Purchasing new AUTO-PILOT

MYCBC – Why Join Us Forums Boat Maintenance and Mods Purchasing new AUTO-PILOT

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    Rick & Sue

      I am going to do it this spring. It is coming up on Boat Show season, first Vancouver and then Seattle. I am going to try and negotiate the best deal. It might be better if others were interested and we could do a group purchase.

      I have a quote from Westmarine in Oregon – no taxes
      For a group purchase of 3 units for the Raymarine EV 100 wheel pilot
      Cost each $ 1600
      10% group discount $ 160
      Total. $1540
      US exchange. 1.0917 gives a total of $ 1681.22 Can

      Canadian Westmarine & online price
      Cost each. $ 1600
      Group discount unknown
      PST & GST. $ 208 Total of $ 1808 Can

      With hoped for 10% group discount each $ 1540
      Taxes. $ 200.20 for total of $ 1740.20 Can

      The falling Canadian dollar makes it look like a purchase in Canada might be just as good. I guess it all depends on what the boatshow sale prices and discounts.

      Please post if you want to join the group purchase or better yet if you have found a better deal.


      Alan & Belinda

        I have been following vkmaynards development of the supposed ‘sub $600 auto pilot’ over on macgregorsailors. It looks like is getting close to production but who knows.

        These guys have the EV100 for $1349 http://www.wmjmarine.com/t70152.html

        Gerry Mitchell

          Perhaps if you posted this in the Public Forum too, there might be more of a pool that would be interested.
          I kind of wish my auto pilot would break, would love to try out a new one. When you get yours installed let me know how it works with motoring.

          Gerry Mitchell

            Nevermind the posts are visible to everyone. Learning more every day.

            Rick & Sue

              I was at the Vancouver Boat show yesterday. Talked to 3 different suppliers, all had prices around $ 1600 plus taxes. They claimed that was their best “Boat Show” special. Looks like Cenote’s deal at wmjmarine is going to be the best deal by a couple hundred after taxes are calculated, inspite of the crappy Canadian dollar. Off to the Seattle Boat Show next week to see what prices are offered their.

              Rick & Sue

                I’ve been to the boat shows and nobody comes close to the price at wmjmarine. I spoke to Todd at BWY and he recommended the EV-200 Sport Pilot because of ease of install and not having to mess with the size of the steering wheel and wheel drive making it hard to grip wheel. I know some people purchased new larger diameter steering wheel. With the Sport Pilot you just take the steering wheel off and slide the drive unit onto the shaft and then replace the steering wheel. Now for the bad news. The price is $ 1869. I’m still waffling but leaning toward the More expensive Sport Pilot.

                Alan & Belinda

                  That’s a nice set up. Much better than the donut. Keep us posted

                  Rick & Sue

                    The final update, I hope. I have made the decision to go with the Raymarine EV200 Sport Pilot. I have investigated a gazillion retailers and the end result is I am going with Westmarine Canada. The problem with wmjmarine.com is the Canadian dollar exchange brings the price up to essentially the same as WM. I would save the taxes if I was able to get it across the border but legally there would be duty and taxes that would add up. It is beyond the duty-free limit. So…. Here is the bottom line.
                    List $2229 + $290 tax is $2519. By joining the WM rewards gold I get a rebate of about $80 for a final price of $ 2447.77

                    Other Canadian prices were $100-300 above Wm price. Steveston did offer a 10% discount for 3 or more units. West Marine suggested I contact their manager if I had 3 or more purchasers. I am guessing they would also be willing to give us a discount. Anybody interested? I want to make this purchase in the next week or two so let me know.

                    Alan & Belinda
                      Alan & Belinda

                        Gemini, did you ever go ahead with the install of the autopilot?

                        Rick & Sue

                          Yes I did. Bought from WM. Installed myself. I love it. Still some issues with GPS and Auto disagreement about berings. I think I need to move the auto pilot compass a couple clicks to align it with the axis of the boat. All functions seem to be working. Auto followed a track from Wallace Island all the way into Montague Harbour on our last trip. The best feature though is to just hit the auto button and Gemini holds the course it is on while I do other stuff or just relax and keep an eye out for deadheads. A bonus feature is that I now have a wheel brake even when the auto pilot is not on. Before the slightest wave against the rudders would cause the wheel to turn. To keep a steady course I had to hold the wheel all the time. Now the rudders only move if I turn the wheel so if I am on a steady course I can let go of the wheel for a bit and only make small corrections as needed. Second best addition to boat, closely following full enclosure (which we haven’t had to use yet this year:-)


                            Just curiosity, do you need a Chartplotter for this or only if you want the auto-pilot to follow a predetermined route?

                            We have a Standard Horizon VHF with built in gps, a garmin handheld mapping gps, and my Galaxy Nexus with GPS and Navionics. My bigger plan was a 10″ tablet with Navionics, and I heard/read you can get USB to NMea and then I guess NMea to SeaTalk.

                            Lastly since the helm on an X is nervous or tender how fine a course does it hold? Does it correct every full degree or 1/2degree or?

                            Ok so the last lastly wasn’t the last. Who’s used a bungee or wheel lock? and practically speaking how many minutes is that good for?

                            All these questions because we’re down to questioning every purchase over $100 right now so 2 boat bucks is a long way off.

                            I’m glad yours is working well and I really like the helm drive vs donut or even Maritech(Vic Maynard’s) because we’d have to get a new pedestal and switch to rack n pinion when i just got my Rototech last summer.


                            Rick & Sue

                              Hi Willy,
                              I don’t see why the auto pilot wouldn’t hold a course without a chart plotter. I will turn my plotter off and try it out on the way to Sucia so I can let you know for sure when we talk there. As for the rate of correction…. There are a couple different settings. Mine is on the lowest and I find that its steers very much as I do with a pretty constant turning back and forth to keep the heading straight. My impression is that it does a better job of maintaining the course than I do. Less wobble in the wake line.


                              I agree with Gemini, the two best purchases we have made are an AP and Full-Enclosure.

                              Most Raymarine AP’s can operate as either a “standalone” (hold course based on the fluxgate compass heading) or in Chart-Plotter “route-mode”.

                              If you have a chart-plotter engaged (and have it connected NMEA/Sea-Talk) in route mode to follow waypoints, then your AP can be programmed to follow this route and alert you when you have arrived at a waypoint, then request your approval to change course to next waypoint. (also adjusts for set and drift)

                              Also, the Raymarine AP has an auto-tack function for sailboats. You press the +1 and +10 button together and the boat will tack 90 degrees (or whatever set it for). Great for single handing.

                              As Gemini says, you can adjust the pilot rate of correction. We have ours set to a moderate mode, with the main reason so the wheel is not correcting all the time and using batter power.

                              Using an AP has improved my personal piloting immensely as I had (have) a tendency to over correct the wheel to often and too much, which leaves an “S” wake, and from a performance standpoint every time you turn the rudder it slows the boat down. I now engage the AP, leave my hands lightly on the wheel, and let the AP teach me when not to correct 🙂

                              Gerry Mitchell

                                I have had the wheel mounted AP on the boat since 2006, didn’t realize it was so old till I needed a template to remount the indicator. It was the only model choice when bought. I don’t find the wheel ever hinders my fingers on the wheel. I know some have put spacers between the wheel and the AP to give more room. Just never have needed it.
                                When set up for sailing I find the AP does a much better job of holding course then I will.
                                Not sure what the settings are for sensitivity, but other then at low speeds the boat wants to wander back and forth. I have tried a little centerboard, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Really I only use it when I need to go below, set the main when alone, or if sailing slowly so I can read and sail.
                                Using the lock mechanism seems to work just fine for short times, say a minute to three minutes, it all depends on winds, waves, and currents. Seems like a lot of money but in the long run, it gives you piece of mind. I wish mine was hooked up to the chart plotter, however, its been fine the way it is now. The next owner can do that.
                                I use the auto tack most times. I have it set for about 120 degrees, have fine tuned it in a long time. But it gets you around and then I can pinch up more if I need to.
                                The chartplotter and AP have been the two best investments. We have the full cockpit enclosure, but have really only used it once. Last year at Port Ludlow, it rained continually all day long.

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