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Old 22-12-2010, 16:13   #1
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Wheel vs Tiller . . .

I've not had any luck with the search engine so apologies in front if this has been hashed over umpty ump times.

I'm in the process of finding the RIGHT boat. 30-36 or so I'd think. Monohull, sloop or cutter, diesel of course.

I'm leaning toward wheel but if I shouldn't be then tell me why.

Please?

TIA,

Jim
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Old 22-12-2010, 16:18   #2
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Try this for the many previous discussions on this site: tiller vs wheel - Google Search
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Old 22-12-2010, 16:20   #3
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Hey Dog,

Many thanks. I never even thought to use a search engine instead of the search on here.

Sometimes I amaze myself.

Jim
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Old 22-12-2010, 16:23   #4
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No worries. I find the google search better than the built in in almost all sites.

Google is pretty impressive. for example in the search above this thread comes up third, even though it did not exist 10 minutes ago. That is pretty amazing.
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Old 22-12-2010, 16:47   #5
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I think a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Smaller boats, in general, tend to have a tiller, larger boats a wheel. Once you get to about 40 foot, most boats have a wheel (but not all - our 40 footer is tiller steered). In the 30 - 36 foot range, I reckon there would be about a 50 / 50 split of wheel and tiller.

The opinions I have heard is that a tiller gives you more feedback, and is more responsive, and particulary for racing, is the preferred choice. The wheel is easier to use and requires less strength, becuase it will tend to have better mechanical advantage.

I have used both and, marginally, prefer a tiller. But like I say, it's all about what feels comfortable to you. Personally, I probably wouldn't let tiller versus wheel influence my decision much, if at all, when choosing a boat. Others might, though.
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:07   #6
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Despite the previous thread...
Our 32' has a tiller, and though upon purchase we looked into converting it to a wheel steering, we love the tiller now. Mostly for the silly reason that we now have a far more comfortable & spacious cockpit for lounging. Pedestals simply take up too much space, and get in the way of decent conversation I like the wheel on the 42' I sailed on though.

If you have to fight your tiller, something ain't right. Too much weather-helm likely; reduce sail. When we're on our game, the boat balances well and hardly any pressure needed on the tiller. It is immediately responsive though, which I'm loving. It also gives you a clear visible sign (I think it's between 6 & 8 degrees) that you're fighting excess weather-helm, in case you somehow didn't notice your tired arm

I agree with Weyalan though; wouldn't be a game-changer.
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:08   #7
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One thing to keep in mind is that autopilots for tillers seem to be less expensive than for wheel systems. Plus, as I am sure others have stated, tillers can be swung up and leave more room in the cockpit when not in use.

For disclosure: My boat has a wheel and when I first got into sailing I preferred a wheel. I think it made me think I was in a "serious" boat. Now, I would definitely not turn down a boat with a tiller. After fixing a gazillion things on board, it would be one less thing on the repair or maintain list.

Rich
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:12   #8
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Also forgot to mention that in snotty weather, I can sit under the dodger with the use of the extension. Couldn't do that with a wheel; how many pictures of miserable sailors standing behind the pedestal while being lashed by wind and water have you seen? A full enclosure would help but on our boat, we coudn't make it tall enough for Brodie (6'4") to stand under and still clear the boom.
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:18   #9
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:29   #10
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You all are the bee's knees. Truly.

THANK you for all the rapid replies.

Jim
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:35   #11
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G'Day Jim (from yet another Jim),

The tiller vs wheel controversy is almost as polarizing as anchors or guns! And in my experience, it depends a great deal on the shape and size of the individual cockpit, and on how you use the boat.

It is true that at anchor the tiller can be swung out of the way, opening up the cockpit for socializing while a wheel and pedestal can not. On the other hand, whilst sailing with several folks in the cockpit, the sweep of the tiller often interferes with the knees of seated crew. Obviously this is dependent on the layout of the specific boat, some better than others... but with a wheel there is no such problem under way.

AS to the feedback, again it varies a lot. Some wheel systems are awful, with little or no feedback, free play and high friction. Others (including the one on Insatiable II, but not on Insatiable I) have very little friction, good feedback and nearly zero free play. I've steered some tiller boats such as a Rafiki 37 with massive outboard rudders and a huge long tiller where I was exhausted quickly sailing downwind in a seaway. The weight and size of the rudder meant needing a long tiller. The long tiller meant that fairly wide swings were required to get much rudder angle, and that meant a LOT of work for the helmsman.

So, in short, the answer is (have you heard this before re boats?) it depends... !!

Ya gotta evaluate each boat on its individual merits, and with consideration of your proposed usage.

These sorts of decisions are what makes boat buying so different from say buying a car.

Good luck with your search

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Church Point, NSW, Oz
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Old 22-12-2010, 17:44   #12
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The lighter the boat, the more I'd aim towards a tiller. They have a lot of handy advantages, not the least of which being you can instantly tell what degree the rudder is at.
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Old 22-12-2010, 18:06   #13
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My boat has a wheel and I'm going to convert it back to tiller. It still has the original tiller so it's no big deal. But I decided to do it because (as mentioned) it will leave much more room in the cockpit, it's a simpler system (no breakdowns or spares), it will be easier/cheaper to fit a steering vane and use a tiller-pilot (although the boat has a wheel pilot already, so that is not a big issue). But one thing that I really don't like about a wheel is trying to steer while sitting. It's not impossible, but it is definitely not the most comfortable thing (for me). It seems like cockpit seating is pretty much designed around the tiller.

With that said, I certainly wouldn't rule out a good boat just because it had one or the other. You'll find a lot more criteria to rule boats out with before considering the personal preference stuff, unless you're dead set on one or the other... but then you wouldn't be asking
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Old 22-12-2010, 18:28   #14
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Like them both. I think it depends on the boat as to which I prefer. I do like sitting up on the cockpit coamings when we are heeled way over so having a tiller with an extension is nice in those instances.

I have steered an old IOR 50 footer with a great big wheel and she was super responsive, but that was due to her skinny, long rudder and fin keel...

I think it is more about what is under the boat in regards to responsiveness vs. what the steering vehicle is...

I say judge it on a boat to boat basis.

Presently we have a 32' Westerly Fulmar we are getting ready to put on the market that has a tiller and I LOVE it...she is like steering a great big, heavy dinghy...super responsive and fun.

We will be moving onto a 35' Wauquiez Pretorien and she has a wheel. I haven't had enough time skippering to see how I like it yet...she has a nice long rudder though...so something tells me I will love it too!

Good luck with your search!!!
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Old 25-12-2010, 09:06   #15
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Thank you VERY much for all the replies folks. I truly appreciate your thoughts/experience/opinions.

I'm leaning away from selecting a boat based on, among other things, that steering it has now.

Merry Christmas (appropriate holiday observances ) to everyone.

Jim
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