Raymarine loaned us the Raymarine S1000 autopilot for long-term testing aboard our 25′ single-engine Contender. This Raymarine autopilot is designed for boats up to 25′ long equipped with hydraulic steering so our Contender fit the bill perfectly.
Three components make up the S1000 autopilot package, the wireless Raymarine S100 controller, the course computer, and the hydraulic pump. There is no rudder interface unit or rate gyro required for operation of this autopilot system.
The Raymarine S1000 is one of just a few small-boat autopilots currently on the market that does not need a rudder interface to function properly.
Operating the Raymarine S1000 is simple. First, power is switched on to the course computer and pump, then a press of the standby pushbutton on the S100 controller turns it on and establishes the wireless connection the course computer. The system runs through an initialization process and checks for a minimum boat speed of at least three knots.
Two main modes of operation are available for enroute navigation. Auto mode is basic heading hold, while track uses data from the GPS to steer a course to a waypoint.
Three other modes, zigzag, circle, and clover can be used to maneuver around the area near one of your fishing spots.
The right or left arrow buttons produce course changes as needed. A single press will change the selected course by one degree. Holding an arrow key down will cause the autopilot to execute a controlled turn in the direction selected.
Tracking a Course
Navigating to a waypoint or along a route is the most useful aspect of any autopilot’s operation. The S1000 accomplishes this task through its Track mode. Navigational information is provided to the autopilot via a hardwired NMEA 0183 link to the Garmin 5212 navigation system.
With the autopilot on and in standby, our standard procedure for initiating Track mode was to turn on course, select Pilot, wait for the autopilot to display an acceptance message, then hit the Pilot pushbutton again to complete engagement. The S1000 autopilot does a very good job of tracking a course to a waypoint using this technique both in calm and rough seas.
After over 18-months of service aboard our test boat this Raymarine autopilot is operating like it was still new. The only thing we have had to do is change the pair of AAA batteries that supply power for the Raymarine S100 controller. We have had no mechanical problems with any system component. This Raymarine autopilot carries a two-year warranty.
The S1000 is an inexpensive utilitarian autopilot that does a very good job handling steering duties. It will track a course or go to a single waypoint or steer the heading of your choice. In our opinion, this autopilot is a great asset for any small boat helmsman.