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Old 07-11-2015, 20:54   #1
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30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

We are a family of 5 about to embark on a Pacific Loop (PNW to MEX to Polynesia, to Hawaii to PNW.)

With an easily balanced boat (Samson C-Strutter 46) and a trusty hydraulic Comnav/Wagner Autopilot. (Batteries are fed by 400Watts of solar a Superwind 350 Windgen and a 75hp Isuzu diesel powerplant.)

....Do we need to splurge for a $7000 Hydrovane or a homemade trim tab windvane on our full keel attached rudder (its fairly complicated since our rudder is way down on our keel .....or.... just GO and do our loop.

With only about a 100 days of long passage making thats $70/day for a wind vane that will only be able to serve us when the ideal conditions are present.

I realize its like having an extra crew member on board, which at 70/day is cheap, but aren't there people out there NOT using them?
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Old 07-11-2015, 21:50   #2
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

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Originally Posted by crunkbait View Post
We are a family of 5 about to embark on a Pacific Loop (PNW to MEX to Polynesia, to Hawaii to PNW.)

With an easily balanced boat (Samson C-Strutter 46) and a trusty hydraulic Comnav/Wagner Autopilot. (Batteries are fed by 400Watts of solar a Superwind 350 Windgen and a 75hp Isuzu diesel powerplant.)

....Do we need to splurge for a $7000 Hydrovane or a homemade trim tab windvane on our full keel attached rudder (its fairly complicated since our rudder is way down on our keel .....or.... just GO and do our loop.

With only about a 100 days of long passage making thats $70/day for a wind vane that will only be able to serve us when the ideal conditions are present.

I realize its like having an extra crew member on board, which at 70/day is cheap, but aren't there people out there NOT using them?
I'm honestly not the one to really respond. But, some kind of auto pilot I'd suggest is a must if your passage making. Even if you get an electric auto pilot and connect it to a trim tab which is what I'm doing right now.

I like the sound of your boat. I love properly built ferro's. Have you got a web page or something I can see your boat, or learn more about her?
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Old 07-11-2015, 22:20   #3
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Well we aren't doing a great job of being plugged into the web these days. Much like the wind vane, I'm trying not to became a slave to a fancy "cruising family" blog and all its responsibilities. The best I can offer is an instagram account, visible at

Slappin Halyards | A family blending on a sailboat


Here's a pic:
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Old 07-11-2015, 22:27   #4
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

The first post says they do have a hyd autopilot. The real question is that in 100 days of passagemaking how bad would be an autopilot failure be. If the OP would say "Hey, we can hand steer till the next anchorage no problem" that would say that a windvane would be unnecessary.

If the crew complement was such that any extended hand-steering would be impossible, some sort of backup for the AP would be a good idea.

Disclaimer: I'm not an experienced ocean crosser. But logic kinda dictated my response.
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Old 07-11-2015, 22:33   #5
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

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Originally Posted by crunkbait View Post
Well we aren't doing a great job of being plugged into the web these days. Much like the wind vane, I'm trying not to became a slave to a fancy "cruising family" blog and all its responsibilities. The best I can offer is an instagram account, visible at

Slappin Halyards | A family blending on a sailboat


Here's a pic:
Lovely lines. Not sure about the paint work
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Old 07-11-2015, 22:44   #6
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Bite me Rustic Charm! Thats how she was finished in '74 and thats how we are keeping her! Its a PNW thing.
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Old 07-11-2015, 22:50   #7
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

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Bite me Rustic Charm! Thats how she was finished in '74 and thats how we are keeping her! Its a PNW thing.
Well, she's a lovely looking boat

I accidentally painted mine last year 'Kermit green' about to have it sand blasted and returned to its proper vintage green color.
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Old 07-11-2015, 22:53   #8
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Hate when that happens RC. I just did my bottom in red and she feels real proper now. Some tanbark sails up top would really tie the room together.
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Old 07-11-2015, 23:15   #9
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Were it me, I'd add the vane, but I'd build it myself... as I did on our last boat.

Auto pilots are great, and they have become more reliable over the years, but they are still notoriously failure prone. Being without some form of auto steering is not fatal, but it sure spoils a cruise, and can lead to fatigue levels which are dangerous as well as unpleasant.

But, it isn't necessary to buy a shiny new Hydrovane. Your type vessel does cry out for an auxiliary rudder/trim tab device like the HV, but the less expensive and often available used Auto Helm vane will do as well. That vane was the design on which I modeled my homebrew vane, and the result drove our previous boat many thousands of miles over a 17 year period. Our present boat is of a type that is difficult to mount a vane on, so we substitute backup a/ps. I'd rather have the vane!

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Old 07-11-2015, 23:26   #10
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Wo, wo, wo. Thats a new one. The auto helm vane uses a cable actuated trim tab on a aux rudder. Are you saying I could use that system on my main rudder? Thats pretty engenius but prone for...corrosion having submersed cables in hosing and whatnot.... can anyone elaborate?

I like where this is going.
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Old 07-11-2015, 23:31   #11
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

I wouldn't waste money on a wind vane.

You have an AP (I wish folks actually read your post before replying!) So if it breaks down you can learn to hand steer .... its just not that difficult, especially for a family. Mum and dad can do it alone if the kids are under 5.

Have fun!
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Old 07-11-2015, 23:35   #12
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Thanks MarkJ,

Thats one for no vane.

Now has anyone seen a Sayes Rig in action? Similar to this crazy cable idea but without the cables and with a lot of fragile stuff hanging out there waiting for crab pots and such.
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Old 07-11-2015, 23:49   #13
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunkbait View Post
Wo, wo, wo. Thats a new one. The auto helm vane uses a cable actuated trim tab on a aux rudder. Are you saying I could use that system on my main rudder? Thats pretty engenius but prone for...corrosion having submersed cables in hosing and whatnot.... can anyone elaborate?

I like where this is going.
Well, the Auto Helm as sold is an auxiliary rudder with a tab, but it is possible that you could drive the main rudder directly with a tab. A lot would depend on the design of the rudder, how much friction is in the pintle/gudgeon system, and if there is any balance area in the rudder (unlikely ??). If your helm is heavy to turn when you are steering, it will be really hard for a direct drive tab to turn. If it is hydraulic steering, it will be necessary to bypass the drive to free the rudder. The beauty of the aux rudder is that you lock the main rudder with just enough angle to take out any weather helm, and then the aux rudder does the fine tuning steering. This also gives you a small, independent emergency rudder should the main rudder fail.

But, we had no corrosion issues with our cable tab drives. They were 1/16 inch 7/19 s/s if my memory is correct, and ran in teflon tubes about 1/4 inch OD. The tubes wore out in a year or so, but were easy to replace. Nowadays I'd experiment with Dyneema to replace the wire.

Many modern cruisers (like our friend MarkJ) don't like vanes. I'm an old fart, and I do like them, especially on big heavy vessels like yours. I like a/ps as well. The best thing is to have both, and use them when appropriate. And if the 70 dollars a day factor is important, you could recover a significant portion of the cost by reselling when your loop is completed. You might even decide to keep it because it helped a lot, who knows?

Jim
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Old 07-11-2015, 23:59   #14
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

My experience with Says is they tend to "S" while on course. Since your vessel is full keel, I would read up and experiment with tying off the helm and adjusting the sails to self tend the boat.
I sure as hell would not pay $7K for a vane! I have a sailomat on mine and still working the bugs out of it. I bought it used and rebuilt it. My old Monitor was the best I owned. Mostly due to its Delrin roller bearings. It is an exact copy of the Aries Vane which I also owned. Because the Aries had plastic bushings, it was not as sensitive as the Monitor with rollers/needle bearings. The Aries usually took 10 kts of wind to perform, while the Monitor took 1/2 that.
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Old 08-11-2015, 00:16   #15
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Re: 30ton Ferro cement Ketch about to voyage. Talk us out of a wind vane...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I wouldn't waste money on a wind vane.

You have an AP (I wish folks actually read your post before replying!) So if it breaks down you can learn to hand steer .... its just not that difficult, especially for a family. Mum and dad can do it alone if the kids are under 5.

Have fun!
i wish some folks would 'try' to get along in a friendly manner like cf rules request without the need to be so critical.

I DID see the op had an auto pilot, I merely didn't have the technical knowledge to know it can't be connected to a trim tab easily.
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