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Old 02-05-2012, 07:05   #1
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Need new autopilot advice

I have a 48' steel cutter that I have sailed over 30K ocean miles, including 2 Panama Canal transits. 99% of the time, the boat was steered with a Sailomat windvane. I was very happy with its performance in all conditions, from light air to heavy. The reason I mention this is to show that the boat balances well and steers easily, despite its weight of about 36,000# in cruising trim.

But I want to switch to an electric or hydraulic system, to free up my big "scoop" type swim platform for other uses, such as, a swim platform! The sailomat requires a cat's cradle of lines and blocks all over my transom and swim platform. I want a clean and unobstructed swim platform, so I'm planning to install an electric or electric/hydraulic system under the platform's deck.

The boat is a center cockpit, with Edson steering and a very large aft-facing Edson quadrant below my swim platform. (It's a big boat with a very big/wide platform. Plenty of room down there for an autopilot drive.) I want to retain the cable/wire setup from the wheel to the quadrant, so going to all-hydraulic steering is not an option at this point.

I'm looking at a variety of systems now on the market. Anybody have any suggestions? The best, worst, great ideas, pitfalls to avoid, etc? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:38   #2
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

do get a hydraulic unit that is quadrant mounted for ease in handling a stout boat. i love my simrad hdl2000,, as wheel can not be turned by hand when it is engaged and it handles 60+kts wind EASILY. is also very accurate and does not swing boat as does the common wheel mounted unit which has difficulty in maintaining a true course.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:04   #3
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

WH auto pilots are about the best there is. Commercial fishermen have been using WH (Will Ham) for years. They do not fail. Google up "WH Auto Pilots" and read all about it.
Too bad you dont have a Monitor - I drive my servo-pendulum gear with a $400 simrad tiller pilot when the wind is dead and it works great! But I dont have a swim platform to deal with.
Get ready to dig deep into your pockets for a good pilot!
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Old 02-05-2012, 19:55   #4
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

Zeehag, thanks for the advice on the Simrad, I'll look at that model. I'm not sure what total displacement their website said, but I'm thinking it was quite a bit less than my 36K#. Yet, my boat was steered well by a Sailomat windvane, so perhaps such length and displacement categories are too arbitrary.

Geoduck, I've sailed on boats with Aires, Monitor, Hyrdrovane etc, and my Sailomat beats them all IMHO, for my own reasons, YMMV. I loved how well it steered, adn I could certainly fix a tillerpilot on top if I wanted to, but that's not where I'm trying to go. I want my whole fantastic 8' wide integrated swim platform back for a swim platform, and not a place to load up a junkyard of moving parts and lines and blocks smack in the middle.

Really, I want the A/P instead of a vane, just to clear off my swim platform. I can then pull a 12' RIB right up my transom and put 8' of it on my aft deck (built for that purpose) with 4' and it's O/B motor hanging off the back. Roll it in the water to launch. But then I thought I really needed a windvane for crossing oceans, and I had no more great open swim platform, with aft deck space for a 12' RIB.

Sounds like the Simrad will work for me. Or a WH, I'll check them too. Whatever it is, I want it under the deck of my 4' X 8' swim platform, and not on top of it.
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:26   #5
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

After studying the Simrad website, it looks like the HLD 2000L will be perfect for my boat. Now I just need to find the best prices for the drive, computer and display. I can't wait to get it running, it will be a real change from using a windvane, and it will free up my swim platform.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:25   #6
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

+1 for the WH Pilots. I have one and they are bullet proof.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:42   #7
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

the simrad is price of 3 firstborn, but is worth every cent. you will love any hydraulic autopilot you choose and it will only sip electricity until youhit huge winds, when it sips just slightly more. excellent unit. smoooth sailing.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:00   #8
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

You need a linear drive to mate with your cable steering. I have an octopus made by a canuck firm. None of them are cheap.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:01   #9
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

my quadrant is a cable drive with a hydraulic simrad--works great. no problems whatsover.
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:08   #10
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

Thanks everybody. I'll get a Simrad HLD 2000. When I install it, I'll post a report.
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:59   #11
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

The HLD2000 is only the linear drive component for an autopilot system (it is sold by Simrad, but can be used with almost any manufacturer's system). You will also need an autopilot computer, compass, rudder reference unit and control head to complete an autopilot system. That said, the Simrad systems are very good units.

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Old 05-05-2012, 07:59   #12
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Re: Need new autopilot advice

I have used a hydraulic Ray (huge cat boat). We have a Sim hydraulic in my mate's boat and we used a Furuno in a 60' boat recently. The Furuno was problematic (possibly not set-up properly) and the pump failed too (I bet the pump was undersized hence it died).

I would buy a Ray for my own boat if she were a sailing boat. One of the newer X models (G) with the strongest pump/ram practicable.

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