Sheet to Tiller or Windvane? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 16 Old 06-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

I know there have been many dicussions on the subject of each. Has anyone here used both(not at the same time) on their boat. I am seriously considering spending the money on a windvane as it seems like the most reliable and consistant, but again I have never used either. my opinion is based solely on what i have read. I am asking this because if I can keep $3500 in the bank I would like to do so.


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post #2 of 16 Old 06-15-2012
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re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

Tried sheet to tiller. Takes a lot of screwing around every time the wind shifts or changes its strength. Not a long term solution. Built my wind vane steering system for under $25.No problems in 28 years. Very expensive, commercially made ones don't work as well.
Buy a copy of John Letcher's book on self steering. There are much better alternatives to spending such a huge amount of money on one.
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-16-2012
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re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

It may be possible to simply lash the rudder with line and bungee upwind, though i havent had much luck with it on my boat. Havent really commited to it either though... Have u tried the storm jib to tiller self steering? There are YouTube videos online about that.

I myself really need an autopilot for single handing, but a wind vane would be kind of useless for the mostly days ailing I do, esp in lighter winds or downwind when I need it most but the apparent wind drops. A lot of people use electric systems, ESP when they are not regularly crossing oceans. U can pick one up for under $500 and they work fairly well. Any reason not to consider it? I mean u could buy seven of them by the time u pay for a wind vane...
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post #4 of 16 Old 06-16-2012
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Re: Steet to Tiller or Windvane?

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Originally Posted by peterchech View Post
It may be possible to simply lash the rudder with line and bungee upwind, though i havent had much luck with it on my boat. Havent really commited to it either though... Have u tried the storm jib to tiller self steering? There are YouTube videos online about that.

I myself really need an autopilot for single handing, but a wind vane would be kind of useless for the mostly days ailing I do, esp in lighter winds or downwind when I need it most but the apparent wind drops. A lot of people use electric systems, ESP when they are not regularly crossing oceans. U can pick one up for under $500 and they work fairly well. Any reason not to consider it? I mean u could buy seven of them by the time u pay for a wind vane...
Yes it seems a tiller auto pilot would be the place to start. If you can pick up a used one I would start there. my understanding of a wind vain is that they are not much help when raising the sails and what not, only under way and not under power. I would think a small solar panel would just about make up for the electricity use, as the majority of consumption is going to be when making course corrections and if you have a fairly balanced helm that should not be that often. I think a lot of people use tiller pilots as a crutch to not have good trim and balance. But perhaps some surgical tubing is the answer, check out Vega1860's videos as he uses that setup.
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post #5 of 16 Old 06-16-2012
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Re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

There is a big difference between sailing long distances versus just giving yourself a couple minutes on deck or below. Which one are you doing?

Of course the big difference with the tiller pilot is that it sails to heading and won't adjust for wind shifts. Given this I wouldn't trust it sailing close hauled or downwind for much distance. But the tiller pilot works under power which I've used before when raising the main single handed.

On the other hand when sailing close hauled I find I can easily trim the sails until I'm fairly well balanced with a bit of weather helm and tie off the tiller with a short line to counteract it. If the wind pipes up the weather helm increases and the boat will round up just as I want. Actually, the boat is better at sailing itself like this than I am usually. I keep a line with a alpine butterfly knot and two adjustable grip hitches tied off to the sides which I can quickly pull over the tiller to do this.

I've found I've used the auto-pilot less and less as I've gotten more confortable setting up the sails and tiller, but it's nice to have.
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post #6 of 16 Old 06-17-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

I have looked into a tiller pilot, but they seem very unreliable and also use the battery up. At this point, I do not intend to sail more than maybe 50-60 miles in a day but my plans are for extended cruising so I only want to spend my money once. I am intrigued by the sheet to tiller but realize that I will probably just buy a windvane. I have seen the sheet to tiller YouTube videos just looking here for more first hand knowledge about setup and reality!


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Last edited by Cruiser2B; 06-17-2012 at 10:26 PM. Reason: i'm an idiot
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post #7 of 16 Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

Get an Autohelm 1000 and a solar panel. I use an autohelm 750 and solar panel and I use it a lot. I have crossed the Gulf of Mexico with it four times. A windvane, what a silly thing to own when it is useless for most things you need an autopilot for.
You will spend a lot of time with no wind at all and a tiller pilot will seem like a godsend when you are motoring for two days.
Windvanes look all "cruisery" but I cannot imagine a more useless expensive piece of equipment.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

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Originally Posted by Cruiser2B View Post
I have looked into a tiller pilot, but they seem very unreliable and also use the battery up. At this point, I do not intend to sail more than maybe 50-60 miles in a day but my plans are for extended cruising so I only want to spend my money once. I am intrigued by the sheet to tiller but realize that I will probably just buy a windvane. I have seen the sheet to tiller YouTube videos just looking here for more first hand knowledge about setup and reality!
For a detailed setup see;
A Pearson Ariel Page

I followed it to setup sheet to tiller on my contessa 26 and it works well if the wind is not gusty(day sailing on Lake Ontrario)
Could it be relied on for off shore cruising? I don't know as I have never been off shore. With that said it seems to me that it ought to be a requirement as a backup in case of equipment failure. I have found that the more I use it the better it works.
Regardless of weither you ever go off shore I suggest you try it out, it forces you to become better at balancing your rig. The above link suggests you build a wooden lever for off wind sailing, I tried it and didn't like it. Too awkward to setup. Instead I run the jib sheet back to the leeward winch, over to the windward winch and cleat it off. I then attached a line to the jib sheet between the two winches back to the tiller. Basically treating/connecting to the jib sheet the same way you connect to the mainsheet when going to windward, it worked well. Some thing to try when sailing off the wind.
Not sure about where you live but up here in Canada Lowes sells surgical tubing by the foot(at a god awful price) I purchased mine at a shoppers drug mart, a medical supply store.

John

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post #9 of 16 Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

The problem you will have with sheet to tiller is that as you move about the boat, you change the trim of the sails and cause the boat to luff up, maybe even backwind the jib. If you want to keep a compass course regarless of what you or the wind does, then you need a tiller pilot. If you want to meander around with the wind, then a vane will work. Only the tiller pilot will let you get away from the tiller when motoring.
I would think that on an Alberg 30 a tiller pilot plus a sheet to tiller arrangement would cover the waterfront, so to speak. With the left over money you can put in a solar power system that will serve many uses. I used to sail a full keel attached rudder (plus centerboard) 22 foot sloop and found it very easy to balance so that it sailed itself with the tiller lashed in place. Only problem is that I was a significant percentage of the ballast and my movements upset that balance rather quickly.
Sometimes I wish I could afford it all and have a gold platted sailing yatch, but then I really like simple things that work well and will never have the money for gold.
John
Oh and one more thing, with a tiller pilot, go oversize just like your anchor. For a few dollars more you get a better, more robust pilot that has reserve power for when the wind gets up.
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Sheet to Tiller or Windvane?

Learn how to set up sheet to tiller. A couple of eyes some string and bungee and an afternoon or two of messing around should sort that out.

You also NEED a simple autopilot/tillerpilot for motoring and sail raising. They are not wonderfully reliable if used offshore on long passages IMHO.

A servo windvane like an Aries or a NAVIK if your boat is small will be a huge asset if you make long passages but again they need setting up and learning how to trim the sails to suit. Also most have problems down wind with big seas and full sail. You CAN build your own but access to a good workshop is essential and you may find wear to be a problem long term as you are not likely to include enough corrosion proof bushes. [At least I did not. ]
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