Meet Hermione, our Aries Lift-Up windvane, and Wanderer, our Raymarine Autohelm 2000 Plus. Over the winter we took our Reliance 44, Lyra, on a 3,600 nautical-mile winter escape. We estimate that 2,800 of these miles were steered by this duo, affectionately nicknamed “the autovane.” While this setup does not steer as straight a course as a properly sized electric quadrant-mounted autopilot, it was good enough to stay in the channel on the Intracoastal Waterway and capable in up to 5-foot seas offshore. Power draw averaged less than 3 amps, 12 volts offshore and made it an inexpensive alternative to a proper electric autopilot. With the remote, we can steer a compass course, keep on course in light air or go directly to a waypoint, all from under our dodger or the companionway steps.
- The “custom adaptor,” made from G10, replaces the air vane in certain conditions, though the vane can be quickly installed for upwind or heavy-air sailing.
- A panhead screw serves as a hinge and connects the tiller-pilot extension to the adaptor.
- The tiller-pilot extension is made from durable PVC.
- A quick-release pin allows for instant removal in an emergency.
- With Lyra balanced on a 6.5-knot beam reach, the vane is properly tuned with the tiller pilot. The servo-rudder, blade and tiller pilot are in the approximate middle of their throws, allowing for maximum course corrections.