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Old 08-04-2010, 19:21   #1
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How Often Do You Use Your Autopilot Offshore ?

When we sailed around the world on Exit Only, we used the autopilot 99% of the time. The only time we steered by hand was when we wanted to do it for fun. Even in storms, we let the autopilot steer the yacht.

There were a few times when I would hand steer for a few hours in rough conditions to give the autopilot a break. For example, when we sailed through the Bab Al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, I hand steered for six to eight hours to escape the fifty knot winds and to seek shelter behind a headland in Eritrea.

What percent of the time do you use an autopilot when sailing offshore?
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Old 08-04-2010, 19:35   #2
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Ahoy Dave, all the time.

Except when I am in a tricky situation!
Have not "switched" on the aires wind vane yet!

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Old 08-04-2010, 19:38   #3
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Yes all the time , unless someones wants to handle the wheel, its like haveing someone working full time for you, only better !
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Old 08-04-2010, 19:42   #4
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Use it all the time until it breaks.
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Old 08-04-2010, 20:13   #5
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Aries all the way. It steers much better than I do. If there´s enough wind to move the boat then the aries can steer it.
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Old 08-04-2010, 23:42   #6
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As much as possible.Even inshore for a break.marc
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:46   #7
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windvane vs autopilot

I use my vane whenever possible..it consumes no power, never complains, and doesn't fail
the autopilot is generally only used when powering, or running downwind in heavy seas....we have a gyro (yaw and turn rate info) on the pilot and it makes the pilot react much quicker than the wind vane ever could ...draws power though....
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:49   #8
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Windvane! All the time.

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Old 09-04-2010, 02:07   #9
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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post

What percent of the time do you use an autopilot when sailing offshore?
I touched the wheel yesterday when we dropped anchor and it was all salty!



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Old 09-04-2010, 03:03   #10
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It's possible to steer by hand?
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:38   #11
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I touched the wheel yesterday when we dropped anchor and it was all salty!



Mark
Ditto here. The autopilot on our old boat couldn't handle following seas, so we hand steered sometimes when running.

The new boat's autopilot (a Raymarine) is unbelievably effective -- I have yet to see the situation it couldn't handle. It laughs at following seas. It steers basically all the time, offshore and inshore. I even let it steer part way up the crowded Hamble River a couple of weeks ago (which probably violates some rule or another).

The autopilot is the main steering system on the boat. The wheel is just a minor secondary system for occasional close manuevering.
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:06   #12
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I guess that I fall at the other end of the spectrum preferring to hand steer. I turn on the autopilot if I need to be away from the wheel but otherwise we hand steer. My current boat does not have an autopilot. The only time it would be nice is running downwind when I want to leave the helm.

When I worked on a 92' schooner, people were always shocked that we didn't have an autopilot. I preferred it that way.
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:13   #13
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Offshore, all the time.. even in following seas, the smart pilot take care of the plotted course, and the wind and solar keep the batteries up for the power to run it.. We call ours Rosie........
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:20   #14
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The WindPilot Pacific Plus vane steers the boat if the sails are up. Use the autopilot to power only. Handsteer only to get in and out of slip.
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Old 30-04-2010, 18:15   #15
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We used our ComNav ALL of the time. Handled following seas very well. Bad storms we'd hand steer.
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