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Old 01-10-2012, 10:34   #1
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Dual helms side by side

Hi folks,

Can anyone tell me what the advantages/disadvantages/reasons for having a dual helm side by side are as opposed to a single helm?
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:43   #2
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Re: Dual helms side by side

You can sit on the high side and see the telltales.

The worst place from which to steer a boat is from its centerline. The best place is from the windward rail, or at least the windward coaming. As boats get beamier, wheels need to get larger to accomodate this. However, after a certain size, it's easier to go to twin wheels placed side by side. The other possibility is an oversize wheel with a wheel well that takes it below the cockpit sole.

As far as disadvantages, the twin-wheel setup creates more inertia for the steering system. An autopilot, for example has to move two wheels rather than one. This inertia leads to less feel of the rudder, especially if hydraulic steering is used.

While I prefer a large wheel rather than smaller twins, large wheels also have their disadvantages after a certain size. One such disadvantage is blocking traffic to and from a walk-through transom.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:45   #3
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Re: Dual helms side by side

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
You can sit on the high side and see the telltales.

The worst place to sail a boat is from its centerline. The best place is from the windward rail, or at least the windward coaming. As boat's get beamier, wheels need to get larger to accomodate this. However, after a certain size, it's easier to go to twin wheels placed side by side. The other possibility is an oversize wheel with a wheel well that takes it below the cockpit sole.
Ah ok, that makes sense to me, thanks for the info.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:52   #4
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Re: Dual helms side by side

I think the main reason why dual helms are installed is to allow a clear walk through the cockpit, making the cockpit much more liveable.

You generally find them on mass produced boats which are designed for lifestyle as much as for sailing. For them to work, you need an aft cockpit boat with beam carried well aft -- otherwise there is not the space for two helms.

That being said, of course, it is nice to steer from the windward rail when you're heeled. My boat has a single large wheel and with a 16 foot beam, I can't get anywhere near either rail from the helm. I don't see the telltales very well, and you can't move through the cockpit very easily. But despite all that, I wouldn't want the extra complexity, friction, or inertia from having two helms.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:58   #5
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Re: Dual helms side by side

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I think the main reason why dual helms are installed is to allow a clear walk through the cockpit, making the cockpit much more liveable.

You generally find them on mass produced boats which are designed for lifestyle as much as for sailing. For them to work, you need an aft cockpit boat with beam carried well aft -- otherwise there is not the space for two helms.

That being said, of course, it is nice to steer from the windward rail when you're heeled. My boat has a single large wheel and with a 16 foot beam, I can't get anywhere near either rail from the helm. I don't see the telltales very well, and you can't move through the cockpit very easily. But despite all that, I wouldn't want the extra complexity, friction, or inertia from having two helms.
Thanks for the input. As a result of the responses here I now have a better understanding.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:00   #6
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Re: Dual helms side by side

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
You generally find them on mass produced boats which are designed for lifestyle as much as for sailing. For them to work, you need an aft cockpit boat with beam carried well aft -- otherwise there is not the space for two helms.
Actually, the design originated with racing boats. All the IACC Americas cup boats, going back to 1990, had this design. Some of the later 12-meter class boats had them as well. I recall that Austrailia II had twin wheels.

It's just one way to solve a design problem on beamier boats.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:04   #7
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Re: Dual helms side by side

Whatever the reason, I love the benefits it offers. As mentioned, it makes moving through the cockpit much easier. I also find when getting someone training at the helm, it's easy since I can stand at the other wheel and help them as needed or take over in an instant.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:04   #8
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Re: Dual helms side by side

The first 12-metre to incorporate twin wheels was Gretel II. She was also the last America's Cup defender built of wood. 1970.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:08   #9
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Re: Dual helms side by side

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Originally Posted by maytrix View Post
Whatever the reason, I love the benefits it offers. As mentioned, it makes moving through the cockpit much easier. I also find when getting someone training at the helm, it's easy since I can stand at the other wheel and help them as needed or take over in an instant.
I can imagine that is a further advantage and would probably be good in our case too because my Admiral has never sailed before.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:14   #10
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Re: Dual helms side by side

The last time I left KKMI's docks in Pt. Richmond (CA), a something-like-45-foot racing sloop had to be moved out of the way. It had twin/dual tillers well offset from the centerline.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:15   #11
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Re: Dual helms side by side

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Originally Posted by maytrix View Post
I also find when getting someone training at the helm, it's easy since I can stand at the other wheel and help them as needed or take over in an instant.
I hope this doesn't come as a surprise, but the same thing can be accomplished with a large wheel. When a newby is reacting too late to puffs or quartering seas, I'll sometimes sit on the low side and take over steering while instructing the newb to stay on the high side and keep a hand on the wheel so that he/she can feel how it's done. It's a quick way to learn how to anticipate what the rudder needs to do, and it's not really something you can do with a tiller.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:20   #12
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Re: Dual helms side by side

Yeah Bash, that makes sense. I just find there's more room to move around with dual wheels.
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Old 01-10-2012, 13:11   #13
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Re: Dual helms side by side

We have dual wheels on our Catalina 470, which are referred to as HIS and HERS.

In reality, they make the cockpit much more liveable, allow direct walk thru to the stern ladder and allow me to sit either on the low or high side when sailing. It also makes it easier docking.

The most important thing is redundantcy, since each wheel has its own chain and cable to the quadrant, so at least in theory, I should be able to use the other wheel if I lose a steering cable.
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Old 01-10-2012, 13:51   #14
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Re: Dual helms side by side

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
We have dual wheels on our Catalina 470, which are referred to as HIS and HERS.

In reality, they make the cockpit much more liveable, allow direct walk thru to the stern ladder and allow me to sit either on the low or high side when sailing. It also makes it easier docking.

The most important thing is redundantcy, since each wheel has its own chain and cable to the quadrant, so at least in theory, I should be able to use the other wheel if I lose a steering cable.
I would imagine that it would make life easier docking and yes, it would in theory at least be safer, as you have a backup wheel if something were to go wrong with one. It seems to me that having two side by side helms has no important disadvantages.

I am starting to look at the Bavaria design but don't seem to find many of them around the Caribbean/USA coast?
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Old 01-10-2012, 14:34   #15
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Re: Dual helms side by side

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Originally Posted by Bluewaters2812 View Post
It seems to me that having two side by side helms has no important disadvantages.
Every advantage on a boat has corresponding disadvantages.
* less feel on the rudder
* less mechanical advantage over the rudder
* requires more powerful autopilot
* usually, engine controls are available only on one wheel
* question of how to make instrumentation (radar, chatplotter) available to both wheels
* greater expense and complexity
* less protection by spray dodger when motoring.
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