We just converted our 38' Pearson
Invicta yawl from wheel to tiller steering. Nice thing was the emergency tiller was the tiller that came with the boat if wheel steering was chosen instead of the standard tiller steering. We have found some interesting problems some of which have been mentioned in this thread as well as some benefits written here.
First some history
(short I promise; ). Boat was designed for tiller steering and raced that way successively in many open ocean races. Wheel was an option on later boats. I do not know but think all hulls were made to the same dimensions as designed being a full keel
design. Rudder looks the same size as what I can make out in drawings I have seen for the original design.
We are planning on refitting this boat after this season for long term cruising
so we knew we had the remove the pedestal and steering hardware
, what a better time to see how a tiller would work out.
Some of our reasons for wanting tiller steering was first simplicity, second making cockpit lockers larger and cockpit well smaller for less volume and thus better drainage, freeing up space below the cockpit sole and a simpler (less expensive) self steering
What we found was excessive weather helm and a much more difficult time steering when motoring. Difficult steering while motoring I believe is the prop wash as mentioned by charla. This is a boat with a full keel and barn door rudder. However after a few sails
(two in particular with up to twenty knots of wind) we found weather helm excessive on starboard tack and light on port tack. That makes us think that either rudder/hull is fouled on one side more then the other or wood rudder is warped. Eye balling mast
seems for it to be true.
We are hauling boat to check bottom to see if anything sticks out as a problem (also needs a good bottom cleaning
anyway). We are thinking this could be a problem that the wheel steering hid so it is a good experiment
before we refit
the boat. Steering from the tiller position, line of sight at helm, space in cockpit are all better with tiller and we hope to fix problem with weather helm so we can keep this steering setup. A more heavy hand steering while motoring will be the drawback but everything in sailing has those.
Crewed on a Express 37 with tiller. When I got the chance to steer it felt like a big dingy. But that is what it is; ).