Self-Steering for Singlehanding in the Med

Hello Steve, I am planning a single-handed voyage to the Med. and a few years cruising there before a return through the Caribbean and am looking for advice on the ideal self-steering set up for such a trip. So far it seems that a wind vane plus a tiller pilot to assist for motoring is a good choice. This would work well offshore as it allows me to get some sleep in a situation (offshore) where going a little off course doesn’t matter too much. Sailing in the Med however requires more reliable course keeping and my question is whether or not the tillerpilot attached to the windvane will fill the auto pilot needs for this situation. I realize that there is a lot of motoring in the the summer but when it isn’t calm it is often blowing very hard and I am not sure that the tiller-pilot driving the vane will be up for this in the autopilot mode. I’d be most interested in your thoughts on this. Primary steering on the boat is a wheel. Regards, David

Hi David: Tough question…. The first issue is how easily your boat is steered under adverse conditions. The more grunt it takes, the more you need in the pilot. Most tiller pilots do not do a good job in difficult conditions, unless the boat is very well balanced, and the loads are light. My own feeling is that self steering system is more important than inverters, spinnakers, big dinghies, or anything else which is not on the critical for heavy weather sailing/anchoring list. So, I’d tend to go with the most powerful pilot you can afford before a lot of other gear. Steve

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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