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I'm considering getting an electronic autopilot for our Pahi 42, as we often find ourselves doing long passages under power in the summer with little or no wind (so wind vane would be of no use!) I had originally been thinking the only option would be a model that fits to the wheel, but then started thinking that maybe it would be cheaper and better to use one fo the tiller-attaching models. I use Teleflex cables from the wheel run to both tillers, so there is already built-in redundancy there - if one breaks the other would still steer the boat and both rudders via the connecting rod between the tillers. But does a tiller-model autopilot have enough torque to turn our rudders? Godzilla is fitted with rear-facing tillers that are not so long, about 50cm total.

Anyone with some experience of using these autopilots, either on the wheel or tiller? Thanks for any advice!

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Tiller autopilots are specified by a boat's weight. I am sure there is one that will work.

However, the best solution is to get the smallest tiller autopilot and connect it to the vane arm on your self-steering gear (vane blade removed.) This allows for a very tiny input from the autopilot, but a very powerful action upon the rudders via your self-steering gear at the lowest expense, both in terms of money and power output.

tillerpilots specify connection about 450 mm along the tiller, but they will work further along and have more leverage .  I mounted 1 1,5 m along a long tiller on a cat and it worked well to steer a sraight course but not enough movement to tack, You may need to disconnect the wheel steer if it has too much drag.  Or use a  removeable longer tiller to connect the pilot to. ,mounting further forward will give the pilot more shelter and easiser access too. They often fail due to water inside the electronics so are best kept dry if possible. I have one to fit to my t 38 in the next few weeks.

Thanks both of you for your responses. Budget Boater, I don't have a wind vane (yet), but have been thinking of building Hanneke's design - do you recommend that? I've read about this combination before, and see the logic to keep the tiller autopilot small. Dave, the idea to install an extra tiller for the autopilot could be a good one, especially as my current tillers point aft, putting any potential installation nearer the wet stuff! I could quite easily add a forward-pointing tiller to one of the rudders giving easy access to the autopilot. It wouldn't be easy at the moment to disconnect the wheel steering as it is bolted through both tillers.

Regarding recommended weight of boat to autopilot, as these devices are predomimently marketed to monohulls, is a small unit really up to the job, even if our all up weight is within the limit? I've always thought our Pahi is around 3000kg - anyone know the real figure?

when you increase the leverage the steering effort needed is small,but go for the raymarine 2000 size for example not the 1000.  Lash a temporary tiller on 1 rudder and see how it feels to steer at different lengths, it may be ok with wheel connected, It will be hard work to steer with a short tiller but easy as it gets longer. Tru at vafious lengths how much tiller movement is required, It needs to be within  the limits of the ram travel o f the pilot and the less effort is needed thee easier it will be for the pilot.  You could even have a couple of pilot positions to suit different condions but if your boat is well balanced there should not need to be thhat much tiller travel to keep a course. I will be doing the same on my boat , it has hydraulic steering that I will probably need to disconnect when using the pilot . but I will experiment first,  .  It doesnt need to steer the boat in the worst conditions but if it works 90% of the time it will be worthwhile, I have a windvane to fit also.

OK, thanks Dave, that sounds like a good idea. I would only be using this in very mild conditions (at least at first) so that when motoring at night is is possible to go make a cup of tea etc! I have to see how my budget holds, but it seems that these tiller pilots come up on the second hand market more frequently that the wheel ones. I think the Raymarine 2000 is the same price (new) as the wheel version? Of course could be some advantages to buying new, easier to integrate with other equipment, but can't have everything on Santa's list ;-p

It all boils down to economics: The money you have available to spend, as well as the amps you have available to power your systems.

If you are passagemaking, then it makes sense to have self-steering gear. If you have marginal DC power available, it also makes sense to have self-steering gear. But if you have power to burn, then get a CPT wheel pilot and be done. If you have surplus money and power, then have both self-steering and CPT wheel pilot.

As far as what type of self-steering gear, I leave that up to you. I can only recommend the Aries, which is no longer made, not because there is nothing better out there, but because that is the only one with which I have enough personal experience.

I bought a Pahi 42 last year that came with a number of self-steering options. I haven't used any of them much at all, but the previous owner did extensive single-handed sailing with them.

The boat has a hydraulic helm with a cylinder attached to the starboard rudder. A Garmin electric hydraulic pump connected to the navigation system was rarely if ever used, I think because of high power consumption.

An ancient electric Autohelm from the 1990s mounts on the cockpit beam and connects via a long extension rod to the port rudder. The crossarm disconnects easily when the autohelm is connected, so the Autohelm operates the port rudder only.  I don't remember the model number of the Autohelm, but as far as I know it is the smallest and most basic of the models. It has no problem steering the boat through a single rudder.

There is also a Windpilot wind vane steerer and a way to attach the Autohelm to it for easy switchover from wind to electric steering.

If you're interested, I can dig up some photos and the previous owner's instructions.

i bought a new raymarine 2000 for about 350 us from barron usa and had it posted to nz. used ones often do not last long before failing , good info robert the simplest solutions are often best , expensive autopilots have a lot of interconnected parts and wires to fail .

Thanks again for your answers. BB - yes, economics is the key! Thanks for posting that link to CPT, it looks like a nice unit, but I was thinking to start off a bit lower budget ;-} Amps are not a huge issue, as our current cruising ground (the Baltic) isn't that big, so one to two days offshore is about all you can do without hitting the other side! Robert, if you have some photos of the installation that would be useful, at least gives me something to start with. Good luck with your Pahi!

Wow Dave, good price! Just checking here and price is equivalent of over 600 US...! Will check around, shipping from USA incurs import tax anyway, but might work out cheaper if it is a good deal.

Hi Andy,

On the Tiki 38 Luckyfish we have the dual vane-steering units as designed by Hanneke. I just posted a video here showing them in use.

I also bought a tiller pilot and had planned to attach it to the pendulum arm as Budget Boater suggests - we had a 6,000 mile passage ahead of us and I wanted to have a backup in case the vane couldn't steer us dead flat off. It turned out I needn't have worried. The vane was completely adequate even in light airs dead downwind, say down to 7 or 8 knots true. Broad reaching even lighter.

I also found the "windward" vane could steer by the lee by 30 degrees or so before needing to switch over.

Anyone want to buy a new B&G tiller pilot?

Stewart - your boat looks beautiful, and thanks for the video, very nice to see these things in action and clearly presented - I think you'll have a hit series before long! ;-) Seems I'll have to order those plans from Hanneke after all! But my original "problem" isn't solved by this, we need the autopilot for motoring in flat calm conditions. How much is the B&G?!

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