Bill (and Bil & the group):
My take is a bit different on this. I think the general "fleet" perspective is the one Gord experessed: vane is used for longer passages, dink belongs on deck
for longer passages, ergo they don't compete for the same space. This is also consistent with the view you find expressed above that wind vane steering
is (more) difficult to set up, ergo not really practical on shorter runs. If you look at this incrementally, it seems to me all this logic falls apart...
First, I'm not a davit lover and don't have a pair. OTOH I appreciate the fact that many folks these days have boats big enough to carry even a RIB
on davits, they don't want to (or can't) easily manhandle it, they like the convenience (and added security
, in the Caribbean) the davits give, and I don't think this desire for ease & convenience is going to change anytime soon. Meanwhile, folks do far more 'short' than 'long' (let's say multi-day) runs. Typical examples might be someone port hopping down Mexico's west coast
, sailing out into the Atlantic a bit to move from one Spanish Ria to another, or someone moving from one island in the E Caribbean
to another. In all these cases, it's not just possible but even likely that, at some point during that <1 day passage
, they are going to see some higher winds (F4-5+), due to normal afternoon seabreeze effects, compressed pressure gradients as one leaves an island or arrives at the next, and so forth. As these winds build, this is exactly the point when wind vane steering
becomes even more appropriate (vs. a beefy autopilot
, which will need to increase its duty cycle with electrical
load increase, linkage loading increase, etc.). If the crew manages the sail plan and rigs the vane to steer the boat, then we have a very efficient operation where the power of the steering method is especially appropriate to the loading on the rudder
and steering system. Thus, the 'mutually exclusive' logic breaks down, IMO
What seems to get in the way is a difficult/awkward process for setting up the wind vane steering - which I find baffling since this can be so simple - and a general dissatisfaction with how the vane performs. When I see convulted, complicated steering set-ups, which might also add lots of friction to the system, perhaps dragging over a coaming so both the wood and the steering lines suffer from chafe, my impression is that the crew simply hasn't put an emphasis - yet - on simplified the set-up or operation of the wind vane. And it's not uncommon, when I ask the crew on a boat with a wind vane how well it works, that they'll state they don't use it that often; they often prefer an autopilot
'because it's easier'. IOW this is a chicken vs. egg issue and more time & thought given to the set-up would in turn make using the vane easier...in which case the crew would use it more often and become more proficient in its use, which would make it seem simplier and probably also improve its performance.
Another gap between what would work nicely and when crews don't use wind vane steering - especially in protected waters - occurs when relative winds are lighter and aft of the beam. Vanes do less well in these conditions and so they are often dismissed as either unresponsive or lacking in steady steering performance. However, for those who have bothered to spend only a few hundred dollars to add a tiller pilot to the vane blade mechanism, the performance of their vane changes dramatically. Again, the ease with which the tillerpilot can be retrieved, slipped into place and connected is more important on shorter runs than longer ones...but the improved performance of a vane in light conditions is worth it.
But back to the real issue in this thread: how can they be made to co-exist? Sometimes the geometry involved isn't that mutually exclusive and the dink snugs up against but aft of the vane column, yet the wind blade extends vertically above the dink to get clean air off the wind. But especially when the dink is raised higher and/or more inboard, I think the basic answer is to either extend the wind blade mechanism higher vertically, to offset it to the port and/or starboard quarters (I've seen both...) or have custom davits that extend w-a-y far aft and so have to be beefier (and heavier) as a reulst. Custom linkages for the vane can be built to the owner's specs by a metal shop, perhaps in consultation with the vane's manufacturer. Assuming a conflict, I have not seen a simple solution to this problem without the davits or vane mount extending w-a-y aft of the transom, which introduces other issues of course. But perhaps others have found suitable solutions they can share with us...