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I went through this 3 years ago.  You really have only 3 options.  


Option 1:  Switch to hydraulic steering and the sky is the limit to autopilots.


Option 2:  install a Raymarine Sportpilot


Option 3.  Install an Octopus drive, either at the helm or back by the assist cylinder, and use any Autopilot

                 electronic package you want with it.


I ended up installing the Raymarine Sportpilot with Evolution 200 Electronic package on my 22.5 Bayliner Express Cruiser.  It has worked well for me, trolling at walleye and salmon speeds.  Installation is pretty easy, and you could do it yourself.  The only thing that goes wrong with these, in  my experience, is the clutch pads in the drive unit.  Ive had mine replaced once.  Turn around time from Raymarine was 2 weeks, and no cost to me.


The Octopus helm and stern drive units are MUCH more robust than the Raymarine Sportpilot drive unit.  But installation is a little more involved.  However, once installed, they work just as well as the hydraulic drive units.  If my Sportpilot ever is "unserviceable", I will probably switch to the remote Octopus drive and keep my same electronics package.


When it comes to the electronic packages, I feel that Garmin is the most user friendly and feature packed for the price.  A little nicer than my Raymarine stuff.  If you really want top notch stuff then look at the Simrad electronics.  A new Simrad MFD Sonar / GPS unit integrated with a Simrad autopilot would be the best of the best.  Thats my plan for my next boat.

Edited by jigstick
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