balancing your martha jane
- I started out the sailing season last April determined to free myself
of the "tyranny of the helm." I daysail and cruise my Martha Jane. I
tried a sheet-to-tiller method described in John Letcher's book Self-
Steering for Sailing Craft, and had some success. But it was clumsy
and took up space. I noticed the boat balanced fairly well so I
discarded the blocks and lines and tried various combinations of
boards and sails until I found ways to balance the helm. Hence,
nowadays I go sailing without using the helm, having little
difficulty jibing and tacking, and generally staying on course on all
points of sail, fresh breezes or light airs, while the helm remains
chocked amidships. On a recent very blustery day, gusts up to gale
force, the boat all but sailed itself home close-hauled, ten tacks in
six miles. That after having sailed herself downwind running and on
one reach hitting a water speed of 10 knots.
Martha Jane "Terrapin"