Autohelm windvane

Does anyone have experience with the Auto-helm self-steering Windvane? This system runs independently of the steering system of the Corbin with no lines into the cockpit. It can be used with hydraulic steering only [Ed. Note: also cable steering]. Our Corbin has both options with an override system but I am unsure whether I want to go with the Monitor windvane or the Auto-helm.” Bill Dougan. (#152, Alecaiden).

a. Our Capehorn windpilot took us across the Atlantic and we strongly recommend it for a Corbin. We have it connected to a RayMarine ST 1000 to steer magnetic headings. Branko V.(#175, H2OBO).

b. I use the Hydrovane system. I have hydraulic steering . Hydrovane will keep compensating for the hydraulic creep. It works independently of the main rudder. It also gives me an emergency steering system, if needed, with Autohelm capability. It is a brilliant system. Best wishes, Jeremy P (#101, Two Pelicans). [Letster’s opinion : I do not recommend the Hydrovane. I do not believe a system which draws its power from the wind only can steer a boat at high speeds in strong winds and rough seas.]

c. It’s been a long time since I was researching the windvane steering thing and when I was, I liked the Monitor. Downside: If the concept of using any selfsteering windvane is to conserve ship’s power on long passages, in case of the Monitor or some others, the hydraulics must be energized all the time, so I see little …. if any advantage. [Ed. Note: I think that ordinary hydraulic steering does not require any electric power.] On the other hand, on long passages, any windvane steering system will [conserve energy] and preserve the life of your conventional wheel auto steering system …….. Frank B. (#186, Visitant).

d. I have a Hydrovane. John G. (#181, Spinnaker)

e. I am also reviewing various windvane selfsteering options as my Wagner autopilot is acting up and replacement options are limited. I am partial to windvane systems and the Scanmar products look interesting. Based on the Scanmar website info, one or more of their solutions seem compatible with the Corbin. I too would be very interested in seeing any feedback from Corbin owners who have used the system.
I am not sure I follow your comment “It can be used with hydraulic steering only. Our Corbin has both options with an over-ride system but I am unsure whether I want to go with the Monitor or the Autohelm.”
What do you mean by “both options with an over ride system?” It is my understanding that Scanmar is the supplier of both the “Monitor” system as well as the “Autohelm” system. Are you talking about some other system/supplier?
In my systems documentation on Silent Running, I have 1995 correspondence between Gordon Nash at Scanmar Marine and the vessel owner at that time. In that fax, Gordon states “We can not in good conscious recommend the Monitor to steer an emergency tiller that is located on the floor and in the forward part of the cockpit.” (This is the setup on my boat.) [Ed. Note: My Corbin#010, Insouciance sailed in 1985 from San Francisco to Australia and back with such a setup with no problems.] Gordon recommended the Saye’s Rig for the Corbin 39, which is also a Scanmar product.
Perhaps the products have evolved since 1995, but a call to Scanmar would likely give you some upfront recommended solutions for the Corbin configuration you have that will work and those that won’t.
If you haven’t already done so, I recommend visiting the Scanmar site, where they discuss extensively the advantages and disadvantages of the three windvane systems – Servo-Pendulum (Monitor), auxiliary Rudder (Auto-helm), and the hybrid Saye’s Rig. At this point in my research, I am leaning towards the Saye’s rig solution, which is incredibly simple and acts on the main rudder. While you lose the potential of an emergency rudder with the Saye’s Rig system, Scanmar offers an opinion and a solution on the use of a self steering system as an emergency rudder. Here is a link to a couple of pages, but there is much more on the site to digest. and
Hope this is helpful. The proof of the pudding will be user experiences, so I am looking forward to seeing any feedback from those who have “been there, done that, got the T shirt” with self steering systems. Kind regards, Tim T. (#046, Silent Running).

f. I’ve fitted a Norvane, windvane. I have a Corbin CC, and have both windvane and autopilot fitted. The autopilot is the new Simrad AP24, with the electro magnet drive unit DD15. It is brilliant, I sailed from Mexico to Polynesia late last year and it didn’t falter. It was like second crew; it was that good. I didn’t use the windvane. However if you are taking the boat out of the water to fit either windvane, please check the shoe at the base of the rudder; it supports the rudder. Mine is held in place with 4 bolts, two of which were stainless steel and were 75% corroded. I’m glad I checked; there was a danger of losing the rudder. Alan E. (#035, Europa Star).

g. I have no experience with the Auto-helm selfsteering windvane, but very much considered it many years ago. The power drain on long distance sailing made me decide against it. [Ed. Note: There is no power drain. I think he is thinking of the electric Autohelm] I am very happy with the Monitor Windvane. On the high seas and especially in bad weather it is the best and never tiring crew I could wish for. The lines are a nuisance but are not really in my way since I spend no time in the back of the cockpit, where they connect to the reversed tiller. Close to land and for short sails I prefer the Autohelm [electric] connected to the hydraulic system. I also bought the Autohelm 1000?? [Electric] tiller steering unit. I intended to connect it to the Monitor Windvane instead of the wind paddle but never installed it so far. As a further backup I have the Autohelm 3000 [Electric] that connects to the wheel. It served me well enough in the past but I have not used it since 1997 when I installed the hydraulic unit. I wish you good luck and many happy hours on your Corbin. Peter V. (#099, Escapade).

h. The present design of the Auto-helm windvane lacks feedback, so it may oversteer and cause a zig-zag motion. Both the Monitor and Saye’s Rig have feedback and should not oversteer or cause zig-zag. Scanmar uses a change in tension in the control cables of the Auto-helm to avoid oversteering; this is not a good solution to the problem. The Auto-helm’s rudder appears to be large enough to steer a Corbin, even in strong winds and rough seas. The absence of lines, in the cockpit, to a tiller is a plus. No rudder post in the water is a plus. Having an emergency rudder for hand steering is an additional plus. A minus is the possibility that the shaft of the auxiliary rudder may bend backwards due to the water pressure of motion; the Saye’s Rig may have this problem, also. I have figured out how to put feedback in the Auto-helm, so if you decide to buy it and it oversteers, I can help you correct the problem. Lester H. (#010. Insouciance)