Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 16-10-2005, 03:25   #16
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Currently based near Jacksonville FL; WHOOSH's homeport is St. Pete, FL USA
Boat: WHOOSH, Pearson 424 Ketch
Posts: 591
There are two primary reasons windvanes are used by most long-distance sailboats. The first as Jon points out has to do with power consumption. And keep in mind that, as conditions build offshore, the autopilot has the same level of steering force with which to work, so its only option is to work harder (more frequent cycling) which drives up electrical consumption (and the potential risk for something to overheat or break). Servo-oar systems, the kind of windvane you normally find on boats, become more powerful in heavier conditions - one of their key assets.

The second reason windvanes are commonly used is reliability. Beyond chafe to the steering lines, there is less to break on a windvane (and arguably, more you can repair when it does) than with the multiple component below-decks autopilots. Personally, I think this is in part because windvanes are accessible and easily inspected while working; problems which are developing can be seen and addressed.

When we crossed to Horta in 2003, I was curious how old-fashioned we were in carrying a windvane but no below-decks a/p (we have a small helm-mounted unit for motoring), so I conducted a daily survey as I walked past the transient docks on the way to town. Boats are constantly coming and going there, 800 that season from May thru Sep. Each day I counted the number of transoms I could see - big boats/little boats; heavily equipped to spartan - and of those, the number that had windvanes. The lowest percentage I counted was 60+%, the highest 90%, the average I came up with over 5 weeks was 75%. Bigger, more expensive boats had the financial backing to make it easy to add a windvane. Smaller, more spartan boats HAD to have a windvane, due to both financial and electrical generation limitations. Most boats, independent of size, had smaller crews (2-3 were most common, with some singlehanders) and losing self-steering can be a real downer and present real challenges to small crews, so self-steering reliaibility was a major issue for them.

It was also interesting to see how many vanes were set up to accept a tiller a/p. We'd rigged this up before leaving the States and it 'fixes' the one weak point with windvanes: steady courseholding in light conditions. It also can provide self-steering while motoring, should the a/p go away.


WHOOSH, Pearson 424 Ketch
Euro Cruiser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2006, 16:54   #17
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Nevada City. CA
Boat: Sceptre 41 Ohana
Posts: 3,637
Images: 9
I'm l;ooking into windvanes right now. The Cape Horn Windvane advertises that it is able to be used with davits. I think there was a picture as well.

Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
Charlie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2006, 17:26   #18
Senior Cruiser
SkiprJohn's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Kea'au, Big Island, Hawaii
Boat: Cascade, Sloop, 42 - "Casual"
Posts: 14,169
Aloha All,
I guess I live in Hawaii on a remote island because I think outside the box. Dinghy davits should be placed either port or starboard or both. Not on the stern. Your dinghy should be snuggly overturned on cabin top or foredeck while underway for a significant passage and davits should be removable and removed and stored below.
My monitor windvane will be at the stern bolted to the transom on watch unencumbered by dinghy davits.
I will never again tow a dinghy in a seaway because I lost my friend's pride and joy that way. I still feel sorry for that after 25 years because he would not take repayment for it.
Anyone need parts and pieces for an RVG windvane?
kind Regards, --JohnL--

SkiprJohn is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:27.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.