The ones I've come across automatically hit a hard right if they loose signal from the remote and the autopilot stays in a full right lock until a reset button on board has been pushed - i.e. when solo-sailor has managed to climb back aboard. The theory is that he wears it on a string around his neck.
I have ordered the new Raymarine remote. Arrives mid Feb, when the first shipments are made. Will let you know how it works.
There is a major safety feature for solo sailors. The range is only about 30 ish feet so you wont actually be able to steer the boat back to yourself. But as soon as the handset goes out of range the a/p flips to "standby" so a sailboat will probably turn into the wind and sit there hove to ishly, so you can swim to it.
In contrast, with a normal a/p if you fall over board on auto or track, the boat will sail away and you're sharkfood.
So imho all solo sailors should get this gizmo and control the a/p from one of these things. Cost is £220 for the small one and I paid £410 discounted for the bigger one. They're a piece of cake to fit, if you have Raymarine gear already
I have no idea how many solo sailors fall o/b each year and die, but I betcha it's a number more like 10 than zero
It's a bit like an airbag I spose. I'm happy to have 10 of em in the cabin of the car even though I have no intention of using any.
There is a risk/reward balance. A £3000 gizmo may not be worth it for a device that will only save you on a 1:1000000 probability. But a £200 gadget that you can fit in 30mins - I do think that makes serious sense.
Ian this is a £200 gizmo that could save your life in those very rare circumstances when all your other careful arrangements that I agree you should put in place (incl trying to stay on board and wearing a short harness) fail for some reason. It's a bit like a £200 airbag. You should do loads of other things to reduce as far as possible the need for it. But nice to have as a last resort? I applaud Raymarine for making it
Fine, but I can't afford Radar, SSB or an Epirb and £200 will buy a number of new charts or eight new burners for my Taylor 030. My car does have an airbag, but if it didn't would I fit one? No. New tyres? Yes. A new electronic gadget is low on my 'must have' list.
Now a new Scanmar Monitor wind vane self steering gear,,,,,,,, that would be different. I might sell a Swallows and Amazons first edition for one of them.
Long bit of string with some knots in it over the pushpit to pull the Raymarine auto pilot off the tiller. ( if you can grab it?) Ought to work but I've never got round to it.
And the wind vane pilot which is used much more often is a real safety problem..I suppose I'll have to wear a harness and a lifejacket one day !!!
Cheers Bob E..
Most obvious reservation is that its only effective if you have the boat on autohelm.
Admitted if single handed that is likely to be a fairly high proportion of the time.
Secondly if the autohelm goes to standby then the rudder will be held in fixed position which means it will carry on in a straightish line, for a while at least. at 6 knots 30 seconds is 1/20th of a mile, say 100yds, before it goes onto stand-by so perhaps a longer swim than you thought, particularly if the boat is still moving through water -mine makes about 1 -2 knots when hove to.
Having said that I like the idea of lazing on the foredeck and steering the boat but what would really be useful would be a similar device to work the throttle. That would mean I could stand on side deck with ropes in hand and park up without undignified running and leaping about. Also anchoring, stand at pointy end, steer to desired point, touch of reverse, drop hook, bit more reverse and stroll leisurely back to cockpit.
Guess one day my auto pilot will be my down fall...sail mainly singlehanded even fly the kite alone, as soon as I leave my berth the pilot goes on...I know one day I will take a tumble and will spend a few minutes watching my baby sail gratiously over the horizon...spent most of my days with the RNLI telling people about safety...but even today my harness and lifejacket remain in the locker, guess that's the way I like it. The one concession I make is every trip I advise the coastguard of my departure point and destination...maybe one day when the yacht sails up a beach alone they at least will know where I came from.
Some 6 years ago I made such a device that was designed to work with the Autohelm 1000 and 2000; and it was published in PBO.
It cost about £30 and even sensed which tack you were on so that the boat tacked before circling at 3º/sec. It worked alright but was prone to radio interference e.g. radar transmissions.
I still use it but it is less useful now that I have a Hydrovane and, unlike the servo pendulum type windvanes, I haven't worked out how to disengage the Hydrovane remotely. Any ideas?