Tiller Tales

Sundance has a lovely wooden tiller but no tiller extension which isn’t the end of the world but I do like sitting on the coaming whilst I’m helming in nice weather and tucking under the spray hood when it’s not so nice, both I can do with the long tiller but it’s all a stretch. I decided on the Spinlock EA1200, I had thought I would prefer the joystick handle coming from a dinghy background but the asymmetrical one is a joy to use. The other thing I wanted to add to the tiller was a bracket or connector for the windvane (I decided on the Windpilot tiller bracket, despite the cost it’s seemed the best made for the job) as all I had was a canvas sleeve that slid over the tiller with a couple of eyes for the lines. This worked but it did mean an extra faff if you needed to unconnect the windvane in a hurry but with the tiller extension bracket I wouldn’t be able to use it.

Either the windvave bracket needed to be sunk in to the tiller or the extension needed to by built up but I opted to the first. The tiller is a decent size and Sundance is pretty light on the helm I don’t think it will compromise the strength to a degree it will break under normal use. My other excuse/reason is one that comes from my usual work with motorcycles… people have in the past cut a slot a few inches from the end of their brake and clutch levers on track bikes as a weak point so if you were to come off the bike there would still be a usable amount of lever to use and get you back to the pits. The big I’ve removed may do exactly this if I were to fall on the tiller or something else happen.

I did have one issue with the router bit slipping down/coming loose in the chuck which meant I had to fill the void with thickened epoxy. This annoyed me quite a bit but it was easily fixed so I just got on with it. The tiller extension holes drilled, windvane bracket position routed out I got on with the job of varnishing the tiller which I actually quite enjoy. Once complete the bits were screwed on with the screws dipped in varnish and the job was done.

Unfortunately the varnish was still a bit soft when I fitted my tiller lashing to hold the tiller central when drying out and it pulled a few layers off and I’ve had to reposition the windvane lines to suit the new bracket but the previous route was a compromise so I’m much more happier with the setup. I may add some cam cleats so I can play with sheet to tiller steering and use this a was of lashing the tiller and I may in the future shorted the tiller by 6 inches or so as it does take a lot of space in the cockpit but that’s a job for another time.

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