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Old 30-04-2016, 21:58   #46
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Re: Windvane vs. autipilot

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
For sailing offshore which is the better choice? I know historically the windvane has been better hands down but I have heard good thigs about the new autopilots like the ev-100.

Has anyone tried one or both and can compare? I have a tiller and my boat is 9000 empty. Can the raymarine ev-100 handle high winds and rough seas?
My two cents' worth: You need both. Not only does an electronic autopilot use power, but it can also fail, whether by itself or due to power loss. We've got a Monitor windvane system on our Pacific Seacraft 37. It's probably my favorite gadget. I like to SAIL because it's fun to have the wind provide all the power to move the boat. Using the windvane, we take that the next step to have the wind do the steering, too. (Of course we have an electronic autopilot, which we do use a lot, especially where there's lots of boat traffic and frequent turns are needed. By the way, we have solar and wind generators so we can squeeze more power from nature. Fun.) And the windvane is noiseless, unlike the autopilot.

If you want to see the Monitor windvane on a Pacific Seacraft 37, check out this web page (go the bottom of the "More Pictures" page to see a closeup of the device's installation):

https://pacificseacraft37.com/overview/

Information on the Monitor system is here:

http://selfsteer.com/products/monitor/index.php
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:34   #47
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Re: Windvane vs. autipilot

Browsing the web I came across a place where a new EV user tells his story. It is a pretty sad story of frustration of the sailor and incompetence of the maker's support team. You can google it out too if you care.

On Webb Chiles' website he shows a new AP made in the US. Webb will be test riding the unit now on his way thru the other half of the world. Full manufacturer details and fine pictures there too. I think well worth a shot for someone from the US.

b.
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Old 01-05-2016, 14:13   #48
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Re: Windvane vs. autipilot

Not to spoil the fun, but he's using a Pelagic AP out of California. I've only done a couple hundred miles on mine so far, but it is excellent and Brian the owner/manufacturer is top notch. He relies on the same AP on his own boat and is continually making software improvements which can be downloaded on his site and uploaded to the device. Would highly recommend.
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Old 01-05-2016, 15:32   #49
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Re: Windvane vs. autipilot

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As I wrote, the answer to the question of auto versus windvane has already been made for you, you just need to determine what type of boat you have and what type of sailing you do. If the majority of your sailing is long trips with few tacks, and if you don't have an ultralight, then a wind vane is fine. If you head out of the harbour every day and need to tack 10 times to get to the sailing grounds, or if you have a real sporty boat that will surf down waves at near wind speed, then you'd want an autopilot.

As any long distance sailor will tell you, autopilots are insanely noisy, but great for quick maneuvres. Wind vanes are beautifully quiet and really efficient for long passages.
I happily used my old windvane to tack, and gybe even in fairly tight waters. 10 clicks on the course setting rope and she would tack. No need to touch the helm, or tiller ropes. Gybing was also very easy, set her running nearly dead downwind, then when all is ready give 2 clicks and over she would come.

I even anchored with the windvane steering at times.

So I guess it depends on your vane type and setup, my old flemming was setup so it was very easy and quick to adjust the course from the companionway.
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Old 02-05-2016, 21:58   #50
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Re: Windvane vs. autipilot

I have experience with both. My current boat has an autopilot only. The autopilot advantages for me include more precise steering, auto, track and wind modes, ability to steer the boat from inside, ability to make the boat follow an arbitrary course without any intervention. Up to 30 knots of wind, I would choose the autopilot any time. If you plan extended passages with sustained winds over 30-35 knots and sail short-handed, it would be safer to have a windvane.

Regarding autopilots being unreliable. Not true. You must however have spare parts for everything, drive, electronics, compass as things break all the time. You would be surprised how cheap it is to have multiple backup though. Learn how to repair your wheel drive. Carry spare belts. Carry a second course computer/control head. You can get a brand new EV-100 for $1000. You can get a backup ST4000+ control head for $300. A modern windvane with installation will run you about $4-5000 and you will "need to" use it only 3% of the time. Plus, I think windvanes do not look good at all.
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Old 02-05-2016, 22:46   #51
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Re: Windvane vs. autipilot

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I have experience with both. My current boat has an autopilot only. The autopilot advantages for me include more precise steering, auto, track and wind modes, ability to steer the boat from inside, ability to make the boat follow an arbitrary course without any intervention. Up to 30 knots of wind, I would choose the autopilot any time. If you plan extended passages with sustained winds over 30-35 knots and sail short-handed, it would be safer to have a windvane.

Regarding autopilots being unreliable. Not true. You must however have spare parts for everything, drive, electronics, compass as things break all the time. You would be surprised how cheap it is to have multiple backup though. Learn how to repair your wheel drive. Carry spare belts. Carry a second course computer/control head. You can get a brand new EV-100 for $1000. You can get a backup ST4000+ control head for $300. A modern windvane with installation will run you about $4-5000 and you will "need to" use it only 3% of the time. Plus, I think windvanes do not look good at all.
Dang, my windvane (25 years old) works fine, I did have to replace the lines, my god, almost $35.00, my Raymarine autopilot doesn't, the hydraulic ram is leaking, and darn, they just don't sell the replacement $12.00 seal for it anymore, so, they'll give me a bargain, I can buy the whole thing for $2699.00 discounted, $3000.00 list, because they just don't sell the ram by itself, you have to buy the pump and ram as a unit, my pump is fine, I don't need a freeking pump, just the freeking cylinder. Yeah, carry $5000.00 in spares for your auto pilot, when you could just buy the whole windvane for $5000.00 (much cheaper used) and carry a spare paddle or two, for 25 years. Yeah, makes total sense to me.
Not!
In light winds, auto pilot, in everything else, including anything over 10-15 knots, windvane, for longevity, for heavy weather, for average weather, for power useage efficiency.
So, to use an auto pilot, carry spares for everything, carry a generator or run the motor every day a couple of times for a few hours to charge the batteries, carry all the extra diesel, hope it doesn't fail. Sounds like a plan. Oh, did I mention that electronics always fail at the worst time. How much do you like hand steering for 20 hours or so? I've had the pleasure, no thanks.
Do I seem cranky? You bet I do. I really, really don't like getting screwed. Moving to B&G, I will never have another piece of Raymarine crap on any of my boats. You decide.
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