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Windvane self-steering

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    • #7496
      CJ
      Keymaster

        For those who have knowledge, which style windvane is best; auxiliary rudder system, servo pendulum system, and servo pendulum-rudder steering? What are the pros and cons of each style? You can see each style in this video.

        Wind vane basics

        I will be needing to get one for Smoothie in the next few years and need to get up to speed before purchasing so any info is appreciated.

        CJ

        • This topic was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by CJ.
        • This topic was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by CJ.
      • #7503
        billkramer
        Participant

          CJ,

          My advice on choosing a windvane is you want something simple and sturdy, that you can service yourself. I would also talk to owners of similar sailboats about how their windvane worked.
          You have a Cascade 36 and a lot of Cascades have used Monitor wind vanes. They work well with both a tiller and a wheel. I was very pleased with my monitor. Many RCYC members have sailed with a Monitor. There are a lot of used ones available. If you are looking at a used Monitor the dealer will ID your unit with the serial number. There have been some up grades over the years so newer is better. I bought a used monitor, the most recent version and I rebuilt it. I ended up spending about 60% of what a new unit would of cost.

          Aries are less common than Monitors, another servo-pendulum design. Webster’s and Velic sailed a lot of miles with one.

          Hydrovanes were popular in Mexico. Part of the reason is that Hydrovane very actively markets their product and they have made upgrades over the years. They work on boats where the vane cannot be mounted in the center of the cockpit. Talk to Raven, Stenberg’s. They sailed with one.

          Good luck,
          Bill
          Gypsy

        • #7517
          CJ
          Keymaster

            Thanks for the info, Bill. Where do you find the used vanes? Can the Monitor be used as an emergency rudder? I know the Hydrovane can. It looks like the Monitor has a $1300 e-rudder kit in addition to the $5k vane.

            Also, I like the vanes that do not have a bunch of lines going to the tiller. I believe the Hydro you balance the sails, lock the tiller, set the vane, and it does the rest without a bunch of lines. Any thoughts on this?

            CJ

          • #7519
            randywebster
            Participant

              CJ
              Bill’s summary and advice are good.
              There is no one perfect windvane. It’s a matter of matching a windvane as “best fit” for the boat. Generally, the servo-pendulum, vertical air vane, design is most powerful and well developed design.
              As Bill points out, lots of Cascade 36 have success with the Monitor. Our antique Aries worked very well on Velic, a Jason 35; a good fit. There are many other windvanes that work quite well. Seriously consider the Windpilot Pacific model, a German design. I saw many of these on boats during our cruise. Elegant, simple, and robust design. Very easy to bring the servo-oar out of the water. Monitors work very well, until they break. Most prone to break, needing repairs, in my casual non-scientific observation.
              You won’t be needing the Monitor “swing gate” version, designed for the wide swim step transom Euro-style boats. Even if Smoothy has a reverse transom, the Cascade 36 stern is narrow and the ‘swing gate’ just adds complication and more chance failure. Emergency rudders, or auxiliary rudders as part of the windvane add complications. Auxiliary rudder designs are a good fit for center cockpit boats. There is value in simplicity, especially because this is a critical piece of kit, and you will be maintaining it. Don’t worry too much about the cat’s cradle of line controlling the tiller. You can find a way to lead them that works, and most critically, is adjustable. You want low friction bearings, low stretch line, and an easy way to pop the control lines off the tiller quickly. Also consider weight aft. Aries was heavy (okay on Velic). Monitor lighter, but less robust. Let me know if you have questions or want to discuss. Good luck, and have fun.

            • #7521
              terrythatcher
              Participant

                CJ. I use a Monitor. I am not sure why Randy says they are prone to breakage. I also have the emergency rudder kit, although I have never had to use it. I like the Monitor. My boat is a little hard-mouthed and the Monitor steers well on all points of sail–last summer I broad-reached for 6 hours in sizeable waves and 25 knots. My son and I used it constantly to and from the tropics. It stops working in very light winds, like they all do. That is why I have an auto-pilot. Simple and robust. Chuck Fisher has one and sailed all over the Pacific. Newer ones are 316 Stainless. Older ones were 304 (rust prone). I have some doubts about the HydroVane. Any vane that advises using both the vane and an autopilot coincidentally seems suspect. But many use them. Search craig’s list in sailing communities and Ebay. A friend of mine scored a $5K water maker, still in the box, for $1500 off Ebay. Finally, the folks at Scanmar that make and sell the Monitor are wonderful and knowledgeable.

              • #7537
                randywebster
                Participant

                  Another unscientific impression:
                  American boats tended toward Monitor first and the Hydrovane second.
                  European, Australian, and NZ boats had a much more eclectic mix of designs.
                  NZ boats had a high representation of home-built wind vanes, of various designs.

                  Larger boats (50’+) tended to no windvane, relying entirely upon autopilots. But they had lots of acreage for solar and wind chargers, and all had gen-sets. Long and complex “dependency-chain” to keep an autopilot working.

                  PS: I did rig my tiller-pilot to the Aries. Used in place of wind vane when motoring in no wind. Worked well enough. Draws much less power than trying to push-pull the tiller directly as horsepower to steer comes from the servo-pendulum oar. But a bit of a Rube Goldberg contraption. Velic had a big unbalanced rudder on a skeg, compared to the balanced spade rudder of a Cascade 36.

                • #7539
                  CJ
                  Keymaster

                    Thank you all for the good information. There is a wealth of good info here.

                    I like the simplicity of the aux. rudder system such as the Hydrovane. Also, no lines in the cockpit. I can flip my tiller to the back and tie it neutral. This leaves the cockpit open. The e-rudder aspect is nice also. Not much to go wrong. Terry, from my understanding you do not need an autopilot to operate the Hydrovane. It can be hooked up as an option if desired.

                    The Monitor is a proven vane on the Cascade.

                    I checked out the Pacific and it looks viable, also.

                    The Aries seems more involved with more moving parts. At least from the pictures I saw.

                    Parts availability may help with the decision. I checked out some sites and found a few for sale. With 3 years left to get ready, I have some time. It is a bit nervy ordering from a 2nd hand party as I’m not always sure of the exact setup needed. When ordering from a dealer you get the help ordering and setting up. Looks like I have a bit more learning to do so I can make an educated purchase. Dealers are a bit spendy.

                    Randy do you ever get back to Oregon? Roxana and I would love to meet with you and Ruth. We have lots of questions about your cruising. We are looking at retracing some of your steps.

                    I found a good video that really shows how each system works and I now have a better understanding of each type.

                    Wind vane explanation

                    CJ

                    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by CJ.
                  • #7541
                    randywebster
                    Participant

                      Let me clarify:
                      I did not mean that most Monitor Windvanes failed.
                      I meant that of all windvane failures, Monitor failures held a slight plurality.

                    • #7547
                      CJ
                      Keymaster

                        I will say the mounting of the Monitor seems a bit more bulky where the Hydrovane is pretty simple.

                        CJ

                        Monitor

                        Hydrovane

                      • #7549
                        randywebster
                        Participant

                          Two features that I would look for on any windvane – which the Aires on Velic did not have, regrettably:
                          1) Ability to adjust the ‘gain’. That is: the ratio of input from air vane tilt to servo-pendulum rotation. Rotation of the oar shaft determines how hard and far the oar angles, which determines how much steering control is transmitted to the tiller. In heavy air, smaller gain would be advantages. In light air, more gain would be good. Or the ability to select a happy medium for your particular boat.
                          2) Ability to fine tune ‘straight ahead’ of the oar after installation. With the Aries, straight ahead was totally dependent on a perfectly aligned installation. Yet, a few degrees off is troublesome, as the vane steering is biased port or starboard. And not in a straight line off the intended course, but resulting in a broad circle.

                        • #7550
                          randywebster
                          Participant

                            Posting short notes, as my longer posts did not publish.

                            For a new and different design look up Mister Vee Windvane – the upside down vane. Notably the axis of the air blade is above the blade. According to the inventor this resolves inherent problems in the standard designs (Aries, Monitor, Hydrovane, Windpilot, etc.) where the axis is below the air blade.
                            Explanations of the function and geometry provide fun education about principles of windvanes, even if one does not buy the Mister Vee.
                            BTW: A friend in NZ built one, home-made copy, for his Ingrid 38. He reports it steers quite well, as advertised.

                          • #7563
                            CJ
                            Keymaster

                              I haven’t seen the Mister Vee. The price certainly looks good. I need to spend some more time looking into it before I can formulate an opinion on it.

                              Thanks for pointing it out.

                              CJ

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