SV Storm Vale – Michael St.John DEK

Dear Peter, I am a very happy Windpilot Pacific plus owner and user. We live in Denmark. I have a 1971 S&S Swan 40 Storm Svale with a little story to tell. I have now used a Pacific Plus for two Atlantic Circles. Both times the Windpilot steered for well over 95% of the time. Once I set it I can usually relax and enjoy the trip trimming both the WP and the sails as necessary. The first circuit, while sailing from the Culebra to the Bahamas we were joined by a pod of False Killer whales who had a wonderful time playing in the waves around the boat as we sailed. Some were even rubbing themselves on the boat. The kids loved it! Unfortunately one rubbed the Windpilot Auxiliary Rudder and cracked the rudder post… about an hour after they left the rudder fell off leaving us with the auto pilot… I hate that noise!!. Anyway, we had a spare rudder which I later installed for the trip from the Chesapeake and back to Denmark.

As I did not think I was going to do any more long distance sailing we decided to sell it (the early model). This was unfortunate as 10 years later we set off to do another circuit. Of course I had to have a Windpilot Pacific Plus. I got a newer model in Florida, yes it needed a rudder. To quote Fatty, Not a problem for a cruiser. Anyway, in 2022 we set off again and of course the Windpilot was the main helmsman!! The trip from Denmark to the Canaries was uneventful, Windpilot handling the steering. We left Tenerife for Guadeloupe, and were having a great crossing until half way across. In the middle of the night ( IT ALWAYS HAPPENS MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT) we got hit by a squall. We had too much sail up and the Windpilot lost control.. No Problems skipper on deck reefing and a crew member on the wheel steering until we could get things sorted. Unfortunately during all of this the person on the helm put the helm hard over plus a bit more… the chain on the wheel snapped and now we are 900 NM from land with only an emergency tiller to steer the boat… We managed to heave too with a bit of sail up. The emergency tiller was used to lash the rudder in the centre position and the Windpilot took over.. Steering PLAN B circa 900 Nm later we arrived in Guadeloupe. Our/ your Windpilot saved the day!!!! If it had not been for the Windpilot there is a good chance we would have had to abandon the boat mid Atlantic. THANKS!!!
Now for the return trip in 2023. As you may have noticed this year due to the EL Nino and the position of the jet stream we are having a very stormy season.. at least we did. Two Beaufort 9s and two Beaufort 10s before we finally got to Plymouth. The last B10 hit us off the Lizard 4 days before the 2023 Fastnet race. Anyway, on the first leg from St Martin to Horta again ( yes middle of the night) we got hit by a Force 10 and the small rod connecting the vane to the servo rudder snapped. We heaved too again until the seas settled down a bit and the Skipper replaced the rod while hanging off the back of the boat. Unfortunately the bolts were over tightened and we needed about 15 kts of wind for the WP to steer. Once we reached Horta, I had intended to work on it but Harry Schank, your Windpilot representative showed up just after we landed. He looked at for about 2 minutes and went AHHA this is too tight and the WP was back to normal.THANKS TO HARRY!!!!!!! He is amazing. Harry did a lot of work on the boat while we were there as it had been a rough trip. Did I mention he took care of our diesel pest problem. We got bad diesel, on the French side of St Martin and Harry and crew cleaned up the mess. You have an amazing representative there!!!
The trip to Plymouth, was less eventful!! Just two force 9s and a Force 10 off the Lizard…The Windpilot steered us through it all!!

Thanks again for this amazing piece of kit!! and the team you have assembled to help us owners!! I recommend it tand the team to all. Don’t leave home without it!!

Mike St John
Skipper of Stormsvale.

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