Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Autopilot Recommendations?"
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Thread: "Autopilot Recommendations?"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Autopilot Recommendations?


Hi all...
I was curious what autopilots are well suited to the W32. I was thinking about the Simrad Tillerpilot but would appreciate some input from sailors who have put theirs to the test.


Bud Taplin


The Simrad autopilot will work very well, and I have sold a number of them to W32 owners. Mount the outboard end on the caprail just before it starts to dip down, and purchase a 5.9" extention for the rod. That will permit the rod to meet the tiller. This location wil give the autopilot sufficient power to easily handle the boat. I have also seen owners mount a bracket between the legs of the boom gallows to mount the outboard end, but it should be in the same relative location.

Kenn Newlands

I just installed a Simrad TP30 on a crossmember across the boomkin. It worked wonderfully!
I took off for 4 weeks and hardly touched the tiller. Get the handheld remote and you can drive the boat from most anywhere. Email me if you have other?

Rod Lawson

I have an ST4000 and ST2000 as a backup as an autopilot. I also have a monitor windvane. I am considering selling the monitor windvane and just relying on the ST autopilots, as they have a windvane mode built in. I'd appreciate any comments and this and especially whether I would be foolish getting rid of the windvane.

Mike McCoy

'Conventional wisdom' is autopilots work best in calmer conditions and not so well in higher winds/larger seas. Conversely, wind vanes work better in windy conditions and not so well in calm/light winds.

Two different 'environments' with both methods having strength/weaknesses in each. If I were you I'd keep the vane unless you just have to have the $$$ to pay for something else..

Craig Newton

I started out with a tiller pilot connected between the boomkin and tiller (the usual setup)and found it worked fine in the estuary but was easily overpowered in wind and seas on SF bay. It just didn't have the cojones. Plan B, which I've used ever since, is to connect the tiller pilot from a block attached to the stern pulpit and a stubby windvane I made for the Monitor self-steering rig. Now all the tiller pilot has to do is tip the stubby windvane and the water paddle does the work of moving the tiller. Works great. I can't take credit though, I saw a picture somewhere. Another plus is that you can use a cheap tiller pilot. No force is required as it is just tipping the windvane.

Rich Morpurgo

does this work with the engine running? I find that there is alot of turbulance on the windvane rudder. I was wondering if that effects the performance of this setup under power.



Craig Newton

Yes, it works fine with the engine running. This is the setup I use under power. I'm not aware of any turbulence problems though. I suppose as a test, while under power with the steering system hooked up, you could reach back and tip the vane by hand and see what happens.


I am trying to get all the parts together to install a simrad tiller pilot (from afar) The boat is Ak and I am in Idaho. I don't want to not have everything I need when I fly up to install it, there are a few different ways to hook to the tiller. EXtensions? Pedastal and cantilever brackets? tiller pin and cup? Trying get the right kit together....help anyone thanks jeff ps standard 32ft westy

Bud Taplin

Contact me directly by email and I can describe the procedure. I just installed a Simrad TP 32 on another Westsail 32. I can even send you pictures.

Tip Thienes

I have an ST 4000 and engaged it in about 20-24 kts wind to help my son take down the sails. The clutch stripped. I wonder if anyone esle has had this problem. That red plastic between the two pieces that screew together cracked. Almost impossible to find replacement. Any comments appreciated. I too would like some type of replacement. Most important what is cost for good auto pilot for use in 4 foot seas. Tip (in high wind Corpus).

Bud Taplin

Tip, I would think that you should be able to have the ST 4000 autopilot repaired by Autohelm.
Many owners have been pleased with the Simrad TP 32. Important to understand where to locate the autopilot on the tiller. Both will need an extension on the standard arm.
See my earlier post regarding the mounting location.


I have had a TP30 installed for 6 years now, it is linked to Nobeltec on my laptop and GPS. Excellent combination. The data interface is foolproof.

Dave Kall

Once sailed on a boat (not a WS) with the windvane attachment for the electrical autopilot. Also had an Aires windvane on our 32. The electronic version doesn't even come close to the real thing. Actually the owner of the electronic one disconnected the windvane part and sailed the compass course; he was that disappointed in the wind direction input for the electronic one. My take is that the electronic one was overly sensitive. It used a small arrow that would move based on the wind - and some on boat movement.

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