Steering Systems

We think we have the right combination for self steering but only time will tell. We have a Monitor servo pendulum system and an Autohelm 6000 rotary drive system.

The 6000 has been on the boat for some time and we have had some difficulty with it but we seem to have the bugs worked out. It should prove to be a sturdy and reliable system. Autohelm had very good staff on their 800 number support line. We have used this system almost exclusively from San Francisco to La Paz and it has worked really well.

The Monitor is new and we used it 95% of the time from Clarion Island to the Marquises. It has worked very well close hauled to moderate broad reach. If the reach gets too deep the vane has the boat wandering back and forth about 15 to 20. Overall we are extremely pleased with its performance and are surprised how quickly we got the hang of it. I found a big advantage in the fact that it steers to the wind and follows changing wind direction. We found that the wind on the ocean will change direction up to back and forth up to 20 and will change cause a accidental jibe if you set your broad reach angle too deep with an autopilot set to a magnetic course. We traveled with boats steering by magnetic autopilots and we able to out perform them going to weather and even running down wind in these variable conditions with the windvane and we never had an accidental jibe which both other boats experienced.

We discovered a great trick in the magazine Ocean Navigator. They pictured a boat that had attached a small tiller autopilot from the stern rail to the wind paddle of the monitor. We have purchased a Navico Tillerpilot which we will be able to interface to our instrumentation and use the Monitor for steering in a wider range of situations. We used this setup from San Francisco to Pillar Point (Half Moon Bay) and it worked well but there was vibration in the system caused by the prop wash (we were powering). We need to use the Monitor more and when we do we will update this section.