Hey folks. Just musing here, and wondering about the general consensus on the topic of off-center helm
positions on cruising sailboats.
The reason for musing is because on our center cockpit cutter
, the 'traditional' steering
pedestal/binnacle/engine controls and wheel
take up a lot of the center space in the cockpit
. what should be a large enough space becomes quite small, and getting around the wheel
is a pain in the ass.
I was aboard a nice 42' cutter
the other day, and their helm
was well off to port, mounted on the aft face of the cabin
. The cockpit
was roughly the same size as ours (on a 5' shorter boat); but felt huge compared to ours. Space for a table and leg room and all! Their steering
is hydraulic though, compared to cable for us.
I know there are many production boats with dual wheels - I'm not going that way or wondering about that. I'm wondering about the pro's and con's; and general observations from experience, of being off center for all of your steering under sail and power.
Clearly you end up with a favored side for docking
, but most boats have that anyway due to prop walk. And also clearly you'd be on the low side on some tacks, high on the opposite... but is that a big deal? Racing
yes... I always want to look down the leeches of the sails
, but cruising when you're 90% of the time on AP anyway?
seems to me the advantages in terms of cockpit space, proximity to cabin-top winches, ability to duck under a dodger
, ease of wheel mounting (there's a wall there already!), safety
(no need walk aft in the cockpit, or to climb up on the cockpit seats to get around a wheel) and reduced exposure, ability to see instruments more clearly, etc. might add up to be compelling arguments for ditching the trad centerline, aft-third-of-cockpit location for most steering.
thoughts from the experienced folk out there?