S/V STRIDER WINDVANE INSTALLATION

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The big project for 2007 was the installation of a Cape Horn Windvane for self steering on long passages. This was also equipped with a small electronic auto pilot that activates the wind vane linkage for use under power or when an exact compass course is desired.


Why go to all this expense and installation effort to avoid doing one of my favorite things in the entire world, steering a sailboat? Years of biking, home renovation, computer use, and mild arthritis have left my wrists a bit of a mess beyond just simple carpal tunnel syndrome. The first week long cruise made me realize that I could be having trouble by the end of longer trips. Limiting the repetitive motion of steering on long legs to the times when it is most fun and rewarding should greatly extend my cruising range.

Self steering when there are just one or two on board will make for better watch standing and navigation. Reducing exposure and fatigue by letting the person on watch stand it in the companionway with frequent pop ups instead of being chained to the wheel will be a significant safety improvement and long passages such as across the Gulf of Maine to Nova Scotia will be less of a marathon.

Why a Cape Horn gear? As a designer of things marine, I am a great admirer of elegant simplicity and the Cape Horn gear is beautifully engineered. Installation is more involved than other brands but, when installed, it becomes part of the boat . It's like the aesthetic difference between an outboard hung on a transom bracket and a proper inboard engine. The lines and rigging that turn the rudder are entirely below deck and no part of the installation will be visible inside the rail or further cluttering the cockpit.

Just after I decided on the Cape Horn, Donna Lange's daily post from her circumnavigation in a 28 foot boat contained the following:

"I am particularly appreciating the Cape Horn Steering Vane which has performed brilliantly these nearly 30,000 miles.
Yves Gelinas, living in Canada, designed and created the steering vane for his own circumnavigation on an Alden 30', in the 1980's, sailing from France, around the world stopping in NZ with a dismasting, ending in Quebec Canada. The vane worked so well that he and his nephew Eric Sicotte began producing them, perfecting it as well. It is a sleek piece of equipment that has handled every moment of my sailing when there was enough wind to sail."

Seemed like a good omen to me.

I have an AutoCAD drawing of the entire installation so anyone installing one in an Endeavour 32 should contact me.

The first step was the fabrication of this attachment to the rudder quadrant:


This was cut from a steel angle and attached with the same machine screws that hold the rudder stop on the top of the quadrant by substituting longer machine screws.

Next, the attachments for the blocks were fastened to the bottom of the (unused) propane lockers that these boats have on each side of the cockpit.

This was a mistake as the lines were too far aft for the system to develop sufficient power in light winds abaft the beam. The blocks were relocated in 2008 as shown below. The starboard plywood pad was incorporated in the new arrangement and the port one simply left in place with the holes plugged.


2" x 2" x ¼" aluminum angles were then fastened to the partial bulkheads at the front of the lazarette to stiffen the plywood and provide a mount for the steering line blocks and fairleads. The angle and fittings were fastened by drilling and tapping the aluminum. In 2008, the blocks were moved outboard from the original position on the edge by the fairlead and the lines led through 7/8" holes drilled in the bulkheads.

Here are the revised block attachments in the location recommended by Cape Horn:

Starboard

The strut is made from a set of vane shaft strut tubing and brackets purchased from Cape Horn. There is a similar bracket out of sight at the aft end through bolted to the plywood pad left over from the first season's installation. Since I have to slide my feet up into this area to get head first into the engine space, the strut is removable. There is a slot in the end of the heavy wall tube and a bolt through the bracket. A removable pin in the forward bracket lets me move it out of the way quickly. The plywood spans the fuel tank and is screwed above and below it with the bracket held by "T" nuts.

Port Side

The fuel tank is slightly offset to port in the E32 so the port side was easier. Two stainless steel angles tie the two pieces of wood together on the outside and the "L" shaped mount is epoxied to the fiberglass that holds the fuel tank in place.

The installation went much as described in the Installation Manual but I spent much more time on it. I believe many installations can be done in a couple of days as they claim but working conditions were very difficult in my boat. The lazarrett is large enough that the critical spots can't be reached except by getting right inside. I've accumulated a proper amount of weight around my middle for my age and you would have to see this to believe it.

If you haven't discovered Gorilla Tape yet, buy a roll before you do any other projects in this life. Working alone, I have to do things like taping screw drivers held in vice grips to hold screws on the other side of bulkheads and decks. I've always admired duct tapes ability to let go just as I've squirmed into position on the far side. I don't know how they calibrate it so closely but it is uncanny.

Gorilla tape holds and doesn't let got. It even holds on fiberglass dusted with the remains of drilled holes. I think this is a repackaging of the stuff called Gaffer's Tape that I've come to admire during my Titanic show filming. Same color, same characteristics.

I spent a day curled up inside putting layer after layer of fiberglass tape and epoxy on the main tube to hold it solidly to the hull. I built up about a quarter inch, far more than Yves recommends but I was concerned about my stern sticking out into the marina channel and I wanted it to be able to take a good impact. This made me dread the next step, grinding, epoxying, and fiberglassing two large plywood pads to the hull for the steering line blocks. Fitting these to the hull curve, grinding the fiberglass so the epoxy would stick (imagine curling up inside a steamer trunk with a grinder and starting to spray itchy fiberglass everywhere), and then getting the blocks in the right position has been keeping me awake at night.

I'd previously simplified the process by moving the braces so they run to the deck. That worked well and left the interior of the space much cleaner. While studying the plan to work out templates for the block mounting pads, I suddenly realized that the lowest bolts of the split backstay chainplates might be right about in line with the quadrant if I moved it to the top position which would also eliminate the need for a kludgy crossing over of the steering lines.

I woke up early, too anxious to see if this would work to even eat a proper breakfast. Curled up like a fetus inside the lazarett at 6:30 in the morning I found myself delivered from the nightmare that I thought awaited me. I took out the half inch lower bolts and returned to Portland to buy longer ones. These I drilled at the end for 3/16" shackle pins. When these were reinstalled, the line position was perfect. The quadrant is now up and out of the way and the line lead straightforward and clear of any items stowed in the space.

The Completed Installation

A detail of the deck fittings. The eye strap serves as the backing plate for the support struts under the deck. The line running along the braces and through the eye runs to the other side and up the port brace and then around the wind vane turret. Pulling the line at any point rotates the vane to set the course.

Here is the quadrant showing the line lead that saved me so much agony. The quadrant is shown in the stowed position because my neighbor had set up a staging plank to wax his topsides and I couldn't lower the servo oar. Normally, the quadrant is oriented straight up.

The control line terminations inside the lazarette. The ash beam is screwed and epoxied to the end of the cockpit and partial bulkheads. The bulkheads had no top support as the boat was built so would have flexed with the steering strains.

The hand bilge pump mounted under the cockpit seat next to the lazarette hatch is perfectly located for its supports to double as a foundation for the ST1000 Tillerpilot so I made up this mount.

It doesn't look strong enough for the force that this autopilot can develop and, in fact, it isn't. In this installation however, the autopilot only tweaks a lever on the windvane linkage and the Cape Horn unit develops the power to turn the rudder. The force developed is no greater than the wind vane can create so there is very little force on the autopilot mount. If a smaller autopilot was available, I would have bought it but the ST1000 is the smallest on the market.

Here is the autopilot mounted.

The rope just pulls the fuel filler hose slightly to one side so the steering line doesn't chafe on it. The pump mount also holds the bilge pump discharge lines in position. The pump is turning into one of the most useful attachment points on the boat.

The final result is perfect positioning for the autopilot.

A 1/8" cord runs from the end of the shaft to a small block on the starboard side and then back to the lever on the Cape Horn shaft. The other end goes to a shock cord on the port side. Loads on the autopilot are thus be no greater than the 3/13" shock cord can create which keeps power consumption low.

I didn't entirely avoid grinding and epoxy work inside the small space. I had to glue two small blocks to the hull sides for the line and shock cord. The misery of this very small amount of grinding and epoxy work showed me that my apprehension about doing the large pads for the steering lines was more than justified. I really dodged a bullet on this installation.

A season of use showed that the ST1000 Tiller pilot has a problem when used out of sight in an installation like this due to its lack of limit switches. If you are considering one of these units, your should read this.

Another 2008 project was this low power consumption LED sternlight integrated into the wind vane tower for better visibility.

Sailing with a wind vane and autopilot is life changing. No project on the boat yet was a better investment and done more to increase my enjoyment of cruising. I would no more consider a boat complete without a windvane than I would if it was missing its mast.

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