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Architeuthis 05-03-2010 16:02

Wind Vane for Worm Gear Wheel Steering?
Hi everyone,

I'm quitting my job to go cruising with my wife on our Mariner 31 next October. I've already installed an autopilot but after thinking more seriously about power consumption and redundancy, I'm thinking that I'd like to have wind vane steering as well. The Mariner 31 presents a couple of challenges when it comes to wind vane steering. The first is that the mizzen boom is fairly low and overhangs the transom by quite a bit. I'm not too worried about that because I figure we can just disengage the wind vane and jibe carefully. The main problem that I'm worried about is the alleged unsuitability of servo-pedulum wind vanes for use with worm gear steering.

The argument is that there is too much friction in worm gear steering and that any steering system with more than four turns lock to lock (my Mariner has about 4.5 turns) isn't responsive enough. I've seen this argument presented on several bulletin boards and in a book on self steering systems (page 59 or so). Then again, I also found this on the website of the makers of the monitor wind vane. It basically says that servo-pendulum gear can work fine with worm gear steering and provides testimonial from a Fuji 35 ketch (very similar design to my Mariner).

The other suggestion that seems to be offered is to use an auxiliary rudder wind vane like the hydrovane. That would seem like a swell idea except those hydrovanes are really really expensive. If I could get it to work, I think I'd like to consider something from Norvane. They're closer to my price range and I've seen some photos of clean looking installations. I recently spent quite a bit of time and effort beautifying my transom and would hate to cover it up with miles of stainless pipe.

So those are my considerations so far. I guess my real question is this: have any of you had experience with setting up wind vane steering on a boat with worm gear steering? Were you able to make servo-pendulum gear work or did you go with an auxiliary rudder system? Are the concerns about friction and number of turns founded or unfounded?


-Jared Kibele
Mariner 31 Hull #9 'Architeuthis'

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