Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Self Steering Windvanes"
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Thread: "Self Steering Windvanes"

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


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Self Steering Windvanes

Don and Margaret Lacoste

I have an electric tiller pilot on my W-32 but would like to have a windvane also for ocean work. My vessel came with an old model Aries but it had been removed prior to purchasing the vessel.

I have been on the web and there are many models to choose from such as Cape Horn, Monitor, Sailomat, Windpilot, Hydrovane, Fleming (australia),etc.

I heard back from Cape Horn and they made a model specifically for a W-32 called the Toucana which was build for the vessel named Toucana.

I would love to hear back from other windvane users on their favorite brands.

Also, I was reading Hal Roths book on Ocean sailing and he mentions using a line tied to the windward side of a staysail and fed back to the tiller with properly placed blocks (sheet to tiller steering). On the leeward side of the tiller, he recommends surgical tubing to give the tiller some resistance. Has anyone used this method?



Aaron Norlund

The stays'l (and other sails) method works, but is much more time consuming and difficult to employ than a vane. Nearly any point of sail can be rigged to steer a tiller with a bit of thought, but the effort required to rig it all and more so, to downrig it and change point of sail or prep for a squall or whatever the case may be, is often quite time consuming, assuming you want exceptional results. While it is good to understand how to let your sails steer, and even fun and good to practice "just in case", a good vane is much easier and, on long night watches, safer to use. Plus, it's fun to name them.

The only vanes I've heard a lot more good than bad about are the Cape Horn, Monitor and Freehand.

I know Cape Horn gave a 25% discount a while back on a group order some Westsail owners put together. I'm sure they'd do it again if you can rally some others...that's a nice chunk of change.

Good luck!

Steve & Vanessa

I bought cape horn though the last group buy. On our cruise, it was invaluable. I think the only gear on board I appreciated more was out expensive foul weather gear (also invaluable).

The Cape Horn sailed us the whole way on the New Jersey stretch from Great Kills, NY to Cape May in 25+ knots of wind and big rolly seas with no problem. It got a real work out in similar conditions with shorter waves in the Chesapeake. I find it useful in winds 12-15 knots and up. Less than 10, and we aren't sailing much anyway.

I rigged lines to the cockpit, allowing us to make course changes or adjust to conditions with out getting out from under the dodger and bimini.

Great piece of gear!!!

Norm Rhines

I have a monitor, and love it very much. On my most recent trip 3k miles to Hawaii it did 99.9 % of the steering. In all points of sail from dead down wind to beating. I however use the big air blade and found it usefull down to 3Kts of wind (I hope Steve was kidding on the above 12Kts as with the exception of a couple of days of 45+ knot storm we rarely saw over 10Kts on the way over. In our cruise, it was invaluable. I agree with Steve the only gear on board I appreciated more was my foulies.

Scanmar is also a great bunch of people to work with!

It is a Great piece of gear!!! it costs $$$ but It is the only additional gear item I list as required!

Michael Dougan

My boat came with an Aries... not the oldest, not the newest. Even though I didn't really have it set up properly (block placement, too much slop in the control lines) it steered most of a 9 day offshore passage from Florida to New York.

Winds were mostly on the quarter, but it still did pretty well when it was directly behind us.

My boat has a lot of weather helm, and it steered us through some pretty nasty squalls we got caught in with the sails up with no problem. Steered better than I would have!

The blades for mine are made out of plywood, and one squall actually broke the blade off, so, I had to steer through the night... really made me appreciate not having to do that normally. It's a good idea to have a few spares aboard, and might even be a good idea to have a few different sizes... use smaller blades in bigger wind.

The Aries is pretty bulky, though, so, I think the Monitor and the Cape Horn are much more elegant.

Don and Margaret Lacoste

Hey All,

I just got an email from Yves Gelinas of Cape Horn vanes. The model specifically made for Westsails is available for $2989 US. If I can find two other members to purchase, we all save 15%. I will also post this message on the group purchase area

Dave Kall

We had an Aires on our 32 for about 20k miles. It even steered with a spinnaker downwind. Ran perfectly through the Zone of convergence in the Atlantic under a storm main and reefed staysail. Saw a wave break right through it and neve even blinked. I wouldn't hesatate to have one on a 32 again.

I added a 3/4" track under my tiller and a car on that for attaching the control lines. I could then fine tune the amt of power and movement of the tiller by adjusting the car in or out.

Only problem I eve had was the block initially were attached the the boomkin and on the Atlantic trip one ripped right out ot the boomkin. I upsized the screws and lengthened them and never had a problem after that. When I replaced the boomkin with Buds SS one I thru bolted the crossover blocks to the gunnel.

I didn't purchase the Aires for our 42 as I liked how compact the Sailomat was for the back of this boat. No boomkin to hang it off.


OUr boat came with a monitor. The company is extremely friendly and will send you a DVD and information at no cost. Highly recommended.

Christie Rowe

Scanmar has donated 5 certificates for $300 off a monitor to be raffle prizes at the NorCal next month! So if you're in the market for a Monitor you should definitely attend... or contact the organizers...

Second, our Monitor was way out of wack when we bought the boat but we STILL managed to get it to steer well in very gusty conditions and very light conditions on Monterey Bay. Now it's back in adjustment and it works like a dream. (It was hit by a fishing boat once in HI and the previous owner jammed a new tube on it and used it all the way back to CA).

Third -
the medical tubing works great but you have to have it balanced just right and it takes a lot more vigilance than a windvane. It's fun though and could be used as a backup! And - it's so cheap. We used it in very light air in the Straits of Georgia on an Ericson 27. I don't think it would work in very gusty conditions.

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