Twice now the stupid air pump
that runs on dead dinosaurs quit. Both times, I was in the harbor with no wind. Stands to reason, that's the only place I'd run the engine anyway.
Day before yesterday, there was not a breath of wind near the harbor, and the bucket of demented parts quit with me 600 feet from the slip. So I sculled home. Sculling involves moving the tiller back and forth like a fish moves a fin. You move it rapidly in one direction, then slowly in the opposite – just like you would move your arms while swimming under water. You change course by moving the tiller only from the center to the opposite side in which you desire to turn. I enjoyed moving along slowly, propelling myself with the tiller. It works, but it's slow. It took me over an hour to get to the mouth of the harbor. I'm not complaining.
I believe this technique is possible on a boat having a wheel instead of a tiller – but considering most boats with wheels require more than a full revolution of the wheel to move the rudder through a full side-to-side deflection, the technique would rapidly exhaust
anyone using it. Chalk up another advantage of tillers over wheels.
So once I was in the harbor channel, all these boats passed me. While passing, one skipper asked: "Are you aground?" I said, no, I'm just sculling back to my slip. He looked at me as if I had grown two heads. A sailboat came along (under power) and asked if I needed a tow. I said: "No. Do you?" I then laughed and thanked him, and explained that I was moving along fine by sculling. He said: "Doing what?" I repeated my explanation. He said: "Don't you know that's impossible without a special mount for a long oar?" And I said: "Gee, I wish you'd told me that before I'd sculled my boat this far."
I got it all the way into the harbor and into my slip. The same gentleman was standing on the neighboring dock watching me round the corner, turn 90 degrees right, line
up with the slip, and propel my boat ever-so-slowly into its berth. He was all bug-eyed at my violation of the laws of physics. Good thing there weren't any physics cops to catch me.
I sail a Pearson Ariel. It's 25 feet 7 inches overall, and 3,500 pounds gross. For sculling, I believe that size doesn't matter, but patience does.
Your actual mileage may vary.