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Old 16-04-2015, 21:21   #1
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Monitor - downwind

Hi....I am looking at acquiring wind vane steering. I am familiar with the Fleming, but not the Monitor. The Fleming does an OK job of steering downwind, but I've been told the Monitor does not. I have the offer of a Monitor and would use it in tradewinds sailing, so downwind performance is important. Does anybody who has actually used a Monitor have any advice on this aspect of it?
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Old 16-04-2015, 21:31   #2
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Re: Monitor - downwind

I use the Monitor downwind, under main and poled-out genoa. It doesn't do very well downwind in extremely light air, since it needs apparent wind to work. Keeping the boat balanced makes a big difference, as does reducing friction in the control lines (lines to the wheel or tiller).

I don't use it if I'm flying a spinnaker deep downwind in strong wind, since the intrinsic instability of the spinnaker makes it hard for a human to control, let alone the Monitor.

The Fleming and the Monitor are both servo-type devices (right?). I suspect they behave similarly.
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Old 16-04-2015, 22:13   #3
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Re: Monitor - downwind

You can also hook up a cheap tiller pilot to your monitor for times when there is not enough apparent wind. Takes power, but way less power than an autopilot.
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Old 16-04-2015, 22:57   #4
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Re: Monitor - downwind

I am no expert on wind vanes, so take my comments on this topic with a splash of salt water, but I do have some experience that influences my thinking on the topic.

I have used a Monitor to steer a sloop for thousands of continuous miles in the Pacific with no problems or faults with the Monitor itself. Many hours of constant use, zero problems!

It was dependable and served the boat well and allowed me to enjoy the scenery (dolphins playing with the boat, albatross following, etc.) or to read a good book or just relax in the cockpit with other crew or alone. This was using a jib and main, no use of spinnaker.

The Monitor wind vane is robustly built and highly regarded by all of the sailors I know that have used them. I would not hesitate to add one to my boat if the boat did not yet have a wind vane. It may not be the solution to everyone's problems or boat, but it does work well for many and there are many adaptions to many different yacht hulls. There is also an optional "Emergency Rudder" kit that can be added to use the Monitor rig or mount as a "jury rig rudder" in case of loss of the boat's rudder.

If I saw a boat (for sale) that had a Monitor on it, I would consider it one of the more valuable "features" of the boat.
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Old 17-04-2015, 02:36   #5
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Re: Monitor - downwind

Thanks for this information. I can't really see why a Monitor would be worse than a Fleming downwind. I know the servo pendulums falter as the wind drops out, but that's why you also have an autopilot. The Fleming I am familiar with yaws around a bit downwind, but hey, so do I when I'm steering downwind in any sea. I figure the information I was given about the Monitor was hearsay. It often is.
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Old 17-04-2015, 12:51   #6
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Re: Monitor - downwind

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherp View Post
Hi....I am looking at acquiring wind vane steering. I am familiar with the Fleming, but not the Monitor. The Fleming does an OK job of steering downwind, but I've been told the Monitor does not. I have the offer of a Monitor and would use it in tradewinds sailing, so downwind performance is important. Does anybody who has actually used a Monitor have any advice on this aspect of it?
It depends on the boat and the sail plan. I have a Monitor wind vane on a Pacific Seacraft 37 which is a displacement hull with a modified fin keel and skeg-hung rudder. Going down wind it will be relatively slow and stable compared to a planing hull with a spade rudder and fin keel.

Because the displacement hull is slow, there is a better chance that there will be enough apparent wind from behind to operate the wind vane, particularly if the true wind speed is greater than hull speed.

A planning hull can surf down following waves making the apparent wind speed become quite low (or reverse) and potentially a wind vane will not have enough wind force on it to respond.

For light winds, dead down wind in confused seas (with the light apparent winds changing wildly and randomly) I have available an actuator (I call it "Artificial Wind") hooked to the Monitor which then steers to a compass bearing. It uses very little (<100mA) of power.

For my boat, the Monitor works great on all points of sail.
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