1. Bring backups for everything you can--Raytheon is not known for its reliability
2. Haunt Ebay for cheaper parts
3. Replace the drive motor brushes
before you leave.
4. Plan the electrical system
use on about 75 amp-hours per day.
5. Test the unit at the dock
and under sail:
-make a close inspection
of the drive mount and rudder
connections and beef up/repair any movement.
-Monitor amperage to the unit--it should not draw more than about 5 amps peak on a typical wave, and it is peaking at more than 10 amps you either have a problem with the drive or you are overloading the pilot and it is likely going to fail quickly.
- check voltage at the unit under load (manual rudder
movement while you are giving it some resistance on the steering
wheel--if you are losing more than 0.5 volts from the batteries to the input terminals, check/beef up the power wiring
6. Go over all electrical
connections, clean up the contacts, and make sure that water
cannot get into them.
7. Take shorter passages of at least 48 hours to make sure your electrical system
are working and up to the demands of a long passage
I can't get the recent ARC equipment
surveys for free anymore, but the chances are over 50% that you will have some autopilot/electrical problems if you just cut the docklines and head
. If you take steps 3-7, you will cut the chances down to about 10%, and if you DO THE WORK YOURSELF, you may learn enough to diagnose and fix the problems that occur. If self-steering is not an option, put in a complete backup system, like another autopilot or a windvane