the tiller tamer
for brief moments of self-steering:
an overview of suggestions from our best W cruisers
updated: 26 June 2016

Subject: "tiller tamer" for self steering?
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2016 21:58:14 -0400

Hi, guys:


I am trying to find the advice that one of you guys? sent me – a system to hold the tiller briefly in place while I do other things while sailing solo. Any ideas for me?


Best regards,


Uncle Al  W3854

From: KEN-Krist. H. Jensen []
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 2:38 AM




Several ideas - just back from Norway sailing W3822 and also the advanced W10390 having sideways adjustable tiller-system, and also silent El-engine via battery being charged/supplied by solar-panels on the frontdecks.


W1348 has a shock-cord hooked on the tiller (a system about 60 years old for me).  Steering adjustment by using the tiller-extension/leaning to adjust vessel's waterline, trimming down to get smaller, roller-reefed mainsail only and CB-setting for 3 -4 knots of trolling speed ...

Do not fall in if solo or you may need your floating VHF as the W sails away to leave you behind !


All the best. Ken the older W1348"Maitken" 

W1348 has a family-tiller just reaching to the forward(cockpit) side of our aft bulkhead making a roomier area aft of the centre-thwart, when we W-camp-cruised with Grand-Ma plus 4. 

This tiller as well as the original one both have several attachment points for the *autpilot*- shock-cord to be used, being attached according condition/demand.


The slacker position will allow "ready about" and going about to establish a new heading. Sometimes assisted by CB and/or heeling + roll tacking !  


Chiaooh! K. the older 

From: wayfarer [Ton Jaspers]
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 4:58 AM


Have a bungee cord across the aft bulkhead. Grab it in the middle, twist it once (180°) and hook the loop over the tiller's end. The joystick's hinge will prevent the cord from sliding aft. With a little tension the bungee cord has just enough grip to hold the tiller more or less steady but if you move the tiller by hand, the cord will slide to a new position.

Ton's is the system I worked from, making the slight change of creating a permanent loop by
having the two loose ends overlap and held in place with whipping line seizings as can be seen above.

Once satisfied with the trim, move forward to do your business while making small corrections by shifting your body weight.


In my case the cord is a loop. The the bottom part of the loop is used to pull up the aft end of my hiking straps, making it easy to slide my feet under it. The cord also doubles as a storage place for sail binders and sometimes I stick stuff behind it to prevent it from blowing away (e.g. sail bags).


The set-up allows me to set and retrieve the Spinnaker when sailing single-handed, on a broad reach with three sails set. Yes, I know, it is a show off, but fun never the less. Obviously I perform this trick in light winds only.  (Al's note: Ah, Ton! You are truly a guy after my own heart!! Though I don't want the hiking straps lifted lest I trip over them during a show-off roll tack.)


Hope this helps.

Best wishes,


From: Allan Parry []
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 7:13 PM


I found that having a large black Labrador sit in the way of the tiller worked pretty well , for a while. Unfortunately, he had no comprehension of the necessity to tack or gybe.  This was inconvenient, and it was made even worse by his propensity to sit on the mainsheet. We had some very exciting Wayfarer moments with Charlie.

Charlie now replaced by Hamish – a Westie- he is too small to get in the way and just enjoys barking at jet skiis.

Best wishes to all and good fishing.

Allan Parry

From: Richard Harrington []
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 2:54 PM


Al....I've employed the shockcord method for many years in various forms.  In moderate conditions it works well is and is the optimum in simplicity.  I've had heavier cords with more initial tension and lighter duty types, all set up pretty much as the others have described.  Since the main idea is to prevent the tiller from quickly heading off to leeward and rounding up the boat, there is usually a two step process; which is to grab the cord and drop it over the end of the tiller and then when convenient tweak the tiller with a little shove or two one way or the other as needed to get back on course.  So there's a kind of optimum point in cord diameter and tension that allows easy slip and adjustment.  I'm currently using a 3/16" dia. cord doubled back upon its self which makes two cords in tandem over the end of tiller.  (The old piece was shot and at the time this was what was handy.)   I actually think this works better than the single cord.



From: T M Graefe []
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 7:50 AM


Hi Al,

I have a piece of shock cord (
3/16” which as Dick aptly describes, provides the balance between tension and flexibility) attached on inside of gunnel on both sides, running along the front edge of the rear buoyancy compartment (flush and just below the edge) that I either just set on top of the tiller at the crux of where the tiller extension joins or wrap once around, depending on circumstance.  I use this only for temporary need, and it works ok, if not great.  It has also proven handy when cruising for tucking equipment like life vests or an extra boat cushion, out of the way against the rear compartment.


I am adding Tom Erickson, as I think he has an actual ‘tiller tamer’ installed.


Let me know if you’d like me to send a picture.



From: []
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 12:41 PM


I used to have a "TillerTamer". Line from each side which ran through a pulley mounted near the end of the tiller with an adjustable tension knob.   Worked well but what I didn't like was the fixed line blocking the front to the rear compartment (my favorite spot for lazy day sailing). Went to the shock cord method. Works just as well   One loop over the tiller holds it in place but loose enough to adjust. 

Happy sailing!

Tom E.  W275