So we are trying to make some decisions about our self steering.
Our boat currently has a Autohelm st4000+ wheel pilot. Before our last big cruise up to the Great Barrier Reef I was going to replace it with a below deck autopilot. Time and economics got away from me and it was one thing that didn’t get replaced. In fact, I have to confess, it was the one thing that got no attention whatsoever before we left. However now with plans to head further afield, I am looking at a couple of choices.
1) Replace with below deck autopilot (probably Raymarine, although Coursemaster, a local product looks reasonable). My issue with this is power consumption on a long passage, given our pretty modest systems (we have 300ah in the house bank, 200w solar and an oversized alternator). This would be about a 3k project, but might escalate if we need to beef up our power generation.
2) Purchase a new Raymarine wheel pilot. I get why below deck models are better, but our current st4000+ seems to do every thing I need it too. We have no plans to circumnavigate just yet or enter the southern ocean. 1.5K project.3) Purchase a Hydrovane. (I prefer this auxiliary rudder style of vane for our centre cockpit yacht.) and use our existing long suffering st4000+ for light winds and motoring. I like the idea of a vane. This, however would be a 6k project and in reality I am wondering if the couple of long passages we will do justify this cost, also it would mean our st4000+ is still being relied upon some of the time. I would love to do this but it’s a big chunk out of cruising kitty.