winter musings - Otto the Pilot ?

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winter musings - Otto the Pilot ?

Post by barts » Wed Feb 22, 2023 9:41 pm

Our double ender steamboat Rainbow really needs someone hanging onto the tiller... some of this may disappear when I build a new rudder someday, but in the mean time
I keep thinking of an autopilot.

I realize that automation of this sort is somewhat heretical to many steamboaters, but I find myself often with my hands
full, feeding the boiler, lubing the engine, dodging barely visible crabpots (a real hazard with their synthetic "cut-proof" lines ) and checking the course on the tablet.
When my wife is aboard she often takes the helm, but she'd rather take pictures of wildlife than hang on to the tiller, and I anticipate single-handing as well.

We should have plenty of juice w/ the 200W solar panel, and the autopilot I'm considering comes w/ a remote control to hang around one's neck. We're in pretty open water here
and travel longer distances compared to a lot of steamboating I've done on lakes and rivers, and the ability to walk about the boat and still direct the course is quite attractive.

Does anyone else thought about an autopilot? I've already replaced the manual feed pump bypass with a float valve :), which definitely made things easier. Converting to oil firing
is out - I really like the clean smell of burning fir, and living on 10 wooded acres provides plenty of fuel as downed wood.

- Bart
Bart Smaalders Lopez Island, WA
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Re: winter musings - Otto the Pilot ?

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Feb 26, 2023 4:04 am

As per our conversation of a few days ago, the Raymarine ST1000 is the unit I am most familiar with. Mine was an earlier model but the differences are cosmetic except for the added LCD screen.

I bought mine new in 1991 and it was still on the boat and running fine when I sold the boat recently. Mind you this was on an Islander 36 sailboat weighing 7 tons or so. The autopilot did fine job in offshore conditions when I was a bit nervous about being out in the cockpit. I did no (zero!) maintenance in the nearly 30 years of use.

It never got tired. It was, however, woefully unaware of whether I was still on board! Selah!
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