When I was a lot younger and a lot more naive, Ann and I set out from SF bouond for Hawaii
. We were in my Yankee 30, and had a "trustworthy" Autohelm
2000 tiller pilot as our sole means of self-steering. Steered brilliantly all the way to Oahu
, then to Kauaii, and then about 200 miles of the return voyage. And there it died. Dead. RATS!
Being a Devotee of John Letcher, I cobbled up a mainsheet tackle to the end of the boom (too much friction in the midboom system), and a "fools tackle" (1:2 reverse ratio) and some rubber tubing to the tiller. After some experimentation, we got it to steer fairly well. Needed tweaking every ten or fifteen minutes, but that is one hell of a lot better than tiller enslavement IMO. Got us all the remaining 2300 or so miles back to SF.
So, no, it isn't as good as either a wind vane
or an autopilot
, but we had all the necessary stuff on board to set it up, and were damn glad of having it working as well as it did.
Not a bad skill set to fiddle with on a boring day at sea!