A visit during my holiday
During my stay in Flims (Switzerland), last month, I took the liberty to pay Otto Holborn from Tecnautic a visit. Tecnautic builds steering systems for yachts for more than 25 years.
Being there I had the opportunity to get acquainted with the look and feel of the In contrast with other autopilots the steering wheel of Tecnautic "determines the rate of turn of the vessel (the wheel does not determine the rudder angle). When the wheel is in the centre detent, the heading is held. The rudder is moved automatically by the Autopilot Computer. This is the principal operating mode."
Of course this is not the only mode: the rudder position can be controlled directly by the wheel (not used very often, according to Mr. Holborn), while it also offers Autopilot and Navigation modes.
Besides offering an alternative for the traditional helm, Tecnautic makes it possible to control the engine(s). Throttle and clutch can be operated in an integrated way from the helm station.
The technology, Mr. Holborn suggested, is comparable to that used on (large) commercial vessels. Roughly speaking, Tecnautic only differs in price (only a fraction of the professional versions) and service (That is: they won't send a helicopter to repair your autopilot within 12 hours in any outskirt of the world. They do however give excellent telephonic support!)