I've got my first and last wheel
steered boat. 1st, with a mechanical chain and wire system, you don't get much mechanical advantage unless you go with a rediculously large diameter wheel. If a boat has a weather helm
, it's actually easier and less tiring to steer with a tiller. Maybe a hydraulic system would give you the power needed but then you add a whole 'nother set of things that can and will fail and the helm
will have the 'feel' of a dead fish
. The wheel is constantly in the way. If it's aft, it's not a major impediment for the crew. But then it puts the helmsman in the elements, far away from the dodger
(read: cold, wet and windwhipped). If the wheel is forward it's a PITA to get around everytime you leave or enter the cabin
. If you want to go with Pendulum Servo Steering
, it's way easier and efficient to hook up to a tiller than a wheel. On my boat, a Monitor
Vane just wouldn't steer the boat under 4 knots because of the wheel/vane interface problems. Boats with balanced rudders really have no need for a wheels supposed mechanical advantage until they get way big, 50' or larger.
The current love affair with wheel steering is a yuppie affectation. The owner gets to stand at the helm and act as lord and master of the vessel issuing commands from his exalted perch.
Last but not least, if you have a tiller you don't need to 'balance' the boat to get a self steering
vane to work. For one thing, weather
helm is an interaction of sails
with most of the force trying to turn the boat into the wind
coming from the hull
. I've found it near impossible to balance a boat, once you crack off, on most boats, anyway. If you want to keep a boat moving at a good clip, you've got to live with weather helm. My W32 had a vicious weather helm as speed increased. The Aries
Vane was able to steer the boat no matter how over powered/unbalanced the sail plan. Handling weather helm with a pendulum-servo vane is more a matter of efficient (read tiller) connection of the vane to the boats rudder
and the effectiveness of the boats rudder
. It's not to say that a boat with a wheel can't use a self steering
vane, just that not all boats with wheels will find that they'll work well.