Calypso (the Sabre 36′) came with a 20 year Raymarine ST4000 wheel pilot. The best it could it do is steer a “snake wake” average heading in flat calm conditions while motoring. Any helm pressure would just cause the thing to struggle. It was never installed well to begin with. The compass was installed on the rear bulkhead behind the helm when it should be installed near the center of motion. I believe it also really needs a rudder reference sensor.
I am in process of ditching the thing and installing a below decks system with linear drive, computer, rudder sensor, etc. This should be able to steer the boat under all in all but the most extreme conditions. It is a significant undertaking both in terms of time and cost but there are many reasons to have such a system:
1. Stress free single handing or shorthanded sailing. I like to sail with my child, wife and others who could who may not be able to take the helm incase my attention is needed elsewhere.
2. We like to do overnight deliveries to cruising grounds (Maine, South Coast, etc.) and it really helps to have a good autopilot at night when it can be harder to hand steer.
3. Also if there is inclement weather can duck under the dodger while the boat steers itself.
As of today I have started moving out of the planning stage and into the building stage. I have acquired the following pieces of kit:
Edson Tiller Arm
Raymarine Linear Drive
Simrad AP components including AC12, AP42, RF25, RC42
Bunch of NMEA2000 Micro-C stuff to hook everything into my existing network. I spent about a week measuring and test fitting various things. Next post we will start to get into details.