Steering yacht by wheel

Steering yacht by wheelIn yachts or boats with a steering wheel the use of tillers and tiller lines has become obsolete, since a steering wheel has replaced the function of the tiller. The advantage of the wheel is that the helmsman saves his physical strength.

It is a mistake to suppose you cannot "feel" a yacht with a wheel. You can do so. You can feel her nearly as well as with a tiller, and what you lose in "feel" you gain in personal command of the big ship and also in physical exertion, which, with a very long tiller, is exceedingly great.

With a wheel, however, the position of the helmsman is generally such that, when sailing to windward only the mainsail can be seen. Therefore we have the following interesting fact: In old times the first instruction given to young helmsmen was to "watch the jib", to "steer by the luff of the jib."

Since the use of the wheel is now common, many have become accustomed to steer by the "luff of the main-sail," because the jib cannot be seen, and we now find many people including those who have never used a wheel steer chiefly "by the luff of the mainsail".

This is accounted for also by the change that has taken place in the cut and shape of sails. The best modern main-sails are not made "flat as a card". They are made with a belly or "draught" in the luff.

Many, many years ago the jib or head sails "lifted" as the yacht luffed up too close to the wind, and began to tremble appreciably before the luff of the flat, card-like mainsail began to shake or shiver. Nowadays, with the full-drafted luff of the modern mainsail, this luff, or the upper part of it three parts of the way up the mast begins to shiver almost as soon as the jib.

When the vessel is full and by we have thus deduced this fact. The main-sail, about three parts of the way up the mast and close to the mast, is just on the shiver, just on the tremble.

At the same moment the jib is still full i.e., well full; the remainder of the mainsail, its great area and driving power, is well full also.

Therefore we are able to say to the beginner who is learning to steer his boat with a tiller "steer by the sails." He asks: " Which sail?" We answer: "The mainsail. Keep your eye now upon the luff of the main sail about three parts of the way up the mast".

The boat has been sailing rather off the wind when she was pointing towards a mark whilst we were getting the feel of her. Now let her spring to the wind of her own accord by gently relieving the strength of the hands on the tiller.

What is the result? At the part of the mainsail where the eye is fixed the luff begins to shiver; now to fall in and lift. Do not let it lift; pull the tiller toyou very slightly, and it will fill again.

Never let the luff lift. Occasionally pretty frequently if you like, just let it tremble to make sure you are not off the wind.

Do not "saw" the tiller about or give her too much helm. Keep her so that if she luffed ever so little you are sure this part of the luff of the mainsail would shiver. She trembles; she is full again! With only just a feel of the helm this time! There, you sail her! A good beginning. This is steering by the sails. " But what about the jib all this time?" The jib is "all right". "Why?" Because we think we can rely upon it not lifting before the upper part of the luff of the mainsail gave us some indication. We have watched this luff and not allowed it to lift, and so we may feel happy about the jib; it has been doing full work all the time, provided the mainsail has been kept "luff just a feeling".

Should the breeze be very light, the young helmsman will be puzzled in steering by his sails. He will find it easier in the true moderate breeze.

When the wind falls to nearly a calm, perhaps the luff of his mainsail will not indicate. What then? In a light air the helm acts slowly; it cannot be felt; therefore lean outboard and watch the luff of the jib. If your boat has a jib topsail a high sail made of the lightest canvas of course watch the luff of the jib topsail. Then if the jib topsail draws, "keep her so".

Some critics may find fault with this teaching, but our instruction is not intended to meet every case, nor to assist those who practise the habits. of those racing helmsmen who sit to leeward to steer.