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Old 25-02-2016, 12:29   #1
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Twin Steering Wheels

Lots of new sailboat designs sport two steering wheels.
I guess that it might make sense on a serious racing boat. But I am not sure that I would want or need two steering wheels even if I had a 50 footer.
I have been seeing some 34 footers with two wheels and thought to myself, "Who would need that?"
So today I was reading a sailing magazine and saw the new Hanse 315.
This is a 31 foot boat with two steering wheels!
Am I missing something here? Are two wheels really a great thing and I am the last person to know? I really don't get it. I remember when 40 foot boats had tillers and wheel steering was optional!
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Old 25-02-2016, 12:45   #2
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

On a bigger (& or wider) boat, it allows the helmsman to sit well outboard, in order to get a good view of what's up ahead, as well as viewing the sail trim at the same time. Especially with low cut/deck sweeper jibs.

Plus, to get that kind of ability with a single wheel, it would have to be rather big. 5'-6' diameter minimum.
Which means that it would need a slot inletted into the cockpit floor, so that the wheel is at the proper height for steering whe standing. And said recesses MUST be kept clear of lines & everything else, lest you jam the wheel.
So in addition to eating up cockpit space, big wheels also reduce available headroom in bunks which run underneath of the cockpit. Just the opposite of twin wheels.

Then, there's the aspect of a large wheel, essentially trapping the helmsman back aft. So that he's not really as much a party to what's going on in the cockpit, socially, & racing.
Which, for entertaining, is huge. And also, it makes it tougher for someone to go back & relieve him, & or go back there to be coached on helming.

And if you have an open transom, then twin wheels really open up the traffic pattern from the stern, to everything else. Instead of having to clamber around the wheels.
Just have a look at some of the modern charter fleet, & or any of the boats made in the last decade or so.
Transoms have gotten a Lot wider of late, & cockpits are designed much more with entertaining in mind, as opposed to purely for sailing.

Then, of course, it's a marketing/styling thing (read $ generation). Along with everyone "keeping up with the Jones's". Plus, all of the cool kids (racers) are doing it (have been for decades). And most sailors harbor inner desires to dream of playing like the pro's do.
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Old 25-02-2016, 13:02   #3
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

Twin-wheel steering is a work-around to buyers insisting on having the equivalent of a double garage, aft, and still be able to walk directly forward, from the swim step, through the open transom and through the cockpit, to the entryway.
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Old 25-02-2016, 13:05   #4
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

on a racing boat makes great sense; on a cruising boat, who really touches the wheel except when docking? I'm guessing we 'hand steered' about 1 hour in the last 2000 miles and suspect that's about average.
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Old 25-02-2016, 13:11   #5
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

Yes, it is a fad.

We may justify it, somewhat, by imagining the new boats as way beamier aft than the old ones. Hence twin wheels are not all that pointless in the end.

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Old 25-02-2016, 13:18   #6
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

Truth is, I'd get rid of my little wheel if I could, takes up too much space in the cockpit as it is.
Two of them? Maybe in a BIG boat.
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Old 25-02-2016, 13:21   #7
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

I too think it is mostly a fad, and frankly, I feel a bit embarrassed when I pull in to a marina in a 30-something foot boat with a twin helm (not mine; a delivery or a charter). You could imagine how everyone in the marina would be gleefully pleased to see you smash into the concrete fuel dock.

It's like an Apple Watch or Google Glasses; trendy, not very useful, and fundamentally frivolous.

On a bigger boat it's a different story of course.

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Old 25-02-2016, 13:56   #8
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

When you're sailing in Greece, and pull into the stone quay of a village it's common to moor stern to (med mooring). It makes a lot of sense to have an open cockpit and transom so that you have a clear passage on and off the boat. It also makes it easy to access the swim platform and tender when you're anchored. Similarly, race boat style wide sterns make for good sailing but also provide significantly improved living space above and below decks. Not all racing boat design is used on cruising boats, just the ones that make sense. Remember that most cruisers spend 95% of their time on board tied up. Modern sailboats satisfy the need to sail well but also to live well.
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Old 25-02-2016, 14:04   #9
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

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Originally Posted by Liam Wald View Post
Am I missing something here? Are two wheels really a great thing and I am the last person to know?l!
Yes. You obviously haven't been for a cruise on a boat with twin wheels.

Try it.

Not a half hour sail but a few days cruising.
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Old 25-02-2016, 14:08   #10
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

Beneteau now has a single wheel on a pedestal that moves from side to side on a pivot.
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Old 25-02-2016, 18:56   #11
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

I sail an old Jeanneau 38 footer with a single helm and full transom. It's an absolute pain to climb up onto the seats and then climb over the transom every time you want to go ashore (med moored). I even have a removable wheel and it's still difficult. Even though there is room for 6 people in the cockpit. you end up with two squeezed together at the table on one side of the helm and the other 2 sitting on their own w/o a table. Boats are for sailing AND enjoying life. Modern designs combine both. If I could afford it, I'd have a broad bummed twin helmer any day.
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Old 25-02-2016, 19:04   #12
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

Am I the only one who wants three wheels?

Sent from my SGH-I257M using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 25-02-2016, 19:09   #13
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

Monohull maybe doesn't make sense. I cannot comment, because the largest monohull I ever owned still had a tiller.

On a cat like my Seawind, absolutely love them. Turn the starboard wheel, release the starboard jib sheet, walk over to the other side and pull in the port jib sheet and correct the port wheel to finish the tack. When racing, sit on the combing and see the telltales on both sails beautifully. When docking, the steering station is close to the dock, rather than in the center of the salon, or elevated in one of those nose-bleed, sail-it-by-myself steering stations.

On a mono they might just look cool. On a cat, very functional.
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:10   #14
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

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Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
Monohull maybe doesn't make sense. I cannot comment, because the largest monohull I ever owned still had a tiller.



On a mono they might just look cool. On a cat, very functional.

I mean, really, how can you make a judgement on functionality when you admit never testing it?
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:38   #15
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Re: Twin Steering Wheels

I think a boat should have 5 wheels. 2 port and starboard, 1 on the foredeck and 1 off the stern with an outboard seat. That way the boat could be driven like a ladder truck. The 5th wheel, I think I'll let you guess where I think that should be placed.
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