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Autopilot Quandary

Discussion in 'Catalina 310' started by JK_Boston_Catalina310, Mar 13, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Stu Jackson

    Stu Jackson

    Joined Feb 26, 2004
    19,808 posts, 503 likes
    Catalina 34
    US Maple Bay, BC, Canada

    Certainly worth considering.

    Good luck.

    JK_Boston_Catalina310 likes this.
  2. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    810 posts, 345 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    stu, the only job i've ever had was in the merchant marine. 18 yrs on great lakes ships. then in 88' came home to be a mister mom. have had aeolus 44 seasons now. here comes the 45th :)

  3. JK_Boston_Catalina310


    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,934 posts, 70 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA

    This is my quandary. I have read similar things in online reviews. Even Mainesail is still using the wheel pilot last I knew. He bought it for the brains with the intention of using it as part of a below deck unit when it died but it hasn't yet.

    So do I risk the $2k plus savings and go with the wheel pilot or not?

    When the sails are balanced it's very little helm pressure. But following seas and big winds confuse the ST4000.

  4. Calif. Ted

    Calif. Ted

    Joined Jun 8, 2004
    2,091 posts, 125 likes
    Catalina 320
    US Dana Point
    I find I get better results from the AP even without a rudder sensor by applying the "Catalina Cocktail" settings recommended by RM. I do not change drive type as in step 4.

    This boat (Catalina) has a relatively low number of turns on the wheel from lock to lock. I would recommend you change the following setting from the default in this order. Please do these one at a time while evaluating performance after each change. Also, make sure that you have gone throught the compass linearization with a deviation of 10 or below.

    1. Change the Rudder Gain from 5 to 2
    2. Change the Auto Trim from 3 to 2
    3. Change the Response from 1 to 2
    4. Change the Drive Type from 1 to 2

    Please avoid changing the drive type if possible. If the turns on the wheel from lock to lock are less than 2 then you might try the Rudder Gain at 1.

    Big winds and following seas performance will always be problematic I fear.

  5. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,217 posts, 1,662 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Jesse you are right about the compromises associated with a scoop transom and a windvane. I guess it is about how you use it and the design. I selected the Monitor windvane out of LA. They have designed units for Beneteau with the open transoms. In fact I bought my unit used from a Beneteau owner that wanted it gone. It does take up space on the stern but it also is a rock solid way of passage making with no battery consumption in many wind and sea conditions.

    If the power thing is no issue for you then the EV200 unit with rudder sensor is a solid system. I know the one on Mahalo @LeslieTroyer ’s Catalina 36 works very well. We made a 5hour run with 15knt plus winds at 155-175 degrees and 2-3 foot following chop and not even a hiccup.

  6. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,618 posts, 469 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    Jesse I have had a linear-drive for a number of years now after the wheel drive failed. I carried a spare so was able to swap it out while sailing. A few rags in the scuppers and it can be done. Only had to heave-to for about ten minutes total to get it swapped out..

    The big difference here is duty cycle. We do 1000-1200nm per year mostly coastal. The CS-36 tracks like it is on rails and balances very easy compared to our old 310 which was pretty squirmy, comparatively speaking, downwind. While the CS is grossly over the wheel drives weight capability limits the work load applied to it on the CS was likely less, especially down wind or with a following sea. We also had a rudder reference and the wheel unit was inspected and fixed, if needed, every winter. It drove our 20,000+ pound CS for many years and I was surprised it did/could.

    The key is that when I installed the wheel pilot I did not buy the wheel pilot kit, I rarely if ever do.. I installed the below deck brains for the linear-drive and then used it with the wheel-drive. This meant the course computer already had the clutch drive circuit, which you don't get in a wheel drive kit (Raymarine is smart about this). It also meant that when, not if, I upgraded to a linear-drive I would not need to replace a perfectly good course computer. This is how I suggest installing any wheel pilot for an owner who is even teetering on the edge of below deck or above deck. It costs a tad more up-front but saves money in the end.

    The performance differences of the new EVO's is pretty dramatic but not dramatic enough to fix your issues, for your duty cycle, while keeping the wheel drive. Your duty cycle really requires a below deck drive or to carry a spare wheel drive at a bare minimum. The EVO's still need a rudder reference sensor, don't be fooled by this... If your 4000 does not have a rudder reference START THERE.....

    A below deck unit is a big job to install, especially in the water. I had one rudder shaft that took two days to drill through, cramped and upside down. A few shavings at a time so as not to work harden the shaft. The owner refused to do a short haul, to drop the rudder, and in the end it would have actually cost less. The tiller arm can take a month or more to get too. You do not want to connect the RAM to the radial drive. I have seen the results of this three times and it's not pretty. I prefer the bronze Edson tiller arms and they can send you the work-sheet...

  7. Cat 310 #1 in GA

    Cat 310 #1 in GA

    Joined Jan 17, 2013
    237 posts, 27 likes
    Catalina 310
    US St. Simons
    Jesse, I too have installed an EV-100 in place of the previous version and agree it is a major upgrade. However it is still a wheel pilot so has limitations. I do not have the sea time with it to add much to this discussion except that I often wish I still had a tiller on my boat so I could go back to the bullet-proof tiller pilots!

    JK_Boston_Catalina310 likes this.
  8. JK_Boston_Catalina310


    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,934 posts, 70 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    Thanks MS. This gives me some great food for thought.

    Going through route of the EV-200 with the wheel pilot makes the current installation a lot easier and quicker. And the risk would only be the $500 for the wheel pilot mechanism.

    What's killing me is all of the charter boats being crushed without any opportunity to salvage parts. Most of these boats have EV-200 units and are going to trash while many parts are functional. I watched them crush a boat two weeks ago with an inflatable that was still holding air strapped to the deck. Such a waste.

    I would definitely use the Edson autopilot tiller for the linear drive if I go this way. And any system would have a rudder reference transducer.

    Thanks again.

    Alansails and Tom J like this.
  9. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    810 posts, 345 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    pitchpole, broach, hove too, storm tactics, warp, sea anchor, center of effort, windage, drag, NAIVENESS, man overboard, life raft, survival, control .... just food for thought when considering an auto pilot system and how it can help and/or harm a sailor at sea :) maybe your autopilot is telling you your vessel, not the autopilot, is getting overwhelmed and it's time to reduce sail and hand drive or switch to storm tactics

    P.S. captain is a rank in the army, masters license is the technical term

    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
    jssailem likes this.
  10. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,217 posts, 1,662 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Jon. Yes there are Captains in the Army. There are Captains in the Navy’s of the world. The CG uses the word to address the master of pleasure boats when the announce their intentions to board.
    The Army is not alone in it’s use of the term.

  11. HMT2


    Joined Mar 20, 2014
    543 posts, 108 likes
    Hunter 31
    US Shoreacres, TX
    I put an ev100 on my boat last September. I’ve been very pleased. I took my Raymarine unit with an update on a SD card to my local WM and they hooked it up to one of their Raymarine chart plotters and it was done! I’ve been very pleased with mine and install was easy.

  12. JK_Boston_Catalina310


    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,934 posts, 70 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    So I took advantage of the Defender Warehouse Sale prices and ordered. I went with the EV-200 Sail Core Pack. For now I am going to pare that with a wheel drive unit. It's a $500 vs. $2,000 gamble plus a lot less labor. If the wheel pilot works well enough with the core pack, great. I saved about $1,500. If the wheel pilot is still too light for my sailing then it was a $500 loss but I could keep it in place in case there is a failure with the linear drive.

    I also went with the iTC5 and two I70S displays. This should bring my wind, depth and speed into NMEA 2000. So I'm going from 4 small displays for wind, depth, speed and autopilot display to three total. Those will be 2 multi-function and an autopilot control. This also sets us up for adding a Vesper AIS. For that we are leaning towards the XB-8000 with wifi. The AIS data could be viewed over one of the I70S displays. The wifi also means that everything (AIS, wind, depth, speed, GPS, etc.) would be view-able through our iPad except for the radar which will still be the old school Raymarine grayscale.

    We are taking some vacation time in late April and sailing to St. Croix. So I'm hoping to have everything installed for that trip as it will be a great shake down. That's about 40 nm in unprotected waters.

    Thanks for all the feed back.


    SawyerCurt, Alansails and jssailem like this.

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