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Old 17-07-2016, 21:32   #1
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Double Helm Wheel

I feel like such a noob asking questions like this, but hey, I am one so what the heck.

What are the advantages vs disadvantages of a double helm wheel?
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Old 17-07-2016, 22:15   #2
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

Referring to one wheel on each side of the boat vs one single wheel in center?

A: Allows helmsman to position for better vision around the masts and sails to see where the boat is pointed.
B: Allows multiple people to aid in holding the wheel(s) if needed. (not as much of a reason to do it...)
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Old 17-07-2016, 23:03   #3
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

More room in the cockpit to move through the center.
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Old 18-07-2016, 00:20   #4
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

As mentioned;
- Better helm position in terms of visibility, while steering. Particularly when helming on the leeward side, & if you have a deck sweeper jib that cuts visibility on the low side. As to get the same field of view with just one wheel, the wheel needs to be huge.

- Easier traffic flow in the cockpit. For entertaining, & it makes for an easier passage to get to & from the helm. But a twin wheel setup is especially handy if the boat has an open transom, or swim step. So that there's a clear lane from the companionway to the stern, with no obstructions. A handy thing if you're Med Moored too.

Having another set of hands on the 2nd wheel usually isn't needed, unless you're racing in heavy weather, where the helm loads can be enough to buck the helmsman off. Such as in the Volvo Race, etc.

- Downsides would be more maintenance, & complication in terms of your steering gear, belowdecks. Which means more expense. Though usually steering gear is fairly low maintenance hardware.
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Old 18-07-2016, 10:52   #5
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

In addition to what has been said above:


You get some redundancy in your steering gear, depending on how the system is implemented.


Not a ton of downside as far as I can reason; perhaps more cost and complexity in such an installation. Most non CC or sub 30 meter designs have the dual helms back at the quarters. I have found that I get bucked around pretty good back there when the seas are rough.
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Old 18-07-2016, 11:18   #6
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

ON a cruising boat the double helm makes a huge and wonderful cockpit. Easy to enter over the stern, your guests and never hidden behind a binaccle while snuffling your rum.
Really is great.
One problem is that it can mean in smaller boats the cockpit seats are not long enough to lie down fully... that's bad news to cockpit sleepers.
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Old 19-07-2016, 07:35   #7
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

We just spent a week on a Jeanneau 44 that had dual wheels. This was our first experience with twin helms. The benefits mentioned above are all true. The best thing was greater visibility. I could hop from side to side as needed to spot channel markers or traffic that might have otherwise been hidden behind the genoa. I never had the need to leave a wheel to look around. Nifty.

The part that we didn't like was the added hassle of dealing with instrumentation. This boat didn't have the same instruments/controls at each helm position. So, if you wanted to look at the wind instrument, you'd have to go to the port helm. If you needed engine controls, they're over on the starboard side. There was a cool chart plotter that was right between the two helm stations, but there was the need to swivel it to face one wheel or the other. The mount/clamp was hard to reach and required both hands to loosen/tighten the swivel. So, if you're busy, one would usually not take the time to mess with the plotter. And, in unfamiliar channels, those soundings on the plotter are good to have in front of you.

So, pros and cons I guess.
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Old 19-07-2016, 08:34   #8
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

We own a Catalina 470 with dual helm wheels...

Everything mentioned above as far a convenience and redundancy, although the people who mentioned higher cost.... Well I have owned my boat ten years and had no issues with the steering, so have spent zero dollars on maintenance.

The best part of dual wheels in my opinion is being able to see down the low side of the boat while steering and the roomy cockpit.
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Old 19-07-2016, 17:32   #9
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

dual helms were designed for racing boats and to improve vis for helmsman partly because of sail plan, but mostly because boat design moved towards big sterns. Charter boats started going with them because big butts (on boat, not owner) and some folks like the LCF (look cool factor) The do add to cockpit accessibility for those boats with walk through transoms. Unless really kitted out, many have instruments and engine controls at one location, so can mean hopping back and forth. Have seen some with controls/instruments in central pod which pivots, but then you reduce the walkthrough ability. But single helm boats can have room too, removable wheels, folding wheels achieve that.
Ref long range cruising, a bit of waste, most of the time most boats are on auto or wind vane, so doesn't matter where wheel is located.
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Old 19-07-2016, 19:09   #10
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

You can split the cockpit and open the center alley for crew and guests traffic.

You can drive better when you can sit on either side.

You can dock better when docking stern too.

If this is linked to two rudders then you can have shorter rudders.

Etc.

Plenty of benefits.

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Old 21-07-2016, 12:24   #11
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
We own a Catalina 470 with dual helm wheels...

Everything mentioned above as far a convenience and redundancy, although the people who mentioned higher cost.... Well I have owned my boat ten years and had no issues with the steering, so have spent zero dollars on maintenance.

The best part of dual wheels in my opinion is being able to see down the low side of the boat while steering and the roomy cockpit.
very nice. Is all of the instrumentation in the center?

Thanks to all for the replies.
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Old 21-07-2016, 12:27   #12
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Re: Double Helm Wheel

Quote:
Originally Posted by bvander View Post
Ref long range cruising, a bit of waste, most of the time most boats are on auto or wind vane, so doesn't matter where wheel is located.
Another good point, taking into account how much time you spend there.
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