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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
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For racing I'm happy with either.. as long as the helm forces are manageable with a tiller.
When cruising, however, I find that a tiller takes up cockpit space that often is in conflict with guests/passengers during tacks and maneouvers. I also feel a wheel gives the helmsperson more viable options in the way of seating positions and sight lines during a longish passage (you can try to avoid the tiller-induced 'crick in the neck' during a long single tack fetch)
On a mooring it's nice to be able to flip up a tiller and have an entirely open cockpit. Today's folding wheels help here, as does simply removing the wheel during happy hour - though of course the binnacle (and nowadays the bulky nav pod/plotter housing etc) will still be there.
The "Ego wheels" big enough to require a deck trough are 'cool' as mentioned above, but they do have a practical purpose - they get the helmsman well outboard for good sightlines and visibility around dodgers etc. Today's twin wheels do the same thing at the cost of complexity.
Seeing a pedestal with a 16 or 20" wheel that can't be reached when sitting on a coaming is just silly.... (as always, JMO...)
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)