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Old 18-09-2015, 14:59   #1
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Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews

Hi All,

I am just about to put a deposit down on a hydrovane for my Lidgard built Farr 44 built in glassed over timber.

I did consider servo pendulum type wind vane's such as the monitor but the shear amount of SS tube and bulk has put me off.

I have a reverse walk through transom so mounting a monitor or similar even with a custom made swing gate would be awkward.

So I ended up looking at Hydrovane and Cape Horns. I emailed both and Hydrovane replied and cape horn didn't so have gone down the road of hydrovane at the moment.

I was just about to send the deposit when I saw some negative reviews for the Hydrovane around there poor performance in strong winds/seas.

Some opinions tend to be that all of the current systems work and not to read in to reviews too much.

My boat is reasonably quick fin keel and large spade rudder.

Is there any direct experience of the Hydrovane on a similar boat in a range of conditions?

Basically I want feedback on the performance of the hydrovane before I spend alot of money!!! I supppose the alternative would be the cape horn as it would still be nice and sleek on the back of my pretty transom but is a servo-pendulum.

Thanks Anthony
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Old 19-09-2015, 09:44   #2
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Re: Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews

Anthony, not any replies as of yet and I am not the one to give a direct review as I have never used one. I have been looking at windvane pilots for over a year and had settled on the Hydrovane as my "most likely" choice. But I don't think it will fit underneath my current arch set up which is swept back over the transom.

However, good friends have gone 7/8's of the way around the world on their 40' custom steel cutter and they had a ca. 2002 Hydrovane. They said it worked well. They had a modified fin keel with a skeg-hung rudder so very different hull shape. The thing they disliked the most was having to anchor to pull the Hydrovane rudder up. They said it was a PITA. The new Hydrovane rudder has some negative comments as it is larger with more flotation so is harder to install and take off.

Based on what I have analyzed you would be best to use the A frame supports (three posts) rather than just a top and bottom to fasten to the transom. I can't believe how much they charge for these pieces. It adds up to be a very pricey unit. But you would have gone through all that already.

Good luck in deciding. I suspect the HV would work well for you. I think they increased the size of the rudder to address the high-wind/big seas criticism. Not sure if it did that or not.
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Old 19-09-2015, 10:00   #3
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Re: Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews


I am sailing a 41ft Cruiser / Racer in the Baltic (when not working on sailboats abroad) and planning a wind vane for next year and had the same thoughts as you.

Have you looked at the Windpilot Pacific (WINDPILOT - Products: Pacific It is a servo-pendulum system but not too bulky I think ...

You will see a lot of mounting examples in the manual towards the end (

Great response from the German owner of Windpilot during my phase what system to choose. He has a US distributor too.


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Old 19-09-2015, 17:11   #4
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Re: Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews

Have a WindPilot Pacific Plus, their version of an auxiliary rudder wind vane steerer. Works like a Hydrovane but uses a pedulum servo to power its steering rudder instead of just the wind. It's very powerful and steered the boat DDW in less than 10k relative wind the whole way to Hawaiimwithout a problem. Bought the vane used off a 30k displacement boat that had sailed from the East Coast to SF. The PO said the vane steered the whole way, no problems.

The pendulum gives plenty of power to steer limited only by the sensitivity of wind vane. The wind only powering of the rudder by the HydroVane seemed iffy to me in light winds. No personal experience however.
Peter O.
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Old 20-09-2015, 10:47   #5
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Re: Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews

Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
The wind only powering of the rudder by the HydroVane seemed iffy to me in light winds. No personal experience however.
Not sure I agree with this statement, I have a 40 foot, steel, long keel, centre cockpit ketch with a Hydrovane and my experience is that if there is enough wind to sail, the Hydrovane works.

We sailed in company with a boat with a Monitor, who admittedly had painted the vane with their countries flag so it was probably heavier than it should have been, and they could not use it below 10 knots of wind, we can use ours from about 6 knots upwards and very nearly dead down wind it works as well.

Ours has done about 36,000 miles for us.

Maybe 3 times in 20 years have we had to help the steering in extreme conditions or waves coming at right angles to the wave train, just a 1/2 turn on the ships wheel is all that is required until the vane comes back off it's stop

If you are thinking of a centre cockpit boat, then think carefully about the friction of the ropes leading to the wheel with a servo pendulum type unless it is the hybrid Windpilot type or you can rig up an aft tiller

Before we bought a vane, because our boat is a one off, we put together an information pack, designer plans, photos, scale drawings ect and mailed it out to about four or five wind vane manufacturers

We chose Hydrovane because

Monitor told us we would never be able to fit a wind vane to our vessel.

2 other did not reply

Wind pilot want me to give him a 10 percent payment before he would supply any fitting suggestions

Hydrovane replied with 1 week with a 1:10 scale drawing of how to fit the device and a price, they also were only 2 hours away from where I lived.
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Old 20-09-2015, 11:03   #6
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Re: Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews


We fitted a Hydrovane on our last boat (43' steel center cockpit) and for my money, it's the best unit out there. Here's why.

1. No lines to run, no quadrant to fit on the transom. Bolt it on, and done. It's really simple, as you know.

2. It functions as an emergency rudder, which is always in place.

3. In lieu of, or as a compliment to the belowdecks pilot, a cheap tiller pilot can be fitted to steer the boat. This is a VERY cool feature

4. It's built really stout.

As far as performance goes, I think that it works quite well. Our 43 was awful to steer off the wind, and it still did pretty well after some tweaking. We would up fitting a bungee on the weight to help the unit center, and that seemed to help.

Really, as long as the boat is trimmed right and she has good directional stability, I do not think that you will be dissatisfied with it. I honestly think that most of the folks who have problems with vanes don't take the time to get their boats really balanced (or their boats won't balance), and the vane doesn't seem to cope with that as well as a good pilot.

In sum, I think that it's probably the best unit out there, but I've only owned that one, so take it with a couple grains of salt.

Good sailing, TJ
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Old 20-09-2015, 11:55   #7
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Re: Hydrovane Hydro Vane Reviews

I have sailed tens of thousands of miles with a Hydrovane both on my own boats and some I have delivered. Fin keel/spade rudder no problem. I understand they are making the stainless rudder shaft beefier now. I'd go with the heaviest duty one they make.

I especially like the rudder redundancy aspect.

When reversing under power, in close quarters, it can be very helpful to have an able body aft, steering the vane rudder as opposed to having it fixed amidships.

Bottom lines:

The Hydrovane is one of the cleanest, tidiest installations especially for a walk-through transom. They can often be used in conjunction with dinghys on davits.

Every vane needs a properly balanced boat to work well. Being independent of your boats main rudder, you can more readily trim out lee helm with the main rudder as well as sail trim. I often set my below deck AP with a 20 degree do nothing variable. If the boat broaches hard the pilot kicks on to help the vane bring her back on coarse, then goes back to sleep.

If you have a three hour watch to sit out in the rain you better spend the first five minutes trimming the vessel then engage the vane and get out of the weather.
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