Join Date: May 2001
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Find your emergency tiller
Following on EA''s suggestion, leave the dock on a day with a decent sailing wind, raise your sails and begin sailing, and then ship your emergency tiller and try to overcome the boat''s weather helm and steer a course on several points of sail. If you have a binnacle, the ''tiller'' part of your emergency steering device is probably too short. Now ask yourself: ''where will the force necessary to steer the boat for an extended period come from?'' Most larger (30''+) boats don''t have an emergency tiller long enough to apply adequate leverage to sail the boat for any distance; motoring isn''t the only test you should consider.
The lesson I learned was to take the aluminum ''tiller'' down to the local metal shop & have two padeyes welded onto the tiller''s working end, to which I can now add steering lines that run to cockpit winches and/or cleats via blocks on the cockpit coaming.
This is a worthwhile drill. As EA implies, so is cramming yourself under the cockpit sole and checking/tightening the steering cables on occasion.