Tiller to mainsheet self-steering?
What do you think about tiller to mainsheet self-steering? I have an old Falcon set-up that has never been installed. Obviously, an auto pilot or vane steering would be more accurate. I am just looking for something to help me when single handed. Would it be robust enough to keep me on course while I go forward to lower a jib? Seems like a cool poor-man's wind vane, if it works.
A tiller lock or tiller comb makes more sense and would be easier to setup.
I have not tried it. Before I set up my tiller pilot (which has really made me lazy, btw) when I wanted to go forward for some reason I would tie the tiller slightly to windward, check that she was balanced, and then go. Frequently the boat would sail by herself for hours in that condition, oscillating between two and three degrees on either side of my desired course, and I could get all sorts of stuff done. As a result I now have a favorite jib. But if I'm using any other than the favorite jib, or the winds are too light or too strong, it will only last a minute, sometimes less, before she rounds up.
A tiller lock or comb would give you the same benefit, plus prevent the tiller from falling all the way to windward (which sometimes happens to me and makes doing this stuff on a reach sort of dangerous).
I am luck in that the PO ran halyards to the cockpit, so for hoisting and dousing I only need to go to the foredeck to secure or untie the sail. With just the mainsail up, the boat will fall off in light winds or round up in strong winds pretty quickly, so if you wanted to use this method for hoisting/dousing the jib, you wouldn't have much time. I expect it would be the same if you used your mainsheet in some clever way, maybe a bit better. But I expect it would take so much time to set up that it's not worth it for just a quick run to the mast.
Are your halyards external? If so it should be fairly easy to mount a block somewhere and run your jib halyard to the cockpit. Not sure how big your boat is but you probably don't need a winch to get the jib up... after you're set up, you can always add tension at the mast later.
Here's a good solution for keeping the tiller in place.
Salty John: Tiller-Hand and other fine boat and yacht chandlery products.
I have played with sheet to tiller steering on my contessa 26, a smaller version of your alberg, speaking in general terms. On any point of sail from reach to close hauled it works well, assuming your sails are trimmed and balanced. Off the wind I struggle a bit to maintain a course. Sheet to tiller steering is a worth while thing to play with but IMHO will be of no value when having to go forward to tend to the jib. It requires that both sails be set, balanced and trimmed.
I have two cam cleats mounted to my tiller, one on port the other on starboard. A bungee cord or light line cleated off works to lock down the tiller. See link below for an example, not the cam cleats I use but something similar.
HARKEN MICRO CAM-MATIC CAM CLEAT Binnacle.com
As others have suggested some type of tiller lock would be a decent alternative for your needs. I use a thick bungee cord locked to the tiller when going forward, not ideal but it works.
As I mentioned sheet to tiller is great idea, worth pursing, just not ideal for the task you asked about.
See the link below for more details.
Sheet-to-Tiller Self Steering
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