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Thread: Pelagic Autopilot - any experiences?

  1. #41
    pogen's Avatar
    pogen is offline Sailing canoe "Kūʻaupaʻa"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    It’s true. I love my remote. Keep it on a lanyard, close to my heart. Seriously. It's the tiniest, flimsy thing. And when it stops working? I just replace the battery and it works again. Technology. Huh! That such a small thing can make big heavy Dura Mater change course.
    I suggest purchasing a backup and keep it below in a dry container, in case the one on your person gets drenched or lost.

  2. #42
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    I just realized that I started this discussion some years ago so I should give an update. After several years of sailing with just a bungee cord (launching and dousing in 25 knots is lots of fun) I've finally got my Pelagic installed and working. We had significant trouble getting it to communicate with my Raymarine ST40 Wind instrument. I had to buy an Actisense unit to go in between the Raymarine and the Pelagic. I'll tell you that the Actisense guy was something of an ass and I would recommend finding an alternative if possible. But Brian with Pelagic was terrific and put a whole lot of work into getting it working, so I am very happy to recommend him.

    So far I've been very happy with the Pelagic handling upwind in up to 25 knots. It kept my speed up nicely when beating into the wind. I need to work more on the settings when on a beam reach. The boat wants to turn up, and doesn't come back down for a while. Deep down wind (165 apparent) in 20-25 knots, I also need to work on the settings a little more. I did have a couple of broaches, but nothing overly terrible. It took some time for the Pelagic to steer down again, even if I released the sheet. So I'll work on this some more too.

    Here is a photo of the control head (lower left) and drive arm on my Olson 30. I'm happy overall.
    And for the remote control, I have it inside a soft waterproof cell phone holder, and tied to my harness.
    Name:  Pelagic Autopilot.jpg
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  3. #43
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    What settings are you referring to ? Im only aware of a gain control.... im not sure ive heard of any others...... thanks
    Paul

  4. #44
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    Also , I thought the control head had to be mounted forward or facing aft , depending OB what unit you purchased , yours looks mounted 90 degrees off ???

  5. #45
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    "Settings" would refer to the Gain AND the sail trim. Both of these are really important in high wind situations. Your sails will always overpower your rudder. As I said in my book, it's really important to have the spinnaker pole at 90 degrees to the wind, and to have the spinnaker luff just at the point of curl. It's fun to watch the boat head up a bit, and the spinnaker collapse, and then the boat head back down again and the spinnaker fill, with just the autopilot driving. I've been driving by hand for several years now, so I've got to get back to the habit of absolutely perfect sail trim for an autopilot in a breeze.

    I told Brian about the control head position before he built the unit, and he built it with the compass sensor aimed sideways. This is the same place where I had my Raymarine unit mounted, and I wanted to keep it there. By the way, the mounting hole from my Raymarine drive was perfect for the Pelagic. And also the extender that I had built for the Raymarine screwed perfectly into the Pelagic.

    And by the way, I hope you all notice that I still have my bungee cord/rope setup in place, hanging under the tiller. You should all do this, because you never know when Auto is going to fail. (Hint, it will be at the worst possible moment.)
    Last edited by Foolish; 04-08-2020 at 02:48 PM.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foolish View Post
    (Hint, it will be at the worst possible moment.)
    Ha! Who'd have thought I'd come up with the perfect example, just two days later. I'm out and the wind comes up to 18 so I put in a reef. But I didn't cleat the halyard properly and it popped, letting the sail drop down the mast and shaking like Elvis. This blew out all the rivets holding the boom to the gooseneck. Just when I go to the mast to fix that, the entire electrical system fails and the autopilot shuts down. Thankfully I connected my ever-handy bungee cord to the tiller, and was able to lash the boom back in place and raise the reefed sail again. So I still had a nice sail when the winds came up to 25.
    Name:  Boom.jpg
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    A day later and the boom is fixed and I think I've figured out that it was bad battery connections.

    So the moral of the story is that you can trust your autopilot, but when the seafoam hits the fan, a bungee cord will always get you out of a pinch!
    Last edited by Foolish; 04-11-2020 at 06:38 PM.

  7. #47
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    So, I've messed around with bungee cords and rope, quite a bit and never found a setup that works at all on my boat. My S2 7.9 has a characteristic which come to find out, all the 7.9's and 9.1's, share. Those designs have a similar MORC-type hull shape and transom-hung rudder. I cannot let go of the rudder for even two seconds, or the tiller will immediately swing to the leeward side and round the boat up. With the one-design rudder, I had one second, and the round up was truly ~Immediate~.. With the non-kickup rudder that I built, it's better, I get a second and a half, maybe two if it's not blowing too hard. In 20 knots, I have half a second. You can imagine that singlehanded tacks in any sort of wind are entertaining, without an autopilot. The rudder never loads up, it's freaking enormous for a 26 foot boat, but there is NO stability.

    Every rope and bungee cord setup I've tried will keep the boat on course for about five seconds. By ten seconds, we're 20-30 degrees off. On my Cal 20 I could go to windward with a rope/bungee thing set up, for half an hour....did it many times sailing up from Redwood City to San Francisco. The H-Boat, same thing, and tacking the H-Boat without an autopilot was simple. I never tried driving the H-Boat with a spinnaker up and bungee cord driving, but hoisting and dousing with a bungee were OK.

    The Santana 30-30, also a MORC-type hull was much less stable in this sort of configuration, but with a lot of twiddling, I could get it to hold course for, say 30 seconds...enough time to pop down below for a sandwich. My Santana 30-30 had the Schock 34 rudder, BTW, significantly larger than the stock 3030 rudder. I learned a very disciplined approach to tacking the Santana 30-30 which I got to work, but wow, I had to move FAST. I would not dare to run the Santana with a chute up, unless I was steering, and hoists and douses were very difficult, really impossible in 20 knots or more.

    Anyway, bungee cord / surgical tubing / rope /sheet-to-tiller systems work on lots of boats, but not ALL boats!
    Last edited by AlanH; 05-24-2020 at 08:05 AM.
    S-2 7.9: "Wildcat of Loch Awe"
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    Piper One Design 24, Hull #35; "Alpha"

  8. #48
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    Brian's customer service is truly exemplary.

    I sent in a used unit to checkout and software update. There was also an upgrade to a disconnect plug on the white box to make installation easier.

    In addition to the bench testing, I received two videos with on the water testing. One with was hard on the wind and the second video was reaching. In both cases, the course heading was probably better than I could maintain (I am guessing less than 5 degrees of variation by looking at horizon).

    I did not ask, but assume both courses were on compass mode rather than wind mode.

    Thank you Brian!!

    Ants

  9. #49
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    I'm having real trouble getting my Pelagic to perform as necessary on my Olson 30. I've got Raymarine ST40 instruments with the Actisense converter.

    Downwind, in wind mode the boat swings 35-45 degrees back and forth, from rounding up to rounding down. I've tried response levels from 4-12 on my Raymarine wind instrument and gain levels up to 4.5 on the Pelagic. The wind vane is mounted on top of the mast.

    Downwind, in compass mode, the Pelagic can handle up to 15 knots wind speed, but after that I'm rounding up every minute or two. Yesterday it was blowing 20 and I had constant problems. This is even in relatively smooth seas. And of course it doesn't recognize any wind shift in compass mode, so I can't leave the tiller at all, even to drop the jib.

    When motoring with my outboard, I get large S-turns all the time. I moved the control head to a different location and got complete 360 circles. Not too good when I'm near the rock breakwater trying to pull my sails up.

    Any ideas on how to solve these problems. If I can't sail in 20 knots down wind, the unit is of no value to me at all.
    Last edited by Foolish; 08-06-2020 at 08:53 AM.

  10. #50
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    I saw a few comments regarding the difficulty of getting the Pelagic to communicate with a wind instrument. Just to relay my experience, I installed my Pelagic almost 4 years ago along with a "Windsense" instrument by Digital Yacht - this setup worked instantly and has performed very well - bonus is that the Windsense will also wirelessly transmit to your phone or other device. Happy with my Pelagic after 4 years and countless miles.

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