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Old 03-07-2012, 07:05   #31
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

A tiller pilot isn't a "real" autopilot? A tiller pilot controls the rudder in order to maintain a heading. What else does a "real" autopilot do?

As for the original question, personally I prefer a tiller. Mainly for the simplicity and the direct feel for the steering and rudder position. But on larger boats I can see the appeal of a wheel. As the boat gets bigger, keeping the sails trimmed just right, so that the boat is balanced and tiller forces are not excessive, can be a lot of work. Much easier to kick back and let the mechanical advantage of the wheel compensate for a bit of a laissez faire attitude towards sail trim.
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:11   #32
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

I think what he is saying is they are not bomb proof which is what you would want for long distance sailing. However, in terms of simplicity, easy of installation and cost theya re hard to beat. You could have half a dozen ST2000s for the price of a hydraulic system. Guess it also requires a boat that is suitable for a tiller pilot, we are okay at 31ft.

Its a neat bit of kit easy to rig and disconnect and if I could find another secondhand one on e bay at sensible money I would buy it, but they go for nearly new prices in the UK

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Old 03-07-2012, 07:26   #33
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

i've heard that if you learned to drive a car before you learned to sail you'll prefer a wheel, if you learned to sail first you'll prefer a tiller. I prefer a tiller (started sailing when i was 10), but i can live with my wheel.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:00   #34
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Interesting how a good many of the sailboats that slip, or are live a boards, are wheel, where a tiller off to one side would be better room wise.

I like a wheel, not for how it gets between point A to point B, but rather how it makes me feel between A & B. On a tiller sailboat, steering feels like work. Constantly changing my direction to make up for the last few seconds of not having the tiller exactly right. A bit like flying a helicopter. Always playing catch up with control functions. On a wheel sailboat, you can sit back and relax a bit, without letting it all go to hell in a hand basket. I have a brake on my helm, and it I gently set it, when I let loose of the wheel, nothing happens. "Look Ma, no hands!". Lol

For me, personal preference, when I look at a tiller, I see a job. When I see a helm wheel, I see a place of escape from work. I get enough work, at work.

I am about as far from a sailor as one can be and own a sailboat. I can barely remember which side is port, and the five thousand other sailboat terms, not in my vocabulary more than likely. Never been in a race, don't care be be. Never been in a storm, don't care to be. I know just enough to know when to sail, and when to stay at the docks, safely tied up. When I do sail, I am sure there is a lot of things I am missing. Hell, at 55, I can barely tie my own shoes. Lol

The wheel, makes it easier to enjoy my sailboat, in a relaxed fashion, not worrying about what is going on every split second.

Someone said the tiller is not well understood by women. That would get a person in trouble said in some places! Maybe inside, I am a girl. Lol. Is it easier to go port by driving port, than pushing a stick, behind your back, to starboard? It is for me. If that makes me a girl, pass the kilt! So be it.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:30   #35
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

Well... my current boat is a 37-foot 27,000# cutter that is tiller-driven. My previous boat, a 34-foot ketch, has a wheel. Both work fine, but I admit I currently prefer a tiller.

A tiller does make you more aware of sail-plan balance, but that's a good thing in my books. I don't think it is necessarily more work (unless you insist on sailing out of balance that is), or more difficult. Arguably it might be the opposite b/c with a tiller I can feel the seas, I can better anticipate the dynamic activity, and therefore can react quicker. This means less overall over work.

I can't comment on the auto-pilot question, although we are in the process of installing a Raymarine X-5 GP for times when we are motoring. Our Aries manages the tiller quite well with anything over 8-10 knots.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:33   #36
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

When we bought our first boat, I had originally found one with a tiller. It was a partnership, and one partner was adamant that a wheel was required. So we got a wheel. It was fine, but the wheel pilot was a PITA and even when regularly serviced always sounded like it was trying to grind off the plastic gears...

Our new boat is a 40'er and has a tiller (no partnership this time). I've only had her out three times, but I really dig the tiller. We have a tiller pilot, and with end boom sheeting it isn't hard to balance the helm with the traveler. I'm not racing, so I'll give up a bit of efficiency for ease. Love the tiller. The wife learned on a J-24 so she's got the tiller thing figured. She's also smarter than I am (aim high) so I can't imagine her having an issue. There's a windvane too, but it's disassembled and down on the priority list.

A note though. If you have to back up at all, a wheel is far superior. A moment's inattention when backing and the tiller will try and launch you out of the boat. Found that out the hard way. A 40' Valiant is no J-24... I'm not a big guy, but I am blessed with a job where I'm pretty much forced to spend two hours each working day in the gym. Tiller is no problem, but physics is physics, leverage works both for and against you...

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Old 03-07-2012, 08:35   #37
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

I had an Ericson with a wheel. Which I sailed from Antigua.

I have a West Wight Potter with a tiller. Which I sail in the local lake.

I liked the wheel at sea. I like the tiller for responsiveness.

I dislike fighting the weather helm in heavy air on my potter. I'm sure I need to get up and adjust the sails and I have with some improvement, but I didn't have to deal with it on the Ericson. Plus I could set the wheel and run up forward easier on the Ericson.

The Ericson had an Autohelm, that was great. I'm fighting with my fugal self over buying one for the Potter.

So I guess I prefer a wheel. One that is properly adjusted and responsive.

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Old 03-07-2012, 08:38   #38
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

I recently put a tiller pilot on my cal 27. Wow, what a difference. It's great. I like a tiller better than a wheel and when I put the tiller pilot on it became even better. Sure a wind vane would be better, but for most of the sailing that I do, the tiller pilot is perfect.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:34   #39
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
I think what he is saying is [tiller pilots] are not bomb proof...
If you get the right system, and install it correctly, they can be just as "bomb proof" as any other system. I suspect the reason some people have trouble with them is that they undersize their tiller pilots, in an effort to save even more money. That is a mistake regardless of what type of autopilot system you get. And yet, I haven't seen any more reports of problems with tiller pilots than I have with any other sort of autopilot system.

Tiller pilots are definitely "real" autopilots.

I'll also add that I learned to drive a car years before I learned to sail (and I was driving a tractor even before that), yet I still prefer a tiller. So I don't see how that has anything to do with a preference for wheel vs. tiller. What's more, the first boat I ever took control of the helm of had a wheel, so it would seem that doesn't determine it, either. Or, at least, it didn't for me.

In the end, it is probably just a matter of "different strokes for different folks." Personal preferences can be based on a thousand different things, or nothing at all.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:34   #40
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

My current boat came with a wheel and I've hated every moment with it. The wheel is always in the way and much harder to steer than with a tiller. Think the reason that most boats over 30' now come with tillers is vanity. If you've dropped that much money into a boat, you deserve to be lord and master at the wheel. Wheels are incredibly slow at adding input. Find myself going from lock to lock at incredibly slow speed trying to keep up with the boat getting into the slip.

For long distance sailing, tillers are way less taxing to steer with. Wheels beat up fingers and use very few muscle groups to steer with making them more tiring in the long run. A tiller uses more muscle groups so the work is spread out over more of the body. I sailed one boat with pretty heavy tiller for three days straight with only piss breaks, without a problem. On my current boat, I'm ready to hook up the windvane after a very short time because my wrists and forearms start screaming at me.

After bitching at the wheel for 6 years, finally tossed the wheel at my last haul out. What a difference. The boat is remarkedly more maneuverable in the marina and direction of the rudder is no longer a guess. Sailing is instinctual and I don't have to constantly guess at how much rudder is deflected. Have a TillerMate which works like a brake on the tiller so I can set the tiller in place if I want to leave the helm for a minute. At anchor or in the harbor, just point the tiller at the sky and it's completely out of the way. With the tiller have much more freedom steerig the boat. I can put the tiller between my legs leaving both hands free to sheet the main or the jib and even initiate reefing. Find sitting and steering with the tiller way more comfortable that standing up fighting the wheel.
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:59   #41
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

[QUOTE=denverd0n;982558]A tiller pilot isn't a "real" autopilot? A tiller pilot controls the rudder in order to maintain a heading. What else does a "real" autopilot do?

I don't really get what you mean by this? Hate to think I have been sailing all of those sea miles without a real autopilot. Have had a wheel pilot on a wheel and now a tiller pilot on a tiller but now am unsure what else I have been missing out on.
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Old 03-07-2012, 20:06   #42
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

I'm a tiller guy. I can feel the balance of the boat much more readily. My tiller is longer than usual so I can tuck up under the dodger and steer. In a narrow channel I can stand on the cockpit seat and steer with my foot. Also, no linkage to fail. At the end of the day, point the stick up and there is more room in the cockpit.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:49   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi
My current boat came with a wheel and I've hated every moment with it. The wheel is always in the way and much harder to steer than with a tiller. Think the reason that most boats over 30' now come with tillers is vanity. If you've dropped that much money into a boat, you deserve to be lord and master at the wheel. Wheels are incredibly slow at adding input. Find myself going from lock to lock at incredibly slow speed trying to keep up with the boat getting into the slip.

For long distance sailing, tillers are way less taxing to steer with. Wheels beat up fingers and use very few muscle groups to steer with making them more tiring in the long run. A tiller uses more muscle groups so the work is spread out over more of the body. I sailed one boat with pretty heavy tiller for three days straight with only piss breaks, without a problem. On my current boat, I'm ready to hook up the windvane after a very short time because my wrists and forearms start screaming at me.

After bitching at the wheel for 6 years, finally tossed the wheel at my last haul out. What a difference. The boat is remarkedly more maneuverable in the marina and direction of the rudder is no longer a guess. Sailing is instinctual and I don't have to constantly guess at how much rudder is deflected. Have a TillerMate which works like a brake on the tiller so I can set the tiller in place if I want to leave the helm for a minute. At anchor or in the harbor, just point the tiller at the sky and it's completely out of the way. With the tiller have much more freedom steerig the boat. I can put the tiller between my legs leaving both hands free to sheet the main or the jib and even initiate reefing. Find sitting and steering with the tiller way more comfortable that standing up fighting the wheel.
I think you may have been hit by a wheel as a small child, one never really gets over that sort of thing. Lol
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:06   #44
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
A tiller pilot isn't a "real" autopilot? A tiller pilot controls the rudder in order to maintain a heading. What else does a "real" autopilot do?

As for the original question, personally I prefer a tiller. Mainly for the simplicity and the direct feel for the steering and rudder position. But on larger boats I can see the appeal of a wheel. As the boat gets bigger, keeping the sails trimmed just right, so that the boat is balanced and tiller forces are not excessive, can be a lot of work. Much easier to kick back and let the mechanical advantage of the wheel compensate for a bit of a laissez faire attitude towards sail trim.
I like the idea shown in the picture of a boat with a wheel with a tillerpilot connected to the emergency (backup) tiller. Quite a good idea. I recently had a discussion with a friend on another forum about using a tillerpilot on the bottom spoke of a wheel! His experience was that it worked, in ONLY a limited fashion, about 16 inches from the wheel hub. Limited in that the throw of the tillerpilot isn't that much to cover a WIDE range of sea state, but probably good enough for motoring or controlled sialing.

Which leads me to the second paragraph, about boat balance and sail trim: there's only ONE right way to sail a boat and a wheel is no excuse for improper sail trim, and will not compensate for it.

It is NOT a lot of work. It is actually easier to just do it right.

I've had tiller boats for a little more than half the time I've owned boats since 1983. I find NO difference in the sensitivity between a tiller and a wheel. Why? 'Cuz I learned sail trim a long time ago by using sheet to tiller self steering and autopilots of both tiller variety and wheel. Once properly balanced, the method of steering makes NO difference. The urban myth about tillers being more sensitive and giving better "feedback" has not been my experience at all.

I rarely use my wheel brake and only lightly for motoring. My boat can sail itself upwind without using the wheel brake or the autopilot. That's what sail trim is all about.

The other urban myth of a wheel being in the way is also one that eludes me. Completely. The wheel is aft, out of the way. The tiller takes up most of the cockpit. How can a wheel be in the way more than a tiller. That one I just don't get at all.

That said, on all of our boats, I have made it a habit to learn how to make the boat steer by itself, whether sheet to tiller or autopilots of various types. I refuse to be a "slave behind the wheel" or to have to sit to steer with a tiller. I spend most if not all of my time in front of the wheel on our boat, and rarely sat to steer on our other boats with tillers, preferring to have the freedom to move about, navigate, TRIM THE SAILS PROPERLY, relax and enjoy.

Truly Independence. Perfect day for it. Happy Fourth of July to all.

Tillers can, however, have an advantage over wheels for self steering. Rigging sheet to tiller self steering is usually easier, especially with end boom sheeting. Most wheel steered boats have mainsheets mounted over the cabintop, which makes sheet to tiller upwind a tad more difficult to rig.
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:30   #45
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Re: For Fun: Helm Steer or Helm Tiller ?

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The other urban myth of a wheel being in the way is also one that eludes me. Completely. The wheel is aft, out of the way. The tiller takes up most of the cockpit. How can a wheel be in the way more than a tiller. That one I just don't get at all.
You must have missed the "at anchor" part. Clearly a wheel takes up less cockpit room while sailing. I don't think anyone has ever argued that point. But at anchor almost all tillers can easily be flipped up so that they are completely out of the way.

With a wheel, at best you can go to some effort to remove the wheel, and then only have the pedestal intruding in the cockpit. Or you can spend a great deal of money on a folding wheel. Or you can just deal with the wheel making a portion of the cockpit virtually unusable. Again, AT ANCHOR.
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