The times when maintenance for traditional ARIES systems meant regularly oiling the sites marked with a dab of red paint are gone for good; no sailor would put up with it anymore. Windvane gears are robust, durable and very easily satisfied. Wear is absolutely minimal, and assuming they avoid any close encounters with the harbour wall many systems can soldier on for 30 years or more. WINDPILOT systems often come back after a circumnavigation showing hardly a trace of wear, even after one or two knock-downs on the way.

The minimum acceptable in terms of maintenance amounts to cleaning the bearings and checking all the bolts and screws. The windvane and rudder blade will also need recoating from time to time.

A word of caution: oiling or greasing sliding bearings can lead to problems caused by gumming or chemical reaction with salt water, cancelling the good sliding properties. There are still some sailors who refuse to concede that grease, vaseline and silicone spray have no business getting into a sliding bearing, and are then surprised when their gear starts to stiffen up.

Tip: Fittings in the rig and on the spars, indeed screw connections of any type, will remain unseized for years if coated with lanolin. Lanolin, or wool wax, is the substance that keeps a sheep's fleece waterproof in the rain. Every boat should have a pot of lanolin on board - it also makes great hand cream! Another way of inhibiting any kind of electrolytic corrosion between different materials is to coat the contact area with Duralac jointing compound

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