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Date Posted: - Monday - 11/12/12 - 9:38pm
Author: Jared Kibele
Subject: Rudder Feedback
In reply to: james (m-31" Pyxis") 's message, "Servo Pendulum on worm gear" on - Friday - 09/ 7/12 - 1:27am

My point about rudder feedback is that, with worm gear steering, the vane has to steer both directions. With a tiller or cables and quadrants, the vane really only has to turn one direction (downwind if there's a little weather-helm) and then in the absence of steering input from the vane the boat will head up. Our vane seemed to have trouble right at that transition point and by the time a correction got transmitted to the rudder, it was often too late. We tried different arrangements of blocks, different wheel drum diameters, newer lower stretch lines, different sail configurations, and all manner of four lettered words. We got it to work but never as well as we wanted it to.

That presented a problem when sailing downwind in light-ish air (around 15 kts or so) and sloppy confused seas. Unfortunately, those conditions were extremely common on our crossing.

I suspect that our negative opinion of the Aries also relates to the fact that we had our below deck autopilot first and we got used to just pushing a button and having it steer perfectly for as long as we wanted it to. The Aries worked well enough to be useful and if I had the option to go out cruising with just the Aries or to stay home and save money for the autopilot, I'd go cruising.

On the other hand, the $2500 or so that I spent on the autopilot was well worth it. ...largely because we also spent a big chunk of money on solar panels that could charge it. We plan to go cruising again some day on another boat and I'll probably have a below deck autopilot again if there's enough budget for it but I'd never tell anyone that they "need" to have one. Getting going is the most important part.

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