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Wanted - Wind Vane Self Steering 44ft Yacht

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I am preparing my boat for offshore trip and have decide to fit wind vane steering as a back up system to my dated autopilot.


I am most interested in Scanmar's Monitor but have also seen quite a few Aries around.


Also welcome opinions on fitting wind vane self steering to a relatively racer cruisers such as my Farr 44, some people say wouldn't go cruising without one and others say they are a thing of the past and are not suitable for fast boats. 


Please contact me if you have a wind vane steering system to sell. 027 441 2262


Regards Anthony



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IMO quite a bit of extra expense, and a cluttered boarding platform that's a nuisance when cruising.

Why not upgrade the AP to one you have faith in instead? Hydraulic rams direct to the quadrant are very reliable....

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various models come up on trademe every now from $50 - $5000 in a fair range of age and compleness


perhaps not enough for 44' but i've got a 1970's windpilot atlantic 4? (vertical axis, auxiliary rudder?) in the garage that guided a halbery rassy here from europe (until the permanently immersed rudder seems to have hit something and was ripped off)

so it needs a new rudder fabricated and stainless mount welded on to the tube............extremely robust german engineering, dated design, no remote control of vane angle but cheap for someone........comes with some stainless welding rods;o)





that project stalled when, also from tm for a couple of hundy more, picked up a more modern french atoms unit where the vane and paddle had been lost in storage



if wasn't fazed by a bill starting at $5000? would probably have gone for hydraulic/electric/electronic as tiller pilots alone seem to crap out when most needed


but boat speed, boat age, budget and likelyhood of need, couldn't make that case


at the right price why wouldn't you have as much redundancy as possible for something as critical as staying on track

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A well set up hydraulic ram direct to the quadrant is very hard to beat. Its very powerful, fairly quiet, operates as emergency steering should you break a cable/chain etc. Point and squirt with the simple press of a button, sail to wind, waypoints etc all possible with little more effort. 


Just make sure its a good brand, with service agents where you plan on going to ( eg, the only service agents for Navico in the south pacific are NZ, Aus or New Caledonia ). Learn how to use it and you would soon forget you ever wanted a wind vane steering system with all the associated clutter

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Hi (too_tall),


Yep I was looking at a Raymarine kit with Hydraulic ram direct to the post.  I do like the idea of this system which you can rig to wind vane at top of mast and therefore still use Wind Trim mode for efficient sailing as opposed to fixed heading. 


The only thing with just getting another AP system is that what if you loose power by lightening strike or batteries swamped or wiring meltdown?  And also the benefit of a wind vane is that if you loose your main rudder you can easily rig up an emergency rudder.


So much to consider!


Would be great to network a new AP with chart plotter.

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Yes, good to see you are thinking about the what ifs!

Lightning can certainly destroy your electrics - some boats have been sunk by it as well.


A properly designed electrical system on board can make a huge difference to your comfort.


Any decent new AP will be NMEA2000, and share data with your instruments for wind steering - it should have Compass course, waypoint, route, and possibly no drift modes. If you have older NMEA0183 capable instruments, then it should be able to connect to that as well.


In my experience, servicing marine electronics in the islands, or other remote locations, will often not end well unless you can do it yourself. There are some exceptions, depending exactly where you are. I'd plan to be as self sufficient as possible. The AP should not need any service for a LONG time!


I have a hydraulic ram on the quadrant on island time. As TT says above, it provides a backup to the cable steering, and vice versa. My unit is a custom design, but since install has done around 30,0000 nm. It's been completely trouble free, but I do carry a spare set of seals for it just in case.


My AP computer has been replaced once. The original unit, specified by a well known dealer here in Auckland, was undersized. Expensive to replace, along with the pump (larger capacity unit to speed up responses) Be careful with what you select, and who you take advice from!


If you are interested in a hydraulic unit, or a MFD/Plotter there are currently some specials available from Navico (B&G). Just in case you did not know, I'm a B&G (Navico) dealer myself these days. If you want, feel free to give me a call 0221539176 and we can talk about it.


I'll write another article to post up here about Instruments and AP's, and advances over the last few years. Ill try to get that done tomorrow. Might be a starting point for you.


Good luck


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Never really understood the theory of wind vane steering but am just now reading a book "Wind-Vane Self Steering" and its by a NZer as well Bill Belcher. although 20 years old now. The idea Digger20 of the self steering rudder to be of use in an emergency is probably an idea as no amount of electronics is any good without a rudder as some abandoned yachts have shown. In theory Cat 1 should have a emergency rudder but seems like rule not actually applied... Another interesting thing is why Jessica Watson had wind vane steering, a pretty good one like $8000    .  

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I will agree that electronic systems do not allow for your rudder to have parted company with your vessel. I guess that this is somewhat dependent on the situation. Should ours manage to part company, then we would not require steering as the yacht would be rapidly descending.... A spade rudder could well be a different scenario. 

This being said, we removed the Monitor wind vane from our stern as it was never used, took ages to set up and made of a pain in the arse to use the boarding platform, The emergency rudder system was not overly large and I do wonder how effective it would be. Far more effective than nothing, of course.


How many crusiers lose rudders ?

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Happened last week between Fiji and Noumea. That makes two I have heard of in the last 5 years.


The Hydrovane would drive a 44 ft boat and uses a completely independent separate rudder, even comes with a tiller that can be added for emergency steering.

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Probably not many mostly racing craft. But I do remember that one coming back from the Islands a  year or two ago who tried to sail on without a rudder for a day or three and gave up so even a half effective rudder might have done it.   

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Your best insurance against losing a rudder is to make sure it's in good order BEFORE you go! I understand that the most common problem with spade rudders is a failure of the supports welded to the stock, and the shaft rotating freely. It's still not that common though. Currently there are, I believe, about 10,000 cruising boats out of their home countries. That's a hell of a lot of miles and variety of boats, and we normally hear of one or two rudder failures a year. Very small percentage. An even smaller percentage is boats up to Cat1. Most countries don't require it, so no emergency steering systems.


Digger20's boat is a Farr 44. It's rudder is large. A wind vane rudder would be OK in light conditions I reckon, but virtually useless if it was strong. The Farr has a large rudder because it needs it!  If the rudder and associated gear is in good order, and it was ripped off or bent by a collision (fairly unlikely - it's behind the deeper keel) the structural damage would be such that the vessel would likely be lost. If it is bent, and therefore jammed against the hull and unable to turn, then unless it could be dropped, the small vane rudder would not be able to overpower the main rudder.


I have seen one spade rudder bent into the hull (by a surfacing  whale) in over 40 years of sailing. If the boat was not near land (Tonga) it would have been lost. Shaft, prop, and strut were also destroyed.


It is not possible to provide for every possible scenario. You have to consider the likelihood of each issue, and carry what you can to negate the most likely ones. Your final option is the liferaft and epirb once every other possibility has been tried and found wanting.

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I have a solution, how about we all chip in and by me a wind vane and then I will go away crusing for 2-3 years come back and let you know how I got on and if I needed an emergency rudder?


One of the benefits of going for a wind vane as opposed to AP is that there are quite a few decent second hand units on the market (mostly US) where as I fear getting a second hand decent AP would be hand and probably a bit risky.  So I could have a solution for a 2nd and independent system for $3-4K


Thanks for all your comments great to hear different peoples thoughts.

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if buying new


the cape horn (and its froggy copy)


is elegant in its simplicity




and allows a below deck tiller pilot 




and i hope we all know


a humble tiller pilot 


out of the sun and weather


only working light loads to guide a windvane force multipling servo paddle 


should prove to be far more reliable than the average tiller pilot grinding out huge loads while washed in salt water


with the advantages of compass heading following, easy + cheap world-wide? replacement 


and not even being a mission critical part of the self-steering


(did i mention you probably could hardly hear it down there?)

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We have a Raymarine Autopilot about 8 years old with electric ram connected direct to quadrant. We have done plenty of miles and practically never steer the boat. It is very accurate and quiet and has been totally reliable with very small current draw.

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Sure, wind vanes have history. That was all there was. Plenty of stories about dropped bolts, broken gears, bent hydro vanes etc. mostly mechanical, and could be fixed with some ingenuity and basic spares. If you are not good mechanically, maybe not. I've met several sailors using them who still don't understand how they work! Still, a better chance of repair than an electronic system, however, I'd argue about the reliability ratios above. Modern hydraulic/electrical under deck, quadrant attached pilots are extremely reliable as well.

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We had a simrad tiller pilot attached to our monitor wind vane. It did work I guess. But compared to a proper AP set up properly, it was a poor substitute and something I would not leave to sail whilst I had a kip if solo. That being said, I don't sail solo......


I found it "ponderous". Like an inexperienced helmsperson in a challenging sea...

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I have an old Navik windvane if you are interested, could be had for a bottle of something.

Came with my old Cav 36 but was never used needs a repair to the Rudder I think. Let me know if you are interested.

It has just been taking up space for the last 6 years.

Similar to this one http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f137/for-sale-navic-wind-vane-800-a-30834.html

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