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Self streering

purplerobbie

Active member
Joined
20 Jan 2007
Messages
1,437
Location
ked Away
there is a bloke that makes them in devon.
they are made for boats less than 10mtrs and the company is called wind feather
I fitted one to an albin vega and it was a lovely bit of kit
Rob
 
Joined
20 Jul 2001
Messages
205
Location
Southampton, UK
I can endorse the Sea Feather. We saw them being built in Paul's workshop in Paignton, and it really is very well engineered. Also, the Sea Feather has been fine-tuned to work in very light following winds. Get your order in quick, though. He makes virtually every component from scratch, all in high grade materials, and the costs of stainless are going up almost daily. Each Sea Feather will be a custom fit, and for a bit extra, he'll sea trial and tune it for you. They take a while to build, as he's a perfectionist!
We did a big feature on them in PBO (see July 2006 pages 65-70) and compared the Sea feather against the cheaper, off-the-shelf Navik. Both worked, and worked well, but Sea feather was stronger, and also had a very useful control line so it could be adjusted from the cabin. It also has a very clever blade retracting system, so is easier to deploy.
Bill Churchouse used one for his Jester Atlantic bid (see his photo in this forum) and loved it.
Personally, I'm going to try a slightly different system, but only becasue it was very cheap at the Boat Jumble! I'll see how it works on the 500-mile test in August....and then probably order a Sea feather, despite the £1,500 price tag. (No VAT, though - he doesn't make enough...yet.)
 

Gargleblaster

Well-known member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,144
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
You can find a free book by Peter Forthman on different self steering systems -
http://www.windpilot.com/
I was so impressed with the book I bought the Windpilot Pacific Light which is ideal for sub 30 footers. Price was right and it is well made and robust. You can also take the pendulum out of the water at sea, which not all other cheap ones allow - you do need to be doing less than two knots to take it out though.

There is a very interesting system being marketed by a dutchman who calls himself Mr Vane. It was not ready for JC06 however.
see here- http://www.mrvane.com/
But it does require some skills in assembley according to Mr Vane. Something not all of us are capable of.
 

FAITIRA

New member
Joined
22 Jan 2007
Messages
1,548
Location
France
On my second Hydrovane, first was on a 44ft 20ton Roberts, now have one on a Nic32, wouldn,t have anything else, pricy but excellent performance, with advantages of no lines, emergency steering, low cost electric autopilot.
 

purplerobbie

Active member
Joined
20 Jan 2007
Messages
1,437
Location
ked Away
[ QUOTE ]
This one?

Sea Feathers

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes thats the one
Very good bit of kit
I have an aries on the boat i have now but it's a hell of a weight.
The hydrovane is good but you will be looking at£3k plus. You dont really see them second hand either
The monitor is more or less a copy of the aries but a bit lighter
The wind feather is as good as any
Rob
 

beneteau_305_553

New member
Joined
1 Apr 2002
Messages
599
Location
Norfolk UK
I only use electrical autopilots.

They sail a constant heading and I adjust the sails if the wind direction changes. I don't like changing course while asleep. If the wind direction changes the sails start to flog and wake me up.

They do not use much power, about 1/2 an amp under normal cruising conditions. And they work with a following wind which wind pilots strugle to do due the lack of apparent wind speed especially if there is some ocean swell.
 

FAITIRA

New member
Joined
22 Jan 2007
Messages
1,548
Location
France
If the boat is moving at all, our Hydrovane, on a 22ton boat steered, even with the wind dead astern, just the same on the present 33ftr.
They do turn up cheap, one in coruna was about £200, one in Ireland (old one), 300 euros.
 

Gargleblaster

Well-known member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,144
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
My experience of electric autopilots vs windvane steering and in particular servo pendulum is somewhat different.
Firstly I admit that windvane steering is useless in anything less than 2 knots of wind. But I must admit I can fool mine into giving me a straight course by laying the vane right over onto one side and adjusting the tiller control.
However in a big sea I find the windvane keeps going no matter how strong the wind and the forces pushing the boat around. Whereas the electric wutopilot starts overworking in anything above F6 and two meter waves - or at least mine does and I have a very well balanced boat under most wind conditions if I reef at appropriate times - in fact if I am not carefull I am more likely to have lee helm than weather helm.
With MY electric autopilot if the wind veers or backs my autopilot makes no adjustment at all so I am more likely to be either overpressed or have flogging sails. The windvane of course adjusts the course as the wind changes - not always a good thing as I have often woken up and found myself going in an inappropriate direction. The only time my windvane has not been able to cope with a wind change is a 180 degree change with no backing or veering.
Two other points about the windvane. Firstly I did an Atlantic crossing on a boat that only had an electric autopilot. The nylon cogs ground themselves into oblivion - that meant hand steering for 5 days - hard work on a crew. We had that fixed in Horta and replaced with brass cogs. On the next leg the compass decided it could no longer decide which way it was going another 9 days of hand steering.
Secondly not only does a windvane not use any electric power it is also silent. It is amazing how much noise an electric autopilot makes. It is only when you turn it off you can experience true peace.
 

Pye_End

Well-known member
Joined
5 Feb 2006
Messages
4,411
Location
N Kent Coast
Thanks for the Windpilot comments. I have seen this make on my type of boat and heard good things about it. It seems fairly light (simililar to the Sea Feather weight) and robust.

They are also both servo pendulum.

The only difference I can glean from the website is that the Sea Feather says it can be taken off easily - sounds like quite a good idea as if is sticks out it will be prone to marina damage and extra marina charges!

I have no experience of non electronic self steering - has anyone with more knowledge got anything to say about the comparrison between the two units?
 

Gargleblaster

Well-known member
Joined
16 Dec 2003
Messages
1,144
Location
Medway, Gillingham Reach
I understand the Windpilot Pacific Light so most of my comments are biased. But in comparing it before purchase with the Sea Feather - I liked the idea of being able to take the paddle out of the water to protect it if necessary or when going astern - I'm not sure you can do that with the Sea Feather. The Windpilot Pacific Light could be removed from the back except for the mounting bracket - which could be also removed but would leave four holes in your fibreglass. I have removed the whole unit except for the mounting bracket - in fact the unit sits about 10 feet from me now in our garden shed. There is one big bolt that holds it onto the boat which is accessible when leaning over the stern. I have only removed it on the water though shortly before haul out never under sailing conditions. The advice when fitting is to have lots of lanyards attaching various bits to the boat [which I do] so if you drop something you can still recover it.

I have been hit in the stern by a PWC while anchored, fortunately I had the paddle out of the water and no damage was caused to the windpilot, although I did have a chip in my fibreglass which the pwc owner claimed was already there. I am fortunate that the main part of the windpilot when the paddle is out of the water sits within the boundaries of my fibreglass.

If you are a member of the Yahoo JC Forum, there are a couple of photos of the Windpilot there. Including a very nifty device designed by the owner of Ming Ming for controlling the windpilot from the cockpit. [The lack of lines to control the windpilot from the cockpit would be in my and others opinion the main criticism of the Pacific Light - I too have rigged some line to control it but nowhere as precise as Ming Ming's.]
 

FAITIRA

New member
Joined
22 Jan 2007
Messages
1,548
Location
France
Brian, I built a QME thirty years ago in Tarragona from junk and washing machine bits! for a Westerly 25, used it to sail back to the UK. Within limits, it worked well on such a light boat, not as good as my last two Hydrovanes but a lot cheaper! Nice to see one again.
 

steve126

New member
Joined
23 Sep 2004
Messages
14
Hello.I used a sea feather on my 8M boat which i sailed down to the Med last sumer.It was great,strong or light winds it just did its job.The boat has a long keel.Steve.
 

Aeolus

Active member
Joined
3 Aug 2004
Messages
808
Location
Sussex
Re: Self steering

Does anyone have any experience of a Neptune wind vane?
 
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