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Old 02-11-2008, 08:56   #1
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Single vs. Dual Steering Wheels?

A lot of the newer sailboats come with dual steering wheels. I really enjoy sailing a smooth single helm sailboat and am wondering if the addition of a second steering wheel adds too much friction such as to make steering less enjoyable. Thoughts? Thanks. (currently looking at 423 and 473 Beneteaus)
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Old 02-11-2008, 09:07   #2
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If you have an very beamy cockpit it helps to see the head sail with the helm acceptable from the lee side. Some race boats have humongous helms. Since I single hand (or do all the crew work) and use an autopilot I trim and let the autopilot steer... and "we" don't need a helm let alone two. The twin helm, huge helm is not something which appeals to my eye as well. Jus sayin'
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Old 02-11-2008, 09:39   #3
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Two wheels might be ok on a large sailboat, say 50 feet and up but the current fashion of having two wheels on a 40 foot boat is unnecessary and a bit ridiculous. The main reason for having the two wheels, it seems, is so that you can board from the swim platform and not have to walk around the wheel. It is not so that you can sit on the leeward side and watch the tell tales on the genoa. In addition the engine controls and instruments are not dual so you're usually using the starboard wheel (where they usually have the controls on most of these two wheel boats) to come alongside. I know owners of two boats like this and both agree that they would have preferred one wheel. However who am I to second guess the geniuses that design these things. I wonder how long this fad will last. I notice Beneteau is going full speed ahead with this and Catalina used to have a 40 with two wheels. Don't know if they still do.
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Old 02-11-2008, 14:42   #4
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In a situation where every second counts, the helmsman needs to be in the optimum position for steering the boat, which generally means high side, against the lifelines - this gives him the best view of the headsail tell-tales, good view of the surface of the water ahead and puts his bodyweight in an advantageous location. On a big wide boat, to achieve this one needs either a huge steering wheel (a la Sydney 48, for example) or 2 smaller wheels (or, as in my case, a tiller and extension).

If one is cruising, 2 wheels is, in my opinion, an affection.
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Old 02-11-2008, 20:45   #5
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...and for the eyes, an affliction.

I think if I were to go so far as to get a boat fat enough to need two wheels, I might as well get a cat.
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Old 02-11-2008, 21:20   #6
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There is another solution and that is the swing-over wheel. I considered it myself but I needed a place for my gauges. With a large cockpit the gauges and instruments could be mounted in the bulkheads or additional risers.



Jefa Steering Systems
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:25   #7
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I always thought that the reason they put two wheels on a boat was to make it go faster. Kind of like painting flames on a Honda Civic and changing out or removing the muffler. I know a car will always go faster after doing that. Especially if your 16-years old or thereabouts!!

And now there are two steering systems to break, not just one!
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:59   #8
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They're for driver's ed boats so that the teacher can get the pupil out of deep doo. Also for lovebirds who like to do every thing together - his and hers!

Weyalan - I think you meant to LOW side for better sail trim positioning.
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:55   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
They're for driver's ed boats so that the teacher can get the pupil out of deep doo. Also for lovebirds who like to do every thing together - his and hers!

.
I was in Charleston a few years ago and a Ben 473 hit a large buoy and got a bit of damage. The new owner was being taught by a seasoned sailor. Apparently, the story goes, they both tried to avoid the buoy, each turning a different way.
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Old 04-11-2008, 11:00   #10
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I went this route.
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Old 04-11-2008, 13:59   #11
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Weyalan - I think you meant to LOW side for better sail trim positioning.
A common misapprehension. I did mean high side.
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Old 04-11-2008, 14:48   #12
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Weyalan,

How do you observe the headsail trim from the windward side?
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Old 04-11-2008, 15:34   #13
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I thought it was so you can see under a big sweeping genny, and avoid t-boning M.F.
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Old 04-11-2008, 16:45   #14
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You ought to be able to see the tell-tales up the luff, at least the lower and mid ones, anyway, which is what the helmsman "drives" off (assuming you are going for pointing). The tell-tales further aft and further up are of interest only to the headsail trimmer. As helmsman you don't need to see the whole headsail. Steering from the low side you do get a good look at the headsail, but you can't see the mainsail telltales, nor masthead windex. Additonally, you can't see the breeze to windward, which is vital for steering into lifts and knocks.

On balance, I'll take high side every time (except at mark roundings, sometimes ).
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Old 05-11-2008, 08:33   #15
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Prior to sailing, then buying, our boat, I agreed with those that thought twin wheels were for poseurs.

After living with the setup for a few years and several thousand miles of sailing, I've got to say that I like it. Besides opening up access via the swim platform, I find that it does a good job of keeping guests out of the way and allows me to see whatever I need to see. I can cross the entire aft end of the cockpit, from rail to rail, and have my hand on the wheel the whole time.

If I were designing it from scratch, I think I would find a way to either install dual engine controls or at least get them centerlined, but that is a VERY minor tweak that doesn't nearly outweigh the benefits.

In terms of maintenance and steering sensitivity, I don't have any issues with either.
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