Cape Horn Self-Steering vs. the Freehand Steering

Roger, Would you mind giving your opinion on the Cape Horn Self-Steering vs. the Freehand Steering. I Understand You have had experience with both. Thanks Marc
 I already did this at work.  If you email: and ask Sumio to pull up the file where I compare the two, he will attach it.  If.....something happens and you don't get it let me know.  I may have to help him find the file.  If for some reason it has been erased or lost I will gladly do it again. 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2001 3:08 PM
Subject: [bcc] attn:Roger Olson

Roger, Would you mind giving your opinion on the Cape Horn Self-Steering vs. the Freehand Steering. I Understand You have had experience with both. Thanks Marc

— In bcc@y…, “Roger Olson” <roger.olson@a…> wrote:


I already did this at work. If you email: and ask

Here’s Roger’s Analysis of the Advantages and Disadvantages of the
Cape Horn and Freehand Steering Windvanes

Cape Horn: Advantages

  • steers a course in light as well as heavy airs at all points of sail
  • holds a perfectly steady course
  • the servo tab can be removed when motoring to reduce drag
  • simple construction
  • non-corrosive material in the construction
  • small windvane sail on a horizontal axis is easy to store, so
    extras can be carried
  • wind directions can be adjusted aboard by leading the adjusting
    lines fwd
  • less expensive than the Freehand Steering; compare prices when time
    to buy

Cape Horn: Disadvantages

  • the vane must be changed between light and moderate winds, not easy
    out on the end of the boomkin
  • the vane must be adjusted to suit the sea conditions, out on the
  • proper adjustments to the linkage must be correct and tested
    because it cannot be changed underway
  • since the servo tab extends aft of the boomkin, it is susceptible
    to damage
  • the lines to the tiller must be led so they are as frictionless as
    possible or the lines will have to be replaced often because of the
    heavy loads
  • the long tiller on our boats must remain in place, which may
    require a folding tiller
  • the lead lines must be taut or the line may come off the top of the
    quadrant of the servo tab; extremely difficult to put back on underway
  • the vane has an excellent attachment for a tiller pilot, but to
    make it work on teh boomkin was difficult or nearly impossible. It
    could possibly be done successfully, but many hours were spent
    without success

Freehand: Advantages

  • because it is a trim tab, the windvane will steer the boat in any
    condition as long as there is enough wind to move the trim tab
  • the trim tab creates a very strong driving force to the tiller for
    rough conditions
  • the tiller can be removed in mild to moderate conditions
  • adjustment to the vane is at the taffrail: easily and safely
  • easy to make minor or major adjustments
  • there is minimum load on the rope between the vane and the trim
    tab, so the rope lasts indefinitely
  • an inexpensive tiller pilot can drive the trim tab when motoring,
    because of the minimum load and minimum movement required, it saves
    on battery use
  • the vane does not require any adjustment to its size until very
    rough conditions, then the sail is removed leaving a plywood blade
  • vane is attached to the backstay, making it simple and easy to
    install and operate

Freehand: Disadvantages

  • the trim tab, being permanently attached aft of the rudder, is
    susceptible to damage if grounded
  • because of the greater surface area aft of the rudder, the trim tab
    creates a heavier helm when motoring
  • the trim tab could create some vibration when motoring if it is not
    correctly installed
  • the trim tab cannot be removed when motoring, but it is simple to
    remove at anchor for inspection or repairs
  • a zinc anode is advised on the bottom gudgeon of the trim tab,
    because it is left in the water all the time
  • we found it a little difficult to reef the vane sail when
    conditions get rough (will be easier as the sail cloth softens)
  • the trim tab is made of teak and bronze, the vane is aluminum and
    wood, so needs some maintenance (bronze is available as an option
    over aluminum).

Errors in transcribing are mine. I’m posting from a legal
jurisdiction outside the US and its libel laws.



Penang, Malaysia