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Autopilot use during singlehanded racing


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Maybe I have been under a sailing rock for nearly 40 years but I never used an autopilot in cockpit tacking while doing short tacking or using to tack to apparent wind while racing single handed. I felt that it violated rule 52 and alway hand steered while tacking and under most operations other than when I went forward. What i am realizing it isn't only power winches but a whole slew of tech pieces that are used in competition that making in the difference when i felt it was somehow not corinthian in spirit. I am coming around to realize why I get my ass handed to me on longer sailing days as I believe there are many who are using every single power and computer advantage. 

Paul Cronin explains how he does it in his video. Many feel it isn't an issue.

https://vimeo.com/239719187

What say you? 

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1 hour ago, Black Jack said:

Maybe I have been under a sailing rock for nearly 40 years but I never used an autopilot in cockpit tacking while doing short tacking or using to tack to apparent wind while racing single handed. I felt that it violated rule 52 and alway hand steered while tacking and under most operations other than when I went forward. What i am realizing it isn't only power winches but a whole slew of tech pieces that are used in competition that making in the difference when i felt it was somehow not corinthian in spirit. I am coming around to realize why I get my ass handed to me on longer sailing days as I believe there are many who are using every single power and computer advantage. 

Paul Cronin explains how he does it in his video. Many feel it isn't an issue.

https://vimeo.com/239719187

What say you? 

It appears that absent minded professor Cronin is concentrating so hard on lecturing  his audience that at ~2:15 he tries to trim the wrong jib sheet during a tack.

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He's cross-sheeting - not recommended when short-tacking like that, and useless if you're not steering from the high side for balance and visibility.

Black Jack, most SSS skippers are using inexpensive self-contained tiller pilots.  Very few have "every single power and computer advantage" and those who do are not the ones on the podium.  Instead it's the fundamentals:  Remove excess weight, clean the bottom, have good sails and work hard to keep them well-trimmed, mind the Bay's wind and current patterns, sail a purposeful course, etc.

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25 minutes ago, BobJ said:

He's cross-sheeting - not recommended when short-tacking like that, and useless if you're not steering from the high side for balance and visibility.

Black Jack, most SSS skippers are using inexpensive self-contained tiller pilots.  Very few have "every single power and computer advantage" and those who do are not the ones on the podium.  Instead it's the fundamentals:  Remove excess weight, clean the bottom, have good sails and work hard to keep them well-trimmed, mind the Bay's wind and current patterns, sail a purposeful course, etc.

Bob, I am ok with what ever the rules are and am seeking being above board.  I am going in fully with a whole season of racing in the SSS and will do what i must to remain competitive with the boat I have. The only race i used to care about for nearly 20 years was the Master Mariners and enjoyed sailing the challenges of sailing the race with a yearly budget that could be taken from Alan H lint left over from his front change pocket. I did noticed many were sailing by autopilot this past weekend and i am usually oblivious as I am out there mostly for fun. It is different now.  I need a successful year to make the Transpac viable in my boat and to get the support from my lovely wife to do it. Since i no longer have a child in college and have money saved from doing travel - I can do what needs to be done for a successful program.  Boat is now lighter, safer, new sails coming, new bottom paint next month plus a few other things including a new ST2000.   An electric winch for cruising may have to wait till next year.

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When I started with the SSS I didn't have any self-steering and I sailed in the non-spinnaker division in my Cal 20. It was fun. When I sold the Cal 20 and moved up to the International H Boat, the boat came with a spinnaker. I'd sailed on crewed boats with a spinnaker, so I knew the general idea, but soon discovered that it was a whole lot less reliable to set a spinnaker solo, with bungee cords and rope holding the tiller in place.  Nonetheless I did a season with that boat in the SSS, in the spinnaker division with no autopilot. I wouldn't set in any sort of breeze, and I did everything I could to NOT gybe!  I actually had a Navik windvane on the H Boat before I had an autopilot.  I well remember rounding Blackaller in a crowd of boats and heading for Angel Island. While everybody around me was setting, I didn't dare to set, because I knew the boat might not stay on course with the tiller tied off while I was running back and forth to the foredeck to set things up. Everybody walked away from me until I had 100 feet of clear space around me, to set.  So be it!


Then I got the Santana 3030, comparable to your boat and the days of trying to do anything with a spinnaker without an autopilot were over. However, the minute I put an ST1000 on that boat. TADAA. I'll tell you the truth...I never used the autopilot to drive through a tack (no spinnaker). Instead, I practiced...ease the main a couple inches...uncleat the jibsheet...got it in one hand. ..push the tiller over...when the luff breaks, whip the sheet off the winch and go for the other side as fast as I could.  Hand-overhand the jib sheet in. When It's close, grab the tiller. Steady the boat. Let go of the tiller, grind the sheet in the rest of the way, cleat. Back on the tiller, stead the boat...mainsheet in.   I got so that I could tack the Santana 3030 up the Cityfront in heavy air and never drop a tack, hardly even luff the jib.  I swear I never used the auto-tack feature.  Driving to windward and short tacking was a LOT of exercise.   I only used the auto-tiller to drive while I set up the spinnaker and hoisted. The moment it was up, I cleated the guy, had the sheet in one hand and I was back on that tiller.  I'd use it on Farallones races for some fatigue relief, too. Man,  wish I could do this on the S2 7.9 but the rudder/tiller is just too unstable....my one and only complaint with the boat.

I did this. You can do this....but you have to practice. That wonderful Mull boat you have has a big masthead spinnaker. You're going to need an autopilot to set and douse it singlehanded. It's $450 bucks you just kind of have to pony up unless you want to race in the non-spinnaker division...and there are worse things, I might add, than racing non-spinnaker!

I have to tell you, a Singlehanded TransPac is going to set you back $8K-$10K. Just the liferaft rental, printing the charts, buying the required storm sails, the food and all will add up to a couple thousand bucks. You want a windvane?  See my thread, I've spent 6 months building one. Or you can buy one for $3K.  It's cheaper to get a Pelagic autopilot and two ST2000's for backup.  You are going to go autopilot-only? Then you'll want solar panels and extra batteries.. And so on.  That $10K comes up fast. And then....then.....you have a boat in Hawaii.  How are you going to get it home?  Sailing it home takes a month. Can you take a month off of work on top of the three weeks you'll need to do the race?  Shipping it home is $10,000.  Is it worth it?  There's a mess of reasons that it took me almost 20 years to get to the point where I could do a SHTP.

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I'm convinced.  Almost 20 years with the SSS has convinced me. Breaking into the top 10% of the SSS fleet hinges on one thing.

Not making mistakes. That red hot $$$ carbon mainsail makes a very small difference compared to shrimping the kite at the leeward mark. Did you spend five bills on two new super-hot jibs?  Yeah, but if you don't stay in close to the shore in a big flood going up the Cityfront, you still lose.  Do you have the highest tech VMG predictions for your boat running on a two thousand dollar chartplotter tied to your internal wireless backbone that drives your autopilot? Cool.  It all doesn't mean a damn thing if you run around by Point San Pablo.

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Alan - I have admired your tenacity and pursuit of Bay Area short handed sailing among so many good local sailors. We have a lot in common.and the way we do things.  I would very much like to see your boat and share a pot of coffee.  Please make some time so we can catch up in person and being COVID safe. I am sure we would find good fellowship. I am always willing to help you with her.

Thank you for the encouragement  This is one of the main reasons I am interested in the being active in the SSS - for folks like you. Bob and others who are openly sharing what might be some of the best sailing times in North America.

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3 hours ago, Alan H said:

When I started with the SSS I didn't have any self-steering and I sailed in the non-spinnaker division in my Cal 20. It was fun. When I sold the Cal 20 and moved up to the International H Boat, the boat came with a spinnaker. I'd sailed on crewed boats with a spinnaker, so I knew the general idea, but soon discovered that it was a whole lot less reliable to set a spinnaker solo, with bungee cords and rope holding the tiller in place.  Nonetheless I did a season with that boat in the SSS, in the spinnaker division with no autopilot. I wouldn't set in any sort of breeze, and I did everything I could to NOT gybe!  I actually had a Navik windvane on the H Boat before I had an autopilot.  I well remember rounding Blackaller in a crowd of boats and heading for Angel Island. While everybody around me was setting, I didn't dare to set, because I knew the boat might not stay on course with the tiller tied off while I was running back and forth to the foredeck to set things up. Everybody walked away from me until I had 100 feet of clear space around me, to set.  So be it!


Then I got the Santana 3030, comparable to your boat and the days of trying to do anything with a spinnaker without an autopilot were over. However, the minute I put an ST1000 on that boat. TADAA. I'll tell you the truth...I never used the autopilot to drive through a tack (no spinnaker). Instead, I practiced...ease the main a couple inches...uncleat the jibsheet...got it in one hand. ..push the tiller over...when the luff breaks, whip the sheet off the winch and go for the other side as fast as I could.  Hand-overhand the jib sheet in. When It's close, grab the tiller. Steady the boat. Let go of the tiller, grind the sheet in the rest of the way, cleat. Back on the tiller, stead the boat...mainsheet in.   I got so that I could tack the Santana 3030 up the Cityfront in heavy air and never drop a tack, hardly even luff the jib.  I swear I never used the auto-tack feature.  Driving to windward and short tacking was a LOT of exercise.   I only used the auto-tiller to drive while I set up the spinnaker and hoisted. The moment it was up, I cleated the guy, had the sheet in one hand and I was back on that tiller.  I'd use it on Farallones races for some fatigue relief, too. Man,  wish I could do this on the S2 7.9 but the rudder/tiller is just too unstable....my one and only complaint with the boat.

I did this. You can do this....but you have to practice. That wonderful Mull boat you have has a big masthead spinnaker. You're going to need an autopilot to set and douse it singlehanded. It's $450 bucks you just kind of have to pony up unless you want to race in the non-spinnaker division...and there are worse things, I might add, than racing non-spinnaker!

I have to tell you, a Singlehanded TransPac is going to set you back $8K-$10K. Just the liferaft rental, printing the charts, buying the required storm sails, the food and all will add up to a couple thousand bucks. You want a windvane?  See my thread, I've spent 6 months building one. Or you can buy one for $3K.  It's cheaper to get a Pelagic autopilot and two ST2000's for backup.  You are going to go autopilot-only? Then you'll want solar panels and extra batteries.. And so on.  That $10K comes up fast. And then....then.....you have a boat in Hawaii.  How are you going to get it home?  Sailing it home takes a month. Can you take a month off of work on top of the three weeks you'll need to do the race?  Shipping it home is $10,000.  Is it worth it?  There's a mess of reasons that it took me almost 20 years to get to the point where I could do a SHTP.

Yes the 3030 Wisdom, I bought that from you and that ST1000 was my crew when I often sailed solo. Im for power and so is the vendee racers.

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Wisdom was a good boat for the Bay. Not so much for the ocean around here, but Bay...you bet. All the more so after I laid those panels into the forepeak to back up the flat-sided hull.  If another one, or something very much like it, like  a Capo 30 or an Olson 911S fell into my lap after the SHTP, I wouldn't say "no".

Or a really cool cold molded Mull 30!  *LOL*

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25 minutes ago, Alan H said:

Wisdom was a good boat for the Bay. Not so much for the ocean around here, but Bay...you bet. All the more so after I laid those panels into the forepeak to back up the flat-sided hull.  If another one, or something very much like it, like  a Capo 30 or an Olson 911S fell into my lap after the SHTP, I wouldn't say "no".

Or a really cool cold molded Mull 30!  *LOL*

Be careful what you ask for!  :lol:

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On 2/4/2021 at 6:38 PM, BobJ said:

He's cross-sheeting - not recommended when short-tacking like that,

I completely disagree with you on this one.  I would credit cross sheeting with the fact that I can tack much faster than any other boat, including any fully crewed boat.  This vital when short tacking.  One of the key reasons is that as I'm climbing from the low side of the boat to the new high side, I am pulling on the new sheet. So this pulls me up and completes the trimming of the sheet in one move.  My full weight is on the sheet. Then a quick wrap around the winch and I'm done.  I can complete the entire tack, including the actual decision to tack, in 5-10 seconds easily. 

I don't use the autopilot to tack, but rather steer with my knees, for a few reasons.  First is that it allows me to pause for a moment to make sure the sail clears across the bow.  It's usually not a problem with a jib, but certainly a big issue with a genoa.  I can pause at any point and allow the sail to clear the shrouds and mast.  And there are even times when I have to steer back for a second to complete this.  All easily done with my knees while I'm managing both sheets with my hands.  Second, it allows me to steer down as necessary for that particular tack - either before or after the tack.  Sometimes, if everything goes perfectly, I can move directly into the final heading; other times I can steer a little low; other times, if my sail has caught outside the stanchions, I can steer up a bit to clear it.  None of this is possible if you are using an autopilot.  Third, it's great for tacking duels:  If the other boat is watching me, I can head up to make him think I'm tacking, and then head down again.  Or I can head up, head down, and then head up to complete the tack.  I've never lost a tacking duel because i can do this all so fast.

 

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On 2/4/2021 at 8:11 PM, Alan H said:

but soon discovered that it was a whole lot less reliable to set a spinnaker solo, with bungee cords and rope holding the tiller in place. 

good on you for using a bungee cord for spinnaker work. Yes, it takes practice, but I've done it for several years and gotten fairly proficient at  launching, dousing and gybing in most winds. 

Once you start with an autopilot, my Olson 30 is so twitchy that if I'm launching in higher winds, the autopilot can't handle the sudden surge when the sail catches, so I end up in a big broach.  So what I do is launch with the sheet really loose, so I have time to bring the guy and the pole back to where I want them.  Then I sit down and take the tiller in hand, and then pull in the sheet until the spinnaker catches.  By hand steering I can control the situation much better and have reduced broaching a lot.

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16 minutes ago, Foolish said:

I completely disagree with you on this one.  I would credit cross sheeting with the fact that I can tack much faster than any other boat, including any fully crewed boat.  This vital when short tacking.  One of the key reasons is that as I'm climbing from the low side of the boat to the new high side, I am pulling on the new sheet. So this pulls me up and completes the trimming of the sheet in one move.  My full weight is on the sheet. Then a quick wrap around the winch and I'm done.  I can complete the entire tack, including the actual decision to tack, in 5-10 seconds easily. 

I don't use the autopilot to tack, but rather steer with my knees, for a few reasons.  First is that it allows me to pause for a moment to make sure the sail clears across the bow.  It's usually not a problem with a jib, but certainly a big issue with a genoa.  I can pause at any point and allow the sail to clear the shrouds and mast.  And there are even times when I have to steer back for a second to complete this.  All easily done with my knees while I'm managing both sheets with my hands.  Second, it allows me to steer down as necessary for that particular tack - either before or after the tack.  Sometimes, if everything goes perfectly, I can move directly into the final heading; other times I can steer a little low; other times, if my sail has caught outside the stanchions, I can steer up a bit to clear it.  None of this is possible if you are using an autopilot.  Third, it's great for tacking duels:  If the other boat is watching me, I can head up to make him think I'm tacking, and then head down again.  Or I can head up, head down, and then head up to complete the tack.  I've never lost a tacking duel because i can do this all so fast.

 

...on an Olson 30.  I'm not racing a J/92 any more.

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There are days when I wish I was sailing a Contessa 26, just for the steadiness of the helm. Then all this "tie the tiller off" and "bungee cord" stuff would work just great. Ah, well....something to look forward to.

 

I view all these videos of guys sailing 26-28 foot long keel boats across oceans with just sheet to tiller self-steering with a twinge of jealousy.

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On 2/16/2021 at 11:42 AM, Foolish said:

good on you for using a bungee cord for spinnaker work. Yes, it takes practice, but I've done it for several years and gotten fairly proficient at  launching, dousing and gybing in most winds. 

Once you start with an autopilot, my Olson 30 is so twitchy that if I'm launching in higher winds, the autopilot can't handle the sudden surge when the sail catches, so I end up in a big broach.  So what I do is launch with the sheet really loose, so I have time to bring the guy and the pole back to where I want them.  Then I sit down and take the tiller in hand, and then pull in the sheet until the spinnaker catches.  By hand steering I can control the situation much better and have reduced broaching a lot.

 I looked at your videos about steering the boat with a storm jib up inside the main headsail, and then looked around YT for other examples.  I came across a number of videos about the same principle, and also videos about using mainsheet-to-tiller steering.  When my single autopilot died on my SHTP qualifier, I set up mainsheet-to-tiller self steering and it drove the boat for many hours, and worked very well. I was actually shocked.   It had trouble in windspeeds approaching 20 knots and less than 5 knots, but it got me through day three.  I tested the idea of using my heavy-weather jib, which is easily double the  size of my storm jib,  about a 65% headsail,  to do your system  and it worked, in light air and flat water.  I was impressed enough to make a wire stay exactly the length of the luff of my heavy-weather jib.  That sail has a #6 tape, but there are grommets behind the tape. I can lash the heavy weather jib to that wire stay and tighten it with a halyard, about  16 inches inside my  forestay.  I still need to test this in more wind, but I'm pretty confident that given some time I can figure it out.

It's reassuring to have a fighting chance at rigging a functional self-steering system up, if the autopilots pack it in.

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On 2/16/2021 at 11:33 AM, Foolish said:

I completely disagree with you on this one.  I would credit cross sheeting with the fact that I can tack much faster than any other boat, including any fully crewed boat.  This vital when short tacking.  One of the key reasons is that as I'm climbing from the low side of the boat to the new high side, I am pulling on the new sheet. So this pulls me up and completes the trimming of the sheet in one move.  My full weight is on the sheet. Then a quick wrap around the winch and I'm done.  I can complete the entire tack, including the actual decision to tack, in 5-10 seconds easily. 

I don't use the autopilot to tack, but rather steer with my knees, for a few reasons.  First is that it allows me to pause for a moment to make sure the sail clears across the bow.  It's usually not a problem with a jib, but certainly a big issue with a genoa.  I can pause at any point and allow the sail to clear the shrouds and mast.  And there are even times when I have to steer back for a second to complete this.  All easily done with my knees while I'm managing both sheets with my hands.  Second, it allows me to steer down as necessary for that particular tack - either before or after the tack.  Sometimes, if everything goes perfectly, I can move directly into the final heading; other times I can steer a little low; other times, if my sail has caught outside the stanchions, I can steer up a bit to clear it.  None of this is possible if you are using an autopilot.  Third, it's great for tacking duels:  If the other boat is watching me, I can head up to make him think I'm tacking, and then head down again.  Or I can head up, head down, and then head up to complete the tack.  I've never lost a tacking duel because i can do this all so fast.

 

I tried steering with  my knees and tacking just a few days ago (Ericson 33). It's definitely not easy to do (for me) when the boat is on the edge with any sort of weather helm. My tiller is also pretty sensitive.  Any suggestions ?   I tried to put the tiller in a bungee as well to add some dampening. Maybe moving the tiller and locking it (with a tiller/rope clutch) might be another idea.

 

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12 hours ago, 964racer said:

I tried steering with  my knees and tacking just a few days ago (Ericson 33)

Your  cockpit is so small that it shouldn't be an issue at all.  Don't put the tiller in between your legs. Just rest it against your stern knee and use that alone. Remember that you are actually using the weather helm to turn the boat into the wind, so all you are really doing is using your knee to control the tiller from swinging over too far.  This also allows you to pause the tack mid way to move the sail across the bow.  Then when you move across the cockpit in front of the tiller, use the new stern knee (the opposite leg) to hold against the tiller and control weather helm on the new tack.   This allows you to use both hands to winch in the sheet on the high side.

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If the rules forbid it I won't do it. If it is allowed, I look at it from a safety aspect.

If you can tack the boat fine manual steering then that's what you do. But if it's not safe to do so, then use the autopilot. 

I can tack the boat singlehanded pretty easily, but not fully in control (I have to come off the wheel to set the new jib sheet).  I can do it without being on the helm (centred and locked) just by trimming but its a slow turn (and not fully in control).

So I use the pilot as it's safer (controlled). I have a fob around my neck that is super responsive so its easy to control and even fun to try for a 'perfect' turn.

I agree that any advantage from autopilot tacking, IMHO,  is minimal when compared to the quality of the sailors.  

The advantages of using electronics in general, same story. I use AIS to look up the runway for clear water to plan where I'm gybing (where shipping isn't). That's an advantage as being close to traffic nearly always adds time, but it's an important safety feature so I look at it all the time when offshore.

I use the electronics to help tell me which side is favoured for wind shifts or for when to downchange. This helps me for racing but also means I am being sensible ie: a low might be getting nearer or closer.

I use electronics to help me gauge leeward drift so I don't drive into the dark rocky headland at night whilst I am fussing with something else.

Or am I just cooking up excuses?

If its safer to do so, I'll use electronics.If not, I prefer the Corinthian mindset.       

   

 

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I usually tack without the AP.  Luckily all the boats have had layouts amenable to steering with some secondary bodypart. Just takes practice. On the SC50 the headsail sheets are often moved to the runner winches nearer the wheel. On my earlier Cal 36 I’d steer the tiller with leg or foot pressure while trimming. Works great...certainly better than the hapless Raymarine landlubber geeks imagine a tack is accomplished. When I do use the AP thru the tack I do not use the idiot autotack command. That never has the appropriate angle set. I just push some carefully considered number of +/- 10 or 1 commands.

 

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1 hour ago, El Borracho said:

I usually tack without the AP.  Luckily all the boats have had layouts amenable to steering with some secondary bodypart. Just takes practice. On the SC50 the headsail sheets are often moved to the runner winches nearer the wheel. On my earlier Cal 36 I’d steer the tiller with leg or foot pressure while trimming. Works great...certainly better than the hapless Raymarine landlubber geeks imagine a tack is accomplished. When I do use the AP thru the tack I do not use the idiot autotack command. That never has the appropriate angle set. I just push some carefully considered number of +/- 10 or 1 commands.

 

I wish I could do that with my simrad T32.  You either use the tack button (which tacks too fast) or disconnect the tiller pilot and tack without the AP.   There is no +10 degree button and multiple +1 clicks just get thrown away.   I don't know if the pelagic can work this way but I'm considering as my next autopilot, but want to get more practice tacking without the AP in heavy air.

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19 hours ago, El Borracho said:

the idiot autotack command. That never has the appropriate angle set. I just push some carefully considered number of +/- 10 or 1 commands.

 

Ditto my Ray unit, except it only knows a 90 deg autotack.  But, it is always 90 and you can override it quickly, don't have to wait for it to finish.  If I want a 110 tack, I hit autotack and add +10 twice immediately.  I can fine tune as needed as the tack completes.

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On 2/25/2021 at 10:49 PM, 964racer said:

I don't know if the pelagic can work this way but I'm considering as my next autopilot, but want to get more practice tacking without the AP in heavy air.

I find the Pelagic tack works ok for me so far at least in "reasonable" conditions (I haven't had it that long), I would like the ability to adjust the preset angle as it is at least 5dg too much. I just let it's do it's thing and at the end adjust with a few key presses (I think you can adjust anytime).
However what I do for jibes is to put it in standby, then give a few pushes to get a gentle curve going (in standby the heading adjust buttons just move the ram in and out a fixed amount and hold it there), as soon as I'm far enough I hit the "engage" button. This works well and lets you decide how fast of a turn you want (but you have to be ready to engage it or you'd end up rounding up too much!). This mimics how I do it with just a bungy wrapped around the tiller.

You could that with a tack if the tack function is too fast, I found with the bungy around the tiller tacks were a bit more tricky in bigger breeze as it wouldn't hold well enough after the tack and would tend to round up wile I was still trimming the jib so I would have to give the traveler a bunch of slack so it would be down after the tack some to avoid rounding up too fast before I got a chance to sheet in.
I have the control on the bulkhead so it's really near the (cabin top) jib winches so it's easy to get to. There is no +/-10 on the Pelagic main unit (but I believe there is on the remote, but I haven't really used it yet)

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On 2/26/2021 at 5:05 PM, jamhass said:

Ditto my Ray unit, except it only knows a 90 deg autotack.  But, it is always 90 and you can override it quickly, don't have to wait for it to finish.  If I want a 110 tack, I hit autotack and add +10 twice immediately.  I can fine tune as needed as the tack completes.

My Ray 8000 does both. But it's ancient. I'm surprised there aren't more like that now.

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50 cent autohelm.  fast set up, held the course while racing for me to eat lunch, seek relief and open - finish a beverage.

 

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On 3/3/2021 at 11:01 AM, Black Jack said:

50 cent autohelm. 

Regardless of my autopilot, i always have my bungee cord/rope draped across the transom.  You never know when your AP is going to shut off for some stupid reason.  it happens more often than you'd think.  Just the other day it shut off and it took me a minute to realize that the power wire had come slightly lose, but was still basically in place.  Thanks to my 50 cent autohelm, I remained in complete control the whole time.

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Black Jack, I encourage you to watch these videos, if you haven't already.  This is super-easy to set up, and while it steals some efficiency from your mainsail, you don't have to set an extra sail inside the foretriangle, like some other systems do.  This can easily steer the boat, without tacking for a half hour or more, when properly set up.

 

 

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When I set this up on my SHTP Qualifier, when my single Raymarine ST2000 failed at the end of the second day,  I followed their principles.

the latex tubing is cheap...https://www.homedepot.com/p/UDP-1-4-in-I-D-x-3-8-in-O-D-x-10-ft-Natural-Latex-Tubing-T64006001/304185180

I  set up some extra blocks much like the second video illustrates.  I slacked off on the mainsail and just used a couple of hitches to get the self-steering line to attach to the tiller.  I'll probably put a couple of old jam cleats on the tiller for the SHTP, like the first video has.

I found that I needed 2-4 "loops" of surgical tubing, which I locked in by passing them through a s.s. ring, much like a belt buckle, to get the right tension.  I had a piece of low-stretch line go from that s.s. ring to the leeward sheet winch,  just once around and down to the jam cleat below the winch. That made adjusting the leeward  tension really easy.

The whole thing is a bit fiddly to set up but it steered the Wildcat for about 18 hours in winds from about 16 knots down to 5 knots, mostly on a broad reach.  This is usable, if not super-fast, on the Bay.  Just set everything up, and then slack it off when you're steering the boat yourself.  Trim the main with the mainsheet, like always.    If you need ten minutes to set up a spinnaker pole, or something like that, engage the system a few minutes early. Mess with it, until it's right and then go about your business.

If I was going to use sheet to tiller steering to go all day long, or nonstop for a couple of days, I would rig an inner sail....see the following videos.

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I have not tried the "storm jib system" but I HAVE tried the same system with an approximately 60% size "heavy weather jib".  I did my test on a quiet winter day with maybe 5 knots of wind, and I only tested it for about 20 minutes but it worked.  I'd like to try it some more. I was impressed enough to  make a wire "stay" that I can hoist up on my sloop, and lash the storm jib or the heavy weather jib to so the luff of those sails have some extra support.

Would that steer the Wildcat from San Francisco to Hawaii?  It might. Whatever the case, it's a HELL of a lot better than nothing, if all the autopilots die.  The mainsheet-to-tiller system worked,  so I'm making sure that I have  this option on the boat as well.

Black Jack, these are pretty inexpensive options to test on your boat.

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2 hours ago, Alan H said:

Here's Andrews stuff...

 

Very nice direct explanation and detail. Thanks much. I will be adding a small storm jib to the sail inventory. 

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2 hours ago, Alan H said:

I have not tried the "storm jib system" but I HAVE tried the same system with an approximately 60% size "heavy weather jib".  I did my test on a quiet winter day with maybe 5 knots of wind, and I only tested it for about 20 minutes but it worked.  I'd like to try it some more. I was impressed enough to  make a wire "stay" that I can hoist up on my sloop, and lash the storm jib or the heavy weather jib to so the luff of those sails have some extra support.

Would that steer the Wildcat from San Francisco to Hawaii?  It might. Whatever the case, it's a HELL of a lot better than nothing, if all the autopilots die.  The mainsheet-to-tiller system worked,  so I'm making sure that I have  this option on the boat as well.

Black Jack, these are pretty inexpensive options to test on your boat.

I think they will work great. I do have a small flying jib I can try in the week to come. I just picked up a ST 2000 so I can begin to use set the spin and gennaker solo. I will not be ready to sail with you to Hawaii this year. But it is a step closer.

I do have a nice piece of autohelm history I would be glad to send someone gratis.

 

IMG_1569.jpeg

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On 3/5/2021 at 3:03 PM, Alan H said:

I have not tried the "storm jib system" but I HAVE tried the same system with an approximately 60% size "heavy weather jib". 

that's not a problem.  When winds are lighter and I'm sailing with my 150 genoa, I have used my full 100 jib as the steering sail.  It all works the same.  You mentioned that you tried it in just 5 knots of wind. It actually works better in higher winds. 

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On 3/6/2021 at 9:50 AM, solosailor said:

For bay races I suggest a TillerClutch....    <$100.

Second the Tillerclutch 100%
I sail in a Santa Cruz 27 in the Columbia River Gorge, so I tack a LOT going 20 miles upwind in a 1/2 mile wide channel. Usually against 25-30 knot winds and a steep chop. The Tillerclutch is so fast to switch on and off, that you can tune it very precisely. It can do 100% of the upwind steering for me. Downwind, flying a kite....tune in and steer quickly 

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On 3/9/2021 at 1:13 AM, grimoire said:

Second the Tillerclutch 100%
I sail in a Santa Cruz 27 in the Columbia River Gorge, so I tack a LOT going 20 miles upwind in a 1/2 mile wide channel. Usually against 25-30 knot winds and a steep chop. The Tillerclutch is so fast to switch on and off, that you can tune it very precisely. It can do 100% of the upwind steering for me. Downwind, flying a kite....tune in and steer quickly 

Funny you guys mentioned the tillerclutch. I just got one.  Heavy duty version and it looks well made.  it was cheap enough to buy on impulse to try it. I just installed it on the tiller.  The line it comes with is long enough for me try with stern winch cleats, so I am not going to install adjustment cams right away. They seem to be at the right angle/height..   I'm wondering if I should put a bungee section in the line for dampening or just run straight line all the way through...

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13 hours ago, 964racer said:

I'm wondering if I should put a bungee section in the line for dampening or just run straight line all the way through...

Wouldn't mooring snubber or something alike do the job?

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We were talked into a Tillerclutch at their booth at the first Annapolis Sailboat Show we attended after buying our boat. It is a great alternative to an AP and even now that we've added an AP to the boat, I still use it often to hold the tiller in place for quick stuff when I am hand steering. It's well made and has been trouble free for the past 10 years or so we've had it on the boat. Great bit of kit. 100% recommend. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Mano a Mano!

Solo No Trophy North Bay Saturday, April 24, 2021

https://www.jibeset.net/show.php?RR=JACKY_T003633295&DOC=si&TYP=pdf

No Autopilot division. I am going to push and sail in a no electronics subdivision in the fleet. Should be super fun and a test of good old school seamanship in sailing.  Gatorade bottles will be encouraged.

 

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Spinnaker and no pilot, I love it.  We do training session like this all the time, need to have this option at some races on the East Coast.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

 Singlehanded No Trophy North Bay Race was a blast. https://www.jibeset.net/JACKY000.php?RG=T003633295

winds were fierce and the chop trying. I went almost completely old school. Pretty Penny was built for the slot and days like yesterday. only had wind speed and depth finder working. Removed the speed wheel and used the gps only to check my speed after the race. 24 plus miles covered in good time.

Less stiff boats suffered.

 

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