From Our Monitor CustomersMonitor

 
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From the BOC Single-Handed Around the World Race

Mr. Hans Bernwall
Scanmar Marine
298 Harbor Drive
Sausalito, CA 94965

Dear Hans,

Just a note to tell you how well my MONITOR wind vane performed during the recent BOC around the world singlehanded sailing race. I used the vane in light winds and heavy winds, in big seas and little seas, at slow speeds and fast speeds, and at all times the vane gear worked splendidly. The design was responsive and sensitive, and I always felt that I had a friend on the transom--a friend that would work without the crutch of electricity.



In long distance high speed sailing there are times when an autopilot is useful because it steers a compass course. There are other times when a wind vane gear is good because it follows the wind. I used both systems which helped me to run my fifty-foot yacht without hand steering for practically the entire 27,500-mile course around the world via the Southern Ocean.

The MONITOR gear is robust, well-made and has no parts that rust. The device is lightweight easy to service, has a good instruction manual and performs long hours of work with no complaints and few demands for coffee, cost of living wage increases, or fringe benefits. I am happy to recommend it. Beam winds always,

Cordially,


Hal Roth



Autopilot and windvane together?
The best of both worlds?




Geoff Pack, the editor of Yachting Monthly experimented extensively with the combination of autopilot and MONITOR. A small, inexpensive tiller pilot, with low power consumption, is hooked up to a small stump substituting for the regular air vane. This arrangement has many advantages and would be preferred when you want to follow a magnetic compass course rather than the wind direction. When there is no wind and you are under power, or in extremely light air, the combination autopilot/windvane might be the best possible way to achieve perfect self-steering and minimum power consumption. The following article was written by Geoff Pack and published in the May '95 Yachting Monthly.

Self-steering

I'm a firm believer in taking a number of different approaches to self-steering, partly because varying conditions can make very different demands on self-steering arrangements, but also because circumstances can change markedly over the course of a passage, especially if there is a power problem.



Our B&G Network Pilot heads the armory list. Fully 'plumbed-in', with a powerful hydraulic ram operating a dedicated stub tiller below decks, it is ready to operate at the press of a button. We have yet to experience conditions in which it couldn't steer the boat with accuracy and total reliability. But it uses precious amps, so the B&G will be used only when the chips are down and circumstances demanding. It'll get most use when Kiskadee is pressed hard under spinnaker as well as when hoisting/lowering that sail. It will also act as an immediately available third hand for those moments when both crew are occupied in a sail change or manouever which might otherwise confuse the vane gear.

If the B&G heads the armoury list, the foot-soldier and principal means of self-steering is the MONITOR vane gear, which I anticipate will steer us for more than 85% of the time. Scanmar International, which makes the MONITOR in California, has produced a kit recently which fine tunes the gear's performance by using new, especially low-friction turning blocks combined with non-stretch Spectra steering lines. Needless to say, although we've always been happy with the gears performance (see Gearfest p 104 January 1995), we upgraded it.



More significantly we have upgraded the MONITOR to operate with an Autohelm ST1000 tillerpilot and this we plan to use whenever the MONITOR is steering. The Autohelm ST1000 takes over the work that the gear's windvane itself usually does, pushing a small plywood stump in its place. Described fully in Practical Seamanship (pg 82, September 1992), this system is becoming popular as it creates a very effective compromise between the efficiency, but high power consumption, of an autopilot, and the power-free windvane gear, but which can in some circumstances act erratically. It is hard to measure the power consumption of the Autohelm when it is only pushing the highly sensitive windvane stump, yet the brawn required to turn the wheel or tiller is provided by the dynamics of the servo-pendulum gear. Meanwhile, the course is razor sharp.

I sailed to the West Indies with this system on my last boat, and am convinced it is the best self-steering arrangement possible. Finally, if we have power failure or a problem with the Autohelm, the windvane replaced in the MONITOR converts it back into a conventional vane steering gear, thus covering most eventualities.




P. S. Geoff Pack set a new course record in the 1995 AZAB Race, using the above method of self-steering . He sent the following postcard to SCANMAR after winning the race:

"Sitting here in the Azores having beaten the record for our class. The MONITOR did brilliantly and although our Autohelm ST1000 modification steered for 75% of the time there was no substitute for the windvane itself when we pushed hard-it had such a sympathetic way of handling the boat in big seas. So 100% time on the MONITOR. Hans, I am even wearing one of your T-shirts." Geoff Pack



EQUIPMENT REVIEW

by GEOFF PACK, THE EDITOR OF ENGLAND'S LARGEST CRUISING MAGAZINE

GEARTEST (from Yachting Monthly, January '95)


MONITOR Vane Gear


The MONITOR vane gear has been in production for many years in America and its main proving ground has been the BOC around the world races. It says much that, in the current race, seven of the eleven entries in the 50ft class are fitted with Monitors, and no other type of vane gear is fitted to any other boat in the whole fleet.

Although built in California, the MONITOR has been promoted actively over here and is rapidly becoming the market leading vane gear for Europeans heading offshore.



The main difference between the MONITOR and the Aries is that the MONITOR is built throughout with stainless steel. First impressions, especially to anyone used to the monolithic construction of the cast-aluminum Aries, are that the scantlings used are on the light side with rather thin-walled tubes. That it weighs 30 per cent less (perched on the very extremity of a yacht) than the Arie's 75 lb is justification enough, especially when reports of them being damaged are almost non-existent.

Fitting is made simpler by the fact that Scanmar Marine has the drawings of hundreds of different craft's sterns, so that the mounting tubes can all be cut to the right length in advance. There is enough adjustment in the layout of the tubes and mountings to make sure that the gear is positioned absolutely vertically in all planes.

Following the (excellent) instruction manual, it took me just over four hours to fit the MONITOR to Kiskadee (with a second person inside the lazarette tightening the mounting bolts for half an hour).

We have subsequently logged 4,500 miles, and although not all of them have been steered by the MONITOR, it has had a thorough trial in widely varying conditions. In operation, our only niggle is the insensitivity of vane angle adjustment, a small wheel turned by an endless line leading into the cockpit, which it is not easy to fine-tune. In practice, we find we reach aft and turn the wheel by hand for small adjustments, acceptable on an aft cockpit boat, but not ideal with a centre cockpit. Like all vane gears, the heavier the conditions, the more powerful and accurate it becomes, and it is then, with widely-differing boatspeed and windspeed, that it steers as accurately as you could hope.

However, the main test of any vane gear is how it steers, first, in quartering seas, and, secondly, in light airs. Perhaps due to distribution of buoyancy aft, Kiskadee can occassionally be a handful in quartering seas, so I was interested to see how the MONITOR coped. In unfair testing condition (ie lighter winds with disproportionate sea running), the MONITOR isn't happy and can let the boat round up 30 degrees before hauling her back on course. However, with 10 knots plus apparent breeze over the windvane, and commensurably more boatspeed, there are no problems whatsoever. Equipped with Scanmar's optional lightweight/high area foam sandwich windvane, the MONITOR continues to steer the boat with acceptable accuracy as long as there is more than 5 knots apparent breeze over the blade. With the standard plywood vane we find it need 7 knots; compared to other gears this is very good indeed.

Anyone who has headed offshore will confirm the vital importance of the good operation of the windvane gear, and aboard Kiskadee we've certainly built up total confidence in our MONITOR, which will be our primary means of self-steering in AZAB this year.

It is aggravating that stainless steel tends to rust and dull quickly; Scanmar provides metal polish (along with all drill bits, T-shirts, car stickers etc). I am not sure if this is good or bad, but keeping the MONITOR smart and shiny is definitely another item to add to the job list



January 6, 1997

Mr. Hans Bernwall
SCANMAR International
432 S. 1st Street
Richmond, CA 94804

Dear Hans,

You may recall that I bought a MONITOR from SCANMAR for my Alberg-37 yawl, about a year ago. Because my boat is yawl-rigged, installing and operating the system presented something of a unique challenge. You were most helpful in advising me on a number of questions.

Subsequently, in 1996, I sailed from Mission Bay, California to Honolulu and back, a distance of 5,000 nautical miles, through unusually rough weather. You may be interested to know that of all the boat's equipment, the MONITOR was just about the only one which rendered flawless, trouble-free service throughout the transits of the Eastern Pacific. It is a Godsend to sailors on a long offshore voyage, especially for solo or short-handed crews.

Most cordially yours,

Eugene H. Farrell
Rear Admiral, United States Navy, retired.



Scanmar Marine
298 Harbor Drive
Sausalito, CA 94965

Dear Hans,

Thanks largely to the MONITOR windvane, my 1982-83 circumnavigation aboard the Valiant 40 RESOURCEFUL WAS successful. There was no hesitation in my choice of a windvane for my BOC entry. I mounted your MONITOR vane to the stern of a new Valiant 47 and started the race with 25 fellow competitors. Nine months and some 25,000 miles later LONE STAR was one of only 16 to cross the finish line.

As one of the heavier boats in the race, I needed strong and reliable equipment that would go the distance. The MONITOR was mounted to the boat at the factory and control lines were attached to a wheel adaptor. Including the sea trials I then sailed over 34,000 miles in less than a year. Conditions ranged from flat calm to hurricane force gales and enormous seas, wind on the nose, on the beam and dead astern. Where beating or running, the vane did a terrific job. It never failed. It never required maintenance or repair. In most conditions it steered as efficiently and as fast as I could steer.

The MONITOR steered LONE STAR about 90% of the time. I made my best 24 hour run 244 miles using the windvane alone. Very few pieces of gear can stand up to the rigorous testing of an event like the BOC singlehanded around-the-world race. Yours did! It was the best.

Thanks for making such a terrific piece of equipment. Whether cruising or racing, I'll always have a MONITOR as crew.

Mark Schrader
LONE STAR



Scanmar Marine Products
298 D Harbor
Sausalito, Ca 94965

Dear Hans,

I am writing to confirm something we both already know; the MONITOR steering vane is a beautiful piece of machinery. When the vane was selected for Airco Distributor there were some questions concerning the size and power of the boat and whether or not the MONITOR could handle it. I think considering the miles and Airco's record of performance we can sagely assume the MONITOR handled the boat very well indeed !

Everyone always asks about the down wind performance and my answer is always this : Airco Distributor's best 24 hour mileage was 240 miles and this happened during the qualifier when the boat was not equipped with an electric auto-pilot. To average 10 knots a 50 footer has to spend a good deal of the time surfing. The MONITOR obviously performed well under these conditions, the proof is in the mileage.

The MONITOR steering vane will be standard equipment on all of my future voyages. Thanks again for providing the sailing world with this fine gear.

Sincerely,

Mike Plant




LETTING THE WIND DO THE WORK


BY TANIA AEBI

I hate to steer. It's boring and a waste of time. While at sea during my circumnavigation, I almost never steered. My 26 foot full-keeled sailboat was equipped with a MONITOR wind vane. It really performed flawlessly over all those countless thousands of miles of open ocean and in all kinds of weather.



Even when I was under power, which was not all that often because of persistent engine problems, I used the Autohlem 1000 autopilot which also worked extremely well.

I really do hate to steer. After all, who wants to go without sleep ? On some nights, in large area of open ocean like the Pacific, I was sometimes able to get a full night's sleep while the wind vane steered the boat. Every once in a while I would wake up and reach for a flashlight. Then I would shine it on the double-sided Plastimo compass, mounted on the cockpit bullhead, and make sure we were still pretty much on course. Whenever I checked the compass like this, I usually decided that as long as we were within 10 or 20 degrees of the designated course for the night, I was happy and didn't need to make any adjustments.

During the day there are so many other things to do. In fact, on long ocean voyages there are so many things one must do just to keep from going crazy with boredom. I liked to read, navigate, cook meals, do repairs, clean up the boat and take care of little maintenance tasks while the wind vane dutifully steered the boat.

This is really the only way to make an ocean voyage-without having to be slave to the helm. When singlehanded, of course, freedom from steering is very important. The MONITOR seemed to have the power to steer no matter how bad the conditions. In fact, when things got really bad I would just leave the MONITOR steering with virtually no sail up, sometimes screaming off downwind at little Varuna's top speed, something over five knots.

If I think back to the early days of my voyage, it was really the perfect performance of the windvane which helped me get started and to survive the “initiation” which I had to undergo on the ocean. The second night out from New York it was pretty stormy and I was sick. I don't know what I would have done if I had to steer my way through that time.

Through all my early troubles (and all of the later troubles, too) the wind vane was the one thing on the boat which performed without a hitch.



It's such a simple piece of equipment in spite of the complex engineering. I just had a bunch of extra pins and little widgets and I would periodically replace them whenever the need arose. I did have one scary experience while in the Red Sea, however. The paddle fell off the vane gear, and I did not have a safety rope attached to it. Fortunately, the weather was not bad and I was able to turn the boat around and go search for it. I found it on the very first pass. That just shows you how lucky I was with the wind vane through my entire voyage.

Tania Aebi recently completed a celebrated solo circumnavigation. She is the youngest American woman to have accomplished that feat.

Reprint from Ocean Voyage, 1988




Critical Gear


from Sailing magazine, December, 1996

The following is from the list of what B.J. Caldwell considered critical gear aboard his Mai Miti Vavau.

MONITOR Wind Vane: "A great unit. Steered virtually all the time. It needed some worn parts replaced in Panama but that's because model was 20 years old. Hans Bernwall from Scanmar International donated the parts and a new prototype wind paddle that kept the unit working in very light winds."

Twenty-year-old Brian "BJ" Caldwell Jr. completed his historic, 27,000-mile, singlehanded circumnavigation of the world on September 28, 1996, aboard his 26-foot sloop, Mai Miti Vavau.








x



April 10, 1997

Scanmar Marine
Hans Bernwall

For 11 years and 44,000 miles a MONITOR windvane steered Mahina Tiare, my Hallberg-Rassy 31' from conditions ranging from a hurricane off Mexico to light stirs in the South Pacific. In the most unusual circumstance the MONITOR steered the sloop effortlessly while we were running straight downwind under bare poles in the Roaring Forties east of New Zealand.

After 30,0000 miles I replaced bushings and bearings, otherwise the MONITOR was basically maintenance-free! Few products I've seen stand up to the rigors of continuous ocean passage making the way the MONITOR does.

If I were cruising, instead of conducting sail-training expeditions on my Hallberg-Rassy 46', I would definitely depend on another MONITOR for self-steering. Electric auto pilots are great while motoring, but the power consumption and rate of breakdowns under sail mean I have difficulty in recommending them as the sole means of self-steering for short-handed crews planning ocean passages.

John Neal

John Neal's 23 years and 135,000 miles of ocean cruising experience include six roundings of Cape Horn under sail, as well as passages to Antarctica, Pitcairn Island, Polynesia, Alaska, Australia, Vanuatu and New Zealand.

1997 is John's eighth year of conducting sail-training seminars aboard Mahina Tiare. Since 1976 he has conducted 88 weekend Offshore Cruising Seminars. “Log of the Mahina”, his first book, is a classic on ocean voyaging. In addition he is author of “Offshore Cruising Handbook” and co-author of “Mahina Tiare, Pacific Passages.”




May 1st 1997

12857 N.E. 80th Street
Kirkland, WA 98033

Scanmar Marine Products
432 South 1st Street
Richmond, CA 94804

Atten: Mr. Hans Bernwall:

I want to take a few minutes to let you know how very pleased I have been with the performance and reliability or our MONITOR winvane. My wife and I just completed a five and a half year circumnavigation aboard "first light", our Gulfstar 44, center cockpit sloop. Most of the 46,000 miles were steered with the MONITOR, and incredibly, the vane never once failed. In fact, I have never opened the spare parts kit!

The need to regularly repair, service, or replace nearly everything electrical or mechanical on cruising sailboats is so common it has become a cliche. The MONITOR was one of the few things on our boat that never required service. From our experience, electric autopilots are among the worst offenders. We used the electric pilot on "first light" only when the winds were virtually calm, but even so, it was inoperable across most of the Indian Ocean and all of the South Atlantic, despite spending over $2000 on new parts and service in Tahiti, Australia, and South Africa.

We can confirm what many other sailors have said about the MONITOR'S performance: It excels in high winds, but it also steers surprisingly well downwind in light air. Our passage across the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and South Africa included eight days of gales, with winds gusting in the high 40's and seas averaging 15 feet. It was the worst multi-day passage in our sailing experience, but would have been untenable without the MONITOR keeping us on course and, thereby, helping the crew to stay rested. Of course, the MONITOR made the good days even better...hour after hour with the vane steering first light downwind in the trades, apparent wind 8 to 10 knots; spinnaker full, and boat speed 7 to 7.5 knots...the stuff of dreams.

Thanks again for making such an outstanding product and helping to make our dream a reality.

Sincerely,

Gary D. Brewer
yacht "first light"