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$3 Self Steering

I took a break from getting the boat ready for sea to upload a new video and I thought the subject might find interest here.

I have mentioned in other posts that Lealea steered herself much of the way across the Pacific with the tiller lashed using a piece of surgical tubing. I had forgotten that we had video of it in action.

The procedure is simple enough: Once set on course, trim the sails so that there is just a bit of weather helm. How much? Just enough, but not too much. Sorry. You will just have to develop a feel for it. Then lash the tiller to a windward cleat with just enough tension on the tubing to balance the weather helm. Take another length of tubing to leeward with a bit of slack to act as a preventer. Lealea sailed on course like this for days on end on most points of sail as long as there was wind.

All you need is some surgical tubing or shock cord, a few zip ties to make loops in the tubing, some wind, time and patience....

...and of course a great boat

VIDEO LINK

I would be interested to know of other methods of getting a boat to self steer. Could this work with wheel steering?

Most discussions I have had lately on this subject have been more about chart plotter/autopilot interfaces than low tech solutions and I wonder if I am not just being stubborn about not embracing the 21st century.


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post #2 of 5 Old 06-22-2010
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Originally Posted by vega1860 View Post
I would be interested to know of other methods of getting a boat to self steer. Could this work with wheel steering?
There is a great book on this, I will get the title for you when I get a chance, it is a whole book devoted to this very subject. The surgical tubing solution is called "sheet to tiller" self-steering and is one of the major reasons I want a tiller and not a wheel.

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post #3 of 5 Old 06-22-2010
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Found it ..

"Self-Steering for Sailing Craft" - by John S. Letcher, Jr.

The book doesn't even start talking about Windvane's until Chapter 4, and electronic auto-pilots in Chapter 10. It was published in 1974 and it is very comprehensive and well worth reading, has an entire chapter devoted to sheet to tiller!

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post #4 of 5 Old 06-22-2010
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I did a sheet to tiller setup on an O'Day 22 for a few days.
You need a boat with a tiller.
The sheet needs to be end boom.

Tie a light line from center of one part of the multi-part sheet to a small block on the windward rail then back to the tiller.
Tie a bungee cord from the tiller to the leeward rail.
Adjust the tension and from about a beam reach to close hauled it will steer for hours.
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-22-2010
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One interesting note about Letcher's book above is that he shows how to use sheet to tiller self-steering for every point of sail. Here is a quote from the book:

Quote:
Originally Posted by John S. Letcher, Jr.
Over the years many voyagers have worked out sheet-to-tiller arrangements on particular points of sail for their particular boats. Aside from twin running sails, none of these arrangements has come into general use. Most people assume that their boats don't have the magical qualities required for self-steering, so they don't even try, or they give up much too easily. In this book I have two chief messages, and the first message is this: sheet-to-tiller gear can do the steering, simply and reliably, on all points of sail. I base this assertion on 20,000 miles of offshore voyaging without a windvane, with sheet-to-tiller gears steering practically every mile except in gales - at least 95 percent of the way. Most of the arrangements I have used are detailed in Chapter 3 along with many aspects of a general approach to devising and adjusting sheet-to-tiller gears.

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