I Hadbeen, I have a hydrovane and have used it on two boats, one smaller old boat
one ,newer larger boat
. I agree with most of what you post accept there is no problem with the purely wind
operated hydrovane regarding wind not being efficient alone to steer operate rudder
With older smaller boat there was actually no limitations that I found, on my newer bigger, faster boat there is one. Hydrovane now have a extendable vane that makes a big difference when steering
larger faster yachts in light airs but faster heavier can cause some issues when surfing. If you get pushed alot of course while surfing down a wave the auxiliary rudder
although fully over sometimes dosent have the power to correct, just not big enough. You must trim the main rudder to help it. But if you trim the rudder to much when you are almost ddw you can end up backing the genoa
unintentionally, its a fine line.
Overall though I think its great for ocean crossing
, im a big fan, redundancy in both rudder and self steering
while using no electricity.
On bigger faster modern boats I agree that modern autopilots steer the boat better which wasnt the case with my smaller older boat.
If only coastal I would just have the autopilot
Cruising is changing, windvanes are becoming less seen, hf's are getting replaced by satellite
, lightwind continuous line furlered sails
rather than poling headsails, watermakers etc etc.....