Monday, November 28, 2016

Our Longest Passage: The Galapagos to Easter Island

Tuesday, November 15th 

Yesterday we weighed anchor and sailed out of Puerto Ayora. It´s amazing to fall so in love with a place, and just as quickly decide to get out of there. We are determined to make haste and have begun to speak in numbers. 1945 miles from Galapagos to Easter Island. 1231 miles left. 15-18 days overall, depending on our average speed.  Max came to bed and whispered, We did 136 mile VMG (velocity made good) in the last 24hrs. What was our overall? I ask. I don't know, he says, but I didn't touch the tiller my whole watch. Me either, I say. If we are lucky, it will take us eleven more days to end up 2000 miles from anywhere. How had the Polynesians ever found this place? 

A port tack convinced us to abandon the v-berth and move into the main salon where gravity holds us in a space too narrow to at anchor. Everything else is uphill or insufficiently padded. Better to sleep like two sardines than suffer sagging lee clothes or boards in your back. This passage has been so serene we have taken to being below deck together for longer
periods of time, even dozing off for fifteen minutes as we switch watches. The boat just goes ever since we hit the steady South Easterly trades. There are no shipping lanes to cross and this wind should hold for days. Still, I am nervous. This time we are really venturing far out into the Pacific. That being said, I can't deny the obvious facts. The sky is partly cloudy everyday, it hasn't rained at all, and the temperature has cooled to that of May in New York. Could it be this easy?

There were times in New York when I would say things like, the passage from The Galapagos to Easter Island scares me, but by that time we will have sailed over 5000 miles. We will be different sailors by then. I bring up this memory at cocktail hour. Remember when I said that? Do you feel like a different sailor? We decide that in fact, we are different, but certain things are remarkably the same. I still wake up with a certain amount of anxiety and have to immediately find Max. Even his shadow will do. I am relieved when I see him go from fast asleep to calling my name, and know he shares that anxiety. I still look at the waves and imagine myself falling in and being swept away, but by now I realize that's not too likely and,

to a large degree, up to me. Max and I are only awake, together, and talking during meals and at cocktail hour when we discuss the looming feelngs and questions that have been developing in our minds throughout our separate watches. We talk about what worries us, what we have noticed about ourselves or the boat, and what we miss or look forward to. As sailors, we have begun to feel what the boat feels. We know its textures, its leaks, its splinters and sharp corners. We know how to keep the water in the kettle and the kettle on the stove. We know how to wedge our bodies into place to cut a clove of garlic without losing it. We have installed, inspected, and run our hands over every piece of harware, line, bungee, and know when they are under strain. We try to be a little paranoid. To notice. Sometimes we notice things a little too late.

Early in this trip we noticed two things: a crack in the tiller and three screws missing from the base of the roller furler. we discussed each in turn. Had the tiller always been cracked? Could we have not noticed that? We each traced our memories back to those early days in the woodshop. I could feel the sandpaper between my hand and the wood. No, I say, it was perfect. But Max remembered the sandpaper too, and could recall a small crack, something that the paper tripped over, toward the base. Regardless, what would we do if it broke? We discussed what would be necesary to fit the spare tiller, a long alluminum bar, into the space where the current tiller is. We would have to drill holes for the blocks that hold the self-steering system, the little nipple that holds the electronic autopilot, and then how to fit it tightly into the space in the back so that there would be no play would be an issue. We decided to put dots at the ends of the crack with a Sharpie, continue to mull it over, and see if the crack was existing or developing.

As for the furler, three screws of a certain thread and metric had wiggled themselves free reminding us that every screw, bolt, nut, inch of adhesive, cable, pulley, cleat, is under constant strain. They are all wiggling free, chafing, deteriorating in the sun, etc. Everything has a life expectancy, everything is breaking, all things fall apart, and it's our job to see it happening. Even today, a thin line was touching the top of the tiller, and as the boat drove itself by making small adjustments to port or to starboard, the line rubbed gently on the varnished wood. After a day of this, six layers of varnish are gone and the edge of a piece of bronze hardware was polished to a bright gold finish. Our problem with the screws on the furler system is that we have no more of that type, which is impressive considering the bulk of our hardware box, and didn't want to risk damaging the threading by using a different type of screw. Thankfully, Max had found one of the three in the scupper days earlier, and not knowing where it had come from, put it aside. So, one screw holds the furler in place. A wrap of Gorilla tape provides resistance. We furl gently and hope for a hardware store in Easter Island. 

Thursday, November 17

Going above deck this morning I am in awe of what has become normal. Our boat charges, rushes, plunges through the dark. The waves are just discernable, but I don't need to see them. I can tell that they are short and steep, heavily textured by the wind. I can sense that they are building and stick my hand outside the dodger to feel the cold sting of rain. The
 leeward rail dips deeply and clear, cold ocean runs back into the cockpit scrambling the sheets and flooding the cockpit floor. This is my cue to reef the Genoa and I go below to put on foulies.  

Full moon night photography

We are passing through endless squalls. Stripes of gray that reach down to the horizon. Evenly colored, thick as flannel, and smudged where they meet the water. We are constantly reefing in expectation of the weather and then shaking reefs once it passes. Between squalls the wind dies completely and the climate seems to be reeling from the storm. We dropped all the sails and motor. Another squall comes and we hoist enough sail to get through it. This is
the type of sailing that we find most challenging. Constant sail changes can exhaust even the most patient sailor. By the end of a six hour watch, I have reefed and shaken reefs, furled and unfurled, motored. I am wet and my hands are aching, lines of blood blisters have formed on the inside of my fingers. I go below to wake Max and say, It is with great pleasure that I hand over the sailing of Tortuga to you this morning Captain.

Friday, November 18

From Nuqui, Colombia to Puerto Ayora, Galapagos we almost caught one Tuna, so small we didn't even bother to get the gaff or a net. He threw the hook between the water and the cockpit, and we were relived because he was too small. Since The Galapagos, we have caught one shark, one coil of green line, a cluster of cassette tape plastic, and one half of a Tuna. The shark bit soon after we left Puerto Ayora- a last reminder of the abundance of life in those magical islands. We didn't want the shark of course, but thought we might be able to get the lure back, which would be mutually beneficial. Max reeled him in slowly and when he came alongside the boat I could see that he was a white tip shark, about five feet long. He swam steadily just below the surface and seemed unconcerned by what was happening. Terrific to watch, we tried to get him as close as possible before cutting the line. We hoped to leave as little as possible with him. We did our best.

A white-tipped shark on the line
Today we caught half of a Tuna. Max had been complaining all day about how many bites we had that didn't turn into fish, about catching sharks or bunches of plastic. He kept saying, I just want to catch one fish before Easter Island. When the reel went off, he wasn't taking any chances. We could tell it was a big fish and Max reeled in slowly, letting it run a few times. When it got close, Max took the pole out of it's metal sleeve and walked it forward. He sat down and kept reeling while I got ready with the gaff. We saw the dark blue back of a Tuna cut the surface of the water a few yards behind the boat. Then the fish dove and Max's shoulders and arms were shaking with the effort. He kept saying that it felt really strange. The struggle stopped and the fish came to the surface, apparetnly dead. I reached down with the gaff and noticed that something was very odd. Half of the fish was missing. After a second I yelled, Max, Half of the fish is missing! As I yelled that I saw a large shadow just beyond the Tuna and the brilliant,

unmistakable stripes of a TIger Shark. He had obviously helped himself to half our catch and was hungry for more. Gaff it!! Max was yelling while I was fixated on the vibrant shark moving himself towards me in that muscle bound way they swim. I pulled the half Tuna into the cockpit and Max and I collapsed laughing. The shark did us a favor actually. Even just the head is too much meat for us to eat, and it is so much easier to pull in a dead fish that has already bled out. No violent fish blugeoning in the cockpit with hard to clean blood spraying all over the place. Whenever a fish is caught, it means an hour of work for each of us. Tuna blood stains incredibly. We made delicious steaks for dinner and there is a lot left. 

Sunday November 20

I have been seeing the most amazing things. Last night I learned what the sky is capable of doing. The sun set in an almost cloudless sky. The where the horizon is hunting season orange and then above the first stars and planets are as bright as LED lights in a deep lavender
atmosphere. Max and I watched the sunset together on the cabin top while discussing the passage so far. Just as the sun sank I reminded him of the green flash, a phenomenom of light that appears just after the sun disappears and can only be seen by the dedicated and patient sky gazer. Max is a non-believer, so I covered his eyes and told him I would oncover them at precisely the right moment. Wait for it, wait for it, and Now! I yelled uncovering hs eyes. Just then a crown of neon green light shot up from the horizon. Did you see it? That was amzing! But Max hadn't seen it.

After dinner I had the first watch, 8pm to 2am. I dressed in my foulies, made a pot of coffee, and went above deck to watch the sky. On such a clear evening I could welcome each star to the sky and watch its constellation form, trying to remember the names and stories. With a six hour watch, there is time for this. Venus was brighter than I had ever seen. Such a diamond of sharp light I kept mistaking it for another ship very close to us. Orion appeared close to the horizon and I could see the face of Taurus rising. The scene of the great hunt I consider every evening. The sails were trimmed to a broad reach, seas were calm, and the boat was easily making 6-7 knots without my help. I pulled a blanket over my legs and got lost in a daydream. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bright green light and jumped up, thinking that I had missed the approach of a ship and that its starboard light was incredibly close. I stared into the night trying to decipher the even darker shape of the ship that must be there. But there was only the green light going quickly passed and my heart beating at the thought of who could be out here with us, and so close. When I was sure that the light was passed I relaxed a little, but then saw another coming. Another neon orb floating quickly across the water, the size of a basketball. I woke up Max for this one and we watched it together, and then another, and another. I guess there are glowing orbs in the South Pacific. Who knew? We stayed awake together for a while looking at the exceptional sky. The stars on the horizon were flashing red, blue, white. Venus, before deisappearing in its rotation was also flashing bold colors at the horizon. Max went to sleep and I spent the rest of the watch enveloped in my senses. Clouds covered the stars and vision was traded for sound. Beyond the leeward rail and the working and non-working lines, I could hear the rushing and collapsing sea. A pulley to my right clicked line in and out and the wind generator rushed and slowed with the changing wind.

It took 14 and a half days for us to reach Easter Island. When we left The Galapagos my neck was in a brace due to a pulled muscle, leaving Max with the burden of any heavy lifting. We kept pace the entire passage, motoring when necessary, and making incescant sail changes to keep up our speed. The South East trades treated us well and we sped over a large section of ocean while playing cards below deck, or reading for hours in the cockpit. There were a few days of hard work, squalls, and fickle wind. Overall, it was easy. It was easier by far than NY to Bermuda or Guadeloupe to Colombia. There were no big seas and no storms. Mostly the sky kept changing back to partial sun, fluffy cumulus clouds, and spring like weather. 

We passed Thanksgiving underway and managed to make potatoes, stuffing, and even gravy with canned Rouladen (pickles rolled in venison). We missed our families intensely and talked for hours about how much we love that holiday and why. We discussed each
recipe of our mothers in great detail. We carefully described the Christmas traditions of our families and what is eaten when. I began to realize that the holidays aboard the boat by ourselves are going to be tough.

Max and I are closer than we have ever been, though romance has given way to something more practical. We show our love through splinter removals, rash inspections, and small gestures that are so meaningful at sea. A pot of coffee for your watch. New sheets on the bed. A swept main cabin floor or cleaned head. I think Max's journal entries from the passage sum it up beautifully...


Night is settling in as an improvised boat dinner fades into memory.  The smell of coffee fills the cabin along with warm yellow light. Sam Cook plays in the background.  I put on my sweater, waterproof pants, and jacket.  I feel completely relaxed as if I have lived this momemnt a million times before.  There is no rush to go outside.  The wind is still blowing and the boat is on course as assured by her heel and movement.  She has found her groove in the south east trades. She keeps running and running pushing water out of the way like she never has before.  It´s as if she is chasing something.  Something tickling the dried up tuna tail tied to her bowsprit maybe. The woman of my dreams dreams in the forpeak leaving me with the main salon, cockpit and deck to myself.  My somatch tingles with anticipation as it does in a child retreating to a secret hiding place.  Anticipation for the place itself, for its potential, for the memory of this moment.  The perfect night in the South Pacific, a place I have always dreamed of exploring.  It seems I have it all to myself with the only company I will ever need sleeping quietly in the forepeak. 

I hate this picture, but Max loves it. I had to wear this neck brace for our fist week out from The Galapagos.

Night watch letter writing

Max sewing a new waterproof bag for his clothes

Finished War and Peace!

First sight of Easter Island


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Galapagos

 When I was sixteen, my dad gave me a copy of Dove. In the book, a young Robin Lee Graham, while circumnavigating in a small sailboat, makes a stop in the Galapagos. He and his girlfriend anchor along abandoned coasts, dive for endless lobster, and enjoy the natural abundance of this archipelago. If Max and I had sailed here in the 60s or 70s, I imagine we would've experienced something similar and even entertained the daydream that we were the discoverers of this benign and enchanting group of islands. Maybe if humans had behaved a little better, we could've had that experience. Sailing to the Galapagos in 2015 means passing a gauntlet of national park regulations, paying a high price to stay in one anchorage for no more than 20 days, and using an agent to navigate the complex regulations. For us it has also meant experiencing the most abundant and breath-taking biodiversity of our trip, the most colorful and imaginative landscapes, and interacting with an impressive community charged with the complex and difficult task of protecting one of the world's most valuable ecosystems from the tourism that also sustains it. Being here for three weeks, working with the students at the Thomas de Berlanga school, and doing some tourism of our own, has taught us that humans and nature can live alongside one another quite peacefully. The problem is that everyone has to follow a lot of rules.

Within a short time of arriving, we had a considerable number of people board our boat to complete paperwork and inspections. They vacuumed corners of the galley floor, looked through the boat, inspected the gray and black water discharge, asked to see a garbage and engine maintenance log, and then dove on our hull to make sure we were not introducing any new species. Our agent reminded us more than once that the US government spends millions of dollars each year trying to manage the zebra muscles and Asian carp in the Great Lakes. The process of passing the park regulations and being welcomed into the port took two days and cost about $1000. If you include the fumigation and the hull cleaning we had to do in Colombia, then the price is to closer $1200 for our three weeks in the Galapagos.   At times this did feel overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming. In the end it was worth it. These three weeks have taught us valuable lessons about how to build a culture that truly and deeply cares for it's ecosystem, provided us with incredible experiences, and changed our trip into an effort to build that type of culture wherever we travel, and hopefully where we settle when we return. That being said, it couldn't hurt the Galapagos to be a bit clearer about the rules (or enact a no wake rule in the harbor). Seriously, this anchorage feels like being in a blender at times.

Puerto Ayora, the main port of the Galapagos, on Isla Santa Cruz, is a quiet town hugging a turquoise harbor. All boats are anchored at the stern and bow, water taxis zoom people back and forth ($.80 in the daytime, $1 at night), endless tourism offices and restaurants line the streets, while seals and iguanas sleep on town docks and benches.  It is unquestionably safe, and the cleanest place we have been. The air is cool and dry which has been a huge relief after Colombia. For cruisers, the grocery stores are expensive, there is no pump out, there are laundry services all over town, and a vegetable market that is great (and pretty cheap). It is important to remember that you are on an island very far from the mainland and that everything has to be imported. The anchorage here is very beautiful and we have seen a lot of sea life just from the boats. Turtles, manta rays, sharks, and many swimming iguanas.

Our work with the Thomas de Berlanga school was so rewarding that we have decided to continue working with schools in each port we visit. We gave three presentations at the school that revolved around the idea of going out and accomplishing difficult dreams using our trip as an example. It was good, but we would like to make it more about the environmental history of the Hudson River and relate it to whatever human behavior, or past behavior, is affecting local waterways in the areas where we visit. This may be the impact of tourism, mining practices, toxins in the water, or plastic pollution. Hopefully, we will be able to get kids out sailing in each place that we go, teaching them to use their waterways, and that what is used, tends to be cared for more. We are excited and empowered by this project. It reflects something that Max and I really believe in and the philosophy that we would like to return with to the Hudson Valley. We are indebted to the community here for making this possible, and specifically to Luis Fernandez (aka Champi), his wife Cristina, and their awesome kids, Emilio and Adrian.

Election day in Galapagos

Max dives deep into the turquoise of Las Grietas, a sort of channel between cliffs where ocean water has been trapped. We found this at the end of a short walk that also took us by pink, orange, green salt pools and into a cactus forest unlike anything I have ever seen.

The iguanas on Tortuga Bay's long beach are completely unafraid of humans. They swim in the surf and sun themselves on the beach or the lava rocks which they quite resemble.
Blue-footed Boobie at Tortuga Bay

A peaceful lagoon filled with turtles and Boobies at the end of Tortuga Bay.

Our cockpit with Champi and his two sons, Emilio and a sea-sick Adrian.

Max teaches the local surf team about the points of sail before going out.

Max and I did three presentations at the Thomas de Berlanga school!!

And then we had a jugo at the school's outdoor cafeteria.

Emilio philosophizes at the tiller.

Father pursuing son sailing away on Tortuga

Son deep in concentration

White tipped shark

The man that made our stay in Galap. possible.  Champi and Fam

The threatened Land Iguana

Benefits of invasive species

Laura surfing with sharks, iguanas, seals, and sea turtles

First real tortuga encounter

The Famous Marine Iguana

Friday, November 4, 2016

Our New Project!

We are working on an exciting new project and would love your support, feedback, and/or advice. Recently, in the Galapagos, we had a really fulfilling experience working with a local school and taking kids sailing on our boat. It has been so enriching that we decided we want to do it again and again. We are trying to raise some funds to turn Tortuga into more of an educational sailing vessel. Follow the link below to check out our Patreon page and let us know what you think.

Max and I gave three presentations at the Thomas de Berlanga School in Puerto Ayora

Local kids in Puerto Ayora learn how to drive Tortuga

Emilio, now in love with sailing, tells me about life in the Galapagos.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sheet to Tiller Self Steering

There is no experience like an off-shore passage on a small sailboat.  As land fades into the horizon, you are left as a lonely witness to the ever changing temperament of the ocean surrounding you.  Time slows down and you keep up with enjoyable or necessary activities such as reading, writing, thinking, repairing, navigating, or sailing. That is as long as you don't have to steer.

The Art of Self Steering

Steering is a continuous chore that must be preformed regardless of the weather, the point of sail, or the time of day.  It will bog you down, bore you to tears, and rob you of countless hours of leisure in a beautiful open ocean.  It can be overcome but most methods are expensive and are prone to failure.  A self-steering wind vane is the best option for most cruisers given that they perform well on most points of sail, require no electricity, and are made of robust metal parts.  The downside is they can cost up to $5000, and if a part fails, it may be difficult to repair or replace.  The second option is the electric autopilot.  The downside here is a $600-$2000 price tag, 1-30 amp energy consumption depending on sea conditions, and a high failure rate given that most units are undersized for the boat they are installed on.  The third option is a sheet to tiller system which uses a line directed through a series of blocks to divert the power of the sails and keep the boat on course.  This system uses no electricity, is easy to repair on land or at sea, and costs virtually nothing given that the required parts are standard inventory on most sailboats.  The system requires more time to set up and adjust than the self-steering wind vane or electric autopilot but will result in a better understanding of your boat and the forces that propel her.

Our Westsail 32 sailing herself from Bermuda to Guadeloupe

Required Materials
- 6 blocks attached to swivel snap shackles.  Snap blocks are preferred but standard blocks work also.  Regardless, it's always nice to have extras to help run lines.
- 1  30 ft length of 3/8" low stretch line with a swivel snap shackle attached to one end.  As I explain how the system works, I will refer to this line as the steering sheet.
- 2 cam cleats mounted on either side of the tiller approximately 36 inches from the tiller pivot axis.
- 1 Four foot length of 3/8" O.D. 3/16" I.D. surgical tubing to make the counter balancing bungy. You will have to form this tubing into an "M" shape and create loops at every end and corner with sailing twine.  Permanently attach a swivel snap shackle to the two corners at the top of the "M".  This shackle will be used to attach the bungy to the stern pulpit or toe rail.  Take a 4 ft section of 3/8" line with a swivel snap shackle at the end that can be quickly attached to one, two, or all three loops at the bottom of the "M".  Then end of the line will go to the cam cleat mounted on the tiller while the snap shackle allows for quick adjustment of the pull provided by the surgical tubing.  I will refer to this assembly as the bungy.

Materials Needed for Bungy Assembly

Form Tubing into "M" Shape
Create Loops with Sailing Twine

Loops Located at Ends and Corners at Top and Bottom of "M"

Top of "M" Connected to Snap Shackle
Bottom of "M" Connected to Shackle and Rope Lead

View of all Required Materials

Additional Materials for Wing on Wing Sailing
- Additional 30 ft length of 3/8" low stretch line with swivel snap shackle attached to one end.
- Homemade jig for attaching to genoa sheet.  Jig is made of plywood, one sheave cut in half, and one half of a cam cleat.  See drawings for more details.

Jig for Attaching to Genoa Sheet
Jig for Attaching to Genoa Sheet

The Boat
I have successfully experimented with sheet to tiller self-steering on both a heavy displacement full keel mono-hull as well as a light displacement dagger board trimaran.  I do not believe displacement or keel configuration alone are determining factors on whether or not sheet to tiller will work.  The important thing is that your boat is balanced.  A balanced boat will have slight weathered helm when sailing closed-hauled or on one of the three reaches.  Try letting go of your tiller the next time you are out sailing.  The boat should slowly head up wind.  If the boat heads up quickly try sheeting in the head sail or increasing its size relative to the main sail to create more lee helm.  If the boat falls off try sheeting in the main sail or increasing the size relative to the head sail to create more weathered helm.

Do not be afraid to reef the mainsail or the head sail to achieve a balanced helm.  Most boats are designed for optimal performance in light wind conditions.  You would be surprised how quickly some designs get overpowered as the wind increases.  Another option is to adjust the size/depth of the keel or center board.  As a boat heels weathered helm increases.  Adjusting the keel may increase or decrease this effect if sail adjustments alone aren't cutting it.  As with sailing in general. Self-steering is all about trial and error so do not be afraid to experiment.  If you are unable to balance the helm on your boat, it is unlikely any self-steering system will be successful on your boat.  Once you have achieved a balanced helm, it's time to make the connection between tiller and sail.  There are a variety of ways of doing this and the best choice will depend on the point of sail, configuration of the sails, and personal preference. I will discuss three basic methods of rigging a sheet to tiller system including setup, theory, and practice of each method.

Mainsail Sheet to Tiller

The simplest method in terms of setup is the main-sheet to tiller system.  Run a line from windward side of the stern pulpit or toe rail to a block on the boom and back to the windward side directly opposite the cam cleats on the tiller.  The line is then run over the tiller and engaged within one of the cam cleats for easy adjustment.   Directly opposite on the leeward toe rail connect the bungy with the rope lead run over the tiller and engaged with the other cam cleat. This system works best on close hauled or close reach points of sail.

Main-sheet to Tiller Setup

The main-sheet to tiller system works under the principle that increased pressure on the sails causes the boat to heel, which in turn causes more weathered helm.  Increased pressure on the sails can result from slight variations in the course as the boat moves through the optimal angle to the wind given its current sail trim.  Additional causes include variations in wind speed, a.k.a. puffs and lulls.  Regardless of the cause, as the pressure on main increases the boom will move to leeward resulting in the tiller being pulled to windward via the steering sheet.  The boat will then fall off away from the optimal angle to the wind and the pressure on the main will decrease.  The bungy should be set to pull the tiller back to center or slightly to leeward as the boat falls off.  This will result in the boat's natural weathered helm slowly bringing the boat up again until the cycle starts over.  The boat will effectively sail a slight "S" pattern thru the water as the balancing act between weathered helm, sail pressure, and the surgical tubing plays out.  Adjustments may need to be made to achieve this balance.

Slight "S" Pattern Course being Sailed

To engage the system begin by sailing the desired course and trimming the sails accordingly.  Then engage the bungy to pull the tiller to center or slightly to leeward as mentioned in the theory section.  Engage the tiller sheet to mimic the pressure you are applying to keep the boat on course.  Let go of the tiller and watch what happens.  Use a landmark or the compass heading as a reference as you watch the boat sail the "S" pattern.  Make small adjustments in the tiller sheet and bungy to keep the boat on the desired course.  Tweaking the sail trim also serves as a means of fine tuning the system.  Slowly easing the main sheet while leaving the tiller sheet fixed allows for small adjustments on the tiller sheet tension.  Additionally, adjusting the head sails will also affect the balance of forces keeping the boat on course. The precise effect of sail adjustments on the performance of the system depends on the boat.  It may be necessary to experiment with different adjustment approaches.

Stay-sail Sheet to Tiller System

Run a line from the mast step to a block on the stay-sail clew and then through a series of blocks acting as fair leads along the leeward toe rail back to the cockpit.  Lead the line across to the windward side directly opposite the cam cleats mounted on the tiller.  The bungy should be mounted on the leeward side of the tiller as before.  This system works best when sailing on a beam or broad reach but may also work when sailing up wind.

Stay-sail to Tiller Setup Forward 
Stay-sail to Tiller Setup Forward as seen from Cockpit
Stay-sail to Tiller Setup Aft


The stay-sail sheet to tiller system works under the concept that as the boat falls off the head sail gets blanketed by the main sail and looses pressure.  When the stay-sail is full, pressure on the steering sheet will pull the tiller to windward and cause the boat to fall off.  As the mainsail begins to blanket the stay-sail, the bungy will pull the tiller to leeward and cause the boat to head up.  This will keep the boat sailing an "S" pattern in the desired direction.  The stay-sail sheet to tiller system may also work when sailing up wind, however, the governing forces will resemble those discussed in the main-sheet to tiller system.

Manually sail the desired course with the appropriate sail trim. Engage the steering sheet to mimic the pressure required to keep the boat on course.  Observe the course and make small adjustments in the steering sheet and bungy.  If the boat is unable to stay within an acceptable course range, sail adjustments may be necessary.  First try adjusting the stay-sail sheet as a means of delivering more or less play on the tiller.  If that doesn't work, try adjusting the main-sheet.  I have noticed that when sailing on a broad reach, very small adjustments in tiller sheet tension or sail trim will suddenly make the difference.  My advice is to keep experimenting and studying the boat's reaction.

Wing-on-wing Sheet to Tiller System

Run a line from the stay-sail to the tiller as mentioned in the setup portion of the previous section.  Run a second line from the poled-out genoa sheet through fair leads along the windward side of the boat back to the cockpit and then across to the leeward side of the tiller.  Connecting the second line to the genoa sheet offers its own set of challenges.  See means and methods of doing this in the required materials section.  You should be left with two steering sheets that are pulling the tiller in opposite directions.

Wing on Wing Self Steering Setup Aft

Wing on Wing Self Steering Setup Forward

Wing on Wing Self Steering Steering Sheet to Genoa Sheet Connection


When sailing wing on wing with two head sails, one of the head sails will always have more or less pressure on it than the other sail depending on slight course variations or passing waves.  I used to tell my sailing students when sailing wing on wing, always point the tiller to the collapsing sail to keep the boat on course, which is what the sails will do if properly rigged.  When the boat heads up and the poled-out genoa begins to collapse and pressure on the stay-sail will increase.  This will pull the tiller to windward and cause the boat to fall off again.  If the boat falls of so far that the stay-sail collapses, pressure on the genoa will have increased, which will pull the tiller to leeward and cause the boat to head up.

The setup is the most difficult part of this self-steering system.  Once you have achieved that, it's simply a matter of sailing dead down wind, letting the sails out to catch as much wind as possible, and tensioning the two steering sheets.  Small adjustments in the sail trim or steering sheets may be necessary as before.  It may also be necessary to roll up a portion of the genoa in order to achieve the appropriate balance between the larger genoa and the smaller head sail.