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Old 22-10-2005, 20:40   #1
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Tiller Pilot and Vane Gears

Am thinking of a Cape Horn Self Steering gear for my next boat. One thing that led me to this is the easy way to hook a tiller pilot to the gear to provide course input instead of the wind.

Looking for anyone who has experience with running a pendulum servo gear steered by an autopilot under both sail and power.

Sounds like the greatest idea since sliced bread. Low drain tiller A/P for course correction with all the free power of the Pendulum Servo to provide the muscle. Of course, Wonder Bread has the taste and food value of cardboard so wanted to find out the warts, if any.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 23-10-2005, 05:28   #2
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I’ve never used a windvane, so haven’t any practical advice or experience to share.

The ‘Cape Horn’ reads well, anyway ~ http://www.capehorn.com/

Here’s a couple of good articles on Windvave Self-Steering:
“Wind Vanes 101” http://www.selfsteer.com/windvanes101/index.php
Self Steering: http://www.bluemoment.com/selfsteering.html

With so many choices, I’d recommend a lot of research, prior to committing to any one windvane type or brand.

Some Manufacturers websites:
Airies Windvane: http://www.selfsteer.dk/
Aries Spares: http://www.ariesvane.com/
Autosteer (Hydra SW): http://www.autosteer.com/html/autosteer_frameset.htm
Cape Horn Integrated Self-Steering: http://www.caphorn.com/index.html
Fleming Self Steering Systems: http://www.flemingselfsteering.com.au/
Home-Made Windvane: http://gamma.nic.fi/~poltsi/
Hydrovane: http://www.hydrovane.com/
Monitor Windvanes (Scanmar): http://www.selfsteer.com/
Mr. Vane: http://www.mrvane.com/
Neptune Servo-Pendulum Windvane: http://www.windvane.co.uk/
Plastimo Navik Servo-Pendulum Windvane: http://www.plastimo.com/pdf/navik(uk).pdf
Sailomat: http://www.sailomat.com/
Sea Feather: http://www.sea-feather.com/
Steersman: http://www.steersman.net/
Vectavane: http://www.vectavane.co.uk/
Voyager Windvane: http://www.voyagerwindvanes.com/Voyager/index.aspx
Windpilot Hamburg: http://www.windpilot.com/en/Ra/rawelen.html
Windvane plans from Hartley Boats: http://www.hartley-boats.com/selfst.html

HTH,
Gord
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Old 27-11-2005, 16:21   #3
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self steering

Gordo,

FYI - I had a Sayes rig on my sailboat and it worked great on all points of sail.
I would definitely own one again.
They are; simple; very well built; and steer downwind just fine.

Here’s a link; http://www.selfsteer.com/products/sayes/index.php

Bob…
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Old 28-11-2005, 04:29   #4
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Peter, we added tiller pilot steering to our Sailomat before crossing the Atlantic and it's not only been especially helpful in lighter wind conditions (when all vanes tend to wobble about their course) but we were able to use it when motoring/motorsailing until we could replace a faulty mechanical autopilot. (For a bit more on our experience and t/p arrangement, you could visit www.svsarah.com/Whoosh/Boat%20Mods.htm

I think you are on the wrong track if you choose a vane in part based on 'ease of hooking up a tiller pilot'. (Am I repeating myself? If so, I apologize; I remember passing this same advice to someone else a week or two ago and perhaps it was you...). Every brand of servo oar wind vane I have seen (which is now most of them) can be easily adapted to a tiller pilot with a bit of creativity or the addition of a simple fitting. The bigger issues IMO are insuring the tiller pilot won't fall over the side if bumped or being unseated in truly rough conditions, and keeping it protected by the elements, long term.

The Cape Horn unit is certainly an acceptable choice; however, the 'thru-transom' model, while pleasing to the eye when compared with e.g. the oil derrick Monitor) can introduce real compromises in access and storage at the aft end of the boat. I'd encourage you to look carefully at that. And if not choosing the thru-transom model, it's just another servo oar design.

FWIW I think the #1 criterion for choice of a vane these days is the likely longevity of the company. ALL these builders save one are relatively low-volume, single-owner businesses. (Scanmar at least has a mix of staff involved in the business and the largest installed base, so you could believe they might be around a while after Hans retires; and he's no spring chicken!) With only one exception (the young Danish lad who now builds the Aries), all the owners are getting on in years. I would prefer buying a vane I knew had a chance of being built (and supported) for some time to come.

Now let me play devil's advocate with an alternative criterion: most of these vanes are devilishly expensive, yet the servo oar concept is easily replicated and very powerful. Consequently, I can imagine a selection logic which puts price at the top, since all of these units work fairly well in medium and higher winds, and a tiller pilot makes them work accurately in lighter winds. Using cost as the criterion, I would opt either for one of the low-cost units such as the South African model (the 'Neptune' in Gordo's list and excellent value, IMO) OR I would build one myself (far less money but requiring some time) - see e.g. http://cruisenews.net/cgi-bin/windvane/windvane.pl

Hope that's helpful, and good luck to you on your refurb and prep out there in beautiful HI!

Jack
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Old 18-12-2005, 09:38   #5
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opinions please

Do I need a below-decks autopilot if I have a windvane and (2 or 3 spare) tillerpilots?

Super-cautious thinking says put the a/p in and have the windvane as well for super-duper redundancy, but we're talking $7-8k for each system, so...

Most people these days would just put the below decks a/p in, but I'm not convinced of this since especially we may try some more ambitious trips in future. Having made the psychological committment to have a windvane, I'm now wondering whether to just ditch the a/p completely.

Comments?

Cheers

Neil
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Old 18-12-2005, 19:46   #6
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On our Westsail, if the boat would sail the Aries steered it. Probably had no more than 5 hours total on the helm in 10,000+ miles under sail.

Powering was another story. We had no A/P so it was a royal pain. Such a pain, that we virtually did not use the engine except to get in and out of port and charge the batteries.

IMHO, the self steering vane is more important than the boat for any cruising.

For those that anticipate a bit of powering, an autopilot is a real big plus.

For dead downwind, the A/P will probably steer better. We found dead downwind to be very uncomfortable if the seas were not directly behind. Any cross seas and we rolled into insanity. Would almost always reach rather than run. Reaching was lot more comfortable and usually way faster to boot.

The answer is: Get both if the funds will support it. Don't forget that you have to charge the batteries to keep the A/P working, however. You'll need a windcharger, and/or a lot of solar panels, and/or water driven generator, and/or a lot of engine time if you end up using the A/P a lot. Just be aware that there is no free lunch and A/P's are hungry sucker's needing to be fed a lot.

Still waiting for some real life experience with a tiller pilot driving a pendulum servo vane both under sail and power.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 19-12-2005, 07:34   #7
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Peter, you might want to reread my post above. I think I addressed both your Q's based on our experiences while doing an Atlantic crossing.

You'll find vane mfgrs. universally opposed to using a t/p with a vane when motoring (in lieu of some other form of a/p), as they don't like the prop wash working against the servo oar and the potential for accelerated wear nor do they design the units with this in mind. OTOH I've been aboard a number of boats (for some reason, they are all single-handers...) where the helm-mounted a/p failed and they ended up resorting, sooner or later, to a t/p for their vanes BOTH for use in lighter conditions under sail AND as a redundant source of a/p steering under power. FWIW I've had to do this as well on occasion, and I don't notice any particular abuse on my Sailomat.

Neil, it's simply quite difficult for anyone cruising on a budget & with limited outiftting funds to afford both a vane and a below-decks autopilot, despite bulletproof self-steering being a truly critical system on a boat used offshore. If your budget doesn't support both choices (and I think both your cost estimates are high; I'd say <$4K for a self-installed vane, <$6K for a basic, reliable b/d a/p) and your plans include short-handed multi-day passages offshore, I'd recommend a vane + basic t/p as your first choice. The main reasons for this are that installing a vane has no ripple effect on requiring other expanded systems (e.g. increased power generation as Peter alludes to for a b/d a/p), there's less to break and so a vane is more reliable than a a/p long-term, its more likely you can repair a vane break, either while offshore or when you arrive, without logistics hassles, vanes work harder and are stronger as conditions deteriorate (while a/p's become more & more strained and consume more and more power), and this is the cheaper option. Still...without knowing more about your boat, I'd suggest you consider a helm/mounted a/p as well as a vane and t/p. It really depends on your cruising plans.

Jack
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Old 20-12-2005, 17:01   #8
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Euro Cruiser, read your post and it was helpful and thorough. I'm just looking for more input. We all know that boats are nto the same and we all don't have the same experiences. Just looking for more input.

As far as the through hull problem with the Cape Horn, it's an acceptable feature to me. Have seen a couple of Cape Horn installations and the the vane support and quadrant actually take up very little space. It can be tucked up underneath the over hang of a lazarette hatch. If done right, it only takes up a few inches of depth in the compartment and can be hidden behind a plywood partition. You could also extend it through the lazarette into the rear of the cockpit.

I like the Cape Horn for its elegant design, light weight, and claimed responsiveness. Having thousands of miles under the keel with an Aries, am sold on a pendulum servo gear. So it's just which one works the best for me. The Aries and Monitor are the same gear, just different materials. Haven't seen the SailOMat and other gears up close but would assume that they will all work well. Just a question of how they are mounted and weight.

Anyway, still would like other's input who have used a tiller pilot to control their self steering, especially under power.

Euro Cruiser, mahalo for your input.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 21-12-2005, 07:12   #9
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Peter, with your past experience using an Aries, have you considered the new version? http://www.selfsteer.dk/

The Danish fellow who now makes them is another circumnavigator who came back to run a wind vane business, just as is Yves, and his work is beautiful. He invested in two CNC machines after Nick Franklin gave him the Aries business prior to his death, and this fellow is as plain-spoken and honest (also pleasant) as any vendor I've spoken with. He's also made numerous improvements. You sound sold on the Cape Horn, which I think is a good choice; just want to mention the alternative given your prior experience.

I think you're right in believing most servo pendulum units built these days perform well and are well engineered. Many choices. Re: weight aft, the mounting mechanism often contributes a large amount of the unit's total weight. With our Sailomat, I need only remove one bolt and the servo oar & wind blade base & extension are removed. What's left is a very small mount bolted to the transom that perhaps weighs 4#. This is of course quite different from the Monitor mounting arrangement.

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Old 21-12-2005, 13:23   #10
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Questions for Jack

I haven't looked at the new Aries for awhile. Last time I checked it looked like he was producing pretty much a copy of the original. The current vane looks to have taken Nick's idea and completely re-engineered it. Not much left, if anything, of the original peices. That is probably good as Nick's original was way stout but also way heavy.

I'm looking at moderate displacement classic around 35' for our next boat. Weight is a consideration as it will probably be half the displacment of the W32. Would also like to keep as much weight out of the ends as possible. It really makes a difference on windward performance, even on a Westsail.

The Sailomat does look like it is easy to mount. A possible other advantage to the Sailomat is the raked pendulum rudder. Hopefully it will shed weeds and traps by itself. Broke the coupling on our Aries twice off California when it hooked up a huge train of kelp. A major problem as was nearly impossible to replace the breakaway coupling at sea. Fortunately, we were just coastal sailing so it only meant we had to hand steer into the nearest port.

If memory serves, the Peason 424 has a longish fin keel with shallow draft. I'm curious about you saying the boat would wander in light air under the vane. Would it really wander significantly off course or were you just very finicky about the course that it steered?? This is a question I have about self steering on lighter, less directionally stable boat. One of the boats that I'm considering is the Pearson 35

The Aries on our Westsail would control the boat if it would sail. Otherwise, if the wind was relatively consistent, even if it was only a whisper, the Aries would steer. Of course, the Westsail was so slow to react to directional forces, the vane had plenty of time to control it. One of the great advantages of the Westsail for passage making are its slow reactions. That is also its greatest disadvantage for day sailing as they are way boring to sail.

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Old 22-12-2005, 05:07   #11
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Peter:

Re: lighter weight servo-pendulum vanes, you'll no doubt compare brands by weight when making a choice. With some models, the mount can be a big piece of the overall weight. I also (finally!) found another vane builder who's product I was pretty impressed with, and it looks relatively light at 18 kg, has a small (not heavy) mounting bracket & also is inexpensive - www.windvane.co.uk/index.htm FWIW my impression of the Norvane is that it is also a light-weight unit tho' I couldn't find any weight references on their website.

I think you put your finger on an important issue WRT vane performance: hull form stability. Your memory on the 424 is correct: extended fin keel, full skeg-hung rudder, very asymetric waterline inducing weather helm when well heeled, modest draft of 5.5'. I think you'll find many vane users with wheel steered boats commenting on a wandering steered course in light winds. Partially, it's the nature of all s/p vanes: small wind blade deflections + low boat speed = small servo oar movement = limited wheel correction. This is less an issue with a tiller steered boat (where a given amount of steering control line movement = greater rudder angle change), also less an issue with a hull form not inclined to change direction. And it's exacerbated by light winds typically being somewhat variable in direction, as well. I do notice for our vane that the minute I replace the wind blade with the tiller pilot, the vane's performance in light winds becomes rock-solid.

I'm reluctant to recommend a Sailomat even tho' we've been satisifed with ours. Typical of most vane mfgrs, Stellan is a one-man business and is now at retirement age. What will happen to the product line, longer term? Where will the the small plastic bearing come from that I notice wears after a few years and I've need to replace once? This issue is not exclusive to Sailomat but, as I said earlier, I would make it a common criterion applied to all vane builders.

What's the plan re: the boat shopping? And will you be using it in the islands (and so probably needing to sail it out there) or sailing it coastal in the U.S.? Good luck on the shopping!

Jack
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Old 31-12-2005, 11:45   #12
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Been off visiting the kids so haven't had time to get back to you.

You mention light air problems with the vane possibly being from resistance in the wheel. That's something I've been curious about. Have heard a lot of comments about the poor light air performance of vanes and difficulty of setting up, wonder if that is all related to wheels vs tillers?? May have to check it out first hand as the Pearson 35 I'll be looking at in a few weeks has a Monitor and, of course, a wheel.

As far as plans, email me at roverhiatyahoodotcom. Would love to talk with you about your experiences and our dreams.

Aloha
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Old 05-02-2006, 07:42   #13
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Peter O

Peter,

Saw your post....I have a 1972 P35 with a WindPilot Pacific. After the interesting boats you've owned. What drew your attention to the Pearson? Perth.
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