Raymarine ST1000+ Tiller Pilot

Autopilot solution

I hadn’t seriously considered an autopilot for Summer Dance until I discovered the affordable Raymarine ST1000+ Tiller Pilot and that they could be had for half the cost of new on eBay. When I thought of how convenient it would be for cruising with my wife who has no desire to take the helm, I concluded that it might free me up to attend to the many other responsibilities of single-handed sailing.

The not so obvious disadvantage of buying a used Tiller Pilot is that it’s rare to find one with that comes with the mounting socket, tiller pin, wiring socket, and any of the extension rods or tiller bracket that you may need to install it properly. Some of those parts are probably still on the boat where the Tiller Pilot was originally installed and the previous owner didn’t remove them to include in the sale. It wouldn’t be so bad if the parts were inexpensive, but they are not and they’re also rare on eBay. I wound up buying them retail online from Defender but any Raymarine dealer should also be able to get them for you. If you buy the Tiller Pilot new, that’s not as much of a problem, of course. But you will still need to buy any extension rods, mounting brackets, and tiller brackets separately that are necessary to install the Tiller Pilot in your sailboat.

I’ll explain below what’s needed for a typical C22 (pre-’86). For other years and models, you can use the same methods described here but your measurements may be different. The Raymarine manual is pretty good and easy to find and download online. I recommend that you download a copy and study it before you embark on this project yourself. Together with this post, you’ll know everything you need to do the job. This is a long post but I describe details about how to install the Tiller Pilot correctly that the manual leaves out. With most sailing gear, you can just screw it onto something and it works fine. The “something” holds it in the correct position. Not so with a Tiller Pilot. It’s suspended in the air by the mounting hardware. For it to work correctly, the location in all three dimensions needs to be pretty accurate. So take your time on this project to do it right – don’t cut any corners. It will be steering your boat, after all.

Lay out the tiller pin/bracket hole locations

The first step is to measure and mark the location on your tiller handle for either the tiller pin or one of several possible tiller brackets. The brackets also include a pin. This is where the moving end of the Tiller Pilot attaches to your tiller and pivots. Which part you need, the pin or a bracket with pin, depends on your tiller and its height relative to where you will install the mounting socket for the stationary end of the Tiller Pilot. The Tiller Pilot must be close to horizontal between both ends. I’ve seen some installations that used just a pin in the tiller handle. Those tillers either sat higher than mine or the owner didn’t install the Tiller Pilot horizontal.

At first, my tiller sat angled downward slightly when in its lowest position. This may be different from yours if you have a non-stock tiller or a kick-up rudder or yours is fastened to the rudder tighter than mine. I like the tiller handle to rotate easily up and down on the tiller pivot bolt and not so tight that the tiller will stay in any one position. However, in that lowest position, the tiller is so low relative to the top of the coaming where I chose to mount the socket that Raymarine doesn’t make a tiller bracket that can compensate for the difference. So, to raise the tiller so that it is at least horizontal at its lowest position, I screwed a small teak stop block into the rudder underneath the aft end of the tiller handle. When shape the stop block, be sure to allow clearance from the transom trim when the rudder pivots from side to side.

Tiller handle stop block screwed to rudder

Tiller handle stop block screwed to rudder

This works the same as a similar ledge that is built into the C22 kick-up rudder casting shown below.

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Kick-up rudder casting showing built-in tiller stop

With the tiller handle now level, a Raymarine D159 tiller bracket with a 4″ rise puts the pin at the correct height to hold the Tiller Pilot level. It is also possible that, if you choose to mount the Tiller Pilot in the lazarette lid, you might need to mount a tiller bracket on the underside of the tiller handle to level the Tiller Pilot.

To mark the location for mounting the tiller bracket on the tiller handle, the Raymarine manual instructs you to measure 18″ forward of the axis of the rudder pintles. That is an imaginary line through the center of both pintle pins and extended upward. If you place a straightedge on the centers of the pintles, you should find that it aligns conveniently with the center of the aft tiller bracket bolt head.

Tiller pintle axis extended through the aft bolt head

Tiller pintle axis extended through the aft bolt head

Measuring from the bolt head is much easier. Align the pin in the tiller bracket vertically with your 18″ mark on the tiller handle and then mark the location of the tiller bracket mounting holes.

Tiller pin distance from the rudder pintle axis

Tiller pin distance from the rudder pintle axis

Carefully drill the mounting holes in the tiller handle as straight and plumb as possible using a 1/4″ bit. Place a piece of scrap under the handle when you drill so that you don’t get tear-out where the bit exits the tiller. I shortened two 1/4″ x 3″ stainless steel pan head bolts by about 1/2″ to attach the bracket to my tiller with flat washers, lock washers, and acorn nuts. I used acorn nuts to not snag any lines or knees in the cockpit. The Raymarine manual instructs you to bond the screws to the tiller handle with epoxy but I skipped that step so that I could easily remove the bracket to refinish or replace the handle.

Lay out the mounting socket hole location

Every Tiller Pilot that I’ve seen on a C22 was mounted on top of the starboard coaming and that’s where I mounted mine too. You can mount it on the port coaming but you will need to reverse the Tiller Pilot’s operating sense as described in the manual. There just isn’t a more convenient location with respect to passengers or the lazarette lids. You can mount it to the side of the coaming using a cantilever post from Raymarine but it would be in the way of the lazarette lid and anyone ever wanting to sit that far aft. You could mount it in the lazarette lid itself and possibly not need a tiller bracket at all but again, that would make the lazarette lid unusable when the Tiller Pilot is in use. Mounting it on the coaming leaves the lazarette area clear. It also lets you swivel the Tiller Pilot forward when it’s not in use and secure it to the pushpit stanchion if you have one.

The next step is to mark the location of the mounting socket on the top of the coaming. This point should be at 90 degrees from the tiller pin when the tiller is aligned to the center line of the boat.

To find and hold the tiller on the center line, tie a light line to one coaming, such as to a pushpit stanchion that is close to perpendicular to the end of the tiller. Loop it once around the tiller, and then lead it in a straight line to the opposite coaming and either tie it off at the opposite stanchion or you can do like I did and turn it around the stanchion, around the winch, and into the cam cleat. Then, you can loosen the line, center the tiller, and retighten the line. It should be about 30-3/4″ from the inside edge of each coaming to the center line of the tiller handle.

Mounting socket distance from tiller pin

Mounting socket distance from tiller pin

Now you can measure from the tiller pin to the centerline of the top of the starboard coaming. It should be about 32-1/4″.

The Raymarine manual states that the distance between the tiller pin and the center of the mounting socket must be exactly 23.2″ assuming no rod extensions. By subtracting that distance from your measurement, you will get about 9″. That is the length of rod extensions that you need for the Tiller Pilot to be able to hold the rudder centered when the Tiller Pilot is in the middle of its working range. Anything more or less than that and your Tiller Pilot will turn farther in one direction than the other because the rod is either too long or too short. For 9″ of extension, buy one Raymarine D007 5″ extension and one Raymarine D006 4″ extension. Unscrew the tiller pin socket from the end of the Tiller Pilot rod, screw on both extensions, and then replace the tiller pin socket on the end of the last extension.

Next, use a framing square or similar tool held along the tiller shaft to find the point on the starboard coaming that is exactly at a right angle from the tiller pin. This is where you will install the mounting socket for the stationary end of the Tiller Pilot. You might have to extend your framing square by clamping a straightedge to it. Place masking tape on the coaming at this spot and make a small mark on the tape to show the point fore and aft. You will find the side to side location of the point next.

Mounting socket longitudinal location 90 degrees from the tiller pin

Mounting socket longitudinal location 90 degrees from the tiller pin

With the tiller still held on the hull centerline, temporarily attach the Tiller Pilot rod onto the pin in the tiller bracket and hold the other end of the Tiller Pilot over your mark on the coaming with the mounting pin aligned vertically. Make sure the Tiller Pilot is level with a bubble level on the rod. Draw a circle around the mounting pin with it touching the coaming. You might need a helper for this step. The center of this circle is where you will drill a hole for the mounting socket.

Reinforce the coaming

Before you can drill the mounting socket hole, you need to reinforce the underside of the coaming at that location with a block of wood or similar material to hold the mounting socket firmly in place. I used some teak plywood scraps and bonded two pieces together with epoxy to form a 1″ thick block. I bonded that to the underside of the coaming fiberglass with thickened epoxy and held with a spring stick until it cured.

Bonding the reinforcement block with epoxy and a spring stick

Bonding the reinforcement block with thickened epoxy and a spring stick

After the epoxy has fully cured, you can drill a 1/2″ hole through the coaming and at least 1″ into the block. The hole does not need to go all the way through the reinforcement block. Glue the mounting socket (Raymarine D002, Defender special order part #SPD002, 5 pack) in the hole with unthickened epoxy. Now, you should be able to mount the Tiller Pilot between the mounting socket and the tiller pin and it should be level and hold the rudder centered. You’re finished with the mechanical installation. All that remains is to wire power to the Tiller Pilot and, optionally, connect it to your GPS or chart plotter.

Mount the cable socket

If you purchased your Tiller Pilot used, chances are that it did not come with the bulkhead socket into which you plug the cable that is attached to the Tiller Pilot itself. The socket is probably still on the boat that the Tiller Pilot came from. You can buy the socket from a Raymarine dealer at the MSRP of $47 but you’ll be paying too much. The female socket and its male plug on the end of the Tiller Pilot cable are high quality but they are not proprietary Raymarine parts. They are manufactured by Bulgin in the U.K. and can be purchased from any electrical supply company that carries the Buccaneer series connectors. Ask for part number PX0767/S. I purchased mine from digikey.com for $20.85 including the sealing cap.

Your options for where to install the socket are anywhere that:

  • The cord will reach when the Tiller Pilot is mounted in place
  • The cord and plug won’t be in the way of the crew or of opening and closing the lazarette lids
  • The plug and socket will remain as dry as possible

Common locations are in the lower rear corner of the coaming, in the transom, or in the cockpit sole wall. I chose to install the socket inside the starboard lazarette in the teak trim along the cockpit sole. This places the socket within easy reach yet it isn’t in the way of using the lazarette and the connection stays dry. The cord rests in a small gap in the lid seal.

Electrical socket mounted inside the starboard lazarette

Electrical socket mounted inside the starboard lazarette. Notice the bracket nearby for storing the Tiller Pilot when not in use. A vertical, hook shaped bracket holds the other end.

Make the electrical connections

You can connect the socket to any open circuit breaker in your electrical panel. The Raymarine manual shows the pinout of the socket for all its connections. If you don’t intend to connect the Tiller Pilot to a GPS or chart plotter, you will only need two wires for power and ground. Since the NMEA signal and the power circuit can use the same ground connections, adding only one more wire gives you the option so it makes sense to run it at the same time. Taking the Tiller Pilot’s maximum current draw (1.5 A), round trip distance from the breaker panel, and 3% voltage drop into consideration, I selected 14 AWG triplex cable to make the connections. This is also the maximum size wire that the socket will accept. The Tiller Pilot should be on its own circuit so that other devices don’t draw too much current when the Tiller Pilot needs it and vice versa. I routed the wires to my circuit breaker in flame retardant split loom attached to the underside of the cockpit sole.

My hope was that I would be able to connect my Garmin eTrex to the Tiller Pilot to supply navigation waypoints. I connected the third wire of the triplex cable to a DB9 connector in an accessory panel that I fabricated and installed next to the companionway. That location is convenient for the GPS that I temporarily mount nearby on the cockpit bulkhead with a suction cup mount. I can use the GPS’s PC cable to connect it to the DB9  jack for data and to a 12V outlet for power that is also in the accessory panel. The panel has rear channel speaker jacks for the music system and switches for the lazarette LED strips.

Custom accessory panel easily accessible next to the companionway

Custom accessory panel easily accessible next to the companionway

Both devices can communicate using the NMEA 0183 protocol. I found useful information about connecting them online at these links:

I experimented with several different combinations of connections but the Tiller Pilot did not detect any data coming from the GPS. I know that the GPS output works because I often use it with a PC. If you have had success connecting a similar GPS to your Tiller Pilot, I’d like to get in contact with you and compare notes. If I ever get the connection working, I’ll update this post with the solution. Practically speaking, though, I don’t expect that navigating to GPS waypoints or with a track will be very useful on the inland lakes where I sail. However, if you often sail offshore out of sight of land, at night, or long distances, it could be more useful to you.

Dial it in

After the Tiller Pilot is installed, don’t expect it to work perfectly right out of the box. You will first need to calibrate its compass against another compass or a known bearing as described in the manual. It took several attempts at this to get mine calibrated. The rudder gain setting may also need to be adjusted for the way that your boat handles. This is described in the manual along with the other settings like the average cruising speed (4 knots/hr. min.), North/South turning error correction, latitude, and magnetic variation. I found that the Tiller Pilot worked noticeably better after setting those from the defaults.

Have realistic expectations

The Tiller Pilot does its job well but it’s no replacement for a person at the helm. It will hold a set course and free your hands up to do other things or to just relax on a leisurely cruise. It works a lot better than a tiller lock except for very short periods of time. But in strong or gusty winds, it doesn’t know how much the boat is heeling or if the sails are being overpowered. If you’re sailing on a precise trim setting, the Tiller Pilot’s “hunting” for the correct heading can be frustrating. Likewise, in very light winds, the Tiller Pilot can give up when trying to correct course with little to no forward movement. You need to pay attention to these things and be ready to adjust the heading or trim accordingly. Fortunately, its easy to engage and disengage the Tiller Pilot as necessary. The AutoTack feature is particularly nice when single-handing. You can start the maneuver on the Tiller Pilot and then work both sheets while the Tiller Pilot makes a smooth, slow (8 seconds max.) 100 degree change of heading.

The bottom line

Suggested price: $521.96
$tingy Sailor cost: $337.99
Savings: $183.97

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LED strip lighting

It seems that every C22 owner upgrades their cabin lighting at some point. The original dome lights are not very bright or sturdy and their incandescent bulbs use a lot of battery power. In Summer Dance, the previous owner had replaced the two salon dome lights with the combination white/red LED lights from Catalina Direct. They don’t use much power but they also don’t put out much light either.

600 LEDs to the rescue

I happened across a thread on a SailboatOwners.com forum that was started by an owner who had installed waterproof LED strip lights in his C22. He had installed one self-adhesive light strip on each side of the boat. There is a narrow channel in the underside of the deck where it meets the hull that is just the right size for mounting the strips so that they are mostly hidden. I liked the idea, low power consumption and widely distributed indirect light. The strips are dirt cheap on eBay so I thought I’d give them a try. But I wanted to take the idea a step further and create two lighting zones by installing two strips (one on each side) in the V berth and another two strips (one on each side) in the salon in a way that they could be independently switched.

LED strip in the deck underside channel

LED strip in the deck underside channel where it joins the hull

Each 8mm wide x 5 meter long strip has 300 tiny tightly spaced 12V LEDs. The LEDs are surface-mounted on a flexible conductor strip encased in silicone and has peel-and-stick adhesive on the back. You can cut the strip at 3 LED intervals to any length you need. The strips are available with standard 3528 or 5050 type LEDs and either warm white or cool white color temperatures. The 3528 LEDs require less power and are less bright than the 5050 LEDs. I chose the 3528 type for lower power consumption, 4.8 watts per meter. That amounts to about as much current per side of the boat as one of the original incandescent dome lights. They still put out plenty of light for the inside of a sailboat. If you decide to try this project, get the warm white color. It’s the most natural color temperature. The cool white color is harsh.

In planning the installation, I got stuck on deciding how to switch the lights on and off. I couldn’t find a surface mounted switch that was both easy to use and unobtrusive. I didn’t want to mount switch boxes or bulky teak switch plates on the bulkheads. The solution needed to be more elegant than that. Then while shopping for the right seller to buy the strips from, I found the answer, a two-channel wireless remote dimmer. No switches to mount and the lights could be controlled from anywhere on the boat. I could connect each zone to a separate channel of the dimmer and control them both with one remote. Here’s a link to an online store that sells a similar dimmer.

Two-channel remote control and receiver

Two-channel remote control and receiver

Along with the light strips and dimmer, I also ordered some solderless connectors to connect each pair of strips in series to separate channels of the controller. The connectors help to make the connections between strips. At first, I wired the two salon strips in parallel to the controller but that didn’t work. I wound up wiring them in series by running wires from one side of the cabin to the other under the V berth.

Strip tease

I removed the teak molding at the deck/hull joint to make it easier to mount the light strips. They are flexible enough to bend around the curve of the hull. Be sure to clean the mounting surfaces thoroughly with alcohol or a similar solvent to improve adhesion. Although the lights held in place for a couple of weeks after mounting them this way, they eventually wouldn’t stick in the deck channel. The strips have excellent 3M adhesive, but the rough surface in the fiberglass deck channel doesn’t provide enough contact area, at least on Summer Dance. I later reinstalled them with one of my favorite products, 3M Scotch-Mount Super Automotive Attachment Tape, and they’re holding well now.

I connected 16 AWG positive and negative primary wires to the pre-wired leads with crimp-on heat shrink butt connectors and ran the wires to the dimmer receiver, which I mounted under the aft settee seat. I ran the V berth zone wiring on the starboard side, down through a 1/2″ hole that I drilled in the hull liner at the aft bulkhead, and then under the liner to the dimmer receiver. I also ran the salon zone wiring under the liner to the dimmer receiver. I connected power to the dimmer receiver from the nearby breaker panel and negative buss. The dimmer doesn’t work with shared negative wires. Each strip needs a dedicated negative conductor to the dimmer receiver. And when wiring the strips in series, observe the polarity or else one strip won’t work.

Salon view

Salon view

After struggling with the sparse, poorly translated instructions to pair the remote control to the receiver, I turned on the strips with one touch of the remote control and viola! The whole cabin filled with bright, warm light. (By the way, all the cabin photos in this post were shot at night without flash and only the LEDs for lighting.) Each zone can be dimmed independently until it is completely off. Both strips can be dimmed together with the soft-touch dial on the remote control. You can only see the LEDs while laying down. When we only need a little task lighting in the salon, we can turn on the LED dome lights.

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View aft from the V berth

Lazarette lighters

After the cabin was finished, I had about 8′ of LEDs left over so I installed one 2′ strip on the underside of the drain channel behind each lazarette lid. They are controlled by a switch in the accessory panel that I installed near the companionway.

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LED strip inside the starboard lazarette

They’re really convenient for using the lazarettes or just to illuminate those storage areas from inside the cabin.

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No problem seeing things in the lazarettes at night

The bottom line

Suggested price: n/a
$tingy Sailor cost: $54.49
Savings: n/a

How have you improved the lighting in your cabin?

Trailerable lazy jacks

Trailerable lazy jacks

Lazy jacks can be one of the most complicated rigging systems on a trailerable sailboat but they have a simple function. That is, to cradle the mainsail when it’s lowered so that it doesn’t spill onto the cabin and cockpit. If you usually have another experienced crew member aboard, that person can gather and tie down the mainsail and you don’t need lazy jacks as much. But if you often sail short-handed or are just plain lazy, lazy jacks can make coming to a dock or anchorage a smoother, more pleasant event for everyone.

There are many lazy jack kits available, from simple stationary setups designed for boats that spend most of their lives in slips to complicated retractable systems that you can work from the cockpit. Specifically for the C22, Catalina Direct offers a simple but expensive kit. The problem with most systems is that they aren’t designed with the trailer sailor in mind. Either the lines fasten to the boom, which needs to be removed while trailering or they fasten to the mast and you need to reeve the lines through fittings on the boom in order to set them up. Anything that takes more time during setup means less time sailing and is the enemy of a trailer sailor.

Rock a bye, mainsail

The only system that I’ve found that combines good function with trailering convenience is the Sail Cradle Mark IV from SailCare. It’s made partly of regular rope and partly of shock cord. The rope lines form an inverted Y and fasten permanently to the mast like other systems. The unique part is the shock cords that form an M shape. You temporarily attach these to hooks and eyes on the boom during use. When it’s time to haul out and go home, you simply disconnect the shock cords, stow the system tight against the mast, and the boom can come off without any dangling lines attached. For a video of the system in action, skip ahead to 3:10 in this YouTube video of the system installed on a MacGregor 26M. The design is so clever that I built a set myself on Summer Dance at a fraction of the price.

Geometry 101 revisited

The trick to this project is determining where to mount the hardware on the mast and boom and how long to make each line. The length and position of each line is important if the lazy jacks are going to catch the mainsail or just deflect it onto the deck as usual. Thankfully, there are standard formulas that you can use as a starting point and then fine tune depending on the specific sail, its battens, and so on. Using the C22 P dimension of 21′ and E dimension of 9.66′, here are the formulas:

Top of first segment: P * 0.70 = 14.7′
Length of first segment: P * 0.25 = 5.25′
Length of second segment: P * 0.25 = 5.25′
Mid-boom attachment point: E * 0.40 = 3.86′
End of boom attachment point: E * 0.85 = 8.21′

These dimensions basically divide the mainsail height into four equal portions with the lazy jacks spanning the lower three portions. And it divides the mainsail width about in half with the lazy jacks spanning the whole width.

In the following pictures, the upper and middle segments are made of blue rope and the lower segment is made of white shock cord.

Lazy jack anatomy

Lazy jack anatomy

Shock cord and awe

On Summer Dance, I attached the top segments to the mast with eye straps angled 15 degrees down and aft (to bisect the lower segment). I tied nylon thimbles into the ends of the line segments with fisherman’s knots. Each middle line segment is one piece of line 10.5′ long. Each segment is able to run freely through the thimbles of the adjacent segments. The lets the system adjust to different boom heights, angles, and it lets the system stretch for storage.

Upper eye straps, upper segments, twings, and portions of the middle segments

Upper eye straps, upper segments, twings, and portions of the middle segments

I attached the stationary ends of the shock cords to eye straps angled up and aft on the mast at about boom height.

Lower eye strap with shock cord stowed for trailering

Lower eye strap with shock cord stowed for trailering

I mounted hammock hooks on the boom 4′ from the mast. This location seemed to hold the middle battens better.

Hammock hook at mid-boom

Hammock hook at mid-boom

At the end of the boom, rather than drill more holes for more hardware (it’s pretty busy there already if you look at this picture), I simply threaded a loop of cord through holes built into the fairlead cleats that were already in about the right location. Hooks in the ends of the shock cords clip into the loops on either side.

Standing end of shock cord attached to a loop through the topping lift cleat

Standing end of shock cord attached to a loop through the topping lift cleat

Tweaking with twings

During testing, the mainsail battens fouled in the lazy jacks more often than not since they were only a few inches apart to start with. So I rigged twings from the ends of the spreaders to the upper eyes to pull the lazy jacks apart about 2′. This forms a sort of funnel (as you can see in the first picture) and gives the mainsail plenty of room to flail around in on its way to the boom without the battens hanging the sail up.

Twing looped around the spreader end and taped

Twing looped around the spreader end and taped

The sail cradle/lazy jacks work well out on the water. I can point Summer Dance into the wind and drop the mainsail neatly into the cradle in seconds. When we’re tied off at the dock, the cradle makes flaking the mainsail properly easier than before because it’s partly done already.

The beauty of the system is really in the shock cords. You can stretch them to hook onto whatever hardware you already have that is convenient. When I have the mainsail tied up and covered, I simply unhook the middles of the shock cords from the hammock hooks. This slackens the whole system so that it’s out of the way when it comes time to hoist the sail again and the lazy jacks don’t affects the sail shape. I can also pull the slack down for the night and loop it under either the boom downhaul cleat or under the halyard cleats on the mast to prevent mast ringing.

When it comes time to put Summer Dance on the trailer, I unhook the shock cords from the boom, clip them into the lower eye straps and loop the slack under the mast cleats. This holds the whole system neatly out of the way until next time.

Lazy jacks stowed completely on the mast. The mainstail and boom are ready to remove

Lazy jacks stowed completely on the mast. The mainstail and boom are ready to remove

Without the expensive blocks or cables used in other systems, all the parts of this design are easily and economically replaced as needed.

The bottom line

Suggested price: $130
$tingy Sailor cost: $31.57
Savings: $98.43