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Old 08-07-2008, 18:50   #1
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Singlehanding the Tiller

No, not porn. Get your mind out of the gutter!

When single handing a boat with tiller steering is it just a race with the boats tendency to turn- or is there some tiller management hardware that can be applied? Is it fancy or... rope?

Thanks!
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Old 08-07-2008, 19:32   #2
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Gutter? I won't sail a boat that has one.

They make auto pilots for tillers as well as other steering systems. Just a rope won't work for more than a few minutes. An auto pilot is the key to single handing a boat. You can also rig a wind vane as well should you desire to go in that direction.
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Old 08-07-2008, 19:40   #3
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Capt Jack (Sparrow ),

FYI: Here's a link to a "sheet to tiller" system: Sheet-to-Tiller Self Steering

PS. My mind is beyond the gutter
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Old 08-07-2008, 20:36   #4
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Jack,

I have attached a picture of the best crewman on our boat. He is reliable, steers straight, never complains and most importantly, even though he is a German named Otto, doesn't drink any of my beer.

We have the Autohelm ST1000. You can see that it is a very straightforward install. The Autohelm 1000 will steer a fixed heading,or if you have GPS will steer a GPS course, or if you have wind instruments will sail a constant wind angle.

I rigged up the GPS input for a while but we really didn't make use of it so now he just steers a course for us. He also has an "autotack" function which turns the boat 100 degrees, but we find him a bit slow on the helm and sometimes he doesn't make it all the way through the wind.

We thought he died once, but we revived him. I looked on the web at that time and a replacement could be had for around US$1,000.

However for daysailing our boat can be single handed without autopilot.

Our technique is to tack the genny and leave the mainsail cleated. After the tack, which is performed very much like a dinghy tack, one hand on the tiller and hand over hand to sheet, I would adjust the main for the new point of sail.

Having said that, I strongly recommend Otto as a crew mate. He is the next best thing on our boat after the max prop. He allows us to do cool things like go up on the foredeck while wing on wing for artsy boat photos...
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Old 08-07-2008, 20:47   #5
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see thread "US yachty hits rocks in New Zealand". you can as he did set up ropes and bungy cords which depending on the balance of your yacht will steer an accurate course based on wind direction. I do it all the time on Gwalarn, I do keep watch though and don't go to sleep.
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Old 09-07-2008, 07:34   #6
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Primary methods of self-steering

There are four primary methods of self-steering, and they're used by everyone whether you have too much crew or not enough.

  1. Auto-pilot: any many techniques which use electrical or hydraulic power to steer a set course, most usually a magnetic compass course.
  2. Wind-vane: any of many techniques which use apparent wind to steer a relative course.
  3. Sheet-to-tiller: Any of several techniques to use "partial stall" (inefficient sail trim) to steer a relative course.
  4. Boat trim: With the tiller tied off, sails are trimmed to maintain a relative course. (This "method" is more or less effective based on the specific hull and rig configuration's "course stability".)
Combinations of these techniques are used by most solo-sailors.
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Old 09-07-2008, 08:08   #7
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Jack,
Ditto on all the above. I singlehand my Ingrid ketch quite handily with most the above as crewmates. It's worth noting that a lot of well known single handers in the last century did quite well in the age before electronics, often 'lashing' down the tiller. Their trick was knowing how to balance their boat, which will make all the above work more efficiently. There's also a lot of references in cruising naratives about using bungees.

Also, it's also noteworthy that most of the commercial tillerpilots will work well with boats much bigger than their literature states, as long as you're just asking it to hold a straight and steady coarse. I use a tillerpilot often on my Ingrid, about 30,000lbs loaded for cruising. It's mounted further out the tiller than the instructons (more like 4ft) and I use a bungee to offset the weatherhelm when motoring and ease the strain on the tillerpilot. Works well. However, it does have a tough time in rougher seas. Then I usually have my Aries engaged.

Scot
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:27   #8
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This is a lot of stuff and will take me a while to digest- then a while before I can experiment...

But, for the sake of clarity...

At this point my concern is less about self-steering in the broader sense and more about the 15 second (wild-ass-guess sorry) periods when I need my hands for the jib.

I saw a couple of reference there to lashing the tiller. Is this my "do you just use some rope" answer?

I am not yet looking to adjust steering for wind or to grab a nap- I just want to sternly say "don't move for a few seconds, I will be right back!"

Thanks guys!
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:52   #9
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Ability to maintain a course is very much due to the design of the underwater shape. A long keel tends to have a better stability. There is another factor that is essential. The ability to balance the sails so that the boat will stay on a straight course - this is a skill that Joshua Slocum mastered so that his spray would self steer without any modern technology.

Whilst this might seem to be not such a necessary skill today, failure to do so puts a heavy load onto the autopilot.
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:00   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Long View Post

I saw a couple of reference there to lashing the tiller. Is this my "do you just use some rope" answer?
For your purpose just use "some rope". Set it up simple, with two clamcleats, or similar, so you can lock/unlock/adjust quickly.
Exactly how to set it up, depends on your boat.
For more ideas just Google for "tiller lock". There are some commercial fittings available, for example TILLER LOCK.
Just go ahead and experiment.
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:47   #11
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It will depend on location of the sheet winches, and how far the tiller extends. On my Columbia 30 the locations made every thing SIMPLE.

With 2 hands on the sheets prepared for tacking. I would steer with the tiller between my legs, got wood? With a single step forward I could get away from the tiller step to the side, and place the tiller on my hip. A simple push over with my hip, and releasing the now windward sheet after crossing over the wind. I could then pull in the sheet once again as I put the tiller between my legs again.

I sailed San Francisco Bay with it's blustery summer winds doing tacks, and gybes with this motion. The ladies who had no sailing experience were impressed with this simple movement. They loved the hip movement, and watching the tiller disappear, and reappear again......LOLOLOLOL
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Old 09-07-2008, 17:51   #12
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That's pretty much it, for tacking upwind. You really can do it all pretty easily single-handed if the cockpit is not overly long.

And if it's a bit of a stretch, don't worry about being neat. Secure the tiller (many ways to do this, tiller comb, pre-tied loops, continuous loop with cam cleats, etc.) Release the jib sheet. Back to the tiller, bring it over to the new tack with just the main. Secure the tiller. Tighten in the jib. Voilà, you're on the other tack.

It really is easier to do than to describe, especially if you just take your time and don't worry about the fine points of racing style. Remember that a clipper might take hours to set and trim all sails on the new tack on a short-handed boat.
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:49   #13
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If you just want to hold the tiller so you can take a peek under the genoa, take a leak, or put the kettle on.

My technique is to flip the tiller extension down to leeward and jam it against the cockpit coaming. Sheet the main in a bit and she'll hold her course, provided you're going upwind. Helps if you've got an adjustable tiller extension to fine trim the amount of helm.
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Old 10-07-2008, 12:37   #14
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And...
If you do lash the tiller, be sure to use a method/knot you can release quickly in case you need to make a sudden course change.
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Old 13-07-2008, 22:09   #15
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I took the boat out by myself for the first time today. I didn't sail- just motored around for a half hour then came back. Getting out of the slip was a pretty horrific misadventure but when I came back I parked like I not only knew what I was doing- but was good at it. So, yay me.

But while out I was playing with the tiller and thinking about this thread and it makes me wonder if something is wrong or poorly configured or what...

Sestina talks about just putting the tiller against the cockpit combing... If I understand correctly... on my boat that is almost u-turn position. I can be seriously off course within 10 seconds if the tiller is moved even 3 inches. Honestly, most of my steering was done within a 6 inch space.

For grins I gave myself some momentum, cut the throttle, put it in neutral, and just let go. At first she turned into the wind and I thought that felt about right... less wind resistance in that angle... that last about 30 seconds and then she turned sideways and stayed there until I got bored. Which, given the circumstances (first time by myself), didn't take long.

I know this will sound silly but... Could my rudder be on backwards? It seems to me that the longer part of the rudder should be behind the pivot point which would make the drag pull it straight... I feel like it is fighting to turn at all times.

Okay, I don't REALLY think that is the problem but it seemed like a good way to describe how it feels.

You know what I didn't do? Was leave the throttle on and let go and see how that went. Sigh- next time I guess.

Might take a few days- pulling the spreaders off tomorrow so I can start making the new ones.

Oh, and I will have you know the seas were HUGE too. At one point while attempting to do a circle in reverse I get smacked from dead astern by a monster that had to have been... 2 feet? The sky went all black... I was looking up at fish... the bastard nearly swamped me.
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