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Old 17-03-2018, 11:54   #1
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Tiller on a big boat?

There was a 22,000 lb. blue water 40 footer for sale recently that had a tiller, not a wheel. This was at the special request of the 1st owner as all other boats of this model, 100+ were built, all have a wheel. The thinking was that the owner liked a tiller and that the boat would be hand steered infrequently, mostly coming into or leaving an anchorage or dock. The rest of the time the below deck auto pilot or the wind vane would do the steering and the tiller was built to stand up in the cockpit when not in use thereby making the usable space much larger.

Any thoughts of owning such a boat? Replacing the tiller with a wheel is financially prohibitive.
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Old 17-03-2018, 12:05   #2
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

My boat is tiller-driven. It is 30,000#, 37 feet. Works great. Love it. My experience tells me that as long as it is a well balanced rudder, a tiller is no problem for boats this size.

BTW, I too was initially concerned when looking at my Rafiki. My previous boat was 1/2 the displacement, and had a wheel. After years with my current boat, I’d be hard pressed to go back to a wheel.
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Old 17-03-2018, 12:37   #3
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pirate Re: Tiller on a big boat?

Tillers beat wheel hands down.. instant response, easy to lash.. should be no problem at all.
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Old 17-03-2018, 14:19   #4
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

This one is tiller steered.

General characteristics
Class and type: Niagara-class snow-brig
Displacement: 297 long tons (302 t)[1]
Length: 110 ft 8 in (33.7 m) LBP
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Height:
113 ft 4 in (34.5 m) Foremast
118 ft 4 in (36.1 m) Mainmast
Draft: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Sail plan: 12,665 sq ft (1,177 m2) on two masts[1]
Boats & landing
craft carried: 2 cutters, 1 yawl[2]
1813:
Tons burthen: 492 ​60⁄95 tons[1][3]
Complement: 155 officers and enlisted
Armament:
18 × 32-pounder carronades
2 × 12-pounder long guns
1998:
Tonnage: 162 GT[1]
Installed power: 2 × 200 bhp (150 kW) diesel engines
Crew: 20 professional, 20 volunteer[1]
Armament: 2 × 32-pounder carronades
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Old 17-03-2018, 14:39   #5
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

I have sailed tiller steered boats up to 86´100t. If I could choose, it would be the tiller every time.
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Old 17-03-2018, 14:42   #6
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

How hard/ expensive would it be to go the other way? I have a 44’ with a wheel. Would love to fit a tiller but not if it is megabucks
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Old 17-03-2018, 15:13   #7
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malabarista View Post
How hard/ expensive would it be to go the other way? I have a 44’ with a wheel. Would love to fit a tiller but not if it is megabucks
It's not expensive at all. Your rip out a lot of stuff, install a tiller head and a tiller, and Bob's your uncle. The most expensive part is probably finding a tiller head that fits, or having one made, after that the refinishing where the pedestal was. And there is always a market for used pedestals/compasses/wheels such that you might actually come out ahead.

I know someone who just did this on their Cape Dory. He had a little bit of an issue with the tiller head fit and deck seal for the tiller (I think that was it) but figured it out just fine.

There are a few Valiant 40's out there with tillers. One of them has circumnavigated a couple of times and the owners love it. Their cockpit looks MUCH bigger than mine that's for sure lol.

The only real issue you might run into, or try and figure out before you take the plunge is how well the boat is balanced. If it's got a fair degree of weather helm you might not be happy with the conversion. Perhaps disconnect the quadrant and put the emergency tiller on to get a feel for how the boat handles with a tiller.

As much as I love tillers, I do like my wheel as a single hander. It makes it easier to do certain things. Certainly the boat is less maneuverable/responsive in tight quarters, but it's a 40' cruiser...it's not a go-kart to begin with.
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Old 17-03-2018, 15:40   #8
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

I e seen 3 44’ Steel boats with BOTH tiller and wheel. 3 different center cockpit boats, two French and my English one. I’ve never steered with the tiller, in fact the original beautiful teak tiller was almost useless for a human to use. And it swept the back deck.

The purpose of the tiller in all three boats was to have an efficient connection point for the Servo pendulum wind vane. I have used the tiller for this purpose very successfully. I did replace the team tiller with a two part Steel unit. The first half is just long enough to provide the vane connection and it provides a socket for the second half, which now sweeps up so a human can actually handle it standing on the deck. So now I’ve got a lot of aft deck real estate back.
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Old 17-03-2018, 21:54   #9
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

Really depends on the force needed to move the tiller under sail. If the boat had a semi balanced spade rudder it would probably be no big thing. There's a Cal 40 just down the dock from me with a tiller. Back when it was new, a tiller on a boat the size of a Cal 40 was not unusual. Today everyone wants to play Ahab and boss their swabbies around from the far aft wheel. Terrible place to be if there is a bit of spray as you'll be constantly soaked.

I threw away my wheel and installed a tiller. Cost me under a $1,000 with half of that being the Edson tiller head. Extended the rudder shaft with a hollow tube and stub shaft. Used a piece of 2" thick uhdb plastic for the cockpit seal/upper bearing. Had a tiller made by those guys in Idaho. May get some of the expense back if I can find some fool to buy the wheel and hardware.

My boat has an unbalanced barn door rudder and took a lot of effort on the wheel to steer under sail. Hasn't been a problem with the tiller. The boat is way more maneuverable in the harbor with the quick action of the tiller and always knowing which way the rudder is pointed. Love the tiller under sail, way more feel and makes me a better sailor as I sense unbalanced sail combinations right now.
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Old 17-03-2018, 21:59   #10
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

Used to race on a Cal40 with tiller. Worked fine. Have a friend with an other Cal40.
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Old 17-03-2018, 22:14   #11
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

I know a woman. She shall remain nameless because she keeps my bed warm. She hates tillers because her brain can't handle moving the tiller handle the opposite direction you wish to turn the boat. I said, "You mean like a canoe that you love?" She told me to shut up.

We're buying a boat with a wheel.

I love you wife. Please don't kick me out of the bed.
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Old 18-03-2018, 02:45   #12
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

I've sailed a 54 foot steel roberts with a tiller. It worked fine. Offshore we used an auxilary rudder with a windvane to steer anyway.

The tiller kept the cockpit clear (It was a centre cockpit boat) But it was a fair old way to push the ten foot tiller hard to port or stb while maneuvering. At one stage the owner talked about changing to a wheel for this reason.
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Old 18-03-2018, 02:55   #13
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

Thanks for all the replies about changing to a tiller. Really sorry Ronisziro for hijacking your thread.
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Old 18-03-2018, 05:14   #14
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Re: Tiller on a big boat?

one of the idiotic contemporary obsessions: wheelsteering on boats down to 30'! had a 37' alum. keeler, unbalanced rudder (fin&skeg underbody) - took her rtw twice, never missed a wheel.
secondhand market: wheel like saildrive & swept-back spreaders unfortunately unavoidable
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Old 18-03-2018, 08:51   #15
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Thumbs up Re: Tiller on a big boat?

To all:
Sometimes simpler is a lot better. Tillers beat wheels any day on that department. Plus, they allow you to sit comfortably and control the boat better, feel what's going on, and I think, are vastly superior for single-handling.

Until last summer, my wife stridently opposed tillers. After spending some time on a tiller-boat and then back on our Catalina 30 with a wheel, I finally got what I had been hoping to hear for the last quarter century: " I prefer the tiller." Hurray!! I made her repeat it, just to be sure I wasn't hallucinating.

Now I am figuring how to retrofit my C-30 to a tiller. Oh boy, this will be fun!!
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