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Old 03-09-2009, 02:36   #1
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Which Autopilot?

Hi,

I am trying to work out which autopilot would suit my needs best and would appreciate any feedback regarding the way to go.

I have been told that I need a Raymarine SPX30 Smart pilot core pack, coupled up to a type 2 linear drive and a ST6002 control head?

I sail quite a bit short handed and as the years pass think that an additional helmsperson would make life much easier. Our boat is a 45 foot classic designed (Long Keel) Sparkman & Stephen Yawl from 62, she weighs in at over 16000Kg's and so would need a reasonably heavy duty pilot. It has been suggested that Raymarine might be the best choice but what of their financial difficulty?

Others which have been suggested are Simrad, Navman and a commercial unit made by COMNAV?

I only have money enough to do this once and so would like help to work out which is the best pilot for our requirements and so would like as much feedback as possible on your pilot/experiences.

Thanks
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:38   #2
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Quote:
I have been told that I need a Raymarine SPX30 Smart pilot core pack, coupled up to a type 2 linear drive and a ST6002 control head?
Based on the size of the boat that sounds like a good choice. This would be a powerful unit and able to really stear in conditions you might be unable to sustain yourself. That is the type of autopilot you need. It would inlcude the new rate gyro technology.

The key to a a good pilot is also a good installation. Installing the drive unit as well as the power for it requires a fair degree of skill. All boats are a loittle different so it's an area where expience can matter.

Quote:
It has been suggested that Raymarine might be the best choice but what of their financial difficulty?
They have more resources than every other vendor combined.
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:57   #3
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SIMRAD do have a good reputation.

I wonder how good the new garmin is going to be.

For longevity, I have been told in the past , if going for a linear drive rather than hydraulic, to consider going for the next size up.
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:08   #4
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which auto pilot , well i have exactly what you have stated above fitted to my beneteau 500 ( 15.45 mtrs ) and it works well as i do sail single hand quite a lot but and i will say a big but this system is a total pig if you dont set it up correctly I origanaly place the the flux gate compass to low down in the companion way by only 300 mm and when i was testing it , It tried to over correct it self to much and as i plyed around with the gyro settings i made it worse but after moving the flux gate compass higher up it is now located just 100 mm below deck level in compaion way and resetting the gyro rates it is perfect have not had one problem with it except for once it went to from auto to standby mode of wich i trace to my fault when playing around with my power supply and batteries
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:19   #5
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Hi Ciclon,

I have the same interest as I'm also looking for a reliable autopilot. I will follow your replies if you don't mind.

Regards,
Niels
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Old 03-09-2009, 07:19   #6
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Pblias,

Care to comment on the other 3 suggestions?
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Old 03-09-2009, 08:50   #7
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I have a Autohelm 3000 installed (steering wheel driven by belt) and it worked quite well for the last 16 years (!) and we did a couple of Atlantic/Med/Baltic crossings. It's working ok except in: 1) strong gusts 2) backstay wind over 20-25 knots 3) Heavy seas but pointing that I like to control the boat myself in these circumstances. So for moderate conditions it's perfect and cheap. Btw balancing ship and sails well will contribute too.
Although the Autohelm is kind of a "sparepart" for me (there's a Scanmar windvane/rudder on the transom) I like it for its simplicity.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:02   #8
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This is important and expensive and can be complicated. My own pilot is an Alpha 3000.

I've had no problem, did the install myself and it has worked reliably for 10's of thousands of miles and more than 2 decades.

I can recommend that one. It does not interface with a GPS which is a dumb idea in my opinion.

I particularly like the way you "dial in" the course heading with a large rotary knob which has 0 - 360 degrees ticked off. It's like a mini helm. Intuitive and simply to use. No button pressing and reading displays.

K.I.S.S.

An auto pilot is one of your best friends.

Raymarine has gobbled up a number of companies and has a know customer service reliability issue. And has produced some lousy products over the years. It's a dodgy at best to go there.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:22   #9
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GENERAL COMMENT

If you are serious about getting a good autopilot, which will last for years, pick up a copy of a magazine like Professional Mariner, and see what is being installed in offshore supply vessels, tugs, and the like. You might be surprised who is not there. The difference in cost between a "week-end pilot" and a serious one is sometimes not that great, for the security you get. IMHO
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:47   #10
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Blue,

Who is not there?
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:01   #11
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Originally Posted by ciclon1942 View Post
Hi,

Our boat is a 45 foot classic designed (Long Keel) Sparkman & Stephen Yawl from 62, she weighs in at over 16000Kg's and so would need a reasonably heavy duty pilot.
Thanks
Ours is quite similar and I was recommended the Simrad (robertson) hydraulic (the big 12V one). That's probably that way I'll go. The previous linear pilot (Autohelm) died.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:07   #12
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WH, it works well for us.

Products
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:14   #13
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I have the Simrad AP21....I had it installed in the PNW in 2003.
I chose it because it was widely used by commercial fishermen in the area.
So far it’s flawless.
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Old 03-09-2009, 22:13   #14
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I'll join S&S: a Simrad Robertson AP25 with hydraulic drive. Stay away from those linear drives!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 04-09-2009, 01:45   #15
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Thank you for your help on this, it seems to me that either a Raymarine unit or a Simrad would be the way to go. I am however unsure about the linear drive or hydraulic, I have been told linear drive due to having a machanical stearing does that sound right?

Regards

Ross
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