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Marine Autopilots Main Page

We’ve run the new Garmin GHP10, Raymarine S1000, Simrad AP12H, and Coursemaster CM80i marine autopilots through their paces aboard our 25′ Contender test boat.

A small boat autopilot is one piece of marine electronics we don’t know what we’d do without. It is simply a joy to have one of these electronic helmsman installed aboard our boat standing by at the ready to take the wheel at the push of a button.

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It takes us to far-off fishing holes, trolls a straight line while putting out lures, makes long trips fun instead of work, and just plain handles the steering chores when we don’t want to. Just like upgrading from a standard television set to a high definition flat screen, once you’ve done it, you see how big the difference really is and you wonder how you lived without this for so long.

Just like upgrading from standard television to high definition, once you’ve done it, you see how big the difference really is and you wonder how you lived without it for so long.

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Autopilots are the same way, once you have one installed this particular piece of marine electronics on your boat you won’t want to own a boat without one again.

Our Marine Autopilot Reviews

We recently added a lengthy review on the Garmin GHP10 marine autopilot system. We received all the components for this pilot a few months ago and have been installing it, testing it, and running with it ever since. Our original review covering components and installation has been expanded significantly to include operation, slow speed trolling, and navigating with the Garmin GHP 10.

You can see part two of our Garmin GHP10 review here.

A review of the remote control for the Garmin GHP10 autopilot is here.

Raymarine, headquartered in the UK, hit the entry level powerboat autopilot market hard with the Raymarine S1000. This pilot is designed for boats up to 25’ in length equipped with hydraulic steering. It also features wireless operation with its S100 controller. We had the Raymarine S1000 installed for over a year of grueling testing. You can read about all the details in our Raymarine S1000 review.

Australia based, Coursemaster Autopilots, built the Coursemaster CM80i autopilot for boats up to 32 feet in length. The CM80i was one of the first and still very few small boat autopilots currently on the market that can perform and function properly without the use of a rudder interface unit. This is a huge deal for boats with outboards where this piece of sophisticated marine electronics gets placed in the engine splashwell and abused by saltwater. They end up not lasting long.

The Simrad AP12H autopilot package comes with a course computer, control head, compass, hydraulic pump, and linear feedback unit. This autopilot is also available in another version for boats with mechanical cable steering. The linear feedback unit that accompanies this pilot is the rudder interface we mentioned before, ours eventually broke. You can read all about it in our Simrad AP12H autopilot review.

Every autopilot listed above was tested aboard our 25′ center console Contender powered by a single 250 HP outboard. This boat is equipped with Seastar hydraulic steering and each autopilot was installed according to the autopilot manufacturers’ instructions. Normally we keep an autopilot installed on our boat for at least one year to complete a full evaluation.

Future Marine Autopilot Tests

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The logistics of removing then reinstalling an autopilot aboard the same boat for each test is time-consuming, expensive, and limits the number of marine autopilots we can review. Going forward Marine Electronics Reviews we’ll be posting reader submitted small boat autopilot reports.