I've got a Pearson 35 with the wheel forward. It has all the advantages listed above. Disadvantages for pendulum servo self steering
is running the control ropes to the wheel and the fact that wheels, in general, basically suck. The PO on my boat hooked up the Monitor
vane via blocks that run the lines through the lazarette to the cockpit sole and then forward to the wheel. A homemade grate on the sole keeps you from stepping on the line.
If you want to make optimum use of self steering
, ditch the wheel. The friction in the cables
and pulleys of the wheel make the vane steer poorly. Where the vane on my much bigger, heavier, old boat with a tiller would steer the boat if there was enough wind
to move the boat. It takes a goodly amount of hull speed
and very careful trim to balance the boat to get the P35 to self steer. There is so much friction in the wheel it just doesn't work as well as I know it could with a tiller.
If you want to go with a Self Steering
Vane, check out the Cap Horn gear
. They have some ingenious ways of mounting that keeps all the control lines out of the cockpit.
As far as autopilot, the placement of the wheel makes no difference. One of those wheel bandits will work as well as the much more expensive below decks variety. Because of the shortcomings of wheels, an auto pilot probably would be a better investment than a self steering vane. Of course you have to have humongous battery
capacity to keep up with the A/P but it should work under all condtions. Now, being sure all the electrons keep going to where they are supposed to go is another story.