann 37 with a 4000 raymarine wheel pilot--you want something stronger than that. it sukked. not reliable and not in any way adequate.
i have a formosa with a simrad hdl2000 mounted on quadrant pilot--i love it-is perfect for the work i do with my ketch.
i understand the owner of the seidelmann i sailed has upgraded but i dont know what he bought.
the seidelmann 37 looks like a light boat but it performs like a heavy boat and was a lot of work to steer in a storm-- you will want a heavier autopilot than a wheel mounted one.
whatever kind you decide upon, my you have best fortune and smooth sailing....
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Old 04-07-2012, 18:12   #40
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Re: The Right Auto-Pilot?

Hi, I have wheel steering on my new to me 46' sailboat and it has a RM 6000 with a gear on the inside of the boat on the wheel hub where the cable connections are. There is a bicycle chain connecting the gear and the 12v motor. Is this considered a wheel pilot ?
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Old 04-07-2012, 18:18   #41
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Re: The Right Auto-Pilot?

Another Vote for Com-Nav Solid gear with great tech support. Also sold under the Si-Tex Label
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:45   #42
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Re: The Right Auto-Pilot?

I have a Raymarine autopilot with hydraulic steering. The rate gyro and the largest motor they make really make a difference. The unit steered in any sea conditions and never failed me once in three trips from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta and back. My boat weighs 56000 lbs so it put a lot of stress on the unit particularly in a heavy quartering sea from aft. I liked it so much I am buying a newer version of the same thing and keeping the old unit as an installed spare.

Bob Mathews
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autohelm, autopilot, raymarine, wheel

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