Originally Posted by Alex W
Wheels that provide no feedback are wheels that aren't being well maintained...
I agree with this statement, but there are also other factors related to the system design.
The Edson system that I linked above is a simple pull-pull dual cable system with no purchase. However, there is a popular modification to the Catalina 250 steering design that adds pullies to give a 2:1 purchase in the cables. Even if properly maintained, that purchase almost completely eliminates any feel of the helm. People have done the mod because they are unhappy with how hard the wheel is to turn, but I think that it is more important to feel the pressure of the rudder pushing back.
As for the idea of understanding the amount of rudder offset needed to maintain a straight course, I think it goes without saying that the perfectly straight alignment of the wheel should be marked with tape or some other material (and adjusted whenever your chain jumps a link
) How/where/whether to mark other angles of turn is personal preference. But all that is really needed is the center mark, and over time you will get an idea how much turn is acceptable weather helm, and how much turn is excessive and requires adjusting the sail balance.
My boat came with a wheel, and I'm generally happy with it. If I had found a similar boat with a tiller, I would have considered that instead. For me personally, retrofitting a wheel would have been pretty far down my list of to-do items and probably never made it to the top. But others may want a wheel bad enough to endure the cost and trouble, and there's nothing pretentious about that.