Windvanes 101—Crash Course in Selfsteering Systems

Two Kinds of Self Steering

As you are probably aware, there are two types of devices that can keep a boat on its heading: autopilots and wind-vane self-steering gears.

A question we are frequently asked is: "Why should I have a vane gear instead of an autopilot?" The way the question is put indicates that among people with limited sailing experience the autopilot is clearly the more well known and understandable of the two different types of self-steering. In the following we will discuss the way the two different concepts work and also look into their advantages and disadvantages under various circumstances. More space will be devoted to explaining the workings of windvane systems as they are the lesser known and understood method of self steering.