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Sailboatman 09-05-2007 04:12 PM

Hi Friends,

I have a Monitor vane now not installed. Is the performance of vanes better in higher wave and wind conditions than the below desk auto helms? Some of the stories I have read about capsizing talk about having the auto helm steering the boat at the time it rolls. I have not read any stories about this happening with a vane steering.

The other question I have is it possible to have a wheel mounted auto helm and the Monitor vane installed at the same time. It would be nice to have an auto helm when motoring and for short sails.

Thanks for your help with this.

Gallivanters 09-05-2007 05:33 PM

I'm certainly no expert - and I'm sure you'll receive many convincing arguments in favor of one or the other, but...

We installed both autopilot and windvane systems on our last boat before setting out across the Pacific.

Navico WP 5000 (named Otto) and Saye's Rig (named Windy).

Otto ended-up steering, like, 99% of the time mainly because it was an easy push-button operation to adjust course and it was very good at the task. Otto seemed to learn the patterns of any given sea and would end-up barely moving the wheel while staying remarkably on course... even in storm conditions.

Windy steered a much "wilder" course and would seem to loose the plot whenever we dropped into the troughs of big waves. It took a lot of "tweaking" to get her to settle into an efficient pattern of steering and any adjustments required working right at the transom.

Windy also required specialty parts to be made and / or flown to exotic places over the years wheras Otto broke only once and I was able to make a new drive sprocket at sea with tools on hand.

Your wallet has a lot to say about it, too... as one can purchase a top-of-the-line autopilot system w/ spares for considerably less than the cheapest windvane system. I purchased Otto new for less than $500. Windy cost us nearly $5000 over the long haul.

If Aye were in your deckshoes - since you already own a Monitor windvane - I would consider adding an autopilot for simple redundancy and motoring performance - either a wheel pilot or link a tiller pilot to make a "Motor Monitor"

And - don't ever try to employ BOTH systems at the same time as they'll definitely be working against each other and could quite possibly destroy the weakest link.

We traveled 25,000 using both autopilot and windvane on our last boat - a 37 ft pilothouse of 15,000 lb displacement.

With our newer boat of 49 ft & 32,000 lb displacement - I'm installing an oversized below deck hydraulic pilot in addition to a pair of used CPT wheel pilots for back-up... all at a cost far less than a Monitor system.

I believe the bottom line here is to have a reliable method of self steering while saving as much money as possible for other fun projects.

To Life!


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