Dave Stillerz of San Francisco, California, asks:
“I recently installed some new tanks aboard my older wooden sailboat, and now my automatic pilot won’t keep me on a steady course. Any ideas?”
Gordon West replies:
Sounds like your new tanks are metal and your pilot’s fluxgate heading sensor is mounted nearby. Reposition the fluxgate compass away from any ferrous metal, recalibrate your heading sensor, and you should enjoy a smoother sail. Another SAIL reader had this same problem and blamed his guests for the erratic steering. The guests brought aboard many metal hangers and put them in the hanging locker where the pilot compass was installed. You should always keep metals away from heading sensors.