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Columbia 45 Autopilot

Jan 1, 2020
2
Columbia 45 Araliya Phuket, Thailand
I am the owner of a Columbia 45 built in USA 1974. She has just undergone a major refit in Phuket, Thailand.
I would like to fit an autopilot. Any advise on what make and model would be the best for this boat is much appreciated.
She has cable and chain steering. I believe she had an autopilot previously.
I look forward to your comments.
 

SG

.
Feb 11, 2017
1,604
J/Boat J/160 Annapolis
Are you planning on sailing the boat in the Pacific or back to the US; or are you shipping it back to the US or Canada?

If you're going to be doing a bunch of ocean miles on you , and it were me, I'd get an hydraulic vs. a electro-mechanical unit. I'd get a robust hydraulic ram (oversized vs. the generally light or coastal sized retail manufacturer recommendations for recreational use). I would get either a Simrad (basically a Robertson model that they've subsumed) or possibly a Raymarine (old Autohelm) because you are more likely to be able to get parts around the world.

If you're just shipping the boat back to the US or Canada for less robust "coastal" cruising, then there are other choices you might make. In any event, I'd upsize the mechanical portion of the unit over the normal (budget minded, consumer oriented) recommendations of the manufacturer. This is especially the case with electro-mechanical units.

The Columbia 45 CC, is a relatively heavy and roomy boat for it's time. Its got a lot of free board and it's control surfaces (the combination of it's rudder and keel) probably require a more robust autopilot in offshore conditions.

COLUMBIA 45 photo
COLUMBIA 45 drawing
 
Jan 1, 2020
2
Columbia 45 Araliya Phuket, Thailand
Thank you for your most useful reply. I intend to keep the boat in Thailand/Malaysian waters for the foreseeable future. I am often sailing short handed or with inexperienced crew that is why I am looking to install an autopilot. No ocean crossings planned. I have heard that Raymarine may be the answer as they have representation in S E Asia. Any idea what sort of unit model etc I should be looking at? Kind regards Chris
 

SG

.
Feb 11, 2017
1,604
J/Boat J/160 Annapolis
I would suggest that you get an Autopilot that matches you navigation instruments and electronics. Are getting a Raymarine package, Garmin, B&G (Simrad), or?

Having one manufacturer’s system
will make the interface easier. It possible to work around that, but not as easy.