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Old 22-01-2012, 12:06   #1
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Usefulness of Wind Instruments

Swinging the lead every time I come into a new anchorage is getting old so I will be installing a depth and speed instruments at the next haulout. As I shop around I notice that most come as a package with wind instruments. They are very sexy but it seems that with most systems you pay and extra $1000 or so for wind info. I have always got by with guaging wind direction and strength by looking at the ocean and feeling the boat. This works well but becomes more difficult at night. My question is; do folks find that having wind instruments on a cruising boat is usefull? Is it worth the extra boat unit?

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Old 22-01-2012, 12:15   #2
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Re: Usefullness of wind instruments

I point up as high as I can using the appartent wind direct from the gauge. As well when running down wind I use the gauge to keep it a bit on a reach to prevent rig banging. So to me it's very critical in performance. Besides I have a bad neck and a weather vane is a pain.
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Old 22-01-2012, 12:44   #3
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:13   #4
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Re: Usefullness of wind instruments

If you're an old salt who's sailed for decades on a boat with canvas sails, then you don't need one. In fact, nobody needs one. However, many of us find them really useful.

We have a bimini and solar panels that get in the way of looking at the top of the mast, and my neck gets sore.

We have a cockpit enclosure in the winter which makes life happier, but I lose situational awareness without the electronic aid. Same would go for a pilothouse.

When we're motoring in light winds, I can put it onto true wind and see what's going on out there. 4 knots looks similar on the water to 6 knots, but the former won't really move our boat and the latter will. I can also judge how gusty it is so when I shut down and raise sails I know whether the boat will keep moving.

The only reason that I know what 35 knots really feels like is that I was on a boat with an anemometer that said 35 knots on it once. A year later I was offshore in a gale at night and it seemed really big. Could have been more like 40-45, but I don't really know, so I didn't learn as much as I could from that in terms of comparing a weather forecast to what it will feel like on the boat.

Last time I was at anchor, we were slowly dragging around at night and I was able to just get us to stick by putting all the rode out. It was dark and cold, but I could monitor the wind strength from the heated salon because of the wireless tacktick wind instrument head. Really helped my peace of mind (gps on laptop helped too).
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Old 22-01-2012, 13:49   #5
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Re: Usefullness of wind instruments

I like to have a table in my head of wind speeds where sail changes are made. i.e. downsizing headsails, putting in reefs, etc. Having windinstruments makes for a definitive info point at which one implements those changes.
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Old 22-01-2012, 14:14   #6
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Re: Usefullness of wind instruments

You can purchase a depth and knotmeter without a wind system. Also, the simple Windex at the masthead has a reflective bottom surface which reflects a flashlight very well for those nighttime sails.
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Old 22-01-2012, 14:49   #7
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Re: Usefullness of wind instruments

Windspeed is nice, particularly since you have a catamaran, most of which don't give you a seat of the pants feel for reefing. Also, as someone eluded to, at night the winds seem larger. Knowing the wind speed helps in making better decisions or reassuring the crew during that 25kt "gale" they know is blowing 40-50.

But I find wind data to be very useful for many other reasons, including instrument integration, sail set (twist and apparent/true winds), judging tacking angles through various degrees of leeway and I also get a crook in my neck looking at the windex.

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Old 23-01-2012, 17:49   #8
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

We just put a Nexus depth/speed/temp/wind(wireless at mast top) system in. Less than $1K for the whole package. Works great!
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:21   #9
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

The first year I had one I felt as if I'd wasted the money. Now, having used one for more than a decade, I find it indispensable. It's more than just another telltale or fly; you can integrate the wind instrument with the autopilot so that the vane steers the course according to wind angle. This is nice when you're offshore and the track isn't critical. Get into a little header and the boat falls off automatically, thus keeping speed up, or even more importantly, keeping the chute full.

As was mentioned earlier, a wind instrument is doubly nice when you sail with a bimini.
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:27   #10
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

last boat had one, current boat doesn't - I miss it and plan to correct the problem!
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:30   #11
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

Very useful for telling stories like "I remember the time... blah, blah, blah..." Other than that.. in a mono not much use. In a cat it's hard to tell when it's blowing hard. I remember seeing 45 apparant in my 42' cat and was unaware it was blowing that hard. (other than doing 12 knots!) Really no lift to speak of on the windward hull. Decided to reef after that!
Personally I wouldnt put in the knotmeter either. seems they just need cleaning all the time to work right... and the GPS is more than good enough.
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:33   #12
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

The downside of having a wind gauge is that Wonderblond can read it. All she has to say is "25 knots" and I realize that I've just been ordered to shorten sail.
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:39   #13
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Personally I wouldnt put in the knotmeter either. seems they just need cleaning all the time to work right... and the GPS is more than good enough.
I'll second that. Last year mine fouled after 2 months and I just ingoed it. On my last boat I never even took the plug out.
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:40   #14
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
The downside of having a wind gauge is that Wonderblond can read it. All she has to say is "25 knots" and I realize that I've just been ordered to shorten sail.

She lets you get to 25 knots? Wow she really is a wonder!
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Old 23-01-2012, 18:51   #15
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Re: Usefulness of Wind Instruments

Never had a set of wind instruments that kept working for more than a few months in some 30+ years of cruising, so I've learned using telltales on the shrouds and a masthead fly. I've also found that judging wind speed by feel and sea state is more important anyway. You need to know by feel what the boat is doing. I can be asleep in my bunk down below and I'll wake up if the wind changes significantly. How the boat is reacting to the wind/sea state is more important than the exact windspeed. Windspeed is fun to have when you get a big blow at anchor so you can brag about how well your anchor held.
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