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EscapeArtist 07-02-2001 04:05 AM

Find your emergency tiller
If you haven''t done it recently, why not take a few moments and locate your emergency tiller? Practice sticking it into the rudder post, or wherever it goes. Even better, try steering with it on the water.

This weekend, the steering cable on my Hunter 336 jumped off the sheaves (it probably needed tightening) just as we dropped the sails in 10 feet of water, a 23-knot breeze, and too near the rocks just south of Duck Island (LI Sound).

I had recently practiced with the tiller, knew right where it was, and had the boat back under control in about 30 seconds. I had to steer back to my slip with my legs and made a safe, albeit ungraceful docking.

While you''re at it, find the manual bilge pump handle and practice with that, too.

jack_patricia 07-02-2001 11:20 AM

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.


cditzen 07-02-2001 01:06 PM

Find your emergency tiller
Yep, I can attest to the benefits of knowing where the emergency tiller is stowed, and how it works, as I had to use it recently when I lost my binnacle in an accidental gybe (see the ''boom preventer or not'' thread).

As we have new crew fairly regularly on our ocean races, I typically walk everybody through the emergency procedures and gear for about 10 min as we motor out towards the start. That includes flares, emergency tiller, MOB stuff, and location of knives to cut lines/halyards, etc.. I think it really does pay off, since in an emergency, most everyone knows what''s where, and things not just go faster, but there''s less stress, which I think is nearly more critical than the speed issue.


EscapeArtist 07-03-2001 11:15 AM

Find your emergency tiller
I just wanted to acquit myself of failing to tighten the steering cable.

I took it all apart last night. The problem was the screw that holds the deck-mounted sheaves had come out, causing the sheave to be knocked out of line and derailing the cable.

Here''s what gets me... the screw was just punched into the fiberglass deck. No bolt, no backing plate. Something tells me I''m going to be finding this sort of thing for years to come. As I learn more about my boat, I''ve come to know that she is built with all the care and craftmanship of a house trailer.

jack_patricia 07-03-2001 12:48 PM

Find your emergency tiller
EA, I sure hope you don''t think I was indirectly criticizing you when adding my piece to the thread about trying to use an emergency tiller under sail. You did what 90+% of us sailors fail to do routinely, namely test & practice with the safety & back-up gear.

Also, you make an excellent point about looking a 2nd (3rd? 4th!) time at how the builder put critical systems together. Anchoring quadrant sheaves into fiberglass with self-tapping screws is a horrid thing to find but probably very much in line with other construction techniques on ''price boats'' these (and former) days. Which boat, BTW - to help us check for or avoid the problem ourselves?

We sail an older Pearson 424, which is - with the sole exception of the shower stall, which is a one-piece fiberglass mold - a 100% wooden boat, built inside a fiberglass hull & deck. You''d think that would be a great endorsement - and I guess it is, to an extent - but Lordy, some of the things we find over time.


Denr 08-01-2001 09:47 AM

Find your emergency tiller
After a similar discussion about a year ago, I checked out the emergency tiller on my 34-foot sloop. To my shock, I could not get it out of its mount without cutting a notch out of the wooden bracket that held it in position. After studying this problem I determined that the wooden brackets were installed on the hull before the deck was permanently fastened to the hull. Once the deck was in place there was not sufficient vertical clearance to lift the tiller out of its mount. This is a very good exercise for all boats (new or old) before you get into trouble when itís really needed.

wyejay 11-03-2006 11:27 AM

I'm currently converting my boat from tiller to wheel, and I've contemplated an emergency tiller setup. None of my contemplations get me to the sort of 30-second changeover mentioned above. Do some of these factory setups have quick-disconnect fittings? And when you put the emergency tiller on, is there some sort of locking mechanism that keeps it on?

TrueBlue 11-03-2006 01:16 PM

Mine is wedged between the rudder post, hydraulic steering lever and autopilot assembly . . . can't say I've ever even tried to remove the emergency tiller, let alone test it.

sailingdog 11-03-2006 04:16 PM

Knowing where your emergency gear is, how it works and that it works is always an excellent idea. The time you want to be finding out that the new cockpit table you've installed prevents you from using the emergency tiller is not when the wind is blowing 35 knots and the steering cable has snapped and you're two miles off of a rocky lee shore.

bwhite1010 11-14-2006 08:14 PM

I converted a P-30 from tiller to wheel and now keep the original tiller on brackets in the sail locker togeather with a bolt. I placed the binacle far enough forward to allow the tiller a full range of motion with a little lift. Hope I never have to use it.

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