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Old 05-02-2006, 14:47   #1
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pirate CPT Auto Pilot

I purchased a heavy displacement boat last fall. All of the literature that came with the boat said that she displaces 26,000 lbs. She currently has a CPT a/p that I really don't trust. I have only tried to use it once & followed the former owner's instructions with what I feel are somewhat umcomfortable results. Doesn't hold the course very long or accurately.
I had a Navico Tiller pilot on my former boat & really loved the freedom it gave me away from the helm.
I have looked at several new models of auto pilots but they all seem to top out at 20,000 lbs dispacement.
Any suggestions out there?

I also posted this thread in the Wind Vane forum.
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Old 05-02-2006, 15:04   #2
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Jerry, Look at the Whalepilot made by WH Autopilots out of Washington State. A magnificent piece of machinery. The owner will give you his home phone number in case you need assistance on off hours. This is the same pilot the Dashew's are circumnavigating with on their Deerfield 65. WE just LOVE ours. The CPT was originally on our boat when we bought it and I threw it in the dumpster. Chuck
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Old 05-02-2006, 23:05   #3
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Can we get a little more info on the stearing please. Is it tiller or Wheel? If it is wheel, then what is the system to the rudder?
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Old 06-02-2006, 04:19   #4
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pirate

It is wheel steering with a quadrant/cable/pulley type of arrangement. The pulleys & additional cable were added by the previous owner to provide more range on the wheel. I believe the change was made because the original arrangement allowed for less than a complete wheel turn from hardover to hardover.
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:11   #5
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Jerry, we need to discuss the forest briefly, not just this one tree.

You will not find a helm-mounted a/p that will be generally suitable for your 26K# boat. Helm-mounted a/p's can be used for motoring and light wind sailing, and some motor sailing but the minute your boat begins to see heavier wave action and/or meaningful weather helm, the little muffin motor in these products - even your CPT which has a beefier motor - will lack the power and sustainability to control the boat. Course holding will be lousy and eventually the motor will fail.

The CPT was designed by Charles Pukit who marketed it as a one-man biz for some years. It's claim to fame (at the time) was that the circuit board in the drive box could be immersed and still work. Its electronics are rudimentary and it offers to interfacing capability. We found the motor would begin to 'give' with much meaningful weather helm and course holding was +/-5 degrees, at best. The business was later purchased by Scanmar to supplement their wind vane biz but it never obtained much marketshare and Scanmar later abandoned the product. So...strike 2 is that it is to my knowledge currently an orphan product.

We used a CPT for a Caribbean run and then when crossing to Europe...but again, only in light conditions or when motoring. (Our boat is ~11 tons). When in The Netherlands, the gyro began to fail and, in opening it up, I discovered it consisted of many plastic parts which are basically unserviceable. I contacted Scanmar but they were about to stop supporting the product. I junked it, as Chuck did his, and replaced it with a Raymarine 4000+.

We've now used 3 types of helm-mounted a/p's on our boat. The Simrad (nee' Navico) WPT was clever but suffered from several internal shorts, it lacked the ability to display a variety of instrument data, and even after warranty support I feared for the unit's errant steering at just the wrong moment. It rides along as a spare. The CPT is/was a poor 'third'. The Raymarine product seems by far the best based on my experience, in all departments. But for your boat, and depending on how you use it, you might want to consider a below-decks a/p. You will find them MUCH more expensive but you will be getting something suitable in most conditions for your vessel.

Be sure you check the previous owner's steering mods; nothing takes abuse (or is more hidden, it seems) than the components of a quadrant steering system. Check bushings for wear, no chafe signs on the cables, no lose idlers or pulleys - lots of things to go wrong over time, especially when original equipment is modified.

Jack
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:05   #6
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Thanks Jack for all of the great info.
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Old 06-02-2006, 11:36   #7
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Excellent post Jack.
May I add,... Jerry, like many of us with boats of this Displacement, we all sit on the edge of light commercial vessels, when it comes to stearing. As Jack said, lets look more at the Forest. I think you may need to look at the overall stearing first of all. Cable is on the light side for a system of this size. And the load must be enormouse if the ratio was less than one turn lock-lock. So that's one area I would be thinking about changing. Stearing needs to be simple and on the "next size up" side of the equation. I would consider a chain gear system driving a cable system as too complex for a relaible stearing system.
So with all that said, I suggest you look at redesigning your stearing first. But place in mind the ability to drive that system by an AP. Haydraulic is the way to go, but expensive because there would be little of the original that could be utilised. However, a AP driving a hydraulic pump has got to be the simplest system to ever have.
The next would be to continue to with chain drive, but mate, the loads and the having to over engineer a mechanical system and the eventual wear can become more expensive over the long run. Plus the pilot drives are huge and power hungry.

Forget wheel driving pilots.They are out of thier league for vessels of this weight.
Here are some pilots to consider.
Navman. I place this at the top of my list for a reason.
Cetrek. Second place.

Simrad.
Raymarine/Autohelm. third equal
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Old 10-02-2006, 05:00   #8
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NAVMAN

Alan

I'm curious as to why you put Navman at the top of your list. Can you explain? I've had problems finding any one in the US who has one installed.

Roger
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Old 10-02-2006, 12:10   #9
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Well maybe I'm a little biased.
Firstly, it is NZ designed and made.
Secondly, it seems to be very reliable.
Then closely followed by some very cool features.
And if you have other Navman instruments, their ability to talk and control and info available, becomes a very powerful package tool. Not saying it is the only one that has those features, but it tends to be a very user freindly system. I have never found something so easy to control and bring up meues with.Maybe because us Kiwis work a specific way and a Kiwi designed the thing, i dunno.
It uses it's own design of communication that is simple, easy to connect and seems to be bullit proof. It also has NMEA if you need to connect to other brand names, but NMEA is becoming complex in it's language, because of update issues. i.e. older NMEA trying to communicate with newer versions of it's self.
A major advantage with Navman is, one model does all for boat size. The one major disadvantage is, they as of yet, do not have a tiller pilot or a wheel drive unit. The pilot will only control linear drives and hydraulic pumps.
They have two control designs available now and the latest is one very cool toy.
I have worked with Cetrek and found it to be a very well designed unit, but it is commercial orientated and expensive. I have worked with Autohelm and quite frankly I considered it's internals as toy'ish. I have have been out of the servicing side for sometime, so I can not fairly comment of the Raymarine versions of it.
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Old 11-02-2006, 08:45   #10
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Alan, I'm not familiar with the current Navman a/p models but was impressed with what I saw at the London show in 2005. Can you offer a guestimate for the cost of a system that would be suitable for a 13 ton sailboat (extended fin, full skeg rudder), purchased in NZ? I'm hoping you might have a ballpark notion of cost there. Many thanks...

Jack
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:20   #11
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It is aprox NZ$3K including the hydraulic reversing pump. I see that the Practicle Boater mag (UK) has adverstisments for the same package for UK#1099.00 (how do you do a brittish pound?) which would work out to be exactly the same.
I am not sure about the cost of the very lattest control head unit. Nor have I looked into exactly what differences there are, if any. Apart from the latest one has an (colour?) LCD screen to give you all sorts of display info.
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