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Does sheet-to-tiller steering work?

Are you looking for a simple way to manage the helm while tending to the sails? I have been researching the subject of sheet-to-tiller steering ideal for solo sailors on long or short passages.

There are many hundreds of articles on the subject ranging from those who are sailing solo on lengthy ocean passages or just day sailing in smaller sailboats. It can get a bit confusing so I set out to find some of the simple and relevant ideas and try them out on my two boats.

Sheet-to-tiller steering has been used successfully on a wide range of sailboats on all sorts of passages and in a wide range of sea states. Some have used this method successfully over a lifetime of sailing




I started out experimenting with the jib to tiller and had some success over short distances in lumpy seas and 15 knots of steady wind off the coast of Mooloolaba on the Coral Sea?

I attached a control line to the leeward sheet and took it back through a turning block conveniently located on the Gunwhale that is used for the spinnaker brace. From there it went over the top of the tiller, and back underneath through a cam cleat mounted underneath.

A cam cleat in the opposing direction took a bungee cord from the windward gunwale to take up the slack when she luffed up a little. My conclusion is it is practical and possible on a broad reach or greater angle away from the wind. I need to experiment further, taking the pressure of the sheet entirely and just using the control line to adjust the headsail. I think it was a mistake to leave the sheet cleated off.

Similar results were achieved attaching the control line to the end of the boom whilst on the Sandy Strait in light and variable winds with no seas whatsoever. Again I made the mistake of controlling the sail with the mainsheet, defeating the purpose of the control line. Next time I go out I plan to go about the same exercise without making the rookie mistake. I will update my results here.

There is a video attached that shows the configuration very clearly. Please free to leave your comments and suggestions below.

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