Select Page

Guest author: Sarah Curry of Hydrovane International Marine

Article from Island Cruising NZ, courtesy of Viki Moore

Once upon a time our tight quartered boat show booth was jammed full of sailors holding cocktails, regaling us with exciting past and future sailing plans as we answered installation questions in person. As we haven’t had the chance to attend boat shows in many months, we felt a run down of the common Q’s we are asked at boat shows would be of interest!

I will preface the installation questions with the obvious: “What is a windvane self steering system?”

  • A mechanical autopilot (requires no power)
  • Steers a wind based course (an angle to the wind), rather than a compass based course
  • This is achieved by setting your course, ie, setting the Vane directly into the wind. As the boat falls off this course, the wind acts on either side of the Vane, pushing it over, and transferring this action through the mechanism below to (most commonly) either 1) an auxiliary rudder or 2) a servo pendulum which acts on the main rudder, to bring boat back on course.

1) My boat has dinghy davits. Can I keep them and install a windvane?
Yes. Davits might just be our favorite addition to our boat, Kaiquest, a Jeanneau SO 43. Will and I are now cruising with twin toddler boys in Mexico, and any gear that makes life easier is cheered at every single use! As long as the Vane can pivot above the dinghy and the auxiliary rudder can turn below, there is no problem to use both at the same time. In fact, the Hydrovane becomes a good lashing point for helping stabilize the dinghy. Like us, you will probably hoist the dinghy onto the foredeck for long passages. Traditional servo pendulum systems will not work with your davits but other types, like the direct connect servo style windvane, potentially make it possible to have both.

2) Can I install the windvane off center on the transom?
With boat design moving to swim steps and now dropdown transoms, this is an obvious question for many. The answer is a definitive YES for auxiliary rudder type systems. Unsure about the concept? It goes way back… The word starboard is historically derived from terms meaning “Steer” and “Side of the boat” – and was the side of the boat steering oars were placed because most sailors were right handed. Whether you mount an auxiliary rudder windvane to port or starboard, you’ll find performance does not change. A centerline installation is most esthetically pleasing for some boats. Servo pendulum style windvane are only suited to a centerline installation.

3) I just installed an arch. Can I still fit a windvane?
Yes. Arches are common on cruising boats. Servo pendulum type windvanes are usually lower profile and can fit easily under an arch. The Hydrovane has a larger Vane than servo systems as that is where it derives its power. We simply configure your unit with a wide, rather than tall, Vane and use a shorter Shaft to ensure there is airspace for the Vane to move freely underneath the arch. Alternatively, we can configure the unit with the Vane above the arch.

4) Can I install and use a windvane on my multihull?
Yes. The reality is that many cruising cats are more about comfort than maximizing speed. What is her displacement? What boat speed is she sailing (relative to wind strength)? Within these limitations the benefits of a windvane can definitely be enjoyed by a cruising multihull. The best position for most types of windvane is at end of a pontoon/hull. This is particularly important for the Hydrovane for optimal rudder leverage.

5) I like the idea of steering redundancy, but why wouldn’t I install a second autopilot instead?
Hey, we love our below deck autopilot; it’s great for motoring and short hops, but that comfort changes when a few hours of usage becomes 24 x 7. The power consumption of an electronic autopilot in big seas compounded over days can be astronomical. This is when mechanical self-steering proves so valuable – it requires no power and the windier it gets the better it steers. Even if the autopilot itself never fails OR if you have a second one, failures of many other systems can stop the flow of electricity and, in turn, render an autopilot useless. Windvanes are very reliable and steering a wind based course means your sails are always trimmed. With an auxiliary rudder type windvane, you are also gaining a completely separate emergency steering system/rudder which every offshore boat should have high on their priority list.

BONUS: So, can I install one of these things on my powerboat?
Lol. We get this one at every boat show… the answer is No.

Viki Moore Astrolabe Island Cruising New Zealand

Thanks to Viki Moore from Island Cruising for this article from Cruise News – The Newsletter of Island Cruising NZ

 

Island Cruising NZ Viki Moore

Understanding marine sealants & adhesives

Sealants, adhesives and adhesive sealantsThere is a bewildering variety of sealants, adhesives and even adhesive sealants available for...

Always have an emergency grab bag to hand when at sea…

  Grab bag: In the event of having to abandon ship, it is recommended to have a designated waterproof bag to carry...

Essential Knots: Clove hitch

Essential Knots: Clove hitch Use: Tying a rope to posts, bollards, rings or a guardrail. Step 1. Make a turn around the object and lay...

Sailing Boat Rig Care

The rig of a sailing boat is put under huge stresses and strains so it is important for inspections of a yacht’s spars and rigging to be carried out at regular intervals.

Marine engine oil system maintenance

The regular maintenance of a marine diesel is key to preventing engine failure at sea. This means doing regular checks of the fuel, cooling, electrical and oil systems.

Tips and advice for staying safe on a sailboat at sea

Here we focus on how to stay safe on a sailboat at sea. We cover key things to ensure you have on board before you set sail as well as covering the most common cause of incidents on sailboats and how to deal with them.

Essential yacht tender safety for skippers and crew

Essential yacht tender safety - the dangers inherent in using a dinghy to get ashore from a moored or anchored yacht are all too easily...

Essential Boat Safety Briefing

Skippers Responsibilities Skippers are obliged to give a safety briefing to the crew even if they are a regular crew. At...

Understanding your boat’s compass

Article submitted by Mike Rossiter, Certificated Compass Adjuster. Since the magnetic compass was first used by the Chinese...

Anchoring – getting it right is not always straightforward

If you can set an anchor correctly with confidence and know your boat will be safe in a secure anchorage, then you can rest...

Sailing to windward – how to take advantage of wind shifts

For most sailors, sailing upwind is the most exhilarating point of sail as you tack your way to your destination. Sailing to windward is a bit like zig-zagging your way up a mountain road through a series of hairpin bends – great fun but also calling for concentration and hard work.

Boat electrics

All boat owners should have a basic knowledge of electrics, both to avoid encountering electrical problems at sea and to stand a chance of solving them should they occur.

ColRegs – avoiding collisions at sea

ColRegs - avoiding collisions at sea ColRegs Rule 8: Action to avoid collision (a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall...

Wooden Hulls – Part 2

It is important to ensure the essential hull maintenance of a wooden boat is done, even if you are paying others to look after your boat for you. The priority is to prevent rot from taking hold. The protective layers of paint and varnish over wood are far more critical than on GRP boats, where the topsides are painted more for cosmetic reasons.

Essential Yachting + Power Boat Safety Briefing

Yachting Safety Briefing   Down below Lifejackets and harnesses - fitting, when to wear, clipping on Gas - risks,...

Boat ownership

Owning a boat is a big commitment that should bring no end of satisfaction for the owner as well as the owner's family and friends. In...

Estimating and plotting your position at sea

This post covers how we go about estimating and plotting our position using traditional methods, when out of sight of land – covering Dead Reckoning, Estimated Position, Tidal Streams, Leeway and more…

ColRegs Nav Lights & Shapes, Rules Of The Road and IALA Buoys Apps

ColRegs Nav Lights & Shapes, Rules Of The Road and IALA Buoys Apps Make Learning Rules on iPhone, iPad, iPod and Android...

Boat ownership – some fundamentals

Owning a boat is a big commitment that should bring no end of satisfaction, but the costs of maintaining and keeping a boat are significant and should never be underestimated.

What boating skills should you have before you buy a yacht?

Many people dream of owning a yacht and sailing off into the blue yonder. What boating skills should you have before you buy...

Boat Improvements

My Boat - practical improvements Author - Mike Rossiter Most boat owners who have had their craft for any length of time will have made what they...

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats   Liferaft line attached The liferaft will not work unless the trigger line is...

Winch Servicing

It is not essential to service the winches when a boat is ashore, but if time allows I prefer to do this maintenance job when the boat...

Passage Planning Advice & Safety for skippers

Passage planning helps you to: • Decide where to go • Calculate how long it will take to get there • Avoid bad weather •...

Safety at sea principles

Safety at sea is not as simple as just spending money adding shiny new emergency equipment such as liferafts, danbuoys, distress flares, EPIRBs and so on.