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Old 31-07-2006, 10:27   #46
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This Thread came back alive at a perfect time. We expect to take possesion of the boat in about three weeks. I keep thinking that I need this or that and had narrowed it down to 1) GPS Chart Plotter/sounder, 2) auto pilot, 3) wind vane. There are already a depth sounder, wind speed & angle, radar and a few other things on board. But your commets are making me rethink this. The auto pilot and windvane seem like must haves for cruising. I don't want to handsteer for days at a time. The GPS plotter on the other hand I might just go for the portable. That way I can wait till the price drops or get last years model since we aren't leaving tommorrow. Thanks for the replies. You've saved me a few thousand bucks.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 31-07-2006, 12:06   #47
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Charlie,

You really don't need both a windvane and autopilot. Windvane is enough. If you spend a lot of time motoring where there is no wind, hook a little auto-pilot to the windvane. As this page describes: http://www.selfsteer.com/products/monitor/autoPilot.php
I know a few people with similar set ups and they work like a dream.

Just go sailing. Have fun. And don't spend a dime that you don't absolutely have to spend for at least a year. (And paper charts work fine!)

Good luck.
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Old 31-07-2006, 16:20   #48
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You definitely want some sort of self steering. I installed an Alpha 3000 with a mosfet. It is a hydraulic ram and has steered the boat 99% of the time since it was installed. I even anchor and pick up a mooring with it!

For long offshore passages a wind vane would certainly be the way to go.. but some autopilots can interface with wind instruments and steer to wind and not to course.

I am happy with the auto pilot and not the vane... and have never found it a power hog. The Alpha 3000 does not interface with position fixers so it requires that YOU set the course with a dial which is like a compass rose. To tack you turn it 90-100°. When you hand steer you mechanically disengage the ram with a teleflex cable. There is no drag or effect on the helm whatsoever. You can also control how much correction you want.. which WILL use more or less power as it can respond to every motion of the boat and try to correct with the rudder.

I have used this pilot for 17 yrs and love it. I would give it a very strong recommendation. I did a delivery on a boat that had another pilot and it would occasionally go off duty and sound a faint alarm. To get it back on.. you had to re program your heading before it would "latch on". I thought this was much less effective than the system I use.

I love the auto pilot.

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Old 31-07-2006, 16:29   #49
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I must confess, that the more I meet and hear of autopilots, the more respect I have for the few boats I have been on that really can hold almost any course on their own after being trimmed for it. I think I would be willing to forgive a boat of almost any sin (bunk too short, cabin too low, no jacuzzi in the heads<G>) as long as it had that all too rare quality of being able to sail without any crew on the helm.
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Old 31-07-2006, 21:14   #50
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So, you're sold on catamarans?
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Old 31-07-2006, 22:46   #51
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The boat that I have under contract has an Alpha 3000. I'm thinking that I would like to get something as a back up since the autopilots are notoriously unreliable. Maybe I'll back up the pilot with a windvane. thanks for all the comments they are driving me towards spending less money.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 01-08-2006, 06:03   #52
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Charlie,

The Alpha 3000 is one of the most reliable autopilots you can have. It's simple and rugged. They have steered flawlessly around the world in various singlehanded races, and have proven their reliability over several decades. So, don't give up on it quite yet.

I was always intending to fit one aboard my 42' sloop when my Autohelm 5000 gave out, but when the time came I wasn't sure about the future of the company, spare parts, etc. Can't remember exactly what put me off.

Bought a W-H P3C instead, arguably the best autopilot available. Love it.

Bill
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Old 01-08-2006, 06:22   #53
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”The inner life of an autopilot” ~ by Sven Donaldson
From Ocean Navigator #120, Mar/Apr 2002
http://www.oceannavigator.com/article.php?a=1183

For other Self Steering articles, see also: http://www.oceannavigator.com/browse/subject.php?s=37
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Old 01-08-2006, 22:00   #54
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Thanks Gord:

As usual you are a wealth of knowledge. I'm leaning towards just fixing the Alpha 3000 and adding a windvane and then if I feel particuilarly frivilous I will add a small tiller pilot that will control the windvane as shown on the monitor site.
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Fair Winds,

Charlie

Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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Old 02-08-2006, 23:46   #55
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Well, the small tiller pilot might be overkill
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Old 03-08-2006, 06:19   #56
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Just sail the boat for a while and see whats what. Don't spend any dough unless you have safety issues that need resolving immediately.
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