For short trips on a smallish boat, I would forget the complexity of a separate autopilot hooked into a GPS and merely get a tiller pilot with the lowest draw, set it up for the sea state and dial in your course (many tillerpilots have built-in fluxgate
compasses) manually until you more or less match your desired heading as per your GPS, which can also be bought with gear
to hook into a 12 VDC socket, preferably inside the cabin
This is what I would do motoring or motor
sailing. Straight sailing? Read one of the many books
that explain how to balance your sails
and use tiller tamers and/or bungee cords to self-steer. The cost is zero to a jug of rum
, depending on how far you want to play around.
You're not going offshore
and you are going to be on deck
keeping watch and will be able to see the compass
and, via pilotage, landmarks to tell you how you are doing with your dialling in of the course. It's a convenience, not a necessity, and you will do better not to build an elaborate system for a small, short-haul sailboat, in my view.
As to which one to buy, I advocate only that you acquire the next size bigger than your boat requires. A stronger drive will burn less amps than a taxed one making constant adjustments (although this is often user-selectable in terms of sensitivity).