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Old 07-07-2013, 01:27   #1
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Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Does anyone have any experience using the boom to self-steer? I've read a few books and articles on using sails to self-steer, and the boom rig with bungee reverse pressure looks like it could work. I'm planning a trip to Hawaii and not sure if I want to fork out the funds for a windvane. My boat is 13 tons, though, so not light on the water.
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Old 07-07-2013, 19:31   #2
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

I spent some time investigating those ideas on my small boat with mixed results. Did not work well in gusty conditions and close into wind. Seen some users swear by it and some swear at it. If you have the time, see if it works on your boat.
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Old 07-07-2013, 21:03   #3
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Kunk, I have used tiller to boom steering on my Compac (works perfect) and on my Valiant- (a lot harder) The Pacific is difficult because of the swells. Really you probably need a wind vane in the big ocean.
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Old 08-07-2013, 06:05   #4
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Hi kunkwriter,

I used a similar technique for years on a number of boats, most recently a 20 footer, so a lot lighter and smaller than your boat. I recently had to think about it before I remembered what I did, but I used the sheet from jib/genoa, set slightly loose, pulling on the leeward side of the tiller, against a shock cord that pulled on the windward side of the tiller. It worked, but of course it meant that the jib was never drawing properly and it ended up mostly steering a slightly saw tooth course.

I actually suspect that it would work better on a larger boat due to the longitudinal inertia of the vessel and the relatively greater forces available from the jib sheets (relative, that is, to the probable tiller loads), but would make the following cautionary observations from my experiences.

Although it does work surprisingly well, I found it unpredictable in the extreme, as in, I could not predict WHEN it was going to work. For a given set of conditions, I could go for an hour or two with no corrections, then something subtle would change, often too subtle for me to detect what it was that had changed, and I would be utterly unable to re-establish self steering control for an hour or more at a time. This was problematic as I was regularly doing journeys of 30 or 40 miles and losing the inability to self steer became a problem on even those relatively short trips.

Also, I NEVER managed to find a way to get it to work anywhere remotely off the wind, at best a broad reach, but generally only when pointing or beating.

Eventually I gave up and purchased a raymarine tiller pilot (which served me very well), though I regularly used the technique on the logic that the tiller pilot might go toes-up unexpectedly.

I will be trying to do the self steering by sail thing on our current boat, just as soon as I have the right wind conditions, but only as an addition to other more reliable options, such as windvane setup suggested above. And of course, the electronic version, which is great when it works, but I NEVER want to depend on electrons when sailing if I can avoid it.

A separate project is taking form in my mind to build a windvane steering unit, but I acknowledge that it would need a LOT of testing before I depended on it in any way. But I am not planning anything other than coastal hopping at the moment, and our coursemaster works well enough for that.

I suspect an advantage of an electronic autopilot is that it will cost a lot less than a windvane? I know I would choose the windvane in preference to the electronic if I had to choose, I am only setup the way I am now as my boat came with the electronic version, and not a windvane as I would have liked.

Matt
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Old 08-07-2013, 06:17   #5
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Steering with Sail Trim
Steering with Sail Trim

Sheet-to-Tiller Self Steering
Sheet-to-Tiller Self Steering
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Old 08-07-2013, 19:32   #6
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Ive seen books almost as thick as my fist on wind vanes. Tried a simple one using a vane direct drive to a trim tab. Worked better than I thought but likewise could not trust it all the time. Have to balance the sails as well. However an electric auto pilot is not all gravy. Seen a sophisticated one on a 43 footer that would not work in really rough seas-just when you need it.
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Old 08-07-2013, 19:35   #7
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Kunkwriter, I dont know where you are leaving from, but from most of the west coast you will have a run to Hawaii. Before windvanes were in general use, many boats with small crews traveled down wind with twin jibs poled out and a sheet to tiller type of steering. It worked somewhat well, but was not very efficient and boats with any tendency to roll, really did so. It also didnt work ,very far off of DDW. Unless I missed it, you havent said how big (or small) of a crew you plan to have? The other thing is, what are your plans after Hawaii? Will you continue west, or go south to Tahiti, or back to the west coast, or sell the boat in Hawaii? So much depends on your intentions, and your crew size. After about 30K miles under sail, 1/2 of which were with good reliable windvanes and 1/2 doing deliveries with a third crew member if an offshore passage, I would say spend the bucks and get a reliable vane, and you will never regret it. Spend a little less on electronic toys and make your life easier. Just as a side note, the extra sails for a twin running rig, and gear will cost almost as much as a vane and only be used in the right conditions. A vane will work well in almost all conditions. That is my 2 cents worth of advice for today._____Grant.
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Old 08-07-2013, 19:58   #8
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

This, Self-steering without a windvane, Lee Woas, is the bible for sheet to tiller steering. He lists a whole bunch of ways to steer on each point of sail, with all sorts of rigs. If one method doesn't work try a different one. I am not promising anything, but this is the best resource.

Admittedly the book is not cheap, but the alternative is even less so.

If you are going to try sheet to tiller, use surgical tubing, bungy doesn't work right.


http://sfbaysss.org/tipsbook/SinglehandedTips.pdf?id=1
http://www.jsward.com/steering/index.shtml
http://www.solopublications.com/sailariq.htm

Building your own windvane is also an option.:
http://www.mistervee.com/?q=content/...urrays-website
http://web.archive.org/web/200606151...Self-Steering/

http://windpilot.com/n/pdf/bookeng.pdf
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Old 08-07-2013, 21:02   #9
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

wouldn't you just zigzag all over the place using this type of steering?
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Old 08-07-2013, 21:09   #10
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Yes you are most likely to zig zag, but as long as you dont jybe or go into irons you will get to your destination. Just slower with much more work and worry than with a vane._____Grant.
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Old 08-07-2013, 21:19   #11
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Re: Self Steering by Boom and Bungee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gah964 View Post
wouldn't you just zigzag all over the place using this type of steering?
In my experience it was more of a sawtooth course than zig-zag. I estimated it added between 20 to 30% to the travel time vs careful hand steering. Between the extra distance and the poorly set sails.
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