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Old 07-14-2007
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Question Wheel vs Tiller

I have a 32' CL ketch that currently has wheel steering. I'm thinking of getting rid of the wheel and putting in a tiller. Reasons: 1979 original equipment. Although it works I should at a minimum replace the cables and maybe some, or all the pulleys. It would also give me more space in the cockpit in port (I live aboard ), but less at sea What are your thoughts
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Old 07-14-2007
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Tiller, definitely. The mechanics of a tiller are simpler and generally more robust; you get more feedback from the rudder as to weather/lee helm; you are closer to the control lines, making it easier to single-hand; you can fit a windvane and/or tillerpilot much more cheaply and in an more accessible fashion; and finally, you can pivot it vertically at dock or anchor and get a lot more room for lounging about after a hard day's sailing.

I saw a tiller on a new Beneteau Oceanis 323 and thought it looked great. Wheels on smaller boats put weight and restriction in the worst place. Merely my opinion, of course...a lot of people prefer the "shippy" look of a wheel.
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Old 07-14-2007
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Valiente has hit it on the head... The one disadvantage of a tiller is that they don't have quite as much leverage as a wheel steering system can, and as such can be a problem on a badly designed/balanced boat.
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Old 07-15-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
Valiente has hit it on the head... The one disadvantage of a tiller is that they don't have quite as much leverage as a wheel steering system can, and as such can be a problem on a badly designed/balanced boat.
True, but one hopes that avoiding a poor design or balance has been avoided by the time one is contemplating "wheel or tiller". Hell, I usually steer with my knees!

I just thought of another advantage: tiller extensions. I personally really enjoy hanging out on the high side (after setting the sails for minimum helm) and controlling the tiller via two feet of aluminum stick about the thickness of a Magic Marker.

As I have never sailed dinghies, or at least "hike-out" type dinghies, this is a pretty subtle way to sail. Wheels can seem pretty coarse by comparison.
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Old 07-15-2007
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Disclaimer: I'm a sailing newbie, as my title reflects, and I've very, very little experience. That being said: My "gut feel" tells me that 30' and under: Definitely a tiller. 36' and over: Probably best with a wheel. The sizes in-between: Depends on the boat design, cockpit layout, how you're going to use/sail the boat, your preferences, etc., I would say. OTOH: There are people here who have wheels on boats as small as 27' and swear by 'em. Lady that runs the sailing school I went to used to sail a 36' boat with a tiller. So there ya go .

Jim
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Old 07-15-2007
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Tiller Vs Wheel??? First understand the concept behind each and why one is used instead of the opther one.

I've had many boats in my life, many with tillers, many with wheels. Why certain boats have tillers and others have wheels? It has nothing to do with "purism" or "cruisism"....(some cases its just to help sell the boat to a certain niche, but that's another story)....I can for sure say that one is not better than the other, and even I sailed all my life with tillers, I rather have a good wheel, and let me tell you, response is the same, unless the wheel is badly designed, which is not the purpose of my writing here.

A good tiller is better than a bad wheel and a good wheel is better than a bad tiller...

First its a question of design functionality, and purpose/objective, then it it a question of personal owner preference, with 15% marketing on top....

Many factors in boat design call for either tiller or wheel, (not because the designer is a "purist" or a "life long cruiser"), one is not better than the other, they're different systems applied with the same objective, based on boat charactheristics, and both are the favorite of many...

Its not the boat lenght that defines the use of a tiller versus a wheel, but its beam, and the space available in the vicinity of the rudder axis, boat balance qualities and to some degree forward visibility...then comes marketing and customer preference....

For example a boat like mine, would be complety uncontrolable with a tiller, if I sat on the side I would have to have a 8 foot tiller (for leverage) and a 10 foot extention to get to the tiller when sitting on the high side....imagine that...besides, the space prescribed by the arch made by the tiller would have to be completely un-maned, as no one could go there while your'e sailing...a good example of this, the JOD 35, has a tiller 1 foot above the deck, and its around 5 foot long, and the space around the tiller is completely useless...that boat was designed with a tiller to save weight, but also because it is not very wide as far a beam goes, and to look "racy"..... You get hit by the tiller and your out watching from a wheel chair...a bad tiller for example...


So in my opinion, to dis-mystify the tiller better than wheel thing, its all crap...tiller and wheels are the same as far as response, (unless badly designed) with the advantage of the wheel taking less usefull space in a larger boat and taking more space in a smaller boat. I tack with almost 1/4 turn on my boat, and can with one wheel turn, turn my boat around its keel, just like you can do on a tiller, with the advantage that I can get higher rudder angles....

I am not "less" of a sailor with a wheel or with a tiller, different systems with the same purpose included in a boat due to design, that is all

Then comes customer preference, but at the very end...and I agree, someties I laugh at small boats with gigantic wheels for looks, but have laughed at big boats with tillers "purists" choice (G)...

Last edited by Giulietta; 07-15-2007 at 02:21 PM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim
Disclaimer: I'm a sailing newbie, as my title reflects, and I've very, very little experience. That being said: My "gut feel" tells me that 30' and under: Definitely a tiller. 36' and over: Probably best with a wheel. The sizes in-between: Depends on the boat design, cockpit layout, how you're going to use/sail the boat, your preferences, etc., I would say. OTOH: There are people here who have wheels on boats as small as 27' and swear by 'em. Lady that runs the sailing school I went to used to sail a 36' boat with a tiller. So there ya go .

Jim
You may be new, but you have the general idea. There are exceptions, however: I have a steel 40 footer of some 12-13 tonnes, and I have a transom-hung rudder both supported at the bottom off the keel, and the ability to "balance" the rudder by adding or not adding ballast, as it is hollow. This means I can bypass the hydraulics and steer entirely by rudder a large and heavy boat. This allows for two separate steering options: an amp-eating autopilot on hydraulic, "inside" steering (the logical choice when motoring or motor-sailing or just when making enough amps on a sunny, windy day to ignore the drawdown), and a wind-vane-steered, electricity-free, tiller and line and block affair for sail-only passages.

I have realized that the amount of time spent actively steering outside of harbours and anchorages is near zero (excepting heavy weather conditions), and that is as it should be, as the prudent sailor is better advised to keep a watch, keep a course, trim the sails and keep the maintenance up rather than to stand behind a wheel. Frankly, the wind vane and the autopilot do a better and a fatigue-free job of it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta
I am not "less" of a sailor with a wheel or with a tiller, different systems with the same purpose included in a boat due to design, that is all
I would agree with this, Alex, but would point out that you have a large mechanical advantage with a 40 cm. wide, 180 cm. long rudder (or whatever it is) mated with 160 cm. wheels. Your particular boat is easy to drive and is "sensitive" due to its particular design factors and frankly, to its speed. It is possible and appropriate that other designs have the opportunity to use the tiller, and that from a control and balance point of view, these are logical, if only as a choice. A tiller on your boat would look like a small boom and would knock Lead Head into the water if you had to avoid a fisherman's float.

I've driven boats similar to yours in race situations, and the large wheels mean "no sudden movements!", or the premium coffee gets spilled...you know what I mean.

I can tell that I am at the upper end of practical tiller use, but then I expect the wind vane and mechanical advantage of well-positioned blocks to do the hard work. What I think is the question here is not how great tillers are, but are wheels so great for a sub-30 foot boat? Personally, I think they have few advantages, but after 33-35 feet, the tiller starts to look questionable, unless you are driving a Viking longboat.

Strangely, even 200 foot warships were driven by whipstaffs (the final evolution of the tiller) until the early 1700s, when the wheel and quadrant made its first appearance. Obviously, given enough leverage, even a single man could use a whipstaff to rapidly turn a 400-tonne ship.

I haven't found a lot via Google, but here's the general idea:

USATODAY.com - Only a tiller in hand
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Old 07-15-2007
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I don't like tillers

Hello,

What can I say, I don't like tillers. My first boat, a Catalina 22, had a tiller. When I had guests aboard I was always saying 'excuse me, can you please move, I need to steer the boat'. Or I was hitting people in the knees. And if anyone else wanted to steer they were always going the wrong way.

I vowed that my next boat would have a wheel. It was a Newport 28. The wheel worked great, I didn't need to bother anyone when we tacked. Non sailing friends could steer the boat.

I didn't notice any significant difference in 'feel' between the boats. And, in my very limited experience, the wheel was more reliable. The lower pintles on the Catalina broke and needed to be replaced. I lubricated the cables and rollers on the Newport and had no problems.

Just my opinion.

Barry
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Old 07-15-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente
You may be new, but you have the general idea. There are exceptions, however: I have a steel 40 footer of some 12-13 tonnes, and I have a transom-hung rudder both supported at the bottom off the keel, and the ability to "balance" the rudder by adding or not adding ballast, as it is hollow. This means I can bypass the hydraulics and steer entirely by rudder a large and heavy boat. This allows for two separate steering options: an amp-eating autopilot on hydraulic, "inside" steering (the logical choice when motoring or motor-sailing or just when making enough amps on a sunny, windy day to ignore the drawdown), and a wind-vane-steered, electricity-free, tiller and line and block affair for sail-only passages.
Exactly how does adding or removing ballast from the hollow keel "balance" the rudder??? The helm balance of a boat is generally determined by the sail plan in use at the time and the underwater profile of a boat—the keel and rudder profile.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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