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Old 28-08-2013, 06:52   #1
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Tiller or Wheel Steering

We recently purchased a Hallberg Rassy 34 and several people have asked us why a yacht of this size and price has a tiller instead of a wheel. In case of a HR34(2) they come standard with tiller and wheel is an option, so you can choose. Before making a decision we evaluated the pros and cons and concluded that we did not have a strong preference. Eventually we choose a HR34 that had a tiller because of other reasons than the steering method. For those facing a similar decision here is our analysis:

Tiller:
- Better feel for the boat and quicker to steer
- More cockpit space at anchor or in harbor when tiller is up
- Easier to steer when sitting on the side
- Easier to implement self steering using sheets or windvane
- Tiller autopilots are cheaper and consume less power
- Fewer parts so mechanically more reliable
- Easier to tack when sailing single handed
- Shelter under dodger in bad weather using tiller extension
- Fits image of being a sportsman and sailor

Wheel:
- Less force required
- More intuitive to novice sailers
- More cockpit space when sailing
- Easier to steer when standing
- Easier/safer to steer when motoring in reverse
- Autopilots mounted below deck are more robust
- Easy access to engine and navigation controls
- Better resale value because many people like wheels
- Fits image of being a yachtsman and captain

Conclusions:
- Tillers are preferable on smaller boats and for racing
- Wheels are preferrable for larger boats and cruising
- Depends on personal preference for boats in 30-40 ft range
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Old 28-08-2013, 07:05   #2
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

Lots of advantages to a tiller, especially at anchor.
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Old 28-08-2013, 07:28   #3
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

I ordered a new tiller this week for my Hughes 35 and I can't wait to try it out once we splash in October. The steering cables and shifter cable were all rusted out, so figured why not toss it all and install a tiller.

I figure with a boat of this size it should workout pretty well. Fatty Goodlander made the switch on his Hughes 38 and loved it.

I've bolted on a SS pipe over my rudder post and it extends through the cockpit sole, simple enough.
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Old 28-08-2013, 10:57   #4
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

I got a wheel on my hunter ,sometimes p/s would be nice
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Old 28-08-2013, 11:45   #5
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

Congratulations!! You've got a fine boat.

We have a wheel steering but the pilot steer most of the time...At 34 feet, I think you are right on the line where both ways are practical. Over, I would prefer a wheel, under, a tiller makes more sense to me.

Marc
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Old 28-08-2013, 12:08   #6
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

Tiller pilots are cheaper. hmmm... maybe in more ways than one though!
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Old 28-08-2013, 12:14   #7
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

10+ hours at the helm , it doesn't matter how you steer just that you still do . Now who's going to haul those sheets ?
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Old 28-08-2013, 12:20   #8
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I agree about the tiller pilots being cheaper and in both ways. I would think the wheel steering affords extra purchase on the loading of the rudder. So I would think you would need a more formidable use of power on the tiller pilot. If the tiller pilot is less expensive I would think that would go hand in hand with less power. I guess there's an exorcise here to examine the power outputs on the units. To the subject of the thread though I would think you could still use an under the deck model on either wheel or tiller. No?
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Old 28-08-2013, 12:22   #9
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

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Originally Posted by capncrooks View Post
10+ hours at the helm , it doesn't matter how you steer just that you still do . Now who's going to haul those sheets ?
I dont know that I agree, arms and back suffer with the tiller more for me. With neutral helm, tiller amidships you cant sit with your back supported on the coaming. With weather helm, you are tugging constantly, without the purchase advantage of the wheel. But who steers for 10 hours? that's what AP's are for!
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Old 28-08-2013, 12:32   #10
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

I have auto pilot but some weather conditions I have no trust I sit and watch the compass let's face it things break
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Old 28-08-2013, 12:53   #11
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

I have a tiller on my 33' boat and wheel on my 41' boat. I used to race a Farr 40 with a tiller. There are things that I really like about tiller steered boats 1) the feel 2) the ability to know which way the rudder is pointed w/o thinking3) Extra room in the cockpit at anchor. I don't like what happens when you are reversing and the rudder gets away from you and swings you across the cockpit. Whether you can use a below deck AP depends on how things were built. I could convert to a tiller on my 41' boat and still maintain my below deck AP. This is b/c my AP attaches directly to the rudder post via a mini tiller.
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Old 28-08-2013, 13:45   #12
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Re: Tiller or wheel steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
I have a tiller on my 33' boat and wheel on my 41' boat.....................
So similar,-I had a tiller on my 33' and I have a wheel on my 41'. I agree with all the lists of pros & cons from the OP with the possible exception of the "Images"...sailor, yachtman, etc. Actually, though I recognize the differences, the change meant little to me. My 41' is a center cockpit and that additionally favors the wheel.
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Old 28-08-2013, 13:50   #13
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Re: Tiller or Wheel Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maartster View Post
We recently purchased a Hallberg Rassy 34 and several people have asked us why a yacht of this size and price has a tiller instead of a wheel. In case of a HR34(2) they come standard with tiller and wheel is an option, so you can choose. Before making a decision we evaluated the pros and cons and concluded that we did not have a strong preference. Eventually we choose a HR34 that had a tiller because of other reasons than the steering method. For those facing a similar decision here is our analysis:

Tiller:
- Better feel for the boat and quicker to steer
- More cockpit space at anchor or in harbor when tiller is up
- Easier to steer when sitting on the side
- Easier to implement self steering using sheets or windvane
- Tiller autopilots are cheaper and consume less power
- Fewer parts so mechanically more reliable
- Easier to tack when sailing single handed
- Shelter under dodger in bad weather using tiller extension
- Fits image of being a sportsman and sailor

Wheel:
- Less force required
- More intuitive to novice sailers
- More cockpit space when sailing
- Easier to steer when standing
- Easier/safer to steer when motoring in reverse
- Autopilots mounted below deck are more robust
- Easy access to engine and navigation controls
- Better resale value because many people like wheels
- Fits image of being a yachtsman and captain

Conclusions:
- Tillers are preferable on smaller boats and for racing
- Wheels are preferrable for larger boats and cruising
- Depends on personal preference for boats in 30-40 ft range

As someone who can actually remember her "beginner" days (grin), I think the idea of a wheel being more intuitive is just a false perception. I think there's nothing more intuitive (or sometimes, instructive) than feedback from the feel of the tiller -- like that awe (and terror)-inspiring moment that you're coming down a (for you) big wave -- and there's NO pressure on the rudder -- none -- and the boat is starting to move sideways.

Instructive.
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Old 28-08-2013, 17:08   #14
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Re: Tiller or Wheel Steering

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
As someone who can actually remember her "beginner" days (grin), I think the idea of a wheel being more intuitive is just a false perception. I think there's nothing more intuitive (or sometimes, instructive) than feedback from the feel of the tiller -- like that awe (and terror)-inspiring moment that you're coming down a (for you) big wave -- and there's NO pressure on the rudder -- none -- and the boat is starting to move sideways.

Instructive.
You're right. If you want ultimate feedback go with a tiller. I did that on my first boat, a 35' 6 meter sloop. But If you are on a boat 30' Plus and doing long distance cruising or an older sailor like me with a gimpy arm, a wheel is the only way to go....

Besides. IMHO a wheel is more fun.

RT
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Old 28-08-2013, 17:33   #15
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Re: Tiller or Wheel Steering

Before the BMW drivers took over sailing, boats up to 40' or even larger came stock with a tiller. Many opted for a wheel as an option but it wasn't ubiquitous. Just as it's gotten harder to near impossible to find cars with manual transmissions, tillers have gradually whithered away . Is it because people have becomes pointers rather than drivers. Are they content with just staying in their lane following the guy in front of do they actually like to participate in the FUN of driving??

I just got rid of the wheel on my 35' boat. Couldn't find a boat I wanted without a wheel when I was looking to get back into sailing so bit the bullet. It literally started trying to kill me from the first sail. On the delivery up from Santa Cruz to Alameda, the quadrant rotated on the rudder shaft causing me to nearly run into one of the pylons of the Goldne Gate Bridge. Don't think I'd have won that battle. The workers who'd done some work on the rudder forgot to put the key back in when they'd reinstalled the quadrant. Once clear of the bridge figured no problem, just use the emergency tiller. Nice idea but wan't able to overide the cockeyed quadrant. Fortunately had just enough Port Rudder available to steer the boat straight cut couldn't make a turn to port to port, at least in the confines of SF Bay. It's really fun bobbing around just inside the GG Bridge in the shipping lanes buried in a cockpit locker trying to figure out what's wrong with your wheel steering.

Hated every minute of being stuck with that monstrosity. It was slow to add input to the tiller. The backing and filling that it takes to maneuver in tight quarters was a physical challenge. Often downright dangerous as the wheel and rudder often ended opoosite the position that I thought they were. With a tiller input is instantaneous and you always know which way the rudder is pointed.

Think it's a BIG myth that steering with a wheel is physically easier. Have done 72 straight hours on the tiller of a Westsail 32 at hull speed. At that speed the boat develops a very healthy weather helm that requires big force on the tiller. Yet it was not a problem to spend days on the helm because you are using a very large variety of big muscle groups rather just your forearms and wrists. Found the wheel to be very tiring at any thing over a few knots boatspeed and was always looking for some mechanical way to ease the strain from foot on a wrung, a multi part tackle, to a line I could literally sit on to ease the strain of steering. Never had that issue with a tiller.

You can easily steer a boat hands free with a tiller. Put the tiller between my legs and steer with my knees while i winch in sails or other little things you have to do on a sailboat.

My current boat came with a Monitor Wind Vane Self Steering system. It didn't work well in light winds because of the wheel. Would have saved myself a lot aggravation if I'd just ditched the wheel and went with a tiller that I know would have worked.

Now when I go look at boats, the first thing I do is figure out how easily I can deep six the wheel. At least it's made dockwalking a lot more challenging endeavor.
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