• REMINDER

    Any content, information, or advice found on social media platforms and the wider Internet, including forums such as YBW, should NOT be acted upon unless checked against a reliable, authoritative source, and re-checked, particularly where personal health and liberty is at stake. Seek professional advice/confirmation before acting on such at all times.

    Users who are found to promulgate FAKE NEWS on the forum in regard to this issue, intentional or otherwise, may find their access terminated. It is your responsibility to provide references to bona fide sources.

    FAKE NEWS, in this regard, is that which is posited by organisations, media, etc., that is repeated on the forum, or used to support personal opinion/hypothesis posted by users - FAKE NEWS is not necessarily the personal opinion/hypothesis being posted in itself, any issues with such should be challenged respectfully.

Is wind vane steering necessary....

seadog18

New member
Joined
10 Feb 2012
Messages
4
I'd be grateful for the thoughts of you experienced Jesters as to whether a wind vane steering system is essential for the Baltimore Jester? I have an electric tiller pilot which has (so far) proved reliable, and am trying to avoid the cost... Your insights will help me decide whether to get the credit card out or not. Cheers.
 

Triassic

Well-known member
Joined
12 Dec 2014
Messages
1,526
Location
SE UK
I did the Baltimore last year and I only have a tiller pilot. Sailing a trimaran I can't use a wind vane system so I just tried to make sure the pilot was as well set up as possible and I carried a second one as back-up.

The two main problems with them seem to stem either from water getting in, or their power consumption. I've heard various tales of people wrapping them in clingfilm etc but all I've done to mine is tape the joints (Autohelm 2000) and extended the wire so that the plug is actually in the cabin rather than anywhere it could get wet, and so far no issues. When I did the Jester I only had a single 100ah battery and on the return trip pretty much ran it down overnight with the pilot going lock to lock all night coping with the following seas.... I've now added a second battery and solar panel and haven't had a problem since.

I'd say if the Baltimore is the longest trip you're planning on doing then you're be fine provided you cover the above. If you're using the trip as a test run for something longer then it would probably make sense to invest in the wind system now so that you can iron out any issues with it.
 

Gargleblaster

Active member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,104
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
Triassic, just as a matter of interest you should look at Rory McDougal's system he uses on his 21' Wharram Catamaran 'Cooking Fat'. He uses a windvane to control his steering without the paddle. It is generally thought that multihulls are too fast for wind vane steering, but Rory seems to have adapted half the principles very successfully. He came second in the 2010 Jester Challenge and then only by 40 minutes. The closest finish ever for a 2800 mile Jester Challenge.
 

Triassic

Well-known member
Joined
12 Dec 2014
Messages
1,526
Location
SE UK
Hi John,
I had a really good look at Rory's system during the 2015 Baltimore Jester. It is incredibly simple and works really well on his boat, but he doesn't have anything like the performance of an F27. I might be able to make something like that work when close hauled, but at just about any other point of sail it simply wouldn't be able to cope with the way the apparent wind moves around so quickly.
 

dansaskip

Member
Joined
12 Nov 2004
Messages
207
Location
Various
Personally I wouldn't be happy with just an electric tiller pilot, besides the risk of it failing I would be worried about the electrical consumption and being able to keep the batteries charged up. I don't think you would regret getting a wind vane self steering set up. I find mine pretty essential and it has been trouble free for over 9,000 mile so far.
 

Gargleblaster

Active member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,104
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
I thought Eric Andlauer might have mentioned his amazing win in the 2006 Jester Challenge using an electric autohelm on his Beneteau Figaro One 'Sterren'. It was below decks so not quite so vulnerable to water and had a gyro compass and he powered it by towing an aquagen. I know when he left Newport in 2007 he had battery problems and had to return to replace his main battery, but other than that I think he had one failure on the way over which he was able to fix.
 

srm

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2004
Messages
1,240
Location
Azores, Terceira.
Sorry not a Jester but my experience may be relevant.

Personal preferences and budget obviously play a part when choosing gear.

Having hand steered with two on board from the south coast to Shetland - twice - and a cruise from Shetland to Norway and back in the 70's all my subsequent boats have had wind vane steering. I put a Monitor gear on the previous boat, a Prout 32 (but it was too heavy for the boat and is now on my current monohull). I also had an autohelm on the tiller or wheel for motoring and drifting down wind, except on the biggest boat (42ft and 11 tons displacement) where a small autohelm could drive the windvane gear.

I have had problems with the autohelms failing and frequently not being man enough in gusting winds or steep seas. However, the different wind vane gears have always worked when there was steerage way and a slight wind over the deck. The heading may yaw a lot in big seas but the average was always reliable.

Having sailed all my boats singlehanded I think a totally reliable self steering system is essential. If money was tight I would choose a wind vane gear in preference to an autohelm for the reasons given above.

Some years ago a singlehander sailing round Britain came in to Stromness, Orkney. His third Autohelm tillerpilot (all new for the trip) had failed and he was only half way round.

Hope this helps.
 

Independence

Member
Joined
7 May 2007
Messages
525
I'd really think twice before relying on any electronic steering which is in the cockpit. I understand many of the top single-handers who are out to win use these gyro versions which as John says are located down below. Whilst very good I think they are very expensive and will be power hungry when conditions get tough.

The real test is to go out on a damp and miserable night, in a big sea with waves crashing over the deck, rain pouring from the sky and see happens!

I found my cockpit auto helm failed to work at all when I went to use it on final the approach to Newport harbour (in the dark). This was despite it remaining down below unused since getting to the start line in Plymouth. I'm assuming damp got into it!
 

Windway

New member
Joined
25 Aug 2012
Messages
65
Location
Porthmadog
I bought my Joshua she was fitted with an Autohelm 6000ST and I fitted a Cap Horn servo pendulum windvane for belt and braces. When I had the misfortune to collide with a submerged Chinese shipping container, said steel box mpacted the rudder and broke off the Autohelm steering arm! Next it banged into the SP oar and snapped this in two and bent the gearbox. Having said hello it slid off into the night to lie in wait for some other unsuspecting sailor. I had three days to make port for repairs and not wanting to hand steer, I fitted the spare oar and took a hammer and my blow torch to the gears. An hour later my windvane was still a bit bent but back in business. The electric Autohelm was kaput.I would not sail single handed without windvane steering.
 

SteveSarabande

Active member
Joined
3 Apr 2012
Messages
1,304
Location
Solent
How far is it, 300nm? If you are just doing Baltimore I would use an autopilot. Fit a windvane when you decide you really want to go on the big Jester challenges
 

ColinR

Member
Joined
23 Oct 2001
Messages
442
Windvane definitely. Once you fit it you'll use it for all longer passages not just the JBC. Its one of the best bits of kit I ever bought.
 
Joined
25 Oct 2010
Messages
1,365
My wind vane cost me under $50 for scrap stainless.Works well, and with a trimtab on the trailing edge of an outboard rudder, it is as close to indestructable as you can get.I have built several like it, for friends, at anchor, while sitting in my cockpit, with an alternator welder run off my main engine. My book shows you how.
I put my autohelm below decks , hooked to my trim tab with a shaft under the cockpit seat, exiting my transom. Works well, has done so over several Pacific crossings , for 25 years, Powering only the trimtab, the power loadon it is tiny. Friends, who had them in the cockpit, said it worked fine ,until one night it would quit ,and they would find the unit full of sea water. Extending the arm all the way out, then tapeing a salmon bag over it ,letting the plastic act like a bellows, works OK ,but I prefer mine below decks.
I would never go to sea relying on only an electronic autopilot .
 
Last edited:

saab96

Member
Joined
21 Feb 2009
Messages
120
Location
Bath, Somerset mainly
Absolutely essential. Don't trust electrics offshore. I've crossed Atlantic twice and relied on the windvane. It coped in all conditions except flat calm (but then I didnt try sailing during the flat calm - I slept and read and thought about how wonderful it was to be out on the ocean). I had a bigger, longer keeled boat than a Jester (a Joshua) and needed the servo -assisted type of vane - a Monitor on one trip and an Aries on the other. You could find something smaller, cheaper. Or try a trim tab if it will fit your rudder. Mike Richie used a windvane. Why not copy that?
 

ScallywagII

Member
Joined
11 Jan 2012
Messages
76
Location
Southampton
I didn't use vanes or autopilot on the JC 14 and Olivier on Godot did the JAC last year also without either. Study the first three chapters of the John Letcher book available on the jesterinfo website and try it out.


I have no objection to anyone using wind vane gear, but perpetuating the myth that they are "essential" without having even tried the older methods, may deter others of limited means. It is worth noting that every Jester Atlantic and Azores challenge has featured steering gear failure either during the challenge or the return, in some cases even on the way to the start.

Len
 
Joined
25 Oct 2010
Messages
1,365
I didn't use vanes or autopilot on the JC 14 and Olivier on Godot did the JAC last year also without either. Study the first three chapters of the John Letcher book available on the jesterinfo website and try it out.


Tried sheet to tiller decades ago. Yes, you can get it to work ,but every time there is a wind shift, or shift in wind strength, you have to mess with it a lot, to get it working again. No fun on a squally night.
The reason so many wind vanes fail is because they are mostly made so complex and flimsy. A trim tab on an outboard rudder, with 3 pintles is not going to fail. That is what some call "Crude' which
translates into "Not complicated enough , nor expensive enough."
Mine cost me under $50 for scrap stainless, and welding rod. 33 years of mostly full time cruising, and several Pacific crossings, and not a single failure. You don't often get that with flimsy commercially made windvanes.

I have no objection to anyone using wind vane gear, but perpetuating the myth that they are "essential" without having even tried the older methods, may deter others of limited means. It is worth noting that every Jester Atlantic and Azores challenge has featured steering gear failure either during the challenge or the return, in some cases even on the way to the start.

Len
 
Joined
25 Oct 2010
Messages
1,365
I didn't use vanes or autopilot on the JC 14 and Olivier on Godot did the JAC last year also without either. Study the first three chapters of the John Letcher book available on the jesterinfo website and try it out.


I have no objection to anyone using wind vane gear, but perpetuating the myth that they are "essential" without having even tried the older methods, may deter others of limited means. It is worth noting that every Jester Atlantic and Azores challenge has featured steering gear failure either during the challenge or the return, in some cases even on the way to the start.

Len
Tried sheet to tiller decades ago. Yes, you can get it to work ,but every time the wind direction or strength changes, you have to mess with it ; a lot. No fun on a squally night.
A trim tab with three pintles on an outboard rudder is not going to fail. Mine is 33 years old, and after that much mostly full time sailing and many Pacific crossings I have not had a single failure.
You don't often get that with flimsy, commercially made windvanes. Cost me under $50 for scrap stainless and welding rods.
 
Top