A Simplified Guide to Small Marine Craft Navigation.

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Chapter 19 (v.1) - Small Marine Craft Automatic Pilots.

Submitted: May 11, 2017

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Submitted: May 11, 2017

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Small Marine Craft Automatic Pilots.

 

 

In the norm Automatic pilots are considered a luxury on small marine craft, but few owners consider such a device to be less than a necessity once they have had experience of what it can do.

Standing at the helm for hours on end, and the concentration required to hold even a mediocre course in a small craft, have little esoteric appeal. Even the simplest auto-pilot is a considerable aid to navigation and provides small craft with an economic means of holding course automatically and for carrying out steering maneuvers under power control.

The helmsman is relieved of the physical exertion required to hold the boat on course and this makes him a better watch keeper. Also, a considerably more precise course is steered under automatic control than a human helmsman is capable of, thus improving the standard of navigation, which in turn reduces the overall passage time, in many cases by as much as 20% and for motor driven craft, the fuel consumption.

So far as small craft are concerned, a typical auto-pilot will consist of a number of units which, although their form will vary slightly, will follow this basic pattern. These are an error-sensing device attached to a compass or other indicator, a dev1ce to monitor the rudder angle, a control unit where the various signals are coordinated, a motor to turn the helm, and a remote control unit or dodger. The diagram (fig. 32) shows the electrical and

The basic autopilot gets its instructions from a compass to maintain a steady course, but there is no reason why it should not get instructions from another type of direction indicator, and some sail powered craft use a wind direction indicator. This can enable a sail powered craft to maintain a close-hauled course without the helmsman having to watch the sails continuously.

There is a range of autopilots available designed for tiller steered boats. This can be fitted to a tiller steered sailing craft by the owner because all the units can be secured in place by small lashings or simple fastenings, and because of the simple, direct action on the helm.

The only technical problems are the connection of two wires to the battery-powered supply, and the arrangement of efficient leads for the tiller lines and shelter for the unit.

The unit has been purpose built for tiller steering by using cord wound on a special drive facility.


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