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
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 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.