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Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

Old 03-21-2003, 10:37 AM
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jlr
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

I have a small Sea Pro (190 CC) with a non-hydraulic steering system. I would like to add an autopilot to be used just for trolling single handed with wire line. I have other Robertson (Simrad) autopilots and I know they are great but this is a small boat and the AP 12R is about twice the price ($900 vs. $500). I know the AP 12 is much better but has anyone had good experience with the Sportpilot or is it completely usefless?
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Old 03-21-2003, 12:13 PM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

Mine is useless. Several have tried to get it to work properly - to no avail.

Several posters here say their's work fine. I would go for the Simrad.

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Old 03-21-2003, 12:55 PM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

I have one on my small boat (hydraulic steering) and I wouldn't say it is totally useless but I wouldn't buy another one. Good enough to maintain a course at nominal cruising speed under fairly calm conditions but that is about it IMO

28' Maxcat w/twin Honda 225's
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Old 03-21-2003, 02:32 PM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

I have one and I guess to try to quality its performance, It has I think a 5 step gain selector. I usually use 2 or 3 when crusing at speed. At full gain it takes about 6-7 seconds to turn the wheel 360 degrees. So if you are in anything like a sort 3 foot North Carolina chop it can't keep up with the boat getting pushed around by the waves. But if its smooth enough to fish and be comfortable it will be that extra crewman no problem. That said, in its defence, there are better units out there but the probably cost alot more.


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Old 03-21-2003, 02:52 PM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

The Sport Pilot at best is OK in my experience. My dad has one on his 23 Gulfstream Grady single hydraulic Yamaha 250. He fishes Lake Erie primarily for walleye - max speed is 3 knots - usually 2 knots. Fishing WITH the waves it does a decent job. Fishing the troughs or INTO the waves at best it is good enough to hold course long enough to net a fish if there is only two people on board.

DreamWeaver - nice pic of your Albe. I've also heard good things about the Simrad - but I had the Raytheon 5000 series on my 24 Albe and also have it on my 25 Carolina Classic. It worked OUTSTANDING on the Albe. It works good on the Carolina but not as good - the Carolina sits higher and is affected more by wind. Again these are primarily at walleye speeds of 3 knots or less - suspect they will work a bit better for the saltwater guys fishing faster.

Have you got a chance to try your new transducer yet?

Steve Carlson
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Old 03-21-2003, 07:07 PM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

Basic rule of thumb is "the shorter the boat, the less well they work!" When the manufacturer says for boats between 26 and 34, do not try it on an 18 ft boat. That's not what they are designed for. The sport polot plus sucks on my son in laws 19 footer and worked like a charm in my 24 footer. I think that many boaters expect too much from an autopilot. IMHO

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Old 03-22-2003, 05:41 AM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

Auguste-
Your "basic rule of thumb" makes absolutely no sense. Manufacturer specs related to the boat length have to do with torque factors, load, and size of drive. The boat length is just a guideline. If a pilot works on your 25' boat and not on a 19' boat I can assure you that the 6' is not the problem.
A GOOD pilot (if spec'd out, installed, and tuned properly) will steer as well as an experienced helmsman. It may not be able to "anticipate", but it won't get tired and it doesn't drink your beer.
I have taken many boats to the bahamas and we haven't had to touch the wheel after clearing the sea bouy.
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Old 03-22-2003, 08:43 AM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

Hi cravenMA

This thread started with discussions about an 18 ft CC and not about larger boats capable of making long offshore trips to the Bahamas.

While I agree with some of your analysis, I must disagree with the start of your posting. Given the same seas, e.g. 3 ft waves, and given that you are trolling and not running at speed, then generally speaking, the shorter the boat the easier it is for your boat to be turned around by the waves . . . and the harder it is for an autopilot to keep a good track.

The rule of thumb re length tends applies to small boats and loses its applicabiliy once boats are in the longer heavier catagories e.g. sportfishers in the 30 ft plus range. IMHO

Miss-Be-Haven
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Old 03-23-2003, 08:25 AM
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Default Sportpilot Autopilot - Useless?

Augute-
That's why I said a "GOOD" pilot could steer the boat. I imagine that the SportPilot just doesn't have the sophistication to be programed to handle your son's boat. Besides, the spec's of the sportpilot says 17' to 30'.
BTW- I have made the Bahamas run in boats as small as 20 feet. (keeping an eye on the weather window) You are right in that if your boat has no steerage at slow speed a good wave can throw you over before a pilot can react.

[This message was edited by cravenMH on 03-24-03 at 07:49 AM.]
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