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Old 05-03-2010, 09:06   #1
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Tiller or Wheel for Beginner? (32'-36')

That is the question.

I am new to sailing and new to large-boating.

Is one more forgiving than another?

I am eyeing two boats that I am going to see in less than two weeks. Probably buying one of them.

One is a Challenger 32 with a tiller, the other is a Hunter 36 with a wheel.

Both boats seem to suit my purposes, but I am unsure about the steering... what is your opinion?

Thanks!
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:08   #2
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A wheel might be more intuitive, but it's really six of one, half a dozen of the other.

There's less to go wrong with a tiller.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:15   #3
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A wheel might be more intuitive, but it's really six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Don't agree with that. I was used to a tiller and still have less feeling with a wheel.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:17   #4
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Don't agree with that. I was used to a tiller and still have less feeling with a wheel.
But the OP is used to neither.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:22   #5
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A tiller will talk to you more than a wheel, you will get more feedback than a wheel, and traditional sailing helming terms tend to relate to tiller-steering. Wheels tend to damper out what the boat is telling you, but steering with a wheel is more intuitive to beginners since you are turning the wheel in the direction you wish to go (as opposed to a tiller where you move the tiller in the opposite direction to where you wish to go).

Wheels come with a lock that easily locks the rudder, tillers need some additional gear to lock the rudder momentarily.

In my view tillers take up less room in a cockpit than a wheel, and with a tiller you can tilt it straight up and get it out of the way entirely. But many boat owners who have wheel helms will say a tiller takkes up more room. My suggestion is sail both kinds of boats and see which you like better.
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:19   #6
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I like the wheel on the new boat. I liked the tiller on the old boat. I can not put the wheel between my knees to steer however.

The autopilot for the wheel is better than the tiller autopilot.

I suppose I don't really have a preference other than I like the wheel more cause it is what I have now.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:05   #7
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I have sailed both. I actually learned on a wheel, then moved to a tiller. I believe that it depends on your intended use. If an autopilot will be used often, I would look at a wheel. I actually prefer having a wheel helm to stand up against and hold. This part is personal preference.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:09   #8
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In my opinion you will learn to sail much faster in a small tiller boat. Maybe even rent a 15 foot daysailing sloop for a week or two.

Otherwise wheel vs tiller doesn't matter. Although wheels seem silly on 30 to 40 foot boats.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:31   #9
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Agree you will feel more with a tiller, however IMHO the tiller will take a lot of space in the cockpit while under way. The flip side is that at anchor it will tilt up out of the way giving you more free space. Have sailed with both, my boat has a tiller, but if I had a choice would go for a wheel.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:38   #10
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My columbia 9.6 had a tiller I converted to a wheel. Yes a tiller gives a much better feel for boat. When saling close hauled you can feel and adjust weather helm more easily. But with a tiller and other people in cockpit, if you have to make a sudden course change you may have to smash some shins. Its hard to be polite when your ready to collide. I like a wheel.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:43   #11
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But with a tiller and other people in cockpit, if you have to make a sudden course change you may have to smash some shins. Its hard to be polite when your ready to collide. I like a wheel.

A friend I sail with regularly has his pre-departure speech ready for when he has new people along. It includes a bit like "I apologize in advance for any hurt feelings. There may come a time, however unlikely, that I have to do something or say something that is important and urgent. If my tone suggests I am being rude, I am not. Again I apologize in advance.."
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:55   #12
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Ive never owned a boat with a wheel and see no advantage unless of course the boat is poorly balanced and needs the mechanical advantage,to me the tiller makes much more sense as you can get it out of the way when at the dock or anchor where you will spend more time,also underway the helmsman is placed further foreward where he can shelter under the dodger in bad weather while with the wheel you are stuck way aft and get to watch your crew sheltering under the dodger.BTW a tiller works just fine on a well designed boat up to at least 60ft,i was just watching the french orma 60 trimarans on you tube and they all seem to be tiller steered and it looks like fingertip control at 30 knots,awesome.
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Old 05-03-2010, 13:06   #13
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i would say the tiller is a great way to start with sailing. especially for anyone like myself who used a tiller outboard motor as a kid. the wheels look and feel great but the tillers work just as well IMHO.
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Old 05-03-2010, 13:17   #14
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I've my first and last boat with a wheel. Hate the thing. It's always in the way going fore and aft, poor feel, and very tiresome to steer for any length of time, . If it wasn't so expensive to change to a tiller, the wheel would be feeding the fishes.

Wheels do not function well with pendulum servo self steering vanes, too much friction and monkey motion. It's very easy to fit a below decks auto pilot to a tiller steered boat, all you need is a stub tiller on the rudder post. One armed bandit auto pilots aren't as dependable as below decks pilots but they cost about drastically less money. Raymarine, for one, make tiller pilots that separate the electronics from the steering ram which should make them just as reliable as the comparable wheel pilots.

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Old 05-03-2010, 13:37   #15
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Everybody is so democratic on this forum. Polite, nice. Its nice to be nice to the nice....
Tiller- simpler, easier to fix, more sensitive. Better to do tiller to sail steering. Can be hard to turn quickly in a large boat.
Wheel- good for leverage in big boats. Don't like it otherwise.
Choose your poison.
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