Wet Wednesday Video, Eternity Only Inches Away

As I don’t have any local videos to show, this week’s Wet Wednesday video comes from the Indian Ocean courtesy of Webb Chiles. And instead of green water pouring aft for jaw dropping visual effects, we see how a cruiser in a 24′ boat handles big conditions. A couple of things to note: Chiles’ Moore 24 is often heralded as the original ultralight, and the fleet in Seattle is very active. Chiles, now in his 70s, is an unstoppable sailing adventurer whose exploits span several decades. The Moore fleet would be a great boat, and crowd, to race on and against. Secondly, as you’re watching this video, check out his sheet to tiller self-steering setup. No autopilot, no windvane, just smarts. If any alert reader can explain this setup or relate some experience with it, please contact me and I’ll put it up on sailish.com. If you have 4 minutes, it’s worth listening to Chiles describe crawling up on the foredeck at night in big conditions. “I certainly was aware that eternity was only inches away,” he says… Check out Chiles’ blog. Much more on Chiles’ adventures on Sailing Anarchy and the Moore 24 Class Association site. (Also, check out the post script following the video)


Post Script: A couple of alert readers have answered the call on this sheet-to-tiller approach:

I have absolutely no experience with such a setup, but I have read about it in the past, this was the best description I found, still somewhat confusing.


-Matt Cohen

Scott Malone, who has cruised the Pacific as a child and both to Alaska and to and from New Zealand as skipper, called in his experience with the sheet-to-tiller system. Here’s Scott:

Oh boy this takes me back.

 My father home-built a windvane before our big family Pacific cruise. On the way down the California coast, it wasn’t working and he pitched it overboard. So for the rest of the cruise, including ocean crossings, my sister and I were basically hand steering for all the day watches.

 As a 10-year old I tried every imaginable sheet/tiller/bungee combination in an effort to get out of all that steering.

 The sheet-to-the-windward side works, but depending on the boat not too well. Once you get it set up, if you head up and the sheet loads up, the boat bears off. If the sheet gets too slack, you head up. But you have to be in cruise mode. You’ll find yourself 25 degrees to low and just tell yourself ‘in 4 minutes we’ll be 25 degrees high so it’s all good.’

 It seemed to work best broad reaching and didn’t work well at all beating. If you get way off course, for instance if your jib is luffing, there’s no way for the boat to find its way back to course.

Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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