Hydrovane

Croucher

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My "new" boat has an aged Hydrovane wind steering gear that I would obviously like to try out. However it appears that the extra rudder is connected to the shaft by a split pin only. Is this correct? It doesnt really seem man enough for the ocean crossings this gear is used for?

Also is there a trusted source of parts about?
many thanks
 

Toutvabien

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The pin is what connects the rudder to the shaft. Hydrovane website has all the parts and will deal with email queries very speedily as to set up etc. Loads of tips on the website about balance etc. Good luck with it.

Paul.
 

Bajansailor

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Consider yourself fortunate that you have a Hydrovane - an excellent item of equipment (the perfect crew who does not need feeding or watering), and an emergency rudder to boot.
(Yes, we have one!)

What type of boat do you have?
Hydrovanes work better on boats that are reasonably directionally stable, ie not skittish. Please be aware that you need to get the sails fairly well balanced first before engaging the Hydrovane - it might have difficulty coping with a very unbalanced sail plan.
 

prescott56

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i managed to pick a used hydrovane up of the price of new, however i need a longer rudder shaft and tube, quoted £681 + delivery from hydrovane.
I am told they are good kit, and i like the idea of a spare rudder having suffered a steering failure.
but just how "well balanced does the boat need to be, i keep hearing people say "the boat needs to be balanced" is this a way of saying i need to be a world class sail trimmer to make the things work? i can be a lazy B at times, specially when not on a hurry and its 90 degrees :)
regards
roy
 

capnsensible

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Totally agree, the best thing you could ever have on a yacht apart from the obvious.... well sails and stuff! Also found the company extremely helpful and efficient. Happy cruising.
 

Bajansailor

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Re well balanced....... just common sense balance really! For instance I would not expect our hydrovane to be happy with steering the boat on a broad reach under full main and no headsail - that would be asking a bit much of him.
It does help of course if the boat has good directional stability to start with - eg many long keel boats are pretty good in this respect.
We did a 100 mile passage close hauled a while back, thought the Hydrovane (his name is George) was steering, and only found out at the end of the passage that the boat was steering herself, as a linkage pin inside had sheered....
And on a reach (anywhere from close to broad), or downwind with the sails wing and wing, George is very happy.
 

Twister_Ken

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> i keep hearing people say "the boat needs to be balanced" is this a way of saying i need to be a world class sail trimmer to make the things work?<

Never sailed with one, but Cunliffe had a bit in one of the mags this month, where he said something like "you need to trim the sails so that you could steer the boat yourself without wearing yourself out." If my memory is right (no guarantees) it seems to me that averagely-OK trim would be fine, as long as she's not really suffering excessive lee or weather helm.
 

capnsensible

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Eeh, I could and probably will get boring about the Hyrovane! You really don't need racing trim at all. Just trim so that the boat is tracking nicely to helm yourself and engage the pilot. Its brilliant. If you wish then you can tweak away to your hearts content whilst it steadfastly carves a beautiful wake. You will now have time on your hands to cook, read, watch your 12v DVD player, do lurve and keep a lookout.
For those times we had to motor, I got an electric tiller pilot and using a bit of scrap stainlees and an old bilge pump handle sorted out a way to using the vane with the engine.
Ours is called Pontious. We met a boat who called theirs Carly. As in Simon, 'Your so vain"
Lastly (I am sure you are glad to read) we have used it on all points of sail in windpeeds of 5 to 50+ knots. Faultless. Enjoy.
 

FAITIRA

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I am on my second H Vane, what is your boat? The first one I had had was the biggest Derek had built to that date, it was 14ft from top to bottom. It was on a 22ton boat, steered across the Atlantic and back perfectly. Re balance, I just get the boat on course, lock the steering and engage the HV in the appropriate gear for apparent wind strength, it dosn,t take any fiddling to set up, then adjust the vane to fine tune the course.
 

AOWYN

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Re: Hydrovane Names thereof

My children tell me that I should get out more, but I can't resist adding to the Hydrovane name list. Our's is called Harry, after singer songwriter philanthropist Harry Chapin, one of whose most moving songs was called "A Better Place To Be". Harry Hydrovane certainly gave my father and me a better place to be, ie out of the rain and spray, comfortably under the spray hood for many hours on two trips to the Azores and back. Harry has been the best and most reliable piece of equipment which I have ever had on a boat, or anywhere else for that matter.
 
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To answer the question: A split pin securing the pin through the rudder and torque shaft is probably not the best option. As new they use as has allready been said stainless split rings as used on key fobs which can make removal a little difficult. I use on one end of the pin a split ring an at t'other an R clip which makes removal of the rudder blade relativly quick and easy, somthing that you are advised to do if motoring or leaving the boat for any great length of time. Under these conditions you get considerable chatter at the pin (If it is locked) which can lead to failure and loss of rudder blade. If it allready isn't I would suggest a securing rope spliced to the handle and lashed to some convienient point onboard but left free enough to allow full movement. also use a large penny washer between the rudder blade and whatever you use to secure the pin be it ring or R clip. As has been said before providing there is no great lee or weather helm the vane will cope extreamly well in most cases better than its master. Enjoy.
 

Billjratt

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Just have a go! You probably sail the boat well enough to let "Heedro" take over.(Having locked the wheel....) The pins are interchangeable, ie locking pins all over the upper part vs blade retainer pin. As mentioned above, tie a bit of small stuff from the main shaft to the rudder blade handle. fit it after trying to reverse out of your berth, and before the boat reaches six knots.....#!!! Buy or make some spare "sail" cloths as they get fragile in the sun and folk put fingers through them. (light sticky tape may fix) Put a wee bit of tape on the threads of the knobs to stop them coming off and perlushing. don't fall asleep just because someone else is steering! I'm jealous because we don't have one any more.
 

damo

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Re: Hydrovane Names thereof

My mate Bob built a hydrovane-type self-steering system for his Pageant, in metalwork evening class! Works a treat. We spent a pleasant passage thinking of the name - Vanessa: Vane-Activated Non-Electronic Self-Steering Apparatus!
 

Croucher

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Thanks to all you guys.
Seems I'll have a great piece of kit once I use it.
Still not totally convinced that just a pin is the best idea, but what do I know?
I have a W33 ketch with a fin keel so balancing should be easy. Whitsun trip Crouch to Ostend will be a good test run I expect. I'll have to previously think of a name of course.
Fair winds to all.
 

Liz_I

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The stainless pin is correct, however the unit will 'chatter' under motor, so it's advisable to have a couple of spare pins and also don't forget to tie the rudder on!! It doesn't float! Ours is Horatio friends have Vincent (Vane)Gogh. Fantastic bit of kit has steered us for 1000's miles. Boat? Old Moody 42 ketch - no probs.
 

Koeketiene

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Re: Hydrovane - Off-centre installation

Since there seems to be a lot of Hydrovane experience gathered here, allow me:

According to the Hydrovane blurb an off-centre installation (within limites) should be fine. Anyone any practical experience?
 
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Re: Hydrovane - Off-centre installation

No personal experience but have seen a couple so it probably works, as with inherent helm bias if there is some due to the installation it can be offset by the main rudder when clamping prior to engaging the vane.

My one moan about the Hydrovane is that of removal of the rudder blade and have often thought about having a new shaft made with a hinge in it like the Windpilots, so that it can be lifted up out of the water when not in use. Anyone else considered or done this. I remember many years ago seeing a method involving quick fit type fixings and a modified boat hook (PBO) but it was a bit too much Heath Robinson for my liking, no offence if the inventor is out there.
 
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