In January I wrote a review (Post no 8) of our experience with an Evo 100 wheel pilot over the past two years.
Whilst I remain delighted with the Evo 100, I wondered if it could be fine tuned so went back to our local electronics
supplier, Hudson Marine
in the Solent for advice
They suggested 3 things:
1. Move the gyro compass
to the middle of the yacht (fore and aft).
2. Fit a rudder reference unit (RRU)
3. Update the software
on the P70, ACU and gyro compass.
Armed with this advise I made some changes during the Spring. The gyro compass was originally mounted under the coaming between the primary winch
and the stern. Safe and free of electrical
items it seemed a good location. However, Hudson marine
suggested that since a yacht turns around its keel
, the stern will initially move the opposite way and this can throw a modern gyro compass out. A good look around the boat suggested that under the heads sink unit was also free of electrical
items, some 3 metres further forward and a 1 metre lower. This was an easy change as the network cable reached the new location.
Next came fitting an rudder reference unit (RRU). This proved to be more of a problem as the yachts sugar scoop design left little room around the rudder shaft for mounting a RRU despite my best efforts. The solution was a second rudder arm just for the RRU. New ones are rather expensive and grossly over engineered for this purpose, so I decided to make my own. Using a steel
split collar and a piece of u shaped channel I spent a morning in my shed bench fitting the parts
together and making a platform for the RRU. A quick coat of paint
and down to the boat to fit. The split collar fitted perfectly but note the RRU kit only comes with one ball joint. You need to buy a second ball joint from RM for the arm.
Commissioning an Evo is much more straight forward than previous generation wheel pilots. Also I noticed that the pilot recognised the RRU straight away and due to this takes you through a different commissioning program. It tells you on the P70 control head
what it is going to do next and then asks you to confirm it is safe to move the wheel etc.
Proceeding to sea for the first time and engaging the wheel pilot I sat back to see what difference the changes had made. Initially I wondered if it was still working as the wheel didn't move for minutes at a time
However, the yacht was still on course so down to the fact it just didn't need to, brilliant
Over the summer we have seen that the wheel pilot does far less adjusting and steers a much straighter course. With a following F5 sea previously we noticed that the wave would pick up the stern, the yacht tilt and then change course. At this point the pilot would turn the wheel and bring the yacht back onto the course.
However, following the changes, as soon as the yacht tilts the pilot makes a small adjustment before the yacht veers off course. This could be down to the gyro compass rather than previous generations of flux gate compasses. RM do say the system has the ability to learn and adjust to different conditions over time.
Finally the software
updates will have to wait until I fit the new RM chart plotter later this month.
Overall the changes have made a significant difference to the way the wheel pilot handles the boat and I remain very pleased with the investment. Whilst RM say the RRU is optional, I now think it is essential for a fin keeled yacht if you want to maximise the performance and reduce the amount of work a wheel pilot needs to do.