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Pelagic Autopilots

1. How much power does the standard tiller system draw? The standard tiller system draws about .1 amp in standby, 1 amp in low to moderate seas state and can rise to an average of 3 amps in heavy conditions. Peak currents in large quartering seas are about 5 amps. 

2. NMEA - Wind mode: As of Aug 2017, the unit will follow an apparent wind line using NMEA 0183 data sentences of MWV and VWR. To use NMEA 2000 a data converter, like an Actisense NGW-1 must be added to your NMEA network. At this time true wind operation is still being evaluated. The manual for the NGW-1 is located at

3. Can the AP steer catamarans: The Pelagic is steering several cats of a variety of sizes. It is really all about the rudder load. Most cats have very efficient, modern rudders and are relatively easy to steer compared to fin keel mono hulls.   The unit is routinely steering 10000 kg boats with stern hung, barn door rudders (the Westsail 32 is an example).  It has been installed on a Vardo 34' cat and has been in use for about 24 months (Jeff Goff's Vardo - .  It has also been installed on a 10000 kg, 60 ft, slender hull. A Bob Perry design, s/v Francis Lee, AKA Sliver. This is a tiller steered very recent design. The rudder loads are well balanced.  Other boats with hard steering are a Valiant 40 who has been out cruising the Pacific for the last 8 months. A smaller cat that made good use of the AP in the Race to Alaska. A video, at 06:40 minutes the Pelagic is shown: 

4. Mounting the tiller actuator:  The dimensions of the pins and spacing on the tiller are compatible with other manufacturers. The tiller pin should be located 18 inches (457 mm) from the axis of the rudder. The distance from the centered tiller arm and the mounting point on the hull should be 24 7/16 inches (621 mm) for proper operation. 

5. What if the distance between the mounting point on the deck and tiller is greater than 24 7/16 inches (621mm)? In this situation we recommend an actuator extension. These can be ordered off the accessories page and are made to length for your boat up to 12". To determine the length required, simply take the distance between mounting point on the hull and tiller and subtract 24 7/16" (621mm). 


6. Tiller actuator compatibility:  Tiller actuators currently on the market are generally 12 volt motors that depend on reversal of the applied voltage for moving the tiller, or a wheel. The Pelagic tiller actuators are usually interchangeable. 

7. Gyro operation: The autopilot contains three gyros along with six other sensors to keep track of vessel attitude. The rate gyros supply rudder control to compensate for yaw, roll, and pitch. At the higher gain settings it is quite aggressive with rudder motion. 

8. Below deck drive compatibility: Below deck drive are most often driven by 12 volt motors.  In some cases, 24 volts is used, usually on larger vessels.  For this reason, since they usually are 12 volts motors, the Pelagic electronics can drive a variety of below deck or wheel attached actuators. Units that have been attached to the Pelagic include Lecombe & Schmidt, Raymarine, Alpha, NKE, and B&G. 

9. Wheel Drive:  The Pelagic electronics will easily drive existing wheel based steering motors. The Raymarine systems have been connected to on several vessels. 

10. How far does the control unit need to be from the engine or other metal objects?  A minimum of 10 inches (25 cm). In particular, avoid placing the control unit near the electrical wiring for your alternator, charge controller and starter, as they can generate a sizable magnetic field during the charging process. Also avoid speakers (magnets), VHF and SSB radios. 

11. Steel hulls:   The Pelagic has been used on several steel hulled vessels. The calibration steps can adjust operation for magnetic field deviations. If the control head, the unit with the display, is placed on or within the steel hull the magnetic fields may disturb the AP's compass. Therefore, it should be mounted two or more feet above the line of the hull if possible.  Installations that have worked included mounting on stern pulpits, and in wheel houses made of non-ferrous materials. 

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