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Old 01-19-2013, 08:35 AM   #1
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Autopilots

I am in the market for an autopilot on my 43 foot trawler. Looking at the Si-Tex systems and would like opinions on this choice and model selection for this size trawler.
Thanks
Ian
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:51 AM   #2
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We installed a Simrad AP24 in 2009 and it has worked flawlessly. We have never had to hand steer from Baja Mexico to Trinidad in any seas condtions.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:04 AM   #3
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I am in the market for an autopilot on my 43 foot trawler. Looking at the Si-Tex systems and would like opinions on this choice and model selection for this size trawler.
Thanks
Ian
Ian, I've spent quite a bit of time researching pilots for our electronics upgrade. A little known fact I discovered is how your tiller will react to a rotary knob pilot. Both Si-Tex and Furuno rotary knob pilots move the rudder AFTER you stop rotating the pilot control knob. Simrad (AP28 & AP70) is a 'follow-me' system. Say you want to use the rotary knob to turn 10-degrees. Turning the Furuno or Si-Tex knob you will not have tiller movement until you stop turning the rotary knob. With Simrad the tiller starts reacting immediately to the rotation of the rotary knob. Essentially, if you cruise the twisting and winding ICW of Georgia and S. Carolina you could steer completely with the rotary knob. Plus Simrad has a remote that can be mounted in the arm rest of your helm chair with complete AP control.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:34 AM   #4
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Ian, With Simrad the tiller starts reacting immediately to the rotation of the rotary knob. Essentially, if you cruise the twisting and winding ICW of Georgia and S. Carolina you could steer completely with the rotary knob. Plus Simrad has a remote that can be mounted in the arm rest of your helm chair with complete AP control.
This post is of interest to me as about 14 years ago I had a 42' Ocean Alex that had a Simrad mounted in the salon. No helm or helmsman's seat, just the Simrad controller. (Box with knob.) This created room for something else to be mounted in the space normally used by the helm and seat and provided complete control of the vessel. (Thottles, shifters and the associated gauges were mounted along side the Simrad.) Since I was relatively new to running bigger boats, I never gave this installation much thought or much use.

One day, when returning to San Diego from Ensinada, Mexico, I encountered wind and light rain that made piloting from the fly bridge really uncomfortable. I went below to get out of the weather and with just the Simrad's knob, continued on my way with out a hitch. I've always wondered why more boats were not equipped this way as space in the salon is at such a premium.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:54 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. SH. 42' and not enough space in the saloon?????? Don't understand.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:29 AM   #6
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We've had good experience with the W-H (Will Hamm) system on our 44'. Adjustable for sea conditions including rudder feedback loop. Small operation with excellent customer service. Dashew has their equipment on many of his boats, as do many commercail vessels.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:54 AM   #7
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We are just upgrading from a Wood Freeman pilot. They invented dirt after the wood freeman was created!!! However, the rotary trim control is what showed me what a 'follow-me' tiller can do.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:57 AM   #8
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Ian, there was another forum just a few weeks ago about autopilots.
Autopilot: Raymarine or Garmin
We love our Comnav.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:57 AM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. BA. Want to donate old WF parts?
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:59 AM   #10
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Mr. RT, maybe. I was thinking of starting a museum.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:56 PM   #11
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I have had a Raymarine unit for six years now.. God I want my Comnav system back !
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:04 PM   #12
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Greetings,
Mr. BA. Don't have a museum but I DO have a WF (model 500 if I recall). Just looking for possible "spares" since it is so far out of date.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:14 PM   #13
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I have owned a Navman autopilot for 8 years work flawlessly even in rough weather
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:28 PM   #14
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Like you, I looked at all that I could find information about on the net. Too much information, so I went with the recommendation from my trusty chandler. I ended up with Raymarine and I am very happy with it. The remote is wireless and works flawlessly from anywhere on the boat. The knob steering is intuitive. The unit follows directions from the Garmin GPS flawlessly. Self install was easy. The pump set takes about 1/4 the space formerly occupied by the old Wagner, and attached without adapters to the hydraulic piping left from removal of the Wag.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:06 PM   #15
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Self install was easy. The pump set takes about 1/4 the space formerly occupied by the old Wagner, and attached without adapters to the hydraulic piping left from removal of the Wag.
Man, you're not kidding about the easy install....even used the same piping. My Admiral and I will be digging deep for a new electronics suite at the Miami Show, and a new auto-pilot was part of the plan. It sure would be great to have the same luck you did. What model do you have? When did you install.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:02 PM   #16
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Ian, I've spent quite a bit of time researching pilots for our electronics upgrade. A little known fact I discovered is how your tiller will react to a rotary knob pilot. Both Si-Tex and Furuno rotary knob pilots move the rudder AFTER you stop rotating the pilot control knob. Simrad (AP28 & AP70) is a 'follow-me' system. Say you want to use the rotary knob to turn 10-degrees. Turning the Furuno or Si-Tex knob you will not have tiller movement until you stop turning the rotary knob. With Simrad the tiller starts reacting immediately to the rotation of the rotary knob. Essentially, if you cruise the twisting and winding ICW of Georgia and S. Carolina you could steer completely with the rotary knob. Plus Simrad has a remote that can be mounted in the arm rest of your helm chair with complete AP control.
That is the Simrad system we have, and it is so nice. Hit AUTO and steer with the knob, or sit in the Captain's chair with the handheld remote and steer with your thumb. Plus, integrated with Coastal Explorer, a complex, long distance route with lots of turns can be drawn on the chart, activated, and the AP will steer the course perfectly, beginning the turn 300 ft from the waypoint. This is especially useful in high current conditions because the AP/GPS keeps adjusting the course for current to keep you on the defined route. If you need to dodge something, just hit AUTO, steer around it, re-intersect the route and hit NAV twice, and you are slaved back to the course. I've decided this is a safer way to navigate, even though it is automatic. Once I have the vessel on the defined route, I zoom in on the chart and inspect the route she is tracking close up, looking for obstacles or a way to define a smoother turn.

Today we navigated from Friday Harbor through Peavine Pass to Anacortes with 40 waypoints without touching anything - just keeping watch for crab pots and other vessels.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:26 AM   #17
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That is the Simrad system we have, and it is so nice. Hit AUTO and steer with the knob, or sit in the Captain's chair with the handheld remote and steer with your thumb.
With Garmin's Shadow Drive... you simply turn the wheel and it disengages whenever you're steering and then reengages when you release. Great for dodging crab pots.

Whichever brand you choose, take time to get one that integrates into your chartplotter well. They really make boating more fun.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:47 AM   #18
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With Garmin's Shadow Drive... you simply turn the wheel and it disengages whenever you're steering and then reengages when you release..
I would like to know more about this AP as that feature makes total sense to me and has been a long time coming.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:07 AM   #19
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Here is the details on the installation of our Garmin GHP 10,
The Trawler Beach House: Installing Our Garmin GHP 10 Autopilot .
We have been extremely pleased with it and the Shadow Drive works as advertised. I also second the suggestion for the WH Whalepilot. We had one aboard for 17 years on our other boat and it worked flawlessly in almost every condition and sea state. Chuck
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:11 AM   #20
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On the Garmin autopilots, they don't use rudder position to determine the helm position. They use a flow rate sensor (much like those in fuel flow meters). When the autopilot senses you move the wheel, it will disengage. If you keep steering, you'd never know it was on. You can set the sensitivity and time that it will let you drive before disengaging the autopilot.

It's VERY nice when on autopilot that you can dodge a crab pot float or piece of wood, and then just let go of the wheel and the boat takes the helm back and gradually turns back to the track you were on. It also won't slam you back to a course, but instead does a nice gentle turn back to track. It's quite nice and only something you will see on a Garmin unit.
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