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Old 28-11-2019, 02:10   #1
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Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

You were all so helpful in the other thread about the shaft seals, thought I would pick your brains on the next job we have to do on our Landfall38: Self steering!
We are reading about the pros and cons of electronic vs wind self steering, and are currently leaning towards a wind system.
Thoughts on this? Would it depend on the passage planned with the boat ( gunkholing vs Bluewater)?
Give me your ideas please!!
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Old 28-11-2019, 04:16   #2
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

A lot depends on the intended use of your boat.
Transoceanic, go with wind steering.
Coastal, go for the electronic version.
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Old 28-11-2019, 05:20   #3
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

OR you could do both.

Check out Pealigic.

https://pelagicautopilot.com/

Now these kinds of self steering are not precise. You don’t put in an exact waypoint, go to it and make a 30° turn.

So, as noted above, you need to think about what kind of sailing you will be doing.
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Old 28-11-2019, 05:48   #4
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
OR you could do both.

Check out Pealigic.

https://pelagicautopilot.com/

Now these kinds of self steering are not precise. You don’t put in an exact waypoint, go to it and make a 30° turn.

So, as noted above, you need to think about what kind of sailing you will be doing.
You can drive a wind vane with an over-the-counter Raymarine/Simrad tiller pilot for half the price of the Pelagic. The strength of the drive doesn't matter since the vane is multiplying the force. It does get messy if you want to remote control it, but all the current Raymarine tP do take N1k inputs and can steer to a waypoint just fine.

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Old 28-11-2019, 05:50   #5
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

We have found the Aires to be great for offshore work.

The water paddle is pushed to one side as the stern is pushed over by a following wave. This gives a faster proper response to the steering than an air vane , or electric steering.

Under power a simple electric ram style works well with the SS paddle swiveled up.
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Old 28-11-2019, 07:06   #6
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
You can drive a wind vane with an over-the-counter Raymarine/Simrad tiller pilot for half the price of the Pelagic. The strength of the drive doesn't matter since the vane is multiplying the force. It does get messy if you want to remote control it, but all the current Raymarine tP do take N1k inputs and can steer to a waypoint just fine.

Matt
Yes, I have 3 broken RM tiller pilots. 2 arrived brand new with bad gyros, sent them back for repair. They both broke again within 50 hours of very light service. One still has the factory covering in the display.

In my experience Pealigic is a far superior product and over all far less costly.
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Old 28-11-2019, 07:07   #7
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FAST FRED View Post
We have found the Aires to be great for offshore work.

The water paddle is pushed to one side as the stern is pushed over by a following wave. This gives a faster proper response to the steering than an air vane , or electric steering.

Under power a simple electric ram style works well with the SS paddle swiveled up.
Aries or Monitor? SS paddle swiveled up.
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Old 28-11-2019, 07:08   #8
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Yes, I have 3 broken RM tiller pilots. 2 arrived brand new with bad gyros, sent them back for repair. They both broke again within 50 hours of very light service. One still has the factory covering in the display.

In my experience Pealigic is a far superior product and over all far less costly.
Were they running through a windvane or driving the steering directly? Simrad is an option too.

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Old 28-11-2019, 07:35   #9
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
Were they running through a windvane or driving the steering directly? Simrad is an option too.

Matt
Driving a wind vane (Aries) for the first batch but later on a different boat driving a aid rudder tiller, very light loads all.

The first one worked for a few hundred hours. Then the rubber bits inside wore and fell under the gyro jamming it to one side. Then I got a new one that came with a bad gyro, ordered a second one that came with the exact same problem as #2. Put #1 gyro in #2 to get home. Sent mess off to RM. They “fixed” for free.

Then put on boat #2. Both “new” units failed within 50 hours. The rubber bits inside are not up to the job. The drive runs out against rubber stops that fail and drop under the gyro jamming the gyro.

I know others have had better luck than I have. But then there are many with similar experiences to me.

Another advantage of the Pelagic is it comes as a couple of components, the controller and the ram. The ram is a straight commercial device, you can buy them off the shelf once you figure out the part number codes. So you could carry a spare ram, a spare controller or a spare complete unit. And they are working on a wind input.

At the moment the AP on our big boat is a CPT drive being driven by PyPilot CPU and drive controller. There is a lot to like about this set up. The PyPilot is not as finished a commercial product as the Pelagic controller but has the advantage of being able to take a GPS USB hockey puck antenna. Being on a steel boat I have troubles with compass inputs. Although I must say the PyPilot compass seems to be working reliable where all others have failed.

One could use a PyPilot to drive the Pelagic ram or a Pelagic CONTROLLER to drive a (old style) CPT wheel drive.

OR one could go with a new style CPT wheel AP. I don’t know if they have changed the drive unit or not. They have updated the control head.
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Old 28-11-2019, 09:41   #10
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Electronic autopilots and wind vanes are completely different animals and if at all possible, a cruising boat should have both. Where one is strong, the other is weak and vice versa.

Autopilots are comparatively unreliable, but are great when motoring when there is no wind or when you need to steer directly to some point. They also can consume a significant amount of power, especially in rough conditions.


Wind vanes are incredibly reliable, don't work at all when there is no wind and work their best in high wind conditions. They also consume no power.

Autopilots are dead simple to use. At a minimum, just point the boat where you want to go and push the button.

Wind vanes can have a significant learning curve and often require you to know how to trim the sails to balance the helm (my Monitors forced me to become a better sailor).

My Tayana's autopilot was a tiller pilot rigged to the wind vane and used when needed all the way to Panama before installing a wheel pilot. The one on My Kelly Peterson is a much more sophisticated hydraulic underdeck one (which I love).

As much as I appreciate autopilots, after having taken both boats to the S. Pacific and back, I would not want to do so without a wind vane.
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Old 28-11-2019, 09:45   #11
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

For short handed sailing autopilots are one of the most critical systems and I would say essential for any passages over 12hrs. I have used a veriety of tiller pilots and wheel pilots and now would not consider any above deck electric pilot, they are neither powerful or reliable enough. Fit a solid below deck electric pilot and make sure it is absolutly solid and big enough. Power requirement will be around 25-30a peak but generally less than 5a. that howver is still a significant drain so if possible also fit a wind pilot. they work extreamly well upwind or reaching but often not so well down wind. they also are not so good in light winds. the big plussess are that they dont require amps and are more powerful in high winds and speeds. The 2 things I would look at for a new one are ease of setting remotely so you don't have to reach over the rail and secondly how easy it is to lift and lower the paddle underway.
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Old 28-11-2019, 09:49   #12
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

If you finally considered a wind vane....check out Cape Horn, as well as Airies and Monitor.



Add a Raytheon....I didn't notice your make boat and steering.
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Old 28-11-2019, 09:55   #13
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Electric:

Pros:

More precise steering. Easier to adjust course.

Able to handle weather or lee helm.

Cons:

Use a lot of electricity and supplying that electricity requires more planning of power sources while sailing long passages.

Electronically and mechanically complex and less user serviceable.


Windvane:

Pros:

No electric draw.

Mechanically simple and user serviceable.

Cons:

Require well balanced sails to eliminate weather or lee helm.

Ability to correct course reduced in rough conditions.

Will not work when motoring so electric autopilot still needed.

Work better with certain hull designs and boat sizes than with others.
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Old 28-11-2019, 10:05   #14
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
For short handed sailing autopilots are one of the most critical systems and I would say essential for any passages over 12hrs. I have used a veriety of tiller pilots and wheel pilots and now would not consider any above deck electric pilot, they are neither powerful or reliable enough. Fit a solid below deck electric pilot and make sure it is absolutly solid and big enough. Power requirement will be around 25-30a peak but generally less than 5a. that howver is still a significant drain so if possible also fit a wind pilot. they work extreamly well upwind or reaching but often not so well down wind. they also are not so good in light winds. the big plussess are that they dont require amps and are more powerful in high winds and speeds. The 2 things I would look at for a new one are ease of setting remotely so you don't have to reach over the rail and secondly how easy it is to lift and lower the paddle underway.
^^ yes, this.
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Old 28-11-2019, 10:07   #15
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Re: Electronic Autohelm or Self Steering Wind Vane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Driving a wind vane (Aries) for the first batch but later on a different boat driving a aid rudder tiller, very light loads all.

The first one worked for a few hundred hours. Then the rubber bits inside wore and fell under the gyro jamming it to one side. Then I got a new one that came with a bad gyro, ordered a second one that came with the exact same problem as #2. Put #1 gyro in #2 to get home. Sent mess off to RM. They “fixed” for free.

Then put on boat #2. Both “new” units failed within 50 hours. The rubber bits inside are not up to the job. The drive runs out against rubber stops that fail and drop under the gyro jamming the gyro.

I know others have had better luck than I have. But then there are many with similar experiences to me.

Another advantage of the Pelagic is it comes as a couple of components, the controller and the ram. The ram is a straight commercial device, you can buy them off the shelf once you figure out the part number codes. So you could carry a spare ram, a spare controller or a spare complete unit. And they are working on a wind input.

At the moment the AP on our big boat is a CPT drive being driven by PyPilot CPU and drive controller. There is a lot to like about this set up. The PyPilot is not as finished a commercial product as the Pelagic controller but has the advantage of being able to take a GPS USB hockey puck antenna. Being on a steel boat I have troubles with compass inputs. Although I must say the PyPilot compass seems to be working reliable where all others have failed.

One could use a PyPilot to drive the Pelagic ram or a Pelagic CONTROLLER to drive a (old style) CPT wheel drive.

OR one could go with a new style CPT wheel AP. I don’t know if they have changed the drive unit or not. They have updated the control head.
That stinks! The Raymarine drives aren't cheap enough to be that disposable.

The Pypilot would be a good option with any of the generic 12v linear drive available all over the internet, but I'm sure Sean has a few that mate right up without needing to search yourself. That's potentially an even lower cost pairing than the Raymarine, but it does require a bit of legwork.

Matt
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