First and foremost, this is NOT intended to dissect or second guess anyone's recent actions, but comes from comments I've read from folks who's opinion I've come to respect. That and recent events
have me wanting to understand the value of having a windvane
aboard a future cruising boat. For the sake of this discussion lets just assume a 40-50ft mono (nothing against Cats but we'd prefer to have the extra $ to fund our voyage for longer). I'd like this to be less of an argument about why either an AP or windvane
is the only way to go and more about understanding the real world application of each.
Based on my reading both here and many cruising/circumnav oriented books
I always planned to outfit our future cruiser with both a windvane and an AP. With the thinking being use the windvane when possible and the autopilot
when conditions prevent it. Obviously, we need to plan enough battery
capacity to support weeks of AP usage as a CYA measure and I'm not at all debating the value of a good AP.
What I'm more interested in is understanding the conditions that make a windvane unusable. I've always liked the (apparent) fact that certain types of windvanes can function as an auxiliary rudder
if needed. The real question I have is in a situation where your in the middle'sh of the Pacific looking at 2000 nm downwind to a small island group and 1000 nm upwind back to the mainland of the America, and lose the ability to charge the batteries (no other problems with the vessel) you're currently sailing downwind in force 5 conditions. Do these conditions alone make it impossible to use a windvane for self steering
? I was always under the impression that only real limitation was downwind in super light wind
but since I have no actual experience either offshore
or with a windvane yet, I'm curious. Also, assuming that downwind conditions prevent the use of your windvane, is it realistic to turn slightly upwind and beat back to the mainland. Not that this would be a pleasant experience but my goal here is getting the boat to location where I can address the charging
Thanks to a link provided by Salty Monkey I now have a new book
on my list which I'm sure will help me understand this in more detail, but since I'm curious I thought I'd ask here as well.