Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: On the boat.
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Tiller on PSC 37
I can't speak to converting a PSC 37 to a tiller, because we ordered ours with a tiller from the start. It was wonderful! Engine access remarkably good, tiller absolutely reliable over 23 years of sailing. No problems pulling into tight spaces--control was very sports car-like. You really have a feel for the way the boat is responding. It was kind fun to pull into a tight docking space with the 37 using the tiller--you could actually swing the stern quickly and pivot the boat very neatly into position by pulling smartly on the tiller.
Autopilot is very simple--Raymarine TillerPilot did the job quite nicely. The TillerPilot is cheap enough that you can take an extra unit along for a backup, and still spend considerably less than _one_ autopilot for a wheel. And of course there's no autopilot taking up space below the cockpit floor, We liked the idea that we could take along a spare tiller, too. No idea how we'd make the spare tiller provided by Pacific Seacraft for the PSC 40--the tiller would be stopped cold at the wheel pedestal even if we removed the wheel.
One disadvantage: if you have a small helmsman he/she will need to be prepared for some pressure on the tiller if a steep/breaking quartering wave picks up the stern and the helmsman has not prepared for it. It's not impossible to handle, but the first couple of times it happens it feels like the boat is steering you. This is something that can happen with a wheel, of course, but you _feel_ it more with a tiller. That's a pretty big rudder out there.... I used a Tiller Tamer at first to help me feel it wouldn't get away from me, but stopped using the Tiller Tamer after I got used to the steering (I was accustomed to a _much_ smaller boat with a balanced rudder).
We asked Pacific Seacraft (rather wistfully) to make the underbody changes to the 40 so that we could have a tiller (would require a balanced rudder on that size boat) but the answer was "No way." We still wish we had a tiller. We compromised by getting a Hydrovane wind vane and putting a TillerPilot on the little rudder on the Hydrovane....