Originally Posted by mikedefieslife
reliable on cats? I seem to read a lot about autopilots breaking on mono-hulls and the need for spares and a back up, but not seen many similar reports about it on cats.
The answer is it depends.
Back in the day I use to sail my Dad's ketch
rigged Privateer and was able to balance it to sail a course with out touching the tiller in lots of conditions. I had my Seawind
for six months before I ever turned on the auto pilot because I was able to balance it to sail a course with adjustments to the traveler.
Of course under some conditions like a big sloppy following sea running before a shifting wind
, or any nasty shifting wind
, no amount of balancing and using an auto pilot will work.
It is easy to tell how hard an auto pilot is working by watching the wheel/tiller and observing how much the auto pilot is moving. At some point it will become clear the auto pilot is working too hard; at that point it is time to start steering
Some boats simply have too much weather/lee helm
to effectively use an autopilot while other boats are so well balanced that you don't really need an autopilot under many conditions.