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Old 01-05-2018, 11:41   #1
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Self Steering Off Shore

I'm getting a new to me boat (assuming it passes survey, which I believe it will) that has a Raymarine ST4000 (older wheel steering model) wheel pilot. I'll be sailing it off shore either short or singlehanded, so the self steering will be critical. The ST4000 is rated for a boat that is 20% lighter that my new one, but I think it would be fine for moderate to light air conditions. So I'm contemplating getting a wind vane, likely a Hydrovane, and debating whether to replace the ST4000 with a robust below deck unit, at $5000+ installed, or using the Hydrovane when there is wind and the ST4000 in light winds or for motoring in no wind conditions. ( See Christian Williams YouTube videos of singlehanding from California to Hawaii and back. He seems to have that set up.)

Off shore sailors thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 01-05-2018, 11:51   #2
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

My setup is similar to what you describe. We have an Aries windvane which is used whenever we’re sailing for any length of time (even a few hours) AND there is enough wind to sail.

In cases where wind is too light I have a Raymarine tiller pilot. It is significantly undersized for my boat, but in benign conditions it (so far) has done fine.
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Old 01-05-2018, 12:58   #3
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

It really seems like personal preference (and sailing ability) when seeing all the various offshore boats out there managing more or less just fine, but in my opinion (as only a marginal sailor) it's really nice to have both a windvane and a robust AP (Auto Pilot). An undersized AP can really fall flat if, say, you want to grab a window after it's been blowing and the seas are still up in light wind conditions. Or if the wind dies midway thru a passage..

Another option is to utilize an AP that can drive the windvane rudder. That way you can still rely on an otherwise undersized AP in light winds by greatly reducing the forces put on the AP.
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Old 01-05-2018, 14:42   #4
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

One factor to consider is your offshore power budget. Autopilots can burn a substantial amount of power. A wind vane uses no power. A tillerpilot driving a windvane uses very little power.

On the other hand, a beefy autopilot can be a most welcome piece of gear. Just make sure that you have the electrical power situation in hand so your batteries stay charged on a long passage.
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Old 01-05-2018, 14:46   #5
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

The Raymarine wheel drive would not control my boat under sail. The force needed to turn the rudder was too much for the pilot. Worked fine under power including one 36 hour stint. Auto pilots eat electrons and the more you need them to steer the more electrons tney eat which makes feeding them while under sail on a long passage an issue.

I don't trust electronics to steer a boat over long distances. Have always used a windvane as the steering source under sail. Have had an Aries and WindPilot Pacific Plus on two different boats that have steered for 10's of thousands of miles without complaint. Unfortunately they don't work on all boats. If you have a pendulum servo vane you have to run lines to the tiller or wheel which can be an issue. With a wheel, you are limited in rudder movement by the wheels lock to lock steering ratio and the diameter of the steering line drum diameter. Pendulum Servo units have worked fine on a whole bunch of wheel steered boats but not all. The Monitor on my Pearson 35 wouldn't steer the boat below about 4 knots under sail. Possibly an issue with how the PO (previous owner) had routed the steering lines and the heavy forces needed to turn the wheel. Didn't really spend much time trying to sort it out as the WPPP ( WindPilot Pacific Plus) fell into my lap.

The WindPilot Pacific Plus is an auxillary rudder vane and steers the boat separate from the boats rudder like the HydroVane. It has steered the boat on a DDW (Dead down wind) sail to Hawaii in lightish air which is the most challenging point of sail for any Self Steering Vane. As with the Aries on my W32 (Westsail 32ft), if the sails are up, the vane is driving. The big problem with the vane on P35 (Pearson 35ft) is maneuvering in the harbor. The P35 is rudder challenged before having to overcome that big WPPP rudder's forces. Have overcome it somewhat by using lines to the vane's windvane to trick it into helping me steer going forward. Unfortunately it does nothing in reverse which is always an adventure. A fin keel boat with a more powerful rudder may not have much of a problem going forward as they are way more maneuverable at slow speeds. On a full keel boat it's something you may have to learn to deal with.
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Old 01-05-2018, 15:10   #6
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

Another factor is the type of rudder/steering. You say the boat is 20% heavy, but that's based on 'averages.' Our last boat had an ST4000, was too big according to the specs, but also had a semi-balanced spade rudder (let the flames begin - cruising with a spade). You could always steer easily with one hand, 75% of the time with one finger. The AP had no problem. The same AP on a much lighter, full keel, barn door rudder couldn't handle anything above moderate conditions.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:11   #7
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

I use a Monitor vane, for both coastal and offshore. under power, I have a small tiller pilot which drives the vane.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:32   #8
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

I've done ocean passages on boats with a robust autopilot but no windvane, on boats with a windvane but no autopilot, and on a boat with an inadequate undersized autopilot.

Based on those experiences, my current boat has a Raymarine linear belowdeck pilot, an Aries lift-up vane gear, and two ST2000 tillerpilots to run the Aries.

It may seem like overkill, but I really, really dislike steering for long stretches. I use the main autopilot everywhere in the Salish Sea. The Aries is for passages in open waters. The tillerpilots are backups.

It's good to have options. When you're solo and on your third day of hand steering because your self-steering solution failed, having options starts to seem well worth the cost and trouble.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:34   #9
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
I'm getting a new to me boat (assuming it passes survey, which I believe it will) that has a Raymarine ST4000 wheel pilot. I'll be sailing it off shore either short or singlehanded, so the self steering will be critical. The ST4000 is rated for a boat that is 20% lighter that my new one, but I think it would be fine for moderate to light air conditions. So I'm contemplating getting a wind vane, likely a Hydrovane, and debating whether to replace the ST4000 with a robust below deck unit, at $5000+ installed, or using the Hydrovane when there is wind and the ST4000 in light winds or for motoring in no wind conditions. ( See Christian Williams YouTube videos of singlehanding from California to Hawaii and back. He seems to have that set up.)

Off shore sailors thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
I am of the "why not both?" school. We have a Voyager wind vane for sailing and will be installing an autopilot (based on an Octopus pump to push our existing Marol hydraulic steering) in the next few months. I think if you consider the existing unit as adequate for "motoring or sailing only in light air", you can get some idea if it's still fit for purpose, plus the idea of proper sail trim for activities like motor-sailing and the amp draw, which may suggest other modifications.

In other words, yes to the vane and keep what you've got for an AP until it is conclusively demonstrated that you need to upgrade. Just be aware that in a fully developed seaway or (in my experience) over 28-32 knots of true wind speed, you'll probably have to hand-steer if you choose not to heave to.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:36   #10
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

I would point out also that in my opinion, you are getting very good advice so far.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:41   #11
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

Last year I went thru the same query and it came to Hydrovane vs. Cape Horn. Google Cape Horn and the story of their circumnavigating sailor and designer Yves. BTW....I bought the Cape Horn and have yet to install....part of a complete refit of my 1972 Pearson 33.

Yves Gélinas On Self-Steering - CapHorn - Régulateur d'allure intégré
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:54   #12
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

I looked at all the different wind vane systems and choose the Monitor servo pendulum vane.
This vane was the best gear investment i have made in the boat. I cannot stress enough how good it works, matter fact it stears the boat better then me. I sail solo and when I need it the most in extreme foul weather it really shines.
The entire unit except the wind vane on top is stainless so there is no issues with dissimulation of metals, its overbuilt to the point I can stand on it or use it to reboard the vessel without a swimming ladder.
When under power as long as there is at least 5-8 kts apparent wind it will also work as an auto pilot.
I see online it’s also possible to direct connect an auto pilot tiller arm unit to the vane if it is desired because the vane is very fast to respond to the helm.
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:10   #13
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

Zaya is a fairly average to small bluewater boat, at a specification 17,700lbs she came in at 22,000lbs on the hoist in cruising trim. As a ketch she can hold her course a long time.

Edson say of her steering that their 28" wheel and 20" quadrant are capable of in excess of 840lbs of rotational force at the rudder. The wheel steer system would replace a tiller some 22ft long. This is a considerable force which exceeds Raymarines electric rudder mount linear drive at 640lbs. And tiller pilots for ST1000 and ST2000 at 125lbs and 170lbs respectively.

However this suggests a well trimmed boat with less rather than more lee or weather helm. Zaya being a ketch with a rather low mast height at 46ft over the water is probably better fixed than most in this area.

I have a Raymarine ST4000 that came with the boat, it is a miserably poorly built device but one would think that in ordinary circumstances it would offer sufficient control, but I dont have much faith in it. See if you can find a video of repairs to RM auto tillers and see what they're made of, its scary! The 4000 resides on a table in the spare room.

Indifferent to a wind vane really all one needs of an autopilot is to cut a course. The elements are a fluxgate compass, a linear drive and a control system. The control system of an RM (Raymarine) tiller pilot are a half cigarette packet size circuitboard which incorporates a fluxgate compass.

In its simplest form like a auto tiller, you balance your sails on a course and activate the course hold. This doesnt seem to me to be a difficult set of requirements. Personally my requirements are simple so I am given to be fabricating my own autopilot device. The lesson is one of expectations.

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Old 02-05-2018, 09:16   #14
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

I installed a Raymarine below decks EV200 (New steering system)with a linear drive directly to the rudder post on my Catalina 36. Displacement is 14100 lbs dry weight. This EV200 is rated for boats up to 22000.

This autopilot has performed flawlessly even in confused 6 - 10' seas crossing the Gulf Stream as well as in storm conditions. I highly recommend.

I installed 2 flexible 100 watt solar panels on my bimini to charge my 4 Trojan T105's.

I'm able to run my autopilot 24/7 on what those panels/batteries provide.

Pretty cheap and easy and nothing mechanical to break or get damaged.
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:24   #15
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Re: Self Steering Off Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
I'm getting a new to me boat (assuming it passes survey, which I believe it will) that has a Raymarine ST4000 wheel pilot.... So I'm contemplating getting a wind vane, likely a Hydrovane, and debating whether to replace the ST4000 with a robust below deck unit, at $5000+ installed, or using the Hydrovane when there is wind and the ST4000 in light winds or for motoring in no wind conditions.... Off shore sailors thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
Hi ! Hydrovane is the best but also the most expensive ($6000+). I was lucky to find a second hand one (Hard to come) for $2000 from a couple of Canadians who had just decided to stop offshore sailing. I sailed alone from Beaufort NC to St-Martin French West Indies in 11 days. I trimed the sails, gave a slight angle to the main rudder if needed & the Hydrovane did the rest ! Cheers !
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