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Old 24-11-2013, 20:37   #1
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Should I get an Autopilot?

I was wondering if an auto pilot is really necessary. I plan to go on a week long trip with some friends who have never sailed before. We plan to be in the Chesapeake bay for the duration. I have a Pearson 31-2, I am thinking it would make everything a whole lot easier. I am leaning towards a wheel pilot that would be compatible with my Ray marine C80 plotter.

Please Let me know your thoughts.
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Old 24-11-2013, 20:40   #2
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

You don't plan to leave the Chesapeake? So what is the longest passage you plan? For long hauls an AP is the best thing I put on a boat but for short sales, especially if you have a couple of friends on board to help steer, maybe not so necessary.
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Old 24-11-2013, 20:41   #3
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

Anything which holds course while you're busy with other things is a bonus...
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Old 24-11-2013, 21:07   #4
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

No autopilot with a green crew?...Hmmm
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Old 24-11-2013, 21:12   #5
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

You certainly don't need it. Whether you want one is the real question. Steering isn't THAT horrible a part of sailing.
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Old 24-11-2013, 21:21   #6
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

Yes....


Makes sailing as easy as spending other peoples money.
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Old 24-11-2013, 21:25   #7
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You certainly don't need it. Whether you want one is the real question. Steering isn't THAT horrible a part of sailing.
Get one and you will wonder how you managed without one. Probably a big plus for safety as well.
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Old 24-11-2013, 21:25   #8
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by samuelwright14 View Post
I was wondering if an auto pilot is really necessary. I plan to go on a week long trip with some friends who have never sailed before. We plan to be in the Chesapeake bay for the duration. I have a Pearson 31-2, I am thinking it would make everything a whole lot easier. I am leaning towards a wheel pilot that would be compatible with my Ray marine C80 plotter.

Please Let me know your thoughts.
If you have to ask the answer is no.

Using an AP can make things easier but they are not fool proof. I often times go sailing and am able to trim the sails to the extent that my boat will hold its course with out the AP in a fair wind. The problem is when you are getting headed and lifted and to some extent running dead down wind.

If you have friends, even inexperienced ones they will be better able to steer than any AP. Once you get a little more experience you will be able to answer your own question with no help.
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Old 24-11-2013, 21:29   #9
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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

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Old 24-11-2013, 21:43   #10
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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
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Old 24-11-2013, 22:31   #11
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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Originally Posted by samuelwright14 View Post
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
I think you greatly overestimate an AP's ability to avoid an accidental Gybe. Downwind, the combination of wind shifts and sea state can easily overpower any AP in heavy seas. OTOH --

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If you have friends, even inexperienced ones they will be better able to steer than any AP. Once you get a little more experience you will be able to answer your own question with no help.
I disagree strongly with tomfl. Perhaps he's never had a good AP that has a gyro built into the course computer.
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Old 24-11-2013, 22:57   #12
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

Let your green crew steer under your supervision. Betcha their enjoyment would be increased by participating rather than being passive.
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Old 24-11-2013, 23:21   #13
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

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Let your green crew steer under your supervision. Betcha their enjoyment would be increased by participating rather than being passive.
Yes, and not only that, while steering they will not get seasick. When ever we have guests that may be prone to seasickness, we have them steer. Have you ever known of a person to get car sick while driving?

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Old 25-11-2013, 01:59   #14
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Re: Should I get an Autopilot?

I found the tiller-pilot I added to our Austral the single biggest improvement in our use of the boat. Use of the boat tripled after the purchase.

I used it when solo sailing, it made sail changes a breeze.

I used it when my wife and I were sailing together, as it freed us up to enjoy our lunch properly, together, without the constant "pass-me-the-next-small-sandwich" routine.

I even used it with up to six of us crammed into the tiny cockpit, mainly when it was too calm to be FUN to sail, and holding the tiller would have just been boring.

BUT, I did read a suggestion, and I took it to heart, to not overuse it and loose touch with sailing the boat. So I always rationed it, and I am glad I did.

BUT, I would never sail a boat without one again if I had the choice.

Matt
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Old 25-11-2013, 03:54   #15
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Yes, an autopilot plus a remote control makes for less stress when solo sailing or with a green crew onboard, which is virtually like solo sailing anyway :-)
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