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Island Packet 380

“The Hydrovanes on Windkist and Don Leon have been working excellent over these 10 years and some 50,000 miles!!”

From: Xavier Gonzalez-Ortega
Sent: June 19, 2023
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Re: Xavier Gonzalez-Ortega | Island Packet 380 | Hydrovane Request

Hi Richard.

Thanks for your prompt respond.

The Hydrovanes on Windkist and Don Leon have been working excellent over these 10 years and some 50,000 miles!!   The only issue we have had is the vane cover, the sun eats them , unless we store them when not sailing, but generally is my “best crew”

Now re offshore spare kit, pls tell me how much it weighs and what is the “Axle”

Best Regards,

Xavier Gonzalez-Ortega

From: Richard Minielly
Sent: June 19, 2023
To: Xavier Gonzalez-Ortega
Subject: Re: Xavier Gonzalez-Ortega | Island Packet 380 | Hydrovane Request

Hi Xavier,

So glad to hear of the good performance on Windkist and Don Leon. 50,000nm is quite the test!

The Offshore Spares Kit weighs approximately 0.5kg (1lb). A photo is attached of the contents. The ‘axles’ are the small metal pieces you can see on the side and front of the drive unit, and up top holding the Bobbin and Top Lever. I’ve attached some photos for clarification.

Happy to advise as needed.

Best regards,

Richard Minielly
Hydrovane International Marine Inc.



“We are a big fan of our Hydrovane. It performs under most circumstances better than our autopilot.”

“It really proved to be a backup for the main steering system to us.”

From: Hartmut Ludwig
Sent: June 14, 2023
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Aw: RE: Re: Hydrovane installation

[Editor’s Note: Sections of this email have been edited for clarity]

Hi Richard,

Thank you for your prompt response. Yes we have an electrical autopilot and can continue as planned [following a part failure]. Regarding the trade-in I will need to figure out the logistics, but it will be either Azores or Germany. As soon as I know better I will let you know. The tip with sport equipment [to avoid extra baggage charges] is good.

We are a big fan of our Hydrovane. It performs under most circumstances better than our autopilot. Just light wind is not good <8kts.

When we came up from the Bahamas to US east coast, the main steering failed, due to a broken rod. We were right in the middle of the Gulf Stream and had to bail out to Beaufort, NC. We rigged the emergency tiller, lashed it with two control lines and exclusively used the Hydrovane. Even motor sailing worked well.

The inlet to Beaufort was very choppy so we called US Tow, but just to escort us in case something happened. My wife did all the steering with emergency tiller of the Hydrovane into the inlet to the marina. Just the final turn into the slip we need the emergency tiller. So it really proved to be a backup for the main steering system to us.

Will come back to you soon.



Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 52.2

“The electrical system system of the boat packed up so we had no autopilot. After two days of excruciating staring at the compass I set up the Hydrovane, experimented for half an hour and bingo, we could all relax and enjoy the ride.”

From: Andrew Brown
Sent: June 9, 2023
To: Will Curry
Subject: Re: Hydrovane Order Hong Kong

Hi Will,

I had several chats with you over the last two years about buying a Hydrovane for my Westerly Oceanranger, I know I must have seemed like a time waster. I’m not, it has just taken longer than I expected to get this far- work and changing the engine to an electric motor took over.


I recently sailed from Hong Kong to the Philippines on a friend’s boat with a Hydrovane fitted, which he had never used and was afraid of. The electrical system system of the boat packed up so we had no autopilot. After two days of excruciating staring at the compass I set up the Hydrovane, experimented for half an hour and bingo, we could all relax and enjoy the ride. It was awesome.



Island Packet 40

“We made it to Tahiti after losing our engine about 700 miles south of Honolulu. […] This would have been impossible without reliable wind steering and hydro power.”

From: Shaen Tarter
Sent: 26 May 2023
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Re: Watt and Sea

Hi Richard, Will, and Sarah:

Just a quick note to express my appreciation for the Hydrovane and Watt and Sea unit.

We made it to Tahiti after losing our engine about 700 miles south of Honolulu. We spent four days becalmed in the ITCZ and two more south of there. And then we had to tack multiple times to get west enough to make the Papeete Harbor entrance!

Between solar, hydro generator, and not using our auto pilot or watermaker, we kept our batteries healthy and even topped off every few days, depending on how good the sailing was.  This would have been impossible without reliable wind steering and hydro power.

Next time we’ll get the 600 watt version of the Watt and Sea, though.

Do you have the larger props for the 300 watt version in stock?



Foxy 40 (Custom)

“Thank you Hydrovane!”

From: Bossard Denis
Sent: 18 May 2023
To: Will Curry
Subject: Embellie III

Dear Will

Our Hydrovane has been installed 2 weeks ago in Inverness : Caley marina did a great job, with skill and care. I am you that they should ( if they want so!!) a very good Hydrovane certified installator….

When d’ailés to orkneys, Faroe Island and arrived this morning in Iceland.

Crossing from Torshawn ( Faroe) to Seidisfjordur ( Iceland) could be achieved by sail and wind pilot during 48h00 a 6.2knots, in excellent conditions … Thank you Hydrovane! Thank you Caley marina!

All the best


Koopmans 37

“Once again: Congratulations to your product!”

From: Blauwe Engel
Sent: May 2, 2023
To: Sarah and Will Curry
Subject: Koopmans 37 Blauwe Engel – Grenada to Panama Channel

Dear Sarah, dear Will,

from Grenada to Colon (1200 nm) we’ve used most of the time our new Hydrovane in combination with a 107 m2 Parasailor. Whow – what a team. Your Hydrovane made a great job and could cope the downwind passage with the Parasailor up to 20 knots TWS. Look the fotos – surfing down the waves. Once again: Congratulations to your product!


Beate and Hendrik

Beneteau 45

“Our Hydrovane has been completely awesome so far”

” I can report that the Hydrovane has been very firmly promoted to our prime means of steering”

From: Andrew & Traci Roantree
Sent: April 24, 2023
To: Will Curry
Subject: Hooray for Hydrovane

Hi Will and the Happy Hydrovane team,

A quick note from Walkabout – currently mid Pacific – 1910 miles done from Santa Cruz, Galapagos and 1170 to go to Hiva Oa.

Our Hydrovane has been completely awesome so far. We have sailed probably 90% steered by it, through all sorts of sail set ups.  The only time we use the auto helm is when we are sail changing and things can get a bit unbalanced as we go through the process.

Just thought I would let you know – from happy customers in the middle of nowhere!


Andrew and Traci
World ARC Pacific 2023

Posted 29 April 2023 to

[Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a longer blog post on Day 17 of a trans-pacific crossing]

There are many bits of equipment that we rely on to safely sail Walkabout across oceans. One of the most amazing additions that we made to Walkabout before leaving the UK was our Hydrovane. This bit of kit defies logic in many ways – it looks very simple, to the extent that you think it surely won’t work. But boy, does it do a job! The Hydrovane is a wind vane self steering system. It quietly steers the boat according to the wind direction.

On any sort of long passage, hand steering is a real chore – particularly when short handed like us. So everyone relies on some means of autonomous steering. The vast majority of boats use an auto helm system, linked to the nav system, driven by an electric motor or hydraulic ram. The forces are big and the power usage is significant. We have such a system, and it is great. But it eats power and what if it failed…? (As has happened to some boats already on this venture).

So we added the Hydrovane as a secondary means of autonomous steering. But I can report that the Hydrovane has been very firmly promoted to our prime means of steering. It has done the most amazing job on the crossing, having been in charge of our heading for probably 80% of the trip. (The auto helm gets used when we are motoring, due to the lack of wind for the Hydrovane to work with). The bright orange wind vane bobs from side to side on our port quarter, adjusting it’s own small rudder to keep us heading in the right direction – using no power at all. It is a blooming miracle!


Prout 50

“I’m double poled out and exclusively on the Hydrovane”

From: Tim Kibodeaux
Date: Apr 21, 2023
Subject: SMS from [Tim’s Iridium satphone]
To: Sarah Curry

Sarah and Will,

I am happy to report I am crossing the S. Indian Ocean from Indonesia to Mayotte (possibly a stop In Mauritius if conditions are right). I’m double poled out and exclusively on the Hydrovane. 50 foot catamaran; Endless Summer. Hope all is well.

-Tim Kibodeaux

Delta 41

“It worked fantastically in the SOUTHERN OCEAN”

From: Richard Canella
Sent: April 20, 2023
To: Hydrovane International Marine Inc
Subject: Sorelle/Hydrovane crossing the Southern Ocean

Hi guys

I bought the Hydrovane to do an ocean crossing from Brazil (Florianopolis) to South Africa (Cape Town).

The Hydrovane drove the boat more than 90% of the journey. It worked fantastically in the SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

I am sending some pictures and vídeos you can use in your website.

Best Regards

Richard Canella

From: Richard Minielly
Sent: April 20, 2023
To: Richard Canella
Subject: Sorelle/Hydrovane crossing the Southern Ocean

Hi Richard,

Thank you so much for reaching out, and congratulations on the passage! That is quite an accomplishment.

I’m so happy to hear the Hydrovane was able to steer you 90% of the way. The photos and video make the passage seem lovely, although I’m sure the truth involves a few more cloudy days and storms. We’re happy to have helped your journey in our little way.

Thank you for allowing us to use your media, we really appreciate all photos and videos we are sent. Do you mind if we also post your emailed feedback to our Testimonials page?

Fair winds!


Richard Minielly


Oyster Lightwave 48

“The best investment I’ve ever made.”

From: Jorn Haga
Sent: April 13, 2023
To: Brooklyn Foster
Subject: Re: Jorn Haga – Hydrovane Rudder

Hey Brooklyn,

[Payment comments edited out for privacy]

By the way, my Judith, is the only reason I’ve made it to Rio, my autopilot crashed half way across the Atlantic, a little south of equator.

The best investment I’ve ever made.

Thank you

Best regards


From: Richard Minielly
Sent: April 13, 2023
To: Jorn Haga
Subject: Re: Jorn Haga – Hydrovane Rudder

Hi Jorn,

Congratulations on making it to Rio! Excuse my jumping in to ask more about the passage.

How did you find the performance of the Hydrovane on the crossing? Did you end up using the original grey Polypropylene Rudder, or the replacement black Nylon?

If it’s ok with you, we would love to post your most recent email to our Testimonials page. No worries if you’re not comfortable with that.

If you have any technical or operational questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help.

[Payment comments edited out]

Best regards,

Richard Minielly

From: Jorn Haga
Sent: April 13, 2023
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Re: Jorn Haga – Hydrovane Rudder

[Note: Edited slightly for clarity]


Nooooo, use whatever you want. The passage without the Hydrovane would not have been possible, especially after my autopilot “crashed” after the point of no return.

I really cannot praise the performance enough. One point to make a notice of, it’s very sensitive to adjustments, and such adjustments takes time, so 1/2/3 cm. adjustments at the time is usually enough.

Her name is Kelly.

I used the replacement [Nylon rudder].



Rhodes 43 Sloop

“We sailed 300 NM with out a hand on the helm, deeper than 160 TWA in 20-30 knots and 2.5 metre seas and she didn’t gybe the boat once”

Posted 30 March 2023 to

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This paragraph is taken from a longer and very interesting article on the return sail from Tasmania to Melbourne. Please read more at the link above.]

[…]Soon we put the main away with and sailed on under headsail alone with our new Hydrovane self steering behaving impeccably. I really love this piece of equipment. (again not a paid comment!). It’s beautifully engineered, intuitive to use, silent, requires no battery power and best of all works a treat. We sailed 300 NM with out a hand on the helm, deeper than 160 TWA in 20-30 knots and 2.5 metre seas and she didn’t gybe the boat once, which is more than I can say for most of us humans on board. We’ve named the steering vane Carly. I’ll let you work out why! […]



Moody 37

“So easy to use. Really happy.”

From: Steve Tunnicliffe
Sent: April 9, 2023
To: Richard Minielly
Subject: Hydrovane test

Hi Richard

I thought I would give you a progress report.

From Falmouth in Cornwall I sailed to Fowey along the coast which is about 22 miles.

Balanced my sails and pointed the vane into the wind (15 to 20 kts)

Wow – fantastic ! Even though I noticed when I arrived that the tiller handle and rudder weren’t quite central . I adjusted this for the trip home.

Wasn’t sure about the return trip as 20 kts on the beam and horrible short uncomfortable swell so it was harder to balance the sails.

Needn’t have worried – brilliant again !

So easy to use. Really happy.

Kind Regards




Hallberg Rassy 42 Ketch

“…the HV (we baptised it ‘Julian’), is the best addition to our boat.”

From: Joseph Jacobs
Sent: March 30, 2023
To: Will Curry
Subject: Re: Hydrovane Rudder | Jacobs

Hi Will,

We crossed the Atlantic (3 weeks) early January in mild conditions with the HV steering 95% of the time. No big winds (30 KTS max) but agitated sea and lots of sargassum. Now we’re island hopping from Antigua down to Trinidad and haven’t used the HV much. As I stated in earlier mail, the HV (we baptised it ‘Julian’), is the best addition to our boat. So far, the rudder doesn’t show any cracks or other defects but we have to really snub it with bungees in the marina or anchorage if we don’t want to be in a Neal Peart session. The rumble is generated by the give in the rudder itself, not the shaft.

I always free the rudder, once out of the marina (reversing with a Hallberg Rassy is difficult enough without an additional rudder).

If anything comes up with the rudder, I’ll let you know asap.



Pearson 365

“I am super happy 😃 for making the right decision. It works perfect 👍 “

From: Alejandro De Miguel
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 7:05 PM
To: Hydrovane Order Fulfilment
Subject: Hydrovane at work

Hi guys

I just want to send these pics for the installation of my Hydrovane at my Pearson 365 Cutter


I am super happy 😃 for making the right decision 

It works perfect 👍 

Thanks to everyone at Hydrovane from Paradise Marina in Nayarit, Mexico 🇲🇽



Dufour 500 GL

We were ecstatic with our choice of the Hydrovane as backup steering, it had proved itself as a wind pilot, as a spare steering autopilot system for when under the engine and even if under sail without using it as a wind pilot. A truly remarkable piece of equipment and investment.”

Posted 12 February 2022 to

Transat – the Hydrovane and the jury rig

Way back in 2016, when we bought The Dream we started planning for this great adventure, we had decided to stick around in the Mediterranean for a few years enjoying life but also preparing for long passages such as the Atlantic crossing.

One of our first upgrades way back in 2017 had been installing a Hydrovane wind pilot (link), this item alone should serve multiple needs like reducing power consumption on passage, it is a pilot that can replace the autopilot altogether, by having its rudder could provide steerage in case of the lost rudder. John had made amazing homework on this finding that this is an item insurance companies like to see on Bluewater sailboats, especially in double-handed crews and together with all that research he had done he had found several cases where people had successfully used the wind pilot while motoring by using a secondary autopilot like a tiller pilot (cheaper than installing another autopilot) with the advantage of with one purchase covering steerage under engine power for the wind vane but also the emergency tiller in case of failure of steerage cabling!

Whilst in the Mediterranean we had barely used the Hydrovane due to the erratic winds, heavy boat traffic and pure laziness, but we had used it a bit in our first year when sailing in the Atlantic and also in our second year in the Western Mediterranean so we already had a good idea of how it worked and its advantages.

For several years it ended up just being that expensive piece of equipment we carry around that makes us look like serious world sailors, and most people don’t understand what the heck is. But during this trip, this expensive piece of hardware would prove itself, pay itself in worthiness and save us a heck of a horrendous time hand steering.

Our Atlantic crossing can be defined in 5 legs, and for all of them the Hydrovane would have been perfect, but to be honest about it we didn’t use it on the first two legs.

The first leg, the sail from Cascais to Madeira we didn’t use because we were passing the infamous Iberian Orca territory right on one of those weeks full of activity, so to preserve the integrity of our wind pilot we followed the current advice given by Hydrovane not to have the rudder installed so that in case of an Orca attack that the boat rudder gets disabled the Hydrovane rudder can be used as backup but because there are reports of Orcas also damaging the Hydrovane rudder during those attacks the current advice is to if possible and viable not to have the rudder installed whilst in Orca rudder destroying grounds.

Once we cleared the area of the attacks we could have installed the Hydrovane rudder and used it, but we were already on a great groove and didn’t bother.

For the second leg from Madeira to the Canaries, we were just lazy, and the boat autopilot is so convenient…

The third leg from the Canaries to Cape Verde would be our first prolonged experience using it. We started using it just after departing Grand Canaria and we used it most of the time.

It was a passage with winds mostly between 120-160AWA (Apparent Wind Angle) and wind speeds of 2-6 Beaufort (4-27 knots), using a 105% Jib on a whisker pole, no mainsail.

Using the Hydrovane most of the time instead of the autopilot meant a significant reduction in our power consumption and a comfortable safe passage.

The fourth leg from Cape Verde to the Fernando de Noronha archipelago off the coast of Brazil was the leg that “paid” for the Hydrovane. Had it not been for this piece of great mechanics we would have been in a big pickle, days from the closest shore.

Late on day 3 of our 10-day passage, we started experiencing difficulties with getting the Hydrovane to steer a course, it would just start wandering erratically due to the amounts of Sargassum seaweed accumulating on the Hydrovane rudder.

Because we were already feeling the tired effects of shorthanded sailing we were not thinking clearly and didn’t realise that this bloody seaweed that was slowing us down so much and giving trouble to the wind pilot would be a big issue for the autopilot also. So, we made the big mistake of switching back to our autopilot for convenience, not realising that although we were not experiencing significant weather helm (after all, the helm was not turning more than usual, it was looking quite balanced), the loads on the boat rudder from the seaweed must have been immense and by middle of day 5, and after 2 days of work our autopilot simply overheated and stop working without any warning signs.

We scrambled to get back onto the Hydrovane as main steering, mentally flogging ourselves for such a stupid mistake!

All we needed to do instead of having turned the autopilot, was to have used the boat hook to clean the Hydrovane rudder of the seaweed.

So now that’s what we were doing anyway as often as every 5 minutes. Something very easy to do but very attention-demanding. The moment the Hydrovane started going off course we just needed to slide the boat hook on the leading edge of the rudder, releasing the seaweed and the Hydrovane would steer us back to the course for a while. This became a full-time job task allowing us very little rest.

Still, much better than the perspective of hand steering for the next five to six days.

If we had tried to hand steer before switching from the Hydrovane to the autopilot it would have been crystal clear the immense pressure being exerted on the rudder.

Despite being back at steering with the Hydrovane quite successfully, the failure of the autopilot presented a huge problem. When we reached the doldrums where motoring is pretty much guaranteed we would need a pilot for the engine to avoid a minimum of 2 days of hand steering.

That’s where a secondary tiller autopilot that we had bought back in 2017 at the same time we installed the Hydrovane would come into play.

Despite the conditions on board resulting from the swell and waves paired with our slow speed, John built a simple structure where to mount the tiller pilot using our boarding plank and a few more bits and pieces, and voila , it was almost as if we had never lost the main autopilot. We could even use the tiller pilot under sail in light winds.

Don’t think these tiller pilots are very suitable for a boat as big as us under sail using the main rudder, but the Hydrovane rudder seems to work just like a “feathering” rudder allowing us to steer very efficiently.

Despite the failure caused by our fatigue that led to equipment fatigue, preparation meant we had a backup plan that worked.

As I mentioned before at the very beginning of this post, as a result of John’s research we bought a Raymarine ST2000 tiller autopilot way back in 2017. We had been lucky enough to have found it on sale at one of the chandleries in Lisbon while we were preparing The Dream for us to move on board. For years I had nagged John about the need of preparing the set-up for this pilot so if we ever needed it, all would be ready to simply switch from one autopilot system to the other, of course, life constantly got in the way, and other much more important projects took priority over our attention and efforts.

The tiller pilot sat for years on its box in one of the lockers. Annoying me every time I went to get something from that locker or every time we serviced and inspected the rudder, quadrant and steering cable system. The view of that box was a constant reminder of yet another To Do item that seemed to always slip off the list without being addressed

Well unfortunately now that box would have to get out of the locker, and the solution was found fast because once arrived the doldrums we could no longer count on the Hydrovane to steer us to the non-existing wind.

John had a plan, something I guess he had already thought about previously, maybe on one of the many occasions the tiller pilot topic add come to the discussion table.

John planned to use our boarding plank (which happens to have a very peculiar size), to use as support for the tiller mounting base.

Our boarding plank is the exact size needed to tie down between the starboard pushpit inner bar and the bar on the BBQ/stern seat. This didn’t happen by mere luck this was John’s idea all this time.

The first step was to drill the necessary holes on both ends of the plank to be able to secure it properly. It was also needed to create a way to prevent the board from changing heights regarding the Hydrovane handle and to ensure the level of the top edge. For that John used bits of thick marine ply that we had removed when adjusting the sail locker false floor that hides the bow thruster, John screwed those to the plank allowing them to sit in the seat making sure this way the plank was correctly levelled and secured.

For the actual mounting, John decided to use an extra 8mm thick aluminium plate we had bought as a spare as part of the hardtop project and as material for reinforcement of the cleats.

All this was reasonably easy to install despite the motion on board being very much like riding a mechanical bull.

To ensure the stability of the aluminium plate we needed to create a thicker base for it to be installed, to achieve that we used some offcuts of the same wood used for the boarding plank that we still had from a decorative project. The challenge was that without 240v using non-battery-operated electrical tools was limited unless we ran the generator, but again the idea of running the power tool needed for this job was just not appealing at all. The motion caused by the choppy sea state meant it was reasonably unwise to do such, so the option was to use a handsaw to cut the wood piece in half giving us the needed straight edge now that was a hard task.

I proceeded with that task whilst John worked on the electrical part of the installation. We needed enough wire to run from the main helm station to the Battery Bank, the Circuit Board or the Engine Starter Battery. Given the “work” conditions the Engine Starter Battery would be the “victim” due to proximity and easy access.

There was another task for me before the final assembly of all bits, the tiller pilot required a fuse, the only fuse case holder we had to fit a fuse of the required amperage was not a right fit for the only fuse close enough to the needed rating (it needed 12 amps, and we only had 10 amps), the fuses I had were spares for the circuit board while the case holder was for a different project that used slightly bigger blade fuses.

A bit of tough love with a file on 10A fuse would have to do the trick, a delicate butchering job.

By the time all was assembled it looked like a nice Frankstein of a job!

The moment of truth was testing if all of it would hold and if the tiller was strong enough to steer us or not.

We powered it on, secured the wheel in place, and turned the tiller pilot on while motoring at low RPMs then slowly increasing up to 1800 RPM. The test was a success we could motor through the doldrums without having to hand steer!

That was excellent news.

With the progressive use of our newly installed spare pilot, we gained confidence in its abilities but also become aware of its fragility. This solution would have to work not only for the Atlantic crossing to Fernando de Noronha and then the Brazilian mainland but down to São Salvador where we would try and see if we could fix our main autopilot.

We were ecstatic with our choice of the Hydrovane as backup steering, it had proved itself as a wind pilot, as a spare steering autopilot system for when under the engine and even if under sail without using it as a wind pilot. A truly remarkable piece of equipment and investment.

The Dream is a true world sailing vessel.

And the label on the box where the Hydrovane parts came in never felt truer!

*** All the content provided on this post is for informational purposes only, not replacing any additional research or contact with relevant suppliers and technicians. The owners of this website will not be liable for any errors or omission in this information nor the availability of information found when following any link on this post.

***The Dream is not affiliated or sponsored by Hydrovane or by any associated dealer, this blog post is based solely on our experiences with the product.

***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.

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