Garmin sent us the Garmin GHP10 autopilot system for long-term testing aboard our 25′ single-engine Contender. This Garmin autopilot is designed for boats up to approximately 70 feet in length equipped with hydraulic steering.
Several components make up the GHP10 autopilot package; they include the Garmin GHC10 control unit, Course Computer unit (CCU), Electronic Control unit (ECU), Shadow Drive sensor, and a hydraulic pump.
Three hydraulic pumps, a 1.2 L, 2.0 L, and 2.1 L, are available for this system. The appropriate pump is selected based on your engine setup and steering system. We are testing with the 2.0 L pump.
Cabling to connect the components and build a NMEA 2000 network is also supplied.
Thankfully, the Garmin GHP10 does not require a rudder interface unit for proper operation.
In a growing trend, this autopilot is now one of several small-boat marine autopilots currently on the market that do not need a rudder interface unit to function properly. Owners with outboards who operate in saltwater will be especially happy Garmin decided to make sure this breakage-prone part was not part of this autopilot system.
Pump and ECU Installation
The first Garmin GHP10 component we installed was the pump. As recommended we found a spot on the deck below our helm station to mount the brawny well-constructed unit.
We used the hydraulic hoses from our last autopilot to connect to the pump. We had to buy one extra section of hose to add the Shadow Drive sensor.
The pump was fastened to the deck with four supplied screws and washers in an out-of-way location near a wire bundle and bulkheead.
Next, we mounted the GHP10 ECU. It needs to be close enough to the pump so the two cables from the pump can be plugged into the ECU.
We fastened the unit to the aft bulkhead of our center console with six screws just above the pump.
GHC10 Control Head Installation
The next step we choose to accomplish was to mount the GHC10 control unit. We had room in the lower right corner of our existing panel. To install the unit we cut a large round hole in our StarBoard® panel and then secured the unit with four supplied screws.
We had to build a NMEA 2000 backbone to connect the control head to our GPS. We used wiring supplied with the autopilot and powered the backbone from our main electronics bus bar. In our opinion, this was easy and straightforward.
We found component installation easy and straightforward. If you can do a little planning and layout, drill a few holes, make basic wire connections, and use a wrench on some hydraulic hoses you can do this install.
We accomplished initial testing on the Garmin GHP 10 at the dock by following a simple menu. Once you confirm your engine turns the commanded direction and the tachometer feed works right youre ready to hit the water.
Before you can start using the autopilot youll need to follow another menu to do the initial at-sea setup. We followed it step by step through various throttle settings and turns with no problem. Total time was about 10 minutes.
Next we gave the Garmin GHP10 a quick test to see how it followed a course. Even though the wind was blowing hard we found a bay with relatively calm seas for our initial testing.
We were impressed with our first test run as the autopilot tracked nice and straight holding course well.
To dodge an object in the water you simply turn the wheel as needed. The Shadow Drive momentarily disconnects the autopilot and gives you control.
When youre clear you return to your original course and in a few seconds the autopilot takes control again automatically. We found it to be a very nice feature.
On our next gear test outing we paired up with another boat and left for a multi-day fishing trip out to the west of Key West. Here we used the Garmin GHP 10 more in a variety of sea conditions including winds in excess of 25 knots and seas over 5 feet. Even under those conditions the pilot tracked very well, though not perfectly straight it did well in the rough and tumble sea conditions.
You’ll also need a pump, three are available, so make sure you get the one sized for your steering system and horsepower.
Shop for the Garmin 2-Liter pump kit here. The 2-liter pump kit is for most standard installations with hydraulic steering systems under 10 cubic inches.
You can find the Garmin 2.1-Liter high performance pump kit here. The 2.1-liter pump kit is for larger capacity rams sized greater than 10 cubic inches and outboard applications of two or more motors with combined total horse power greater than 400hp. This includes both Verado and non-Verado applications.
One remaining pump option is the Garmin 1.2-Liter pump kit. The 1.2-liter pump kit will fit most Verado installations up to two outboards or less with under 400 combined total horsepower.