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Old 20-08-2008, 19:35   #1
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all about wind vanes

i couldnt really figure out what section i should post this in, so i'll post it here. (search didn't pull much up for me, maybe i suck at it)

i have an Aries lift-up wind vane that i used for the first time today. (just bought the boat a few months ago). Anyways, I was playing around with it today for about 5 hours, just outside SD bay, and i got it to steer me for an hour or so, on a reach. I couldnt really get it to steer when close-hauled though. boat kept coming up. I have a big solar panel rack that i think is creating too much dirty air, and blocking flow to the vane. also, i need to move all of my other liveaboard cruising crap out of the way (BBQ's and such). Anyways, does anyone know of any good links that can teach me more about how to use this thing? Do they just suck by nature, when heading to weather? would a bigger vane help when heading to weather? i want to create a bigger vane anyways, for light air. I plan on going on a 1-2 week cruise, leaving on Sunday, and i'm going to try to gain more experience with this thing. any help would be appreciated. thanks.
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Old 20-08-2008, 23:42   #2
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Some things...

You might try the main site for Aries, where they have "How it works" page with videos. Scanmar has a decent page as welll.

Some books:
Wind-Vane Self-Steering: How to plan and make your own by Bill Belcher
The Windvane Self-steering Handbook by Bill Morris
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Old 21-08-2008, 02:50   #3
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You didn't mention whether you have a wheel or tiller. On my current boat, wheel resistance wouldn't allow the vane to work properly.

Does the vane work freely without and drag or friction?? Otherwise, when you swing the wind vane hard over does it move easily and recenter instantly when you let it go?? The aluminum Aries had a tendency for the plastic bearings to swell. If that is happening you'll have to disassemble the vane and ream out the bearings. Out of desperation in the Marquesas, opened up the bearings on our Aries with a penknife. Crude but worked great afterwards for many many thousands of miles.

FWIW, on our Westsail 32, the vane would steer the boat if the boat would sail from 1 knot to surfing at 10 knots. Should do the same for your boat if the vane and your boats steering system are functioning properly.

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Old 21-08-2008, 14:38   #4
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They are pretty cantakerous beasts. Nice for major passages with steady winds if you have a long keel and a well balanced boat. I've had 3 monitors and one Aries in my time and in retrospect would trade any of them for a good autopilot. If you are the oil lamp, no refrigeration, no engine, row ashore type, definitely the way to go though. No disrepect intended, I respect Lin and Larry Pardey as much or more than anyone out there. But for normal cruising in a modern boat it's just too much stuff hanging off the boat and requiring constant fiddling to keep it on course. Besides, I've moved the dingy davits up to #2 on the list of cruising comforts, just below the Autopilot as #1. ;>)
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Old 21-08-2008, 21:50   #5
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Forgot to mention...

Going to weather is the best point of sail for a windvane; it's most able to maintain the course, and has the greatest effect on the vane. So, if you're having problem on this point of sail, you have either a misunderstanding of how the unit works or the vane needs work/repairs.
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