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Old 13-08-2018, 13:48   #1
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Raymarine EV100 auto pilot: tread carefully.

Im a solo sailor. My reasoning is simply because i dont want to be responsible for someone elses life . In order to do this i rely on auto pilots. I planned a sail to Hawaii end of June this year. 3 weeks before embarking my trusty Navico wp5000 went belly up. I say trusty because it worked. Ive been over 10,000 miles with it. It has a small motor, looked like a washing machine motor with a pully , a belt attached to the wheel and a control unit with 3 buttons. One for port, one for starboard and one to engage. Elegantly simple. Occassionaly it would fail. I would get to work and jury rig something and get it working again and off id go.
So to not belabor long winded reasoning. I needed a new one. There was a wp5000 on ebay, but i thought better about a 30 year old device i didnt know anything about and went with Raymarines EV100. Brand new. What could go wrong. It did. 300 mikes off shore taking a cat nap as solo sailors do. I heard something that sounded like someone stepping on a bag of walnut shells . Immediately knew it was the motor or the attatchment to the wheel on the auto pilot.
Without an autopilot 1800 miles from my dest i had to fix this. I pulled the wheel, pulled off the motor. No fixing this one. The housing between the motor and wheel contains a mechanism that i gasped in horror at what i saw when i pulled it apart. 3 tiers of 3 , 1/2 " little plastic cheap gears. The top tier gears were all stripped. The second tier 2 were stripped. These gears are turned by the gear on the motor. Being stripped the gear that connects to the wheel couldnt be turned. Thus no steering. I turned back home and because i had no autopilot. 5 arduous days of manual labor. A bunch of stuff went wrong on the boat because of not having an AP. I tried to fly the jib, i couldnt keep the boat into the wind . Just as i unfurled the wind grabbed her and wrapped it around the fore stay and imnediatly started violently thrashing about. Sheets intertwining. I couldnt unwind it . In 8-10 ft seas and 15-20 knot winds i wasnt going forward. Sure death. So the jib ended up getting torn to shreds, lost a shroud, a broken step into the cabin from me diving with the wheel in hand crashing down on it. A few other things
Easy to write about this after the fact. Suffice it to say i lived the age old addage of "sailing is 95% boredom and 5% sheer terror."
I wrote to Raymarine about my experience no response. My insurance co rejected my claim. No proof. But i can recover from that. What im having a hard time with is the money and time ive spent in preparation for a dream ive had for several years. And yes i shoulda installed a wind vane. I was running up against weather window issues. I didnt want to spend the time to research, find install and test a new device. Not to mention the cost. I was familiar with wheel pilots and thought this new fangled, high tech thingy would get the job done.
Folks, please stay away from Raymarines EV100, it can steer a course on a flat windless sea or lake, but in my estimation is well intentioned but in the manufacturing of fell way short. It is made of very cheap plastic and as i found out will not hold up on a real trip. Built for a lake or the east coasts inland waterway. Even then i wouldnt trust it. My rating = Zero stars here.

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Old 13-08-2018, 14:07   #2
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Re: Raymarine EV100 auto pilot: tread carefully.

Same with their tiller and nasty. Our ST1000 popped its cogs, out of warranty as we hadn't used it for a year but failed first voyage going to the Bay of Islands. I pulled it apart and noticed several of the case screw hole mounts had snapped off. Contacted the local agents about this who admitted it was a known issue with the plastic housings so lets water in. Unlike Simrad, their control board sits with the ram and fluxgate, Simrad has theirs in a seperate compartment so if water does get in, the electronics are better protected. Another issue is they use a optocoupler for the NMEA, this is voltage sensitive and blows very easily. We went back to Simrad, a TP32 and far superior. Others have said too, keep away from raymarine. Looks like for good reason!!

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Old 14-08-2018, 11:22   #3
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Re: Raymarine EV100 auto pilot: tread carefully.

Those wheel pilots are not designed for offshore use as you found out. We took ours off and installed a RM hydraulic ram type and the performance is great....well so far.
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Old 14-08-2018, 11:44   #4
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Re: Raymarine EV100 auto pilot: tread carefully.
Evolution EV-100 Wheel Sail Autopilot
Specifications: Boat Displacement: Up to 16,000 lbs.

HUNTER 40 LEGEND sailboat specifications and details on

Hunter Legend 40
Displacement: 17400 lbs

Unfortunately, you've got to be very conservative with any autopilot spec sheet when heading offshore. As you've seen, failure of this critical component cannot be an option.

We went with a hydraulic ram rated to twice the displacement of our boat since we have a less efficient skeg hung rudder. I'd install at least a Type 1 below deck linear drive on your boat.... Raymarine's linear drive is excellent unlike their wheel and tiller drives.

Youtube MJ sailing - Vlog
Rebuilt Aluminum Boat Over 2 Years... Now Back Cruising!
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Old 14-08-2018, 12:18   #5
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Re: Raymarine EV100 auto pilot: tread carefully.

Thanks for the replies guys. I knew about the specs. I took a chance hoping it would hang in there for 1 trip and understanding how cheap it was, sell it when i got there. Remember, the wp5000 went over 10,000 miles with me. In much worse weather. So much less robust as this technological marvel. You think a 16000 lb boat would have made it? Haha, not a chance. Or a 10000 lb one. The motor gear wobbled in its casing. This wobbling stripped the cheap plastic gears.
You need to look at one of these to understand the rediculous engineering. Raymarine knew this thats why they put the weight spec in there. To cya.
Life lesson learned
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Old 14-08-2018, 12:39   #6
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Re: Raymarine EV100 auto pilot: tread carefully.

That must be disappointing for you.

We have just bashed our way along the south coast of England steered by an Evo 100 unit that I fiited last year. Works perfectly but then we only weigh in at 5100 kgs including the dinghy and outboard, fuel and water against the 7500 kgs spec from Raymarine.

The older ST4000 (Mk 1) black wheel drives have brass cogs in them. I can't see why an older black unit couldn't be driven by the later Evo 100 system.

However, offshore on a 40ft yacht for 2000 miles surely you would fit a wind vane? if nothing else to save on the power requirements.

What is the steering like on your boat? ours is finger light because its a simple drag link direct to the rudder from the bottom of the pedestal. Also after we converted her from tiller to wheel, I refitted the tiller and for a decade used the ST2000 tiller pilot which has enough umph to turn the rudder and wheel steering at the same time, so very light. Heavy steering may not have helped.

BTW. looks like a repair kit is available for £160 which might help you:

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