Simrad Autopilot

For a short handed crew, a reliable autopilot is one of the most important pieces of gear on the boat. After some initial teething problems our Simrad autopilot has steered us some 45,000 miles with no problems. Great gear!

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

4 comments… add one
  • pete Oct 7, 2010, 5:44 pm

    Electronic Pilots are ok for short sails on the coast but we have used both the Wind Pilot and the Cape Horne and would recommend either of them as they dont Moan,Eat,Sleep or use electric

    • John Oct 9, 2010, 7:48 am

      Hi Pete,

      We really like having both a vane gear and an autopilot. See this post for more.

  • gerard deroy Jan 7, 2013, 10:08 pm

    For tiller steared sailboat:
    I have an Atomic wind vane and 2 autopilots (Simrad & Autohelm).
    For some years the wind vane is in my garage. It was working properly. The secret of wind vane is to have properly balanced sails. Of course it does not work when motoring or motor assisted sailing (but it is possible to fix a mechanical problem).
    It is also some extra weight(around 80 pounds ) 2 ft of the stern.
    Now I rely on autopilots ( 2 on-board because I can’t repair electronics). I found that they lasted around 3000 hrs. They cost 439$ in jan 2013. The electric motor inside is about 1 in. X 1 in. and take 1 amp to run.
    I never touch the tiller. With their intelligent memory system, it did navigated my boat on any point of sail with one exception. I was running in front of a depression in 30 knots with 8 ft following waves with a residual cross wave of 6 ft coming from a gale 800 miles away.
    The sea was like little pyramids. Single handed, I had to steer 32 hours without sleep. Wind vane would not handle those seas either.
    I will not sailed without a good working autopilot.
    Never sleep, never seasick, never distracted.
    It is unfair to force team mate to steer for hours.

    • John Jan 8, 2013, 8:49 am

      Hi Gerard,

      Thanks for the real world experience. Very interesting that you have found tiller autopilots better for your purposes than your windvane. One thing that your experiences seems to do is substantiate the general impression I have been getting that in recent years tiller autopilots have got a lot more reliable than they used to be. A particularly interesting point when you consider that you can buy about 10 tiller autopilots for the installed cost of a good under-deck pilot!

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