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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum
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  #11  
Old 09-10-2008
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I prefer the feel of a tiller, but have grown quite fond of the wheel with the autopilot, and to be honest - steering the boat by hand for six hours on a weekend daysail hasn't been a thrill for about 30 years now. You can get autopilots for tillers as well I guess...
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  #12  
Old 09-12-2008
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my 27 hunter has a wheel and i like the wheel due to not having a long sweep of a tiller handle. but when cruising i do the foot on the wheel thing, or i have a line that i run thru the wheel and just loop it a few times. i can easily spin the wheel and the line slips if i need to, or the silly one is i run the line from a cleat on both sides thru the wheel, then i just lean back against the pulpit and steer the boat like a horse. i just lean back and pull with one hand or the other to steer.

but to each there own, also my wife hates tillers

i say sail both and see what you like
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  #13  
Old 09-12-2008
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I had a Tartan 27 with a tiller and now a C&C34 with a tiller, obviously my preference. The only thing I would like to add to this discussion is the value of learning with a tiller. I was my experience that my children quickly learned to feel the pressure on the tiller and became better at the helm. They used to practice with their eyes closed, responding the helm pressure and wind on their faces. We called this "using the force" - as in Star Wars. Hence the boat name.

Skywalker
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  #14  
Old 09-12-2008
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Adding a wheel to a tiller boat ...

There are some interesting convolutions that some have gone thru to do this. ODay 27 of I think later 70s early 80s had a wheel that connected to a rod that travelled thru the transom to connect to the aft edge of an outboard rudder. C&C27 mk 5 also had similar arrangement if wheel desired. To me that is a crazy arrangement at best and dangerous at worst as it looks prone to failure. This is a classic example of a wheel for wheel's sake on a tiller boat.

Another interesting example is the C&C30 mark 1. These initially came with a tiller but then the manufacturer changed to a wheel for later models. This is a boat that can be converted to a wheel and is at home either way. If you like a wheel and have this sort of boat - then go for it.

A third example that comes to mind is the Mirage 27. The small size of cockpit made for a very small wheel. When a wheel starts approaching the size of a steering wheel on a bus or worse - a car then I think it is the wrong choice.

Final examples are tiller boats that have what looks like an aft deck and a outboard transom hung rudder. Since the tiller has to travel over this "deck" it is less of a presence in the cockpit and does not get in the way so much.

These are my thoughts but I agree with the above postings. 30 feet and over a wheel is fine. 27 feet sometimes works with a wheel but often does not - the wheel takes up too much room and is difficult to maneouver around - or the wheel is too small and looks ridiculous.

Mike
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  #15  
Old 09-12-2008
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I agree with the pros and cons everyone else has thrown out there on tillers vs. wheels. One thing that I don't think has been emphasized or sufficiently answered is the second part to your question: what about retrofitting a tiller equipped boat with a wheel. I suggest that you will have to be very careful with this one. Some contemporary boats that come factory equipped with wheels have very bad access to the steering gear; imagine how bad your access will be if you pick a boat to retrofit with a wheel that was designed with no thought to steering cables. I have seen some disasterous and outright dangerous retrofitted wheels. On one Catalina 25, the cable runs were done such that it was a wonder they didn't wear through after a few hours. I have even seen a wheel installed on my model boat, an Oday 23. The cockpit sole is not sturdy enough, and there is no access to one entire underside of the cockpit. I am still trying to figure out how they got under there to install turning blocks. Regardless, if the cable slips off on that side, there is no way to get under there and fix it. Just nuts.

On any retrofit, you will be installing equipment that will cause great stress in areas that were not designed to accomodate it. This is not to say that it can't be done; I think Edson makes some model-specific wheel retrofit kits. Hopefully, those would be easier to install and be more reliable. And of course there are boats as mentioned above that came from the factory either way, at least implying that either configuration is safe and practical for that model. In any case, installing a wheel is a big job, so don't underestimate the time and money.

My two cents is that if you decide you want a boat with wheel steering, buy one. Don't mess around with a retrofit unless the boat is designed for it and you are sure you can maintain the new cables and ship an emergency tiller.
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Old 09-12-2008
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I learned to sail with a tiller, and have recently been sailing an Albin28 with a tiller and a Pearson 26 with a Tiller. I like using a tiller except that you pretty much have to keep your hands on it at all times. So if you need two hands to adjust a sheet or if it is out of reach, with a wheel you can let go for thirty seconds to perform the task without going off course too much. With a tiller let go for a few seconds and you can find yourself going in a circle pretty quick.

Also the sweep of the tiller can make a small cockpit seem smaller.
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  #17  
Old 09-12-2008
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I think all boats should have a playstation type joystick....
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  #18  
Old 09-12-2008
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I think all boats should have a playstation type joystick
Now you're talkin!!
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  #19  
Old 09-12-2008
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I have more experience sailing a 31 foot Irwin with a tiller than sailing my own 32 foot Ericson. I like the tiller. I have noticed a few things from friends and family that have joined me on my boat. Most folks that are new to sailing take to it faster with the wheel. I always have my guests spend at least a little time at the helm. They don't seem to really understand the feel of the boat though. I think that a tiller helps a person develop the skill and anticipation necessary to be a good helmsman.

The use of the space within the cockpit can be a reasonable consideration. Some cockpits are consumed be the placement of the tiller. Other cockpits seem to be designed only for the wheel and nothing else. The whole system has to work for you and the type of sailing that you enjoy.

BTW, it seems that autopilots can be cheaper for a tiller than for a wheel.

Good Luck. I'm sure you will enjoy whatever you decide to sail.

Paul
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  #20  
Old 09-13-2008
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My 15 foot boat has a long (home made) tiller that can be made shorter by sliding it through a slot. A pin holds it in place. I can make it long for singlehanding, or short for when there are others in the cockpit with me.

Eric
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Last edited by AllThumbs; 09-13-2008 at 10:44 AM.
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