Join Date: May 2002
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KISS? or ... why a wheel?
Two justifications come to mind for having a wheel rather than a tiller on a smaller boat. First, when the tiller swings back and forth across the cockpit, it reduces the amount of usable cockpit seating space. The wheel increases usable cockpit space. Secondly, the wheel is more comfortable and convenient than the tiller. The wheel can be locked on course quickly and easily, you don''t usually get arm weary when you steer with a wheel, and you can wheel-steer from a greater variety of positions.
I retired recently, and have been looking at boats, and have found that a fair number of boats in the 35-40 foot range use tillers. They seem to be mostly full keel, blue water boats, that are well balanced and track straight, and probably don''t generate much tiller pressure. I assume the owners liked the simplicity of the tiller for long distance cruising. A tiller on that type of boat would seem to me to be desirable, but I think I would prefer a wheel on a big fin keel boat.