Best Autopilot For Small Boats

Written by Paul

Our editors independently researched & tested all of the autopilots mentioned in this article & we only recommend what we believe are the best. We may receive a commission on purchases made through our links (at no extra cost to you) More details

In a rush & just want to see the top picks?

Our Top Picks

Best For Small Sailboats: Raymarine EV 100

Best For Small Motorboat: Garmin TR1 Gold Marine

Worth Mentioning: Simrad Autopilot 44 Control

Looking for the best autopilot for small boats on the market today?

Well, look no further. We've compiled a list of what we believe to be the best. There are options for most budgets. Autopilots don't tend to be the cheapest of electronics but we try to find the best bang for your buck.

All of our recommendations come with a warranty so you can have added peace of mind in whichever one you choose for yourself.

Installing them can be a nightmare for those not so technically minded but most of the brands mentioned will provide helpful instructions on how to do it or you can also call them for assistance too.

In some instances, depending on location, a representative will come & help fit it for you but this will generally be an added cost.

So let's dig into our list of autopilots. It's worth mentioning that these are mainly designed for smaller boats in mind.

Raymarine EV-100 p70 Wheel Pilot Pack


The first on our list is the Raymarine Autopilot. There are a number of great features and benefits to this watch including: 

  • Fully enclosed wheel drive that fits most types of wheels
  • Small to medium size boat compatible
  • Quick & Easy Installation
  • Includes EV1 - Sensor Core, ACU-100 Actuator Control Unit, p70 control head, wheel drive, evolution cable kit
  • Waterproof housing unit

Raymarine is no stranger to building autopilot systems with many different variations in stock.

Have a look at our top pick in action

Pros

  • 16,000 lbs maximum vessel displacement
  • Fits most wheels
  • Precise monitoring of heading, pitch, roll & yaw.
  • Adjusts itself to sea conditions
  • No calibration needed. It automatically evolves & adapts to your vessels steering characteristics
  • 36 month warranty
  • Handles both mechanical & hydraulic steering

Cons

  • Not ideal for bigger boats
  • Installation manual reuses instructions (copied) from an older wheel-drive model.
  • Some of the installation wires aren't long so there isn't much wiggle room

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Simrad Pilot, AP44 VRF Pack, Medium Duty


simrad pilot ap44

The Simrad Autopilot Control is the next on the list. Some of the benefits and features include: 

Straight from the manufacturer:

The autopilot offers automatic tuning to ensure optimal auto-steering performance, through a simple on-screen commissioning process that guides you through both dockside configuration and sea trial. Once your autopilot system is up and running, the included Precision-9 heading sensor features automatic compass calibration to continually fine-tune heading accuracy as you go.

As you can imagine, this is heavy in features and can be a great way to let the system do the work while you sit back and enjoy the waters.

Pros

  • Ideal for outboard motors
  • Easy Installation
  • Automated turn patterns for fuel-efficient, hands-free manoeuvres
  • 2 year warranty

Cons

  • More expensive autopilot

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Garmin Reactor 40 Kicker Autopilot

The Garmin Reactor 40 Kicker Autopilot is the next on the list. Some of the features include: 

You can easily fine tune the autopilot throttle settings with the touch of a button. This can be particularly useful if you want to drop speeds when netting a fish

With this technology installed, you'll be sure to have a comfortable and enjoyable trip. It even works when travelling against wind, in heavy currents & larger waves.

Pros

  • Helps maintain heading hold & route
  • Easy to install
  • Floating handheld remote control included
  • Beautiful Design

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options
  • Only suitable up to 20 horsepower motors

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Garmin TR1 Gold

garmin tr1

The Garmin TR1 Gold Autopilot System is a great system for motorboats.

Some of the benefits & features include:

The full kit consists of a hydraulic unit, ECU, steering cylinder w/ hoses, controller, compass ball, and installation hardware.

This autopilot system will only work on boats up to 20 horsepower so keep that in mind before making a purchase. The systems detects when your boat is going off course and corrects itself.

You'll need to supply it with 14 volts electrical power.

Here's an explanation video of it in action:

Pros

  • Increases fuel efficient boating
  • Supports Garmin GPS navigation
  • Hands free steering
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Expensive
  • It rougher weather, it requires manual input

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Furuno NavPilot 711C

furuno navpilot

The Furuno NavPilot is the final autopilot to make it onto the list. Some of the features include: 

  • Colored graphic display
  • Precision XTE accuracy
  • Different Navigation Modes (Precision - Economy) 
  • One touch capabilities

The colored graphic display makes it easy to see the screen in the dark for those boating at night. For the fishing enthusiast , the navpilot has a built in fish hunter mode

Another very cool feature is it's self learning algorithm which will track & make adjustments to the boats steering characteristics, power application plus it greatly reduces manual helm effort in maneuvering situations.

Pros

  • Helps with fuel & power efficiency
  • Adaptive self learning algorithm built in
  • Clear color display
  • Easy to setup
  • Power assist reduces steering system complexity.

Cons

  • For outboard motors only

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Summary

There are plenty of options available and some autopilots offer more features and customization than others. The benefits with the autopilots mentioned are endless and really it's about finding the right one for your specific boat.

Budget will obviously be a problem for some but we believe that the Raymarine is the best for the money. We are always on the lookout for new technology so this could change in the future with further advancements.

Hopefully you find the perfect autopilot for you and have a great time on the water with family and friends.

You may also want to ensure you have the great wifi on your boat and that can mean having the best marine wifi extenders to ensure you have top internet while out on the waters.

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