Wind and Weather Tools

Wind and Weather Tools

The best sailboat wind direction indicators, wind speed meters & anemometers.

best sailboat wind meter and anemometer for sailing

If you’re a sailing enthusiast you probably are no stranger to needing accurate wind speed and direction information. There are a slew of wind meters available today for just about every need: from handheld anemometers (wind speed meters), to sailboat mounted wind direction indicators and more. In this article, we’re going to do a roundup of the best wind meters for sailing, wind vanes for sailboats, the best anemometers for sailing, and more.

The best wind direction meters for sailing

best sailboat wind instruments

WeatherHawk SM-18 SkyMate Hand-Held Wind Meter, Yellow

This floating anemometer is one of the best wind speed meters for sailing. It can measure wind speeds ranging from 0.5 miles per hour all the way up to 99MPH at user-selectable intervals of every five, ten, or 13 seconds (in addition to calculating the average wind speed and tracking peak speed for you). Plus it can also measure wind temperature and wind chill in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. One other nice feature about this sailboat anemometer is that it comes with a durable build and a bright yellow flip-shield. Naturally, it’s also water-resistant so if it falls into the water you’ll be able to easily spot it floating. Also comes with a loop for a lanyard or wrist strap if desired. A belt sheath is also available for this product.

For more handheld anemometers, see our full article: The Best Portable Anemometers & Portable Weather Meters .

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Cape Cod Wind Speed Indicator for Sailboats

Cape Cod Wind & Weather instruments have been a staple of sailors since the company was founded in 1939. With an emphasis on quality American-made wind speed indicators, these gauges are built to last.

This wind speed indicator for sailing can mount on your sailboat either vertically or horizontally and it comes with a spinning cup wheel which can be mounted wherever you like (the supplied cable is 50 feet long and comes with a mounting bracket and screws). For wireless anemometers, see our related article: What is the Best Wireless Anemometer & Wireless Wind Speed Meter?

For decades Cape Cod Wind & Weather has supplied sailors with reliable real-time sailboat wind direction indicators, and this wind speed meter for sailing is no exception.

This unit measures wind speed from zero to 100 miles per hour and comes with a ten-year limited warranty. Pairs well with Cape Cod’s Wind Direction Indicator which matches with a lighted dial interface for wind direction metering.

Davis Instruments Windex 15 Suspension Bearing

best sailboat wind instruments

This weather vane for sailboats mounts on your masthead through bolts or a tap and it provides an easy-to-read wind direction indicator. It’s one of the most popular sailing wind vanes on the market and this particular Davis Windex model is intended for medium to larger boats (the vane itself is 15 inches long; a smaller model exists for smaller boats). This model has what Davis calls a bird-proof spike to keep seagulls from trying to land on the instrument while you’re sailing. The vane itself features tabs that reflect in order to remain visible at night or in dark conditions.

best sailboat wind instruments

Davis Instruments Spar-Fly Wind Indicator for Yachts and Dinghies

This compact sailboat wind direction indicator comes in a bright red color and has both a top and side mounting option. It measures 15 inches long, is highly visible, and weighs an astonishing 1.25oz for a highly responsive level of accuracy even in light wind conditions. The Spar Fly sailing wind vane is intended for sailing dinghies or small yachts and has great reviews.

best sailboat wind instruments

Raymarine i60 Wind System with Masthead Instrument

The Raymarine i60 Wind System measures wind speed and direction as well as a slew of other readings with an easy-to-read digital-dial hybrid display and a masthead mounted instrument. It comes mounting gear and a 100 foot long (30 meters long) cable to connect the wind meter to the display. This is one of the best anemometers for sailing. Can measure wind speed/direction, maximum wind speed (peak), Beaufort scale, Tack and VMG. Plus it has a red backlight for dark conditions.

Frequently asked questions about windvanes for sailboats & the best anemometers for sailing

What features should I look for when shopping for a wind meter for sailing?

The best wind meters are often mounted anemometers made specifically for boating which have a display you can attach to your console. We have a few such wind speed meters for sailboats listed in this article, above.

Handheld anemometers for sailing usually float, are brightly colored, and are waterproof in case they fall into the water. They may also contain temperature gauges and loops for wriststraps or lanyards.

No matter the type of anemometer you choose, a large easy to read at a glance display is also especially useful for sailing anemometers.

What is an anemometer?

An anemometer is simply a wind speed meter. Some anemometers have digital displays, others have dial displays. The most sophisticated anemometers can also measure a variety of other metrics like temperature, dew point, humidity, barometric pressure, and so forth. Advanced anemometers can even give a personalized weather forecast for any location (especially useful if you’re using an anemometer in a spot where there isn’t a reliable weather forecast). Anemometers for sailing are useful because they give a clear and accurate reading of wind speed and direction. For more information about what anemometers are, read our related article: What is an Anemometer and What is it Used For?

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Sailboat wind direction indicator, wind direction indicator, contact us for more information.

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THE WIND DIRECTION INDICATOR

The WINDEX is a Swedish invention from 1964 that is currently sold in more than 40 countries across five continents. In total more than 1,500,000 WINDEX Wind Direction Indicators have been sold over the last 45 years.

The different WINDEX models are found at the top of masts on every type of sailboat from Americas Cup boats to racing dinghies, and everything in between.

It is one of the most well known and recognized yachting products. The inventive and superior design of the WINDEX Wind Direction Indicator has allowed it to stay virtually unchanged for more than 40 years.

All manufacturing, design and distribution to our WINDEX agents is done in Sweden.

WINDEX SCOUT

A wind direction indicator with a built in antenna.

Presenting Our Brand New Windex Scout VHF Antenna. This unique product is a combination of the Windex 15 high precision wind indicator with Scout's premium VHF antenna. It is a patent pending solution with the Windex mounted on top of Scout's rigid fiberglass antenna. The result is a space saving design which allows for undisturbed relative wind readings and offers high quality VHF transmission. This product comes in two sizes the Windex Scout VHF 50 and the Windex Scout VHF 90.

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This is Windex

The WINDEX was first designed and brought to market in 1964 by RADAB (Research And Development AB), a small company run by three young engineers who also happened to be close friends, Sven-Olof Ridder, Harald Undén and Lars Bergström.

The original WINDEX design by Sven-Olof Ridder, an aeronautical engineer who is recognized worldwide for his design skills, was made of aluminum. The design was successful and soon became popular with Swedish sailors. However, the international breakthrough came in 1972 when a large investment in plastic tooling was made, which allowed for large quantity production at a lower cost. One of the design criteria at the time was that the WINDEX should be “as sensitive in light air as cigarette smoke”. The solution was a plastic wind vane with low weight and a large fin mounted on a Sapphire jewel bearing like a compass needle.

This design, which incorporates the now famous Sapphire jewel suspension has remained unchanged and extremely popular with sailors through the decades.

RADAB and its founders have also been involved with the development of several other successful engineering projects, among them are the Windex 92 Family Cruiser and the Windex 1200 C.

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SailTimer Wind Instrument ™

With replaceable battery, wireless and solar-powered. designed for sailboats: remains equally accurate when heeling over., comes with all mounting hardware needed. for boats of all sizes. works with lots of great android/ios apps. or use air link™ (below) for nmea wiring to chartplotter/mfd. you can even raise it on a halyard without lowering or climbing the mast, innovations in this new model:  carbon-fiber pointer arm to reduce weight, with battery inside the nose cone for counter-balance. new injection-molded tail. ceramic miniature ball bearings to prevent corrosion. transmission range of 280 feet (85m) for even the tallest masts..

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SailTimer Air Link ™

Connects wireless and wired devices..

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Cruising World Logo

Planning a Sailboat Electronics Upgrade

  • By David Schmidt
  • Updated: May 19, 2021

A technician working on sailboat electronics wiring.

Contemporary electronics can add a lot to a cruising sailboat. For starters, the gains often include easier-to-understand information, and therefore better situational awareness and increased safety. The catch, however, is that new plotters, radars and other instruments can be expensive, both to purchase and have installed. And then there’s the issue of getting new equipment to interface with older-but-still-functional gear. Because of this, plenty of cruisers manage just fine with older electronics that—while dated—still work and help get them from here to there.

But, as with all things marine, even once-high-end equipment eventually reaches its endgame. Trouble is, determining when checkmate is inevitable isn’t always obvious, so I reached out to two experts—Nigel Barron, sales and marketing manager at Seattle’s CSR Marine ( csrmarine.com ), and Rufus Van Gruisen, owner of Cay Electronics in Portsmouth, Rhode Island ( cayelectronics.com )—to learn more about when it’s time to (literally) pull the plug on old kit. In doing so, they also helped shed light on the performance and safety gains that can take the sting out of new-equipment purchases.

“Electronics typically work or don’t,” Van Gruisen says, adding that shy of a catastrophic event such as a lightning strike, obsolescence is the biggest gravedigger for most marine instruments. For example, Van Gruisen points to chart plotters: “New charts often don’t work on older plotters because they take up too much memory. A lot of products become obsolete because they can’t load modern software. A cruiser would need to find old, out-of-date charts to make it work.”

This might suffice in places such as Maine, where the seafloor is generally stable and where up-to-date cartography sometimes relies on old bathymetric surveys, but this certainly doesn’t hold true for places such as Chesapeake Bay or the Bahamas, where seafloors morph with storm events and time.

Another vintage-equipment killer, Van Gruisen says, is that manufacturers eventually stop supporting updates for older electronics. For example, older chart plotters can eventually stop working with current GPS configurations.

Barron agrees that obsolescence can be a problem; seven years, he says, is a reasonable life span for most electronics. He points to issues such as inconsistent data from sensors or transducers, speed information failing to display, or screen pixels going dark as signs that it could be time to upgrade. Plus, he believes, seven years is enough time for the market to offer significantly better products. “A cathode-ray tube television might still work, and an older radar might still work, but there are way-better products available that offer better reliability, lower power consumption and new features.”

Prime examples of this are digital, solid-state Doppler-enabled radars that depict dangerous targets in one color (typically red) on a chart-plotter display, and stationary or benign targets in another color (typically green or blue). This functionality not only makes it easier and more intuitive to read a radar display, but these radars are also designed to overlay this imagery atop cartography on a chart-plotter screen, thus improving the user’s situational awareness.

“In 2010, radar was analog,” Barron says. “In 2021, it’s digital.”

While these technological gains are to be celebrated, especially by cruisers who have plied waters shrouded in Down East pea-soup fog or Pacific Northwest rain, adding a modern Doppler-enabled radar to an older marine-electronics ecosystem isn’t usually a plug-and-play possibility.

“If an owner wants a new peripheral sensor attached to the chart plotter, they might need to replace the plotter,” Van Gruisen says. “It’s sometimes hard to replace one piece of electronics because it might not integrate with other equipment on the boat.”

Because of this, both Barron and Van Gruisen point to a new chart plotter as the place to start for refits both mighty and modest. “If you’re on a budget, you can buy a plotter and add sensors later,” Barron says. “It all starts with the plotter.”

Another common roadblock to easy upgrades involves data networks. While the older NMEA 0183 network protocol allowed discrete instruments to share some data, newer NMEA 2000 (commonly referred to as N2K) data backbones make it easy for owners to add new equipment to their network with considerably less fuss. Moreover, most new equipment is designed and built to work with N2K networks. While manufacturers still commonly support NMEA 0183 by making equipment “backward compatible” or by making an NMEA 0183 version of a new piece of equipment, this could change as N2K becomes increasingly dominant.

The problem, Barron says, is that converting to N2K “isn’t something that’s done in a vacuum. It’s part of a larger installation. There are upfront costs, but it will save you money down the road because it makes it easier to add new equipment.”

Another game-changer that both Barron and Van Gruisen agree on is the advent of the automatic identification system, or AIS. While recreational-level AIS has existed since 2006, recent years have seen a massive embrace of this technology by mariners of all stripes.

“The rate of uptake took us all by surprise,” Van Gruisen says. “AIS is now more useful than radar. It won’t protect you from all targets in pea-soup fog, but it’s easier to read than radar.” This is especially true if AIS targets can be overlaid atop cartography on a chart-plotter screen. (Or better still, overlaid atop radar and cartography.)

“AIS is a fraction of the cost of radar,” Barron says, adding that AIS costs roughly $1,000, while a new radar can fetch $3,000. Moreover, he says, falling prices have also encouraged mariners to embrace newer technologies. “The price difference between an AIS receiver and an AIS transceiver has become so narrow, why not transmit your position?”

While AIS and Doppler-enabled radar are two great examples of modern technologies either usurping older gear (such as analog magnetron radars) or revolutionizing marine safety (in the case of AIS), there are other gains to be had by upgrading, especially as prices on no-longer-bleeding-edge technologies fall. Some examples of this include forward-looking sonar, side-scanning sonar, thermal-imaging cameras, and bigger, easier-to-use screens and user interfaces.

“For Alaska cruising, it’s nice to have something more than a numerical representation of depth,” Barron says, noting that more adventure-minded cruisers are investigating forward-looking sonar. Van Gruisen agrees, adding that some Bahamas-bound clients who want to navigate through skinny waters have been gravitating toward forward-looking and side-scanning sonar.

Other new technologies worth a look include Raymarine’s ClearCruise AR (the “AR” stands for augmented reality), which uses cameras to place AIS-like tags above aids to navigation and other targets on a video feed that’s displayed on the chart plotter. And then there is B&G’s SailSteer, which takes numerical instrument data—apparent wind angles, true wind direction and course over ground—from the boat’s nav system and creates an easy-to-read onscreen graphical representation of the wind, which can make sailing easier and safer.

“I don’t see people coming in saying, ‘I want ClearCruise AR,’” Van Gruisen says. “But when it’s time for an upgrade, that’s the kind of technology they’re looking at.”

Ultimately, Barron says, sailors typically upgrade their electronics for two reasons: “Things break, or they go out on their friend’s boat and realize that it’s time to get out of the Stone Age.”

Should either of these descriptors apply to your sailboat, the good news is that today’s electronics offer far-better user interfaces, situational awareness and safety features than old-school gear. And while there’s no escaping the associated upgrade costs, this investment should deliver a significantly better time on the water.

David Schmidt is CW’s electronics editor.

  • More: Electronics , Gear , print 2021 april

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  • Marine Electronics

Wind Sensor Testing

Part one: sensing how hard and which way the wind blows.

best sailboat wind instruments

For better or for worse, the modern cruising sailor is becoming more like an airplane pilot. Safely ensconced out of the wind, the helmsman relies on instrumentation to provide him with information about our environment. Should he bear off for more speed, set the screecher, or tuck in a reef? Increasingly, were seeking these answers in digital display rather than strips of yarn in the rigging and the hair on the back of our neck.

To get a better understanding of how contemporary wind instruments are reshaping the way we sail, Practical Sailor is embarking on a multi-part exploration of wind sensors, computer processing systems, and displays used in modern standalone wind instruments and networked navigation systems.

In this article, we look specifically at the sensors, narrowing the test field to seven traditional wind-sensing units that use paddlewheels and rotating vanes to collect wind data. Our test field included the NKE HR, Nexus nWind (Garmin gWind), Garmin GWS 10, Raymarine wireless (Tacktick), Raymarine Wind System (i60), B&G Triton 508, and the Sailtimer.

We will look at how wind data is processed and displayed by the brains of the most popular network systems. We also will compare ultrasonic wind sensors, such as those marketed by Maretron and Airmar, and take a look at some other potential wind-sensing technologies such as hot-wire anemometers and emerging technologies like LIDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging). Finally, testers are also going to build and test a do-it-yourself, wind-sensor network based on an Arduino microcontroller board, an open-source tool for making computers that can sense and control the physical world. Its going to be a breezy spring here at Practical Sailor.

How Anemometers Work

Most anemometers are fairly simple devices. A sensor counts the cup rotations, or portions of the rotation, over a period of time. For example, 20 revolutions per minute (rpm) might be equal to a wind blowing 5 miles per hour. The difficulty is in how each manufacturer chooses to process the revolution count data. Manufacturers (and sometimes users) can vary the rate at which wind-speed data is sampled for averaging. Shorter sampling intervals yield higher resolution data; longer sampling rates yield lower resolution data. The data is smoothed to produce averages.

The differences in how the data was sampled and processed in the units we tested were most apparent during gusts, when the average wind speed on one unit would jump quickly to the peak and then bounce sharply back down, while another display would show a higher speed long after the gust had passed, then slowly settle back down. Which is preferable depends on the user. While the fast-responding unit would more accurately reflect real-time conditions for the racing helmsman, it would give the shorthanded cruising helmsman-pre-occupied with keeping the boat level or on course-a shorter window to witness the peak gust speed, possibly underestimating the severity of the squall.

With many anemometers, you can customize sampling rates, select smoothing parameters, and choose one or more data sets-peaks and/or averages-to view, but the numbers displayed will still depend upon how the data is recorded and processed. (Wind data processing and display will be explored in greater detail in the next part of this report.)

To sense wind direction, the wind vanes use a potentiometer (variable resistor), Hall effect (voltage differential across a conductor), or other similar forms of position sensors to locate the vanes position. The output is usually determined by electrical resistance (in Ohms), voltage, or digital data that corresponds to a specific wind angle. As with the wind-speed cup sensor, there will be software to smooth wind direction data presentation. Software in some specialized, mast-mounted wind systems also can sense the motion and heeling angle of the mast and apply any needed corrections to both wind angle and speed.

How We Tested

Testing was done indoors using a tester-built wind tunnel that was powered by a slower, three-speed fan and by a much more powerful unit. Speeds at the face of the wind tunnel were as low as 1 knot and as high as 6 knots. Wind flow measurements were typically +/- 0.2 knots in the testing location.

All wind sensors were tested in the same relative position on the wind tunnel face, then tilted up to 45 degrees to exaggerate the affect of heeling. Wind-speed measurements were taken with two different handheld wind meters that were clamped at a fixed spot at the end of the wind tunnel. Devices that had their own display were tested with their displays; marine units with no display were tested with either a Garmin 741 or a Raymarine e7D multifunction display.

Made of black, anodized and machined aluminum mounted on a polished stainless-steel bracket, the NKE HR was one of the most rugged wind sensors we tested. This is NKEs top-of-the line racing unit, and it is one of two units tested that included a temperature sensor. Both the lightweight, carbon-fiber vane and the cup anemometer had very smooth motion. The vane has an adjustable counterweight for fine balance adjustment.

Assembly is straightforward. (See photo with Installation Tips on right.) A separate stainless-steel base with threaded studs attaches to the masthead, and bolts attach the wind sensor to the base. The anemometer base is 5 inches above the mount base when installed, although the NKE (along with the B&G Triton 508 and Nexus) has an optional mount to place the sensor higher, in cleaner air. Once secured, this mount was the most rigid assembly we tested. The NKE anemometer was extremely sensitive and was responsive at 1 knot. The vane was also clearly more sensitive than others tested in light winds (1 to 2 knots).

The NKE Multigraphic display was used for testing. This unit is designed to interface with NMEA 2000 systems, but a standard NMEA 0183 output for use with other displays is available with a separate NKE NMEA output interface, or by using a WiFi interface.

Bottom line: The NKE is a top-of-the-line, racing-oriented unit with a top-of-the-line price. Its the Best Choice.

Garmin GWS 10

The Garmin GWS 10 is an NMEA 2000 unit that comes with a separate 90-foot drop cable. An NMEA 2000 T-connector with an imbedded termination resistor, an inline lightning arrestor, and a field-replaceable NMEA 2000 connector are also included. It will likely be phased out as the Garmin gWind is rolled out, which can sometimes mean clearance-price bargains.

The unit comes nearly assembled, but the anemometer cups have to be installed onto its shaft. It did take some patience to get both the shaft and cup assembly in the right place to be pushed into a locked position. A plastic base attaches to the mast with two screws or bolts. A 16-inch pigtail with a male NMEA 2000 connector is routed through the base. A curved, anodized aluminum tube supports the vane and anemometer unit. The anemometer base is 5 inches above the mount base when installed. The cable connection to the sensor requires the lightning arrestor to be installed inline near the masthead. On some masts, this may require the arrestor to be exposed to weather, along with the two connections, to minimize the penetration hole size.

Both the cups and more notably, the wind vane, have a lot of mechanical shaft play present. This did not affect performance in testing, but there is concern that in bouncy and rough conditions, the vane base could pinch against the housing, causing temporary binding. The GWS 10 anemometer and vane were responsive at 1 knot.

Bottom line: This was not our favorite in terms of construction and installation, but if the price is right, it is a good pick for Garmin afficionados. who want NMEA 2000-capable systems to provide raw NMEA 2000 wind data, barometric pressure, and air temperature, and who can’t wait for the gWind. In our view, those sailors who can afford it, should wait for the gWind, which will come in wired and wireless versions.

Nexus nWind Wireless

Garmin recently acquired the Nexus line of instruments. The unit we tested for this article was the Nexus nWind, but we understand that the sensor of the new Garmin-branded version, the gWind, will be nearly identical.

The nWind was the only test unit that used a forward-facing propeller for wind speed. The propeller is integrated into a compact, twin-vane structure. The wireless unit was completely assembled. Both the sensor housing and the base are plastic, and the connecting shaft is a very stiff, strong piece of carbon-fiber tubing-probably the hardest to break in our test, although we did not test this. The mounting base is plastic with three mounting holes. The sensor tube drops into the mount, and slides forward to lock in place with the aid of a larger plastic nut threaded onto the carbon-fiber tube. No tools are required to release the sensor assembly from the mount.

Testers thought this was a simple and clever attachment system. The anemometer base is 8 inches above the mount base when installed. The other aspect testers liked about this unit was that unlike the cup-based anemometers, there was no discernible tendency for propeller rotation to change speeds when the sensor was tilted up to 45 degrees.

The nWind/gWind anemometer and vane were responsive at 1 knot. This sensor was tested using the Nexus display. NMEA 0183 output is currently available from Nexus system with an NX2 server.

Bottom line: The unique vane design was clearly an advantage when tilted, and the rugged mount and construction drew praise. Were eager to see what happens in Round 2 of this test, when we get our hands on the new gWind version, which is available in wired and wireless versions. The gWind will be sold with the GND 10 interface, which will enable NMEA 2000 communications.

B&G Triton 508

Like the NKE sensor, the B&G Triton 508 has very little mechanical play in the anemometer or the vane, and also, it has an adjustable counterweight for the vane. The plastic base plate has four fastener attachment points, and the 508 was the only unit that came with a base mount gasket. The sensor is attached a back-to-front hinging motion and is latched by a retractable clip. When attached, the cable is retained by a rotating stainless-steel clip. The plastic base is rugged, but the combination of the gasket and the latch do allow some very small up-and-down motion. The quick-release mount might appeal to trailer-sailors or class racers who are often removing the anemometer for transport, but for us this seemed like a bit of over-engineeringi. The anemometer base is 5 inches above the mount base when installed. The sensor head is a mx of black anodized aluminum and plastic parts. The B&G display was used for testing. The anemometer and vane were responsive at 1 knot.

NMEA 2000 data is available with a SimNet to NMEA 2000 adapter cable.

Bottom line: This sensitive unit was the least expensive in our test. It will appeal to small-boat sailers with B&G instrument sets, especially racers.

Sailtimer is the Davis anemometer system (part 7911) with an added electronics package to allow wireless data transmission to a smart phone or digital tablet. The Davis is a sturdy unit and fabricated out of UV-resistant ABS and polycarbonate plastics (cups). Its design uses U-bolts for attachment to a vertical pole with a diameter of 7/8- to 1 inches and may need a little creativity to mount on some mastheads. The Sailtimer can also be attached to a stanchion, making it transportable to almost any vessel in a couple of minutes.

When properly mounted, the unit is stiff. The support tubing is black anodized aluminum, and the clear tube with the electronics/solar panels are attached with a combination of adhesives and tie wraps. The Davis specifications state that it is capable of handling sustained winds up to 176 knots. Despite the ball-bearing shafts, it took 2 knots of wind to start the anemometer spinning. It took 3 knots to make the vane truly responsive.

NMEA data can be available to some systems by using Sailtimers app Retransmit function, which sends NMEA sentences via WiFi to a multi-function display. However, this ability is not available on most systems.

Bottom line: For us, iThingies should be used only as backup to marine navigation instruments, but we find this unit intriguing-particularly for a boat that wants to upgrade from yarn and already has a smart phone. The anemometer and vane did not do well in very light air, but otherwise, they were fine.

Raymarine Wireless Multi Wind

This is the re-branded, solar-powered Tacktick wireless-based system, which, in spite of teething pains, has stood the test of time. Both the sensor and base are plastic with three screw/bolt attachment points. The support tubing is black anodized aluminum, and is attached at each end with a screw. The unit is sturdy, and there is little mechanical play in the cups or vane.

The anemometer base is 2.5 inches above the mount base when installed. The anemometer and vane were responsive at 1 knot. This unit requires a matching display, and we used the Raymarine MN 100-2.

NMEA interfacing the system requires a wireless T122 interface box. This allows NMEA 0183 inputs and output. An NMEA 2000 interface will be available in the near future.

Bottom line: The Tacktick system remains the gear of choice for small-boat sailers and racers looking for an easy-to-install device that requires no outside power source.

Raymarine Wind System (i60 pack)

The standard Raymarine sensor consists of a plastic mount with two fastening points. The mount includes the sensor connector and two fastener locations. The mounting base is pre-wired, making it one of the easier ones to install. The sensor arm is black-coated aluminum with a connector, and a large threaded plastic sleeve hand-locks the unit into the base. An O-ring on the arm seals the connection, which allows quick and easy removal.

There was minimal mechanical play in the vane, and cups. The cups, however, are a little more flexible than the other tested units, and there was some minor rotational play in between the arm and the mount. The anemometer base is 3.5 inches above the mount base when installed.

The anemometer and vane were responsive at 1 knot. The Raymarine i60 display was used for testing. NMEA 2000 interface is available via Raymarines Seatalk NG, when connected to a Raymarine-compatible instrument.

Bottom line: Raymarines wired system is a good entry point for a wired system, and is a fine choice for those who are already committed to a SeaTalk system. To see how it ranks next to the Garmin GWS 10 (the closest match) or the wired gWind, well have to wait until Round 2.

Conclusions

All of the sensors operated as specified. We can really break them down into two groups. For racers, the NKE HR, the nWind/gWind, and the B&G 508 were the best sensors evaluated for this purpose. Of the three, the Best Choice NKE HR was the most substantially built with all anodized-aluminum construction and a stainless-steel mounting base. The nWind was notable because it was the only unit that showed no tendency to change anemometer speeds when tilted up to 45 degrees. All of the cup anemometer sensors exhibited speed changes when tilted.

The rest of the systems are all suitable for cruisers and daysailors. Wed include the gWind/nWind in this category; the forthcoming wired version of the gWind shows particular promise for cruisers. Were reluctant to recommend wireless for full time cruising; the wired versions are more in line with a keep-it-simple approach. Among the three budget priced wired units, the B&G 508 had the edge.

Accuracy is a relative term of reference with wind systems. The data from these anemometers is being sampled over varying time frames, and coming from internal sensors with differing levels of resolutions, and software algorithms are being used to process and present the data.

Without exception, all of the sensors with anemometer cups that we tested were unbalanced to some degree. This may be caused by imperfections in the molds used to produce them, deformations of the smaller, more flexible cups, or the type of sensor used. We think this will have little impact under normal sailing wind conditions.

Although the sensors primary job is to perform two functions: transmit the apparent wind angle and how fast the wind is blowing, but two systems offered extra data. The NKE HR also sends temperature data, as does the Garmin GWS 10, along with adding barometric pressure.

The differences come from durability, precision, resolution of data collection, and how quickly it can all be processed and presented to the user. All of this is dictated by the software in conjunction with other sensors such as a GPS, water speed log, rate gyros, and accelerometers to measure roll pitch and yaw, and autopilot interfaces.

The recommendations we make in the table are based only on the wind sensor, which is only part of the story. We will looking at the brains of the operation in Part 2 of this series.

Wind Sensor Testing

  • NKE (Euromarine)

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Cheap wind instruments

  • Thread starter Kestle
  • Start date Jan 5, 2014
  • Macgregor Owner Forums
  • Ask A Macgregor Owner

Kestle

Love the wind instruments on the race boat, but on my Mac, the hull speed doesn't justify the $2-6k. All I want are four things: true & apparent wind direction, and true & apparent wind speed. Any of you folks come up with a cheap solution to getting these four in the cockpit? Jeff  

Jackdaw

If you can deal with only apparent, here is a good $300 solution. http://www.ultimatepassage.com/cgi-bin/up/37328.html  

Doc_holiday

Doc_holiday

Also, To get true wind the boat must also have a NMEA networkable boat speed instrument. The wind instrument uses boat speed and apparent wind speed and direction to calculate true wind.  

py26129

If you can deal with apparent wind strength only there is a $20 solution. A few years ago, I built an anemometer on the cheap, using three table spoon measuring spoons as cups ($3) and a cap from a black spray paint can (free). This was mounted on a piece of old stantion (free) using a bearing scrounged from a dead VCR (free) and mounted on my stern rail using a BBQ mount I found in the garbage at our club (also free). To display the wind speed, I used a bicycle speedometer ($10 - 15). The wheel magnet for the speedometer was hot glued on the inside of the paint can cap and the pickup mounted on the post . Claibration was done by adjusting the wheel size of teh bike speedo, using a borrowed hand held anemometer and my wife's hair dryers as a wind source. Worked like a charm. Depending on the featuresof the bike speedo you will also be able to get average wind speed, max wind speed etc. Cheers Matt  

Attachments

062.jpg

That post gets the imagination award of the year! Jeff  

MrBill_FLL

py26129 said: If you can deal with apparent wind strength only there is a $20 solution. A few years ago, I built an anemometer on the cheap, using three table spoon measuring spoons as cups ($3) and a cap from a black spray paint can (free). This was mounted on a piece of old stantion (free) using a bearing scrounged from a dead VCR (free) and mounted on my stern rail using a BBQ mount I found in the garbage at our club (also free). To display the wind speed, I used a bicycle speedometer ($10 - 15). The wheel magnet for the speedometer was hot glued on the inside of the paint can cap and the pickup mounted on the post . Claibration was done by adjusting the wheel size of teh bike speedo, using a borrowed hand held anemometer and my wife's hair dryers as a wind source. Worked like a charm. Depending on the featuresof the bike speedo you will also be able to get average wind speed, max wind speed etc. Cheers Matt Click to expand

justsomeguy

justsomeguy

Depends on the incremental adjustability of the bicycle speedometer, I would suppose. I'd bet it'd be close enough for our purposes.  

When I calibrated it, I borrowed a fairly expensive handheld anemometer and my wife's hair dryer. Ther adjustments on the bike speedo were fine grained enough that i was able to get both to read exactly the same, on both the high and low setting for the hair dryer fan. Real world comparisons with other boats throughout the season usually had it in the same ballpark as other boats around us.. What complicated the comparisons a bit was that I had it mounted fairly low on the aft end of the boat as I was limited by the length of the wire on the speedo. (see pic, it's the black thing above the kayak next to the canadian flag) As a result readings with the boat pointed straight into the wind were not very accruate due to the dodger and other stuff. In terms of function vs. $$$ it came out waaaay ahead of the curve ......and it didn't look too bad either. Cheers Matt  

Mischief Spi 2009.jpg

Nice "Malibu Barbie" spinnaker! I have a parachute with those colors...  

justsomeguy said: Nice "Malibu Barbie" spinnaker! I have a parachute with those colors... Click to expand

Meriachee

Windex  

Doc_holiday said: My main canopy is black, blue and pink. I had to trade the pink risers and slider in for black tho. Bought it used but every time it opened it was a beautiful sight. Never saw my reserve but it is brown and tan. Yuk! since retired. After never having a reserve ride it 17 years, this last rig was having trouble and my end cells wouldn't inflate for the last 7 jumps without shaking and climbing the risers I decided to call it quits while I was ahead. I wonder if I could out my son in the harness and tow him behind the boat in close wind? Click to expand
py26129 said: If you can deal with apparent wind strength only there is a $20 solution. A few years ago, I built an anemometer on the cheap, using three table spoon measuring spoons as cups ($3) and a cap from a black spray paint can (free). This was mounted on a piece of old stantion (free) using a bearing scrounged from a dead VCR (free) and mounted on my stern rail using a BBQ mount I found in the garbage at our club (also free). To display the wind speed, I used a bicycle speedometer ($10 - 15). The wheel magnet for the speedometer was hot glued on the inside of the paint can cap and the pickup mounted on the post . Claibration was done by adjusting the wheel size of teh bike speedo, using a borrowed hand held anemometer and my wife's hair dryers as a wind source. Click to expand

I second that! Was a great packer, most of the local instructors had me pack theirs, I packed a lot of student rigs too. I would drop in and pack for a day. I got like 6 bucks a pack and it piled up in my account so I could jump all weekend for free When my rig would come back from a reserve repack, I learned the main pack was crap so I always unpacked and replaced the main. The funny thing is, I didn't do anything special, just paid attention to what I was doing. Sometimes I wonder if a perfect pack was any better than just stuffing. I too am sorry for the hijack  

Tymadman

Kestle said: Love the wind instruments on the race boat, but on my Mac, the hull speed doesn't justify the $2-6k. All I want are four things: true & apparent wind direction, and true & apparent wind speed. Any of you folks come up with a cheap solution to getting these four in the cockpit? Jeff Click to expand

Izzy

Think one of these would work? http://www.weatherinstruments.com/w...acrossetechnologywirelessweatherprocenter.cfm Oops just read it has a time lag of 17 sec. on the anemometer:cry:.  

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Wind Instruments

WINDEX 15 Supporting Rod Only

Windex Wind Indicators

WINDEX 15 Supporting Rod Only

Spare supporting rod for the WINDEX® 15  Part Number Weight RON-WX15-R 40g

WINDEX 15 Mast Socket Only

WINDEX 15 Mast Socket Only

Spare mast socket for the WINDEX® 15  Part Number Weight RON-WX15-S 10g

WINDEX 15 Wind Indicator

WINDEX 15 Wind Indicator

WINDEX® 15 is the perfect choice for all family and racing boats from about 29 to 40 feet. The WINDEX® Wind Indicator offers exceptionally good performance. The secret is the needle that rests in a safari layer, which means that WINDEX® 15...

WINDEX 15 Wind Vane Only

WINDEX 15 Wind Vane Only

Spare wind vane for the WINDEX® 15  380mm (15)in. vane length Part Number Weight RON-WX15-V 40g

WINDEX 15 Index Arms Only

WINDEX 15 Index Arms Only

Spare index arms for the WINDEX® 15  Part NumberWeight RON-WX15-A 40g

Raymarine i50 & i60 Wind, Speed, Depth - Pack of 3 Instruments & 3 Transducers

Raymarine i50 & i60 Wind, Speed, Depth - Pack of 3 Instruments & 3 Transducers

Raymarine i50 & i60 Wind, Speed, Depth - Pack of 3 Instruments & 3 Transducers Stylish displays for sailboaters! The new i60 instruments are designed to complement the all new Raymarine cSeries and eSeries multifunctional displays. Designed...

Garmin Mast Bracket (gWind Race)

Garmin Mast Bracket (gWind Race)

Garmin Mast Bracket (gWind Race) Secure your gWind Race mast securely with this bracket. Part Number GMN-010-12117-07

Garmin Connector Adapter Cable (gWind)

Garmin Connector Adapter Cable (gWind)

Garmin Connector Adapter Cable (gWind) Use our connector adapter cable to retrofit your gWind transducer for the Nexus network using your existing Nexus mast cable. Part Number GMN-010-12117-02

Garmin gWind Transducer Only

Garmin gWind Wired Transducer Only

Garmin wired gWind Transducer The gWind transducer features twin-fin technology with 3-bladed propeller for more accurate TWS in lighter air while the twin-fin design gives a more stable TWA. The 3-bladed propeller, unlike a cups design, is always...

Garmin gWind Wireless 2 Transducer

Garmin gWind Wireless 2 Transducer

Eliminate Wires Through Your Mast An easy-to-install solution that eliminates running wires through masts up to 50 feet 3-bladed propeller for more accurate wind speed in lighter wind conditions Twin-fin design gives a more stable wind angle Solar...

Garmin GNX Wind Marine Instrument

Garmin GNX Wind Marine Instrument

Garmin's Affordable, Dedicated Wind Instrument Glass-bonded backlit monochrome LCD display lens avoids fogging Large, easy-to-read black digits on white or customizable background colors for high contrast and high visibility in all lighting...

Garmin NiMH Battery (gWind Wireless)

Garmin NiMH Battery (gWind Wireless)

Garmin NiMH Battery (gWind Wireless) The internal batteries of the gWind Wireless are continuously charged by a small solar panel integrated on the transducer arm, and have a life of around 3 to 4 years. But when the time comes to replace them, they can...

Garmin Propeller

Garmin Wind Propeller

Garmin Propeller - Don't let a missing propeller keep you from receiving accurate wind data. Garmin's replacement propeller ensures you can maintain the twin-fin technology with 3-bladed propeller our gWind™ family of transducers are known...

Garmin GNX Wireless Wind Pack

Garmin GNX Wireless Wind Pack

Garmin GNX Wireless Wind Pack The Information You Need to Set Sail Includes GNX™ Wind instrument and gWind™ Wireless 2 transducer GNX Wind provides 2 data fields and a digital wind rose to simultaneously display true and apparent wind...

Garmin Mast Bracket (gWind / gWind Wireless)

Garmin Mast Bracket (gWind / gWind Wireless)

Garmin Mast Bracket (gWind / gWind Wireless) Secure your gWind and gWind Wireless mast securely with this bracket. Part Number GMN-010-12117-06

Garmin gWind Wired Transducer

Garmin gWind Wired Transducer

Three-bladed propeller for more accurate True Wind Speed (TWS) in lighter air Twin-fin design gives a more stable True Wind Angle (TWA) Optic reading technique for superior performance at low wind speeds with excellent linearity GND 10 black...

Garmin gWind Race Wired Transducer

Garmin gWind Race Wired Transducer

Designed for racing sailboats 3.3 feet (1 meter) straight pole raises the wind transducer above the mast to remove turbulence errors from the sail wash Three-bladed propeller for more accurate True Wind Speed (TWS) in lighter air twin-fin design...

Windward Wind Indicator - Dinghy Racing Model

Windward Wind Indicators

Windward Wind Indicator - Dinghy Racing Model

Windward Wind Indicator - Dinghy Racing Model Their lightweight, high quality construction gives long life and accurate performance. Supplied complete with reference arms, mast top mount and foredeck mount bracket. Part NumberVane...

Clip-On Wind Indicator

Clip-On Wind Indicator

Perfectly suited to laser and other small sail craft. Simply and securely clips onto the mast with the integral clip-on bracket provided, for fast and accurate wind direction readings 100% accurate in wind over 2 knots 200mm vane length Made in...

Wind Indicator

Windward Wind Indicators - Economy Dinghy Model (Single)

The Windward 200E is supplied without reference arms. It is ideal for small racing dinghies and is 100% accurate in winds over 2 knots. Part NumberPack SizeVane Length RWB-182 One 200mm

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COMMENTS

  1. Top-notch Wind Indicators

    Non-sailing crew appreciates them when asked to turn the boat into or away from the wind while hoisting or dousing the sail, for anchoring, or, in reality, any turn at the wheel when a steady course relative to the wind is required. ... Wind indicators are by definition sensitive instruments, and even the best can be snapped or bent by a large ...

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    The i40 Speed System with through-hull speed transducer goes for $279. Also available from Raymarine are the i50 Digital and i60 Analog Instrument Systems Pack ($1,599). This basic kit is complete with transducers and three instrument displays. An i50 for depth, i50 for speed and an i60 with analog dial for wind.

  4. The Best Sailboat Wind Direction Indicators, Wind Speed Meters

    WeatherHawk SM-18 SkyMate Hand-Held Wind Meter, Yellow. This floating anemometer is one of the best wind speed meters for sailing. It can measure wind speeds ranging from 0.5 miles per hour all the way up to 99MPH at user-selectable intervals of every five, ten, or 13 seconds (in addition to calculating the average wind speed and tracking peak speed for you).

  5. Smart Wind

    Find your nearest Raymarine dealer. Search Raymarine's global network of sales and service dealers here. Smart Wind is the latest performance wind sensor from Raymarine. Make better, tactical sailing decisions with our precision wind data transducer. Explore sailing wind instruments here.

  6. Wind Sensors & Instrument

    marine instruments. wind instruments. CONTACT WEST MARINE. Live Chat. 1-800-262-8464. Store Locator. Shop wind sensors and instrument at West Marine including wind transducers, wind meters, displays, interfaces and more. Get free shipping to home or in-store!

  7. Windex

    THE WIND DIRECTION INDICATOR. The WINDEX Wind Direction Indicator is an indispensible tool for sailors of all levels since it allows instant and accurate wind information at all points of sail. The WINDEX is a Swedish invention from 1964 that is currently sold in more than 40 countries across five continents. In total more than 1,500,000 WINDEX ...

  8. Wind Sensors

    A wind sensor for every boat. B&G wind sensors are the most reliable instruments of their kind. Chosen by the most discerning sailors from Americas Cup, SailGP and Vendée Globe teams to family cruisers, our wired and wireless sensors have been proven to be more reliable and far more accurate than any other wind sensor on the market.

  9. Know How: Sailing Instruments

    So you've finally decided to splash out on new sailing instruments, and all that remains is the how and where of installing them. That is not necessarily as simple as it seems. There is a number of things to be taken into account. ON THE BULKHEAD. The best place for speed, depth and wind displays is where the entire crew can see them.

  10. Marine Wind, Weather & Depth Instruments

    Boat Instruments Top Brands Popular Wind Instruments. B&G WS320 Wireless Wind Sensor: High performance, easy installation, and solar-powered. Raymarine i60 Wind System: Integrated wind, speed, and depth measurements. Garmin GNX Wireless Sail Pack: Comprehensive wind, speed, and depth data. Popular Weather Stations

  11. Selecting Navigational Instruments

    Multifunction Instruments. Garmin's GMI™ 20 digital marine mulifunction instrument is designed for both power and sail vessels. GMI™ 20 clearly shows depth, speed, wind and 100+ marine and vessel parameters. The instruments we described above display one sort of data only. A knotmeter, for example, outputs your speed and distance traveled.

  12. RSW Wired

    The RSW Wired, Smart Wind transducer is a professional-level wind sensor designed to deliver highly accurate calibrated wind speed and direction data. Supplied with a 30m Smart Wind mast cable as standard. Product Options.

  13. Masthead Wind Sensors: Wired vs. Wireless

    Bottom line: For sailors who want wind data and and have wiring-adverse spars, wireless is the way to go. On the whole, we had no issues with the tested wireless systems. Both promptly connected and worked well. The Tacktick display does need to have close to a line-of-sight location relative to the wind sensor.

  14. Sailing Instruments

    B&G Sailing Instruments. We believe better data fuels better sailing. Enter B&G's award-winning sailing instruments. Bring your data to life, displaying critical information like speed, depth, and wind data directly to the helm. Sailing instruments let you match your data-supply to the needs of your boat. Get peace of mind by keeping the ...

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    SailTimer Wind Instrument™ with Replaceable Battery . Wireless and solar-powered. Designed for sailboats: remains equally accurate when heeling over. Comes with all mounting hardware needed. For boats of all sizes. Works with lots of great Android/iOS apps. Or use Air Link™ (below) for NMEA wiring to chartplotter/MFD.

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  21. Cheap wind instruments

    To get true wind the boat must also have a NMEA networkable boat speed instrument. The wind instrument uses boat speed and apparent wind speed and direction to calculate true wind. py26129. Oct 25, 2011 576 Island Packet IP31 Lake St. Louis, Montreal Jan 9, 2014 #6 If you can deal with apparent wind strength only there is a $20 solution. ...

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    Windward Wind Indicators - Economy Dinghy Model (Single) Don't Pay $42.50. Our Price $40.21. Add to Cart. 1. 2. Wind indicators & instruments are a vital part of sailboat handling. Select from a range of quality sailing wind indicators at The Boat Warehouse.

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    sailing. sailing instruments. CONTACT WEST MARINE. Live Chat. 1-800-262-8464. Store Locator. Shop the best selection of Sailing Instruments from West Marine. Visit for products, prices, deals and more!