Henry the Hydrovane

Today’s a big day for Excalibur.

Navigators in Chichester have successfully installed the Hydrovane brackets and shaft (I have a ‘H’ and ‘E’ shaft configuration). I had to assemble the drive unit and vane, and with a bit of help from Navigators we managed to get the rudder in place, which is mighty heavy, and slot on the drive unit and insert the split pins to keep it in place.

For anyone that doesn’t know what a Hydrovane is, it basically a mechanical system (an autopilot) that steers the boat when sailing, and doesn’t require any electricity.

The Hydrovane unfortunately clashes with the Rutland wind gen, so right now the Hydrovane is for show, but I’m one step closer to making her an ocean going vessel.

I had a quote for a gantry which would allow the Hydrovane to swing freely, however the quote is quite pricey so I’ll have to do a bit more shopping around.


Henry – Liz and Patrick’s dog

Anyhow, every major bit of kit on the boat has a name which is a habit I’ve picked up from Oliver. I have Ted the Trolley, Arthur the Autopilot, Malcolm the Mallard (ok he’s a plastic duck) and now Henry the Hydrovane in honour of Henry the dog of course 🙂  I’m hoping Henry will keep myself and crew safe and sound on longer voyages in the future, and having experienced sailing on Troskala I have 100% faith in the Hydrovane and its sea keeping abilities.

One thing I do need to attend to is the additional weight on the back. Excalibur now lists slightly to starboard, and the bow needs weighing down. Keeping my gerry cans on the opposite side and more anchor chain should remedy this.

So for now I have a wonderful piece of kit on the boat that can’t be used, but it is a thing of beauty!

Oh and the stanchions have been fixed, they now have meaty stainless steel backing pads, and allen key machine screws which is pretty smart, and the stern gland no longer leaks one iota.

Author: Tim Butler

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