We have Autohelm
GP4000 (older version of Ray X5) and monitor wind vane
which we use 99% of time when sailing and have used this combination for 15 years, 33,000nm. The GP4000 performs well but we have worn out drive units, about one every 5 years. Generally it cannot handle heavy duty usage such as steering
while sailing in big winds or heavy seas without extraordinary load on the motor
and they wear out.
Now we use it for light wind
sailing or motoring. We carry a spare unit (actually a complete X5 still in the box). The drive unit can be purchased separately and this is the only part we've had problem with so usually we have a spare drive unit. Recently we were unable to buy the drive unit so we bought the whole X5 system. We might install it soon because the LCD on the GP4000 control unit is starting to fade.
Our boat is 18,000lbs, 43 ft, tiller steered, with fin keel
and balanced spade rudder
, but it is a powerful rig and when pushed hard requires big steering
inputs. This is why we wear out the units and feel we must carry a spare. You vessel is different but I still would carry a spare if going offshore
due to the loads you are going to put on the drive unit with your vessel and it's keel
The use of a lighter unit attached to the windvane
might be an excellent solution.