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Old 07-12-2017, 05:42   #1
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Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

I'm wondering if anyone has any video or book advice for solo sailing Atlantic or Pacific without Auto Pilot?

I've been browsing around the internet for a couple weeks now and have found plenty of great solo sailing videos and books. But mostly all of them are larger boats with AP. I want to get an idea of how I will need to setup sleep patterns as well as try to maintain some course heading when not at the helm.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:48   #2
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pirate Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

Seriously hard work if on a crossing.. tiller is much easier than that salty looking wheel and you will be spending around 6-8hrs in 24 hove to for sleep and food.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:49   #3
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

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Originally Posted by Tidjian View Post
I'm wondering if anyone has any video or book advice for solo sailing Atlantic or Pacific without Auto Pilot?

I've been browsing around the internet for a couple weeks now and have found plenty of great solo sailing videos and books. But mostly all of them are larger boats with AP. I want to get an idea of how I will need to setup sleep patterns as well as try to maintain some course heading when not at the helm.
Or to put it another way, "I'm planning to shoot myself in the foot. How can I avoid becoming crippled?"

Lots of single-handed boats have made long ocean passages without benefit of an autopilot. Easiest way is probably to fashion some sort of windvane steering. These can work very well to maintain a constant angle to the prevailing wind, without needing electric power, so they work on both small and larger boats.

Bill
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:57   #4
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

I can't imagine even sailing as a couple without some sort of autopilot. The grind of being at the helm constantly steering, even just half of the time, will wear you down after a couple of days of rotating watches.

There is a reason why people are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for a windvane pilot. I would sooner go without an electric autopilot than the windvane, but we rarely motor so about the only time we use our power-hungry autopilot is when we want it to keep us into the wind as we raise or douse sails single/shorthanded. We could go without the regular electric autopilot but wouldn't think of not having a windvane, it is necessary equipment unless you are going to be doing solely short-hop coastal cruising and have plenty of crew so someone can be at the helm whenever you are making way.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:59   #5
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

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Originally Posted by Tidjian View Post
I'm wondering if anyone has any video or book advice for solo sailing Atlantic or Pacific without Auto Pilot?

I've been browsing around the internet for a couple weeks now and have found plenty of great solo sailing videos and books. But mostly all of them are larger boats with AP. I want to get an idea of how I will need to setup sleep patterns as well as try to maintain some course heading when not at the helm.
Good free download here , or pay a bit on amazon it you would like to support the author..
Resources | Singlehanded Sailing Society

Ask as many offshore single handed sailors as you can & chances are the answer will almost always be - get an autopilot.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:02   #6
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

Slocum used a ghost to pilot his ship while he was in a helpless stupor. Maybe that will work for you.

Seriously, a windvane such as a Monitor will require no power and can handle most cruising boats with good sail trim. It takes some practice to get a vane to steer well dead down wind but it can work.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:23   #7
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tidjian View Post
I'm wondering if anyone has any video or book advice for solo sailing Atlantic or Pacific without Auto Pilot?

I've been browsing around the internet for a couple weeks now and have found plenty of great solo sailing videos and books. But mostly all of them are larger boats with AP. I want to get an idea of how I will need to setup sleep patterns as well as try to maintain some course heading when not at the helm.
Google "sheet to tiller steering". The method can be applied to a tiller or a wheel. We used the method for years before we purchased our first auto-pilot in '89. The key to success is balancing the boat's sails on the desired course.

FWIW...
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:31   #8
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

Since the boat is a 23ft Grampian I would look at one of the ST1000 or ST2000 tiller pilots from Raymarine as a start point. The 2000 is a little more powerful and quicker.

ST1000 & ST2000 Tiller Pilots | Raymarine

Dead quick to set up and put into standby we used an ST2000 for a decade before switching to a wheel pilot. Worked perfectly for a decade, just requiring a little care to ensure they don't get wet with a cover or a plastic bag.

This is the extra hand you need when coming into harbour whilst you set up the fenders, mooring lines or anchor.

The fetch good money on e bay so may even be worth trying the chandlers at this time of year for a winter bargain. Expect full price in the Spring though.

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Old 07-12-2017, 06:36   #9
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

My wife and I hand steered for 2 weeks coming back home from Hawaii after both of our cheap autopilots failed us. Next boat had vane and and autopilot. Vanes are a waste of money for coastal cruising in my opinion but they are wonderful for crossing oceans. Lots of people including us rely on a powerful autopilot and in our case a spare but while they steer good they really suck the power. When your undersail 24/7 Your solar isn't that effective so you end up running your motor an awful lot. Lights all night, fridge,autopilot and radar when needed really use up the amp hours and the biggest hog is the autopilot. A vane will really cut back on that, simple,mechanical and reliable and uses no power. No matter how tough you are or how much you want to relive the past handsteering 24/7 is a real pain and you dont want to go there.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:40   #10
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

As often times happens on these forum, folks forget that people sailed for 100's of years without the assistance of autopilots, GPS, etc singlehanded.

This book Singlehanded Sailing: The Experiences and Techniques of the Lone Voyagers by Richard Henderson mentions singlehand sailing quite a bit without autopilot.

The original book was written many years ago

The author many times speaks about certain boats that were natural course keepers and other things of this nature

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/sin...yABEgIsRfD_BwE
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:13   #11
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

Of course the obvious reference is Slocum, Sailing Around the World Alone. His boat was by nature easily kept a course. And he was a master navigator. I’ve not a clue how well a Grampian would do.

I have had a ST-2000 crap out on me, the thrust block disintegrated. I ordered a spare, it came with a bad gyro. So did the next one. I finally scavenged parts to make a working unit, but didn’t get the water proof seal right so smoked a board. But luckily now had a spare. Raymarine fixed all at no charge but I ended up with 3 of the units.

I was in a rather remote place when this all occurred and was stuck for about three weeks having replacements shipped.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:16   #12
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

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Of course the obvious reference is Slocum, Sailing Around the World Alone. His boat was by nature easily kept a course. And he was a master navigator.
Slocum's a bit dated actually.

The Singlehanded Sailing book by Henderson I mentioned above names maybe 20-30 other sailors that within the last 25-70 years or so circumnavigated on boats that were very good at course keeping and many of these guys (and Gals) did so without autopilot.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:30   #13
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
My wife and I hand steered for 2 weeks coming back home from Hawaii after both of our cheap autopilots failed us. Next boat had vane and and autopilot. Vanes are a waste of money for coastal cruising in my opinion but they are wonderful for crossing oceans. Lots of people including us rely on a powerful autopilot and in our case a spare but while they steer good they really suck the power. When your undersail 24/7 Your solar isn't that effective so you end up running your motor an awful lot. Lights all night, fridge,autopilot and radar when needed really use up the amp hours and the biggest hog is the autopilot. A vane will really cut back on that, simple,mechanical and reliable and uses no power. No matter how tough you are or how much you want to relive the past handsteering 24/7 is a real pain and you dont want to go there.
While the AP, especially for a wheel, is a huge power hog, it is generally way more efficient and easier on your mental and physical states in big seas than hand steering - solo or not. A friend of mine is developing a low power AP for the windvane, which is what I'll probably install soon. This way, you have the best of both worlds, a self-steering vane that uses no power, and an AP on the vane, which is particularly good when winds are light or you're going downwind. I sail solo, and there's no way I'd make a passage without at least one AP, but better with more.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:35   #14
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

The answer is: it depends on the boat. Yes, it can be done... but with limitations.

Some boats balance well with good sail trim and hold a pretty good course relative to the wind. Others do not. The further off the wind you try to sail the harder it gets. In general (and there will be exceptions!) ketches are much better at this than cutters, which are a bit better than sloops. It also depends on the skipper. Some skippers never learn how to trim a boat so it balances and runs straight.

I sailed a 40 foot ketch--without a working autopilot--for 700 miles on passage without sitting at the wheel. Minor course adjustments were made with the mizzen sheet. The difference was I did it because I HAD to...

If you are exploring this option because you can not afford an AP... I'd seriously suggest working another month or two. You will have more fun with some kind of Otto aboard...
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:55   #15
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Re: Solo Sailing without Auto Pilot?

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Originally Posted by Tidjian View Post
I'm wondering if anyone has any video or book advice for solo sailing Atlantic or Pacific without Auto Pilot?

I've been browsing around the internet for a couple weeks now and have found plenty of great solo sailing videos and books. But mostly all of them are larger boats with AP. I want to get an idea of how I will need to setup sleep patterns as well as try to maintain some course heading when not at the helm.
If this is the question you are a long way from solo sailing the Atlantic or Pacific.

That is not meant to be a discouragement but rather an encouragement to back up and begin the lifetime process of building up to meeting those goals.

I would also encourage less browsing the internet and get out on the water and experience it as often as possible in as many conditions as possible on as many boats as possible with as many different people as possible.
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