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Old 25-11-2010, 06:32   #76
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The basic non Gyro,with ST 6002 control head.It costs about $1100.

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Old 25-11-2010, 07:39   #77
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I think the below decks models which attached to the rudder post are the way to go.

I would recommend using the GPS interface to steer your boat... follow roots and so forth. Even when used between waypoints you will have to get involved in sail trim as the wind direction and speed is likely to change as well as sea state... following a compass course is hardly an advantage and can actually get you into trouble.

It is no problem to enter a heading and make mid course corrections and if you are tacking, gps driven pilots are of no use. Plus having to monitor and enter headings keeps you engaged in watch keeping and position plotting but not tied to the helm.

Shiva has an Alpha 3000 which has been driving for over 22 years and with virtually no service! And this is 99% of the steering. I don't have experience with other pilots except for a few deliveries and did not care for them. Here's why.

The Alpha 3000 heading is set with a large rotary dial ticked off in degrees. North being up and South down. This is intuitive. If I set a waypoint and it's 110° I turn the dial just past east.

If I want to tack, I turn it about 120 degrees of so in the direction of the tack and then handle the sheets. Then I make the required course correction.

I positioned the control unit so I can turn the dial etc and see in all directions, much like one would it standing at the helm. Other boats I've see failed to mount the control head to allow one to see out and use the pilot at the same time. This is similar to having the radar display below decks!

Whatever you get, mount it in the optimal location.

I don't like the press button heading changes. I don't find this a good user interface.

The Alpha must be mechanically engaged to steer. This is done with a Morse or teleflex cable and should be place close to the helm. It will only "engage" in one position so you'll want to engage and then disengage in center helm with the king spoke of the wheel dead center so you can turn the helm to the right spot to then engage or disengage the pilot. This system provides NO friction or drag when manually helming the boat. But you MUST disengage it to do so. Other pilots have an alarm and a clutch which disengages I believe. You can't hear the alarm in roaring noisy seas and the boat will turn head to wind and "stop" or be tossed around in the waves. Alpha's helm stays engaged if the pilot is turned off and will slowing move off course and out of sail trim. The pilot will not mechanically disengage by itself.

It has controls for response time and sea state both of which hold straighter courses when set properly but will use more electricity if they are making more course corrections.

You can get a wired remote. But I see no use for it on a small yacht.

The install is not easy since you need to mount the ram drive at precisely the right angle - perpendicular to the rudder post with enough room for it to extend and clear any obstructions. You can do the install yourself with proper measurements and drawings and it will require a strong attachment point for the ram.

Electrically it is easy to wire with the only caution being the placement of the fluxgate compass. You want it as close to center of the boat and as far from the ends and beam as possible and not close to any ferrous metals. Proximity to ferrous metals will destroy the compass' ability to detect heading.

These types of pilots are not inexpensive. But since they should (and mine has) lasted decades and 10's of thousands of miles, the amortized cost is acceptable.

You can't single hand successfully without one for any length of time and without some sort of self steering you will become exhausted in short order and get into deep trouble.

Wheel pilots are OK for lighter boats, as a back up and for coastal cruising. The below decks ones are for offshore work, long hauls and rougher conditions.

My advice: Get one and you'll be pleased that you did.

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Old 28-11-2010, 18:07   #78
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Another hand

Once on a delivery, I repaired and reassembled an autopilot while I was on shift steering. That's how important it is...
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Old 28-11-2010, 18:28   #79
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I would recommend using the GPS interface to steer your boat... follow roots and so for
Ok so you say then ....

It is no problem to enter a heading and make mid course corrections and if you are tacking, gps driven pilots are of no use

Doesn't make sense all modern autopilots allow multiple mode usage steer to gps steer to compass and manual ( power steer) all can do auto tack and gybe

Your description of your old pilot makes me smile

All modern pilots outperform older versions simply put there's much faster processing and better stablisation inputs like rate gyros. Also all have rotary dial display heads in their range( well certainly 3 or the 4 biggest).

You comments 're the engagement system show how archaic that pilot is. Modern systems can be engaged at any steering position and in fact most people doNt input courses they steer the boat onto the course and just engage the pilot. Your comments 're failure ate wrong. Most autopilots if they loose control alarm out then some try to retain control few just fail out.

(you'll be telling me next we never should have abandoned steam)

Modern autopilots are efficient work horses. Don't leave port without one.

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Old 28-11-2010, 19:07   #80
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On my last boat used a wood Freeman so old I don't even know if it had a model number, impossible to interface, set your compass heading, push a button and you were locked on. The fluxgate compass must have weighed 20 lbs but it was bullet proof. Nevertheless, I found it so indispensable, I installed a companion Robertson unit that came off a 65 footer and put it on my 54 footer... beefier is better in my opinion. Autopilots are like an ideal additional crew member... reliable, quiet, don't talk back, eat very little except power, don't need 'potty breaks' and they stay out of the liquor cabinet. I'm sold! Capt Phil

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