Navigating the open waters on a sailboat can be a rewarding but challenging experience. Automation aids, like a tillerpilot, can ease the burden on the sailor by automatically steering the boat.
However, standard tillerpilot setups often have limitations such as reduced responsiveness in varying sea conditions, or limited battery life.
So if you want to modify your tillerpilot setup to overcome these limitations and optimize performance, here’s a guide for you.
Step 1: Power Supply Upgrade
Traditional tillerpilots usually run on 12V DC battery power. To increase your operating time and ensure the tillerpilot doesn’t drain your boat’s battery, consider an auxiliary solar power setup.
This involves attaching a solar panel to the boat and connecting it to a charge controller, which then feeds into your existing 12V system. The solar power will supplement your battery to ensure that your tillerpilot runs longer and more efficiently.
Step 2: Redundancy Measures
To improve system reliability, it’s a good idea to install a secondary tillerpilot. This doesn’t mean running two tillerpilots simultaneously, but rather having a backup that can quickly replace the primary in case of failure.
Just make sure your backup is easily accessible and install quick-release mounts for both tillerpilots to facilitate rapid replacement.
Step 3: Fine-Tuning Responsiveness
The tillerpilot’s responsiveness can sometimes lag, especially in choppy waters or varying wind conditions. Upgrading the tillerpilot’s software or firmware can sometimes improve its performance.
Some experienced sailors even opt for custom software solutions tailored for their sailing conditions.
Alternatively, you can augment the system with wind and water speed sensors that feed real-time data to the tillerpilot, enabling it to make quicker and more accurate adjustments.
Step 4: External Control Interface
For those who prefer direct control, integrating a wireless remote or even a smartphone interface with your tillerpilot system can be invaluable. There are tillerpilots with Bluetooth capabilities that allow you to control and monitor the system from anywhere on the boat, giving you greater flexibility.
By undertaking these modifications, you will not only extend the life and reliability of your tillerpilot but also significantly enhance its performance. Your sails will be smoother, safer, and more enjoyable so you can focus on the beauty of the open sea.