Please all you Americans go ahead and change them back to tillers so I have more to choose from when I finally go searching for a PSC 34 or 37 for real in a couple of years.
These are shots of a 34 that made it from Seattle to New Zealand a couple of years ago. Still sailing the Pacific I hear.
I've talked about tillers before on this forum and I actually think about it a lot since all the neat boats I look at one line in the US have wheels, and up to 40ft here in New Zealand, a lot have tillers. I think that the only time a wheel might be better is reversing under power or if your boat is badly balanced for some reason. Since we all try to avoid this as much as possible, the wheel is really decorative.
Someone asked me once before about tillers in heavy weather and “Wouldn't a wheel be better?” I'll answer it here and hope he sees it. I’ve been in heavy weather in yachts with both tillers and wheels. With a small crew, the last place I want to be is on the stern behind a wheel, and as for climbing around the jolly thing to go forward, forget it. If I’m out there, I’ll be hunkered down by the bridge deck or behind the dodger if conditions are good enough to leave it on. If self steering is not useable (as it seems to be the case in really heavy weather) The tiller will often be lashed or I’ll have a couple of turns of a spare sheet on it to take the load off my arm but still allow dodging. In storms our tactics are generally as passive as possible as long as possible because fatigue is the major problem.
Conversely, if you have had to take a pedestal apart in heavy weather lying to a parachute anchor in order to replace the sheared off key in the top shaft, as I have, you might not want to do that again, EVER. I was also in a well built yacht in Japan where an uncontrolled gybe in a gusty post typhoon wind managed to neatly rip the whole pedestal from the cockpit as the mainsheet caught it. Add to this that engine controls are often on the other side of wheel spokes, and you have to wonder why people do it. It is not only uncomfortable and dangerous, you can’t use that free foot to change throttle or direction.
One last thing for all you guys changing to tillers, please put a nice self supporting, adjustable length racing style tiller extension on for me so I can sit almost anywhere in the cockpit to steer, even standing on the combings.