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Old 26-11-2013, 10:37   #31
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
If he is the only person capable of sailing the boat without rounding up or smacking things under motor, I haven't misunderstood that Skipper is the weak point in the plan. If he is injured, I hope one of his non-sailors can at least work Ch. 16.

Granted, an autopilot can't solve his falling over, but it can steer while he's giving instruction to newbies (assuming they want to learn and are capable of it) on other boat matters.

In my experience, it's the near-shore, "simple and casual" sailing trips that end up badly due to something happening to the only guy who can solve a problem. I recall hearing on the VHF about 10 years ago of a boat just off Toronto where the kids, two boys 8 and 10, were on a reach when Daddy had some sort of cardiac problem. They didn't know how to sail, but they had been taught how to call in a Mayday on Ch. 16. The kids were pretty calm, and I later heard the guy was saved, the boat was saved and the kids were saved....because someone had trained the kids PRIOR to leaving the dock.

But everyone has to evaluate this for themselves. The OP asked "should I?" so presumably he's on the fence about the cost and bother versus the convenience and the safety margin.
Autopilot doesn't solve anything with an incapacitated captain, so it isn't relevant to the discussion. I certainly don't see how you use an autopilot to avoid smacking into something while docking.

What an autopilot does is allow the captain a break from constant steering while in open water. With 5 mintues of explaination, I can have the vast majority of landlubbers handling the steering with no problems while I relax in the cockpit with an eye on the situation (just like I could do with an autopilot). If something goes wrong, I can tell them which way to turn or grab the wheel myself.

Obviously, if conditions are bad, he should take the wheel (or even better sit tight and wait for the weather to clear).

If he's concerned about being incapacitated (a different subject from this thread), he should go over emergency procedures and post a laminated what to do card next to the helm. Again, an autopilot doesn't solve this problem.
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Old 26-11-2013, 11:26   #32
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

in a boat , the skipper should never really behind the helm, thats a crew job. Autopilots help that situation .


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Old 26-11-2013, 11:44   #33
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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in a boat , the skipper should never really behind the helm, thats a crew job. Autopilots help that situation .


dave
Actually, if you're just hiring crew, then they should be doing the sailing AND mixing your drinks.

If you're just sailing about the bay with your friends, an autopilot isn't really required. Your friends are the crew.
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Old 26-11-2013, 12:00   #34
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

I love mine. It's an old autohelm but it steers the boat. It's so nice to be able to let otto steer when I need to make sail adjustments, etc... Heck, I've used it in the harbor to steer down the channel while I readied the boat for docking.

On a daysail I'll hand steer quite a bit, but being able to kick the autopilot on takes some of the monotony out of it.

My wife doesn't like to steer - she's fine at it and all, just not what she likes - so it's me, otto, or whoever else we coaxed into crewing.
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Old 27-11-2013, 02:59   #35
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If you plan to stay in Chesapeake bay you don't need it. Steering is not that bad in the bay and if you guys rotate on every hour or so it will be fun!
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Old 29-11-2013, 18:07   #36
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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Thanks everyone, I am slightly new to the cruising side of sailing, I have raced my whole life which might be half the issue, I am still learning how to chill out with the "green crew". I was also thinking it might be nice to have one should the conditions turn to hell, I would rather not rely on anyone to helm the boat. I keep running through the scenario of an auto jibe or a bad tack taking someone's head off or tearing my head sail on the spreader. At least an autopilot can keep course
Might want to setup a jibe preventer, even if you get the AP.
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Old 29-11-2013, 18:14   #37
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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You don't need an autopilot, but once you have sailed with one you'll never want to sail without one again.

Fabbian
That's been my experience. I never had one on my first boat: we just hand steered the whole time and I didn't know any better. Then I got an autopilot and and now I have a wind vane and an autopilot.

I'd pick self steering over an engine, if someone put the proverbial gun to my head.
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Old 29-11-2013, 19:47   #38
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

Auto pilots for cruising is essential in my opinion. I couldn't have imagined do the ICW without one. Your particular situation is different with just a week long cruise.
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Old 29-11-2013, 20:05   #39
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I do think you will use your boat more with an autopilot, especially going out single handed. Its nice to have company, but there is something special about going it alone for a couple of days.
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Old 29-11-2013, 21:17   #40
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

It appears that some didn't read the question.

He's not talking about single-handing across the ocean, he's talking about sailing with friends in the Chesapeake Bay.
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Old 29-11-2013, 21:59   #41
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Yes get the autopilot, I use it a lot. It allows me to handle the boat short handed and makes long trips less tiring especially if you are motoring.
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Old 30-11-2013, 19:27   #42
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Absolutely. If you are destination cruising you will wind up motorsailing at times, and there is nothing more tedious than being on the wheel for hours while motorsailing. Also, on small boats like ours its nice to go out on the foredeck for a while to get away from engine noise. While sailing, as others have said, autopilot holds a course better, and allows you to play with the sails to your heart's content. As for downwind, whenever my symmetrical spinnaker is up the pilot is on. Besides, when you want to steer, you can always turn it off. There's nothing wrong with being good to yourself. Next year install a freezer/fridge in your icebox.
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Old 30-11-2013, 19:54   #43
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

Yes. One of my favorite things.
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