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MV 17-04-2008 22:44

Monitor Cape Horn Windvane Self-Steering
Did a search for information about self-steering on the forums. The information was not as specific nor as definitive as I would like. We are up here at the Strictly Sail Show and I am wondering if anyone knows a site that reviews and compares the different brands of windvanes. I am not expecting consumer reports type comparison as there are too few of these units around. Still, I am hoping there are some pages out there with comparisons of the different types windvanes. You read the testimonials from the various manufacturers and of course their unit is the best!

Please, if anyone knows of sites or if anyone has experience with a particular brand that they would share that would be great! The irony is that the largest makes are all here under one roof and we still cannot figure which is best for the Willard!



Stranded Mariner 18-04-2008 03:49

I had to make a choice for my S/V 'Waratah', a Dix43' steel hull centre cockpit, which is at present under construction in South Africa. My selection narrowed down to Cape Horn, Aries, and Monitor.
I had a few specific questions, so I contacted Cape Horn, Monitor, and the representative of Aries in South Africa.

The people from Cape Horn never returned my emails and calls, and the Aries rep in SA pointed me to the Aries web site (not realizing that that's where I found him in the first place.

Scanmar, the makers of Monitor, not only promptly addressed all my questions, but also send me immediately a CD and booklet with more information. On top of that, they already had drawings for the Dix 43 installation.

My choice was rather easy now.

imagine2frolic 18-04-2008 06:04

I use to bend tubing for Monitor. They have a huge inventory of boats with drawings. If they have made a windvane for a boat. It is on file already. As Stranded Mariner said, they will be available for your questions..........

MV 18-04-2008 08:42


Originally Posted by imagine2frolic (Post 153812)
I use to bend tubing for Monitor. They have a huge inventory of boats with drawings. If they have made a windvane for a boat. It is on file already. As Stranded Mariner said, they will be available for your questions..........

Yes, Hans actually has a couple of drawings for the Willard. He did a chicken dance when he found my boat as I was sure he would not have the drawings.

Be that as it may, the Cape Horn is a far more clean installation. And if I am understanding these guys right, the Cape Horn can take an autopilot that steers the servo-peddle and not the rudder. This makes a huge difference to me cause the tiller can be in an upright position while the autopilot works. I am taking out the wheel to gain real estate. I do not want to give it back because now the tiller protrudes back into the cockpit. But.... I will be back again in a few to make sure I understand what these folks are saying.

It sure is nice to walk from one aisle to another and compare within minutes.

I did not get that sense about the difference in customer support / service. That is bad to hear. I don't like those stories -- they do not bode well for purchases.

Stranded Mariner 18-04-2008 08:51

I must say, I really liked the Cape Horn. But my worry was, that if I can't even get a reply on an email with some simple questions, how will I go about this when I have a problem or need spare parts? You can have a technically great product, but when the service attitude is poor I can't see why I would take it.

It was the same with marine alternators. I have a large 24V house bank and needed a big marine alternator to fit on my Yanmar 4JH4AE engine. Contacted several manufacturers and the only one that came straight back at me with answers to all my questions, and good advice, was Balmar. Needless to say I bought their equipment.

AdamY 18-04-2008 09:35

Okay I'll stand up for Yves and his customer support.

I am sorry this person had a bad experience but I own a Cap Horn and Yves has endured endless phone calls from me and been terrific.

The bad news is my cap horn has serious installation issues but those are completely my fault.

I have met at least half a dozen satisfied Cap Horn users in our recent travels. If you call the 1 800 CAP-HORN number (I believe it actually dials Yves home phone) you should get a response. During boat show season Yves is obviously harder to get a hold of as he is off selling his vane.

My issue specifically is the control line installation. I regret that I didnt pay to fly Yves out and install it as I am not mechanically inclined (learning) and made many mistakes with the fairleads. But when my control lines stayed attached the vane steered beautifully. Also I have a tillerpilot attached to the servo pendulum and it works great. Keeping in a lazarette will ensure prolonged performance. If nothing else watch Yves' movie it is quite amusing and he'll send you a copy.

All of that said I have never heard anything bad about the monitor. One monitor owner was impressed with the concept of my integrated Cap Horn when he saw it because he had a wheel that was mounted under his dodger so he had a spiderweb of control lines going through his cockpit that made it near-uninhabitable on his pacific crossing. That said lines to a wheel aft of the companionway is not that big of a deal since when passagemaking the last place I want to be is behind the wheel.

As far as the tiller conversion goes, can I have your old wheel? ;-) Actually you might consider getting a detachable wheel. that gets your space back and is less work than ripping out all that existing infrastructure and you'll want your quadrant attached to your rudder stock if you're going to install a Cap Horn integrated vane. otherwise you're attaching your lines externally to the tiller and might find it more obtrusive while under way.


little boat 18-04-2008 10:15

I've had both the cap horn and the monitor; I used each for more than 10 years.
The monitor is an excellent piece of gear, never let me down and steers on a dime in the slightest breath of air, even wing on wing, dead down wind, (at least it did for me on a well balanced classic yacht). It is very expensive, but an excellent product.
I have a cap horn on my present boat because the monitor is too heavy. The cap horn is a different kettle of fish. It is VERY sensitive. An adjustment with the monitor could be two inches; with the cap horn, it is literally millimeters. This is not a problem if one understands balancing the sails for a windvane, which is not the same balance as for hand steering. I find I must ease the main and tighten the jib for vane steering in order to get either vane steering exactly on a steady course.
Whatever the configuration of your yacht, if you do not have a sensitivity to going through the water, then the monitor is very forgiving and will steer you flawlessly with a caveman's heavy hand; the cap horn will require a feeling for nuance and a very delicate touch.
My cap horn is not the common design, I requested a completely outboard model as I have an aft lazarette I could not sacrifice the storage space and I did not want to install a quadrant.
My cap horn worked like a charm for perhaps 4 years and then a rod inside snapped. I had the rod rewelded, but the paddle will still not stay in the water, it kicks up. I have spoken to Yves numerous times about the vane's failure and he has promised to repair it free of charge, (even after more than 10,000nm), it is guaranteed for life or one circumnavigation.
The problem is that I haven't had the money or courage to ship him the unit from the southern caribbean as it is a large item.
I have had expert sailors examine the vane; I've disassembled it many times and polished each fitting, (there isn't much, its very simple), yet none of us could get it working again. I've every confidence that Yves will fix it for me and I must bite the bullet and send it to him. I am however tempted to install my old monitor and to hell with the weight as I still have it; but only for the shipping cost and logistics, nothing against my cap horn which I adored when it was functioning.
I've never met anyone so commited to his product; I would think its a fluke that your attempts to reach him went amiss.
I've heard very good reports about the wind pilot, but know nothing about it.

AdamY 18-04-2008 12:48

I had the same issue with the oar popping off. I think his "weak link" design is ingenious but I dont understand why he doesnt ship it with way tighter bungee. I knew a guy who installed 6 of them (he did it professionally) and he told me that every one he got from the factory was not tightly wound enough to withstand the forced of pulling through the water so he put 3 more turns on the bungee and it made attaching the oar much more difficult but it didnt pop off unless it actually hit something. I did the same and found the same result I needed to use a screwdriver to lever the bungee over it's hook but once on there it stayed put. I know it'll come off when it hits something since one night while motorsailing down big seas on the outside of Baja my whoe transom shuddered and there was aloud bang (when I lit my headlamp and looked over my oar was kicked up and hanging from it's hook. The vane was of course still there ;-)

One guy I met had a 16' boston whaler hit his cape horn going 6 knots at full throttle and all it did was put a big ding in the tower. He asked Yves to fix and and sent Yves the bent tower, Yves sent him a breand new replacement tower free of charge. I assume that Yves doesnt make this a habit since his warranty doesnt cover collision but it is just another story of Yves going above and beyond for his customers. Ironically the guy wanted to pay because it was an insurance job and he wanted to get Yves some money but just the same it was a nice thing for Yves to do.


little boat 18-04-2008 13:37

Sorry Adam, my wording was confusing. The problem with my vane is not the paddle kicking up as it would when hitting an obstruction, (had no trouble with that), but with the entire pendulum refusing to stay in the water when underway; it swings to the surface, regardless of tension or adjustments in tiller attachment. It just went plain screwy, as I say, I've had it disassembled countless times and had several old brit circumnavigators go over it with me, (one who still used a hasler!)...its baffling; it would center light as a feather before.
I broke it going in a very strong wind from the aft quarter in big seas trying to avoid an oncoming @#$%^& non-radio responsive cargo ship in the night. To be honest, I think I spun the top controller around too many times or in the wrong direction, who knows, it was a confusing and difficult few moments altering course and I had other things on my mind as you can well imagine.
That's how I can testify to Yves promise to make everything right as we have corresponded ad nauseum describing every detail of its refusal to cooperate and he wants to see it hands on and fix it for me at no charge. I do think the problem is unique to my model which is I believe called a varuna in tribute to Tania Aebi's contessa. My friend with a quadrant model of the same size has nothing but praise for the vane with a circumnavigation of the capes under its belt.
The fact that the design WILL kick up when NOT being employed (as will the monitor) was a major selling point to me, because those vanes which have the pendulum and paddle constantly immersed require bottom paint and in my opinion are more subject to damage via bumping at the dock or dragging at anchor, (god forbid), whatever sort of small collision, they snag the dinghy painter and I dislike them on principle.
I rejected the navik, (which suited my weight requirements), because I have heard that there is a plastic piece involved which is constantly shearing off at the wrong time and navik people have to carry a spare all the time.
I have tried to convince Yves that a trip to the windwards would be great for us both and he would find many interested in his vane there; but I have yet to convince him to budge from his Canadian siberia, he seems to really like it there.
I really do recommend the cap horn, it was great; something's just gone awry with mine.

MV 19-04-2008 23:22

It is hard to imagine making a hole that damn big which the Cape Horn requires. It is scary. I am going to go back tomorrow and take one last look at the monitor and the cape horn. I wish Aeris had been here as well. It was useful to rule out the Hydrovane. I wish understood Hydrovane's market.

roverhi 20-04-2008 11:04

Sailed tens of thousands of miles with the old style Aries on a Westsail 32. If the boat would move under sail, the Aries steered the boat. It was a delight and the most valuable piece of gear on the boat. Just ran across a boat with a new Aries. Looks to be a more engineered version of the old reliable Aries.

My current boat, Pearson 35, came with a monitor. It would not steer the boat below 4 knots boat speed. The Monitor just didn't have the oomph at low speeds to turn the wheel. Problem could have been in the boats wheel system or the way the steering lines were run. I was going to reroute the lines to eliminate that possibility. The PO did use quality Harken Ball Bearing blocks so wasn't expecting much from the effort though it would have eliminated one set of blocks. The boat's steering seemed to be free of excessive friction and was relatively light at low speeds. Did stiffen up as speed and weather helm built but that coincided with increased boat speed and Monitor seemed to be able handle that just fine.

Before I had a chance to thoroughly ring out the Monitor, a WindPilot Pacific Plus showed up. Figured the auxillary rudder of the Pacific Plus would bypass any problems with the boats steering if that was the problem. Installation was a snap accomplished in an afternoon by myself. The vane works great though I'm still sorting a little friction in the windvane servo rudder that has hurt its light air perfomance. Probably just a crudded up bearing. The WPPP's servo rudder actually steers the boat better in all conditions than the boats rudder and way better in heavy air.

The problem is handling with the WPPP disengaged. Disconnecting the wind vane locks the auxillary rudder dead ahead. The P35 is rudder challenged at best in normal conditions, with the auxillary locked dead ahead it's a maneuvering bad dream. At slow speeds, an already large turning circle is horrendous. Maneuvering in the fairways of the marina is a challenge and getting in the slip requires a lot of backing and filling. Out sailing, the helm is extremely sluggish with the boat trying to go straight ahead. Short tacking is an adventure, to put it politley. These negatives would probably be much less a problem with a boat that is more responsive to the helm.

Will give it a few more tries and see if I can get used to it. If I can't, it will be sh*t canning the wheel and putting on a SailoMat that's waiting in the wings. Hate the wheel and getting rid of it is probably in the cards whichever vane I end up with.

Paul Elliott 20-04-2008 20:29


Re. the Monitor, are you using the big plastic "Light Air" windvane, or the smaller (original) vane? Monitor now recommends the Light Air vane for all but gale conditions. You will definitely get more oar drive with the bigger vane, and thus more drive to the wheel.

Otherwise, I've got no suggestions, other than the issues you've already brought up...

Subpack 21-04-2008 09:59

Wind steering
Hi MV; You could check here to see if this system might be what your after.

Quotes from satisfied Cape Horn Users


AdamY 21-04-2008 10:11


Originally Posted by MV (Post 154229)
It is hard to imagine making a hole that damn big which the Cape Horn requires. It is scary. I am going to go back tomorrow and take one last look at the monitor and the cape horn. I wish Aeris had been here as well. It was useful to rule out the Hydrovane. I wish understood Hydrovane's market.

Really the hole is no big deal. I found once I got confortable working with fiberglass I didnt really mind the hole. I no longer saw it as "irreversable" and it isnt as though the hole is anywhere near the waterline. Even if it was there is a great big piece of stainless securely bedded into it.

I have gotten lots of great feedback from Cap Horn users now that a friend of mine in the Marquesas is cruising with some of them and has passed on my worries.


roverhi 21-04-2008 11:23

On the monitor, it's not the windvane. I've tried the light air vane and it still does the same thing. Wind vane will react to a change in wind direction but servo rudder is frozen in position straining to turn the wheel. If I nudge the wheel a bit the vane will feather in temporarily but won't cope with the next wind or course change. Once the wind pipes up and boat speed picks up, the vane steered fine.

As far as the CapeHorn, wouldn't worry about the hole. It's easily patched if you decide to remove the vane and filled with stainless steel tube with the vane in place.

Peter O.

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