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Old 11-11-2007, 21:34   #1
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Pendulum Wind Vane vs Auxiliary Rudder Vane

Do you use either of these, I know the Pendulum types such a Monitor are very popular, but I can also see the advantages of the Auxiliary rudder type such as AutoHelm. What are your views?
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Old 12-11-2007, 00:32   #2
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I have a trim tab onto my main transom hung rudder, the trim tab is set back about 500mm from the back edge of the rudder. It has been operated by a horizontal vane rather than a vertical type as in the Auto-Helm system. I have been looking into either picking up a second hand Auto-Helm upper system (or making something similar) to replace the original vane as it is compact and can be remotely mounted ie. on top of the radar arch. I had some friends that had a Belcher auxiliary unit and they couldn't wait to change it for an Aries. But the problem was most likely with the installation rather than the aux rudder itself. The original one on my boat is 30+ years old and is still working satisfactorily, it's just that the vane intrudes into the cockpit more than I would like.
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Old 12-11-2007, 04:42   #3
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I have a Hydrovane vane/aux rudder set up. (visible, covered with the vane stowed in the pic below). Very rugged and simple to set up and operate, though I believe, not easy on the pocket these days. Aux rudder is easily detachable for cleaning, and is a great fallback option in case of rudder failure. I met the American who bought out this UK company having been a user of the product. Self Steering - Hydrovane Selfsteer is the website - it's an undemanding, unpaid, no backchat, 24/7 extra pair of hands . . .
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Old 12-11-2007, 06:08   #4
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Quote "Hydrovane vane/aux rudder set up. (visible, covered with the vane stowed in the pic below). Very rugged and simple to set up and operate, though I believe, not easy on the pocket these days." end Quote

About $7K .
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:09   #5
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Aloha Simon,
Where's that picture? Would like to see a Hydrovane.
I have a monitor but have not used it yet. The advantage will be that it is more sensitive than the old RVG rudder system which I used to have. It will also provide more power to steering because it uses the main rudder and provides increasing power as the wind increases.
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:16   #6
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Jimmy Cornell on Europa circumnav with Hydrovane

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Old 21-12-2007, 17:15   #7
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I am interested in purchasing a second hand Auto-helm upper unit for use on my main rudder which has a trim tab set back from it. It is presently operated by a horizontal wind vane which takes up a fair amount of space. With the Auto-helm I could site it on the radar arch out of the way. Of course if anyone has the dimensions of a similar type unit to the Auto-helm that I could make would be interest as well.
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Old 22-12-2007, 11:26   #8
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I have owned an Aries, servo-pendulem wind-vane for 14 years and sailed over 80,000 miles with it. I also sailed with a hydro-vane on one boat delivery.

I can tell you that the servo-pendulem is far stronger than the hydro-vane especially when going down-wind in heavy seas. The servo-pendulem reacts to a following sea differenty then the hydro-vane and I trust it much more than a hydro-vane in those conditions. I never once worried about broaching with the servo-pendulem but I found myself taking the helm away from the hydro-vane in a heavy following sea. It simply did not react fast enough to avoid broaching, IMO.

In all other points of sail, I found little difference in the 2 systems. They both react to apparent wind with all that entails for any self-steering system that relies on apparent wind direction for it's heading.
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Old 03-02-2011, 18:14   #9
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The two types of vanes are horses of different colors. An auxillary rudder system gives you a backup for the main rudder should it fail and doesn't have to deal with attachment to a wheel or rudder. I did a solo TransPac this past summer with a WindPilot Pacific Plus auxillary rudder vane. WINDPILOT - Products: Pacific Plus
It steered the boat without a problem in force 3-4 following wind and sea conditions running wing and wing for almost all the way. I made up a larger lightweight corrugated plastic (8"x4') wind vane that handled the relatively light relative wind of 5-8 knots often surfing without a problem. In very light air conditions, while ghosting, the vane will also steer well. The standard plywood vane works in winds over 5K. This auxillary rudder system will steer the boat with virtually no forward way on. The wind sensing vane is it's only limiting factor and I pretty much solved that with the plastic wind vane for extreme ghosting situations or downwind sailing. The vane was extremely easy to mount. I did it in an afternoon, by myself, in a rainstorm. The mounts were designed for a reverse transom. I just switched them top for bottom on my flush transom boat. In short, I couldn't ask for better performance. Haven't had the pleasure of using it in very high wind running conditions but certainly has worked well in all other conditions. The auxillary rudder system may also work better if you use a tiller pilot to set heading under power. Believe Monitor, for one, doesn't reccomend using a tiller pilot to set the heading for their vane because of prop wash.

The disadvantages of the system are cost. I bought mine used off a much larger boat for two US boat units. New, they are 7 US boat units. For my boat which is extremely rudder challenged wthout the vane, it's made manuevering in tight quarters an adventure. Pretty much have to back and fill with the engine to make tight turns to stbd. Turns to port are an adventure in narrow marina fairways. As I said my boat is very rudder challenged at the best of times so expect the vane wouldn't be such of a problem on a fin keel, separate rudder boat. The guy I bought the vane from who had it mounted on a 43' fin keeler was surprized I was having problems maneuvering with the vane. The vane is also not an instant disconnect from steering. Must go to the stern and disengage the vane to steering rudder gear to disengage the vane. Since I mostly single hand that has been an issue which wouldn't be a problem with one or more crewmembers aboard. One ownner I talked with with a Hydrovane on a Westsail 42 thought the vane wasn't sensitive enough in light air sailing. Didn't really discuss it in detail so not sure exactly what his issues were and that was one of their very early vanes.

My boat originally had a Monitor on it. It didn't work well at all because of an interface problem with the Wheel and the unbalanced barn door rudder. The vane just wouldn't steer the boat below 4knots of boat speed/10k plus relative wind. It was probably not the fault of the Monitor but the Boat's wheel system requiring too much force to turn the wheel at low speeds and the difficulty of getting the controls to the forward mounted wheel. Over 4k the vane worked mahvellously. I was in the process of trying to figure out how better to run the control lines and solve the boat's steering inertia when the WP Pacific Plus came along. What it taught me was pendulum servo vanes are practically guaranteed to work with a tiller but may have problems with a wheel on some boats. Had an Aries on my Westsail 32 and it would steer the boat if the boat would sail. I was totally happy with it and still think they are the best vane out there. Love the ease of changing heading with the click system. The continuously adjustable heading system on both the WP Pacific Plus and the Monitor were a PITA. The pulley system on the Monitor tended to derail unless the pull of the line was directly inline with the pulley and the WPPPlus steering line slips and is not intuitive which line to pull to change heading. Other boats with wheels have worked well with Pendulum Servo systems, even fifty plus footers, so suggest you check and see what other people's experinces have been with similar boats. The PS systems also have less drag. You've got the boats rudder, only, doing the steering. You aren't dragging around that big auxillary rudder all the time, just the much smaller pendulum rudder. YOu can also kick the PS rudder up out of the water so there is no effect on powering or sailing without the PS engaged.

So the intricacies of mounting the control lines, possible problems with wheel steering systems and the fact it steers through the boats rudder are the negatives of the Pendulum Servo. The rudder issue may not be that big a deal as both Monitor and SailoMat offer emergency rudder options for their vanes. Actually, when I say PS systems steer through the boats rudder is a negative, I'm not being fair. When I had a PS system, that never entered my mind.
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