The boat owners use tillers to direct their sailing vessel. Wheel steering for tiller steering, both being different are used widely for providing proper navigation to boats. Both types of steering come with their advantages and disadvantages. The boat length and weight determine the type of steering to be used. The absolute control of your sailing vessel lies on its steering. Many factors are considered while the boats are designed, and steering is chosen according to the boat type and its convenience.
The Boat’s Tiller
A pole that is attached to the rudder’s top is called a tiller. The boat driver can pull or push the rudder with the tiller (acts as lever). The vessel’s stern has an underwater blade that is positioned vertically known as the rudder. The tiller makes the rudder move in left or right directions. For course changes the water is redirected past the hull and the rudder steers it while the turning motions take place. The hull has a longitudinal axis and the rudder is usually placed perpendicular in most of the boats. When the vessel is pushed hard by the tiller then the rudder helps in effective brakes required by the vessel. For perfect working the tiller and rudder go hand in hand and help in redirecting the water past the hull.
The Middle Ages was an era during which larger ships had cables, chains or ropes that took the place of tillers. These chains or ropes helped in connecting the rudder and steering wheel, that enabled better rudder control with least efforts. After the emergence of steam engines, cables and ropes were replaced by metal gears. In the present times large racing sailboats while being in the ocean use tillers that provide an exceptional steering feel.
What Type Of Engine Is Used For A Tiller For Steering?
The engine that is best suited for a tiller for steering is an outboard engine. This proves perfect for this purpose. It is manufactured with high quality construction, and is widely used by fishermen while surfing kayak or boat. You can just go deep inside in deep waters without any worries.
The Pros and Cons of a Boat Tiller
The tillers come with a simple construction as doesn’t include any complicated accessories such as, wires, gears, chains and hydraulics. These are more suitable for sailboats. Some drawbacks are there though.
While using a tiller you are able to have very limited mechanical advantage and leverage. It becomes very easy and less tiring for a helmsman if the leverage and mechanical advantage is powerful, helps in boosting and makes sailing easier.
When the boats are going through tough seas then using tillers might cause you fatigue. The tiller might lose control in absence of a steady grip and a painful blow in legs or guts might be felt by a helmsman.
Crew and nearby vessels may face an unsafe situation as an unplanned tiller may produce abrupt and uncontrolled turning motions. Tiller movements can be controlled by autopilot, lock or shock.
While the large tiller boats are standing, they are helmed for amplifying the visibility. Balancing of the body is required on a constant basis, and this could be full of fatigue for you physically and mentally.
The Advantages Of A Boat’s Tiller
The tiller has many advantages also, as follows:
In any close quarters it enables immediate rudder response, that leads to a safe and peak performance.
The tillers are of great use for experienced or single-handed sailors as while helming multiple tasks can be done such as eating, drinking or trimming sails. This is possible as the tiller can be moved with legs also.
Winches, cleats or other parts of a boat can be easily accessed as the tiller comes with an easy foldable feature leaves more empty space on the cockpit. In case of water flowing friction around the rudder, a tiller can make adjustments if used by an experienced helmsman. If the sail needs trimming with steering efforts then it can be done easily with the help of a tiller.
Auto pilots are affordable and come with easy installation if required.
The Tiller Towards Trouble
The tiller functions opposite to that of a steering wheel, and is moved in a reverse direction as to the desired heading. Operating a tiller needs practice for making it work well. Already discussed above that a tiller is supposed to be moved in the opposite direction to the bow, for example, the bow turns to the right of star board when the tiller is moved to the left and bow turns to the port if the positioning is to the starboard.
The sailors are well versed with this while being trained ‘tiller towards trouble’, that always helps them to be alert while pulling or pushing the tiller. Any kind of potential dangers such as navigational aid, shore feature, course mark should be avoided. Whether we go as per the saying the meaning is counter intuitive and the boat is bound to move in the opposite direction when pushed, as per the tiller directions except in case of a dead ahead.
It is wise and recommended for the novice sailors that they should get trained from an experienced helmsman to steer with a tiller in tough or adverse marine conditions. It might be challenging though but the learning should be proper. Docking or critical weather conditions will make the beginners adapt and get trained properly.
Manoeuvring With A Tiller In Close Quarters
While docking the olden technique of sculling is widely used while having close-quarters manoeuvring. This technique is often used on tiller boats and the rudder is turned into a ‘steering oar’, that can move in all sorts of directions from side to side, forward thrust and more, along with changing the blade angle too. It requires a great amount of practice for sculling in order to have a desired amount of speed with direction. It is very important for places like docks, moorings or anchoring points.
The Tiller Extensions and Locks
At the end of a tiller there is one more pole (sliding and adjustable) and is the tiller extension. The tiller extension makes the movement easy around the cockpit and helps in controlling the equipment with less efforts. Shock cord is often used by the sailors to assert the tiller by holding the tiller in one position and providing apt balance and allowing the also boat to do so (finding balance).
It is a misconception by some sailors that only steering wheels that are prominent or shiny in the cockpit are more nautical looking as compared to the tiller. But not to forget that tillers are very beneficial for small sailing vessels. As is said that practice makes a man perfect, so similarly learning to use a tiller efficiently and safely should be practised by the sailors, and tiller towards trouble is a must to practice.