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Old 03-02-2010, 15:00   #1
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Hydrovane Offset and Davits?

Preparing for some adventures I am thinking to install Hydrovane unit to my 28'6" long, wheelhoused, canoe stern, long keel trawler type motorsailor
Questions are:
* Is any significant difference in handling on different tacks if Hydrovane fitted approx. 600mm offcenter (to avoid conflict with davits)
* If difference is expected, what side preferred for better balance for westward tradewind sailing (ARC?)
* Is any other self steering system without link to boats steering arragement can be recommended?
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Old 04-02-2010, 23:28   #2
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The further you mount it off centre the more likely it is it'll be in the "wind shadow" of the boat when it is on the down wind side of the boat. This primarily a problem on a windward course.

If there is no way around off centre mounting, mount it on the windward side of the windward course you expect to sail most.

It may mean that the rudder needs an extra long shaft to keep all of the blade submerged on that tack, with the boats heel taken in to account.
Sven Heesterman
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:59   #3
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We installed ours offset. Here is a post I wrote about the offset (for the Wauquiez group) that I'm putting here because it incluldes a link to a SSCA discussion about offsets.

Also, here is a link to a post on our blog that isn't about the Hydrovane but shows the installation: SV Estrellita 5.10b: All hail the new hailing port

In our limited experience with it we haven't found an issue on a port tack (when our blade is more out of the water). We are only offset approximately 300mm.


We installed a Hydrovane on our Pretorien but we've only been out using it for one crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and one 4 day sail out the Strait and off the W Coast of Vancouver Island. So, our review is fairly limited.

First thoughts:
- It was exceedingly simple to use. We aimed the sail, changed the gear setting to "go", locked our rudder and it steered.
- We love not having cords everywhere. We love not having moving parts that can break stuffed down in the lazarette.
- Our first attempt at heat bonding the remote steering cord (so we can alter course from the companion way) failed while in rough weather in the Strait but a second heating seems to have fixed that.
- They don't give torque settings and warn about overtightening and so we undertightened the bolts holding the shaft and on the first use the shaft worked itself cock-eyed. This was easily fixed by re-aligning and tightening and on the second, longer use we had no problems with this.
- We are able to take the rudder out without a dinghy in flat seas but otherwise need to use the dinghy, or I suppose, in warmer water, get in the water. We motored with the vane rudder in while on the 4 day sail and didn't have a far. We asked Hydrovane about motoring with it in while at sea and were told it wouldn't hurt anything. Take that with a grain of salt because we haven't experienced it.

So far, we are happy. I'll try to post a better review when we've used it more.

Some interesting discussion on the installation here:
SSCA Discussion Board • View topic - Hydrovane offset + bimini
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:10   #4
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Hi, Sven and Livia.
My Hydrovane due to be fitted in March.
Hope to start handsfree sailing using yours tips as well.
Thank you
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:28   #5
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Hydrovane Help!

Just purchased a Hydrovane on eBay of unknown age. It must be pre-current models so according to the Hydovane website it is pre 1986.
I am planning to mount it off center as the exhaust and swim platform are on center. I have a 1984 O'Day 39' (Jeanneau Sun Fizz).

I would appreciate any advice on offset mounting and also on adding a tiller and tiller pilot

My model is unlike any I have seen on U tube or on any site.
It uses a cord to set direction with an unusual round winch type fitting that is mnounted on the coaming. The fitting has a lever for rotating and a knob to tension down the little drum.
The hydrovane unit has a horizontally mounted drum around which the cord is fitted. turning the drum sets the direction.

The vanes are plywood and the weights are triangular shaped.

The fitting attached to the top of the rudder shaft is held on by a wired pin. There is no hole for a tiller and the foreward side opposite the fitting is blocked by a screwed on plate.

So my question is whether to machine the fitting for a tiller and cut a slot in the cover, or add something instead of the vane.

I want to add the functionality of emergency rudder and tiller pilot as an input instead of the wind.

My thoughts are perhaps to set the vane pointing for and aft and fit a piece of wood or pipe instead of the vane. Lines from the end of the pipe would go to blocks on either side then join at a piece of wood on the center line of the boat in the cockpit where a tiller pilot would be connected.

Essentially steering by emulating the wind.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Also, if anyone has or knows of a hydrovane like mine and perhaps has the instruction booklet, I'd love to get a copy.

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davits, hydrovane

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