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Old 12-08-2002
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Windvane Steering Necessary for Long Ocean Passages?

Stormer, I think the ''bible'' on sheet-tiller steering was written by John Letcher some years ago (Self-Steering for Sailing Craft, I belive) - no doubt out of print but available sooner or later with a search. I think it''s excellent and I used those techniques on all points of sail aboard our first boat, a Vega 27, in Pacific coastal sailing with great success. However, the Vega was the sweetest sailing offshore boat I''ve experienced and this technique probably works less well with less responsive boats.

Henderson''s works are IMO quite dated now. Moreover, altho'' he''s been involved in sailing for many, many years, he''s only written about one short-handed offshore passage to my knowledge, a run to the Azores and back. (No doubt he''s done multiple Bermuda races but most likely with larger crews on boats atypical to cruising). All of this to say I was struck, when recently rereading his Azores book, by how limited in value some of his writing now appeared.

I probably should add that ''older'' writings aren''t necessarily no longer useful. I continue to find Ross Norgrove''s and Hal Roth''s early books to be excellent and quite germane except where technology has offered new choices. No doubt there are many other examples.

Jack
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