I was sailing back from Rakino island to Auckland the other day, not a long way but a few hours sailing. My old self-steering is broken (and being redesigned), but I kinda wanted not to sit at the tiller for the whole time.
Also, I had recently read a voyage for madmen everyone started out with self steering gear, but only Bernard Moitessier's didn't break. The others, that managed to stay in the race long enough for their self steering system to run out of spare parts, just had to get their boats to sail were they wanted them to go without it.
They managed! That inspired me to try this other technique again: sheet to tiller steering.
Okay, we are sailing on the quarter - that means behind and around 45 degrees to one side. The boat isn't very stable in this heading, so we need something to adjust the rudder. The only means of input here is sheet tension. When the wind is in the sails, the sheets are tight. feed that to the rudder. When the sheets are tight, turn down wind, if we turn down too much, the jib enters the wind shadow of the main, and the jib sheets will loosen.
I just tied a rope onto the sheets like this, it then went through a block at the other side of the boat, and then to the tiller.
That turns the boat down, but we need something to balance that, to turn the boat back up when it turns down too much. But we don't need a sail this time, we can just use something elastic!
It actually worked surprisingly well! that is to say, my expectations were quite low. but it meant I could make hot chocolate and read more of walkaway while it took me home.
I think the conditions where quite good for this at the time. It was a steady wind, and not too strong. If the wind and waves were stronger there is more chance it might push the boat out of the range this system can balance it self in.