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Using the Raytheon Autohelm Sport Auto Pilot

Using the Raytheon Autohelm Sport Auto Pilot Using the Raytheon Autohelm Sport Auto Pilot
By Dave Adams

The Raytheon Autohelm Sport Pilot - it will never need paid, will not reach for a beverage while you're setting up gear, and it will drive better than any human, of whom, includes my lovely wife, Cindy.

"Don't holler at me, I'm doing the best I can," said my wife, as I was putting out the planer boards with the boat going in circles! "I'm doing all the work, and all your doing is playing with those stupid orange sailboats on that funny yellow line." Enough said, time to buy an autopilot.

The product is a masterpiece in simplicity and reliability. The unit is approximately four inches wide and 10 inches long. It contains an electric motor and a turn signal type switch to activate the autopilot, which receives a signal from a compass that is installed near the center of the boat. And whether your boat is an inboard, outboard, or I/O, it will fit virtually every boat.

To install, remove the steering wheel and attached the autopilot to the steering shaft. Then, install the compass.

After installation - which only takes about an hour and half - you can simply put the boat on the desired heading, and turn the switch to auto. Next, take your hands off the steering wheel and start fishing. Or, with all the options connected, the autopilot will steer by any SeaTalk, NMEA 0183-equipped GPS/Loran receiver or Navcenter chartplotter.

Here is what Raytheon recommends:

  • For boats 18 to 27 feet the Raytheon Autohelm SportPilot is recommended. Average price $699
  • For boats up to 35 feet and workboats, the SportPilot Plus is recommended - the SportPilot Plus includes a linear feedback sensor, which fits directly on top of the steering cylinder or rotary rudder feedback sensor. Average price $899 (outboards) $999 (inboards and power steering assisted sterndrives)
My Autohelm SportPilot was purchased at Boater's World in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Also, it is available West Marine.

Yes, on days off, Cindy and I still get to fish together; however, when setting out the equipment, the morning conversion is much more pleasant.

Good Fishing,
Capt. Dave Adams

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john | Posted: May 15, 2008

i have had a 5 units in 7 yrs. 1 new and 4 fact. refurbished they last from 3 weeks to 3 months i like the sports plus but it just will not last, not much help from raytheon just keep buying they send me.

Mark Lacy | Posted: April 9, 2002

Nice to find some feedback on this auto-pilot. I've been searching for one for my 18' MFG I/O, and Dave's article seals the deal. Thanks!