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Does anybody have experience sailing /installing the Wharram windvane on a Tiki26? I have bought the plans and after having sailed the Tiki for a season I feel I need a self steering system . I will also install a tiller pilot. Would be ideal to just have one on the rear 4th beam but it could be hit by a wave . Any ideas would be most appreciated. Cheers

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Hi Patrick

The Wharram windvane self steering system is a wonderful piece of gear. I built one and used it on my t 30 and sailed single handed from New Zealand to Tonga and back. It was great. I was pleased I had two units as I had a spinnaker sheet wrap itself around one unit in a flukey wind change and send it swimming. One tip I would suggest is you make the trimtab higher than the water lever by around 150-200mm. This just gives you a little more power to turn the rudder because when you are sailing, the water is often higher than the water level. The other thing I would suggest, is to make the trim tabs removable if possible . They are quite vulnerable when on sea anchor. I have a windpilot on my current t38 but will have two of these units ready to go as a back up. It will change your sailing my friend! regards Brett

Hi Bret. Thanks for the information . Points about trim tab size and being able to remove them are very good . Can I ask you were you placed your 2 windvane units. Cheers Pat

Hi Patrick,

I've used a tiller pilot, an Autohelm ST1000, on my Tiki 26.  I put an 18" auxiliary tiller on the side of one of the rudders pointing inboard, and mounted the Autohelm on the aft main beam pointing aft.  I added a very long extension to the pushrod so it reached right back to where it connected to the new tiller.  It worked fine except for one problem, you needed to climb back to the rudder in order to connect the two parts together, which was not ideal in a rough sea.  It could also be difficult to disconnect in a hurry.  I'm building a new cockpit at the moment, and when I re-install the Autohelm I'll do it differently.

The Autohelm will be mounted along the aft main beam, pushing and pulling a slider along a short length of jibsheet track.  Control lines will be connected to the slider, routed back along near the inner gunwales and crossed to the opposite tillers.  Rather than the lines being tied to the tillers they'll feed through eyes at the position needed for the right amount of travel, then forward along the tillers to jam cleats within easy reach from the cockpit.  That way I'll be able to preset however much rudder is needed, adjust tensions, or quickly release the helm if necessary in an emergency.

I've not used the Wharram windvane, but I have used a home built QME, which was almost identical.  I put it on a 26ft monohull I'd built many years ago, and it worked pretty well.  It was a long keeled boat, so about as steady to steer as the T26, but a lot heavier at around four tons loaded.  We spent a year sailing on that boat, did about 10,000 miles, and I reckon Ernie (the windvane) steered for about 9,000.  Most of the rest was motoring with Eric the electric tiller pilot steering.  I'd give one note of caution about electric tiller pilots, we had a lot of trouble due to water getting into ours.  I'm sure the ones you get now are much better, but I would definitely not put one down where it could get washed by waves other than in very exceptional circumstances.  As the arm goes in and out it alters the internal volume of the device, and if the clever ways of sealing it don't work perfectly it tries to draw water inside as it moves.

All the best


I think water ingress still an issue. Worth setting up to avoid this happening.  I believe the water finds its way in on the underside somewhere.

My units were set up on the rear of the  cabin tops , just  forward of the rear beam.

You do have to sail to keep the boat balanced so occasionally there is some lose of speed, but it makes for relaxed sailing especially when you have other people on board. I find I can just relax and make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. good fun

Thank you Bret and Robert for the alivce. I will build the windvane and find a suitable location for them and the horizontally set tiller pillot under some type of cover seems like a good way to go . Cheers and thanks again ... Pat

A friend had his tiller pilot mounting inside the rear of the cabin with a small hole in the rear bulhead(just forward of the rear beam) and then had it connected to the cross bar on the top of the trim tabs....

Have fun Brett

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