“I am extremely pleased; if the unit had not functioned well my marriage would be on the rocks.”
From: Daniel Paull
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 4:00 PM
To: John Curry
Subject: My Hydrovane
I purchased a Hydrovane about one year ago. My boat, which is a Pearson 35 sloop has been out of the water in Raiatea, French Polynesia. I recently went there from Seattle, carrying the Hydrovane as airplane luggage and installed the unit. The components you provided were definitely the correct size and combination for my boat.
As soon as the installation was complete, we sailed 1200 miles to American Samoa without any “trials”. The moment we left the breakwater and had the sails up, I engaged the unit and it sailed a good course. There was no drama or learning curve. On that passage we hand steered for a total of about 3 hours, during which the boat was very unbalanced by an unfavorable sail combination. We mostly had light following winds. We did not jibe once! I guess I should be ashamed, but when we were well away from any land in the tradewind, we just slept all night. I am extremely pleased; if the unit had not functioned well my marriage would be on the rocks.
I did have one problem about which I would like your comments. On two occasions I either hove to briefly or backed the boat up to set an anchor without putting in the rudder lock pin and I discovered that the whole control unit had shifted in position on the rudder tube. I presume it was twised out of position by the tiller. This occurred even though the bolts were all quite tight. I guess the bottom line is that the system will not tolerate any backward movement of the boat at all without the rudder locked? Any comments or suggestions? (EDITOR’S NOTE – The answer is yes to locking the rudder when hoved to)
I had one observation which might be of value to other owners: We had about 12 hours of strong wind during which we sailed downwind with only a small “spitfire” jib. I started out with the jib trimmed far out but the boat kept rounding up and the unit could not hold a good course. I then sheeted the jib in tight, even though we were running, and that kept the bow from rounding up and allowed the Hydrovane to steer a good course with us travelling about 5 knots.
It is obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into the design and manufacture of this extraordinary device. The lack of lines running through the cockpit to the wheel is a big plus. Thanks very much. You may quote me however you see fit.