Frequently Asked Questions
OPERATING LINES TO AN EMERGENCY TILLER - Why don't I hook up the windvane to an emergency tiller on deck if I have one? Then it can probably be 30 inches long.
You can do this but we recommend it only when you have hydraulic steering and use a bypass valve to "get rid of" the back pressure in the system. With a mechanical system (cable and quadrant, rack and pinion etc.) you have to drag around the entire wheel steering system backwards if you try to steer through an emergency/auxiliary tiller. It really depends on how serious you are about getting good self-steering. A good experiment would be to put the emergency tiller on and go sailing for an afternoon. On most boats you will find that it is very difficult to steer unless you disengage the cable/quadrant wheel steering. This is normally not a practical solution.
If your priority is PERFORMANCE you should go directly to the wheel with a one-to-one direct ratio. You would get the mechanical advantage from the wheel steering system itself. If it is a tiller steered boat you should go direct to the boat's tiller. If your priority is to not see the lines you can create a "snake nest" in the lazarette (or maybe get a motor boat?). Any experienced sailor knows that you want PERFORMANCE. You would not trust your boat to a bad helmsman, and you should not have a poorly-rigged windvane.