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Old 10-06-2019, 09:09 AM   #1
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Autopilot question

Hello all, Im looking into adding autopilot to my boat. I have a 30 Willard Vega Searcher. 17000 lbs displacement, typical speed 6 knots with Teleflex cable steering.Id like to keep my cable steering to avoid the expense of changing to hydraulic. I was at the Annapolis boat show and spoke to a rep for Octopus drives. Would like to get any feedback from fellow cruisers regarding reviews of this system. System I was discussing would replace the behind dash helm unit, work with my cable steering, and has an available add on feature of a remote steering control.

Thanks for any feedback you can provide

Jim
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Old 10-06-2019, 12:01 PM   #2
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What type of electronics do you have?

Brand?

My advice is to stay in the family. Explained differently, if you have a Garmin system, buy a Garmin AP or Raymarine install a Raymarine AP.

Others here have different systems mixed with different brands. I't's easier with one system because of "plug-n-play"

I chose Raymarine.
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:49 PM   #3
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What type of electronics do you have?

Brand?

My advice is to stay in the family. Explained differently, if you have a Garmin system, buy a Garmin AP or Raymarine install a Raymarine AP.

Others here have different systems mixed with different brands. I't's easier with one system because of "plug-n-play"

I chose Raymarine.
Mixing brands is really not a problem. I think to link my Sitex autopilot to my Garmin plotter was one wire.
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Old 10-06-2019, 03:01 PM   #4
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Mixing brands is really not a problem. I think to link my Sitex autopilot to my Garmin plotter was one wire.
My Raymarine auto pilot connects to my Garmin 128 and without anything else in the circuit it works well. As soon as I put my laptop in the circuit I can no longer "track", though everything else works properly. I haven't investigated enough to know if it is Ray/Garmin incompatibility or something else. I have only used "track" when I am far from other boats, as the Ray track feature allows cross track to build, then, without warning, corrects with a 20 course change, then another 20 to get back on course once the cross track error has been eliminated.
YMMV
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Old 10-06-2019, 03:22 PM   #5
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I also like to stay with one vendor. When you have a problem there is no pointing fingers at each other as to whose fault it is. But with cable steering that may not be possible.
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Old 10-06-2019, 03:58 PM   #6
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A simple and can be a cheaper autopilot. No affiliation. Just an interest in their products.


CPT Autopilot Inc.


I'm told tiller pilots can work on some motor boats. I don't know the pitfalls in making that work.
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Old 10-06-2019, 04:13 PM   #7
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For autopilots I always look to what commercial fisherman use.
They need reliability on a daily basis.
Doubt you'll see a raymarine, garmin, navico, pleasure boat type device there.
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Old 10-07-2019, 10:57 AM   #8
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Thanks all for your input. These units are drives meant to work with other autopilots. See link below:

http://octopusdrives.com/products/ty...remote-drives/

I’m using a garmin chartplotter. Rep for Octopus said the drive can interface via nmea2000.

Has anyone had any experience with this specific brand/system?

Thanks again,

Jim
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:43 AM   #9
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It might experience the fisherman by whatever is the cheapest. I had fisherman as customers in my boat. And they were worse than sail boaters
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:49 AM   #10
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Raymarine on our boat. They have a good selection of APs. You should be able to find one that works for your installation. Just call the support number if you need help.

Simrad is also a good one.
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Old 10-07-2019, 12:00 PM   #11
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I have no experience with the drive system you are talkining about so I won't comment there, your statement of: I’m using a garmin chartplotter. Rep for Octopus said the drive can interface via nmea2000. is true, NMEA083 as well, serial cable (two wires), just need the right two wires, Garmin does things a little different, I interfaced a Garmin 3010 to a Raymarine AP and worked great once I got the wiring right. Not a lot of information is needed for the AP, basic heading.... Good luck
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Old 10-07-2019, 01:23 PM   #12
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“Hello all, I’m looking into adding autopilot to my boat. I have a 30’ Willard Vega Searcher. 17000 lbs displacement, typical speed 6 knots with Teleflex cable steering.I’d like to keep my cable steering to avoid the expense of changing to hydraulic. I was at the Annapolis boat show and spoke to a rep for Octopus drives. Would like to get any feedback from fellow cruisers regarding reviews of this system. System I was discussing would replace the behind dash helm unit, work with my cable steering, and has an available add on feature of a remote steering controls”

I had / installed an Octopus Drive in a smaller boat. (26 feet and 7500 pounds.) It worked well. Well made heavy duty electric motor. I would guess that it would drive your boat as well. Remove the Teleflex head, install the Octopus, re feed the cables into the Octopus. This is just a drive. I used the Si Tex SP 110 Autopilot. https://www.si-tex.com/item/sp110autopilotsystem

Actually now that I think of it, the Octopus and the Sp 110 both came from SiTex. They offer great support.
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Old 10-07-2019, 01:47 PM   #13
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Turns out a Canadian company does or did own this product. Here is an older thread from 2011. The fact this product is still around is a good sign. Often when I want to install a product on my boat with very little feedback on the net, I will post my user review question here. Usually with not helpful replies because people with no experience of the product will talk about their circumstances or why they would never use that product even though they know little about it.

I experienced this with my Exturn bow thruster, a pod mounted below the hull forward towards the bow. Part of the theory is that for express cruiser types the part of the bow comes out of the water with the thruster and isn't a threat when briskly moving along. At slow speeds the thruster is indeed in the water and subject to being hit. At first I thought this was a bad thing, and of course I still do. But now I have decided I'd rather hit a log at 7 knots with the thruster with the belief my three bilge pumps will be able to keep up until help arrives (this is realistic in some locations, not so realistic in other locations i.e. the Broughtons). I'd rather have to replace the thruster than the leg and attending damage to the boat when the I/O leg hits the log. But the other benefit, after reading several articles and letters to the editor in Pacific Yachting of dragging crab pot lines getting caught up in the propellor, I decided this thruster may help in grabbing the line before it goes further back to the prop area.

I said all of the above as my way of saying, sometimes you just have to figure out things on your own. I also asked a question about a product that would switch gas tanks on the fly with the flip of a toggle and I got zero responses. I went ahead and had it installed on my boat (no I haven't tried it out, boat is still in refit).

So here is your same question asked in 2011, and as you read it, you'll see others in your same situation (cable vs hydraulic) also wanting user feedback. Apparently there is happiness in the land:

https://www.thehulltruth.com/marine-...rive-unit.html

And:

https://www.lakeontariounited.com/fi...topussitex110/
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:13 AM   #14
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"CPT Autopilot Inc.

Ditto, These are great for boats with mechanical steering.

With hyd wheel pump steering they sometimes need to be re centered every so often as hyd has no center to return to.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:11 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. Ive reached out to Octopus with additional questions. They will provide options and pricing. Ill share those results once I receive.

Jim
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:25 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koliver View Post
My Raymarine auto pilot connects to my Garmin 128 and without anything else in the circuit it works well. As soon as I put my laptop in the circuit I can no longer "track", though everything else works properly. I haven't investigated enough to know if it is Ray/Garmin incompatibility or something else. I have only used "track" when I am far from other boats, as the Ray track feature allows cross track to build, then, without warning, corrects with a 20 course change, then another 20 to get back on course once the cross track error has been eliminated.
YMMV
When you put your laptop "in the circuit", you're undoubtedly doubling up on the data to the AP. Of course it's confused. If your crosstrack is building, your system may not be updating data at the correct rate. Your AP should follow a track with crosstrack holding in double digits - in feet. If you're connecting with NMEA 1083, you may have more than one talker connected to the AP. That won't fly. If 0183, determine what sentences are being sent to the AP, and try to eliminate sentences the AP doesn't need.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:01 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koliver View Post
My Raymarine auto pilot connects to my Garmin 128 and without anything else in the circuit it works well. As soon as I put my laptop in the circuit I can no longer "track", though everything else works properly. I haven't investigated enough to know if it is Ray/Garmin incompatibility or something else. I have only used "track" when I am far from other boats, as the Ray track feature allows cross track to build, then, without warning, corrects with a 20 course change, then another 20 to get back on course once the cross track error has been eliminated.
YMMV
I used to run a Furuno VX2 / Simrad AP 50 / Coastal Navigator system. There were ways to avoid the AP confusion you're experiencing.

  • Activate route following / auto steering on one device and deactivate on the other
  • Disable output sentences on either the Furuno or Coastal Explorer
  • Disable input sources on the AP
Explore menu options on your devices and see if you can take advantage of one the above.

The AP confusion can be particularly severe if the Garmin (or any dedicated hardware) and the Laptop have separate GPS signals.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jn711 View Post
Hello all, Im looking into adding autopilot to my boat. I have a 30 Willard Vega Searcher with Teleflex cable steering.Id like to keep my cable steering to avoid the expense of changing to hydraulic.
Jim - in the mid-1990's, I owned 1972 Willard 30 Hull #5, a Searcher model such as yours. I think the part many of these responses missed is you have cable steering. On my W30, I added a wheel-pilot A/P which worked only okay due to slack in cable steering. I ended up adding hydraulic steering, which was a pretty hefty job. I installed a hydraulic Navico A/P which frankly did not work well for such a heavy, full-displacement/keel boat.

The Octopus unit looks like a really good option. May want to understand what type of boats its made to be installed on - most cable steering boats are small outboard fishing boats. Not sure the steering algorithms are adaptable to a full keel/displacement boat such as your W30.

BTW - I recently heard from the current owner of my old W30 - he relocated from Southern California to Olympia WA. It took a few weeks of waiting out storms, but he made the 1000 nms trip without incident. Pretty amazing for a small 6-kt boat heading north along the Pacific Coast.
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:30 AM   #19
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I am fortunate my boat already had hydraulic steering installed, it was a simple install with the chart plotter as a control head. I will note the the autopilot works hard on my Willard, due to the low speed, relatively small rudder, and short length of it's hull. It never gets tired, but it's pretty much working ALL of the time unless the water is very flat.

On my maiden run with the new electronics and autopilot I ran from Anacortes to Whittier Alaska, and in the seven years since it has been maintenance free.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:02 AM   #20
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The steering push pull cables can be lubricated in place.

If you spring for new cables buy 2 sets and install then at the same time.

Should a cable crap out it would be only a few min to hook up the spare.
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