Swingin' on a Star

Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".

01 April 2010 | Palau
13 July 2009 | Palau
05 July 2009 | Yacht Harbor
03 July 2009 | Peleliu
02 July 2009 | Palau
01 July 2009 | Two Dog Beach
30 June 2009 | Mecharchar
29 June 2009 | Mecharchar
28 June 2009 | Ulong
27 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
17 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
16 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
15 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
14 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
13 June 2009 | Ngerutable
25 May 2009 | Yacht Harbor
30 April 2009 | Malakal
29 April 2009 | Koror
28 April 2009 | Malakal
27 April 2009 | Malakal

Hydraulic Thoughts

28 October 2006 | The Helm
Randy
When we bought this boat the hydraulic steering system was one of the things in the negative column for me. Hydraulic auto pilots fail at the same time that you lose the helm if there's a hydraulic system failure. If your hydraulic system blows a hose off of a fitting you are not going to fix it anytime soon. Once the fluid is in the bilge, you are on the emergency tiller. Finding hoses, the right hydraulic oil, pumps, etceteras is going to be a bit more difficult than locating cable in remote places in my estimation. My favorite mechanisms are direct with no fluids or cables. You don't have the same feel at the helm with indirect systems that you get with a direct system but then again cats don't have that much helm feel anyway.

I have had a change of heart (if you can't change something about your boat you become a convert, right?). Seriously though, on a boat this big a hydraulic system has some substantial advantages and may be a necessity. First, and perhaps most important, a hydraulic system provides a physical advantage necessary when steering a 50' brute. The hydraulic system allows for a simple hydraulic auto pilot configuration as well. Auto pilots do a lot of work on a passage making boat and losing your AP means a very unpleasant passage. Direct drive auto pilots draw serious current and undergo substantial strains. Hydraulic auto pilots have a material advantage here, and tend to draw less current due to the advantages imparted by a hydraulic system. This not only benefits the battery conscious skipper but also increases the longevity of the unit. Hydraulic AP steering is more powerful and immediate as well.

It's kind of weird having the boat steer itself while the wheel just sits there but you get used to that. It's also nice to be able to point the boat somewhere and let go of the wheel without all hell breaking loose. The hydraulic system makes it possible for the builder to route the cables in a reasonable fashion, not so with a direct or cable system, things pretty much need to go in a straight line there. Perhaps the best of both worlds would be a hydraulic primary auto pilot and a backup direct drive. Maybe next refitů

I had to change out the hydraulic fluid on our boat today, did I say I liked hydraulic steering?
Comments
Vessel Name: Swingin on a Star
Vessel Make/Model: Saint Francis 50
Hailing Port: Las Vegas, NV
Crew: Randy & Hideko Abernethy
About: Randy, Hideko and Roq
Home Page: http://swinginonastar.com
Swingin on a Star's Photos - Swingin on a Star (Main)
Selected photos of Swingin' on a Star at anchor.
7 Photos
Created 18 September 2007
31 Photos
Created 15 September 2007
copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Randy & Hideko Abernethy, all rights reserved