Necessity is the Mother….

July 3,2016


The marina wasn’t so much fun today, since the wind was non-existent.  So, the sailing itself just wasn’t going to happen.  But that wasn’t exactly the focus of today anyway.  I read with interest an article in Small Craft Advisor about a do-it-yourself Tiller Tamer.  Given that I’ve been using a surgical cord and rope self-steering device for four years, I was never likely to buy a Tiller Tamer or the one I prefer, the Tiller Clutch.


My original self-steering device was based on the one illustrated in Andrew Evans’ Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics For Singlehanded Sailing, Third Edition, though my surgical tubing had finally worn out.  I’ve secured new surgical tubing, but the article in Small Craft Advisor. intrigued me.  Instead of having the cord wrapped around the tiller, they employed a jam cleat on the underside of the tiller.  A quick review of West Marine’s website found the device and it is on its way, but I didn’t feel like waiting, so I used the info and picture at this webpage:


to construct a temporary device for the tiller.  It shows a picture of a rather simple and clunky looking double jam cleat that looks a bit like a clothes pin or blocky deck cleat.  It seemed simple enough to make so I gave it a try, using of course all the wrong tools (and probably the wrong techniques as well.)


Here is a picture of the device installed on the tiller with cable ties:

Close up of homemade jamcleatSSee


It’s not pretty, but I remember something my father once said about professional photographers.  He was just getting into photography at that time, and commented to me that unlike amateur photographers, pros may be a bit rougher with their equipment, treating their cameras more as tools than as fragile works of art.  So, I don’t exactly feel bad that my little block doesn’t look that nice.  It seems to work (even though there was only a very slight wind) and I can see how I can make it a bit tighter by changing the location of the knots tying the surgical tubing the regular cord.  I now have a device I can use if I need a backup once I get the jam cleat from West Marine.


Not a bad hour’s work.  Necessity is the Mother, they say….



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