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Old 07-10-2014, 07:04   #1
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Back up AP

Hi,
I'm thinking about the consequences of our autopilot breaking on passages and would like a good backup plan. The thought of a couple hand steering 24/7 for weeks on end on a passage sounds tiring...
The yacht is a lagoon 400 catamaran, 10t, with Raymarine instruments and below deck Raymarine AP. We have backup charts and AIS on the laptop and iPad etc, so I'm wondering about spares and parts for the AP.
I'm Leaning toward a CPT wheel pilot as it's an easy install and doesn't rely on other systems (except power) to steer a course, so losing the chart plotter or Existing AP wouldn't matter so much. It would rely on the wheel and steering cable being ok though. Cost would be around $2000. It could be set up and then left in a box below until needed.
Another option would be a tiler pilot attached to the emergency tiller, but it doubt any could handle the rudder loads.
Or, have some replacement components for the existing system, but I'm bussing this would be pretty pricey and troubleshooting the problem at sea difficult.
Any ideas or thought appreciated
Monte
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Old 07-10-2014, 07:42   #2
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Re: Back up AP

you could take some crew,always backpackers hanging around las palmas this time of year looking for a ride,most will contribute to food,will mean you can maintain a proper watch and have the added security if you have to hand steer!
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Old 07-10-2014, 07:54   #3
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Re: Back up AP

Your plan on the CPT, is my plan. It may become my only AP, carrying a complete extra as a spare though, depending on how well I like it, so far it holds a course well, is silent and is very low power draw. I don't want to integrate my AP into a chart plotter, just want it to hold a course. Downside is it isn't the best looking option, but as a spare of course that is irrelevant, as a spare I would install a water tight power plug and maybe the mount for the drive unit, the wheel pulley and control head as so easy to install I don't think I would leave them installed, but the drive unit bracket may depending on where and how be something best left installed.
Except for running the power wire, it took about an hour to install mine, if you can change a car tire, you can install a CPT, plus changing components in a heavy sea wouldn't require you to go below in possibly tight places
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:08   #4
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Re: Back up AP

I have a different opinion on that. Since you have a catamaran, you have the opportunity to have two complete independent below decks AP's that have equal functionality - one on each rudder.

This gives you full redundancy for any situation - even if the steering gear breaks and one rudder falls off. It also allows for almost real-time switchover.

Leave the control head, power and communication cables disconnected to protect from lightning. When needed, simply plug in and go. If you get the same AP as current, this also provides you a backup control head if yours goes bad.

The CPT costs 3/4 of a full belowdecks (Defender lists the Raymarine EV200 complete kit at $2800), will not give you the same performance, will be cumbersome to use in your helm and will not work if your steering gear breaks.

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Old 07-10-2014, 08:29   #5
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Re: Back up AP

A wheel pilot wont work for a big boat like yours. Nor will a tille rpilot on the emergency tiller - that you have obviously not used lol.

The Raymarine APs are very reliable. It would be a big move to add one below for proper redundancy.

On a long downhill run like yours a bit of wheel time wouldnt be too bad between two of you. You'd lose abit of lard, learn to sail your boat, and probably have a grea time telling stories at the pub in St Lucia.

The only thing I don't like ao rallies is, similar to forums and daily HF nets, they tend to brew fear. Thats manifest is a slim wallet and not enjoying your first great passage of a lifetime.


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Old 07-10-2014, 09:05   #6
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Re: Back up AP

I don't know squat about Cats, but the logic of twin under deck AP's driving the rudders directly sounds awfully smart.
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:06   #7
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Re: Back up AP

Thanks for the advice, it's a pity it's all different!

We will have crew mostly for longer passages, but even then a 3-4hr watch hand steering will get old pretty fast, yeah yeah I know that's how they did it in the old days, I'm just finishing reading 2 years before the mast and they're talking about having 2 men at the helm to steer around Cape Horn. But a couple of boat bucks for something we will hopefully never need and can flog off down the track doesn't seem too over the top.

MarkC, good points on the backup below deck but it will still rely on the plotter functioning, although it would probably be stronger and not rely on the steering cable...
Maybe there's a simple all in one below deck AP that doesn't rely on integrated plotters..
Lagoon did offer to supply me a new Raymarine gyro AP at a reduced price seeing as they put the older model on our new boat after I specifically requested the gyro ..

MarkJ, from all reports the cpt is pretty heavy duty and handles mono,s and cats a lot bigger than ours. I would primarily want something to hold a relatively steady downwind course in trade wind conditions and not something that will handle all conditions when hand steering might be the best option
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:13   #8
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Re: Back up AP

The CPT can deliver right at 90 ft. lbs tq to the wheel, that is I think about three times the force other wheel pilots can deliver, the big drive motor required to deliver that kind of force is largely why I think the installation to borrow a term used buy someone else is a little "agricultural" looking.

Colemj's point of having a identical second AP connected to the other rudder, what's wrong with that? I know you can slave these new AP's to a plotter, but they don't need a plotter do they, lest the ones I'm familiar with don't. Plus having two identical AP's means you have two parts of everything, and if you wanted spares, one spare covers both AP's.
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:13   #9
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Re: Back up AP

Quote:
Originally Posted by monte View Post
MarkC, good points on the backup below deck but it will still rely on the plotter functioning, although it would probably be stronger and not rely on the steering cable...
Maybe there's a simple all in one below deck AP that doesn't rely on integrated plotters..
Lagoon did offer to supply me a new Raymarine gyro AP at a reduced price seeing as they put the older model on our new boat after I specifically requested the gyro ..
I am not aware of any autopilot that requires a plotter for operation. The RM one I mentioned for $2800 comes complete with computer, compass, drive unit and control head. Installed, it is self-contained. You can hook it up to a plotter, but that isn't required.

Likewise, Simrad, B&G, NKE and Furuno pilots are stand-alone that do not require a plotter. I don't have experience with other brands, so can't say there.

Are you sure you didn't get the older gyro version? If not, you really got screwed - but I bet you got the older gyro compass, which is still good kit.

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Old 07-10-2014, 09:15   #10
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Re: Back up AP

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Plus having two identical AP's means you have two parts of everything, and if you wanted spares, one spare covers both AP's.
Actually, Monte's misfortune of Lagoon installing an older version AP may work to his favor here. He could probably pick up new old stock of his current AP for a big discount and have completely redundant systems.

Maybe even cost significantly less than the CPT.

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Old 07-10-2014, 09:52   #11
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Re: Back up AP

I've had a CPT on my 40' trimaran as the primary AP for years. I am now converting to a full Simrad system, but I'll keep the CPT as my backup spare. Don't be dazzled by the naysayers.
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:52   #12
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Re: Back up AP

Thanks again. Internet is really slow here so I cant google the components or pricing, but what we have is a SPX30 Smartpilot course computer, with a Raymarine M81190 fluxgate compass. Theres also a heading sensor which is atatched to the big metal triangle which is fixed to the rudder stock. Also a hydraulic drive unit to turn the rudder. So if you are suggesting I could get all of those, including the control head for around $2K, then that may be the best way to go. I figure even I can swap out parts till it works...
What Im not confident doing is diagnosing electronics and repairing them. Sure I have a soldering iron and multimeter but....
We are happy enough with the AP, it holds course well enough but I wanted to try the newer Gyro system.
Cheers,
Monte
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Old 07-10-2014, 11:02   #13
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Re: Back up AP

I used a CPT as a backup to a Simrad below-decks autopilot on my Bene First 456. I just left it below until needed, which was about 4-5 times in 90,000 miles. It was OK as a backup, but I would never consider it strong enough to be the primary. It cost me $800 new in 1995, which was about 20% of the price of the Simrad.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:10   #14
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Re: Back up AP

I would go for a one for one (drop-in) set. It makes for easiest and fastest repairs underway.

BTW If you do have a breakdown and you must hand steer, you can always park the boat for a couple of hours to get adequate rest.

PS One of neat ways of avoiding too many AP breakdowns is to seriously oversize the drive. Aim at your AP working at below 50% of its rated load at top demand (heavy weather) and you will be fine.

Cheers,
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Old 07-10-2014, 13:10   #15
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pirate Re: Back up AP

I had a Catalac 9 to take from Ipswich, UK to Pendik, Turkey... no AP and a silly little toy wooden wheel..
I got the owner to invest in an ST1000 which I jury rigged to the port tiller arm.. it did a sterling job all the way.. especially running downwind..
ST2000's may just do the trick nicely..
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