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Thread: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

  1. #1
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    Default Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Here is a link to a book on how to self steer Tiller sailboats.
    http://www.jesterinfo.org/selfsteeri...lingcraft.html

    Not quite sure on this but upon reading this book I am still not certain if the elastic end.needs to ALWAYS be on the lee side (stupid question maybe but I am left wondering). Plan to try this out this season.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    It is generally easier to pull a tiller downwind than upwind.
    The steering sail has more power than the elastoc(shock cord).
    That is why the shock cord is on the lee side.
    One of these old books has a bit on a young person in the Caribbean with a cool rig he describes( I am told).
    I am that young person.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    I will look for you in the book. I've always been looking for a way to steer my boat without using electronics. Not sure why it's taken me this long to stumble across this idea. It's amazing that the author took a 20 foot boat single handed from California to Hawaii to Alaska and then home all while developing a way to self steer along the way. I suppose invention Times about through necessity. I cannot wait to try this technique on my own boat.

    in order to tack I plan to put an elastic and a line on each side so that they can be swapped when I tack in order to keep the elastic always to lee. Does that make sense?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    A boat should not need a self steering device to steer upwind, it should balance.
    Unless you are sailing some wacky fin keel race boat. Even my dingy balances upwind.
    For gybing however, yes sure. Having two sets of lines can save time and aggrieved. Or, they can get in the way and cause you to trip over them or get all mixup and confused at night when you are fatigued.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Funny, I just snatched this book off a local used book seller's shelf last weekend! Paid a hefty price for it too...

    Not sure how to adapt his methods to my Norwegian tiller yet but the season is young.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Funny, I just snatched this book off a local used book seller's shelf last weekend! Paid a hefty price for it too...
    I had to special order mine a couple years ago. Strangely, I paid a hefty price, too...

    (The real drag? I knew John Letcher when I was growing up but didn't realize he was such a figure. I'm still kicking myself for all the opportunities I missed to learn from him!)

    Alex

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Picked up a copy a few years back, heavy on the science and theory, but its all there. I learned early on that a boat that can not be balanced well under sail, is not going to do well under a line or vane steering (unless servo pendulum). Wish i had this book onboard 22 years ago, would have saved me hand steering for 24 days! A couple of spare blocks, line and elastic is all it would have took......and setting it up right.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    In response to an earlier post regarding sail balance.....

    Theoretically a boat should balance to windward but I would not rely on an accurate course for more than a few hundred feet before SOME slight manual correction would be required. A broad brush statement that sailboats need no auto pilot to windward is just impractical. Many are well balanced but my guess is none are perfect.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    the elastic pulls tiller to leeward and the sheet pulls the tiller handle to windward.

    the reason for this is when the wind increases a well balanced boat will generate increased weather helm, so more pressure on the rudder handle is necessary to counteract the increased tendancy to round up, as the wind slackens less rudder is needed and the elastic returns the rudder to the centerline!

    a ballanced boat can sail very well even without the shock chord, simply set the rudder amidships and ballance the helm with the sails, I have sailed model boats all the way across broad sound with this set up reliably close hauled or broad reaching... dead down wind does not work with this set up.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    I've downloaded the the PDFs and added them to my reading list.
    My take is that if you poke someone with a sharp stick they'll get annoyed, if you smile and shake their hand they will be your friends.

    John Welsford

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Most of my pond yachts have this system, later competition models had wind vane steering set-ups.
    Look up Braine gear and Vane gear here and click on the pics,
    http://pages.swcp.com/usvmyg/freesail/freesail.htm

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by glmeadows View Post
    In response to an earlier post regarding sail balance.....Theoretically a boat should balance to windward but I would not rely on an accurate course for more than a few hundred feet before SOME slight manual correction would be required. A broad brush statement that sailboats need no auto pilot to windward is just impractical. Many are well balanced but my guess is none are perfect.
    No , not a few hundred feet, a few hundred miles.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    I can trim Whimbrel to sail hands free on any point of sail, from close hauled to running free. I never had a boat that did that before. I have been using sheet to tiller systems for 38 years. My Uncle sailed around the world twice with sheet to tiller systems.
    There are a few cool videos on YouTube to inspire, but you just have to start experimenting.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    "Self-steering without a windvane: A comprehensive manual of natural and sheet-to-tiller steering systems for sailboats" by Lee Woas is the best book I know focused exclusively on sheet-to-tiller and other tricks without a wind vane. Used copies are unfortunately pricey, but it could be worth seeing if you can get it on inter-library loan.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by marujo.sortudo View Post
    "Self-steering without a windvane: A comprehensive manual of natural and sheet-to-tiller steering systems for sailboats" by Lee Woas is the best book I know focused exclusively on sheet-to-tiller and other tricks without a wind vane. Used copies are unfortunately pricey, but it could be worth seeing if you can get it on inter-library loan.
    One here for $36. https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Sea...vane&kn=&isbn=
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by gilberj View Post
    I can trim Whimbrel to sail hands free on any point of sail, from close hauled to running free. I never had a boat that did that before. I have been using sheet to tiller systems for 38 years. My Uncle sailed around the world twice with sheet to tiller systems.
    There are a few cool videos on YouTube to inspire, but you just have to start experimenting.
    cool, how are your sails set when running down wind?

    I guess Slockum sailed around the world with a lashed tiller and balancing sails... not sure how Centennial Johnson steered while he was sleeping... guess I'll find out.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    I recall reading that Slocum used an additional extended bowsprit (bamboo) with a jib lashed taut amidships. Rigged like that with no one at the helm a boat will only go dead downwind.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Noyes View Post
    cool, how are your sails set when running down wind?

    I guess Slockum sailed around the world with a lashed tiller and balancing sails... not sure how Centennial Johnson steered while he was sleeping... guess I'll find out.
    Broad reaching, jib just a bit tight, main.... just right, and mizzen a little loose. If she rounds up, the jib pulls harder, and the mizzen starts to loose drive. If she falls off the mizzen pulls harder, and the jib starts to loose it. Actually, the course made good on a moderate day with little sea, is very straight, very little wander at all. With a larger sea she swings through perhaps 10 degrees. To adjust the course I simply adjust the mizzen sheet an inch or two.
    Running free, wing and wing, takes a bit more fiddling, and is not as reliable in a big sea. I put a line on the tiller from one side, opposite the mizzen, to prevent the tiller going too far to one side. I have run wing and wing for 40 miles, force 5, 2 meter seas, with no hand steering, other than minor adjustments. 6.5 hours hook to hook. I only rig prevents in larger wind and sea.
    In lighter winds I'll tack downwind, but in stronger winds, I won't get enough extra speed to make up for the greater distance sailed.
    Using sail trim, I might loose 1/4 to 1/2 knot from best sail trim hand steering. Not a lot for a cruiser.
    I think the leeboards help in this.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    If you happened to have a "norwegian" tiller, i.e. a push-pull set-up, could you still employ this method by detaching the tiller from the rudder arm, and then attaching the shock cord to the end of the rudder arm?

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    You'd need a double arm, as a normal tiller is actuated from both sides. I'm sure it could be done though with modifications.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Shock cords should be as small and as long as possible.
    And new. They wig out quickly.
    Before I was rich, and bought a monitor, shock cord was a "shocking" expense!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    I have a short length (about 15") of chain (plastic chain actually) that fits on a special bolt inset into the top of the tiller. Whatever shock cords or bits of line I use are attached to the chain. This allows for easy adjustment to the tiller by moving 1 or 2 links at a time, rather than starting to shift all the line-ups. The plastic chain works for me (is plenty strong enough) as there is never strong tiller forces on this boat.
    The truth is mostly the tiller swings free once the sails are properly trimmed, but just often enough I want the rudder to be part of the balance equation that this is useful.
    Surgical tubing is a good alternative to bungees, keep their spring better than bungees.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    IIRC, Letcher actually advises that surgical tubing works better than bungee/shock cord.

    Alex

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Surgical tube is used for "tips" on tenor pan mallets,(steel drum sticks).
    I have looked for it in hardware stores and pharmacys in the West Indies,to no avail. So each year I purchase a package of pre made tips. Like many things of rubber, they melt after a year or three in the heat. "Rubbers" for spear guns are too heavy.
    Shock cord is easy to find.
    The rolling hitches needs occasional adjustments for wind strength and course changes, I think knots in surgical tubing would jam.
    ...just thinking aloud.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Just an aside….. I wonder why it's called surgical tubing? Do the doctors use it to secure one's organs in place? Or maybe in lieu of stitching up? A couple of wraps around the old chest ought to keep the new heart in there…...

    Sorry… I might have woken up too early this morning.

    Jeff

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Just an aside….. I wonder why it's called surgical tubing? Do the doctors use it to secure one's organs in place? Or maybe in lieu of stitching up? A couple of wraps around the old chest ought to keep the new heart in there…...

    Sorry… I might have woken up too early this morning.

    Jeff
    Drains, you see surgical patients with the stuff protruding between the stitching .
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Sheet Tiller Self Steering

    We helped set up a "Friends of the Library" booksale this weekend and I found a decent copy of Letcher for $2.00. If anybody wants it for their library, PM me and I'll send it out. I already have a copy.

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