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Old 23-11-2014, 17:55   #1
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Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

I will be buying my first sailboat soon (Mono hull 25-30 footer) and plan to live aboard near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Many of the boats I have seen online have Wheel steering, but I am under the impression that Tiller steering would be better for me. I plan to day sail as often as my work schedule permits (at least once a week) and take extended trips over Spring Break and the Summer down to Wilmington, NC or Charleston, SC.
I am under the impression that Wind Vanes are for use with Tillers and NOT Wheels. Is that Correct???
If so, I would certainly prefer the Tiller as I would like to avoid the addition of any electronics that are not necessary like an Auto Pilot.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I like to be specific so as not to waste your time with misunderstandings.
I greatly appreciate and feedback you may have and welcome corrections to my assumptions.
Dave
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Old 23-11-2014, 18:09   #2
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

C'est la Dave,

We have had a home made windvane on a wheel steered boat, that worked just fine for thousands of miles.

We also had a tiller pilot on a tiller-steered 30 footer. On it, when the tiller pilot failed, we were able to rig sheet to tiller steering, not an option with a wheel. For the type of cruising you're suggesting, I think a tiller would work fine, on a smaller boat, but by the time you're getting up to the mid-30 footers, you might prefer the wheel, anyway.

You might take a look at "Self-Steering for Sailing Craft", by John S. Letcher, Jr.

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Old 23-11-2014, 18:12   #3
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

Tillers are simpler, more reliable, and fold out of the way when not in use. Some sailing purists also like them because you can "feel" the water passing over the rudder. Me? I like a wheel.
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Old 23-11-2014, 18:19   #4
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

Tiller one hundred percent. You probably won't use a windvane for daysailing as they take a bit to set up and add length to your boat (extra costs at marina). They're more for keeping you in a semi straight line for days at a time. But the other advantages are numerous; simple, less maintenance, you can tell at a glance where your rudder is, you can sit just about anywhere in the cockpit (including under the dodger to duck spray over the bow) autopilots are cheaper and more reliable, you can scull the last couple feet into your mooring/dock, folded up you get more room in the cockpit for entertaining or just relaxing, there are a lot more advantages, but these are just of the top of my head.

I'm sure I'll think of a few more next time that fine looking piece of warm wood is in my grip.

Too far?


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Old 23-11-2014, 20:05   #5
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

What Goat said!!! Wheels are horrible affairs with no redeeming social value.
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Old 23-11-2014, 20:20   #6
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

The main advantages to wheel steering are you can put the wheel wherever you like, and you can use a motor driven autopilot more easily. The biggest advantage of a tiller is it doesn't take up space, give instant feedback, and lots of self steering techniques are doable, with no electronics or motors required.

When daysailing, it usually isn't worth the hassle to rig a self steering arrangement, though a regular autopilot is of course simple to engage. For a larger boat, wheel steering is prefer a le, to me. For a smaller boat, tiller is the way to go.

Tiller is also a lot simpler to maintain and more robust.

Lots of wheel steered boats have an emergency backup tiller. No tiller steered boats have an emergency backup wheel. Just sayin.
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Old 23-11-2014, 20:21   #7
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

Quote:
You probably won't use a windvane for daysailing as they take a bit to set up and add length to your boat (extra costs at marina). They're more for keeping you in a semi straight line for days at a time. But the other advantages are numerous; simple, less maintenance, you can tell at a glance where your rudder is, you can sit just about anywhere in the cockpit (including under the dodger to duck spray over the bow) autopilots are cheaper and more reliable,
Can;t say that I agree with all of that. If you are single handing, you will greatly appreciate some form of self steering at all times. You've said that you prefer to not use an a/p. Ergo, a windvane will be of great use to you. They are not all that hard to get going, will steer better than most entry level a/p (and humans!) and are just fun to watch in action.

None the less, I too think that a tiller is best in boats of this size range, for all the reasons that others have posted.

Good luck in your search.

Jim
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Old 23-11-2014, 20:55   #8
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

I'm sold on the tiller! There seems to be a lot of good deals on wheeled boats though. Is it possible / feasible to convert a wheeled boat into a Tiller-steered boat? It seems like a big job and a bad idea, but it doesn't hurt to ask...


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Old 23-11-2014, 21:08   #9
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

I've had boats with wheels and tillers. I wouldn't let that be the deciding factor on any boat I bought. But, I learned on a tiller and I do have a fond spot for them. It's sure a lot cheaper and simpler to put an autopilot on a tiller than a wheel.
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Old 23-11-2014, 21:16   #10
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

Just for balance sake, things I like about wheels; something to grab when you come up from down below and she's rough, a convenient place to put navigation electronics, and the pirate 'gaaaaarrr' factor.

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Old 23-11-2014, 23:56   #11
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

I learned and grew up with tillers, my first keel boat at 27 feet had a tiller, and since then I've had wheel for 36'.

I love tillers, but there is a significant caveat, and that is when you have a full cockpit, perhaps 3 or 4 on a 26 footer, you bang a lot of knees and such, particularly with newbies, and that can be quite problematic in medium heavy winds during active sailing. It's less of an issue with newer wide butt boats, I suspect.

My 2 cents.
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Old 24-11-2014, 00:17   #12
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

You can't get crossed-up on a tiller. Not that this ever happened to me!
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Old 24-11-2014, 03:10   #13
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

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Originally Posted by Cest la Dave View Post
I'm sold on the tiller! There seems to be a lot of good deals on wheeled boats though. Is it possible / feasible to convert a wheeled boat into a Tiller-steered boat? It seems like a big job and a bad idea, but it doesn't hurt to ask...


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Easier and more feasible than you might think. Just rip it out.

You will be left wth a hole in your cockpit sole which will need to be addressed. In my case I installed a clear screw-in inspection port which has the benefit of providing illumination below the cockpit like a skylight. I installed a wood cockpit grate over the top that covers the whole sole, which is now a very comfy place to sleep and stretch out with the stupid wheel gone.

You probably could do some type of temporary cover if you ever wanted to change your mind. Or just do like I did and find some chump who thinks wheels are cool and unload it on them via fleabay/craigslist for $$$$.

Photo attached of rotten bolts that held my wheel in place. I have no regrets.
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Old 24-11-2014, 08:58   #14
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

A tiller is so superior to a wheel setup. The only reason at all to get a wheel is if the boat is simply too large, and the steering effort too heavy, for a tiller (about 40', usually).

Forget about wind vane self steering unless you will be doing some long range cruising. Instead, get a tiller pilot.
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Old 24-11-2014, 09:24   #15
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Re: Tiller vs Wheel for Day Sailing and Passage Making

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cest la Dave View Post
I will be buying my first sailboat soon (Mono hull 25-30 footer) and plan to live aboard near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Many of the boats I have seen online have Wheel steering, but I am under the impression that Tiller steering would be better for me. I plan to day sail as often as my work schedule permits (at least once a week) and take extended trips over Spring Break and the Summer down to Wilmington, NC or Charleston, SC.
I am under the impression that Wind Vanes are for use with Tillers and NOT Wheels. Is that Correct???
If so, I would certainly prefer the Tiller as I would like to avoid the addition of any electronics that are not necessary like an Auto Pilot.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I like to be specific so as not to waste your time with misunderstandings.
I greatly appreciate and feedback you may have and welcome corrections to my assumptions.
Dave
In a boat of that size a tiller would require less of the limited space.
I would have to question the desire for a wind vane? Day sailing you probably would find you didn't want to use it, as someone said set up time.

Trips from Hatteras to Charleston in a vessel that size, I would bet you would end up using the ditch (ICW) for the most part? Wind vane, of no use.
Just my 2 cents.
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