Integrated Self-Steering

 Integrating Self-Steering
to the stern of a boat
ensures both a strong
and elegant i
part of the gear
remaining hidden inside.

It also allows to lead control lines internally to blocks
on boat's steering quadrant,
then to  jamming cleats in cockpit
for instant connect,
disconnect or trim.

Additional bonus :
 when wind is unstable or inexistant,
a small tiller pilot
located inside the lazarette
drives the servo-pendulum
which still provides power
to move the rudder,
feeding on mere milliamps.


Integrating CapeHorn
easier than it looks - even afloat

All necessary fittings provided. 

However, blocks and other hardware
needed to lead lines to boat's steering system
are not, being different in type on different boats.

A hole saw held perfectly horizontal
and parallel to keel cleanly cuts
hole for support tube. 
Glass laminate (or weld)
aft end of tube to hull.

Forward end of mounting tube
supported by two struts
(supplied with appropriate fittings)
at an angle between 90° and 120°,
to reach either underside of deck
or pads bonded to hull.

Struts outside
on stern platform.

Tube welded to steel hull.
 Aluminium tube offered
for welding to aluminum hull.

Welding impractical?
Delrin collar  
cut to transom angle,
two halves bolted together,
both sides of transom.

Second pair of struts added
if mounting tube extends
some distance past transom

Outboard rudder or boarding ladder?,
CapeHorn off-centre.

Only measurable effect of offset felt if boom extends far aft, close to vane : boat could not sail as close to wind when vane on leeward side, wind received by vane being deflected by leech of sail directly to windward ; other tack, or as soon as sheets are eased, problem disappears.

Reduced paddle area when heeled has no effect because when there is heel, there is most often speed. The force generated by the paddle being proportional to the square of speed through water, the paddle generates much more power than is needed; paddle area is critical only at low speed, which produces little heel.

All struts and braces adjustable. 
Slip horizontal axle through tube.
Fasten quadrant to forward end,
wind vane tower aft.

Diagonal braces to deck
support tower


Control lines led through blocks
fastened to quadrant
or disk
 or short auxiliary tiller
(such as the tiller of a hydraulic system).

To ensure ideal 2:1 ratio
between CH quadrant tilt
and rudder angle
(for 10° tilt, 5° rudder),
blocks located from rudder axis
at distance equal to CH quadrant radius.

From there, lines are led
to jamming cleats in cockpit.
for instant connect, disconnect or trim.

Vane connected
and adjusted for weather or lee helm
by pulling lines tight
and cleating them

Releasing lines
instantly disconnects vane
for hand steering.

Click here to see various internal connections

Internal connection impractical?

Control lines turn wheel
by going around stops

placed on wheel spokes

at distance from wheel hub
ensuring 2:1 ratio between quadrant tilt
and rudder angle.

Teak drum
on wooden wheel.

Control lines
led through fairleads on tiller
located at a distance
twice the radius of CH quadrant
(2:1 ratio),
then forward to jamming cleats.

If quadrant is inside and tiller outside,
Control lines are led out through holes in sides or back of cockpit;

No room inside lazarette
for windvane quadrant ?

A tube extends
above horizontal axle,

to work as control arm.

On a boat with outboard rudder,
gear offset

Power transmitted to back of rudder head through lines
led to blocks on rudder head.

Since there are no lines to it,
tiller can be lifted to vertical
(or removed)
while CapeHorn is steering,
leaving cockpit
free of obstruction.

Norwegian stern,
connected to back of rudder
through rigid control arm

To allow use of davits on boat with step stern,
windvane tower at forward end of horizontal axle
passing through the deck.

If your boat presents a specific problem, send us photos showing its stern and steering gear belowdecks.

We are not without imagination and may suggest an original solution. 

Jean-du-Sud or Spray?

Jean-du-Sud for boats below 35'-40'

Spray ; for larger boats

Overall length of yacht
is only a rough guide
in the choice between
the lighterJean-du-Sud
or heavier Spray models.
The main criterion is in fact the size of its rudder
and the amount of effort required to move it.

A 40 ft. plus boat that is well balanced and easily steered, could still use the smaller Jean-du-Sud model (provided its freeboard is not too high). On the other hand, a boat that is not so well balanced and that is hard to steer, would need the larger and more powerful Spray or Joshua, even if it is shorter than 40 ft.

Determining factor in the choice is the rudder dimensions (total area, type, aspect ratio), combined with height of horizontal axis above the waterline. Sail balance should be also taken into account.

Mounting tube (OD)    JdS 2.5" (62 mm),    Spr 3.5" (89 mm)
     Stock of steering oar  JdS 1" (25 mm)        Spr   1.25" (32 mm)
     Width of paddle           JdS 5"  (127 mm)     Spr   6" (152 mm)
     Paddle length proportional to boat's rudder


How to measure

To custom-build a CapeHorn
four dimensions needed:

-LMT (Length of Mounting Tube)

-HWT (Height of Windvane Tower)

-HWL (Height of horizontal axle above WaterLine)

-Average height and width of rudder

Length of Mounting Tube (LMT)

Horizontal axle links outboard steering oar
to inboard quadrant
pivoting inside tube passing through hull
called Mounting Tube.

Its length (LMT) is measured
between aft face of CapeHorn quadrant
to aftermost part of hull
or any of its appendages
that could be in way of steering oar..

Aft end of the mounting tube should also clear
trailing edge of rudder if it extends past hull.

To measure LMT,
first determine the optimum position of CapeHorn quadrant

in lazarette or cockpit.

Dimensions of Quadrant

Quadrant radius :

-JdS : 8" (205mm) 1" (25 mm) thick

-Spray :11" (280 mm ) 1.25" (32 mm) thick

For 360° quadrant movement, circular space (CS)
needed at forward end of tube :

- 16" (410mm) diameter for JdS

- 22" (560mm) for Spray

If space (inside lazarette or in cockpit) is limited to one half-circle below or above the horizontal axis, gear will work just as well, but possibility of flipping pendulum up for storage along windvane tower is lost.

If only a few inches short, a smaller quadrant is supplied.  Performance is not affected and ideal 2 : 1 ratio between quadrant tilt and rudder angle is retained if blocks on steering quadrant (or aux. tiller) are placed at a distance (from rudder axis) equal to CapeHorn quadrant radius.  Only load on control lines and blocks is increased.

If Quadrant inside lazarette,
Ideal position arrived at by taking into account
 both space required for quadrant itself,
and lead of control lines.

Quadrant mounted indifferently above or below
horizontal axle.

In many lazarette installations, top of quadrant
reaches a few inches below deck
and turning blocks can be bolted under it.

Mounting tube
through both transom
and aft cockpit bulkhead
locates quadrant in cockpit,
(often under helmsman's seat)...

...ensures both simple and strong installation,
both ends of tube
supported by a bulkhead.

Leave room for
autopilot connected
to co-axial control mechanism

in front of quadrant.

Since autopilot only controls steering oar, smallest tiller-type unit steers regardless of boat size, feeding on mere milliamps.

If space is limited, autopilot can be located elsewhere and connected to control arm through blocks and light lines (with bungee pulling the other way).

     Height above Waterline (HWL)

If U-shaped metal plate
linking steering oar to its stock
is kept above water,
drag kept to minimum.

Plate extends below horizontal axle
13" for JdS
for Spray
This height is considered a minimum.

Knowing height of horizontal axle
above waterline and dimensions of yacht's rudder  ensures steering oar provides adequate power
to move rudder in all conditions,
with minimum drag.

Standard Height of Windvane Tower (HWT)
(above horizontal axle)

-JdS: 53" (135 cm)
-Spray:65" (165 cm)

In most cases
locates windvane
in clean air.

to reach over
or arch

to duck under
mizzen boom.

Arch high enough,
vane kept below,

Light air vane
extends 24" (60 cm)
above top of tower,

heavy weather vane,
17" (432 mm)

See a complete installation of a Spray on a Valiant 40

Suite : Outboard Models


CapeHorn Integrated Self-Steering

An image is worth a thousand words
and sending it by E-mail is so easy:
send us pictures of the stern of your boat,
the cockpit and lazarette area,
its steering gear, belowdecks if needed.

We will suggest a model and its installation,
and tell you what and where to measure
to build a gear that will fit your boat perfectly


Witness how some of our customers have, on their blog or web site,  described their installation and use of the CapeHorn




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Bristol 32 KESTREL


Cape Dory 28 CELTIC RAY

Cape Dory 36 FAR REACH

Contessa 26 BIRGITTA

Contessa 26 CAVENDYSH

Ericson 39B SENTA II

Frances 26 Anihoya

Hallberg Rassy Monsun JANNA

Hallberg Rassy Rasmus


Kaskelot 10.30 SALT

Kelly-Peterson 44 TAJ

Pacific Seacraft Dana SOCKDOLAGER

Pacific Seacraft Orion SAOIRSE

Pearson 33 HERMES



Westsail 32 NEVERLAND

Westsail 32 RODE TRIP

Read Andy Schell's article on

Jean-du-Sud and the Magick-Byrd,
the book by Yves Gélinas that narrated his 28 000 mile single-handed circumnavigation through the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn aboard Alberg 30 Jean-du-Sud, has been translated in English and published by Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson of 59 North Sailing.

It was first published in French in Canada in 1986, then in France in 1996. 

Available both in print, and as a podcast,
read by the author.

-Order the Book- 

-Download the Podcast-

CapeHorn is the choice of

Andy Shell and Mia Karlsson.

Donna Lange, for

Sail Twice Around
Non-Stop Sail around the World

With Jean-du-Sud Around the World
-watch the trailer and order the video-


Listen to David Anderson's Sailing Podcast featuring Yves Gélinas