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Old 04-01-2009, 02:09   #1
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Electric consumption of Inboard autopilots.

Hi Folks. My name is Antonio, a new User from Spain. I am at your service for whatever i can help you around Spanish Mediterranean, my location is very near from Gibraltar Strait.

Now, mi cuestion is, I have a 33 footer and need to instale a new autopilot, my first intention was to instale a Inboard Unit, but diferent people warned me, about the high consume of this unit, much higher tahn cockpit units, my boat is 8.000 kg displacement, waht dou you think about that ?, thank you.

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Old 06-01-2009, 14:47   #2
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Welcome! For a 33' boat a cockpit, or wheel mounted aotupilot should work fine. You really don't need the additional power of a below decks unit 'till you get up around 40'.
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Old 06-01-2009, 15:52   #3
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The power consumption is likely to be about 1.5A in moderate conditions if your sail plan is balanced. Underdeck autopilots are more reliable and worth the slight increase in electricity consumption if dependability is important.
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Old 06-01-2009, 16:50   #4
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You need to consider the "settings" of the pilot. My Alpha3000 below decks has setting which the helm will respond to the slightest off course forces - a wave for example and then it corrects. If you detune this feature the helm hardly moves at all. I am sure this reduces the current consumption. When you motor and like will use an auto pilot power consumption is a moot issue.

So obviously in a seaway the autopilot will work harder and consume more power. If this is a concern (as it should be) when you plan additions to the boat then check with the various manufacturers about power consumption.

OT but on auto pilots.

I am very partial to the steering control on the Alphas. It's a rotary knob with the 360° markings and a pointer which is the "heading" you want to steer. This is very intuitive. If you want to turn towazrd something like a buoy you rotate the know in the direction of the turn you want to make. You can do it slowly or guess the angle, but you can see when the boat has made the heading set when the helm is at center helm. If you want to tack, turn it 120° or so (depending on your boat) and it will take care of the helm and you can do the sheets! If you postion the controls where you can watch out and a turn the knob... you don't have to look at the pilot to enter the heading and so you don't have to take your "eyes off the road". I used one pilot on another boat and I had to drop my head into the cockpit to see the display and punch in the course change as +10, -10 or +1 and -1°. That was a pain in the butt. My dial is like a mini helm.
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Old 09-01-2009, 11:37   #5
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Thank you. IŽll take the cheaper solution of the Cockpit Autohelm.
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Old 09-01-2009, 19:36   #6
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Hi Tonick,

Wheel or tiller?
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Old 09-01-2009, 21:03   #7
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That would work out to a bit more than a CSY 33 for displacement (8,000 kg vs 15,3000 lbs). It's a tad off the boat we have now. For rough weather I would go for a below deck hydraulic AP. We had that on our CSY 33 and it held in some amazing weather. I've used it on the current boat in 45 knot gusts. A wheel pilot won't do that. On a nice day with a balanced well trimmed boat the wheel pilot works just fine. In heavy chop it's a lot different with that much boat displacement. Beating under power is worse yet.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:21   #8
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The question of wheel or belowdecks autopilot needs a bit more analysis before giving advise.

normal sailing conditions type of boat, and intended method of use are crucial factors in this.

However, as a basic rule of thumb, wheelpilots are sufficient if you are using the boat for no more than 24 hour passage in relatively benign conditions (they are also the cheapest option)

If your sailing requires continuous use for days at a time, the wheel pilot will be overstressed. It also does not work as well in bad conditions.

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