Updated:
Original:

Gear: Raymarine EV-100 Wheelpilot

I hadn’t long been sailing before I realized that being a slave to wheel or tiller wasn’t for me. Much as I enjoy steering a boat, doing so for hours on end becomes tedious and tiring. I’ve done many hard coastal and bluewater miles hand-steering when an autopilot or windvane gear broke down, and I know too well the meaning of the term “the tyranny of the helm.”

ev-100-wheel-pilot

Our long-term project boat, a Norlin 34, balances beautifully under sail and will steer herself with the wind forward of the beam, so it wasn’t until I decided to take her south from Boston’s North Shore for the winter of 2015-16 that an autopilot became a compelling necessity.

The skinny hindquarters of this early 70s IOR design meant that installing a below-deck drive would be a major undertaking involving too much boat yoga and expense. We had tested a Raymarine wheelpilot some years ago, and found it a good match to the 13,000lb boat, but with a couple of quirks. The latest model, the EV-100, retains its predecessor’s drive unit and motor, but comes with a new display and a heavily evolved brain that’s improved its performance. It’s now a full NMEA2000 (N2K) system, which means you’ll have to buy a NMEA0183 to N2K translator to connect it to older instruments.

At the heart of the system is the EV1 sensor core, which contains the computer as well as the compass. The ACU-100, the gray box that looks like the old-style Raymarine computer, is a drive controller. The P70 display head runs Raymarine’s Lighthouse interface.

Installation of these various components was a simple DIY job. All necessary cables and connectors came in the box, though I had to buy a longer Seatalk cable because of the distance between the ACU-100 and the p70 control head. It took perhaps 20 minutes to fit the drive unit to the wheel; all up, the installation was a pleasant afternoon project.

Raymarine makes much of the “aerospace technology” contained within the EV1’s glossy white shell—a 3-axis digital accelerometer, a 3-axis digital compass, and a 3-axis digital gyro angular rate sensor. These esoteric technobits add up to an instrument that can not only respond to changes in pitch, roll, yaw and acceleration, but learn to anticipate the effects of such changes. Think aircraft autopilot.

As promised, the instrument worked right out of the box. I powered it up, went through the intuitive setup menu on the p70, and went sailing. It was as simple as that—no repeated 360s to calibrate, no fine-tuning. A few days later we gave the pilot some hard work to do, 30 hours of 20-40 knot winds and big quartering seas. It coped like a champion, reaching its limits only when the odd green monster picked up the stern and threw the boat sideways, when it would emit a plaintive off-course alarm.

Received wisdom has it that wheelpilots are not capable of handling heavy conditions offshore, and on a less responsive boat this may well be true, but on that voyage, and in the ensuing (and easier) 1,400 miles, I could not find fault with the EV-100. Its power draw is modest (at least on this boat, where it does not have to work hard) and the drive motor took some heavy punishment without complaint.

For more info on the latest sailing equipment go to sailbuyersguide.com

April 2017

Save

Related

01-LEAD-IMG_1002

Cyclone Season in Polynesia

Thinking of spending cyclone season in the South Pacific? Plenty of sailors take the chance every year, with the recent travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic making this an especially popular option in 2020. Cyclone season in this part of the world runs from November to ...read more

01b-LEAD-INSET-Kirby-IMG_0077

Eight Bells: Bruce Kirby, Creator of the Laser

With 2021 drawing to a close, Laser sailors find themselves reflecting on both their class’s 50th anniversary and the passing of the man who made it all possible: Canadian designer, sailor and sailing journalist, Bruce Kirby. Kirby, who died this past July at the age of 92, ...read more

2021ROLEXIC_DF_0061

Southern Yacht Club Wins Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup

Newport, R.I. -- The 7th Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup wrapped up on Saturday after five days of highly competitive racing in an international fleet that saw the Southern Yacht Club (SYC) of New Orleans best a fleet of 19 teams from Europe, Canada, Bermuda and ...read more

DUFOUR-530_NAVIGATION_009

Boat Review: Dufour 530

Dufour Yachts seems to have shifted its strategy with the introduction of the new 530. Previously, the French builder maintained two lines: Performance and Grand Large, with the latter targeted at the cruising crowd. With the Dufour 530, however, Dufour decided to combine the ...read more

210913-11HRT-SKIPPER-PORTRAITS-VC-122

11th Hour Christens Two IMOCAs, Hits a Snag

This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world. ...read more

01-LEAD-DSCF3091

Clewless in the Pacific

Squalls are well known to sailors who cruise the middle Latitudes. Eventually, you become complacent to their bluster. But squalls vary in magnitude, and while crossing from Tahiti to Oahu, our 47ft Custom Stevens sloop paid the price for carrying too much canvass as we were ...read more

Nigel

SAIL’s Nigel Calder Talks Electrical Systems at Trawlerfest Baltimore

At the upcoming Trawlerfest Baltimore, set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, SAIL magazine regular contributor Nigel Calder will give the low down on electrical systems as part of the show’s seminar series.  The talk will be Saturday, October 2 at 9am. Electrical systems are now the number ...read more

5ae5b8ce-3113-4236-927b-f795be4ae091

Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Reopening

Four years after being decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Bitter End Yacht Club is set to reopen for the Winter 2022 season. Hailed as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean and built by sailors, for sailors, this island outpost in the BVI has been a favorite with ...read more