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
or other little things you have to do on a sailboat.
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.