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Old 07-07-2015, 05:22   #1
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Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

I'm going to replace or refurbish my dinghy and davits this fall, and am thinking about the various tradeoffs.

I presently have an Avon 340 RIB with wheel steering and a 25 horsepower Mariner (U.S. made -- Mercury) outboard.

The advantage of this setup is that it is a proper little motorboat which is reasonably comfortable for fairly long distances. I have had day long "dinghy cruises" with it up rivers I can't get my boat up, have run errands across the Solent, and carried a passenger once for a short distance in the open sea -- these capabilities are nice, although perhaps not essential.

The outboard engine has been just fantastically trouble free and starts like a dream.

But the wheel steering means weight, steering gear to maintain (which has not been trouble free), and worst of all, the engine can't be taken off to store separately, so the davits have to support it.

I'm toying with the idea of getting rid of the wheel steering and replacing the Mariner with a Yamaha 15 horsepower two stroke which weighs only 36 kg (vs 52 kg for the present engine). Tiller steering will allow me to get rid of the jocky console and reduce weight.

The downside is the boat will be much less comfortable to drive over longer distances. The wheel steering is nice.

But with tiller steering, I can pop the engine off and onto a pushpit mount, and considerably reduce the weight in the davits. No steering gear to maintain or fix. Total weight of the dinghy in the davits will be reduced from something like 160 kg to something like 95 kg, which will be much easier to lift and much less stress on the davits.

In such a case I might even replace my davits with these:

http://www.cooneymarine.co.uk/PDF/OVAL-15ZERO-Davit.pdf



Concerning the choice of engine: I guess the rather lighter total weight of the dinghy will mean 15 horsepower will be nearly as useful as the old 25 horsepower was. I very rarely use all the power of the present 25 horsepower engine; 90% of my use is anyway in rivers, harbors, and estuaries with speed limits which don't allow planing speeds. However -- and this is a big however -- if you ever need the dinghy to hip-tow the mother ship, you will want every last horsepower you can have. Here the 25hp and wheel steering would be vastly better.


Any thoughts or tips? Anyone else ever "downgrade" to tiller from wheel steering?
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Old 07-07-2015, 05:56   #2
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

It's not really a down grade. A little inflatable is so versatile.

-you can lift or winch it up on deck
-you can drag it up onto a beach or shore line or dock or ice flow/fast ice
-you can deflate it and throw it in your truck (either for maintenance or to explore an inland river or distant shore line)
-you can easily row or drag it into marshes and over beaver dams
-you can deflate it for storage either below or in your garage

I would see it as a repurposing rather than a downgrade

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Old 07-07-2015, 05:59   #3
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

I can see no reason to upgrade anything except the davits.
You have a lovely setup.

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Old 07-07-2015, 07:17   #4
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

A vote for tiller..
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:18   #5
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

It comes down to:

tiller/simple/light/cheap
vs
wheel/complex/heavy/expensive

I'm a fan of cheap/simple/light, but most people prefer fancy/expensive/luxury. It really comes down to personal preference. But it sounds like you have already decided to ditch the wheel steering.
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:24   #6
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
It comes down to:

tiller/simple/light/cheap
vs
wheel/complex/heavy/expensive

I'm a fan of cheap/simple/light, but most people prefer fancy/expensive/luxury. It really comes down to personal preference. But it sounds like you have already decided to ditch the wheel steering.
I haven't decided anything. Still thinking about it. It's a more complicated decision than "fancy/luxury" vs "simple/light". If it were that easy, we would all sail open boats with no engines.
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:25   #7
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I haven't decided anything. Still thinking about it. It's a more complicated decision than "fancy/luxury" vs "simple/light". If it were that easy, we would all sail open boats with no engines.
er....... no we wouldnt..

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Old 07-07-2015, 08:36   #8
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Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Dockhead, my limited experience with wheel steering on a dinghy was on a 14 ft Boston Whaler. That was good for water skiing. All of my inflatables have been tiller steered as is my present one. I have hip towed a sailboat with the tiller/motor in fairly protected water with no difficulty. I don't think a wheel would have been better. A bigger engine might be useful in a tow but in flat water you don't need big horses and you aren't likely to tow with your dinghy in the open ocean in rough conditions. I'd bet 15 hp will still meet your needs and give you the advantages you described.


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Old 07-07-2015, 08:46   #9
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Are not Mariner/Mercury under 30 hp outboards made by Tohatsu in Japan,
30, 40, 50 and 60 by Suzhu in China and over 75 are made in the USA?

Or, does it depend on year of manufacture of older models?
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:56   #10
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

It seems you have answered your own question by carefully thinking it through. I love my AB with steering wheel but had no problem spending hours fishing from a Lund in Alaska with a tiller. Helped to have a small seat installed so not perching on the pontoon.
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:08   #11
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I'm going to replace or refurbish my dinghy and davits this fall, and am thinking about the various tradeoffs.

I presently have an Avon 340 RIB with wheel steering and a 25 horsepower Mariner (U.S. made -- Mercury) outboard.

The advantage of this setup is that it is a proper little motorboat which is reasonably comfortable for fairly long distances. I have had day long "dinghy cruises" with it up rivers I can't get my boat up, have run errands across the Solent, and carried a passenger once for a short distance in the open sea -- these capabilities are nice, although perhaps not essential.

The outboard engine has been just fantastically trouble free and starts like a dream.

But the wheel steering means weight, steering gear to maintain (which has not been trouble free), and worst of all, the engine can't be taken off to store separately, so the davits have to support it.

I'm toying with the idea of getting rid of the wheel steering and replacing the Mariner with a Yamaha 15 horsepower two stroke which weighs only 36 kg (vs 52 kg for the present engine). Tiller steering will allow me to get rid of the jocky console and reduce weight.

The downside is the boat will be much less comfortable to drive over longer distances. The wheel steering is nice.

But with tiller steering, I can pop the engine off and onto a pushpit mount, and considerably reduce the weight in the davits. No steering gear to maintain or fix. Total weight of the dinghy in the davits will be reduced from something like 160 kg to something like 95 kg, which will be much easier to lift and much less stress on the davits.

In such a case I might even replace my davits with these:

http://www.cooneymarine.co.uk/PDF/OVAL-15ZERO-Davit.pdf



Concerning the choice of engine: I guess the rather lighter total weight of the dinghy will mean 15 horsepower will be nearly as useful as the old 25 horsepower was. I very rarely use all the power of the present 25 horsepower engine; 90% of my use is anyway in rivers, harbors, and estuaries with speed limits which don't allow planing speeds. However -- and this is a big however -- if you ever need the dinghy to hip-tow the mother ship, you will want every last horsepower you can have. Here the 25hp and wheel steering would be vastly better.


Any thoughts or tips? Anyone else ever "downgrade" to tiller from wheel steering?
Think about a joy stick. Simple and lets you sit forward without the console.
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:16   #12
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Hi Dockhead,

Years ago I had a big Zodiac with wheel steering and loved it. I found it very fun, convenient and a much better option than tiller for a large inflatable. Also, never had any problems with the Teleflex cable steering system.

But yes it was big, heavy and a bit of a pain to hoist on deck. At least I did have a good place on the foredeck as my boat at that time had a large, flush deck. In your case with the davits that is one more strike against the wheel steering.

The more I think about it, with the davits issue I would be tempted to go with smaller, lighter and give up the wheel. Not just due to the weight of the dink on the davits but having that much weight flopping around off the stern of my boat. Also don't love the idea of the outboard hanging on the dink at sea. Mounted on the pushpit is my preference.
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:17   #13
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
Are not Mariner/Mercury under 30 hp outboards made by Tohatsu in Japan,
30, 40, 50 and 60 by Suzhu in China and over 75 are made in the USA?

Or, does it depend on year of manufacture of older models?
Mine is an older model, made around 2000, which is U.S. made by Mercury prior to outsourcing to Tohatsu.

It's a really good engine, bulletproof, strong running. Drinks a lot of gas, however.

If I go with tiller steering, I'm looking at the 18hp Tohatsu two stroke, which weighs about 40kg and is still available in the Channel Islands.

Or the Suzuki batteryless fuel injection 20 horsepower four stroke, which is astonishingly light at 42 kg. I really like two strokes, but the much better fuel consumption of something like this would further reduce weight because less fuel would have to be carried. That would be pretty cool.
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:36   #14
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

I've towed some pretty big things with a 20 hp rib, on the hip and otherwise, up to about 50 tons or so.

If you can get a model that you can prop for maximum bollard pull rather than speed, it will make a big difference when towing.

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Old 07-07-2015, 09:50   #15
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Re: Dinghy: Wheel vs Tiller Steer

Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
I've towed some pretty big things with a 20 hp rib, on the hip and otherwise, up to about 50 tons or so.

If you can get a model that you can prop for maximum bollard pull rather than speed, it will make a big difference when towing.

Sent from my SGH-I547C using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
That's encouraging. Do you have an opinion on whether wheel or tiller makes much difference when towing?

I've never towed the mother ship with my RIB; I guess I'd better practice it before I actually need to do it in an emergency.
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