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yachts
jury rig
wind changes
wrong direction
wear and tear
Self –steering Gear For Yachts - Benefits And Limitations
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Self –steering Gear For Yachts  -  Benefits And Limitations

Eco friendly wind vanes that steer yacht thousands of miles, for FREE. If you are thinking of attaching a Hydrovane or a servo type self-steering system then here is a list of benefits and limitations to consider.

Many Benefits

1) The biggest for me is that they do not require any electric power.

2) This means that there are no electrical motors that can burn out or be damaged by the penetration of water.

3) If you are reasonably mechanically minded you can, if something breaks, probably make some jury rig so you can carry on sailing.

4) Many of these products have been around for quite some time and have proven themselves to be durable, reliable and last for a long time.

5) Because they follow any change in wind direction, unexpected gybes are prevented.

6) Since the Hydrovane is an independent unit the yachts steering gear is locked thereby saving a lot of wear and tear etc.

7) This self-steering gear has an excellent second hand market.

8) Most are pretty easy to install.

9) If necessary the Hydrovane can be installed off the centre line.

10) The Hydrovanes rudder and the servo blades can be used as an emergency rudder.

The Limitations

1) If the wind changes direction then the yacht will follow this change and if close to land this could be dangerous. I never found this to be a problem because if you are keeping a proper watch that person quickly becomes aware of the fact that the boat is steering in the wrong direction. The change of motion of the boat is also noticed. If far out to sea then a few miles off coarse makes little difference. Also with the GPS on you can set an alarm that will warn you of the problem

2) This type of self-steering gear is sensitive to weather helm and the sails do need to be balanced. However trimming the sails is part of sailing and that’s one of the reasons why we are out there, so it’s no big deal.

3) Downwind sailing does influence the force on the self-steering so you have to make allowance for it.

4) Also running before large seas can make you lose the wind so you should consider having some kind of tracking system available.

5) You cannot use it when motoring or if there is no wind.

6) If your boat has a mizzen boom it can interfere with you self- steering gear.

7) You have to be aware that constant friction on the unit and mainly the ropes cause wear and tear that needs to be attended to when doing long passages.

8) Their exposed position fixed off the stern of the yacht makes them vulnerable to potential damage.

9) Some marinas and also if you are transiting the Panama Canal, do add the extra length the self-steering gear extends past the stern to the LOA of the yacht.

So now you have something to think about. Personally getting a self-steering servo type wind vane for our 34 foot yacht was a no brainer. If you are cruising and not in a hurry then this item may, as with us, turn out to be along with the other necessary safety gear be the biggest asset on your boat.


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