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Autopilot waterproof ( as possible ) connections

Joined
23 Sep 2010
Messages
29,185
Location
West Sussex / Hants
Hi,

I am looking to upgrade my Anderson 22 electrics for an ' offshore / Atlantic grade ' socket & plug for the Autohelm 1 &2000's - if there is such a thing.

I am as confident as one can be about the electrical panel / supply as it was specified by a top bloke, so any snags will be mine, and I specified in extra circuit breakers - though the auotopilot ones were obviously there from the start.

What I'd really like to know is please, is which connectors people find least worst ?!

The location could easily be under an extension I made to the bridgedeck to house & ventilate the gas bottle/s, but normally with buckets stowed and shelter from direct rain or spray - or from the inside of a cockpit locker ( hopefully avoiding the ' clumsy tired foot heavy syndrome ' ) but cannot avoid general, probably salty damp.

I've had the boat for 38 years and tried most connections, but only done cross-Channel stuff; if you Transat people could advise on better plugs / connection systems I'd be keen to hear please !

NB only thinking of max 350 mile-ish limited solo trips in semi - coastal - offshore waters, and though I don't think a vane suitable anyway as much as AIS etc for this; I cannot afford a windvane anyway so 1-3 autohelms with manual hand on whenever fun is the plan - not Transat - yet ! :)

Thanks,

Andy
 
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Gargleblaster

Well-known member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,139
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
Most of us use wind vane steering in big seas. I for one pack my electric autohelm away and don't bring it out again until a couple of miles from my destination. Like with most electrics when they get wet with salt water you will need to be replacing the red wire as it burns out very quickly.

I would try and get your connectors below deck if possible to stop water coming in. Maybe pack a little bit of white waterproof grease around it. The problem may not be your connections so much as the electric autohelm itself which as I understand despite Raymarine's claims are not waterproof at all. I have heard of people who have managed to get their autohelm inside a large plastic bottle to reduce water ingress.
 
Joined
23 Sep 2010
Messages
29,185
Location
West Sussex / Hants
Thanks Gents,

Sarabande, right I'll check out those connections pronto.

Glayva, I completely understand - and agree with - your point about windvanes, but this will ' only ' be a little proving trip, not the full fat Jester*.

I already have a clear ' cape ' of thick waterproof plastic over the autohelm itself even for weekend sailing, I've known some Raymarine jobs as staunch chums in any weather for years, while others lasted less than 30 seconds ! :)

* If and when I get to think of proper ocean sailing, it will be interesting researching windvanes among the Jester fleet; when Bob Salmon organised the first ' Mini Transat ' - arguably the prototype of the Jester - and sailed the works entry Anderson 22 ' Anderson Affair ' himself, he had a Hasler vane gear and couldn't get it to work properly, having to heave to or reduce sail at night.

He commented ' maybe it just doesn't suit the boat at all ' - but the Anderson is pretty conventional compared to the serious Jester boats nowadays, and his was the usual rushed start with little time for trials and development.

For the trip ( and budget ) I'm thinking of for now though, it will have to be a couple or more of autohelms and if they fail, lash the tiller; I've found that's quite effective though obviously no race winner.
 

Gargleblaster

Well-known member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,139
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
The Hasler was the first incarnation of wind vanes and had a fixed vane that turned in the wind no where near as sensitive as the later type which have vane that flops over in the wind and as a result will work much better in lighter following winds.

I'm concerned about your comment about serious Jester boats. There is no such thing. The smallest boat to complete a Jester Challenge was a Kingfisher 22 Junk Rigged. And for the Jester Azores we have had 20 feet boats complete the Jester. Any boat between 20 and 30 feet is a serious Jester boat.
 
Joined
17 Jan 2012
Messages
9,993
Location
West country
The Hasler was the first incarnation of wind vanes and had a fixed vane that turned in the wind no where near as sensitive as the later type which have vane that flops over in the wind and as a result will work much better in lighter following winds.

The smallest boat to complete a Jester Challenge was a Kingfisher 22 Junk Rigged. And for the Jester Azores we have had 20 feet boats complete the Jester. Any boat between 20 and 30 feet is a serious Jester boat.
One mustn't let this pass without mention of Rory McDougall's remarkable Jester Atlantic Challenge in his tiny Tiki 21 catamaran. http://www.jesterinfo.org/rorymcdougall.html

And then there's his video -

One does get winds of that strength, from time to time, in the Celtic Sea and the carriage of an effective sea anchor or drogue has much to commend it.
 
Joined
23 Sep 2010
Messages
29,185
Location
West Sussex / Hants
Glayva;5747877 I'm concerned about your comment about serious Jester boats. There is no such thing. The smallest boat to complete a Jester Challenge was a Kingfisher 22 Junk Rigged. And for the Jester Azore s we have had 20 feet boats complete the Jester. Any boat between 20 and 30 feet is a serious Jester boat.[/QUOTE said:
Glayva,

you needn't be concerned in that way, I was thinking of the serious racer designs !

My boyhood hero was David Blagden in ' Willing Griffin ' ( a very sad end to his story ) and my Anderson has already long ago seen us through prolonged 55 knot squalls *- the Plan B bolt holes were covered in surf even from windward so she kept going.

_^ The 'little blue boat ' was observed in these winds by the sadly late TS Royalist -they were so impressed they gave us a PU onboard and a lift back to Gosport ( the purpose of our sail in the Anderson was repositioning her during moooring avaiability ).

All credit to the boat, I was just hanging on !

So I may be in for a full Jester then.

With self and parents decaying this may be my only shot at it...

I think I know the saily bits, what are the financial hits there and back please ?!

Andy
 
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ScallywagII

Member
Joined
11 Jan 2012
Messages
76
Location
Southampton
I cannot afford a windvane anyway so 1-3 autohelms with manual hand on whenever fun is the plan
You may find you don't need a windvane or spare autohelms. Godot went to the Azores this year with neither. The smallest boat at 20' and by no means the slowest time of 21 days in a very difficult year. Olivier used sail balance or bungee and sheet to tiller depending on the point of sail. A suitable length of bungee costs a few quid and uses no electricity, a very important consideration when offshore in a small yacht.

The best reference for these methods (and also for windvanes) is John Letcher's Self Steering for sailing craft which can be downloaded free from the Jester website http://www.jesterinfo.org/selfsteeringforsailingcraft.html

My own video of the methods used for over 5000 miles with Scallywag on the 2014 JC is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnkDsDWl8zQ

Len
 

Rum Run

Active member
Joined
7 Apr 2011
Messages
492
Location
Me: Midlands, Boats: East Coast
I have put the tiller pilot connector inside the starboard locker and run the lead out via the corner of the lid, which flexes enough to not damage the lead. So far this has been successful. With the low freeboard of the A22 this kind of precaution seems more useful than on a high sided larger boat
Using Contralube 770 or equivalent is going to be a good insurance on the whole system too, given the likely dampness after a few days at sea.
I would be concerned about generating enough power to run the pilot 24/7 so more solar panels could be needed.
 
Joined
23 Sep 2010
Messages
29,185
Location
West Sussex / Hants
Hi RumRun,

BTW I was talking about your boat with a chum just the other day.

I also lead the cable for the autohelm via a cockpit locker for a bit of protection for the connection; I intend to add at least another 30 watt solar panel - doubling the charge - and will have a spare gel battery along, charged up at the start.

While the distances are different, as I was also saying to said chum I'm amazed now that I did for years sailing 80 miles or so cross Channel with a girlfriend and no self steering, the autohelm has spoiled us !

Our first such effort was installed by my aircraft engineed father, a quadrant under the tiller with a row of holes, and a ' pip pin ' on the tiller to engage and lock the tiller; while against all the principles of ' having a bit of give ' it worked very well indeed, as the A22 is a pretty well balanced boat - I wouldn't fancy that system's chances in serious wind & waves though.

My first electonic auotpilot was a secondhand Mini Seacourse which had a sense of humour built in; in those days the battery was a total loss system, I had to take it to garages etc to get charged - and there was no battery condition guage - whenever the voltage dropped below a certain level the mini Seacourse died with an ' Urgh ! ' worthy of Laurence Olivier, shoving the helm hard over - of course usually at narrow passages, so I always had a hand poised over the thing...

Andy
 
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