[Amel Yacht Owners] Autopilot failures and spares


Bill & Judy Rouse <yahoogroups@...>
 

Bill Kinney referred to my mention of "10% of autopilots fail on ocean crossings." Maybe there is some doubt that this number is accurate.

I should have given everyone more information about where this 10% number comes from. The 10% agrees with my experience with other 
boats crossing at the same time as we did. Many times while you are circumnavigating, you will cross in the loose company of 
others...seasons cause the migration at certain times.

I also asked the founder of the ARC and the ODYSSEY, Jimmy Cornell. In his vast experience, 10% of the boats crossing will have an autopilot failure. 

I strongly recommend having a backup for each component of your autopilot system during ocean crossings. Normally this includes:
  • Course Computer
  • Control head
  • Electronic compass
  • Rudder reference
  • Drive unit
I also recommend a backup GPS and any component such as an antenna.

There is a way to "rent" these backups for very little money. Buy them and sell them after your crossings are complete. I bought ours from Dan Gerhardt mydurango.net>. Dan sells new old stock and refurbished Raymarine components...and will repair anything Raymarine. I believe that a number of Amel owners have used Dan with complete satisfaction. 

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe
Currently Galveston


On Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 1:19 PM, James Wendell ms42phantom54@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:
 

 

Porter,
I know you have been given lots of really good advice, but since I have an Amel 54 I thought I might chime in to give you my humble opinions if they would help you. I have lived on my boat Phantom now for more than a year and am currently cruising the windward islands in the Caribbean. I have learned quite a bit about the boat during that time and can at least offer some advice based on my life on board.

Two windlasses:
My Amel 54 came with the 2-windlass option. I have never needed the second windlass, but I find it quite comforting to know it is there. I do exercise it every once in awhile to ensure it remains fully operational. I do this because the primary windlass has suffered some significant internal corrosion and I have lost the chain counter function. Having the second windlass ready to deploy is critical in my situation. I will be replacing the primary unit upon return to the US this summer. However, I agree with the consensus that a single windlass is just fine if properly maintained.

Solar:  
I wholeheartedly agree with the more is better philosophy here. You cannot have too much. I installed an arch with the biggest panels I could fit, giving me 570 watts. While it helps, I can tell you that it will not keep up with the battery requirements. I have a D400 wind generator as well, but I find wind generators far less beneficial than solar - at least during the day. During the day in the Caribbean with full sun I have seen nearly 540 watts at times, with an average of 350 more the norm. If the sun is out I am able to keep up with my 18-amp load for about 3 hours or so. I am going to add more in the way of a 140 watt Solbian flexible panel on the dodger. I just have to get to installing it. That will help even more. But I have to run the generator every day for an hour or two to keep my 660AH batteries happy. As others have noted, I use the generator run to make water and do laundry, etc. I also installed a Watt and Sea, which really helps on passage.

Autopilot:
My Amel 54 also has the dual autopilot option. During my research on Amel 54's I never saw one with just the single autopilot. I have already experienced a failure where I had to switch on passage. I have the linear/rotary autopilot drive system, which is fine, but the newer 54's come with dual hydraulic linears, which I believe also included dual computers. Mine has a single computer with 2 drives. I would highly recommend the dual setup in either case.

Circumnavigation
I do not yet feel qualified to advise on circumnavigation. While I intend to do the World ARC in a year or so, I would not attempt that until I fully confident the boat is ready - and me as well. Getting to know the boat and ensuring everything is in top shape has been my priority. I would consider my current cruising in the Caribbean a good shake-down. However, I can assure you that the Amel 54 is a FANTASTIC boat. I can actually solo sail it - not that I will or intend to do so, but it is so well thought out I could do it. Two could cruise the world in supreme comfort for sure.

s/v Phantom Amel 54 #044




On Tuesday, February 14, 2017 9:26 AM, "greatketch@... [amelyachtowners]" <amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


 
Porter,

As Joel said, we all have our opinions, and at least mine are worth what you pay for them... so here are mine:

Two windlasses:
 This is not an important option in my thinking.  Take good care of one, and you'll not have problems. There are always ways to get an anchor up without the windlass.  They might not be much fun, but it can be done. The extra weight DOES matter up on the very end of the boat.  And it is not just the weight of the windlass, but the weight of the second anchor moved out to live full time on the roller, and its chain now always lives in the chainlocker.  Using two anchors at once certainly does happen, but not often unless you are cruising full time in the Bahamas, even then it is onlynsomething like 10 or 20% of the places you'll drop the hook.

Solar:  
More is better--always.  The old joke, "How much much money does it take to go cruising? All you have!" is doubly true of power usage. People who installed 400 watts of solar are likely to say that that it the right amount, people who installed 300 (or 500) will say the same. I doubt you will ever run into anybody who wishes they had installed less! We put 600W of high efficiency panels on an arch because that was all we could fit. If there was an easy, attractive, and safe way to rig 800W, I'd do it.  Our 600W panels supply the boat, but not us.  

Here is what I mean:  If we are plugged into shore power I will typically turn off the battery charger and just let the panels top off the batteries every day while our AC needs are met from shore power. The panels just keep up with our two refrigerators, one freezer, cabin lights and other miscellaneous DC power needs. 

If we are at anchor, our personnel power use for electronics and other small uses just overtop the panels supplies most day and we need to run the generator a little each early morning, which is when we run the watermaker.  Less the watermaker--our overall use of DC power at anchor is about 1.8 to 2.5 kW-hrs per day

Autopilot:
If you are crossing oceans, two autopilots is barely enough. They work great--until they don't. Do as Joel Potter suggests (always a good idea!) They are complex electro-mechanical devices and failure is not just an option, it is to be expected.  Hand steering with a short handed crew on a long passage is not fun.

Bill Rouse's number of an autopilot failure one in ten passages would lead to an expectation that both would fail in one out of 100 passages.  I once sailed 800 ocean miles withou t an autopilot.  I would really, REALLY prefer to never do THAT again.

Circumnavigation
Don't let anybody tell you how long is right for YOU.  It is like someone trying to tell me I should like Brussels Sprouts because they taste so good and EVERYBODY loves them!  One one end, I know of someone who set out on a circumnavigation and 20 years later had not left the Pacific Basin.  I know someone else who circumnavigated in 18 months stopping only for provisions and repairs.  One thing they had in common:  They both did exactly what was right for THEM and had fun doing it.

Bill Kinney
SM#160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

---In amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com, wrote :

I am so grateful for all the responses!  
We sailed this past weekend on what we hope will be our new Amel 54. Loved it. What an adventure machine!  
Thank you guys for your thoughtful and complete responses. I have no doubts nor does my beloved that we're making the right choice. 

I do have a few other questions if you would bear them:

One windlass or 2?

How much solar is enough, how much too much? Is there ever too much?

Is one autopilot enough or is a backup the way to go?

The plan is a 4 year circumnavigation. Maybe 7? Maybe 2. 

You guys are such a great crew and I really appreciate it. 

Porter McRoberts.&nbsp ;








greatketch@...
 

I don't doubt that 10% number for a minute!  It certainly squares with what I have seen.  Looking at the archived survey data from the Pacific Puddle Jump would gives a number at least that high and likely higher.

When we bought Harmonie she had two autopilots and two drives installed in the usual Amel configuration of a linear drive at the quadrant and a chain drive at the wheel. They were, however, not switchable. One drive was wired to one computer.  If there was a failure, you would have to do some rewiring to swap drives from one pilot to the other. It was also possible to inadvertently turn both on, which would lead to same serious problems with the steering gear as the two drives fought each other.

I installed a pair of 4-pole, double throw, Form C, switches. Now with two toggles over the sink I can hot swap either computer to be the active one, and use either drive, with no risk that both can be turned on at the same time. I very much like this arrangement, because the two computers have different strengths, as do the two drives.  Being completely separate, systems all parts are duplicated.

It is really helpful to my piece of mind that the entire "spare" autopilot system is installed and exercised on a regular basis. I know it will work when it stops being the "spare" and starts being the only one!
 
Bill Kinney
SM #160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.


---In amelyachtowners@..., <yahoogroups@...> wrote :

Bill Kinney referred to my mention of "10% of autopilots fail on ocean crossings." Maybe there is some doubt that this number is accurate.

I should have given everyone more information about where this 10% number comes from. The 10% agrees with my experience with other 
boats crossing at the same time as we did. Many times while you are circumnavigating, you will cross in the loose company of 
others...seasons cause the migration at certain times.

I also asked the founder of the ARC and the ODYSSEY, Jimmy Cornell. In his vast experience, 10% of the boats crossing will have an autopilot failure. 

I strongly recommend having a backup for each component of your autopilot system during ocean crossings. Normally this includes:
  • Course Computer
  • Control head
  • Electronic compass
  • Rudder reference
  • Drive unit
I also recommend a backup GPS and any component such as an antenna.

There is a way to "rent" these backups for very little money. Buy them and sell them after your crossings are complete. I bought ours from Dan Gerhardt <C250"at"mydurango.net>. Dan sells new old stock and refurbished Raymarine components...and will repair anything Raymarine. I believe that a number of Amel owners have used Dan with complete satisfaction. 

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe
Currently Galveston



Stephen Davis
 

Hi Bill,

We own hull #72, and the boat originally came with only the rotary drive above the galley, and one autopilot. I have since installed a complete 2nd autopilot, and have made an adaptor plate for the quadrant which will allow me to install a linear drive on the quadrant. As it is now, I have to do some minor re-wiring to switch from autopilot A to B. I really don't have a clue how to wire the autopilots or 2 drive units to switch back and forth easily. 

When you have the time would you mind providing me some more details of how you wired Harmonie to easily switch between drive units and autopilots? Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. I plan on starting the installation of the linear drive while in St Martin in March, and will try out the system as we work our way to Panama for our canal transit in 2018. My personal email is flyboyscd at Gmail dot com. 

Regards,

Steve Davis
Aloha SM72
Barbuda

On Feb 14, 2017, at 21:18, greatketch@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:

 

I don't doubt that 10% number for a minute!  It certainly squares with what I have seen.  Looking at the archived survey data from the Pacific Puddle Jump would gives a number at least that high and likely higher.


When we bought Harmonie she had two autopilots and two drives installed in the usual Amel configuration of a linear drive at the quadrant and a chain drive at the wheel. They were, however, not switchable. One drive was wired to one computer.  If there was a failure, you would have to do some rewiring to swap drives from one pilot to the other. It was also possible to inadvertently turn both on, which would lead to same serious problems with the steering gear as the two drives fought each other.

I installed a pair of 4-pole, double throw, Form C, switches. Now with two toggles over the sink I can hot swap either computer to be the active one, and use either drive, with no risk that both can be turned on at the same time. I very much like this arrangement, because the two computers have different strengths, as do the two drives.  Being completely separate, systems all parts are duplicated.

It is really helpful to my piece of mind that the entire "spare" autopilot system is installed and exercised on a regular basis. I know it will work when it stops being the "spare" and starts being the only one!
 
Bill Kinney
SM #160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.


---In amelyachtowners@..., wrote :

Bill Kinney referred to my mention of "10% of autopilots fail on ocean crossings." Maybe there is some doubt that this number is accurate.

I should have given everyone more information about where this 10% number comes from. The 10% agrees with my experience with other 
boats crossing at the same time as we did. Many times while you are circumnavigating, you will cross in the loose company of 
others...seasons cause the migration at certain times.

I also asked the founder of the ARC and the ODYSSEY, Jimmy Cornell. In his vast experience, 10% of the boats crossing will have an autopilot failure. 

I strongly recommend having a backup for each component of your autopilot system during ocean crossings. Normally this includes:
  • Course Computer
  • Control head
  • Electronic compass
  • Rudder reference
  • Drive unit
I also recommend a backup GPS and any component such as an antenna.

There is a way to "rent" these backups for very little money. Buy them and sell them after your crossings are complete. I bought ours from Dan Gerhardt mydurango.net>. Dan sells new old stock and refurbished Raymarine components...and will repair anything Raymarine. I believe that a number of Amel owners have used Dan with complete satisfaction. 

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe
Currently Galveston



Bill & Judy Rouse <yahoogroups@...>
 

Steve,

I am sure that Bill Kinney will give you all of the details, but when doing your project, remember that Raymarine drives, and others, switch from one direction to the other by reversing polarity on the DC voltage drive units, linear and rotary.

The reason that I point this out to you is that the drive units need to be in sync regarding causing the boat to turn to port and/or starboard. The drive units on BeBe #387 are wired to the A/B switch with the linear the opposite polarity of the rotary because of the geometry of mounting the linear. 

Also, remember that a 24VDC Raymarine Rotary or Linear drive will have a 12VDC clutch. This means that there are four wires going to the drive units:
  1. 12VDC positive to Clutch
  2. 12VDC negative to Clutch
  3. 24VDC positive in one direction, negative in the other going to the drive motor
  4. 24VDC negative in one direction, positive in the other going to the drive motor
If you can get your head around these points, the actual installation should be easy.

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe

On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 2:26 PM, Stephen Davis flyboyscd@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:
 

Hi Bill,

We own hull #72, and the boat originally came with only the rotary drive above the galley, and one autopilot. I have since installed a complete 2nd autopilot, and have made an adaptor plate for the quadrant which will allow me to install a linear drive on the quadrant. As it is now, I have to do some minor re-wiring to switch from autopilot A to B. I really don't have a clue how to wire the autopilots or 2 drive units to switch back and forth easily. 

When you have the time would you mind providing me some more details of how you wired Harmonie to easily switch between drive units and autopilots? Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. I plan on starting the installation of the linear drive while in St Martin in March, and will try out the system as we work our way to Panama for our canal transit in 2018. My personal email is flyboyscd at Gmail dot com. 

Reg ards,

Steve Davis
Aloha SM72
Barbuda

On Feb 14, 2017, at 21:18, greatketch@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

 

I don't doubt that 10% number for a minute!  It certainly squares with what I have seen.  Looking at the archived survey data from the Pacific Puddle Jump would gives a number at least that high and likely higher.


When we bought Harmonie she had two autopilots and two drives installed in the usual Amel configuration of a linear drive at the quadrant and a chain drive at the wheel. They were, however, not switchable. One drive was wired to one computer.  If there was a failure, you would have to do some rewiring to swap drives from one pilot to the other. It was also possible to inadvertently turn both on, which would lead to same serious problems with the steering gear as the two drives fought each other.

I installed a pair of 4-pole, double throw, Form C, switches. Now with two toggles over the sink I can hot swap either computer to be the active one, and use either drive, with no risk that both can be turned on at the same time. I very much like this arrangement, because the two computers have different strengths, as do the two drives.  Being completely separate, systems all parts are duplicated.

It is really helpful to my piece of mind that the entire "spare" autopilot system is installed and exercised on a regular basis. I know it will work when it stops being the "spare" and starts being the only one!
 
Bill Kinney
SM #160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.


---In amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com, wrote :

Bill Kinney referred to my mention of "10% of autopilots fail on ocean crossings." Maybe there is some doubt that this number is accurate.

I should have given everyone more inform ation about where this 10% number comes from. The 10% agrees with my experience with other 
boats crossing at the same time as we did. Many times while you are circumnavigating, you will cross in the loose company of 
others...seasons cause the migration at certain times.

I also asked the founder of the ARC and the ODYSSEY, Jimmy Cornell. In his vast experience, 10% of the boats crossing will have an autopilot failure. 

I strongly recommend having a backup for each component of your autopilot system during ocean crossings. Normally this includes:
  • Course Computer
  • Control head
  • Electronic compass
  • Rudder reference
  • Drive unit
I also recommend a backup GPS and any component such as an antenna.

There is a way to "rent" these backups for very little money. Buy them and sell them after your crossings a re complete. I bought ours from Dan Gerhardt mydurango.net>. Dan sells new old stock and refurbished Raymarine components...and will repair anything Raymarine. I believe that a number of Amel owners have used Dan with complete satisfaction. 

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe
Currently Galveston




Stephen Davis
 

Thanks Bill...all very helpful. 

Steve

On Feb 15, 2017, at 16:43, 'Bill & Judy Rouse' yahoogroups@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:

 

Steve,

I am sure that Bill Kinney will give you all of the details, but when doing your project, remember that Raymarine drives, and others, switch from one direction to the other by reversing polarity on the DC voltage drive units, linear and rotary.

The reason that I point this out to you is that the drive units need to be in sync regarding causing the boat to turn to port and/or starboard. The drive units on BeBe #387 are wired to the A/B switch with the linear the opposite polarity of the rotary because of the geometry of mounting the linear. 

Also, remember that a 24VDC Raymarine Rotary or Linear drive will have a 12VDC clutch. This means that there are four wires going to the drive units:
  1. 12VDC positive to Clutch
  2. 12VDC negative to Clutch
  3. 24VDC positive in one direction, negative in the other going to the drive motor
  4. 24VDC negative in one direction, positive in the other going to the drive motor
If you can get your head around these points, the actual installation should be easy.

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe

On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 2:26 PM, Stephen Davis flyboyscd@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:
 

Hi Bill,

We own hull #72, and the boat originally came with only the rotary drive above the galley, and one autopilot. I have since installed a complete 2nd autopilot, and have made an adaptor plate for the quadrant which will allow me to install a linear drive on the quadrant. As it is now, I have to do some minor re-wiring to switch from autopilot A to B. I really don't have a clue how to wire the autopilots or 2 drive units to switch back and forth easily. 

When you have the time would you mind providing me some more details of how you wired Harmonie to easily switch between drive units and autopilots? Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. I plan on starting the installation of the linear drive while in St Martin in March, and will try out the system as we work our way to Panama for our canal transit in 2018. My personal email is flyboyscd at Gmail dot com. 

Reg ards,

Steve Davis
Aloha SM72
Barbuda

On Feb 14, 2017, at 21:18, greatketch@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

 

I don't doubt that 10% number for a minute!  It certainly squares with what I have seen.  Looking at the archived survey data from the Pacific Puddle Jump would gives a number at least that high and likely higher.


When we bought Harmonie she had two autopilots and two drives installed in the usual Amel configuration of a linear drive at the quadrant and a chain drive at the wheel. They were, however, not switchable. One drive was wired to one computer.  If there was a failure, you would have to do some rewiring to swap drives from one pilot to the other. It was also possible to inadvertently turn both on, which would lead to same serious problems with the steering gear as the two drives fought each other.

I installed a pair of 4-pole, double throw, Form C, switches. Now with two toggles over the sink I can hot swap either computer to be the active one, and use either drive, with no risk that both can be turned on at the same time. I very much like this arrangement, because the two computers have different strengths, as do the two drives.  Being completely separate, systems all parts are duplicated.

It is really helpful to my piece of mind that the entire "spare" autopilot system is installed and exercised on a regular basis. I know it will work when it stops being the "spare" and starts being the only one!
 
Bill Kinney
SM #160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.


---In amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com, wrote :

Bill Kinney referred to my mention of "10% of autopilots fail on ocean crossings." Maybe there is some doubt that this number is accurate.

I should have given everyone more inform ation about where this 10% number comes from. The 10% agrees with my experience with other 
boats crossing at the same time as we did. Many times while you are circumnavigating, you will cross in the loose company of 
others...seasons cause the migration at certain times.

I also asked the founder of the ARC and the ODYSSEY, Jimmy Cornell. In his vast experience, 10% of the boats crossing will have an autopilot failure. 

I strongly recommend having a backup for each component of your autopilot system during ocean crossings. Normally this includes:
  • Course Computer
  • Control head
  • Electronic compass
  • Rudder reference
  • Drive unit
I also recommend a backup GPS and any component such as an antenna.

There is a way to "rent" these backups for very little money. Buy them and sell them after your crossings a re complete. I bought ours from Dan Gerhardt mydurango.net>. Dan sells new old stock and refurbished Raymarine components...and will repair anything Raymarine. I believe that a number of Amel owners have used Dan with complete satisfaction. 

Best,

Bill
X-BeBe
Currently Galveston




greatketch@...
 

Hi Steve,

If you go here:  


you will find a little bit of a write-up that hopefully give a start of a clue for you.  Throw that in with what Bill Rouse wrote, and you will be well on your way!

Bill Kinney
SM#160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.



---In amelyachtowners@..., <flyboyscd@...> wrote :

Hi Bill,

We own hull #72, and the boat originally came with only the rotary drive above the galley, and one autopilot. I have since installed a complete 2nd autopilot, and have made an adaptor plate for the quadrant which will allow me to install a linear drive on the quadrant. As it is now, I have to do some minor re-wiring to switch from autopilot A to B. I really don't have a clue how to wire the autopilots or 2 drive units to switch back and forth easily. 

When you have the time would you mind providing me some more details of how you wired Harmonie to easily switch between drive units and autopilots? Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. I plan on starting the installation of the linear drive while in St Martin in March, and will try out the system as we work our way to Panama for our canal transit in 2018. My personal email is flyboyscd at Gmail dot com. 

Regards,

Steve Davis
Aloha SM72
Barbuda


Stephen Davis
 

Thanks very much Bill. This will help tremendously. Mine will be a little more simple, as both of my autopilots are late model Raymarine, and have the 12v clutch. When we get to St Martin I'm removing all my old Furuno electronics and installing 2 Raymarine ES series plotters, a couple of I70 multifunction instruments, and the new Chirp radar which I'm dragging back from the US. Looking forward to the project, and having everything talking to each other for a change. 

Thanks again for your help. 

Steve
Aloha SM72

On Feb 16, 2017, at 14:23, greatketch@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:

 

Hi Steve,


If you go here:  


you will find a little bit of a write-up that hopefully give a start of a clue for you.  Throw that in with what Bill Rouse wrote, and you will be well on your way!

Bill Kinney
SM#160 Harmonie
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.



---In amelyachtowners@..., wrote :

Hi Bill,

We own hull #72, and the boat originally came with only the rotary drive above the galley, and one autopilot. I have since installed a complete 2nd autopilot, and have made an adaptor plate for the quadrant which will allow me to install a linear drive on the quadrant. As it is now, I have to do some minor re-wiring to switch from autopilot A to B. I really don't have a clue how to wire the autopilots or 2 drive units to switch back and forth easily. 

When you have the time would you mind providing me some more details of how you wired Harmonie to easily switch between drive units and autopilots? Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. I plan on starting the installation of the linear drive while in St Martin in March, and will try out the system as we work our way to Panama for our canal transit in 2018. My personal email is flyboyscd at Gmail dot com. 

Regards,

Steve Davis
Aloha SM72
Barbuda