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Old 12-02-2013, 21:20   #1
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Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

Cheers,

I tried searching for fast tiller steering sailboats and couldn't get any results. It may sound strange, but I am really married to the idea of tiller steering. Seems so simple and I like the feeling of being directly connected to the rudder and feeling the water pass over it. I have read all the threads on here and other forums comparing the differences, so I am aware of the pros and cons of wheels and tillers.

That being said, what boats in the 35-38' range are seaworthy, fast, and have tillers? I am not looking to do a circumnavigation just yet, but would like a boat to do some island hopping down here in the Caribbean. I live on St. Croix and want to start doing some inter-island sailing to St. Thomas, BVI, Culebra and eventually down island.

The fast part is important. I want to get there so I can go surfing but I want to enjoy the sail too and also be able to perform well upwind.

I know I am asking a lot and maybe such a vessel doesn't exist. I'm all ears though. Oh yeah, my budget is 20-30K, possibly higher for the right boat.

Thanks in advance
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Old 12-02-2013, 21:28   #2
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Old 12-02-2013, 22:00   #3
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

The stock Cal 40, for one, came with a tiller. A wheel was an option. Might find one with a tiller.

It's not that hard to get rid of the wheel. Just buy a piece of hollow bronze rod with an ID the same as the OD of the rudder stock and machine it to fit if needed. Add a piece of solid rod for the tiller head to fit onto on the other end of the hollow rod and you have a tiller steered boat. Probably run you around a boat unit and some fiberglass work to get it done. You might find someone dumb enough to buy the wheel and its hardware to defray the costs a bit.
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Old 12-02-2013, 22:17   #4
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

How many people as regular crew? Any kids?
Sailing experience?
$20-30k budget to buy and outfit the boat? (living and cruising costs extra.)
Are you looking to cruise extensively or liveaboard and occasionally take several weeks or months off to nip around the Caribbean?
Any really strong preferences to start with? (full/fin keel, mono/multi, spade/skeg/attached rudder, sloop/cutter/mizzen rigged)
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Old 12-02-2013, 22:29   #5
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

One of my best friends did a circumnavigation on a Tartan 30 with a tiller. He had a great time. Worked out well for him and his wife.
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Old 12-02-2013, 23:07   #6
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

Find an early Beneteau in the First series in the early to mid 80s. The pedestal comes out and tiller attaches in the center of the rear seat area.. you won't.get a much faster cruiser..
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Old 13-02-2013, 07:20   #7
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
It's not that hard to get rid of the wheel.
Yep. If you really want a tiller, I would look for a boat that meets all your other requirements, and then consider a conversion.

Depending on where the rudder post is, and some other details, it might be a little more difficult than roverhi makes it sound. In some cases it might even be downright unrealistic to make such a conversion. But I think that most of the time, it really will be just as simple as described.

Good luck.
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Old 13-02-2013, 07:34   #8
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pirate Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

If you can afford new this is a rather tasty little number...
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Old 13-02-2013, 09:41   #9
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

Thanks for all the input!

That Mystery looks nice but a bit out of my price range.

I guess the option on converting to tiller never occurred to me. By the way, am I crazy for being so stuck on finding a boat with a tiller or considering a conversion on a wheel boat?

To answer some questions that Adelie asked:
- The regular crew will be me, my wife, and 2.5 year old son
- We have a lot of small boat sailing experience and some limited cruising experience
- This will not be a live aboard or full time cruiser, but rather for long weekend trips around the Virgin Islands and eventually down island (ideally I want a little piece of land in Dominica and then sail back and forth to visit)
- I don't have keel preference except for it should be a lead bolt on. It seems fin keels have more advantages over full keels
- Same with rudder, no preference but it seems skeg has the most advantages
- I am open to sloops, ketches, cutters, etc.
- I would consider a cat if they were in my price range but for now I think I will have to limit my search to monohulls

I started looking into the 80's Beneteau First series and the Idylle and these boats seem to fit the bill- except for that deep draft. Not sure if I want something with more than 6' draft. Also, I assume these 1980's Beneteau First and Idylle's had iron keels?

I do like those Tartans...

Please keep the suggestions coming
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Old 13-02-2013, 10:03   #10
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

For island hopping most anything in good condition will do. You say you want fast, so likely a fin keel and spade rudder will be your boat. Fortunately these abound. There would certainly be nothing wrong with a Catalina or Beneteau etc in the 30-35 ft range too for island hopping. Conversion to tiller isnt a huge deal. However, once you get your boat, just use it as it comes a bit and see. I like the feel and simplicity of a tiller too, however, you need to keep the "sweep range" clear to steer... seems to encumber the cockpit a bit. I imagine your choice of boats will be liminted down there....
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Old 13-02-2013, 10:12   #11
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
However, once you get your boat, just use it as it comes a bit and see.
VERY good advice! How much sailing have you done with a wheel? You may find that it's really not a problem. So far, all of the boats that I have owned have had tillers. When I charter they pretty much all have wheels. I would consider the difference to be so minimal that I wouldn't even put it as a criteria for my next boat.

Besides that, another consideration is resale value. The fact is that more people like wheels in the boat size you're looking for. That's why so many more of them are out there. Convert a wheel boat to tiller and you will be significantly reducing its resale value.

Just some things to think about.
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Old 13-02-2013, 10:16   #12
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Re: Seaworthy, fast cruisers with tillers- please recommend

The idea of tiller stearage is appealing, and even to myself but I think mine goes back to the years when I was racing.
Now something to think about, most cruising once you leave port, is done by auto helm. You don't really spend a lot of time at the helm, and with the new age plotters, your autohelm opperates better than you do.
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