Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Most of us have taken out the emergency tiller, fit it into the top of the steering post, and declared that with water running across the rudder; it will indeed be hard to steer. Now it’s time for some authentic practice of how the situation will develop, and how to keep control of your boat.

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Planning Ahead – Lengthen the Lever

We might briefly consider how to lengthen the tiller with a flag pole, boat hook, or other device.

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Rig Lines to Cleats

We may even have thought through how we could rig lines from the emergency tiller to the outboard cleats to assist in managing the extreme forces from the water moving across the rudder / rudders. 

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

How to Conduct an Authentic Practice Drill

Here’s the challenge – from motoring, when you have plenty of clear area all around, and I mean at least a quarter mile in all directions; let go of the helm.

During this maneuver, depending on conditions, you may need to make announcements over the VHF radio. Don’t forget to communicate with those on board as well as those in your vicinity if your actions affect them. Swerving around in the waterway with few boaters around may be a “Securite” call, while anchoring with an oncoming tug and barge may call for the “Pan Pan” call. Your decisions should be based on the situation in which your boat is involved.

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Retrieve the Tiller

Then have someone go get the emergency tiller. 

This will force you to realize just what the boat actually will do in this situation. I can tell you, it is very possible your vessel will swing in circles.

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

No Sails = No Steerage

If you had your sails up; you could use them to steer the boat. But you don’t. So, you can’t 

If you think you can do it quickly and need the power, you could raise one or both sails. The main drives the boat up toward the wind. The jib pulls the boat away from the wind. Use this knowledge to bring the boat under control – and – surprise – even once you have the emergency tiller in position, until the boat is tracking straight, it’s going to be extremely difficult to simply “steer.” You will have to use the sails to settle the boat down onto a course. 

But, lacking sails, you’ll just have to quickly get the tiller installed and steer.

You could consider dragging two lines off your stern to help steering, but must be very careful to not foul them in the prop.

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Sit Down

Another trick with using the emergency tiller is to sit down. While it seems natural to stand; taking away one variable – your body moving around – will make steering with an emergency tiller easier. 

When you stand, you have to balance yourself. When you sit, you have the advantage of being able to brace yourself and feel how much the boat and rudder/rudders are moving. This makes it easier to bring the boat under control faster. 

All those times you considered “weather helm” and “lee helm;” now you can put that knowledge into use and make steering easier on yourself. 

Besides the actual act of steering with the emergency tiller, this is a time to hone those sail trim skills if you elected to bring out a bit of jib for assistance. 

Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

Emergency Tiller Drill Under Power Checklist

  • Recognize that you have lost steering
  • Assign someone to announce situation on VHF and keep watch
  • Have sound producing device ready for emergency signals
  • Announce everyone ready for unplanned boat movement
  • Assign someone to retrieve emergency tiller and key / winch handle
  • Remove access plate
  • Install tiller
  • Sit down
  • Steer
  • Trim sails to ease pressure on emergency tiller if you raised them
  • Lengthen tiller as planned in advance
  • Rig control lines as planned in advance
  • Possibly drag lines to help steer
Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills, Emergency Tiller Under Power Drills

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