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Articulated Tiller


When cruising we use an AutoHelm tiller type autopilot a lot. When we first started to sail offshore Barbara was concerned that while under autopilot one of us might slip and fall across the tiller which would break it because the autopilot was holding it in a fixed position. The wood I found to build a spare tiller was going to have to be laminated in three layers because I couldn't find wood thick enough to make it in one piece. I realized that with the three piece lamination I could easily add an extra hinge (pivot) to the tiller.

Articulated tiller in folded position

The current setup that we have used happily for years is the following: the autopilot controls the tiller by connecting to the tiller with a bracket located about 15 inches from the rudder post pivot point. A second pivot point ('hinge') on the tiller is located just forward of the autopilot bracket. When under autopilot, the forward part of the tiller is tilted to a vertical position so the forward part of the cockpit is completely clear of the tiller. Only the 18 inches or so forward of the rudder post is blocked by the stub tiller and the autopilot.

Articulated tiller in straight position

Under autopilot the cockpit is clearer than it would be with a wheel. At anchor the tiller is pivoted to a vertical position at the rudder post and, as Mike pointed out, the cockpit is completely clear. All of the advantages of the tiller are there when not using the autopilot as you essentially then have a standard tiller. When leaving the boat on the mooring I tie the tiller stub and the forward part of the tiller is in the vertical position.

I can't imagine using any other arrangement on an A30 and am surprised that I haven't seen it on other boats.






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Last modified: Tuesday 29-Apr-2003