Freehand works

Our Freehand has worked well for us. Last year, we sailed Galatea
from California to Mazatlan, to the Galapagos, through Fr. Polynesia,
the Cooks and Tonga, then to Nelson, New Zealand, where she is now.
I especially appreciated the simplicity and reliability of the
Freehand when I heard other shorthanded boats on the radio reporting
mid-passage autopilot or windvane breakdowns. I’m sure glad we did
not have to face days or even weeks of hand steering! (I’m a little
embarrassed to say how little we hand steered, like not at all once
at sea!)

We use a Simrad TP10 to steer the trimtab when winds are especially
light and sloppy seas move the boat around too much. The electrical
draw is small (about 1 Ah). We’ve also used it occasionally when
cross seas on a deep broad reach make it tough for the windvane to
hold a course.

I would be interested to hear from others with trimtab systems about
the effect of propwash. How much vibration is there? What is your
comfortable cruising speed under power with the trim tab steering?
We get a vibration in the trim tab when the tillerpilot is steering
that increases with engine speed, beginning at about 5.25 knots in
flat water. (FWIW, we have a 3-blade maxprop, but I wouldn’t think
that its wash would be much different from other 3-bladed props.)
It’s not a problem when the trim tab is disengaged, and we steer with
the main rudder, but I haven’t set up the tillerpilot to steer the
main rudder directly.

I’ve discussed this with Mike Anderson, who said that he and Roger
Olson experimented with the shape of the leading edge of the trim tab
to minimize the chatter. Galatea has a section in the middle of the
leading edge removed in the path of the prop wash. I’m curious how
this is working for others. Doug, how did you build your trim tab?

As someone else said, each vane has its pluses and minuses. The
BCC/Freehand is a powerful sailing design, and I’m willing to accept
its minor limitations under power. I’d rather be sailing anyway!

Tom Unruh
SV Galatea
BCC 117

Tom,
Mine is a standard Freehand system. I didn’t build the trim tab. It does
have the cutout in the leading edge and does chatter unless locked down. I
usually lock it down when under engine power and adjust the angle of the
trim tab to the rudder to keep a course. As long as the wind is constant
and the sea is flat it tracks very well. I did have the lower bearing
section modified so it would sit lower and have the wheel line up with the
taffrail better. When I first installed it I had some 2" blocks under the
two arms that attach to the taffrail. The modification allowed me to lower
the wheel by a little over 2". Mike Anderson said it should be lower to
work well and this was the only solution I could come up with. I haven’t
done any long distance cruising yet but it works well in Galveston Bay and
the Gulf of Mexico.
Doug Beu
s/v “Fritha”

----- Original Message -----
From: “taunruh” <taunruh@yahoo.com >
To: <bcc@yahoogroups.com >
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2004 9:08 AM
Subject: [bcc] Freehand works

Our Freehand has worked well for us. Last year, we sailed Galatea
from California to Mazatlan, to the Galapagos, through Fr. Polynesia,
the Cooks and Tonga, then to Nelson, New Zealand, where she is now.
I especially appreciated the simplicity and reliability of the
Freehand when I heard other shorthanded boats on the radio reporting
mid-passage autopilot or windvane breakdowns. I’m sure glad we did
not have to face days or even weeks of hand steering! (I’m a little
embarrassed to say how little we hand steered, like not at all once
at sea!)

We use a Simrad TP10 to steer the trimtab when winds are especially
light and sloppy seas move the boat around too much. The electrical
draw is small (about 1 Ah). We’ve also used it occasionally when
cross seas on a deep broad reach make it tough for the windvane to
hold a course.

I would be interested to hear from others with trimtab systems about
the effect of propwash. How much vibration is there? What is your
comfortable cruising speed under power with the trim tab steering?
We get a vibration in the trim tab when the tillerpilot is steering
that increases with engine speed, beginning at about 5.25 knots in
flat water. (FWIW, we have a 3-blade maxprop, but I wouldn’t think
that its wash would be much different from other 3-bladed props.)
It’s not a problem when the trim tab is disengaged, and we steer with
the main rudder, but I haven’t set up the tillerpilot to steer the
main rudder directly.

I’ve discussed this with Mike Anderson, who said that he and Roger
Olson experimented with the shape of the leading edge of the trim tab
to minimize the chatter. Galatea has a section in the middle of the
leading edge removed in the path of the prop wash. I’m curious how
this is working for others. Doug, how did you build your trim tab?

As someone else said, each vane has its pluses and minuses. The
BCC/Freehand is a powerful sailing design, and I’m willing to accept
its minor limitations under power. I’d rather be sailing anyway!

Tom Unruh
SV Galatea
BCC 117

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