He was referring to a squeak that had developed in our steering wheel that was likely caused by the wheel’s break bushing not completely disengaging from the its shaft. And he was right in that, if it was that annoying, we probably could take the wheel off and fix it.
But just as I was discussing the cause and likely solution, I suddenly realised that instead of this noise being a mild irritation, it was a heaven-sent gift for a sailing coach trying to encourage his students to under rather than oversteer.
If you ask any sailing instructor what the Number One problem they seek to help new sailors overcome it would be the tendency to oversteer–putting way too much input to the wheel and then having to put even more effort into correcting the overturn that they’ve created. With good guidance, patient oversight and a few hours of practice, most sailors gradually realise that the mantra of ‘less is more’ does result in smoother, faster and less fatiguing sailing.
But now, I realised that in this squeak I had an instant audible feedback mechanism that would indicate to my students the hard to prove otherwise observation that, however little they thought they were moving the wheel, they were demonstrably hearing a lot of squeaking. But when I —or the autopilot–steered, there was almost no squeaking. So, that was the new goal–steer without squeaking.
At first, my charges were less enthusiastic than me about my new ‘discovery’ but after a few hours, of sailing they all could literally hear the improvement in their steering and get ever closer to the elusive — and much quieter — ‘steady hand at the helm’!
Maybe all boats should have squeaky wheels?