Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Yeocomico River, VA
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What follows is only my opinion and I don't want to offend anyone, but here goes....
1. I'm neutral. I don't think that it really matters. There are pros and cons to each. If you have boat feel, you can live with harmoniously with each.
2. A wheel IMHO takes up less space while underway. With a tiller, anywhere within the sweep must remain clear at all times, so most of the cockpit and seats are off limits for others. Pierside, it's reversed. A tiller can be raised and stowed out of the way.
3. A tiller is far simpler mechanically, as stated earlier in the post. But a wheel has mechanical advantage and properly maintained, doesn't fail very often. Yes, a tiller can fail, I've seen it.
4. IMHO, very HO, a tiller does not impart a better feel for the boat. While you MAY not feel the water action as readily, I reject the widely held opinion that you can feel wind on the boat better. By the time a change in wind speed or direction translates to movement in the water, the boat has already begun to react and the helmsman is in the position of countering the movement. Someone who truly has boat feel will have first felt the change in wind on their face and in the sails and compensated before the boat has begun to react.
5. Wheels are not slower. The combination of boat mass, and size and shape of the rudder affect how fast a boat will turn. Yes, a wheel may take a couple of seconds longer to go from stop to stop, but I've seen very few cases where that rate of rudder movement was necessary. Those cases were due to improper planning or inattention, in my experience.
6. On boats less than about 28', a wheel looks silly to me. I'd rather have a tiller. Above that, I'm neutral but would probably prefer a wheel for cruising because it's easier to get at the engine controls. To explain - on most tiller boats the engine controls (throttle & shifter) are near the floor on either the port or starboard side. That limits my movement as helsman and I have to stoop down to make changes, so I'm distracted as my eyes and body are taken away from what I'm looking at. With most wheels, the engine controls are right there (or should be).
7. Both wheels and tillers can be mad to look "shippy" (love that word), so I'm neutral
8. Guiletta's wheel is way cool. I want one with the same spoke shape, but in teak.
Just my $0.02..........
Sabre 38 "Victoria"