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Robert: I recently went through this process last winter . Here are my findings.To begin with, Autohelm was the original electric autopilot and there was no competition to the product for many years. Then Autohelm was bought out by Raymarine. Raymarine renamed the models from Autohelm 300 to ST1000 without doing any changes to insides. The difference between the ST1000 and the 2000 is that the 2000 has heavier duty drive gears which will make the unit last longer. This is a real issue with the offshore bunch and the reason why many still use wind vanes or carry 3 backups. From what I'm told, the electronics is identical between the two model numbers. I'm sure that Raymarine must have added some upgrades to the product by now. The ST1000 is adequate for a SJ23 but I recommend the 2000 for long life. A friend of mine motors with an Autohelm 300 on his SJ28. Motoring is easier on the drive train than sailing as sailing requires way more tweak adjustments to stay on course. It's cool to watch it work.
Some time ago Simrad bought Navico. I have no idea how the new Simrad model numbers compare to Navico numbers, but the R&D required to build an electric autopilot is huge. Therefore I suggest that the Simrad guts are the same as the Navico. After all, why buy a company if you intend to redesign the product? However, with time I'm sure they would have done some improvements. The Simrad series are heavier duty units, react a bit quicker, and draw less power. These are the reasons why a friend of mine bought Simrad over a Raymarine. He bought a TP20 to control a Chrysler 25.
So have I not bought one. As much as I can justify it for solo sailing, I find it difficult to part with the cash for sailing on a lake, but it sure is tempting. Maybe I'll find a used on so I can also buy a 135% genoa.
-- Kind Regards Bob Schimmel (Always stay curious) bpschim@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Archives: http://www.mobilegeographics.com/sanjuan23/ San Juan 23 Internet Fleet: http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/5493/ San Juan 23 Tech Tips: http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/2358/index.html mailing list commands: mailto:majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx?body=help