Filed Under (Boats and Boating Gear) by Debbie on 11-09-2007

Our sailboat Whisper, came with a Navico WP4000 Wheel Pilot.  We had no idea how it worked and I couldn’t find anything out on the Internet.  There was a lot of trial and error on our part but we’ve finally figured out how to use a Navico wheel pilot.  This little thing made a huge difference in our last trip to Beacon Rock State Park.

We discovered a part was missing and my hubby had to fabricate the piece.  It wasn’t a real technical part but a very necessary one.  The control box has to be kept in a fixed position.  So he cut a tab of metal that would fit into the front slot of the control box.  He then mounted a bracket on the pedestal and attached the metal tab to it.  As you can see in the picture the control box just slides over the tab and yes, he still needs to trim the bolts…(you can click on any picture to enlarge.)

Tab and Slot Control Box

Figuring out how to get the power box assembled was pretty hard even though there’s only three pieces.  The small wheel goes through the hole and the lever then goes over the wheel and then you put the power box onto the holder bracket.  You may need to play with the correct position for the wheel so that when you push the tab down the belt tightens up and holds.

Power Box and Lever

Once we have the power and control boxes in place we attach the belt from the helm.  We attach first to the power box and then to the helm.  We found that it’s easier to spin the helm a bit while attaching the belt, as even with it disengaged is still fairly tight.  Once we have everything in place we plug into the power.
Power and Back of Power Box

The control box should ‘beep’ when the power goes on.  You then want to push the ‘set/auto’ button to display “set”.  Then you steer the direction/course you want the boat to take.  Once you’re on a straight course look down at the control box.  There will be a black square in the middle of the display area and a dotted line extending from one side or the other.  Without changing course you want to adjust the dial on the control box until only the black square in the center is showing, no dotted lines either side.  Then lock the Navico wheel pilot in place using the lever on the power box and then push the set/auto button.

Control Box

The Navico wheel pilot will now steer the direction you’ve been heading.  You can make adjustments by turning the dial on the control box either port or starboard.  Just make them very, very small adjustment, as they are big when it comes to the boat.

It’s a scary feeling to let go of the wheel.  The wheel pilot may zig and zag a bit at first so give yourself a lot of room the first time you try this.  The Navico WP4000 will learn the boat’s movement as you go and the steering will improve.

The red and green arrows on the control box are for unexpected quick dodging, red being for port and green for starboard.  Are you like me and have trouble remembering which is which?  Here’s how I do it…don’t laugh!

Left, Red, Port are smaller words (left and port both have 4 letters, this is how I learned port from starboard)

Right, Green, Starboard are bigger words.

Ok, like I said…don’t laugh.  I don’t have to work on it so hard now but this was how I could get it in my head.

As I said at the beginning, we used the Navico WP4000 for our last trip to Beacon Rock State Park.  The last part of the trip we had some pretty good ‘following’ waves, contrary to the current.  The wheel pilot worked great!  We have a handheld GPS and watched the tracking on it to see how straight the wheel pilot was going.  We were impressed, it does better than we do at keeping the boat on a straight course.

This piece of equipment made the 6 hours trip much less tiring.  We had to keep a watch and because of the volume of traffic including commercial barges, we kept a continuous watch but we arrived much less tired than in the past.  It seems funny now that we’ve put off trying this piece of equipment.  Whisper came with quite a bit of equipment we’ve never had before, the Navico WP4000 wheel pilot is one of them.  However, we’ll be using it a bunch more from now on!  Did you find any help here?  Then please click on the ‘help out’ tab below, thanks!

Update:  We left the Navico WP4000 out in the cockpit over the summer and found that it didn’t work well at all.  The boat turned in circles and we couldn’t get the wheel pilot to track a straight course.  After a couple of hours in the hot sun, it did begin to work well.  The next morning we found we were back at the non working stage.  The control box seemed to have developed a moisture problem.  We hung it in the lazerette (a very warm spot with the engine running) for 15 minutes or so and the dang thing worked just fine.  So I guess our Navico WP4000 needs to be kept dry.  No more leaving it out if not in use.

Another update:  Over the weekend we realized something else that others have had a problem with.  When we set the WP it swung us around 180 degrees.  Then we realized we’d come into the weekend dock, turned off the unit, stayed the night and headed back to the club the next day.  Once out on the water we turned on the WP and adjusted the knob for the ‘dots’ and it swung us around.  We needed to adjust the dial to closely match the North, South, East or West of the boat.  So if you’re being turned around check the dial and try to match up with the compass…sort of.  The Navico WP4000 works well but we still have trouble on occasion!

51 Comments posted on "Navico WP4000 Wheel Pilot"
Peter Boldt on September 13th, 2007 at 8:47 pm #

My WP4000 has given up the ghost and I would like to puchase a used one in working order.


Debbie on September 25th, 2007 at 11:55 am #

Happy to say a WP5000 has been located for Peter. He and the seller are in touch. Hopefully, Peter will be back to cruising with “both sheets aft” soon! Don’t know what “both sheets aft” means? Check out our boating trivia!

Paul on October 4th, 2007 at 9:45 am #

I just listed a WP4000 on ebay

Chuck Noble on October 29th, 2007 at 11:20 am #

I aquired a WP4000 less the female side of the plug. I suspect that to cross wire the pwr box will just reverse the drive, but what of the control box?? Anybody??

Debbie on October 30th, 2007 at 7:44 am #

I talked with Peter about Chuck’s issue with the plug and for anyone else with a similar problem, here’s what Peter’s done in the past.

“I bought a male- female connector at an electronics store
for my former unit. They are readily available and the soldering does not
require much talent or skill.”

Thanks Peter!

Ted on November 27th, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

I have a working Navico WP 4000. If someone is in need of a manual, I have posted a copy online @

I have had great success with it on my 27′ Hunter.


Debbie on November 29th, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

Hi Ted,

Thanks for the extra information, always something we’re looking for. Our manual is pretty well beat up. Thanks for visiting!

Rob on December 2nd, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

Having just purchased a 26-foot timber cruiser I have discovered that the compass in the WP4000 has given up and I don’t wish to spend the money buying a new unit. Can any one help me with a working control unit?
Thanks Rob
Sydney Australia

Debbie on December 3rd, 2008 at 7:51 am #

Hi Rob,

Congrats on your new boat! How about it…anyone out there able to help Rob? You might want to email your local yacht clubs.

I was able to locate one sitting in a box in a garage after a member updated his system. There was also one for sale on ebay although it maybe gone.

phill on May 13th, 2009 at 1:40 am #

Is it possible to link a wp4000 motor to a more modern “head”. If so do you know which coloured wires to select.

Debbie on May 13th, 2009 at 8:27 am #

Hi Phill,

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘head’. If you mean the power source (I think that’s what you’re talking about) then the answer is yes you can. Peter in the above comments has done so in the past.

I’d have to check the wiring on ours to tell you what colors we have. My guess would be red, green and black. But again, that’s just a guess…I’d have to look. The boat swap is this weekend so I’ll be able to check.

Let me know if a new power connection is definitely what you’re asking about.

Michael Zenker on June 16th, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

I have a working WP5000 with a broken external drive gear (1 1/2″ dia. x 5/8″ wide) Anyone have any parts for sale? Thanks!

ralph levitt on July 8th, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

Just came across your post on the Navico WP4000. Had mine on my IP31 “Second Love” for 22 years here in New England waters and would not be without it. I still have the manual if anyone needs to look at it.

The little LC display can act up with age. Navico replaced mine about maybe 10-15 years ago, but I don’t think they (Simrad) is supporting this model any more.

The unit originally was weather tight, i.e., protected against rain, etc., but the seals age and may loose their effectiveness.

Happy sailing.

Ralph Levitt

My Fathers Dragon on August 2nd, 2009 at 9:11 am #

I’ve had a wp4000 on my C&C 32 for 10 years and had some of the circling troubles noted above and never touched it again till my latest cruise up or should I say on the way down the last 40 miles of a 450 mile Michigan cruise. I decided to figure it out. I left Grand haven about 40nm from So Haven and within a couple miles figured it out. Set my direction by centering the shift of the boat up and down the waves (about 10 degrees each side of my desired direction of 189) which is ssw although the dial on my wp read that i was on a sse heading but m compass said I was headed in the right direction (one thing I trust). I did not touch that instroment once more time and I’m telling you it headed me 100′ outside of the south Haven channel, I was amazed at the accuacy and the ease and how much less tired I was. I didn’t understand the dots as described above (thank you very much) but I was able to make it work. Definitely wouldn’t recommend leaving out on deck. Real easty to use once you know how.

Debbie on August 3rd, 2009 at 8:43 am #


Happy to hear you were able to figure out the wp4000. It’s kind of frustrating at first but once you get it set it’s great! Still have to keep your eye peeled but boy is it nice not to have to steer the boat.

The ‘dots’ are on our control box. We have a digital display and when the control is set to match the course we’re traveling, there is only on ‘dot’ on the display. When we are adjusting the dial either port or starboard we get additional ‘dots’ on the display. Small adjustments of the dial will bring the wp4000 to match the course we’re traveling and finally give us one ‘dot’. Hope that helps…

Thanks so much for sharing your story with all of us!

Howard MacMillan on September 2nd, 2009 at 10:15 am #

I have a complete used Navico WP4000 for sale including a manual .Taking offers.

Howard MacMillan on September 2nd, 2009 at 10:17 am #

email might help

Karan Duncan on July 3rd, 2011 at 11:03 am #

We recently purchased a C&C 30.It came with a WP4000 and thanks to your posts downloadrda manual. We discovered we are missing the lever. Any suggestions how I can get one.

Debbie on July 6th, 2011 at 7:03 am #

Hi Karan,

I was at a swap meet over the weekend and had hoped to find a broken wp4000 but no such luck. I’d suggest you frequent your local swap meets. The next thought is to contact every yacht club in your area via email asking if any members might have an old one in a box collecting dust in a garage that they’d like to sell.

I managed to find one that way once before. Folks will often up grade a boat system and then stick the old one in the garage where it’s quickly forgotten.

If you can’t get one that way then maybe a metal shop could fabricate one for you? But I’d definately try the local clubs and maybe even any within an hour or so drive. Best of luck!

Dane Lewis on July 22nd, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

I bought a 1977 Islander 32 Sept 2010 that has Navico WP4000. The first time I tried to use it I couldn’t make it do any thing. the second time I read this web sight and setup the unit what I beleave was the correct settings. I set thecourse at 180 degrees. The pilot seemed to be OK, but in a short time the pilot started to turn the boat around and set a course at 360 degrees. The pilot stableized and held that 360 degree course. The pilot was still set at 180 degrees. I turned the compass to the right and the pilot turned the boat to the left? When I turned the compass left it turned right? It turns opposite of what should and sets a course 180 degrees in error. Dose anybody have any idea what is wrong?

Debbie on July 22nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

What you describe is how ours works too. It’s our opinion that the control box isn’t a compass per se but that the front of the box is North.

When we set the WP4000 we simply steer the course we want to go in and then do like above. We steer the direction, turn on the WP4000, adjust the WP4000 dial until there is only the single black square in the middle of the display. Then we push the lever down to lock the belt on the wheel and push the ‘set’ button. It holds course fine. Although at first the WP may swing a bit to figure out where to be.

The turning opposite is (again our opinion) that you are adjusting the dial ‘away’ from where it’s taking the boat. Thus right is left and left is right…rather like using a tiller instead of a wheel.

It took us a while to get the hang of it. It would be lovely to be able to use the numbers on the control box dial but since we’re working with used and old and don’t know how it was supposed to be set up…we just figured out how to make it work.

Next trip out try it again but don’t set the numbers to match your compass. Use the compass to steer your course and just use the display to set your WP course. It’s working well for us that way. I really think it has to do with how the box is mounted. I suppose if the boat could be set exactly North and the control box mounted to face exactly North (all the time so it’d need to rotate) then maybe the numbers would work? Our box is set at an angle to the wheel as it needed to be level and mounted (move the box at all and it changes course). We just fuss around until we get things to work for us.

Good luck on your next try. Once you can figure out a way to make it work for you, you’re gonna love it! So give a try with just the display, one square in the center equals the course heading. Foo Wee on the numbers…

Dane Lewis on July 24th, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

I didn’t use the numbers at all. The coarse I am talking about is the coarse of the boats compass.I steered the boat to 180 degrees and pressed “SET-AUTO” “SET” displayed with a square and dots. Rotated dial to elimate dots. Locked lever and pressed “SET-AUTO” again “AUTO” displayed. Then the pilot turned the boat to 360 degrees (boat compass).I will try again

Debbie on July 25th, 2011 at 9:45 am #

Hummm…. Wow, ours didn’t work well once after leaving it outside in the rain. After hanging the control box in the engine warmed lazerette and drying it out, it worked fine.

The only other time it didn’t work well was when we had no mount for the control box. Where ever it was orginally installed on our boat was missing and we sat it on the floor. Anytime the control box moved even a bit the WP changed course.

I’ll chat with my hubby and see if he has any thoughts to relay. Sounds like you’ve done everything we’ve done. Seems as if it should work.

Debbie on July 25th, 2011 at 9:54 am #

PS…you realize of course this will bug me. Now I’ll have to go out and fiddle with our to see if we can make it do what yours is doing. I keep thinking the control box is wet inside. IDK, once my hubby’s off the phone I’ll pick his brain.

Debbie on July 25th, 2011 at 10:24 am #

Ok, he’s thinking the same thing. The control box may have moisture inside. Ours did exactly what you’re describing when we left the box out over night in the rain. They’re old and the seals are probably not real good. Can you try drying it out? We hung ours while motoring inside the lazerette which is open to the engine compartment on our boat. After hanging there for like an hour we tried it again and it worked fine.

Dane Lewis on July 29th, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

I took the boat out Tuesday and the Wheel Pilot worked flawlessly. Before I pressed “auto” I rotated the knob 180 degrees. I don’t think it had any effect at all. I tried to make it do the same as before, but I couldn’t. It just kept working like it is suppose to. It really tracks very well.I was thinking I would have to buy a new autopilot, but the Wheel Pilot will do just fine. Thank you for your help.

Debbie on July 31st, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

Yeah! I’m so happy to hear it worked for you. Maybe it was wet inside and just managed to dry out? Glad you got it to work. Makes things so much easier.

Ron on November 16th, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

Hi anybody got a user manual of wp4000 navico wheel pilot as have one of these and need to fit asap Bst Rgds Ron

Debbie on November 19th, 2011 at 4:32 am #

Hi Ron,

We’ve got the manual such as it is. It’s not very informitive. The information above is more helpful. What are you having trouble with?

Larry on January 12th, 2012 at 8:56 am #

I have a wp4000 that came with my 35ft Ericson and one of the main gears has stripped from going hard over and not stopping at the end of the rudder traval can I get gears any where or spare parts? Everything else seems to work fine. Thanks

Debbie on January 12th, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

I’d be roaming every boat swap you can find looking for another wp4000. You could also email the local yacht clubs asking if anyone has one sitting in a dusty box in their garage after updating.

Anyone else have an idea?

Dale Edward Land on April 29th, 2012 at 10:53 am #

I have a WP400 and it has stopped working, doew anybody have any ideas on where I can get it repaired in the Sacramento CA or SF Bay area?

Debbie on April 30th, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

Hi Dale,

Sorry I can’t help, you’re way out of my area. How about it, anyone have an idea?

Dale Edward Land on May 25th, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

Does anyone know where to find a used Navico WP4000 or something similar?

Dale Edward Land on May 25th, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

If you know of someone in your area or anywhere I will ship it to have repaired.

Debbie on May 25th, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

Sorry Dale, I don’t know anyone right now. However, there is currently a Navico WP 5000 being bid on on ebay.

You could email the web master at your local yacht clubs asking if anyone has an old one in a box collecting dust in their garage. Sometimes folks will upgrade and the old one ends up just lurking and lost in the junk of boxes.

Anyone know of one?

Jon on September 3rd, 2012 at 6:02 am #

What a great blog. Very helpful. I am looking for a WP4000 for parts. If anyone has one that they would like to sell….

Debbie on September 4th, 2012 at 7:10 am #

Good luck Jon,

Harder and harder to find those parts!

David on October 6th, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

I have a used WP4000 in good working condition for sale. I still have to remove the female plug and the control holder from the boat. The rest is loose.

David on October 6th, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

Forgot to say I’m located in North Vancouver, BC

Debbie on October 9th, 2012 at 9:11 pm #


Anyone looking for a WP? This is great for someone looking, thanks David!

High Hopes on October 14th, 2012 at 1:04 am #

I have a complete NAVCO WP 4000 with the manual. Does anyone have any experience with the windvane option, item WV2?

Robert Davidson on October 19th, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

Hi David
I am over in Comox and have a Bayfield 32 with a WP 4000 on it, but it doesn’t seem to want to work. How much are you asking for yours?
Very interested.

Capt. "ROB" on March 23rd, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

HI! I have a Navico WP5000 system installed on my Pearson 303. Iv’e been looking all over for a JUNCTON BOX JB5000 and need your help! willing to pay real silver…lol Anyone have any info.. please call 207 809 8485 Thank you.. Capt.Rob

Jay on June 12th, 2014 at 6:52 am #

I have recently aquired a 30′ boat with a WP4000, it seems to operate well, but does not compensate fast enough. It tracks well to start, then the minor adjustments turns into larger and larger adjustments as the WP turns the wheel considerably further than required to get the boat back on track. If left on its own, it will eventually zig zag until we are going in circles. It appears to know where it wants to go, but can not return to tracking the original course. The wheel is just under 2 turns block to block and the switch in the back is set to ‘5’.
Any suggestions?

Debbie on June 23rd, 2014 at 8:23 am #

Hi Jay,

I don’t know if this will help you. We had trouble with the WP doing a similar thing. We realized that it’s a very, very basic unit. While we thought we were adjusting it to the course we wanted we found that WE were turned around 180 degrees from the ‘compass’ of the unit. Once we turned the dial 180 around to set the ‘dots’ the WP did great. Although, we did have a problem with moisture once and the WP did the same as yours is doing. Once we got it dried out it stopped the zig zag stuff. Hope this helps.

Renate Braun on July 7th, 2014 at 5:01 am #

Suche ganz dringend einen Navico 4000WP.
Wer kann mir helfen?

Debbie on July 24th, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

Ich spreche kein Deutsch, aber vielleicht kann der Artikel übersetzt werden, um zu helfen?

Jim on April 24th, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

Hi I need the power unit holding clip if anyone has one for sale.

colin on September 28th, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

Hi all. If anyone has a clutch lever to suit a WP4000 they would like to sell I would love to hear from them. We are on South Bruny Island Tasmania so the Navicos are well travelled! cheers Col

Jim on June 12th, 2016 at 10:15 am #

WP 4000 – no beep – no touch control -no motor drive .. just led what stays in set/auto – anyone know of a schematic that is available so that the unit can be repaired — mexico.. J

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