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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some PO years ago converted an original tiller cockpit to a wheeled steering setup. Though the teak wheel looks really nice and the binnacle provides a welcome hand hold, I find the cockpit typically feeling cramped even when just sailing with 4. A tiller that lifts out of way when not sailing would seem to provide more room. It would also let me pilot from forward part of cockpit leaving me with some shelter from beneath the bimini. Another advantage would be better access to engine guages on back wall of cockpit. Lastly a new autopilot would be more affordable. Thinking the sale of removed wheeled setup might buy me a stack pack, I am considering converting back to tiller but would love to hear opinions and pros/Cons from this community. Thanks. See my album for cockpit pics...
 

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The tiller is unlikely to give you more cockpit space while sailing. If anything it reduces it, as the tiller needs room and will probably sweep over at least half of each cockpit bench. It does give you a lot more room in port.

Your boat is a "small" 28' boat and it is pretty uncommon to have a wheel on that size of boat. My current 28.5' boat and my previous 25' boat have very similar size cockpits, but it is easier for me to sail with a lot of guests on the current boat than the previous one.

The tiller will probably give you a better helm feel (with more feedback) than the wheel, though a well maintained wheel system does almost as well.

The tiller does open you up to cheaper autopilots, but they are also technically a couple of steps lower than the cheapest wheel pilot (comparing the X5 or Evo to the ST2000 as an example). It isn't exactly an apples to apples comparison. The cost of the X5 really bothered me when I bought a wheel boat, but after using the X5 and ST2000 extensively I'm happy with the greatly improved performance on the X5.

On your boat I think I'd probably switch to the tiller. Somewhere around 8000-12000lb displacement (also depending on boat design) I think I start to prefer a wheel.
 

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I also have an HR28 with original tiller steering.

True, the tiller does sweep 60% of the cockpit, but when sailing with 3 or 4 we can just hand-off the tiller to the person on the opposite side on each tack; anyone riding in my boat has to help sail it.

At the mooring or anchor the tiller lifts vertical out of the way entirely allowing a totally open cockpit and allows us to set up the table for meals. I don't believe we took one meal belowdecks last season. I think most would also agree a tiller offers more "feel", and a less-expensive autopilot option.
 

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If you convert be sure to have a good plan on how to deal with/hide/seal the holes in the cockpit sole after removing the binnacle.

Overall I think I'd prefer a tiller on that boat too..
 

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tillers on small to medium boats is more common and better for feel etc like mentioned

I wouldnt dream of having a sub 30footer with a wheel as it will kill the feel for me(smaller boats are more nimble and more responsive) and I do sail better as well

in any case I think if you boat has wheel steering already installed and its a good installation, the best setup is to have the original tiller ready to use and the stub easy to access to you can use the tiller in an emergency

I just found the original tiller for my boat in some piles of crap in the stern lazarrete and I was exstatic!
 

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You really can get good feel out of a wheel system. Take it all apart, lube everything, and make sure that it runs smoothly. The wheel on my boat has better feel (in that you can feel turbulence and feedback from the rudder) than the tiller on some of my friend's boats. There are a lot of differences between our boats than just the tiller vs wheel though.

In some ways the wheel allows for a better seating position than a tiller, though not then a tiller plus extension. It lets me sit farther out so I can hike a bit. I sit forward and alongside the wheel, not behind it, so it doesn't change the weight balance in the boat.

Most of the boats that I sail on besides my Pearson 28-2 have tillers. I thought I'd hate the wheel on my Pearson, but I've figured out how to make it not only well for me, but better than a tiller. My Pearson is a bigger and heavier boat with a more modern hull design than your H28 though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks folks. Nice to see a fellow HR28 owner Harry. This is first sailboat for me/us and we feel we rally lucked out in terms of what we ended up with having very little knowledge at purchase time. Just to clarify the wheeled setup works fine. It is very smooth and has good feel. I just find myself wishing the cockpit felt larger. I also have an emergency tiller and easy access to rudder post. I must confess that if I were to convert back to tiller I would miss the salty look and feel of the teak wood wheel. Oh well thanks for all the feedback... Will ponder this until weather warms up...
 

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im not complaining about my wheel now but its a bigger boat...like alex says good maintenance and lube does wonders for wheelled systems
 

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We converted our boat to tiller with a Monitor windvane just because we prefer the simplicity and reliability of it. Our boat was cramped behind the helm and made the helmsperson feel like he/she was going to trip over backwards and the helm was hard to get around. Very poor design for cockpit layout just to have a wheel.

The tiller does not take up any more room in the cockpit than the wheel helm did for under way because the rudder post was in back of the wheel pedestal where it now comes up through the cockpit sole. We had a custom tiller made by Rudder Craft. I built the rudder post extension and bronze pilot bearing for where it comes through the cockpit sole myself. And made a stainless steel cover plate for where the pedestal was.

We were going to sell the wheel, pedestal, cable quadrant and autopilot out of the boat to help fund the Monitor windvane (almost $7,000 for our boat with a swing gate mount). But we decided to hang onto it in case we ever decide to sell the boat, because it can be easily converted back to wheel.
 

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sail Boats come with wheel steering?!?!?! wow, amazing, did not know that......hmmmmmm..... learn something new every day.

6 sailboat owned, never had one with a wheel.

Marty
 

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while I agree..I have had about 6 boats myself too the last 2(over 30, 1 34 islander and this islander 36) where converted...but came stock with tillers...

just for the record there are plenty of old schooners and wooden boats that came stock with those pedestal mounted wheels that you sat on

so in reality the statement above is innacurate but in jest to this thread is understandeable!

jeje

ps. windvanes tiller systems are much easier...my last boat had a very nice clucth wheel system for the aries windvane that was wanted by everybody who stepped on board...in fact when selling the boat people wanted just that as they are so expensive and desirable
 

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'81 H22 & '86 Legend 37
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ps. windvanes tiller systems are much easier...my last boat had a very nice clucth wheel system for the aries windvane that was wanted by everybody who stepped on board...in fact when selling the boat people wanted just that as they are so expensive and desirable
Offshore cruisers used to wear a windvane like a badge of honor. Not so much anymore. There's few sailors that know how to sail with one, or adjust one, anymore. We sailed a Hallberg-Rassy 34 from San Andres to Ri De Janeiro a couple years ago with a Monitor on it and had three different cruisers that seen it ask what the heck is that thing? We explained it to them and they had never heard of one. All they knew was GPS, and if it's not slaved to GPS how can you even sail it? Those people will want a wheel on their boat because it gives them a warm and fuzzy "big ship" feeling :)
 

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I have in reality sailed a few boats with wheels. My current boat has a wheel option. I am probably the only one of 5 in puget sound with a tiller.

Wheels have a place, as do tillers. I can as mentioned about, flip my tiller up against the back stay, and i have a VERY roomy cockpit at the dock, anchor etc. I do lose a bit of room sailing, but as also mentioned, and where the wheel sits, not a LOT of room, a small amount.

I figure if TP52's are showing up more and more with tillers vs wheels, tillers must have a place. Then again, wheel do too. Not sure I would want a small wheel as my boat came with, A large one maybe, or dual wheels as some have today. Many boats like mine with a small wheel, it is hard to get low or high and still steer. Where as with a tiller and hiking stick. very easy.
Both have a place, but if I could choose, I would probably go with a tiller!

Marty
 

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'81 H22 & '86 Legend 37
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For me it feels unnatural to sit to one side and hold a wheel. I have a tendency to want to turn it the wrong way. I've seen other folks who have only sailed wheel boats have the same tendency when steering with a tiller.

If you have a boat with a big barn door rudder hanging off the back of a full keel, a tiller wouldn't be all that great though.
 

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say that to folkboats, contessas, aries, dreadnaughts, westsails, many steel boats, the list goes on

barn door rudders are the easiest btw to adapt a simple trimtab rudder windvane system that cost pennies LIKE MOTISSIER has on his books versus the massively over priced monitor oil rigs for example...

barn door rudders and tillers go hand in hand...old school and fine performers...easy to fix and decent feel
 

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The Monitor is more expensive because it is all stainless steel.

A barndoor type skeg or full keel mounted rudder will typically have higher tiller effort than a balanced rudder. While this may not be a big deal for a trim tab windvane on a larger boat, when you want to steer the boat yourself it gets tiring. I would consider a wheel to be a better option on a larger boat with a barndoor rudder.
 

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stainless steel is not expensive...in reality its that they are so overpriced as are hydrovanes and other mircaulous windvanes

I could steer my folkboat with a tip of my finger or sometimes solo sail with a bungee tied off to the tiller

its not the size or displacement of boat that makes a barn door rudder work or not its how well designed the overall boat is and underbody...

I sailed a 39 foot jouvel nivel steel boat most of the way around with some friends...he had a skeg mounted rudder that was real heavy...but well balanced...it required no more effort to move at speed or not than a small keelboat...

again I stress if well designed its simply not true that you need MUCH MORE EFFORT

ps...its also harder and slower to go lock to lock on wheeled rudders than tillers...thats one very great advantage tillers have over wheels

cheers
 

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stainless steel is not expensive...in reality its that they are so overpriced as are hydrovanes and other mircaulous windvanes
Well, I'm not going to argue what's expensive or not expensive, overpriced or not overpriced. I will just say that Hans Bernwall and Ron Geick at Scanmar are excellent to work with in custom fitting a new windvane self-steering system on your boat. We are very pleased with it, and the quality of support.
 

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Boats under 30 feet (especially of light displacement) with wheels, drive me absolutely nuts.

So many "Master & Commander" wannabes jam that gear into the cockpits of itty-bitty daysailors and weekend cruisers.

I have a friend who inherited an O'Day 25 with wheel steering and SIX friggin' winches! She moved up to a Pearson 30 with wheel steering. This boat ended up needing a replacement steering cable. Even on a 30 foot boat, access to replace this cable was an abomination.

Look, I'm not rabidly anti-wheel. I agree that they have their place on certain boats but I don't feel that they belong on 20-30 foot weekenders of modest displacement, especially with poor access for installation and maintenance.

Don't give me that bunk about the tiller being a cockpit sweeper either. The tiller can be lifted over people's knees, handed off to the person on the other side, or shortened and a Ronstan Battlestick tiller extender can be added.

"Feel" has been mentioned several times. I agree that the feel of weather helm is diminished, but if you're sensitive you can still feel it. What I prefer, is the responsiveness of a tiller. I can move the rudder far faster with a tiller than a wheel. I can make faster steering corrections.

I often do distance races down the Chesapeake Bay. In the summer, this usually means driving upwind into a southerly, and a short chop. We actively steer around the worst of the "potholes" to avoid being jarred to a halt. I can dodge these far more effectively with a tiller.
 

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again lock to lock is very hard or much slower than on a tiller....
 
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