Self Centering Dinghy Tiller

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by stubby, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. stubby
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    Location: Australia

    stubby Junior Member

    Could anyone lead me to info on how to set up a self centering tiller system for a 14ft dinghy. I want to use the club pacers every now and again on my own, and I want the tiller to self center so I can go forward and hoist the kite. Any ideas? This also means I can't do anything to the boat.
  2. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    Normally, any small dinghy can be held on course for a few seconds with the tiller lashed, and a bit longer when the wind is forward of the beam, but centering the helm means little in terms of staying on course when the wind is aft of the beam.
    Your only hope is to be able to steer the boat when going forward. This would require a rope led to each side of the tiller, then forward, leaving a line crossing about where the mast is. However, it must be normally disconnected from the tiller or else it could be catastrophic when it gets wrapped around the picnic basket.
    I use a loop coming from each side and led forward through simple straps (deadeyes) when I go forward. Normally, the looped ends are hanging at each side (the coamings).
  3. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Allan's technique is similar to the method I use on larger sailboats but don't find it necessary on boats as small as 14'. I tie the tiller down on centerline and steer the boat by heeling to one side or the other. This works both upwind and down. You can sail the boat most anywhere in lighter winds without touching the tiller. I have to admit that I never used a kite on a 14 footer so take that into consideration. One thing I always have on small boats is a shock cord on the tiller connected to the keel centerline. This tends to return the tiller to center when released and helps when single handing.

  4. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I don't know about your boat, but to solo set the kite on a 470 what you do is pull the CB about half-way up and just steer as Tom said with your weight. There was never any reason to tie the tiller down. If I did want to tie the tiller, I just used the tail of the jib sheet with a clove hitch on the tiller.

    FWIW, I would recommend to anyone who has a small sailing dinghy to practice sailing the boat without a rudder, using only the board, sail trim, and heel to steer. It will bring your sense of "balance" much closer to the boat.
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