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Old 21-11-2010, 18:06   #1
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How Important is Your Autopilot ?

I would like to direct this to the Bahamas cruisers out there. Do you use your AP most of the time? Or would you be happy without one?
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Old 21-11-2010, 18:39   #2
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I would like to direct this to the Bahamas cruisers out there. Do you use your AP most of the time? Or would you be happy without one?
Bahamas or not the answer would be the same. For overnighters/long passages, unless you have 2-3 other capable helmsmen then you'll need the autopilot. Unless you like chaos.
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Old 21-11-2010, 19:01   #3
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What Delmarrey said. Bahamas or anywhere else, after a few hours, standing at the wheel gets very tiresome. I consider the AP one of the most important pieces of gear on the boat. Not necessarily for safety but to make a more enjoyable, comfortable cruise. Basically turn it on as soon as I leave the dock.
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Old 21-11-2010, 19:11   #4
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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 21-11-2010, 19:25   #5
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G'Day again Ralph,

Some form of self-steering is next to mandatory in a cruising yacht... full stop!

But, wind vane steering will accomplish most of the tasks assigned to the a/p, and have some advantages. We built one for I-one that steered her something like 50K miles. Also had an Autohelm 3000 wheel pilot that we used coastal cruising and motoring, but it wasn't terribly reliable (ho,ho) and wouldn't do alone and offshore.

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Old 21-11-2010, 19:38   #6
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Heck, my trips are measured in hours, not days but I would greatly miss my AP. No, we don't leave the helm but with the AP we are not constantly steering.

Foggy
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Old 21-11-2010, 20:03   #7
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Unless you are racing with crew, this is essential gear. I use it 99% of the time because it frees me to trim, navigate, cook, use the head, relax, watch, repair, read, enjoy the scenery.

Steering is BORING unless it's thrilling or the AP can't handle the conditions. And an AP does a lot better job than 90% of the people who have steered my boat. And you don't have to feed them nor listen to the BS.
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Old 21-11-2010, 20:09   #8
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I guess I must be underestimating the need for a good, reliable AP.... that's a lot of boat bucks! Thanks.

I just did a 27 hour race with 3 of us steering. I thought it was more boring sitting there getting wet. At least when at the helm I was doing something. I'm sure cruising for hundreds, or thousands of miles for days is different.
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Old 21-11-2010, 20:20   #9
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.... that's a lot of boat bucks! Thanks.
The price of convenience and safety.................._/)
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Old 21-11-2010, 20:42   #10
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Can't imagine cruising without an AP..
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Old 21-11-2010, 21:07   #11
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a.p.

I just brought my new boat home from SW Florida to NC with no autopilot, steering was a chore although the new boat "high" helped. We were double handed and between Ft Pierce and Cape Fear my mate got seasick and I ran the boat for 20 hours til I almost knocked my teeth out on the wheel from falling asleep standing up...

Needless to say, I'm in the market for an autopilot but too boat poor to get one now. Has no depth sounder either, but I think I can live without that for a while longer, after 700 miles w/o one.

Hand steering for long periods is just something to get through, I look forward to one someday.
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Old 21-11-2010, 21:22   #12
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G'Day again Ralph,

Some form of self-steering is next to mandatory in a cruising yacht... full stop!

But, wind vane steering will accomplish most of the tasks assigned to the a/p, and have some advantages. We built one for I-one that steered her something like 50K miles. Also had an Autohelm 3000 wheel pilot that we used coastal cruising and motoring, but it wasn't terribly reliable (ho,ho) and wouldn't do alone and offshore.

Cheers,

Jim
Forgot to add that on I-2 we have three a/p and no windvane. I really miss my vane, and would gladly trade one of the a/p's for one.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 21-11-2010, 21:27   #13
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RTB,

How many miles were handsteered from Jax to Cartegena? A/Ps give you the chance to do this on watch!.........i2f
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Old 21-11-2010, 21:34   #14
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RTB and csh, I'm so fanatical about the advantages of a functioning autopilot, the last 4 boats I've owned have had two in case one crapped out on me. On deliveries, I always checked out the autopilot because delivery skippers have a habit of running sort handed and I found them indispensable. Always checked for an inventory of spare parts, particularly the mechanical ones. Most owners were happy to foot the bill as the spares would stay aboard. If you're short of cash, try second hand marine and salvage shops... you can pick up a really adequate set up, perhaps not the latest features but one that will perform adequately.... good luck, Capt Phil
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Old 21-11-2010, 21:43   #15
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csh - congrats on the new boat! I just sailed on a 37. Very nice! Glad you still have your teeth, and good point about being down one crewmember. It happens.

jim cate - the wind vane sure has some pluses. I'm off to ponder.
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