A Homemade Tiller Tender


On my Catalina 22 I have a tiller tender which has served me well for many years — and it didn’t cost a cent.


On top of the tiller are two pieces of 3/8″ x 3/4″ hardwood about 5″ long. The two pieces are drilled horizontally, at the joint line, about 2″ from the end to accommodate a 3″ length of split neoprene which has an inside diameter slightly less than the diameter of the braided line which runs to the coamings. Two holes drilled vertically near the ends are used to fasten the device to the tiller.

The clamp is a short non-ferrous machine bolt and nut from salvage. The nut is epoxied into the bottom face of the lower piece so that it is flush with the bottom. A knurled knob is epoxied onto the bolt head. Some experimenting needs to be done to get the right length on the bolt. When tightened down there should be a small gap between the two pieces. This bolt assembly is about 3/4″ from the forward end.

Many times I have sailed with this tiller tender for twenty or thirty minutes without touching the tiller.

-G. Clark

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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