Windvane steering options

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Kari and Lawrence 7 months, 1 week ago.

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January 16, 2018 at 15:07 #26214
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Participant

Hi there

In preperation for our travels we are currently looking into wind vane steering systems. Our preference goes to a hydrovane system. Because of the extra rudder and because of the absence of cables running to the steering wheel. The problem is the price. If we buy it here in the Netherlands the total hydrovane package will cost us more than 5500,- Euro ex VAT. That’s a bit steep. Servo-Pendulum systems are available for a lot less, say half the costs of a hydrovane

My biggest concern is that besides those annoying cables running from the windvane to the steering wheel, that a servo pendulum system won’t work properly with the (heavy) steering system of a Nic. 38

Is there anyone that has experience with a servo-pendulum system on their Nic 38? And if so, what brand and type have you been using? And how was this system connected to the steering? Does the vane hit the mizzen boom?

If anyone by any chance has a hydrovane system for sale that would even be beter of course.

Regards,

Erik

January 18, 2018 at 09:28 #26216

Kari and Lawrence
Participant

Dear Erik,

No is the direct answer to your question but I do think a pendulum system would work fine, just the hassle of lines, friction and chafe.

Depending on your skill level, creativity and resources available. I would of thought “cobbling” together a piece of engineering similar to an hydrovane should be possible. Sometimes, when I see how others manage, I feel foolish and naive with my “off the shelf system!!” Anyway lack of funds need not be a “a show stopper!”

Best of luck and regards, Lawrence

January 22, 2018 at 10:36 #26220
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Participant

Hoi Lawrence

Thanks for your answer. Well no need to feel foolish and naive as I see it ūüôā I thought of your suggestion as well. Just finding a hydrovane system and copying it. Shouldn’t be to hard since the individual parts are pretty straight forward pieces of engineering. I have searched the internet for people that might have done the same (can’t be the first one with this problem/solution) but no luck as of yet.

There are of course a few downsides to this approach. Firstly the ethical side of it. It doesn’t feel entirely right to just copy someone else’s design. Although I find the hydrovane system very overpriced. These are just hard working people as well trying to make a living of a product that is sold in low volumes and has a lot of r&d behind it. (which might explain part of high price)

Secondly if you attempt a copy it needs to be absolutely fool proof/good. It is a piece of pretty essential (safety) kit especially on long voyages. Not something you want to go wrong at 3 in the morning on an idle tuesday in building seas and strong winds (stuff always seems to break at these moments)

Thirdly, time is an issue. Although do-able it is not going to be easy and I reckon it will cost a lot of hours drawing, engineering, testing, retrying, etc. before you end up with a trustworthy system. Could end up being a lot more expensive than initially anticipated.

Conclusion: Although tempting I’m not going for this. Coming week we will be visiting “Boot Dusseldorf” where we will be doing more research and will speak with several manufacturers of WV-steering systems. Will keep you posted on the results…

Regards,

Erik

January 22, 2018 at 11:29 #26221
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Participant

Adding to the last post. I just found some interesting views on the Hydrovane system. I have to say that I was pretty convinced that Hydrovane has the superior system for our boats but this sheds a different light. Always could to read some “different” opinions (without suggesting any truths)

http://www.selfsteer.com/faqs/faq.php?ID=248
http://svmomo.blogspot.nl/2010/05/expression-of-doubt-is-hydrovane-self_15.html

As far as i can discover there are nicholsons owners using Monitor and Aries. Anyone? experiences?

January 23, 2018 at 02:07 #26223

Kari and Lawrence
Participant

Dear Marylin and Erik,

Wow, quite a lot to answer! Firstly, I will pass comment on the doubter of Hydrovane, it is easy to criticise but without actual experience is idiotic, I sailed around the world, single handed and through the Strait of Magellen, using Aries and had a wind pilot on my last boat. Now I use Hydrovane and it’s better! The doubter was whining about keeping the boat balanced but every system relies on this, I presume this man’seeking sailing ability to be quite poor.

Erik, sometimes stuff breaks at an unholy hour because that’s how life is! It doesn’t matter if it’s home made or the most expensive piece of equipment money can buy. The advice I give is just to help others, in the pursuit of their ambitions. I have had failure of stuff on the Aries at inconvenient times but one is then forced to hand steer, balance the boat or just not sail at all, until such a time arrives, when the problem can be rectified. We don’t live in a perfect world and if it were, I’d be bored to tears!

Best regards, Lawrence

January 23, 2018 at 17:54 #26225
Moderator
Moderator
Keymaster

Erik and Margriet –

There are a couple other forum conversations that discuss windvanes – did you see these topics already?

Auto pilots

Who’s got self steering gear installed

I can add that we used our Monitor windvane in our 2016 Pacific crossing from Seattle to Hawaii. It gave us some grief because of 1) our inexperience at knowing the appropriate paddle size for the wind conditions, 2) Rough following seas with many boarding waves that bashed the paddle, 3) chafe of the control lines.

Despite our past problems, mostly due to inexperience, we view the Monitor windvane as a critical piece of equipment for future passages and will do what it takes to make it more reliable for us – and we do believe that is achievable. We’ve found Scanmar, the makers of the Monitor, to be extremely helpful despite the fact that our unit is very old and we are not the original purchaser.

We have no experience with other windvanes so cannot comment.

Marilyn

January 23, 2018 at 21:49 #26230
Czarina Blue
Czarina Blue
Participant

I could only add that a German boat builder I met was very enthusiastic about Windpilot, and said he had ‘tested it’ in Force 9 in the Atlantic over a 4 day gale.

January 24, 2018 at 02:55 #26240

Kari and Lawrence
Participant

Hi;

 

Sorry about my predictive text type error on man’seeking sailing ability, should of just read man’s sailing ability!!

 

Regards , Lawrence

January 24, 2018 at 20:39 #26243
Van
Van
Participant

An additional comment about the Monitor on Rainshadow.  A primary issue was tensioning the control lines which run from the vane to the wheel in the cockpit.  These need to be kept tight, but not too tight.  However, because they are so long, 15 feet or so, you need to use low stretch line.  We did, but not in a large enough diameter, so we had problems anyway.

To handle situations like this, Scanmar, who make the Monitor, sell a “center cockpit” line kit, with custom dyneema lines.¬† We will be installing this before our next trip and hopefully these will eliminate the issues with stretch.

Lastly, there is an autopilot called the Pelagic, that mounts onto the Monitor, and uses an actuator to move the paddle Рin other words, you take off the air paddle, and attach the Pelagic.  You get a low power autopilot that uses an internal compass to steer. A friend of mine used one in a single handed race from San Francisco to Honolulu and he said it worked extremely well.

https://pelagicautopilot.com

Van

 

February 11, 2018 at 12:33 #26246
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Participant

Hi All

Thanks for the many replies! As said in the previous post, we have visited the “boot dusseldorf” exhibition, which has been very useful and interesting. For three days we ran around the endless fair grounds and spoke to several builders, manufacturers, sales people, sailors and self proclaimed experts.

In the end we decided that the auxiliary rudder vs servo-pendulum discussion will stay forever undecided. Both systems seem to work fine and have a great number of “believers” all strong advocates for their system of choice and in general strongly opposed to the other “side”. Both systems have We say it’s a draw.
After leaving that issue behind, the price factor suddenly became decisive and this is where the servo pendulum system wins big time. So we decided to go for servo pendulum. We then narrowed down to three larger manufacturers: Aries, Monitor and Windpilot. Prices are all roughly the same, so we compared on other variables such as build quality, after-sales and availability of parts.

Aries has recently been taken over by a young guy from Amsterdam, who stole our harts with his honesty, enthusiasm and willingness to help us with the installation. But looking at the wind vane system itself; the aluminium cast bits are pretty crude and not finished very well. Also the system is much heavier and larger than the other two.
Monitor and Windpilot are very similar. The designs look well made, robust, and are made with attention to detail, Both manufacturers are friendly and willing to offer a lot of information (at least the people we spoke to), Spare parts are easily available (even for older models) and both have a good network of sellers worldwide. The biggest differences between the two we could find where the type of material used and the the mounting system. Monitor is made out of stainless steel and attached to the boat by several mounting tubes. Windpilot is made out of aluminium and has a very simple and in our eyes pretty briljant mounting construction. It is light, easily adjustable and fits almost any type of transom.

Although I am sure that the Monitor system works perfectly as well, the simplicity of the Windpilot idea struck me. Combined with the fact that they are based in Germany and not the US, which saved us about 400 euros in shipping/import costs. Made us choose for the Windpilot Pacific. If it was a good choice remains to be seen but based on the our budget, needs and the above expressed considerations, it was the best choice for use. Hopefully it can be of help for others as well

Another interesting idea we picked up by talking to people at the fair (this idea was mentioned by several different people) is to attach the lines of the wind vane not to the steering wheel in the cockpit but to the emergency tiller. If you remove the cap covering the emergency tiller attachment point and come up with some kind of adapter piece (basically a mini version of the emergency tiller) One could easily attach the lines to that. I checked this on the boat itself and see absolutely no reason why this should not work. Has any one else done this already or seen this on other boats? Seems like a great idea or am i missing something here?

Regards, Erik

 

 

February 11, 2018 at 12:49 #26247
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Margriet & Erik Theunissen
Participant

Hi Lawrence. Thanks for your answer. Very true, totally agree. It is what it is, it is inevitable and it probably is what makes it all worthwhile. Good to be reminded of that because I sometimes notice that while preparing for a trip like this, there is the risk of over preparing and trying to cover every what-if. Contingency planning is good but its easy over do it.

I spoke to a guy at “boot dusseldorf” who has been planning his circumnavigation for 15 years now and wasn’t even close to leaving. It was never good enough, each time there was new bit of gear to be bought, more books to be read or others factors to be considered. He had about four times our budget and a ten year old Hallberg Rassy 42, but I don’t think he will ever untie his lines and leave

February 12, 2018 at 18:09 #26248
Czarina Blue
Czarina Blue
Participant

Dear Margriet and Erik,

I am interested in this subject as I will be ocean crossing later this year and so far have only the crew or the NECO autopilot hardware modernised through a SIMRAD control box AP22 brain. It works quite well until the seas get heavier , especially downwind.

Someone locally is offering a second hand Aries for not much money. However I am not so keen on the control lines idea so the idea of using the emergency steering is very attractive. However, if you have ever experimented with using the emergency steering you will find that it takes enormous force to turn the tiller, since there is no gearing between you and the rudder itself. It is really surprising, literally you against the force of the water, direct. In that sense it really is, perhaps, just for emergencies.

I can imagine it might be problematic as a connection point, though I am not an engineer and possibly some kind of gearing system could be superimposed onto the aft deck above it, to facilitate?

I wonder if you have asked Windpilot what they think of your emergency steering idea, I am sure they would have a view?

Also as an aside, I wonder how far, with the right balance of sails, one can use the mizzen sail as a crude wind steering device? I have heard that with a long keel and a mizzen sail, quite a lot can be done. This is something I plan to experiment with as soon as I can get back on the water, but am interested in the experience of others.

Best regards,

Duncan

February 13, 2018 at 22:34 #26249
David and Felicity
David and Felicity
Participant

Hi All,

Sorry for the late post. We have a Hydrovane on Borlowen, inherited with the boat. The PO says that he sailed the boat back across the Atlantic using it and it worked fine. Unfortunately, the sailing we were doing last year did not give much of an opportunity to try it but my son did use it coming back to Plymouth and managed to spend a happy hour on deck watching dolphins and not worrying about the steering. We intend to spend a bit more time setting the system up on longer trips this year.

David

February 15, 2018 at 14:21 #26250

Kari and Lawrence
Participant

Hi All,

 

Very interesting reading, I had not considered the rudder post direct steering idea but I think one would need to rig things in reverse, ie with a tiller extending aft-wards else the mizzen mast would be in the way. As previously mentioned I have done lots of sailing with both types of system and find the Hydrovane superior.

 

Erik, indeed we are all different and I don’t think it matters if we actually achieve our dream but the essential thing is to keep the dream alive and keeping ones life moving in the right direction, even if we are taking tiny steps. Also, there is no point going forth onto the ocean, until one is happy with ones boat and preparation. Otherwise the smallest niggle can manifest into a mountain, and we don’t like mountains at sea!!

 

Best of luck to you all, regards Lawrence

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