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Old 06-06-2016, 19:30   #1
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Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Hi all.
I'm in the process of deciding on "weather or not" to pull the trigger on a used wind vane (Aries) for offshore voyaging. Specially I'm looking for advice on the inherent value of a 'vane vs. designs that don't necessarily require one even for single handed voyaging (deep draft, full-long keel, double-ended, Collin Archer types, like the "Hannah")...

Anyone chime in on the inherent value of having one on this kind of a design, or what's it like to blue-water cruise without? Anyone done both???
Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-06-2016, 16:35   #2
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P.S... Clarificatio of Question

I've clarified the question at the bottom of this post because, well, there's some interest in the subject, but it looks like from reading the last day that, really, most people prefer an A/P, and use one of those. The general consensus from other threads is that for most, vanes, despite being energy-free, are "hard to use" and a "hassle to learn how to use and set up" (despite that people who are proficient who DO learn don't really agree with that assessment).
Most people seems would rather set up a A/P and deal with redundant systems around that, and back ups/spares than learn how or deal with a good wind vane. I hope that isn't coming across as abrasive or judgmental (-I like simple and easy too! Why not have both?)!

I think some of what I've come across so far in opinion is also affected by that some brands are not as good or effective as others (they're ALL not cheap) and also a few don't do as well on some points of sale that people want to have (like downwind).

I think one of the greatest points for either:
A good working A/P will keep your boat on course (if it can), whereas an energy-efficient KISS vane will just keep your boat's relationship to the wind the same (if it can).

And since the offshore voyagers seem to be in the minority compared to coastal sailors, that means vane's are the minority item, even on a design like a double-ended full keel heavy displacement boat.

I.E.
Sailors that use a 'vane and have learned how, seem to swear by them, and most will no longer go offshore without. The rest of us, either intimidated or already have A/P, are willing to accept the compromises. And hence really, it's not about the design of the boat, but if one wants to deal with the issues of either.

So I suppose in the end, it really depends on how easy it is -and the particular boat- to balance the rig and set up a vane on a double-ender that will essentially steer itself most of the time.

The question then is: If you have a double-ended full-keel boat, DO you use a 'vane, and why- or why not?
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Old 07-06-2016, 16:47   #3
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

You want a windvane to match your boat. Some models do not work fine with some designs, some boats can't sail by windvanes, etc. Do your homework before you buy anything.

BTW Sailing long distances without a windvane IMHO sucks, unless you have a fine AP and enough juice to feed it.

Still, if I were to use one only, I would buy a windvane ahead of an AP, for offshore sailing in the cruising mode. Silent, no electricity required and easier to fix most of the time.

If your boat sails fine under a windvane, if you can buy a good one, if you sail long offshore passages, go get one.

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Old 07-06-2016, 17:09   #4
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

How much motoring do you think you might do? How much power will you have? I can't imagine anything steering better than our Aires when the wind is blowing. Still you can probably get an electric job that works as well even when the wind is not blowing.
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Old 07-06-2016, 17:35   #5
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy View Post
How much motoring do you think you might do? How much power will you have?"
Well, I'd really like to keep motor use to a BARE minimum, whenever possible- I want to sail our sailboat, whenever possible.

I'm actually looking at an Aries right now.
The question is for me though, how much does a double-ended full-keel steer itself usually, offshore in the trades? If they can do a decent job with a balanced sail plan (Cutter or Ketch) then do we really need one right now?

I'm hoping someone who has a similar boat will chime in on their experiences.
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:00   #6
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Hans Christian 43 here and I can say you want both. I personally do not have any experience with a Aries or Monitor but a Cape Horn and Hydrovane. Should work very well with a canoe stern. Can a balanced sail plan provide in itself a "self steering." Yes, but only short term until the current, swell, or wind changes. You must have a balanced sail plan for the windvane so it is a chicken or egg argument.

I can tell you the biggest area that annoys me with the Auto Pilot is the noise. I HATE IT. If and when I can turn it off... I do. Not so with the windvane. I look forward to having enough wind to turn everything off and let the boat settle in. No constant pumping noise. No degree changes every 15 minutes. Just set it and go. Will I hit my destination on the nose with a windvane, no. But neither will my Autohelm auto pilot.
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:08   #7
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneLeggedParrot View Post
The question then is: If you have a double-ended full-keel boat, DO you use a 'vane, and why- or why not?
Yes. My double-ender, full keel boat came with an Aries. And I absolutely love it.

No, it is not hard to use.

Yes, we use it even for short coastal hops. It's a myth that they are only useful for long passages.

No, I would not want an AP over a vane (although I have both).

Yes, you should get one.
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:15   #8
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

There is much writing about sheet to tiller steering and all (almost all) boats can be made to self steer on some points of sail, some do it better than others, but none of the sheet to tiller arrangements will work nearly as good as a vane (Aries is great) on all points of sail. I have cruised with Aries on 2 of my boats and I would not want to go off shore without a vane. One boat was fin keel and spade rudder and the other was larger, longer fin and a skeg hung rudder. The Aries handled down wind sailing just fine in both boats. Using a vane does take practice and a learning curve, but it is not rocket science. Heavy double enders are not always the easiest boats for a vane to steer, since they often take more force on the tiller and respond (correct) slower. Of course light boats that might get up and surf are not suitable for a vane, but not too many people choose to cruise in lightweight sleds. My personal feelings are that for coastal cruising buy an autopilot, for going offshore on a budget, buy a vane and if you have some money left over pick up a autopilot, but I would never want to do a crossing with a small crew and only an electric autopilot. Like everything on this forum, that is just my opinion. _____Grant.
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Old 07-06-2016, 18:26   #9
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

[QUOTE=OneLeggedParrot;2138970]Well, I'd really like to keep motor use to a BARE minimum, whenever possible- I want to sail our sailboat, whenever possible.

Sure but someone leaving from say California to Panama or vise versa, would be better off with an autopilot despite how much they want to sail.
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Old 07-06-2016, 20:40   #10
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Re balancing the boat with the sails - You have to do this to use a wind vane. They are designed to keep a balanced boat on a given point of sail. I crossed the Atlantic with a hydrovane and it was absolutely great. However, it is not usable 100% of the time so you really need to have an AP also. First, if you have a calm and want to motor, you need an AP. Also, there were a few areas where there was so much sargasso weed it kept fouling the wind vane rudder and we used the AP for a while. I dont have a vane on my current boat since we spend nearly all our time island hopping the Caribbean. But if/when we head off across an ocean again we will put a hydrovane on it. Works great and eats no power at all. Takes a bit of practice to learn to use it but not at all hard once you get the hang of it
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Old 07-06-2016, 21:56   #11
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Get the boat, first, then buy self steering.
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Old 07-06-2016, 22:09   #12
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Heavy full keeler here as well.

I wouldn't ever undertake a passage of more than a couple of days without efficient self-steering.

If you install one of the servo-pendulum type wind vanes like our Fleming you can add a cheap, energy efficient, and extremely reliable autopilot with ease. I personally used the Raymarine ST-1000, the whole setup was under $500 for the AP. By using the small AP to drive the head of the wind vane, the boat uses no power to steer, as the vane does that work. The autopilot uses almost no power because it's required load is what can be easily generated by a small paddle slightly off the wind, nearly nil.

This setup works well while motoring on our boat. Some boats have prop wash/servo rudder issues, but a double ender should have it's prop well forward and deeper than the wind vane rudder.

The servo rudder also gives one more advantage. Rather than react to a beam or quartering sea like most helmsmen, the arrival of the wave itself causes counter steering instantly, and immediate resumption of course. This is also true when motoring. As long as you carry enough boat speed for the vane to steer (in our case about 2kts) you're good, and more speed equals more steering power.

I have tested it in confused steep seas of over 10 feet under sail, an AP's worst nightmare, without a single reset in 3 relentless days. Even those constant steering adjustment days used very little power. No strain at all on the worm type gear system of the AP, so almost no wear on the weak link for small AP's.

If you are going to voyage without effective self steering, better carry a large crew, as hand steering 8 hours a day each for a crew of 3 or 6/day for 4, can be grueling when the days add up. With good self steering passage making can actually be fun!


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Old 07-06-2016, 23:26   #13
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

I can only comment on the Monitor windvane...

I don't quite understand how anyone can say windvanes are hard to use. The Monitor on our Pacific Seacraft 37 is dead easy to use. Now, I THOUGHT it would be hard to use before actually using it, so I'm guessing that people who say it's hard to use haven't actually used it.

If you sail offshore with a big crew, I don't see why you need windvane steering at all. You can use people instead. If you sail offshore single or short-handed, I don't see how you can go without -- not if you take safety seriously.

I also like the fact that this sort of steering is not only effortless after the five-minute setup, but totally silent.
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Old 08-06-2016, 02:59   #14
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

I'd rather leave port without beer than without our wind vane.

The AP quite working about 11 years ago.... maybe I'll get it fixed one day, but I seriously doubt it. No point, really; the wind vane works both uphill and down. Balance the sails, set Helma, enjoy the vast open sea. Fishing aint fun with one hand on the helm!
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Old 08-06-2016, 12:02   #15
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Re: Wind Vane: To Have or Not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneLeggedParrot View Post
Hi all.
I'm in the process of deciding on "weather or not" to pull the trigger on a used wind vane (Aries) for offshore voyaging. Specially I'm looking for advice on the inherent value of a 'vane vs. designs that don't necessarily require one even for single handed voyaging (deep draft, full-long keel, double-ended, Collin Archer types, like the "Hannah")...

Anyone chime in on the inherent value of having one on this kind of a design, or what's it like to blue-water cruise without? Anyone done both???
Thanks in advance!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
Get the boat, first, then buy self steering.
Does the OP actually have a boat? If not, this is like putting the cart before the horse.
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