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  #21  
Old 09-13-2008
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I would prefer a tiller for one reason, you can rig the boat to self-steer using lines from the sails and some shock cord. Even if the boat has an autopilot, windvane, etc, it still pays to have the ability to self-steer the boat using the tiller.
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  #22  
Old 09-15-2008
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I think a point for the Wheel vs Tiller Debate....

often overlooked is which is easier for the "inexperienced sailor" guest.

While I have no issues with either and can do either, I find that when we have "non-sailor" guests aboard, we like to have them helm the boat if they want to so that we can work the sails. We find that it helps with any potential quesiness that they may have if they are focused on a task instead of just sitting there.

If I had to explain the tiller to them, I'd bet that they would be more frustrated after several minutes of sailing because they have to constantly think and may over/under steer much more. With a wheel I just tell them it's like steering a car, rotate the wheel right to go right, left to go left. They are much more comfortable then at the helm.

DrB
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  #23  
Old 09-22-2008
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favoring a tiller..

A tiller is mechanically much simpler than a wheel. Unless the wheel is well maintained - no slack in cables etc - there is a better feel to a tiller. Autopilots are easier to add to a tiller. In a small boat all that is needed to lock the helm for a few minutes is a mechanism that the tiller is locked in to.After all a wheel is a system unto itself with all the expense and maintenance that that requires. At anchor the tiller is totally out of the way when tilted up. All just my opinion of course. Sailors with a wheel should always carry an emergency tiller in case there is an issue with the wheel - there will be eventually. But I've never heard of a sailor with a tiller carrying an emergency wheel aboard!
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  #24  
Old 09-22-2008
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Don't underestimate the power of Autohelm with a tiller...I use mine nearly every time I sail in under 12kts wind. Often, I set it and don't have to touch it again till it's time to tack back in...sitting up on bow or on the rail with drink in hand.

Also, I have a carefully devised method of steering with my feet...which allows me to lounge back and relax. Seems to me that (especially in extra heavy weather) the tiller requires more strength...if my sore muscles are any indication.
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  #25  
Old 09-22-2008
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Eric,

Your original question was: "Which do you like and why? I am thinking on a 27-30 footer. Also, is it practical (or desirable) to add wheel steering to a tiller equipped boat?"

The real question should be which one YOU prefer. By your question, I'd deduce you'd prefer to have a wheel over a tiller. But, it's not likely you'll be able to find many boats in the 27-30 foot range with a wheel. I, like others on this thread, think it would be more trouble than it's worth to try to convert a boat from one to the other. On a boat the size you're looking at, a tiller really does make more sense...that's why most have them.

I think, once you get used to the tiller (after one or two day-sails...and maybe even within minutes from the dock), you'll like steering a smaller boat by tiller better than if it had a wheel. A tiller makes the boat much more responsive which is what you want on a smaller boat. (The responsiveness is why you see tillers on even some large race-boats.)

Instead of spending the money on converting over to wheel, spend it on a tiller autopilot!

By the way, I sail a J/36 with wheel steering, 1 1/2 turn lock to lock which moves a balanced spade rudder within a 90-degree arc (3/4 turn = 45 degrees each side). Not being able to "feel" the boat/water/wind is total bovine feces. No, I wouldn't trade for a tiller on my boat. However, I've sailed on several smaller boats with tiller steering and I'm sure they benefited from it, and I know it would have been a disaster if they'd been wheel steered. On a larger boat, especially a cruiser, a wheel makes more sense.

What I'm saying is don't be totally turned off by tiller steering. If you give it a try, I think you'll agree that it's the way to go on a boat the size you're looking at.

In any case, I wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect boat!

Skipper, J/36 "Zero Tolerance"
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Old 09-22-2008
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Thanks for all the replies. I do have a small boat (15 feet) with a tiller and have no trouble with the tiller steering at all. I was just wondering what others prefered, and I am trying to learn as much about sailboats as I can. I did sail a 30 footer with a wheel and did kind of like it because I could let the wheel go for a minute (or more) and the boat would stay on course. There was enough friction in the system that the weatherhelm could not overcome the steering (at least in the breeze we were sailing in). The tiller is definately more responsive and i do enjoy the feel of the weatherhelm when sailing in a stiff breeze so I have no problem with tillers in general. I have noticed that 95% of boats between 27-30 feet have a tiller.

I do like the idea of the autohelm. This will be one of the first upgrades (after any "safety" upgrades are done) if I find a boat that I like.

Eric
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  #27  
Old 09-23-2008
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I started sailing when I was eight in a sabot, later I raced that sabot.
since I have raced stars, solings, lightenings. later when I grew up it was to
pc's,pcc's and J boats all tillers. yeah, racers like tillers.
I have taught a score of people to sail, yes with a tiller. Sure they have trouble at first with all that steer the opposite direction stuff, but when they settle down, thay can feel the boat.
With a tiller you can listen to what the boat is telling you... to much jib, to little traveler, to much sail.
Besids my wife likes a tiller and she is a tiller hog!
The way we work out equal tiller time on our cal 28, is we sit on oppisite sides of the cockpit, when time to tack you simply hand the tiller off to the mate, turn to the winch next to you, sheet the jib, and watch the water go by till the next tack.
you know? I still miss that old sabot.
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  #28  
Old 09-24-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slayer View Post
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.
I experienced this sort of thing singlehanding club-owned J22's. The tiller wasn't set up for any kind of lashing, so I'd kludge something together using a short line between the stern cleats with a clove hitch. Now that I see inexpensive tiller tamer systems I'd put one on a tiller-equipped boat in a heartbeat. They would seem to be one of the higher bang/buck things one can add to a boat.
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Also the sweep of the tiller can make a small cockpit seem smaller.
I've seen boats with tillers that seemed way longer than they needed to be. A saw could perhaps remedy that, but perhaps the length is useful in heavy weather. On a fair number of boats, like the J22 and J24, the aft end of the cockpit is hazardous already due to the traveler cutting across the seats, which discourages a passenger/crew from sitting there anyway.
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  #29  
Old 08-30-2009
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I just wanted to add that this is a great write up. There are lots of opinions and even more feed back. I have a tiller on my 29'cal and have always wondered what a wheel in the boat would be like.
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  #30  
Old 08-30-2009
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It would be more complicated, more expensive to buy and maintain, have less feel, and be in the way at anchor or at the dock. I wouldn't put a wheel on any boat under 40' unless it had a pilothouse.
Brian
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