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S&S Swan General - Windvane steering Swan 40
18 September 2014 - 13:03
#1
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 55

Windvane steering Swan 40
Has anyone hands-on experience of windvane steering on a S+S Swan 40, particularly Hydrovane and Pacific Pilot Plus, both of which have an auxiliary rudder ? I know this will spoil the looks of my boat to some extent but for short-handed ocean sailing my experience of electric autopilots is not good. Any views on pros and cons of these or similar systems in real life situations would be welcome. The pendulum systems which use the boat's rudder require steering lines in the cockpit so I would be very reluctant to fit one.

18 September 2014 - 14:48
#2
Join Date: 03 March 2007
Posts: 199

Hi Richard,

Have we used one...yes. We did close to 10 k NM last year from Denmark to the Caribe and up to the Chesapeake. Our Wind Pilot plus steered in all conditions including a Beaufort 10 and a light wind run across the pond. It was amazing. Turned on our hydraulic e-pilot to enter harbours and after the wind pilot rudder got broken off by a false killer whale (another story). But to answer your question. I would not sail distance without one. They also mean you are a low power boat. We used 30 litters of fuel from Las Palmas to Antigua stopping in the Cape Verdes, Martinique, Dominica, before finally visiting a fuel dock. Our solar panels on the Bimini and deck generated enough power to run water maker, fridge, computers SSB, lights and nav gear. After we left Mindelo in the Cape Verdes we did not run the engine.. (ok checked occasionally to see if it still worked) until we got to Martinique.
Short Answer get one. They are easy to remove and I am planning a swim ladder set up to use the mounts when we are not going distance...

All the best

Mike

Stormsvale

18 September 2014 - 16:09
#3
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 55

Is your e-mail still uni-hamburg ? Hope you and the gang are all well.
As regards windvanes, did you look at other alternatives and if so what made you opt for the Pacific Plus ?

19 September 2014 - 08:54
#4
Join Date: 03 March 2007
Posts: 199

Hi Richard,

I did a quite a bit of research on this and as i wanted an independant rudder and no lines in the cockpit for the kids to get caught in it came down to etther hydrovane or Wind Pilot. Both are great pieces of kit. Owners of either love them. For me it came down to ease of installation. The wind pilot is the easiest to install. And I think the mounts can be used for a swim ladder when the unit is off.

It shocked me to be honest, steering down wind with 4 nm of wind apparent on the deck.. It could still handle the boat without any issues. They are supposed to be poor down wind in light air ( all of them) but I was pleasantly surprised. The only issue I had with it is that we snapped off the servo rudder (wood) in a nasty cross sea off Finnistare middle of the night. Seems like a rule things always break middle of the night. Anyway the boat was in balance and the Wind pilot still kept us heading in roughly the right direction.

Our email is stormsvale@me.com


Greetings from the crew.. The BBQ is ready (:-)

Mike and the crew of Stormsvale

19 September 2014 - 22:57
#5
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 234

Richard. I have a Hydrovane fitted on my 411. Works well in all wind strengths and direction. Does struggle when surfing down waves.
Great engineering, easy to fit. No lines across the cockpit. Can use as back up rudder.
Highly recommended.

22 September 2014 - 17:43
#6
Join Date: 15 April 2011
Posts: 381

Hi Richard,

I used a Monitor Windvane successfully and extensively in coastal and ocean sailing, winds up to 60 knots. Loved it. this was NOT on a Swan. I used it primarily on a 1973 Sparkman and Stephens designed tartan 41 and to a lesser degree on a Shannon 50.

I agree, all vanes are unsightly but necessary for long distance cruising.

Good Luck.

Chris Mabel's Casse Tete 43/003

25 September 2014 - 07:33
#7
Join Date: 20 February 2007
Posts: 118

Hello Richard:

I know of a friend who took his Swan 43 that did the great circle route from Rye, NY across the Atlantic and back, single handed, used the Cape Horn self steering vane and he never had a break down.

The Cape Horn unit design is very clean and has minimal exposed bracing, cables, etc. http://caphorn.com/sections/Pages/integrat.htm

Hiro Nakajima

28 September 2014 - 01:08
#8
Join Date: 31 July 2007
Posts: 72

Hello Richard: I know of a friend who took his Swan 43 that did the great circle route from Rye, NY across the Atlantic and back, single handed, used the Cape Horn self steering vane and he never had a break down. The Cape Horn unit design is very clean and has minimal exposed bracing, cables, etc. http://caphorn.com/sections/Pages/integrat.htm Hiro Nakajima

Years ago I built a vane for a Folkboat I had. It was easy, that boat had an outboard rudder. On my Swan, I built a rudder that goes thru a tube and can be removed easily. Attached is a picture with the rudder installed. There is a tiller on deck to operate it. But it vibrates under power and there is insufficient propeller wash against it for sharp turns. Under sail it works very well even though it is small. I used it during the time I had my factory rudder removed for repairs, so I could use the boat. I get itchy when I can not go sailing. The arrangement would work with a Cape Horn type vane. My A/P operates the main rudder. I like to keep things separate.

29 September 2014 - 19:01
#9
Join Date: 15 April 2011
Posts: 381

Very nice Peter!

30 September 2014 - 14:09
#10
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 55

This is going to be an interesting decision-making process, with my choice down to the Hydrovane and Pacific Pilot Plus, so the following questions to John and Mike:
1)do you have close-up photos of your stern with the vane fitted ?
2)is it easier to fit with the boat in or out of the water ? John, do have the full-length vane or the stubby version ?
3)I have a radar pole on the stern almost on the centre line. Is this likely to interfere with air flow ?
4)if I understand correctly the PPP has the auxiliary rudder permanently in the water while the HV rudder can in theory be removed and refitted but in practice, with our stern shape this is very difficult - correct ? So do you antifoul the rudder ?
5)Has your boat ever broached under vane steering ?
6)Manoeuvering in astern in tight spaces is already difficult(at least for me). What is the effect of the extra rudder ?
6)Is the manoeuverability of the boat affected when the vane is not steering ? (I am thinking of short tacking situations)
7) same as 6) in the event of a man-over-board. Can you heave to quickly ?
8) if the rudder hits an object and breaks off can the hull be damaged ?
Thanks in advance for your patience

30 September 2014 - 14:42
#11
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 234

Richard.
1. It is easier to fit the Hydrovane when out of the water. Takes one day. You will need a wooden pad made up for the bottom fixing. Cheaper than the plastic one offered by HV.
2. No noticeable problems with steering.
3. Never broached with HV.
4. I put my rudder on at beginning of the season and remove at the end.
5. I am copper coated so is the HV rudder.
6. Relatively easy to disconnect steering when under way.You have to lean over the back to reach control knob.
7. I have the tall vane which hits the SS post when sailing downwind. Recently borrowed a stuby vane but same problem.

I am still in the water for a couple of weeks if you would like a trial sail and to see the installation. East coast based this winter. I can confirm VERY GOOD service from Hydrovane staff when things go wrong.

30 September 2014 - 20:36
#12
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 55

John, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I will not be in the U.K. for a while but would love to take a look at your boat, which I saw several years ago, even if it's on the hard. In the meantime I know you have made many improvements and sailed many miles so would be delighted to exchange notes.
Cheers
Richard

05 October 2014 - 07:45
#13
Join Date: 03 March 2007
Posts: 199

Hi Richard
I have been off line working on the boat..
1)do you have close-up photos of your stern with the vane fitted ?

Not at the moment... I will be visiting the boat in January and can take one then. The Wind Pilot has pictures of a 38 with one mounted. Take a look there and if need be I can try to get a friend to take a picture before January.


2)is it easier to fit with the boat in or out of the water ? John, do have the full-length vane or the stubby version ?
i would not try to install it in the water.

3)I have a radar pole on the stern almost on the centre line. Is this likely to interfere with air flow

Turbulence is not good for them but saying that we had a 10 hp outboard mounted on the stern pulpit and had no problems. Your radar will however make triming the unit more interesting.

4)if I understand correctly the PPP has the auxiliary rudder permanently in the water while the HV rudder can in theory be removed and refitted but in practice, with our stern shape this is very difficult - correct ?

Yes the PP is permanently mounted.

So do you antifoul the rudder ?

Yes.
5)Has your boat ever broached under vane steering ?
No

6)Manoeuvering in astern in tight spaces is already difficult(at least for me). What is the effect of the extra rudder ?
Locked in place it does not seem to make a difference.

6)Is the manoeuverability of the boat affected when the vane is not steering ? (I am thinking of short tacking situations)

No
7) same as 6) in the event of a man-over-board. Can you heave to quickly ?

Talkes more time but you can overpower it with the main rudder.

8) if the rudder hits an object and breaks off can the hull be damaged ?

We were hit by a whale... No damage to the hull. The rudder is mousnted on a hollow stainless steel pole.. This cracked. I think a hard hit would just break it off.

Hope that helps

Mike

12 October 2014 - 01:04
#14
Join Date: 31 July 2007
Posts: 72

Attached is a photograph of a local boat, a Swan 44, with a Cape Horn vane

12 October 2014 - 10:05
#15
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 55

I think this is one for the Professor. I have been corresponding with the manufacturers of Monitor, Windpilot and Hydrovane. Monitor and Windpilot have both servo pendulum and auxiliary rudder products while Hydrovane only have the wind powered auxiliary system. Both Monitor and Windpilot are trying to convince me that a servo pendulum steering the main rudder is the best for my boat. The reason they give is that the transom is very small and the loads on the transom very high. Also the distance between the single lower attachment bracket and the auxiliary rudder would be quite long, so the strain on that section of the auxiliary rudder shaft would be very high. Hydrovane on the other hand say there is no problem as Swan transoms are very robust. Also the lower bracket is attached under the transom.
My question to the Professor is: should I be concerned about the loads on the transom if the attachment brackets are mounted with steel backing plates inside the stern locker ?

12 October 2014 - 11:11
#16
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1439

Dear Richard
The loads from the Hydrovane act mainly in the transverse direction, and then sufficient bolt bearing area in the holes through the hull laminate is important. The bolts need to fit the holes snugly, and threads bearing against the laminate should be avoided, the bolts can be sleeved if necessary.
The size of the backing plates is not very important for transverse loads.
Mounting the lower bracket under the transom will increase the distance to the upper brackets, which should be attached to the transom as close to the deck as possible.

The backstay chainplate knee is on the centerline, and the recommmendation is not to drill holes in the knee. The hull joint laminate is rather thick near the centerline, to this the matting-in of the chainplate knee is added, meaning that the laminate near the knee is rather thick. The upper brackets will see much thinner laminate, it is assumed that two will be used.
If the supplier can give an estimate of the maximum transverse forces on the brackets, and the number and size of the bolts a recommendation for the required laminate thickness can be made. A guess is that the upper bracket attachment may have a higher load/thickness ratio.
Kind regards
Lars

13 October 2014 - 10:17
#17
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 234

Richard, absolutely no problems with the Hydrovane fitting. I will send you a picture. I had made up larger washers than normal as a precaution.
I have even managed to reverse into a harbour wall with damage only to the rudder blade and shaft only. The structural fitting did not move.

13 October 2014 - 21:56
#18
Join Date: 30 January 2007
Posts: 440

Richard,
I am following the interesting discussion and I am puzzled by a question I may have misunderstood: why are you suggesting to fix the lower bracket of the HV under the transom? The site of the manufacturer does not seem to suggest this kind of setup and John Bayley himself did not do that.
Daniel, 411/004

16 October 2014 - 10:07
#19
Join Date: 01 February 2007
Posts: 55

The Hydrovane people sent me a drawing with this proposal. I think the idea is to reduce the length of unsupported shaft between the lower bracket and the top of the auxiliary rudder. The maximum distance they indicate is 250mm and with my high transom and a lower bracket on the transom itself I would probably exceed the suggested maximum distance.
Another question to the Professor: the backstay chainplate inside the stern locker extends from deck level to the bottom of the transom at 90 degrees to the transom. Does it have a T-section glassed into the transom ? In other words what is the minimum safe distance between the 11mm bracket holes and the chainplate ?

16 October 2014 - 15:15
#20
Join Date: 10 April 2010
Posts: 29

We have also been following this thread with interest as we'll be installing a self-steering unit on Anthea (1979 41) before next summer; we've also read the prior threads on this topic and we're in communication with Hydrovane and Wind Pilot. We've also considered and decided against other options, e.g. Cape Horn and Monitor.

We've been attracted to Wind Pilot's servo-pendulum model (the Pacific) for a variety of reasons (relatively lightweight, less obtrusive, uses our primary rudder, etc.). However, a recent concern in discussions is its light air performance, especially downwind. The argument is that the friction of the lines to the cockpit and to the drum on the wheel requires a minimum boatspeed to generate adequate force to overcome and that in light air downwind sailing, especially with a disturbed sea state, this friction may not be overcome and the unit won't function well or at all. How serious is a concern is this? Do others have experience with such units?

We also have a radar mast mounted on the transform, which poses problems for mounting the monitor; we'll be sending photos to HV and WP to determine if any issues arise with those models.

thanks for all these informative posts!

Mark (Anthea, 1979 41)

16 October 2014 - 16:10
#21
Join Date: 30 January 2007
Posts: 440

Richard,
now I understand, I forgot the relevant difference between your 41 and our 411.
Still I have some doubts. Indeed on the HV site there is the picture of another 41, Scotch Bonnet, with the proposed setup but there are many other boats with high transom and the more classic setup. In some cases the lower bracket is leaning slightly downward and the rudder blade is partly out of the water when the boat is perfectly levelled in calm water. What disturbes me is that with the lower bracket fixed under the transom, it might often go under the water. I wonder if this this an important issue or only an aesthetic one.
Daniel, 411/004

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