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Old 26-10-2010, 16:16   #1
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Balancing Act . . .

So this chap belives autopilots and windvanes as just other futile toys for the modern marina junkies.
Oh incidently I met this chap at my local marina...

Nevertheless I am determined to know just how much wisdom and trueth came out of this old timer?

without time constraint one can chouse a route that will allow perfect sail adjustement to balance the boat and forget about the tiller.

he says that when a baot is balanced it sails itself.

is this true??
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Old 26-10-2010, 16:22   #2
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I'd like to go sailing with him and see it...

in the variable winds around here no boat is going to stay balanced for long..

You don't really need a windvane..can use sheet to tiller setup, or as they seem to be getting cheaper, an autopilot.
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Old 26-10-2010, 16:30   #3
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So this chap belives autopilots and windvanes as just other futile toys for the modern marina junkies.
Not to be rude, but that chap is an idiot. If you want to hand steer your way around the globe you're certainly entitled to but to write off self-steering systems as "futile toys" is absurd. I rarely turn on my radar and think relying as much as some do is a poor idea, but you'd be had pressed to find me discarding them as a "futile toy".

He should read Bill Belcher's book to understand the history of self steering. I'd be willing to bet several paychecks that the originators and the modern steering vanes (vertical, horizontal, and servo-pendulum) have substantially more miles under their keels than he does.

Edit:

I'm talking about self steering in general and specifically passage making. You can obviously sail without one and many people on here prefer to hand steer; I'm merely astounded by his dismal of them in total when they obviously provide substantial benefit to many people.
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Old 26-10-2010, 16:35   #4
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he says that when a baot is balanced it sails itself.

is this true??
Yes. It is for me

But I've still got an autopilot (to fit ) for under power and when she won't balance exactly in the direction I want to go or the sea / wind conditions upset her...........on that last one I guess some boats are more flighty.

Autopilot best invention ever for single / shorthanded crew (saves sailing around in circles ).
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Old 26-10-2010, 16:37   #5
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hey I hear you, but pleas dont be angree at the poor guy. now I feel guilty of investing that much Budwisers on him

Nevertheless I want your opinion on self steering
rgds
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Old 26-10-2010, 16:38   #6
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There's a few long keelers that'll balance up fairly well for twenty minutes or so... time to have a stretch, make a cuppa and quick sarnie or two before you have to tweak the tiller... I've found a couple of bungee cords tensioned right on the tiller can eke it out another 10mins or so... but sail along hour on end.... Hmmmmmm
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Old 26-10-2010, 16:47   #7
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well he was saying more like weeks without touching the tiller.
his boat is an old dragon full keel wooder.
by the end of the night he swore my HR-28 cauld do this...Thats why I want to know if its true.
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Old 26-10-2010, 17:06   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jobi View Post
So this chap belives autopilots and windvanes as just other futile toys for the modern marina junkies.
Oh incidently I met this chap at my local marina...

Nevertheless I am determined to know just how much wisdom and trueth came out of this old timer?

without time constraint one can chouse a route that will allow perfect sail adjustement to balance the boat and forget about the tiller.

he says that when a baot is balanced it sails itself.

is this true??
Somewhat true.
With a full keel or longer fin balancing the sails may allow the boat to steer herself in some or most conditions. Trick gets harder as the fin gets shorter fore and aft

A recent thread on this site indicated the skipper used a couple of adjustable length shock cords on the tiller which made it possible to self-steer most of the time. You would need to try this out.

If you are wanting to get the boat to self steer for the least amount of money I would make the shock cords and I would get the book 'Self steering without a windvane' by Lee Woas (out of print and a bit expensive) which shows a whole bunch of ways to set up a boat to self steer by balancing, by sheet to tiller arrangements and by several other means. Then try as many methods as you can until you find the several that work for your boat.

Currently available caommercial windvanes have gotten pretty good even in really light or really heavy weather and are pretty strong. Has this chap been burned by a bad vane or autopilot or is his opposition philosophical?
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Old 26-10-2010, 17:22   #9
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Has this chap been burned by a bad vane or autopilot or is his opposition philosophical?[/QUOTE]

No hes never used them, but he is in no way retro as he owns modern GPS and other gadjets.

I have to admit finding him very interesting, he says it like it is...
he is the guy that advised me to just leave, forget about anything you dont have (you dont need it) a good boat an anchor no ifs just leave now.
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Old 26-10-2010, 17:30   #10
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Maybe you can sail with him sometime and see? Some boats have locks on the wheel or if you have a tiller you can tie it off. Slocum travelled vast distances without touching his tiller and one of the members here wrote about meeting a mexican fellow who sailed without a rudder using only the sheets to adjust course. I have hydraulic steering and no way of tying my wheel but have had times when the boat was nicely balanced and I could walk away from the wheel but the moment I change trim my course changes and usually my rudder is a little weatherly. I have an autopilot and love it.
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Old 26-10-2010, 17:44   #11
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I can balance my boat well enough that it will sail for a few hours at a times without tweaking in the correct conditions. Gusty conditions or very large waves can make it impossible. Another thing that plays into it is point of sail, trying to be close hauled or on a dead run is really hard for me to balance the boat at.

The key is to make a stable system so that whenever the wind angle deviates, the forces want to turn the boat back towards where you want it to be. This is relatively easy on a lot of ketches since you can sheet the mizzen and jib so that if the boat is falling off, the mizzen overpowers the jib and pushes the bow back into the wind but if the boat is heading up, the mizzen depowers (often through a little luffing) and the boat falls off again. There is more to it than just this (you can use rudder angle similar to heaving to and a few other tricks) but that is the basic idea of how to create a stable system.

Anyone who claims that the boat will steer within 5 degrees for hours on end is a liar but you can get the boat to average out to a very desirable course and averaging out to within 5 degrees is totally reasonable in good conditions. There are many examples of people going around the world like this. I believe that Robin Knox Johnston sailed a significant part of the Golden Globe without a working windvane.

It works well enough for me that I haven't bought an autopilot or windvane yet. This guy isn't totally off his rocker.
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Old 26-10-2010, 18:02   #12
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We bought our boat in Florida and were sailing it up the coast in 15 knot winds or so and mild seas. We thought the boat was "scalloping" a little where it would fall off the wind and then return but found that over several hours it was going straight. We just thought the autopilot needed adjustment.

After doing this for a while I finally got around to looking at the autopilot and found that it had been on standby all that time and the boat was sailing itself. I wouldn't really want to depend on it but it is nice to know it could work if needed.

Jim
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Old 26-10-2010, 22:31   #13
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hey I hear you, but pleas dont be angree at the poor guy. now I feel guilty of investing that much Budwisers on him

Nevertheless I want your opinion on self steering
rgds
Quote:
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well he was saying more like weeks without touching the tiller.
his boat is an old dragon full keel wooder.
by the end of the night he swore my HR-28 cauld do this...Thats why I want to know if its true.

Well if you've already paid the "Bud" fee for the sailing lesson, take him out on your boat. You may learn something.

I go weeks without touching the tiller but the boat is tied up in the marina

I personally have not been able to balance a boat for anything longer than a couple of minutes before waves, wakes or some other disturbance in the force" requires intervention. I routinely balance out tiller forces when trimming.
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Old 27-10-2010, 05:47   #14
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So this chap belives autopilots and windvanes as just other futile toys for the modern marina junkies.
The last boat that circumnavigated like that was 1893 and was called Spray.

There were less boats to hit and fewer people to sue and he finally killed himself doing it.

Before your circumnavigation starts its probably better to go recover the chucked away auto pilot and stick it back on the boat.

If a well balanced boat can sail by itself for a while it would be vastly unlikely to be able to sail at all poiints by itself.

But they are nice bar stories for lonely old men to big note their rustbucket old tubs and consequently themselves


Mark
PS I think my boat would track by itself for hours..... downwind with all sails furled
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Old 27-10-2010, 06:20   #15
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But they are nice bar stories for lonely old men to big note their rustbucket old tubs and consequently themselves

Mark
So, that'll be a no on the Beneteau for self steering then
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