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Thread: Newbie: windvane / autopilot question

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    If you are doing lots of sailing short distances (like in the Bay), with lots of tacks and gybes, then you want an autopilot. If you are doing longer distances with not so may tacks and gybes, then the wind vane. If your boat is very light and will surf easily, then an autopilot. If it's heavy and you want it to track down wind in big wind, then a wind vane.

    And make sure you learn the bungee cord methods of steering in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY1qx3PfUS0 and the associated book. I know of one guy who crossed the Pacific using this method after he read the book. This will negate the necessity of having a duplicate wind vane or autopilot.

  2. #12
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    May 2009
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    San Francisco
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    "would a Hydrovane with a Pelagic tiller pilot (to run the hydrovane if the windvane part breaks) count as "two autopilots" in your book"

    Not if you are going to Hawaii... this setup still has a few potential "single points of failure" that might take it all down. Such as what could happen if you are pooped by a big wave from astern (which wouldn't be unusual the first few days going to Hawaii). You want two 100% independent self/auto steering systems. I get folks dislike cutting rudder tube to install a below deck autopilot... but below deck systems are maybe 5x to 10x more reliable then above deck systems (its that sun/heat and salt water thing that electronics dislike). If you go for the above deck pilot... have a great canvas cover built for it to keep direct sun and water off it (as best you can).

    Last...
    The wind vane is probably just fine if you are cruising... or treating the race to Hawaii as an "adventure cruise"... but vanes just are not good enough if you want to "really race".

    Now...
    I have zero real world experience with a vane... but cannot imagine how it would do with a spinnaker up in 20k+ (which a pelagic autopilot will drive in all day long while you sleep).

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2022
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    I'm afraid I will sacrifice respect by saying so, but this is me: "or treating the race to Hawaii as an "adventure cruise"..."

    That doesn't mean I don't want to be safe, but I won't be flying a spinnaker and the extra distance I might sail due to course wander with a windvane does not bother me enough to avoid a windvane.

    For cost reasons I cannot do a belowdecks autopilot and a windvane, or two belowdecks systems. Right now I'm thinking I'll do a windvane, and then consider getting one of those CPT wheel pilots as a better backup (the EV100 does not feel like a backup to me). I had hoped a tiller pilot for the Hydrovane might be sufficient, but understand the single-point-of-failure argument.

    Thanks again for the comments and advice!

    PS: @Foolish : Many thanks; I watched the video, which was quite interesting. I have a wheel, not a tiller, so how to rig that system is less obvious for me. I might check out hte book, though, in case the wheel question is addressed there. Reference/video link are much appreciated.
    Last edited by NATBF; 08-29-2022 at 06:31 PM.

  4. #14
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    May 2009
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    San Francisco
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    Oh I missed you have a wheel already... so you have a below deck quadrant. That makes a below deck autopilot pretty straight forward/easy... maybe talk to Brian about what he would recommend for the Pelagic... maybe you can get away with one system and one or two "Brian recommend's" spare parts.

  5. #15
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    Feb 2022
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    SF Bay Area
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    Thanks; I assume Brian is associated with Pelagic? I had not appreciated until recently that Pelagic and Monitor seem to be owned by the same folks, and local, so perhaps I can take the boat over and get their opinions on approximate costs/complexity of doing either system on my boat. My steering is rack & pinion (Whitlock/Lewmar Cobra system), so unsure if the rudder connection for a ram would be as simple as for cable-based systems.

    @JimQuanci : Do your comments imply that an autopilot (or at least a Pelagic) can steer a fin-keel boat downwind well even (e.g.) in a quartering sea? I'm trying to read between the lines about the spinnaker. In fairness, I am unlikely to fly a spinnaker, so this is more a curiosity question; I watched the Monitor wander back and forth a good bit downwind, not that it seemed to be a problem.

  6. #16
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    Jun 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by NATBF View Post
    I have a wheel, not a tiller, so how to rig that system is less obvious for me. I might check out hte book, though, in case the wheel question is addressed there. Reference/video link are much appreciated.
    One of the bottom spokes on your wheel will act the same as a tiller. ie. if you pull a bottom spoke towards you, the boat will steer away from you. So set up the bungee cord (or surgical tubing) the same, but connect it to somewhere near the middle of the bottom spoke on your wheel. This should do the trick.

  7. #17
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    May 2009
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    San Francisco
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    Yes a good electronic autopilot can steer the boat under chute in a good breeze and quartering seas. How good a job and in how much wind and waves depends on the autopilot and the boat in question.

    But a chute up in 25k of wind in a sizable sea state while you sleeps is a not unreasonable objective. With a good reasonable cost system.

    Now if money is not an issue... those French round the world boats typically have an NKE autopilot (well out of my budget) that will keep driving under chute in over 30k of wind.

    This does get a bit more complicated if you have a fast surfing boat where integrating with your wind direction (AWA) becomes important.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Berkeley Marina
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    149

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    Quote Originally Posted by NATBF View Post
    (the EV100 does not feel like a backup to me).
    Super-noob here when it comes to this stuff and thus love this thread. Just adding affirmation of this x100.
    I installed the EV100 as temporary fix while I evaluate the same options for the same end-game ("adventure cruise" SHTP and regular-cruising beyond). I knew I was at or just beyond the EV100's displacement limit but wanted something for motoring, bonus if it could handle any actual sailing. It does okay on a close reach and higher, with proper sail trim in standard summer bay conditions, but I find it worthless off the wind in any sea state that can be measured in feet. Response time is super slow, which appears to be independent of my boat's (too high) displacement. The compass-computer-motor feedback loop is very loose, even in "performance" mode. I personally would not consider it an option even just to meet a race requirement for secondary/backup.
    I considered the CPT but don't like the bulky installation -- easy DIY though -- and besides, it would still leave all the steering cabling as a point of failure shared with a windvane. A below deck autopilot would solve that, at least.
    I've seen two Monitors in good condition pass through Blue Pelican in the last 2 years, same for Craigslist...

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    But a chute up in 25k of wind in a sizable sea state while you sleeps is a not unreasonable objective. With a good reasonable cost system.

    Now if money is not an issue... those French round the world boats typically have an NKE autopilot (well out of my budget) that will keep driving under chute in over 30k of wind.
    That would be a great objective but with one caveat, for twin-jibs, not a spinnaker. I don't know of a boat that doesn't require some active trimming of the spinnaker in 25k+ of wind, especially in anything other than flat water. To have an AP handle a spinnaker in breeze with no intervention requires a much reduced spinnaker size or more preferably a spin with a bolt-rope luff to keep from collapsing which is what all those RTW boats use.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    74

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    I just read about another fellow who used the storm jib self-steering method. Here is a quote from Yachting Monthly Magazine:

    I slept on it anyway and on wakening picked up one of the many books I carried on board – Singlehanded Sailing – Thoughts, Tips, Techniques and Tactics by Andrew Evans. It all came back to me. Within 15 minutes I had her rigged with ‘storm sail’ steering to the tiller and I was cruising downwind at just over 120.

    The full article about his broken mast is here: https://tinyurl.com/2jkaj3dd

    Always nice to see it in action.

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