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Old 22-11-2010, 05:27   #31
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Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
For a Bahamas trip you can certain get by without an autopilot. (We did.) You'll have only a few biggish crossings, maybe 10 to 18 hours per. Once you're hopping among the small cays, your sailing will only be a few hours at a time, if that. Hand steering is a pain, but it's not terrible. Hey -- at least you're sailing!

And when it's all over the beer tastes soooooo much better.

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Old 22-11-2010, 05:56   #32
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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
it seems to me that 96% of cruisers use their autopilots 96% of the time. Of the remaining group, 1% have broken their autopilots during the passage, another 1% are running downwind in seas too steep for their pilots to handle, and the final 1% don't have autopilots either for economic or religious reasons. Regardless of rationale, this latter group will swear that all you need is a bungee cord and a prayer.

I can't imagine this being any different in the Bahamas than anywhere else.

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Old 22-11-2010, 06:18   #33
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I have a family member who is a delivery captain and he says of all the problems he has on deliveries, Number One is auto pilot problems. There was an AP on my boat when I bought it, but it wasn't working. My philosophy for everything on my boat is that if I am at sea I have to be able to fix it or do without it, so I went with a wind vane.

One thing no one has mentioned yet is the power draw of an auto pilot, remember to consider that as part of your choice.
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Old 22-11-2010, 06:41   #34
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Wouldn't leave home without it.

Just like all the others have posted, plus one more that I like a lot.

The one really great thing, used less than 0.1%, is raising anchor bt myself or when short handed. Just lock the AP on the heading the boat is lying at, slip the engine into gear at an idle, go raise the anchot as the boat eases up the anchor rode..i

The main reason for excessive power frain in the boat being out of balance. Newer units just don't draw as much power as the 80's models.

With 10 T-105's on my boat, I don't worry about the little amount the AP uses
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Old 22-11-2010, 07:15   #35
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I have one on board that I usually keep in standby when underway but, use it less and less. I got some great advice from a sage sailor to just lock the wheel on my Nonsuch 30 and the boat will sail nicely along as long as conditions are not too nasty. Some of the best advice I ever got. So now I use the AP mosty in no wind conditions while motoring. Best thing about it is unlike crew it does not drink your beer.
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Old 22-11-2010, 07:23   #36
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If you read the long thread on the boat Rule 62 and person lost in the Bahamas during the recent Caribbean 1500, its not confirmed yet, but one of the contributing causes was most likely the loss of their autopilot, leading to extreme crew fatigue and fatal decision making. That's how important a good autopilot is.
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Old 22-11-2010, 07:44   #37
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We also use our autopilot 96% of the time. It provides less fatigue and better steering accuracy over a long course. HOWEVER, the helmsman never leaves the helm - he/she is responsible for driving the boat, not the autopilot. An added benefit is that my spouse has developed RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) which has weakened her arms, and the autopilot enables her to stand watches at the helm. I would not sail (for long) without it!
Safe Sailing,
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Old 22-11-2010, 08:07   #38
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An ideal situation would be a good windvane, and an electric A/P. In this situation you could save a few bucks by downsizing the E A/P, for windless days........i2f
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Old 22-11-2010, 09:39   #39
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Originally Posted by JamuJoe View Post
We also use our autopilot 96% of the time. It provides less fatigue and better steering accuracy over a long course. HOWEVER, the helmsman never leaves the helm - he/she is responsible for driving the boat, not the autopilot.
Get an autopilot with a wireless remote, and no matter where you go, you never leave the helm. Literally.

Even though I have a hard bimini, when the rain gets sideways it's nice to stand watch from under the dodger. At that point, with the wireless remote in my pocket, I can make all the course changes I want.
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Old 22-11-2010, 09:49   #40
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Aries windvane selfsteer when sailing & tillerpilot when motoring ... couldn't singlehand without either of them.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:20   #41
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I also like having the rudder indicator on my AP. Tells me if I'm fighting the wind/current with the rudder over. Also helps to tell me where the rudder is during docking maneuvers.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:35   #42
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$300 tiller pilot married to Monitor. Low power draw with lots of power to helm.
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Old 22-11-2010, 10:54   #43
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Thanks for all of your great posts. Maybe a Hydrovane is the way to go, along with a tiller auto-pilot? Self Steer Hydrovane Wind Vane Steering

There was a thread here recently that had some pretty good comments about the CPT Wheel-Pilot. CPT Autopilot Inc. This was what started me thinking about AP's.

I honestly thought there would be many Bahamas cruisers saying that there was little need for an AP, but only one or two have posted. It appears pretty unanimous that an AP is one of the most important pieces of equipment when cruising. I do have a pretty long trip getting to the Bahamas from Galveston, and the wife has gotten seasick many times. It could leave me a bit short-handed if without a means of self-steering.

Thanks again,
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Old 22-11-2010, 11:14   #44
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we may not have had the damage we found we gained had we been able to use autohelm in heavy weather-- but we slid onto a spoils bank we totally knew about because we were exhausted from trying to gain shelter from a predicted extreme electrical storm condition-- the same one that spawned tornadoes killing 11 in mississippi last april.....had the pilot been a quadrant mounted one, we may have been less exhausted. also , had the boat been not fin/spade combo--is very very much more work in a storm... we shorthanded that boat in heavy seas for 24 hours and made into st andrews bay just at dusk with 41 kt breezes keeping us from making towards deeper water and we got pounded for an hour.. would have appreciated a quadrant mounted pilot that day--- i have solar and so does the man i sailed with-he also has wind. there was no worry about the amount of energy the autohelm needed-- was provided and then some. boy, that boat was fun to sail in big winds!!!! she flew!!!! but is a helluva lot of work.
i cant wait to compare my full keel and attached rudder in same seas.....
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Old 22-11-2010, 11:21   #45
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I too concur with the large majority in favour. I do a lot of singlehanding and it offers an overwhelming wealth of benefits. If necessary I can do without but it make life so much easier.


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