Philippe, Orion, France
I'm using a Plastimo Navik windvane for last year. I was lucky to found it second hand on Ebay for 500$, in good condition, but some broken plastic parts, that I change to new, because the Navik is still on the Plastimo catalogue.
The Navik is good for the Triton because it's small size and light weight. There is other models on the market, you have to search on the net.
The principle is very simple: the wind act on an aerial thats command a fletner fixed on the rudder of the windvane. The rudder is pushed by the water in the opposite direction of the rudder of the boat and pull a line that act on the helm.
The most dificult thing was to find how fix it on the reverse poop of the Triton, then to find were fix the 4 small blocks for the command lines to the rudder, because this line have to be free all its way. Finally The 2 lines (left/right) pass first on 2 blocks on the rear of the cockpit then through the side of the cockpit with 2 ball blocks that you can see behind the winch on the picture).
Under sail it's really fantastic, depending of the weather condition I have nearly nothing to do on the boat. With good conditions (the wind was stable in force and direction), I have not touch one time the rudder for more than 100 miles this summer... That's especially good if you're sailing alone. The windvane is a better skipper than me, very sensitive, and indefatigable! And no noise, no electricity!
For sure, sometime it is hard to find the good adjustment on the tiller, because it's very sensitive; as the rudder acts on the boat, the direction of the wind on the sails change a little bit so sometime it's a little bit tricky to find the good and stable adjustment... But when it's done, I am free to sleep some minutes (20 minutes only in fact because of other boats, freighters...)
Difficult to go back when you've try it!
All the best, Philippe & Orion, France.
Jim Hart, #94
I have a Norvane, made in San Diego. I've been told it's a backwards rip-off of one made in New Zealand but I don't know. What I do know is it holds a course straight as a string under all headings, including straight downwind in winds so light you can't even feel them. Mine is number 299 and I paid $1745.00 for it and thaty's brand new. I had it in a month after I ordered it. They have a web site full of testimonials and pictures...I found it googling...They already have the numbers for Tritons as there are at least 2 using them now. Jim 94 kd7yll
Rob Squire, #96, HEAD OVER HEELS
Head over Heels has a Monitor and so does Anake. Both Mark and I will tell you the Monitor works great, but we don 't have experience with other brands....or at least, I have no experence with other brands. What ever brand you choose is designed to work on a larger boat than a Triton. If you are starting. I think any of the vane manufacturers make something which can handle a Triton. Find the one which seems to make the most sense, does what you need, and that will be good. I have Monitor because Steve had it on JUNO and we worked out a deal,but it is by no means the definitive answer! It does work well, though!
I also have a Norvane on nr. 199. I bought it new for under $2000 with spares kit. It steared my boat from New York to France without a problem, light and rough conditions and I never had to hand steer exept for entering a harbor. After pretty intense use for a couple of months it's still in great shape. It's light, cheap, compact and easy to install and use. Website is www.selfsteering. com.
If you don't mind having a heavy-duty 'oil-derek' on the aft deck, the Monitor is the way to go. I looked into the Cape Horn, which is also pretty heavy-duty, but one must drill a hole in the transom to fit it. The thing that really put me onto the Monitor is, they are made in Richmond, CA, a 20 minute drive from where I had Patience at that time. Monitor also market Aries windvanes, but they don't look like much sitting next to a Monitor. While I was told by a few world cruisers that a light windvane, such as the Aries or Navik, would work for a boat as small as a Triton, after the conditions I experienced, they said I made a good choice going with the sturdier 'vane. I was glad to have something more solid, especially since it a was a key component of my jury-rigged rudder. Of course the Monitor is expensive, but I believe it is comparable in price to the Cape Horn. I'd say, make the decision based on what kind of sailing you plan to be doing. If there's a good chance you'll be caught in winter storms, go for a heavier 'vane. If you'll be single-handing off-shore, go for the heavier 'vane. If you have back up crew or plan to do mostly coastal cruising where you can duck in somewhere when it gets nasty, no need to spend the $$$ on a heavier 'vane. With Monitor vs. Cape Horn: the Monitor takes up deck space, but I was a bit nervous about the big hole through the transom. The Cape Horn can involve less above-deck rigging, but Tritons have a substantial cockpit, so not really an issue, again, depending upon how you sail. I do not remember where Cape Horns are built or marketed (I saw them on-line and on one cruising vessel in Berkeley), but Monitors are made and sold in CA. I imagine they all work pretty well if you set them up right and balance your sails properly. I would've seriously considered building my own if I'd had enough time.
Philippe, Orion, (FR)
... I have buy an ST2000+ 8/10 years ago. I wanted to buy a 4000 but the seller says that an ST 2000 is strong enough for a Triton. so I buy an ST 2000, big mistake! finally, I think that the ST2000+ is not marvellous for a Triton: difficult to install because of the position of the steer, it's necessary to buy another tube to fix the pilot over the seat with a cantilever.
The ST2000 is not very dry, the electronic is not protected inside. The LCD screen die soon, then the whole electronic. In heavy sea the pilot works hard and it is quite noisy. It takes at least 3/4 amps from the battery all the time.
Last thing, the small pulley on the electric motor is just sticked on the axe of the motor. I have had problem with this, but fortunatly I meet in Carthagena (Spain) an young american sailor who repair the pulley buy fixing a very small pin between the pulley and the axe of the motor, using some tiny tools he usually employs to tatoo people!
The best use I have made with the pilot is when I was going from the sea to the harbors under engine, while removing the sails and putting the fenders around the hull.
I use also the pilot with a GPS, (the GPS drive the pilot using NMEA sentences) works fine running with the engine when no wind. If you try to do this, the ST2000+ does accept waypoint with names containing more than 4 letters. Also you must configure your GPS with the good NMEA words.
Now, I have a Plastimo Navik windvane. Nice!
James Baldwin, #384, Atom
I've sailed Tritons with Aries, Monitor, and Cape Horn and they all worked acceptably well. I like the option of emergency rudder on the Monitor. For me the Cape Horn unit takes up way too much space in the lazarrette unless you get the outboard model. Also, the Cape Horn now and then kicked up its rudder when a small clump of sargasso weed caught on it. The monitor will sail all night with gobs of weed and assorted flotsam on the rudder and still work fine. Not that you shouldn't check and clear your rudder frequently, but it's a pain to have the boat spin out of control while you're below napping because the rudder kicked up. It may be that I wasn't able to tension it enough - maybe someone will comment on that.
Eric Johnson, Sophia, #635
I installed a used Cape Horn on Sophia a couple of years ago and love it. I use it whenever I want to be freed from steering as it sets up in seconds and handles most conditions reliably. I think it has logged more hours at Sophia's helm than I have. I have also used the Monitor on other boats and appreciate it also, however, I really like the simplicity of the Cape Horn.
I don't have either of the problems that James mentions below. As you can see in the attached photos, I have boxed in the quadrant so its footprint in the lazarette is about 4x18 inches. I sail in Maine and the pendulum's oar will catch an occasional lobster pot warp. These will usually slip off the bottom after the slack is pulled out, but, once in a while one will hang on until I steer the oar to the opposite side by pushing the vane against the breeze. I'm guessing that the bungee cords on the unit James used were ready for replacement.
The only real challenge to the installation was locating and cutting the single 2 1/4" hole through the transom. I managed this by starting with an 1/8" initial hole and then used a straight bit of rod to measure and tune the location until I was satisfied that I had it just right. Took me about a week to convince myself that I was ready.
Richard King, Fox, #646
I recommend the Norvane really highly--though I haven't used the Monitor, Aries, or any other. It steered the whole way, especially in heavy weather letting me go down below and hide. As they say, it doesn't work in the lightest of air downwind, but it could still do some light air. It was really just incredible. I bought it because I heard about a couple other Tritons that had it. It's about 1,000$ cheaper than Aries and Monitor--which made me wary, y'know, but it was just great. It is not difficult to install and doesn't seem to be as large or bulky as the others. I made a couple bonehead mistakes with installation, but nothing to comprimise it's structure--just made things a wee bit more difficult for myself. (eg--I ended up having to lift and move my pulpit a few inches forward because I didn't think everything through carefully enough--but I wanted to rebed it anyway!) And you'll have to drill a few holes in stainless. I don't have a drill press, so had to get a pro do it for me. If you do get the Norvane, I'd be more than happy to send photos (could send them anyway) and tell you about the small mistakes I made, easily avoided. A salty old friend of mine made an adjustable chain dog for the tiller to fit the lines and this worked great.
The owner of Norvane, Phil Sargent, is also a very nice correspondent, and usually got back to me within a few days if I had any questions.