- User Friendly with Sophisticated Capabilities
- Over the Top
- Off Center
- Variable Axis
- Ratio Control
- Remote Course Setting
- Two Rudders
- Emergency Steering
- Manual Steering
- Tiller Autopilots
- Heavy Boats
- The Windvane
- Hydraulic Steering
USER FRIENDLY WITH SOPHISTICATED CAPABILITIES
HYDROVANE is a unique ‘NEXT GENERATION’ self steering system which is both:
- SELF STEERING – easiest to operate, no lines in the cockpit – excellent on all points of sail and in all conditions
- EMERGENCY STEERING – Strongest Emergency Rudder and Steering System available today – always in place, nothing to set-up – ‘Ready to Go’ – takes the fear out of losing your rudder or breaking your steering mid passage
Hans Christian Christina 43
SIMPLICITY of a vane driving its own rudder is unique
- No lines in cockpit – Independent from main steering – and not attached or connected to it
- No extra gear – No servo blade and no trimtab – Just a vane powering a semi balanced rudder
- No other system can be adjusted to the conditions to steer a straight course in a flat sea and more importantly further reduce yaw in a heavy sea.
- It’s near frictionless system means it can steer in the lightest of winds
- The natural stability makes for a better ride through the worst of conditions
ADVANTAGES OF THE AUXILIARY RUDDER SYSTEM
- “BALANCING OUT THE BOAT” – The main rudder becomes a big trim tab that is locked in position to compensate for any weather or lee helm – the final element in the equation of trimming and balancing the boat – insures that the boat wants to hold the desired course. Consequently, the Hydrovane rudder has that much less steering to do – as the boat is comfortably trimmed and balanced to keep that ‘on course’ direction. When the boat is caused to veer off course, the Hydrovane responds immediately with its rudder instantly turning to correct.
- NATURAL STABILITY OF A FIXED MAIN RUDDER – The main rudder can provide the greatest yaw resistance only if it is fixed. The Hydrovane concept utilizes the main rudder solely to balance the boat while the Hydrovane nimbly, in its levered position further aft, flicks this way and that to bring the boat back to the course the boat feels most comfortable on.
WORKS ON ANY BOAT
- Because it is a completely independent steering system it will provide its certain amount of steering power, tempered for the conditions, to any boat. Most other systems are limited in performance by the various characteristics of each boat – due to problems caused by friction in the existing steering system. Not so for the Hydrovane.
The Hydrovane is a complete separate steering system – doubles as a back-up steering system ‘in place’ and ‘ready to go’
OVER THE TOP
Today’s HYDROVANE retains many features tested during more than 38 years of ocean voyaging. The initial concept was to achieve a better system than the then standard servo pendulums. The variable ratio linkage was the first important development. Major improvements like the ‘adjustable vane axis’, ‘precise course setting’ and the vane and rudder construction combine to make the HYDROVANE more versatile and reliable than any other system. Its ultimate virtue as an emergency backup steering system puts it ‘over the top’!
Westerly Oceanlord 41 ‘SKARDU’ – finish of 2004 ARC
“Our Hydrovane (a.k.a. “Scarlet”) has been a complete star the last 18 months. We’ve covered over 18,000nm, with her steering for most of them.” – see TRUE STORIES for more
HOW DOES IT WORK?
AUXILIARY RUDDER SYSTEM – Hydrovane has its own rudder that is independent of the main steering system – no lines connected to the main steering. Uniquely, its big vane is a wind direction sensor and also provides the power to drive the rudder.
Drive Unit & Vane
The ‘Course Setting line’ can be set-up anywhere handy – It does not go to the wheel!
ENDURANCE 45 – complete system – Vane, Drive Unit, ‘X’ Shaft, ‘H’ & ‘A’ Brackets, Rudder
Total height 13′ to 18′ (4m. to 6m.)
EASY TO OPERATE
Trim The Sails To The Course – so the boat is comfortable holding that course
Set The Vane with its leading edge into the wind – as if “in irons”
- Lock Main Rudder in the ‘on course’ position that compensates or eliminates any weather helm.
- Click Hydrovane Into Gear - no lines to set up - just ‘click’ the ratio knob into place
The Hydrovane rudder is then steering the boat!
POWER – Power for the system is derived from the large vane and its sophisticated linkage to the rudder. Because the rudder is semi balanced it requires little effort to move.
SMART & FAST – The HYDROVANE concept produces a smoother, safer ride …… and it does so because it is simply smart and fast:
- NATURALLY STABLE- With the main rudder locked in a position that eliminates weather helm the boat becomes naturally stable.
- IMMEDIATE & CONTROLLED - The rudder responds to course change impulses instantaneously – tempered for the conditions.
Typically first time users marvel that when put into gear that it ‘just works’. No tedious teething or tuning needed.
NO OTHER SYSTEM CAN MATCH THESE FEATURES
A unique completely ‘user friendly’ system – easier to operate than other systems
Emergency steering and rudder system – fully operational ‘ready to go’
Unmatched course control – only system able to adjust power and sensitivity – can ‘straighten your wake’ and further reduce yaw
No unwieldy lines in the cockpit - just ‘click’ into gear - it just works – no constant attention to lines, adjusting and re-tensioning
Removable rudder - held by a locking pin that is easily ‘popped out’ with a boat hook
Naturally stable with fixed main rudder – less yaw, more comfortable, faster and safer
Heavy weather mode – reduced yaw, immediate course correction – better boat motion, faster ‘course made good’, safer
‘Magical’ in light airs downwind – setting for light air mode – so little friction in the system
Outperforms autopilots – durability, response speed, keeps boat trimmed to the wind
Solves autopilot risk – vulnerability to failure, electricity dependent, inability to follow the wind, handles heavy weather
Elegant, clean profile – permits use of davits, boarding ladders, swim platforms etc.
Flexibility in positioning of brackets - no critical location requirements – easy to install
Can be installed ‘off center’ – to accommodate boarding ladders, swim platforms etc.
Agnostic – Works on practically any boat – suitable for situations that are difficult or impossible for other systems: multihulls, off centre, hydraulic steering, external rudders, centre cockpits and stiff steering
Unlike servo pendulums – can be used in tandem with autopilot on main steering – helpful in storms, convenient for sail changes or even when engaging and disengaging the HYDROVANE.
- Insurance – Many insurers provide better rates on boat insurance or reduce the minimum crew member requirement for offshore cruising if your boat has a Hydrovane.
Negligible maintenance and virtually indestructible
SWEDEN YACHT 45 finishing ARC 2006 ….. & during installation – Note 30 inch/75 cm. offset
50% of ARC particpants with Hydrovanes had off centre installations!!
OFF CENTER – No Problem!
PLATFORM/STEP TRANSOMS – SWIM LADDERS
The Hydrovane will make platform/steps much more usable – as it can be offset to one side to preserve the platform/steps, passageway and swim ladder – the shaft and brackets can be configured to enhance the platform – not obstruct it…….as those 2 inch. (5 cm.) tubes double as ideal handholds – finally easy to board and de-board your dinghy.
If your boat is big and/or fast (about 50′/15m and readily achieves 8 knots or more) we should talk about limitations.
POTENTIALLY DISASTROUS FOR SERVO PENDULUM SYSTEMS – BUT NOT AN ISSUE FOR AUXILIARY RUDDER SYSTEMS – We often hear concern about off centre installations probably because this issue is so critical for the servo pendulum type systems. If their blade/paddle lifts out of the water the boat could instantaneously ‘spin out’……imagine that in a storm! An auxiliary rudder system has neither the likelihood of its rudder popping out of the water and even if it did not much would happen because:
- Even if it it did lift out of the water, which would last for only a few seconds, the boat should hold course as the main rudder is locked ‘on course’ – preventing any ‘spin out’.
- The rudder is longer, reaching much deeper in the water
- The rudder does not swing from side to side like the servo systems
- We have provided off centre installations for over 40 years
The only performance issue of the offset for the Hydrovane is if the rudder is deep enough in the water in order to do its work. When reaching or going downwind the boat is never heeling much and the Hydrovane rudder is deep in the water regardless of which tack it is on. Only when heading upwind and heeling substantially might the rudder, if on the weather side, be largely out of the water – and even then it probably does not matter much as that is the easiest point of sail for steering. If need be the entire unit can always be set deeper in the water to accommodate such situations. Because the Hydrovane has a longer rudder than any other system it is even less likely to have any such problem.
See the Wauquiez 40 report in the TRUE STORIES section. His unit is 30 inches (75 cm.) offset and he raves about its performance.
For slower cruising multihulls it does not really matter where the hydrovane is located. A 50 ft. (15 m.) catamaran with its Hydrovane on the end of one pontoon reports performance even far better than he had hoped.
WAUQUIEZ PS 40 – see http://www.hydrovane.com/TestimonialEmails.html – the EMAILS under TRUE STORIES tab
- then scroll down and look at the pictures of the installations – 50% of our installations are offset
Simple to use but sophisticated in capability:
VARIABLE AXIS – Adjusts Sensitivity
RATIO CONTROL – Settings for Power
STRAIGHTENING THE WAKE AND REDUCING YAW – Only HYDROVANE can adjust its sensitivity and the amount of rudder applied to control the timing and amount of steerage applied to course changes. The result is that a HYDROVANE can straighten its wake in a calm sea and greatly reduce yaw in a heavy sea. This means more comfortable, faster and safer passages.
There are two tools for adjusting the sensitivity and power of the HYDROVANE:
1. VARIABLE AXIS – Vane Angle Controls Sensitivity
Incline the vane to desensitize it. No other system can do this: CHANGE ITS AXIS. This is a technical issue that needs explaining:
It is not so much the change of the angle of the vane - most systems can do that – but when inclining the HYDROVANE vane its axis is also changed. The axis is at the point of linkage that connects the vane to the steering mechanism. Changing the axis changes the physics of the impulse delivered to the rudder. A major development in self steering occured when systems adopted a compromise between the power and sensistivity of the horizontal axis and the tempered vertical axis. Most other systems have now chosen a fixed axis of about 20 degrees off the horizontal – a compromise. Only HYDROVANE has a variable axis that can be adjusted between perfectly horizontal (when the vane is vertical) and up to 30 degrees off that.
- Vertical or zero degrees for light airs – most power, most sensitive
- Fully inclined to 30 degrees – for heavy weather, least sensitive, very tempered
- Normal setting – 15 to 20 degrees
VANE AXIS ADJUSTMENT
To reduce power and sensitivity simply loosen the clamping knob
and lift the balance weight to tilt the vane axis.
Vane Angle Settings to Control Sensitivity – If the Hydrovane is responding too slowly, under steering, then finally catching up by over steering, you may raise the vane – make it more responsive by putting it in the vertical position. Conversely, if the vessel is over-steering with each correction being too dramatic, then de-sensitize/de-power the vane by further inclining it.
ONLY HYDROVANE CAN CHANGE ITS AXIS/SENSITIVITY – The HYDROVANE is not finicky. As just mentioned, many owners leave their vane and ratio knob at the same setting for most conditions. The degree of tuning is personal taste. All the other major brands have either no such tuning capability or at best can make only minor adjustments. Some can change the angle of their vanes but none can change the axis angle. All other brands have fixed axis – generally 20 degrees. Only HYDROVANE can change that axis angle – hence change the vane’s sensitivity/power.
2. RATIO CONTROL – Settings to Control Power and Rudder Angle
Three settings for the ratio control knob for different amounts of power and rudder angle:
- Left - 15 degrees rudder – 1:3 power – most power, preferred by bigger boats
- Middle – 30 degrees rudder – 1:2 power -normal setting
- Right – 45 degrees rudder – 1:1 power – least power, most steerage – for slower speeds in heavy or light weather
- Far right – neutral
RATIO CONTROL – 4 POSITIONS
3 operating positions – left to right: 3:1, 2:1, 1:1
The extreme right position is ‘neutral’ – rudder trails freely in the wake.
Many sailors find that the normal settings with the vane partially inclined (about 20 degrees) and ratio knob in the middle setting are all that they need – but you may want to fine tune to see just how well the HYDROVANE can perform.
If it appears you need less steerage, try the first ratio control setting (far left). Alternatively, if more steerage is needed use the third setting (right) – least used. At those settings you can try varying sensitivity/power with the vane angle.
Examples – In light airs, when the vane may be vertical for maximum power, the resulting rudder movement can be reduced if necessary to avoid over steering, by moving the Ratio Control to a less responsive setting – ie – to the left. In heavy weather, when the vane axis will be declined for stability the ratio knob can be moved to the right to give more rudder control from a smaller vane movement – although at higher speeds the rudder might stall – as the angle of attack is too much – then back to the middle setting.
Easy Waving Motion - The end result should be an easy waving motion of the vane as it swings from side to side, rarely banging at the stop and not spending long periods without moving.
You will soon learn what positioning works for you. Over time you will develop your own technique for altering the settings. Surprisingly, many users are happy to leave the settings alone – seeing no need.
REMOTE COURSE SETTING
REMOTE COURSE SETTING – Its purpose is to change/set the course. It moves the entire upper section that holds the vane to put the leading edge of the vane into the wind – as if ‘in irons’. On the desired course the vane must be positioned ‘in irons’. To do so there is a line that is set-up like a clothesline – an endless loop – somewhere handy to the cockpit – usually attached by a bungy chord somewhere in the lifelines. A little pull on that line moves the vane a tiny bit. Three or four full arms length pulls would tack the boat. The worm gear is wonderful – no need to tie off or lock anything – just pull the line and leave it. We have yet to provide a replacement part for this system – another unbreakable feature.
Beneteau 411 – Remote Course Setting Line
MANUAL COURSE SETTING – A basic mechanism – loosen the locking knob (‘Course Clamp’), muscle the vane to the desired heading and tighten the knob.
MANUAL COURSE SETTING VERSUS REMOTE COURSE SETTING – One can imagine reaching over the transom in the middle of a bad night – and just at the wrong time being thrown by the motion…… “Now what course were we on?” For the extra cost the remote course setting is well worth it.
We only sell one or two of the Manual versions per year and some of them come back for the upgrade – as the Remote system is such good value – a pull on the line does it all:
- No need to lock off – never moves on its own
- Can make the smallest adjustment or even tack/gybe with it
- Lead the line anywhere – no need to get up to make a tweak in course
- SAFETY – No need to lean over your transom in heavy weather
VXA2 – Remote Course Setting (worm gear) ~ VXA1 – Manual Course Setting
TWO RUDDERS – The combined effect of two rudders working together is perhaps the most significant advantage of a separate auxiliary rudder system. For downwind sailing in particular, the main rudder can provide the greatest yaw resistance only if it is fixed. To this natural stability the nimble HYDROVANE rudder is tempered to the conditions resulting in yet further yaw damping - which means a more comfortable ride, a straighter course and less potential to lose control in bad seas and risk: broaches, crash gibes and knock-downs.
NEARLY INDESTRUCTIBLE – The rudder is manufactured in solid cast nylon – perhaps the largest single piece of nylon that one may see in a lifetime. With over 20 years of history these rudders have proven to be nearly indestructible. We have yet to see one of our rudders damaged from hitting a submerged obstacle. We believe that on such impact the rudder flexes, bends to absorb the blow then merely fends off the intruder – often unbekownst to watchkeepers and leaving little trace – maybe a scratch but never a gouge – the nylon is so tough … and flexible.
Avoids Snagging Commercial Fishing Gear – Neither do we hear of the rudder being fouled by commercial fish nets or lines – because:
- Tapered shape – helps line slip off
- Flexibility – rudder bends under load helping such gear to slip free
- Not very vulnerable with hull and keel in front acting as protective barrier
Easy Removal – The rudder is designed for easy removal with a quick release pin that is easily ‘popped out’ with a boat hook. A tether must be kept on the rudder at all times.
RUDDERS – all solid poured/cast nylon
- Original (short – 950 mm./37.5″) – 1980 to 2005 – 8 kg. (17.6 lbs.)
- First longer version – 1105 mm./43.5″ – 2006 to 2009 – 8.5 kg. (18.7 lbs.)
- Latest July 2009 onward – 10.5 kg. (23.1 lbs.) – 25% heavier … maybe 50% more power
EASIER TO INSTALL – In recent years we have tapered both the bottom of the shaft and the entrance of the shaft hole – greatly facilitating the installation of the rudder – especially in sloppy seas. Those with older units should consider doing the same.
OUR RUDDER– For nearly 30 years the rudder has been made of solid nylon poured into a mould. Other than a few manufacturer’s defects the rudder has proven to be unbreakable – an enormous virtue. Over the years various improvements have been made – lately getting larger and thicker. Customers/owners are typically so happy with their rudders – having little interest in upgrading to the newer and larger versions. In 2006 the length was increased by 5.5 inches/14 cm. In June 2009 it got thicker by adding 5 lbs./2.3 kgs. – now weighs 23 lbs./10.5 kgs. The improvements are designed for bigger and faster boats producing more power with less force required to control it. For smaller boats and big high speed boats we shorten the rudders – not needing the extra power or optimizing performance.
The latest version (introduced in the summer of 2009) has been developed by our ‘in house engineer’, Ted Hargreaves. Ted inspired the upgrade based on his aeronautical experience with foils. After the first test Ted reported that it is ‘scary’ as it was so much more powerful but so light to the touch – easy to control – couldn’t believe that it could be that good without stability issues. Now we know that it is not ‘scary’ at all – but very stable. It is a vast improvement. We strongly recommend the upgrade for any owners with older versions of the rudder who would like the extra power.
EMERGENCY STEERING IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!
HYDROVANE IS A TRUE SECOND STEERING SYSTEM ‘IN PLACE’ AND ‘READY TO GO’
With a Hydrovane your boat will have two complete steering systems. The term ‘Emergency Steering’ implies some sort of back-up or temporary steering. The HYDROVANE is much more than that. It is a full time, ‘in place’ steering system - capable of completing a circumnavigation without any need for maintenance or repairs – as is!
MANUAL STEERING WITH THE HYDROVANE
With the vane disengaged (ratio control in the right hand setting) the Hydrovane rudder can be steered directly with its own tiller. The Hydrovane’s rudder and tiller is just like that on any dinghy sailing boat. Some single-handers connect a dinghy type of tiller to Hydrovane’s small tiller to make an extension that can comfortably be used some distance away in the cockpit. This kind of set-up is practical if you want to use the Hydrovane to hand steer in close quarters or wherever. Some find it to be a wonderful improvement for those tight turns in a marina – see below. This technique is only for some. When entering a harbour or marina most owners simply lock-off the Hydrovane rudder or even remove it by popping out the locking pin with a boat hook and shipping the rudder aboard with its always attached tether.
IMPROVED STEERING IN TIGHT MARINAS – If maneouvering in marinas is difficult and you have an extra pair of hands on board you might want to have a crew member manning the Hydrovane tiller to operate it in sync with the main rudder – two rudders are better than one – especially with the Hydrovane rudder in that levered position further aft. Some report this technique has dramatically improved steering in tight quarters.
Operates just like the tiller and rudder on a sailing dinghy
In tight marinas maneouverability improved by using Hydrovane – two rudders are better than one
Proven to be a significant feature for many
The Hydrovane is designed to be connected to a tiller style autopilot for use when motoring or when sailing in very light winds with sloppy seas. Because the Hydrovane rudder is relatively small and it is ‘balanced’ it needs only the smallest of the tiller pilots.
Tiller style Auto-pilot retro-fits
The installation requires a minor retrofit. Either a 3/4 in./20 mm. OD (outside diameter) insert or a 1.5 in./38mm ID (inside diameter) tube can be used to extend the Tiller and readily adapt to whichever connection is required by the tiller pilot manufacturer. The extensions have been made from many materials: wood, plastic tubes, plumbing copper, stainless steel etc. The tiller pilot manufacturers typically suggest (not necessarily required) an 18 in./45 cm. radius which means the extension need be 12 in./30 cm. or so. The extension can be held in place with the Rudder Locking Pin. The autopilot itself needs to be fitted nearby – either on the deck or rail or attached to the stern pushpit.
Although the connection can be directly to the Tiller an extension is preferable:
- More flexibility in devising suitable connection with the Autopilot
- Provides leverage – means less load on the autopilot – should last longer
HYDROVANE owners have installed such tiller-pilots report strong preference for them over their expensive below deck autopilots: less noise, not under a bunk, small electrical draw, saves the larger unit for a ‘rainy day’ – and a cheap way to have yet another back-up.
Tiller style autopilot retrofit is highly recommended – for motoring and sailing in the very light winds with sloppy seas
Needs only the least powerful units as the rudder is balanced and relatively small
With its rudder In its levered position further aft it is efficient and quiet
Other self steering systems have variations on such a retro-fit. Only Hydrovane comes complete with a tiller in place that directly steers its own rudder – makes for the easiest to retro-fit … and most effective .
The following photo is an Oyster 55 rated at 25 tons and typically displaces several more tons when loaded up – say 55,000 lbs. (25,000 kg.) – well over our recommended maximum of 40,000 lbs. or 18,000 kg. This boat did a circumnavigation with the Hydrovane steering a respectable portion of the time. Derek Daniels, the Hydrovane inventor took the picture while on a test sail in the Solent. In those relatively calm conditions the Hydrovane handled the boat competently……. and it had only the older small rudder.
The Hydrovane’s steering power diminishes as the size of the boat increases and is challenged at higher boat speeds starting at perhaps 10 to 12 knots. Ameliorating or worsening that issue can be the inherent balance of the boat and the sailor’s ability to trim the sails to the conditions. A well experienced self steering user on larger boats tells others that ask about self steering that “before engaging the self steering effort must be made balancing the trim of the boat so that she is practically ‘self steer’ herself. The test is to steer the boat by adjusting the sheets. When in doubt try to ease some sheets and then take the wheel and feel what the self steering would have to deal with. Only when well trimmed should the self steering be engaged.”
We regularly hear positive reports from 25 ton yachts with Hydrovanes……those that were expecting limitations – then pleased enough with what they do get.
Over the last three years we have done considerable work to exploit the Hydrovane’s capabilities – focused on larger and faster boats:
- Expected latter in 2013 – all new ‘XA Vane’ – more power for light airs:
- Extendable by an extra 20 in./50 cm.
- Adjustable – always vertical for maximum exposure no matter what angle of the Axis
- Large – 17 in./43 cm. X 34 in./86 cm.
- Finally, in the summer of 2011 we feel that the rudder is perfected – longer, fatter and better balanced – more powerful but easy to control
- January 2009 – Switched the rudder shaft to ‘Super Duplex’ steel – nearly three times as strong as the predecessor ‘316’ stainless steel
- January 2010 – new Con Rod assembly - 33 times stronger but more importantly provides a tighter and smoother transition – more responsive
- 2008 – improved bearings
But better than hearing it from us, go to http://www.hydrovane.com/TestimonialEmails.html where our customers ‘unsolicited’ emails are reprinted verbatim – no editing – and include the sender’s email address if you want to contact them. Please note that some of them have older units with smaller rudders. In particular for bigger boats see:
- Dufour 50 – June 2013 – 17 tons – big and fast – new rudder and bigger vane
- Motiva 49 – 24 tonnes – February 2013 – lost main rudder in ARC 2012
- Liberty 458 – 25 tons – July 2013, February 2013, August 2011 & December 2009
- Hallberg Rassy 49 – 28 tonnes (over 60,000 lbs!) – October 2012
- Grand Soliel 52 – 23 tons – September 2012
- Custom Aluminum 52 – April 2012
- Maple Leaf 50 – 23 tons – November 2011
- Nauticat 44 – 22 tons – October 2011
- Beneteau 50 – March 2011
- Wauquiez Centurion 47 – February 2011
- Garcia 46 – 17 tons – January 2011 & July 2010 & May 2009
- 20 ton cutter - September 2010
- Van de Stadt 50 – 25 ton steel – May 2010
If your interest in a Hydrovane is because:
- You are a good sailor who can appreciate the bliss of non electronic self steering
- Your boat is well balanced – minimal weather helm
- You are aware of Hydrovane’s trump card as a complete emergency steering system ‘in place and ready to go’ – in itself worth the price
Oyster 55 sailing in the Solent steered by its Hydrovane using the older small rudder
The windvane is a lightweight ripstop nylon fabric stretched over an anodized aluminum tube frame. Its base is a casting that is attached to the steering unit with a quick release knob – easily spun off in a second or so. The attachment incorporates a safety groove to prevent the vane from being lost even if the knob holding it in place has not been fully tightened.
STANDARD VANE ON LEFT AND STUBBY ON RIGHT
Again, breakage is nearly non-existent.
Ovni 385 with new ‘Stubby’ Windvane - picture courtesy of Charlie Tait
…….leaving Porto Santo, Madeira Islands – Fall 2005
STUBBY VANE – Over the years the vane has grown in height in order to produce better light air performance. Arches, radar masts, antennas, mizzens etc. can be interfering for those longer vanes. For those we provide our ‘Stubby’ vane that is 11 in. ( 280 mm) shorter but 8 in. (200 mm) wider. It will produce comparable power and better accommodate aft deck obstacles.
POWER – In a wind tunnel the stubby has slightly more power than the standard vane – but the Standard Vane reaches that bit higher where there might be a bit more wind. Assume they are both about equal power.
NEARBY AERIAL OBSTACLES – The vane needs lots of airspace. If your boat has any nearby aerial obstructions - arches holding solar panels, radar poles or wind generators, etc – see the SPECIFICATIONS page at: http://www.hydrovane.com/our-product/specifications/ – scroll down to find: AIRSPACE REQUIRED – PROBLEMATIC AERIAL OBSTRUCTIONS ON AFT END?
NEW EXTENDABLE VANE – Still in development is an extendable vane . The Hydrovane is already probably the best self steering system for light airs because it has so little inherent friction. But there are conditions when more power is desirable – especially for modern big and fast boats that can sail downwind at 7 knots in a 10 knot breeze leaving little apparent wind for the Hydrovane to work with. We hope to have a prototype in time for the Southampton Boat Show and crossing our fingers for availability by the end of the year.
RED VANES – All our vanes are red – a safety colour – visible to aircraft.
With hydraulic steering you do not really lock the main wheel – you simply let go – the hydraulic system will freeze the rudder in that position. Over time there will be a bit of ‘hydraulic creep’ – ever so slowly the rudder will move as hydraulic fluid seeps through its hydraulic motor. That only means that the watchkeeper, from time to time, must give the wheel a little adjustment. We had hydraulic steering on our last boat. I used my big toe to give the wheel a little push now and then.
The HYDROVANE is often fitted to boats with mizzens. The technique is to first design the installation so that the HYDROVANE, sans vane, will sit comfortably below the boom. Then the default is to remove the vane before tacking or gibing. There is a quick release knob for that purpose – takes a second or so to spin it free. In some cases the vane can be maneuvered so that the boom can clear the entire unit. Each owner develops their own technique.
All the benefits of a HYDROVANE can be enjoyed by a cruising multihull (not high speed performance boats – speeds over 10-12 knots can cause limitations):
Ease of use
Competent in all conditions (subject to speed limitations)
Complete back-up steering system
- Enormous reliability
MODERN PERFORMANCE CATS – The newer, lighter and larger cats can have performance issues:
- Rapid acceleration & deceleration - constantly changing ‘boat balance’ in regards to course to the apparent wind – changes in apparent wind direction requires a Hydrovane course adjustment …… well, some tweaking of the course setting line
- Weak apparent wind – There is an ideal reaching condition in lighter airs when the boat can move as fast as the wind is blowing but leaving little apparent wind to power the Hydrovane.
- High Superstructure – need to get the vane as high as possible – to reach above the cabin top where the good wind is
- Leeway – Depending on the relative weight of the boats and the amount of keel structure, some multihulls have considerable ‘leeway’ or sideways drift – results in ‘dirty water’ for the Hydrovane. Dirty water refers to the flow of water on the Hydrovane rudder – must be in the normal fore and aft direction – parallel to the centerline of the boat.
OFFSET INSTALLATIONS – Reports of offset installations are mixed – again the older heavier boats have no problems. The issue, we believe, is ‘dirty water’ caused by either the wake from the nearby hull or leeway. Our conclusion is more tempered on the offset – recommend amidships location for all ‘modern’ cats.
Lexline 49 – Dutch Catamaran – “Hydrovane performed way beyond expectations!”
BACK-UP RUDDER – Perhaps mutihulls have even more vulnerability to rudder failure than monohulls because their rudders are unprotected and unsupported – usually simple spade rudders lacking a protective keel or anything like a skeg or bottom support – even if well built, not nearly as strong as Hydrovane’s solid nylon rudder. Hence having a separate independent rudder and steering system should be of enormous value.
OVER THE TOP!
Today’s HYDROVANE retains many features tested during more than 40 years of ocean voyaging. The initial concept was to achieve a better system than the then standard servo pendulums. The variable ratio linkage was the first important development. Major improvements like the ‘adjustable vane axis’, ‘precise course setting’ and the vane and rudder construction combine to make the HYDROVANE more versatile and reliable than any other system. Its ultimate virtue as an emergency backup steering system puts it ‘over the top’!
‘EMERGENCY STEERING’ IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!
HYDROVANE is a true second steering system – ‘IN PLACE’ and ‘READY TO GO’
IT JUST WORKS
Typically first time users marvel that when put into gear that it ‘just works’. No tedious teething or tuning needed.
With the main rudder locked in a position that eliminates weather helm the boat becomes naturally stable.
A HYDROVANE on your boat will make short handed sailing so much easier, the vessel’s motion will be greatly improved and your confidence in your yacht and equipment will be significantly enhanced.
Hydrovanes have been positioned almost everywhere on cruising multihulls – way off centre - even at the extremity, at the end of a pontoon on a 50 foot (18 m.) catamaran – with glowing reports.
With ease, HYDROVANE gives a more comfortable ride:
- Straighter course – faster
- Calmer – less yaw
TRIED & PROVEN
Just as diesel engines have not replaced sails as the best method of crossing an ocean – autopilots cannot beat the quiet reliability of mechanical self steering on ocean passages.
YOUR BEST CREW
No matter how ‘improved’ autopilots become mechanical self steering for an offshore cruiser will always be the primary workhorse of the extended passage. It is your best crew: tireless, dependable and quiet…and it requires no electricity.