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Beneteau 361 below deck autopilot options

Discussion in 'Ask A Beneteau Owner' started by SkipDane, Jan 3, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. SkipDane


    Joined Jan 3, 2018
    3 posts, 0 likes
    Beneteau 361
    Stargazer US Palmdale
    Hello fellow sailors,

    My wife and I have been sailing our Beneteau 361 "Stargazer" for about 15 months now and we love it. We have the model with the single aft starboard berth and he port side has the drop in equipment room.

    We want to replace the existing wheel autopilot (which is annoyingly whiney and wanders in all sea states regardless of the tuning/sensitivity level settings). We have cable steering lines to the rudder and it is very tight down there. I've had three different installers look and they all agree there is no room to mount a direct drive linear system. The local Beneteau dealer agreed and told me to look at hydraulic systems. I'm having trouble navigating the specs and understanding how to adapt a hydraulic system to a mechanical steering setup.

    I would love to know what autopilot options have worked for other Beneteau 361 owners?

    Thanks for any advice and fair winds to you all.


  2. Philip_Oceanis 361

    Philip_Oceanis 361

    Joined Nov 23, 2009
    430 posts, 15 likes
    Beneteau Oceanis 361 Clipper
    US --
    P1010749.jpg P1010768 - Copy.jpg P1010779.jpg P1010785.jpg P1010788.jpg I have the 3 cabin version and I am using a linear type 1 raymarine autopilot. Like you the wheel pilot was very weak unlike the below deck which is great. I am sending some photos of the installation. A plate had to be made that was attached on the quadrant for the drive unit to push/pull. The drive unit was attached (with some wood reinforcement) on the back side of the "wall" of the aft port cabin.

    stevemitchell likes this.
  3. Davidasailor26


    Joined May 17, 2004
    1,171 posts, 194 likes
    Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE
    US Havre de Grace
    Our 37 came with a hydraulic linear drive.

    The pump is in the aft lazarette. The steel backing plate is on the bulkhead where the ram is mounted. Not sure how the design of the 361 compares but this might give you some ideas.
    The ram attaches to an arm bolted to the rudder post just below the quadrant.

  4. DougM


    Joined Jul 24, 2005
    1,481 posts, 119 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Manistee, MI
    I have a raymarine hydraulic system in my 323. the pump is in the aft corner of the starboard lazerette. the cylinder itself is through bolted to a stainless steel backing plate on the exterior of the transom. The cylinder rod is mounted to an angle bracket on the steering quadrant. Everything is crowded but it has served me well for 13 years. The only other difference in the overall setup was that the rudder position sensor had to be mounted essentially upside down. To compensate, the left and right wires had to be reversed at the course computer.
    I can trim the boat so that the autopilot barely “hunts” except in a following sea.

    stevemitchell likes this.
  5. Syversens


    Joined Oct 29, 2006
    356 posts, 5 likes
    Beneteau 361
    US Olympia, WA
    welcome fellow 361 owner! I was similarly annoyed with our autopilot (st5000) until finally last year I convinced the admiral to budget some money for upgrade. It wasn't enough to put in a hydraulic but I saw a MASSIVE difference in installing the newer Raymarine EV-100 Wheel system. Installation was a breeze as you can use the existing motor on the wheel, the new motor is slightly larger diameter (of course) so you'll have to cut fiberglass to install it... I didn't but plan to...

    I also got the NMEA 2000 to NMEA 0183 conversion module so I can connect it to my RL70 plotter and tridata, all linked to the autopilot. this was a very nice feature as the autopilot can be configured to show all info for depth/speed and so on as and has a much clearer display than plotter and tridata from 1999.

    There are lots of reasons to go with hydraulic but if you are looking for a quick simple way to upgrade an old raymarine autopilot for better performance and swapping out pieces of your system, this is an affordable way to go. I tried adding rudder sensors and gyros and whatnot, the EV-100 worked better than all that and so much easier to manage.

    stevemitchell likes this.
  6. stevemitchell


    Joined Jan 12, 2016
    133 posts, 6 likes
    Beneteau 311
    US Seattle, WA
    I completely agree. I did the same thing almost 2 years ago and am very pleased with the result. Not only does it seem like the EV series control unit uses the motor more efficiently, but the new motor is far quieter and works very well. Of course, I have a 311 which is smaller than the 361. I have used it in some pretty crazy seas and while it works very hard, I haven't had any weird behavior.

  7. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,541 posts, 1,835 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    I have the EV100 on my boat. Installed Spring 2017. It is a great tool. It is a compromise on boats my size and for the 361 and larger.
    The unit is not strong enough to to handle serious following seas. You will find the motor will eventually give up the ghost from over work. The belt will fail or the plastic wheel parts will break.
    I am talking greater than 5 ft following seas and winds above 18 knots. If your boat is using a balanced sail plan that is my identified limit. If you know your limits then you can adapt any system.

    I have used the AP for over 250 hours on the waters of the Puget Sound and found it to be wonderful tool.

    stevemitchell likes this.
  8. SkipDane


    Joined Jan 3, 2018
    3 posts, 0 likes
    Beneteau 361
    Stargazer US Palmdale
    Thanks for all the replies so far (flu had me down or I'd have sent the thanks earlier). The autopilot I have now is a much older version of the EV-100 (I think...Raymarine control head and it visually looks like the EV-100 but has no readable markings). It also has a Raytheon Pathfinder monochrome chart plotter. So ultimately I am selecting a whole new set of navigation equipment to include a radar (we get the occasional fog and want to be ready for the night journey too).

    The boat was built in 2002 and we're the second owners. It was purchased though a broker and we have no contact with the original owner. We got all the documentation on the vessel and engine, head and refrigerator. But there was nothing on the electronics installed. Fortunately the "Admiral" and CFO of the crew is being kind with the modernization budget.

    I hadn't thought about replacing the old AP with a newer EV-100 configured to be networked. That will be the fallback solution if I can't fit the linear or hydraulic AP options.

  9. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,541 posts, 1,835 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    @SkipDane If you are going with a replacement you can look at the EV150 system. New this year with Raymarine. It is a hydraulic AP option.

  10. Gunni


    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,070 posts, 957 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    You are on the right track with a below-deck AP, they are stronger and more reliable. Check a few for sale boats on Yachtworld and you will see that install is common. The big improvement over your existing system is the steering compass, the new compasses handle roll and yaw much better than the older flux-gate compasses. The computers process much faster and hold a better course.

  11. Randylb


    Joined Feb 8, 2011
    40 posts, 0 likes
    Beneteau 361
    Ca Grand Bend
    I also have the Raymarine linear drive on my 361. Unfortunately I can’t post any pics as it’s an hour away on the hard under a foot of snow. I have the single aft cabin version. The drive is located in the starboard stern locker. The mounting plate is on the aft cabin bulkhead. It’s awkward to work on but definitely room for the system. The computer is located in the aft battery compartment and the compass in the head on the hull inside the cabinet


  12. SkipDane


    Joined Jan 3, 2018
    3 posts, 0 likes
    Beneteau 361
    Stargazer US Palmdale
    Thanks again for all the posts. Last weekend I squeezed down into the starboard locker behind the aft cabin and took a look. It's a tighter crawl space but it is also a straight shot along the bulkhead to the rudder post and appears to be a better approach. I'm meeting an installer today to talk design plans. I'll update the results as it evolves.

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