About six months ago, I bought a Raymarine Smart Controller remote for my autopilot. It is a great unit that I have come to depend on, especially when single-handing. The Smart Controller plugs into the SeaTalk system and serves as a wireless remote for the autopilot. The weak point in the system is the lightweight lanyard. Recently mine gave way, and the remote bounced twice toward the rail, hung in mid-air, then disappeared overboard. You can imagine my anguish after failing to retrieve it. I contacted Raymarine (www.raymarine.com) and told them my story. I guess it was my lucky day: Long story short, they sent me a new one! Im a huge Raymarine fan now.
Offshore sailor Skip Allan tested two entry-level tillerpilots, the Simrad TP10 and Raymarine ST1000, aboard his 27-foot sloop during last years Singlehanded Trans-Pac race. The autopilots were used during varying weather conditions and sea states, including gale conditions. The review considers characteristics of the Raymarine tillerpilot and Simrad tillerpilot, including price, power supply, drive thrust, installation ease, user friendliness, construction, and performance.
A decade ago, Practical Sailor editors began scouring boat shows for the perfect emergency tiller and an ideal stowage system for it. Little more than a simple lever arm that attaches to the head of the rudder stock, the emergency tiller is the device a sailor relies on in the event a steering cable parts or theres some other steering system failure. Our seemingly simple search turned out to be a nearly fruitless enterprise. Boat after boat fell far short of delivering even an average emergency tiller. Heres a look at our favorites and favorite offenders as well as our criteria for a good emergency tiller and where to keep it.
First contested in 1978, the Singlehanded TransPac (SHTP) offshore race crosses 2,120 miles of Pacific Ocean from San Francisco Bay to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Though the singlehanded race has been dubbed a bug light for weirdos, world-class navigators and sailors often throw their lot in with the pack. Longtime singlehanded racer and cruiser Skip Allan took time out from his TransPac preparations to outline the equipment he keeps onboard Wildflower, his 27.5-foot Thomas Wylie-designed sloop/cutter. From his Sail-O-Mat windvane to boom vangs to tiller pilots, Allan discusses a range of gear helpful to all singlehanded sailors and small boat sailors. He outlines his sail inventory and storm tactics, along with his approach to provisioning and eating at sea. A second installment of the Singlehanded Sailors Notebook will take a look at onboard electronics and safety gear for the solo sailor.
We try fixed-length and telescoping hiking sticks from Forespar, RWO, Ronstan, Spinlock and Wichard.
We think the best bet is the modern keel/centerboard. Unlike centerboards of 20 years ago, the new ones are very efficient going to windward with the boards down and not all that bad with the boards partially raised or withdrawn into a stub keel.