The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Friday, December 19, 2014

Emergency Tiller

Corbin 39 cutter
The last time I went sailing, it was still warm, almost.
It wasn't very cold for winter. I was out at the  boat and the wind billowed under my coat and up my back as I bent over the chain locker fiddling with the drain hoses that get clogged with chewed up crab shells dropped by seagulls on the deck and by other debris blown from town over the marina.

My back got stiff, as I knew it would, and I was feeling lazy anyway, so it was a perfect day to mess around doing nothing special.

I remembered that I had promised Peter over at "Sailing Zoot Allures" to try the emergency tiller without disconnecting the hydraulic cylinder. A good thing I did too because the hydraulic steering selection knob was frozen on the "no feedback" position. Better to discover it tied to the marina than floating on the ocean during a steering failure with a rocky lee shore. 

emergency bypass
"No feedback is" the default selection of my Wagner hydraulic steering. Tried feedback a couple of times but it feels like the rudder fights back.

I sprayed it WD40 without much conviction other than it would make me feel better for doing something. Waited a while and then tried turning it gently with large vice-grips. It came free and I sprayed it some more and then exercised the knob for a while. 

After switching it to emergency bypass, I snapped the emergency tiller on. The tiller flowed back and forth using one finger.

Yes, I know, the boat is standing still and there's no pressure on the rudder. With that in mind, I fired up the engine, warmed it up, clunked into forward and gunned it. The large 3-blade prop is right in front of the rudder and the propeller wash looked like a stormy river flowing back from under the boat. I tried the same one-finger trick and it was a piece of cake. Of course, there was no weather helm or heeling but, still, I was steering with one finger pushing a stubby tiller attached to a barn-door rudder.

And to cheer you up after such a gloomy post, here's a Sailjet 40, the fastest motorsailor ever built. Don't let the sails fool  you, it's a speedboat. This is radical. I'm not sure if it makes any sense, but it probably does.


  1. Skiing behind a sailboat.... now I've seen it all!
    So, thanks for the linkin' and for the tiller experiment. Nice to see it work without ram disengagement. (my projects are on hold due to work and laziness).
    But I'll let you on a new NASA secret (which I haven't tried yet) for loosening stuck "stuff". Mix 50-50 acetone and ATF. Apparently the acetone evaporates so fast it sucks in the fine ATF and bingo, the stuck is loose.

    1. That's a well-kept NASA secret, until now! Sounds promising and makes sense. I'll try it.
      Speaking of work and laziness, I believe I'm working too much because I was too lazy to get rich when I had the chance. Happy holidays and a toast to a life of leisure.