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View Poll Results: Best Single Handed Cruiser for Windward Caribbean?
42' Cabo Rico 0 0%
43' Hans Christian 0 0%
39' Shannon 1 12.50%
36' Robinhood / Cape Dory Cutter 3 37.50%
Other (Specify) 4 50.00%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 28-11-2008, 20:18   #46
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The figure is accurate. My 47 foot yacht is well balanced, it also has a balanced rudder and tiller steering. I normally leave sensitivity on the lowest because it steers fine on that setting. The drive motor will use more than 1.5A but it only has a short duty cycle hence the average consumption of 1.5A. If a yacht will steer itself for many minuets at a time without an autopilot, as many cruising boats can the autopilot doesn’t have much to do.
I generally use 100Ahrs a day when offshore sailing (I don’t normally run a fridge) and the yacht is steered 100% of the time on autopilot. I have just completed an 8 day sail following an engine failure, conditions were light, but believe me if the instruments were wrong and I was using 10 times that (360Ahrs on autopilot alone) it would have been very obvious.

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Old 28-11-2008, 20:31   #47
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47 ft. with a tiller,that must be rare.My boat is well balanced also,so its good to hear of your successful results with an autopilot.100 Ahrs. was about what I was estimating per day.

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Old 28-11-2008, 21:27   #48
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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
I cannot believe an autopilot would only draw 1.5 amps. Maybe if it's not actually steering and just standing by. To actually move the rudder and steer would demand more than 1.5 amps. In rough conditions reaching, the demand would have to be greater, maybe by a factor of 10 or more.
I just looked up a old post on autopilot consumption

Autopilot Power Consumption

The quoted consumption varied a bit, but to summarize it was
2.8A (47 foot ketch)
0.8A mild conditions to 8.3A Hurricane (39 foot hydraulic drive)
2A (9m yacht)
1A (43 foot ketch)
2A (37 foot)

So my 1.5A for moderate conditions seems about average.
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Old 29-11-2008, 01:52   #49
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Steering is one of those things that can be accomplished in a number of different fashions. My Ingrid 38 has a tiller that is connected directly to the top of the rudder, so anything rudder post oriented is out of the game. My first choice is a good servo pendelum vane, fast acting and powerful. Since I don't have a ruder post or any steering components below deck, a below deck unit is out of the picture. Now I may be a bit old fashion here, but if it works, don't fix it. Here's my choices in decending order:

Me when I'm in close or in tight quarters.

When the water turns blue and deep, a good servo vane

If the vane quits, a tiller based autopilot

If the autopilot quits, and I don't have the spares to repair the vane, then it's sheet to tiller steering, something some of the younger folks may not have worked on.

And, finally back to me when all else fails. When you need a rest, stall the keel out, lash the tiller over, and hove to with a small riding sail so that you stay about 50 degrees to the swells. Get some rest, cook a meal and then your up again.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with an auto pilot and they serve a great purpose, I even have one in my airplane. However, if you intend on doing some serious single handing, keep it simple. Vanes work on the wind, a few bearings, some pulleys, lines and cleats all of which are easily replaced. Auto pilots work on interfaces, circuit board, servo motors, hydraluic systems, lines, pulleys, a power supply and the ability to replenish power to that supply. I can fix my vane, but do I have what it takes to fix a circuit board or replace an overheated servo motor. So if your going off shore I think both have a place on the boat and a set of conditions in which one or the other is the best choice.

It boils down to personal taste, and the best use of equipment based on the current conditions. In heay weather to the point that I'd hove to, I would trust a strong servo vane. Downwind in light air, I like the concept of a removable tiller auto pilot as my tiller is nearly 7' long, that a lot of advantage, and make a small auto pilot doable and powerful but slow due to the length of the tiller.

Regards to all

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Old 29-11-2008, 03:25   #50
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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
I'll be selling either a Sailomat, Windpilot Pacific Plus and/or a Monitor. Haven't decided which two I'm going to sell, price will be $2,000 when I make the decision.
I would suggest you...

stay with the pendulum (Monitor) and sell the rest...

greetings from the med
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Old 29-11-2008, 03:34   #51
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Lightbulb Thank you everyone for your considered comments.

My mind is swimming with possibilities. You’ve sold me on the need for Vane steering over long blue water hauls to keep power use down and bottom line: just to have it aboard as a backstop. I like the idea of 2 complete Autopilots aboard at all times (Noelle 77). I was planning to have a water maker system for supplemental water. If the motor and power system dies, 2 weeks from land, well then it’ll be water rations and “War and Peace”; and probably an additional week until land but at least the Vane will know where to go, because I’m also bringing 100 Eveready batteries in plastic for my 2 GPS handhelds also in plastic. I think a sextant would just put an eye out. Maybe I’ll learn to use one, when my engine dies and right after I read “War and Peace”.

However, in the Caribbean, island to island, I will stow the Vane, hang a dingy there, ala (fishspearit ), and steer with one of my 2 Autopilots or my feet if I have to. Thanks also for reminding me to balance the rig. The only thing I have to decide now is what boat to buy and how much should I pay; small minor, minor details. I liked my PS Orion 27’ cutter before I traded it in for marriage. This time, after the wife, I think I’ll go about 2 or 3 meters longer.
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Old 29-11-2008, 03:38   #52
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Originally Posted by porttack View Post
My mind is swimming with possibilities.
You and me both .

Helluva good question and all very informative responses to re-read and think through.

'tis why I read
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Old 29-11-2008, 13:45   #53
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The boat came with the Monitor. The PO had done what appeared to be an ingenious job of routing the control lines to the forward mounted wheel. Unfortunately, the vane didn't work worth a damn. Needed 4+ knots of boat speed to steer effectively. I was in the process of finding a way to route the control lines so they didn't wipe out the cockpit but cut down on drag and/or trying to reduce friction in the wheel to solve the vanes senstivity problem.

A SailOMat with emergency rudder attachment showed up on Craig's list. SailOMat claimed to offer the most steering force so I figured I might solve the self steering problem with brute force. Figured I could sell it for what I paid for it if I wasn't able to use it. Before I dumped the Monitor, wanted to make sure it was the problem, not the boat or control line issues so stored the SailOMat.

A WindPilot Pacific Plus showed up. The auxillary rudder offering emergency steering, should the boat's rudder fail, and no lines in the cockpit seemed like a great vane for my boat. It was super easy to install, took me 4 hours by myself in the rain. It has the ability to steer the boat with any forward motion and steers the boat way more effectively than the boats rudder. It had problems with the sensitivity of the windvane which I've been trying to figure out. Discovered the pivot for the vane was binding so filed it out and the vane seems to work like a charm, now. Unfortunately, had problems with the Norseman fittings in replacing the headstay so haven't been able to get out and see if the vane works to it's full potential.

The problem with the vane is it's too powerful. It's the larger model and came off a 43' boat with 2 1/2 times the displacement of my boat. To disconnect the wind vane, the vane steering rudder is locked on straight ahead. My shallow draft, full keeled boat is rudder challenged, at best, in close quarter maneuvering. With the vane rudder locked straight ahead, it made a container ship turning circle look nimble compared to mine. It took me hours, three trys, and several journeys out to the ship channel to find the room to turn the boat around and make another try. Finally figured out how to use prop walk to turn to the right in the confines of the marina. Forget turning left in anything smaller than SF Bay. In fiddling around with the vane, discovered that pulling the steering control servo pendulum blade out of the water, the steering rudder sill stream rather than locked forward. Hopefully, with the steering rudder unlocked, the boats rudder will be way more effective in cramped surroundings.

I'm really a fan of pendulum servo self steering systems. They generate the most steering force and work better and better with increasing windspeed. Unfortunately, with the forward mounted wheel on the Pearson 35, the control lines are a problem. I'm still trying to figure out how I could run the lines without wiping out seating in the cockpit. Actually, that's something I can easily solve by dumping the wheel and reverting to a tiller. I'm seriously considering that, vane or no vane. This is the first boat I've had with a wheel and it's going to be my last. Hate the F***ing thing. They have absolutely no redeeming value, it wipes out fore and aft movement in the cockpit, has little feel, no indication of rudder angle, way more tiring to steer, and hopeless for single handing. Really don't know why anyone would saddle themselves with the contraptions in an aft cockpit boat under 50'. If I do go with a tiller, no more problems with resistance/friction in the wheel. The run of the vane control line will be way easier to route without messing up cockpit seating. Would probably go back to the Monitor if it will work better than it did with the wheel. Failing that, there's always the SailOMat.

So, if anyone is interested, sometime over the next six months I'll make a decision on which way to go. Will have two of the vanes for sale when that happens. Email me at roverhiatyahoodotcom and I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Peter O.
Pearson 35
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Old 29-11-2008, 14:30   #54
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Just when I thought I had my mind made up

Well geez rovehi... If I have to buy three vane systems to get one to work maybe in 6 months, than I think when I cross the deep blue I'll load up on crew instead and skip the vane. Do these thing work or not? Maybe on just certain boats with tiller steering and well balanced rigs and under certain weather conditions and planetary alignments, and only after 36 mounting holes have been drilled into the wet side of the transom.
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Old 29-11-2008, 14:55   #55
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another vote for windvane

Another vote for windvanes here. I rarely steer by hand now, aries does it better than me. Even in light airs, though the boat may yaw around a bit at the end of the day the course is good. Roverhi - you've probably seen this but if not Scanmar International . Met a guy in Azores who had his tiller autopilot (raymarine st2000) linked to an aries, he's taken the control part out and glassed it into the cockpit and 10,000 miles later was still working perfectly with low current draw. I got my st2000 fixed in horta (after being bust for 2 1/2 years so not an essential item) The guy there certainly knows about autopilots, seems a common failure on ocean passages. Though have to say it's nice to have the tiller pilot back for getting sails up and sorting fenders coming into port.
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Old 29-11-2008, 22:18   #56
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another vote for vane steering. Servo pendulum. I have just finished welding the drive and control tubes into my new boat. The servo directly drives the stub tiller that the hydraulic ram attaches too. The vane can be disconnected and the servo pendulum driven by a 800 series autohelm. With either wind or assisted auto, the control can be given back to the wheel by uncleating one line and pushing in the knob that closes the bypass valve to the ram. Aprox 2 seconds ..With the auto tiller below decks it dosnt suffer as much as being exposed...and THEY ARE NOT WATERPROOF !! or even rain proof....
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Old 30-11-2008, 20:38   #57
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I agree with an earlier poster- in the big blue it is all about redundancy. My redundancy for my boat steering looks like this:
1. Monitor wind vane
2. Below decks autopilot
3. emergency tiller to sheet steering
4. Me, with heaving to when sleeping.
I practice with all of them to be able to use them easily. I am amazed that nobody mentions sheet to tiller or boom to tiller steering. I have logged more than a few miles with this system and I love it. By and large I will save the energy drain for my radar.
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Old 27-01-2014, 16:07   #58
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Re: Why Vane steering at all?

Redundancy has been thoroughly covered by others; on a boat you need some, maybe a lot. Let's look at some other things as well.

A wind vane is not an auto-pilot. A wind vane will steer your boat in a (nearly constant) direction relative to the prevailing wind. An a/p will steer your boat in a (nearly constant) direction relative to magnetic north (or sometimes true north). In a sailboat, the first is usually preferable (ease of ship's motion, comfort of passengers, less wear & tear on the ship, ...). Given that you can't sail directly to windward, that is almost always what you want. Yes, some a/p have a "wind tracking" option, but surveys indicate these are rarely purchased & even less often installed. Power boats can go directly to windward, so an a/p is a more reasonable choice for them. But even there, wind vanes may be an appropriate choice. My uncle had one on an off-shore fishing boat back in the '60s used it anytime we were scouting for fish.

I suggest some form of self-steering is requisite even for coastal cruising. When is the last time you steered your boat for 10 or 12 hours straight? How much fun was that?
"There's nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." -- River Rat, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
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Old 27-01-2014, 18:52   #59
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Re: Why Vane steering at all?

Jeff, you might notice that the post you were responding to is about five years old!

This subject has been discussed ad nauseum and will never be resolved! If you are interested in what others have said, use of the Google search function will guide you to many posts.


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Twofold Bay (Eden) looking for wx to cross to Tasmania
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Old 27-01-2014, 19:03   #60
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Re: Why Vane steering at all?

> Yes, some a/p have a "wind tracking" option, but surveys indicate these are rarely purchased

Every Raymarine Autohelm I have seen from the ST1000 tiller pilot on has a wind tracking capabilities.

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