Hi past, great, I definitely do have a load of info for you after this summer. I've been planning to feed back my experience with the new autopilot
into this thread and it's terrific to be able to help someone who might install one on the same boat
First off, I ended up going with the ST1000+ after all. On balance, considering all of the arguments about cost vs performance, it just seemed better to go with the less expensive option. The Etap also required a couple of accessories for the installation
(more on that below), increasing the cost - so total it was what I felt right spending.
And I haven't been disappointed at all. First off, going from having no autopilot to having one is a complete revolution. Especially on a boat like the Etap 21i, which absolutely flies off course the second you remove your hand from her tiller, balanced sails
or no. Freedom! Taste that word!! Now with the autopilot engaged I can spend time up at the bow fixing a line, rigging
something, whatever. It has really enabled a single-handed capability that's impossible without an autopilot. I absolutely love it!
Among other things having this tool made it possible for me to singlehand offshore
100nm to the island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic
Sea, for the first time. Having done that, I realize it would have been much, much more difficult without the autopilot.
Beyond this sail I've tested the ST1000+ in most sorts of (summer) conditions that are typical around Stockholm, over more than 500 nm, from flat calm to fairly wavy - from bashing into waves to running before decent-sized following seas. The ST1000+ has preformed great and always reliably, and kept us right on course. If I had to add one caveat it's with waves coming between the quarters (so, on either quarter or astern) where the boat tends to wallow a bit and swing more heavily on her course, since the autopilot lags somewhat when moving the tiller vs. what it should be doing were it human. The effect is more swinging back and forth than one would like if you were hand-steering, and this is a spot where the ST2000+, with close to half the hard-over time, might be better than the ST1000+, although I have no way to be sure about that.
At any rate, left to its own devices even in that kind of sea, the autopilot still keeps you right on course, just with a bit more swinging and probably lost
VMG because of it.
In terms of strength the ST1000+ has no problem at all with a boat this size - there was never a sense that it was stuggling with the tiller - it seems quite strong. The ST2000+ is supposed to have a stronger (and completely different) mechanic
, but given that the ST1000+ functions perfectly well I would question whether you need that for this size boat. I would rather put the money
towards other equipment/an eventual replacement.
When it came to the installation
, it took me quite a bit of measuring and guessing to get it just right. My first clues were these pictures of another Etap 21i from Spain
that I happened to find online:
photos of Etap 21i on Barcelona for 14000 € Used boats
They had installed either a ST1000 or ST2000 and you can see the types of accessories they've used - both the pedestal
socket (the base of which has to be mounted with three drilled holes through the stern locker hatch) and a tiller bracket on the tiller. That was a great starting point but I still needed the sizes - and through trial and error finally ended up with the right measurements that put the tiller pilot on the level in that configuration. The parts
you'll need are:
- Raymarine pedestal
socket 1.5 (part D026)
- Raymarine tiller bracket 2in, 51mm (part D010)
The dimensions for mounting are fixed and are in the manual. At first the idea of permanently mounting the pedestal base on the stern locker bothered me. But in use it has never been a problem - in fact we even usually just leave the screw-in cylindar that attaches to this base mounted as well (although you have to be conscious of where you plop down in the cockpit
if you're not using cushions
or you might get an uncomfortable surprise!).
We charge our single
with a 50W solar
panel, and it also charges off of the outboard
when that is running. On the sail to Gotland I ran the auto all night together with nav lights and the battery
was still doing great in the morning, so power consumption
has not been an issue.
Strangely, I search through my photos from the summer and I don't have a single
decent shot showing the tiller pilot at work or the way it has been installed. I have a no-sailing weekend coming up, but should definitely be by the boat within the next two weeks and will be sure to shoot some pictures and post them for you here so you can see how I've mounted it.
In the meantime, best of luck with this and let me know if you need any more info - very happy to help!