This paper presents some of the things the designer or purchaser of a cruising yacht should keep in mind when vane actuated self-steering is to be installed. First, the characteristics of various types of rudders, pendulum-fins, trim-tabs, and wind vanes are compared. These components are then linked to form different types of self-steerers. These are the simple vane steerers, trim-tab steerers, and pendulum-fin steerers. The auxiliary rudder is a special type of trim-tab steerer.

The linkage between the wind-vane and the trim-tab of fin is design to make the most efficient use of the main active components, and to stabilize the control. Basic feedback theory is applied to yacht steering to show the relationship between all of the factors that determine the heading. Some of the basic requirements for self-steering: sensitivity, adequate power, and system "stiffness" are briefly analyzed, and the degree to which these requirements can be met by the different self-steering system is compared.

Several examples are used to show how technical and dimensional factors, such as hull shape, rudder location, and clearance for the wind vane, determine the type of self-steering gear most suitable for a particular boat. In addition, the intended use, whether for a single handed crossing or occasional week-end trips, may be an important factor, especially if the installation is complex and expensive.

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