Re: Self introduction and question about autopilot redundancy and solo sailing

Mark Erdos

We have also learned to heave to with same set up. Just come about and don’t release the jib. There is no need to go forward and no need to change sails.




With best regards,





Sailing Vessel - Cream Puff - SM2K - #275

Currently cruising - Tahiti, French Polynesia


From: [] On Behalf Of Justin Maguire

Sent: Thursday, July 8, 2021 7:41 AM
To: Paul Harries
Subject: Re: [AmelYachtOwners] Self introduction and question about autopilot redundancy and solo sailing


It simple provides better balancing between fore and aft making it easier to trim to a point of sail where you don’t need to steer. 


One of the things I was taught when I was very young at a sailing school was how to sail and steer only with the sales… It’s actually a useful exercise. 


Head out for a sail. Put up your sails… trim to your pint of sail. Put your Helm at the center position and tie it off..


Now.. as you adjust the trim on tour sails, they will naturally point the boat to their most efficient airfoil shape relative to their position from the centerline of the boat. 


This is generally a good practice to be in anyway even with an auto pilot… Your cell trim should require very little steering to hold course… If you nailed this, you will significantly reduce the wear and tear on your auto pilot motors




On Jul 8, 2021, at 13:24, Paul Harries <pharries@...> wrote:

Never having sailed a ketch I was hoping someone could elaborate on how the mizzen is used to steer. 

I understand that first the other sails have to be adjusted to give slight weather helm but what is the secret with the mizzen?


On Thu, Jul 8, 2021 at 11:24, Justin Maguire

<justin_maguire@...> wrote:

What bill said 👆🏼

On Jul 8, 2021, at 12:19, Bill Kinney <cruisingconsulting@...> wrote:

I do not believe it is reasonable to expect one (or even two!) people to hand steer a boat for a thousand miles.  It just gets mentally and physically exhasuting, depending on point of sail and weather.  BUT>>> there is an alternative as Thomas of GARULFO suggests.  A well balanced sailboat (and a SM is pretty good at this) can sail on it's own for a good long time, holding a more or less constant angle to the wind.  It is very effective upwind, moderately so on a shallow reach, and is difficult to impossible as you come further downwind. You can not go anywhere you want to go, but you are not helplessly drifting either.

There are a few tricks.  To get a SM holding a steady course you must trim the sails so there is a bit of weather helm.  If there is even a bit of lee helm the boat just will not balance. In light winds, sometimes the mizzen traveler needs to be cocked to windward a bit to get the rudder turned the right way. The boat needs to head up in a gust, not bear away.  Off the wind, sheeting the jib in a bit loose, and having the mizzen just a bit tight can help.  The boat won't hold a dead straight line, but it will find its own way.  

When sailing close hauled, the rudder needs to be locked in place, as you bear away, there comes a point where the boat will usually behave better with the rudder left free to find its own angle. in both cases, if the need existed, this could be handled by the emergency tiller.

Minor course adjustments are made by tweaking the angle of the mizzen.

On our old boat (a 40 foot ketch) we broke our wind vane 1/3 of the way from California to Hawaii.  We managed 650 miles back upwind to California just trimming sails.  Once the boat was in the groove, we made course adjustments with the mizzen sheet.  We hardly touched the wheel at all until we were back in the variable coastal winds.

Each boat, and each set of sails, has its own sweet spot.  The only way to really know is to practice it. Having a powerful, reliable electric autopilot covers up a lot of sail trimming sins. Learning how to balance the boat so she can take care of herself will make anybody a better sailor.

We have the linear drive installed on our rudder, the chain drive on the wheel, either one can be driven by either of the two autopilot computers, and we have a backup linear drive that drops in place easily.  But of course all those do depend on the constant supply of electricity.

Bill Kinney
s/v Harmonie
Brunswick, GA, USA

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