Join Date: Feb 2004
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Okay, some simple pros that I like about the wheel.
While the claim is always made that a tiller gives you more cockpit space when at anchor, a tiller also eats most of the cockpit in a smaller boat when under way. I built the swan-necked raised tiller that did not collect everyone's kneecaps as it did it's thing...and it still basically needed the back two thirds of the cockpit to be people-free in order to have full swing.
Now the wheel is a fixed station. If you are not sitting directly on it, then you can stay there no matter what.
When the sailing ends and we want some space in the cockpit, I just pop the quick release on the wheel and store it in the aft locker. Takes almost exactly as long as swinging the tiller up and out of the way. I can also have the rudder "lashed" in any position witht he tension screw on the pedestal, without trying to tie up the tiller after it has been swung up.
So the REAL footprint of the pedestal is about 6 inches of cockpit deck...and in exchange for this space it gives you a mounting point for a cockpit table, a base for keeping all the nav displays and compass nice and close to the helmsman, and a place to mount the water/air rocket launcher thing we use to shoot water balloons at other boats in the yacht club's opening day race!
I think the setup I came up with gives me good "feel" for what the waves under the hull are doing and I find I am just less tired after four hours of hand steering a wheel then a tiller. I also find it easier to work the mainsheet and a wheel then a tiller, which shouldn't be the case...But is, at least for me.
Mostly though, it is the space while under way thing and the instruments brought closer aspect I especially like. The super simple cockpit table that lets you have a civillised breakfast is also pretty popular with my wife, though.