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Wheel vs. Tiller ?


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New sailor w very limited (2 years’) exp.

I own a 28’ tiller boat and have sailed a couple of times on a 30’ wheel boat.

Am looking to upgrade and vastly prefer tiller, but the rest of the world seems firmly in the “wheel camp” and I want to re-examine my reasons and assumptions:

- tiller is simpler, less maintenance, less chance of breakdown

- tiller does not have the binnacle etc crowding the cockpit

- tiller has “feel” for instant feedback 

- tiller can be more fatiguing on long cruise / bad weather, but I do not plan any of that so I don’t care

- tiller is fine for boats in 28-30’ range

I will appreciate any feedback, whether it be actual experience / wisdom or .... (:-)

Cheers,

Gabe

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7 minutes ago, Gabe_nyc said:

Am looking to upgrade and vastly prefer tiller, but the rest of the world seems firmly in the “wheel camp” and I want to re-examine my reasons and assumptions:

To be sure I understand, when you say, "Am looking to upgrade," do you mean a new boat, or converting your current boat to a wheel? 

Either way, you clearly like the tiller, so stick with it. My boat is 27' and has a tiller. I love tillers. I have sailed boats with wheels, and, like you, I really prefer the tiller.

I think wheels have become overdone. Look at Kim Bottle's FRANCIS LEE in the "Perry Sliver Class Day Sailor" thread: 60+ feet, 13-foot tiller, IIRC.

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“Upgrade” to a newer boat / larger boat.

Prefer 28-30 ft, 32 is max I am currently contemplating.

NOT looking to retrofit.

However, something like a 29’ C&C looks very attractive except for the wheel and I’m trying to decide if I’m being foolish or not to reject it out of hand.

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If a tiller is adequate to control your boat then go with it - they are vastly better than wheels for feel and simplicity as well as cost.

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My new to me old boat has a nice wheel that is linked to the rudder shaft with a push rod, so has direct "feel" and is very solid.  But I plan on doing some work (move traveler, patch big hole in cockpit sole) to convert it to a tiller.  All my other boats have been tiller, up to a heavy 35' cruiser with an unbalanced, skeg hung rudder.  This is the first "wheel" boat I have owned.

Advantage of the wheel is that with the friction brake, it is very easy to lock.  There are very light loads on it but the rudder is balanced so the loads on a tiller would probably be light also.  Disadvantages is that it sort of makes you sit in the back of the boat, exposed, and limits your ability to see the headsails.  I find myself sitting up on the coaming and steering with my foot upwind to be able to see the tales.  As you said, it takes up space (tillers take up space in a different way, like sweeping the cockpit during tacks).  Another disadvantage is that an autopilot for a wheel is a lot more expensive than one for a tiller.

Tiller extension, tiller lock and sheet to tiller steering!

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1 hour ago, Gabe_nyc said:

New sailor w very limited (2 years’) exp.

I own a 28’ tiller boat and have sailed a couple of times on a 30’ wheel boat.

Am looking to upgrade and vastly prefer tiller, but the rest of the world seems firmly in the “wheel camp” and I want to re-examine my reasons and assumptions:

- tiller is simpler, less maintenance, less chance of breakdown

- tiller does not have the binnacle etc crowding the cockpit

- tiller has “feel” for instant feedback 

- tiller can be more fatiguing on long cruise / bad weather, but I do not plan any of that so I don’t care

- tiller is fine for boats in 28-30’ range

I will appreciate any feedback, whether it be actual experience / wisdom or .... (:-)

Cheers,

Gabe

Tillers can be used on much larger boats than 30 ft.  Wheels get in the way all the time esp. when short handed /solo.  Total pain unless you always have a good crew. I much prefer tillers.  If you can get a good autopilot fitted and the fatigue will be a thing of the past.  I see 36/38 ft boats around with TWO wheels.  Crazy.

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27 minutes ago, bridhb said:

My new to me old boat has a nice wheel that is linked to the rudder shaft with a push rod, so has direct "feel" and is very solid.

 […]

Tiller extension, tiller lock and sheet to tiller steering!

#1 - So the pushrod allows “feel” / feedback to the wheel? Interesting! I will keep this in mind.

#2 - Yes, all of those and also auto-tiller (:-)

 

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There have been 12 Meters (Sverige) steered with a tiller, Frankie is 62' and has a tiller.

You can sail a pretty big boat without resorting to a wheel.

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3 minutes ago, jb5 said:

I see 36/38 ft boats around with TWO wheels.  Crazy.

Crazy, yes, but also sexy(:-)

”Two wheels! It’s what plants crave!” (that’s a little joke from the movie “Idiocracy”)

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Functionally it is just a matter of preference and question of leverage.

Past a certain rudder size the leverage required for comfortable helming becomes too great without a long tiller or a wheel. A lot of consumer small boats do the twin tiller because consumers want the I'm standing at a helm and in charge thing. 

Kind of silly imo to have wheels then there's a backup tiller extension stored below but works poorly. Just get it right the first time. 

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Two wheels have the advantage of sitting outboard so you can see tale tails and feel the breeze. The End. For cruising I like a wheel for racing the tiller. It's easier to coach a newbie with a wheel. That's all I got.

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All of my boats have had tillers except for my current one.  I prefer a tiller but there is a lack of used sailboats less than 20 years old with a reasonable cruising interior and  have tillers.   The big advantage with the wheel on my boat is that I sit so far back in the boat that the bimini can be effective for shade - important on those hot and humid days on the Chesapeake.

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46 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

2 wheels on under 4 0 is because the boats are too wide. Helm can't see anything needs to see with only 1 wheel.

One tiller would suffice 

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1 hour ago, d'ranger said:

Two wheels have the advantage of sitting outboard so you can see tale tails and feel the breeze. The End. For cruising I like a wheel for racing the tiller. It's easier to coach a newbie with a wheel. That's all I got.

/\ this. Twin wheels also allow a walk through cockpit. One trick in teaching newbies to drive is regardlesss of whether it is a wheel or a tiller, let them drive the boat around under engine for a while until they get it. Once the have learned how to steer a boat they can then learn how to sail it. 

I think the perfect boat would have a tiller for going upwind that turns into a wheel as soon as you start going down wind or start the engine.

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Can't add much to this, besides mentioning tiller extensions for allowing steering to get a high to windward position for the driver...or leeward..as the case may be. 

Yet I will try:

A tiller can be lashed up and out of the way, allowing more room for partying. 

Tillers are much better suited to rigging tackle so the boat can be steered from the fore deck, where most foredeckers believe that job should be handled. 

 Wheels are gay.

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Never yet seen a boat with too much beam for a tiller and with an extension you can get almost anywhere you need to go and still keep it mostly out of the way when you need to.

Major design errors with most cruising boats.  Wheels and mainsheets/travellers on the cabin top, even seen some boats with no traveler at all.

 

image.jpeg

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I'm on my third boat.  First 25' boat had a tiller, second 28' boat had a wheel, third 37' boat has a tiller.

Put me in the tiller camp.  I will say that it is pretty easy to get a wheel system (at least with the common Edson setup) to have good feedback and feel if you clean and lube the system.  Edson wants this to be done annually and most boats have it done never, I'd say that at least every 5 years would be good practice.  It doesn't take too long.

The tiller is a lot easier to get out of the way when you want to hang out in the cockpit with a larger party.  It is easier to drive from the rail than a wheel (unless you have a huge wheel).  It makes it a lot easier to drive in reverse because you can do quick gross motions, which allows us to dock in reverse (personal preference).  It's a lot easier for one person to drive the boat and handle sheets because they can stand with the tiller between their legs and use hands for sheets.  A tiller plus extension gives me a lot more flexibility to be anywhere in the cockpit vs a wheel, which also makes short handed sailing easier.

The wheel is nicer for new sailors since it behaves a bit more like a car.  It is nicer for crowded sailing because the tiller doesn't sweep the cockpit.  It gives you a good place to hang electronics that are viewable from the helm.  So it does have some advantages.

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IMHO up to 7 tons displacement (14000 lbs ) you really don't need a wheel assuming that the boat is well designed. On bigger boats, it depends, sometimes a tiller is good enough. Backing a heavy tiller boat can be tricky.

 

I think that one often forgotten advantage of the tiller is that offshore it is more ergonomic. Standing up for hours is tiring.

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Tillers are great for feedback, wheels are better for bigger boats. Who wants to wrestle with high loads on a tiller when a wheel takes the stress away?

Twin wheels are for wide boats and work well, the other solution is a single massive wheel in a gutter, not my pick. Twin tillers are also a great idea as long extensions break pretty easy and get in the way. All of these options are dependent on cockpit design and boat. There is no right answer so my advice to the op is but the boat you like and don’t worry too much about it’s pointing device.

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33 minutes ago, Panoramix said:

IMHO up to 7 tons displacement (14000 lbs ) you really don't need a wheel assuming that the boat is well designed. On bigger boats, it depends, sometimes a tiller is good enough. Backing a heavy tiller boat can be tricky.

 

I think that one often forgotten advantage of the tiller is that offshore it is more ergonomic. Standing up for hours is tiring.

Most good wheel helms for cruising racers typically have the wheels at a position where you can sideway straggle the wheel. Not too many standing pedestals in the last 10 years. 

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Take your preference. 

Most high performance inshore boats have tillers. 

Most offshore and cruising boats have wheels. 

Hard to put compass & instruments on a tiller, and while you can flip,it out of the way, it’s not good at supporting a table. 

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9 hours ago, Gabe_nyc said:

“Upgrade” to a newer boat / larger boat.

Prefer 28-30 ft, 32 is max I am currently contemplating.

NOT looking to retrofit.

However, something like a 29’ C&C looks very attractive except for the wheel and I’m trying to decide if I’m being foolish or not to reject it out of hand.

If I were looking for a new (to me) boat, I'd avoid wheels. They seem to the rage, and perhaps the absence of one will make a nice boat more affordable. Also, when considering a used boat, with a used wheel, ot one more thing that you'll have to fix someday.

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3 hours ago, Alex W said:

The wheel is nicer for new sailors since it behaves a bit more like a car. 

I kind of disagree with this. I learned on a Sunfish (without a wheel :P), then a 15-foot daysailer, then an Alberg Typhoon, then a J-22, then a 27' H-Boat. No wheels.

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4 minutes ago, LionessRacing said:

Take your preference. 

Most high performance inshore boats have tillers. 

Most offshore and cruising boats have wheels. 

Hard to put compass & instruments on a tiller, and while you can flip,it out of the way, it’s not good at supporting a table. 

You're just a tiller wannabe :P.

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3 hours ago, Panoramix said:

IMHO up to 7 tons displacement (14000 lbs ) you really don't need a wheel assuming that the boat is well designed. On bigger boats, it depends, sometimes a tiller is good enough. Backing a heavy tiller boat can be tricky.

 

I think that one often forgotten advantage of the tiller is that offshore it is more ergonomic. Standing up for hours is tiring.

That advantage may have been forgotten because sitting for hours on one tack holding the tiller can leave you with one arm longer than the other and a sore bottom. Standing (or sitting) at a wheel is less tiring, (people drive on the road for five hours or more at a stretch and seem to manage), doesn’t make your bottom as sore (because you can change position and/or stand),  and doesn’t put a crick in your neck from looking forward while you sit sideways.  This is why most ocean-passage boats that are steered by crew are fitted with wheels. (Autopilots don’t care if there are wheels or tillers.)   In bouncy situations wheels are also a more firm handhold (they only move in one plane) than a tiller. If a wave fills the cockpit a helmsman with two hands on the wheel can hold himself down and continue to control the rudder.  A helmsman on a tiller could get his feet knocked out from under him, allowing the tiller to swing along with him into the scuppers to leeward - unless he lets go of it... 

The schooner America was steered with a tiller.  But sometimes it took several crew to man it. 

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10 hours ago, Gabe_nyc said:

“Upgrade” to a newer boat / larger boat.

Prefer 28-30 ft, 32 is max I am currently contemplating.

NOT looking to retrofit.

However, something like a 29’ C&C looks very attractive except for the wheel and I’m trying to decide if I’m being foolish or not to reject it out of hand.

You can find C&C 29-2's with a tiller, I owned one.

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I always thought two wheels were for his and hers. I have a Viking 33 with a tiller. I can show you how to create drag on the tiller. If the rudder is transom hung, it is hard to sink the boat, if you hit something and break it. Same with my Viking, as the FG tube the shaft goes thru, is solid all the way, top and bottom. Some wheel steered boats can sink if the shaft is broken, or the seals leak too much. Most steering problems seem to come from wheel systems, very few from tiller steered. If you sail with limited crew, and you need a wheel, the boat is too big. Now and then I steer a Catalina 38 with a wheel. I prefer the tiller for, for several reasons.

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6 hours ago, PaulK said:

That advantage may have been forgotten because sitting for hours on one tack holding the tiller can leave you with one arm longer than the other and a sore bottom. Standing (or sitting) at a wheel is less tiring, (people drive on the road for five hours or more at a stretch and seem to manage), doesn’t make your bottom as sore (because you can change position and/or stand),  and doesn’t put a crick in your neck from looking forward while you sit sideways.  This is why most ocean-passage boats that are steered by crew are fitted with wheels. (Autopilots don’t care if there are wheels or tillers.)   In bouncy situations wheels are also a more firm handhold (they only move in one plane) than a tiller. If a wave fills the cockpit a helmsman with two hands on the wheel can hold himself down and continue to control the rudder.  A helmsman on a tiller could get his feet knocked out from under him, allowing the tiller to swing along with him into the scuppers to leeward - unless he lets go of it... 

The schooner America was steered with a tiller.  But sometimes it took several crew to man it. 

It's true for the sore neck but if you protect it from the wind, it shouldn't be an issue.

I've never sailed a boat with a wheel in which you don't end up standing up as soon as the sea state is less than perfect. When you have to stand up you need to compensate with your legs the boats movements.

That's much harder than sitting with 2 hands on the tiller extension 2 feet on the footrests safety harness clipped on the short lead. If a really bad waves come, you can use one hand to hold yourself to a winch or a lifeline and the other to steer.

Obviously, this is assuming that the boat is light enough to be steered by one man. On heavy boats like America a wheel makes sense.

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14 hours ago, LB 15 said:

/\ this. Twin wheels also allow a walk through cockpit. One trick in teaching newbies to drive is regardlesss of whether it is a wheel or a tiller, let them drive the boat around under engine for a while until they get it. Once the have learned how to steer a boat they can then learn how to sail it. 

I think the perfect boat would have a tiller for going upwind that turns into a wheel as soon as you start going down wind or start the engine.

Hasn’t there been a 12 Meter R with exactly that setup? Test boat for one

America’s cup? 

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13 hours ago, Alex W said:

I'm on my third boat.  First 25' boat had a tiller, second 28' boat had a wheel, third 37' boat has a tiller.

Put me in the tiller camp.  I will say that it is pretty easy to get a wheel system (at least with the common Edson setup) to have good feedback and feel if you clean and lube the system.  Edson wants this to be done annually and most boats have it done never, I'd say that at least every 5 years would be good practice.  It doesn't take too long.

The tiller is a lot easier to get out of the way when you want to hang out in the cockpit with a larger party.  It is easier to drive from the rail than a wheel (unless you have a huge wheel).  It makes it a lot easier to drive in reverse because you can do quick gross motions, which allows us to dock in reverse (personal preference).  It's a lot easier for one person to drive the boat and handle sheets because they can stand with the tiller between their legs and use hands for sheets.  A tiller plus extension gives me a lot more flexibility to be anywhere in the cockpit vs a wheel, which also makes short handed sailing easier.

The wheel is nicer for new sailors since it behaves a bit more like a car.  It is nicer for crowded sailing because the tiller doesn't sweep the cockpit.  It gives you a good place to hang electronics that are viewable from the helm.  So it does have some advantages.

I agree on all the practical aspects. For the new sailors bit, it might be true for older beginners but in practice most sailors have "driven" a boat before learning to drive a car. So unless it is a charter boat, it is not that big of an advantage.

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Some like coffee, some like tea, they both work and have their advocates. If you love tillers enough to make it a big priority, get a boat that has one or modify the boat. I've sailed well behaved tiller boats and awful, arm busting POS. Some wheels are like old Chrysler power steering, with no feel at all, in the way, etc., while some are just fine IMHO. When at anchor I often remove the wheel and secure it to the lifelines, which opens the cockpit up nicely and greatly improves access to the stern mounted swim ladder.

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1 hour ago, Panoramix said:

I agree on all the practical aspects. For the new sailors bit, it might be true for older beginners but in practice most sailors have "driven" a boat before learning to drive a car. So unless it is a charter boat, it is not that big of an advantage.

Funny that I’ve never thought about that! But of course: I learned to sail an Opti at the age of ten, tiller (extension) steering was the most natural thing for me. When I was in my twenties and first had to steer with a wheel, it just felt wrong. Even though I had learned to drive a car in the meantime, I instinctively turned the wheel the wrong way the first couple of times... 

 

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15 hours ago, Alex W said:

It's a lot easier for one person to drive the boat and handle sheets because they can stand with the tiller between their legs and use hands for sheets.  A tiller plus extension gives me a lot more flexibility to be anywhere in the cockpit vs a wheel, which also makes short handed sailing easier.

This is what I found myself doing and it worked out very well.

Several of you have made valid points about circumstances where wheels are superior but those will not how I plan to be sailing in the next couple of years.

Also, since as Mark W pointed out earlier “wheels are gay” while sailing up to the dock with the giant tiller between my legs is exceedingly manly (:-), I think that tiller will be  the way for me to go.

Thank you all for your thoughts, opinions and ... well ... for Mark W in general (:-)

Gabe

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My boat was a tiller boat that was converted to pedestal helm steering

I removed the helm and laminated a new teak tiller. It is much nicer and the cockpit is wide open now

5F4E390E-68FE-48BF-8F82-4E1D9993489A.jpeg

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11 hours ago, LionessRacing said:

Take your preference. 

Most high performance inshore boats have tillers. 

Most offshore and cruising boats have wheels. 

Hard to put compass & instruments on a tiller, and while you can flip,it out of the way, it’s not good at supporting a table. 

Almost all IMOCA (60 ft) have tillers for weight and space savings. Of course they don't spend a whole lot of time steering either.

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1 hour ago, 10thTonner said:

Funny that I’ve never thought about that! But of course: I learned to sail an Opti at the age of ten, tiller (extension) steering was the most natural thing for me. When I was in my twenties and first had to steer with a wheel, it just felt wrong. Even though I had learned to drive a car in the meantime, I instinctively turned the wheel the wrong way the first couple of times... 

 

Yes, I know about this feeling, I still struggle a bit to back a boat with a wheel while looking over my shoulder whereas I can do it easily for a car.

My solution is to stand facing backward, it then becomes natural as it is like going forward.

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2 hours ago, Gabe_nyc said:

This is what I found myself doing and it worked out very well.

Several of you have made valid points about circumstances where wheels are superior but those will not how I plan to be sailing in the next couple of years.

Also, since as Mark W pointed out earlier “wheels are gay” while sailing up to the dock with the giant tiller between my legs is exceedingly manly (:-), I think that tiller will be  the way for me to go.

Thank you all for your thoughts, opinions and ... well ... for Mark W in general (:-)

Gabe

I prefer the feel of a tiller but I've never made it a deal breaker. There are so many design different factors that bear on the utility, performance, and comfort of a boat, not to mention that the condition of used boats varies so widely, that when shopping I treat a tiller as a nice-to-have like any other. I'll happily give up on a tiller if I find a boat that fits my needs well in other ways and/or is in great condition.

FWIW, my current boat has a wheel but the PO retrofitted the rudder with Jefa bearings and did the recommended maintenance on the Edson post, including actually greasing the wheel's sleeve bearing. It's amazing how good a wheel can feel when you take a bunch of slop and friction out of the system.

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3 hours ago, jb5 said:

Almost all IMOCA (60 ft) have tillers for weight and space savings. Of course they don't spend a whole lot of time steering either.

"Most" was the key modifier.. as well as "Performance"  Those particular boats tend to be Autopilot steered close to 100% of the time, to where either wheel or tiller is deadweight

The length of a tiller needed, scales with the loads on the rudder, which tend to be higher than linear with the length of the boat, look at the TP52 for example. 

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If you don't have a pedestal for your wheel, where are you going to mount all your displays???   Most pedestals nowadays are a "tower of power" with chartplotter, instrument displays, controls, and best of all, beer can holders!!!

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My understanding is this, a tiller is good inshore on closed courses or short coastal races. On a long offshore race like the Transpac, etc. a wheel is better since the tiller will wear you out. I prefer a tiller but having just sailed the Transpac the wheel was nice to steer with so I understand the logic, 'rowing' the boat for 2,200 miles would have been rough.

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1 hour ago, LionessRacing said:

"Most" was the key modifier.. as well as "Performance"  Those particular boats tend to be Autopilot steered close to 100% of the time, to where either wheel or tiller is deadweight

The length of a tiller needed, scales with the loads on the rudder, which tend to be higher than linear with the length of the boat, look at the TP52 for example. 

Actually TP52s have a fairly light helm, and the highest end of the TP52 fleet, driven by the best drivers in the world aided by the best trimmers and rig tuners in the world, have gone to tillers.  Even putting the boat up on rails doing breezy VMG sailing downhill the helm is manageable with a reasonable length tiller.  But then they are doing short races and have WIDE cockpits for the longer tiller.  Amateur drivers on older boats typically doing longer races still use wheels.  

I've tried to steer a light 65'er with a tiller on the ocean and couldn't get the boat to balance well enough to not require the driver to have Popeye-sized forearms, so we went to a wheel.  

On a powerful 40' raceboat, we had a tiller but it was a load on long runs and the head-twisted pose on long beats ended up sending me to physical therapy.

For cruising, where trimming for balance isn't often done and tiller-under-the-chin steering isn't unusual, I'd go for a wheel every time. 

For racing, anything under 40' I'd go for a tiller.  Over 40' I'd go for a spectra line-drive with a carbon wheel on a large carbon quadrant for minimal weight and inertia.  I doubt that a mechanical linkage can actually give much of a responsive feel, but haven't tried one.  

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3 hours ago, LionessRacing said:

"Most" was the key modifier.. as well as "Performance"  Those particular boats tend to be Autopilot steered close to 100% of the time, to where either wheel or tiller is deadweight

The length of a tiller needed, scales with the loads on the rudder, which tend to be higher than linear with the length of the boat, look at the TP52 for example. 

Or class 40, Figaro, mod70, orma 60, mini... Almost all ocean racers in fact use tillers. Inshore is a different matter. 

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45 minutes ago, jb5 said:

Or class 40, Figaro, mod70, orma 60, mini... Almost all ocean racers in fact use tillers. Inshore is a different matter. 

It is definitely an evolution the last decade. 

Autopilots are just better now and the trend towards fast light beamy dual rudder boats makes wheels and pedestals and standing helm less common for boats under a certain size. 

IMOCA used to have wheels.

I'd venture to say a person's preference is almost always linked to what kind of sailing they're doing. 

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For a 30ish footer, I’d vote tiller.  Helm is usually light enough to not be a problem. With a simple tiller extension seating positions are many.  If it’s chilly you can sit forward shielded somewhat by the cabin house or dodger, when at anchor the tiller flips up out of the way.  It’s the ultimate in simplicity.  Being able to better feel the boat and balancing the forces of wind, sea, sails and rudder is one of the the things I enjoy most, the act of “sailing”.   Sailing a boat this size short/single-handed, a tiller is much easier   Straddle the tiller and you can work both jibsheets, you can reach the mainsheet on most boats even if it is mid boom lead to the cabin top  halyards lead aft and a furling line can all usually be easily handled while steering with a tiller.  I used to sail a friends Peterson 34, tiller steered, and we’d race doublehanded   In light to moderate winds jibing the spinnaker was pretty easy to manage by straddling the tiller. 

Only drawback IMO, if you regularly sail with a full cockpit of people, tiller sweep is a bit awkward.  

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On 8/3/2019 at 12:07 PM, SloopJonB said:

If a tiller is adequate to control your boat then go with it - they are vastly better than wheels for feel and simplicity as well as cost.

I'm going to have to disagree on the feel aspect.  Wheels can be every bit as good as a tiller for feel, assuming they are set up correctly.  The problem is that there are so FEW well set up wheels out there that they get a bad rap.  Slop and excess friction are the killers of good wheel-feel.  Both can be addressed with good bearings and tension on all the lines/chain in your wheel system.  I've had a couple situations when I needed to maneuver in an emergency but there were legs in the way of the tiller.  I still prefer tillers for racing, but for cruising where you have clueless folks on the boat I can see an argument for a wheel.

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18 minutes ago, Grrr... said:

I'm going to have to disagree on the feel aspect.  Wheels can be every bit as good as a tiller for feel, assuming they are set up correctly.  The problem is that there are so FEW well set up wheels out there that they get a bad rap.  Slop and excess friction are the killers of good wheel-feel.  Both can be addressed with good bearings and tension on all the lines/chain in your wheel system.  I've had a couple situations when I needed to maneuver in an emergency but there were legs in the way of the tiller.  I still prefer tillers for racing, but for cruising where you have clueless folks on the boat I can see an argument for a wheel.

Some wheels give you a good feel. But why would you want to replace something tht is simple and effective by something more complicated unless you actually need the complication?

Legs in the way of the tiller? Shouldn't happen, in a crowded cockpit these should be above or below the tiller.

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2 hours ago, Panoramix said:

Some wheels give you a good feel. But why would you want to replace something tht is simple and effective by something more complicated unless you actually need the complication?

Legs in the way of the tiller? Shouldn't happen, in a crowded cockpit these should be above or below the tiller.

I don't think you read my post.  I said I prefer tillers.

And as for "shouldn't happen".  Right.  It shouldn't.  Except when your boat is designed like so many where it does, or you are cruising and people don't understand sailing even after it's explained they can't stand there, or etc. etc.  So it does happen, and I can understand why the wheel would be preferred in some cases.  Sheesh.

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I've spent hours in the ocean steering a wheel. And hours and hours steering a tiller.

On one memorable race I was at the helm in 35 to 45  apparent, sailing nearly DDW full spinnaker, 10 foot or more waves, averaging 9 knots over the bottom in the middle of the night. This was with a wheel. We took 15  or so minute trick at the helm and we never wiped out (came close a few times).  That was a wheel. If you think wheels can't have sublimely good feedback you haven't sailed a proper one.


I prefer a tiller. Who wouldn't? It's a sailboat. But that doesn't mean you can't have a wheel that is really good. And it doesn't mean the tiller is always the best approach. Not at all.
Sloop Clearwater notwithstanding, I feel that at a certain size, the wheel becomes the only reasonable choice. Between 5 and 15 tons displacement we can argue all day long :-)

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8 hours ago, Grrr... said:

but for cruising where you have clueless folks on the boat I can see an argument for a wheel.

So people who own cruising boats are ‘clueless’? Even if your absurd claim was right, why do you think it is any harder to drive a boat with a tiller than a wheel? Most cruisers have ‘tiller’ steered outboards on their tenders and still seem to be able to get them to the beach and back without any difficulty. 

 

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30 minutes ago, LB 15 said:

So people who own cruising boats are ‘clueless’?  

Now, now, there is no rule that says our anarchy should not be polite anarchy where we give each other the benefit of the doubt every once in a while. 

I suspect VERY strongly that what “Grrr” meant was situations where you would have clueless guests on a cruiser, and in this case a wheel would indeed be more familiar and more intuitive.

Now please kiss and make up, etc, etc (:-)

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On 8/4/2019 at 10:28 AM, fufkin said:

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70ft of tiller driven gold

You beat me to it!  Rage is my go-to speaking point when this topic comes up!

image.thumb.png.f7e602b3d93ad2d97614a4cf0965b716.png

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17 hours ago, Panoramix said:

Some wheels give you a good feel. But why would you want to replace something tht is simple and effective by something more complicated unless you actually need the complication?

Legs in the way of the tiller? Shouldn't happen, in a crowded cockpit these should be above or below the tiller.

It's not the complication you need, it is the leverage.  The feel of a wheel can be very precise and communicative.  You just have to take inertial weight, slack and friction out of the system.  That is expensive and fussy and involves a lot of carbon fiber.  On my boat, we spent a couple of days getting the wheels feeling right, the result being a very nice soft helm.  Now for cruisers, that is a difficult challenge and probably not necessary.  Cruisers have a different goal in mind and one-handed steering upwind with a range of wheel motion measured in a few inches in 25 knots (which is just a great great feeling when you've got it) is not their priority.  But tugging on a tiller is also not the best way to spend that beautiful day reaching across to their destination.  

Legs (and bodies) in the way of the tiller happens every time you take a newbie out and try to tack, jibe or dock.  It's just the way of it and a wheel makes it all so much simpler.  I had a tiller steered 40'er and every time we went for an evening casual family and friends sail I gave my little speech about the tiller and it's  and every maneuver I had to move people.  Or they laid on their backs or ended up on hands and knees or lying on their side.  Actually pretty funny, but it's still just the way it is.  

The Rage anomaly doesn't really hold up as an exemplar for big boats.  Notice that she doesn't have very many - if any - followers - always a sign of a dead end experiment.  And she is light, long, narrow, well equipped and likely to hold a groove better than most boats.

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On 8/4/2019 at 1:53 PM, See Level said:

Seems you fit right in.

 

an-early-marshall-car.jpg

Fuck! Have a look at the head on his wife. Little wonder the poor cunt looks so unhappy.

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10 hours ago, Left Shift said:

I had a tiller steered 40'er and every time we went for an evening casual family and friends sail I gave my little speech about the tiller and it's  and every maneuver I had to move people.  Or they laid on their backs or ended up on hands and knees or lying on their side.

To a certain extent this also depends on the size of your cockpit.

I have a Dufour 2800 with a larger cockpit than average, and combined with not-huge number of guests this has not been a problem.

(I had actually started a companion thread to this one re a “Big Ensign” where one of the design considerations was an oversized cockpit where this would never be a problem.)

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13 hours ago, Bull City said:

To Hell with wheels and tillers! I'm going with handle bars! :P

Been done on a Brent boat before. 

But, then again, he was always thinking ahead...

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11 hours ago, Left Shift said:

It's not the complication you need, it is the leverage.  The feel of a wheel can be very precise and communicative.  You just have to take inertial weight, slack and friction out of the system.  That is expensive and fussy and involves a lot of carbon fiber.  On my boat, we spent a couple of days getting the wheels feeling right, the result being a very nice soft helm.  Now for cruisers, that is a difficult challenge and probably not necessary.  Cruisers have a different goal in mind and one-handed steering upwind with a range of wheel motion measured in a few inches in 25 knots (which is just a great great feeling when you've got it) is not their priority.  But tugging on a tiller is also not the best way to spend that beautiful day reaching across to their destination.  

Legs (and bodies) in the way of the tiller happens every time you take a newbie out and try to tack, jibe or dock.  It's just the way of it and a wheel makes it all so much simpler.  I had a tiller steered 40'er and every time we went for an evening casual family and friends sail I gave my little speech about the tiller and it's  and every maneuver I had to move people.  Or they laid on their backs or ended up on hands and knees or lying on their side.  Actually pretty funny, but it's still just the way it is.  

The Rage anomaly doesn't really hold up as an exemplar for big boats.  Notice that she doesn't have very many - if any - followers - always a sign of a dead end experiment.  And she is light, long, narrow, well equipped and likely to hold a groove better than most boats.

The OP was talking of a smaller boat, sure on a big boat you need the leverage but on a boat of reasonable displacement, IMHO it is just an unnecessary complication. May be I've been lucky with the kind of beginners I carry around but I've never ever scared myself with a stuck tiller. I've probably ask people to move a bit (or to duck) to clear the tiller but not worth the effort of maintaining (and tuning) a wheel system if you don't really need it.

On a cruiser you tend to unplug the autopilot in messy following seas and that's not the strong point of a wheel as your hands end up travelling quite a bit and at night you loose track of where the rudder is in neutral position. With a tiller as soon as a wave upsets your heading, you just put the boat back on track with a brief but energetic push or pull on the tiller.

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On 8/3/2019 at 2:54 PM, fastyacht said:

with a 15 foot helium filled carbon nanotube buckminsterfuller extension

I didn't know you get the nanotubes in the Buckminsterfuller configuration ...

 

having had both wheels and tiller boats I chose tillers.. the wheel on my Bene 36.7 was fucking numb. You couldn't feel a goddam thing. I've had dinghies and J24, J30 and currently a J35. I think it is a sacrilege to put a wheel on a J35. I've driven a lot of J105s  with both.. prefer tiller on that boat too.. I drove a J109 for about half of a fastnet race and prayed to christ that would sneak in during my offwatch and convert to  a tiller. 

I think it may be somewhat true that it's easier to teach a newb on a wheel, but a newb that learns on a tiller will be a better sailor

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I think a tiller on any boat, sail or power is simple for anyone to figure. 

And a stout tiller on a yacht like mine can look pretty phallic too while opening up the dance floor.

... and LB, there is always room for a third wheel on the Pogo. Many people have told me I was like a third wheel sailing...must be a good thing.

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B6C51A38-4C9A-4A91-8AF6-F87A9A3781FA.jpeg

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10 minutes ago, Bump-n-Grind said:

I think it may be somewhat true that it's easier to teach a newb on a wheel, but a newb that learns on a tiller will be a better sailor

Very well put.

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What everyone has to remember is that the sails do the actual steering. A talented helmsmen I know likes to say that by wiggling a tiller/wheel, he's only "suggesting" the direction he'd like to go.

A wheel with a ton of mechanical advantage may let you think you're balanced when you're not.

A wheel with a  ton of mechanical advantage may also let you think you can dip that starboard tacker without easing your sails when what's really going to happen is that you're going to activate your insurance policy.

Good times

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28 minutes ago, toad said:

There is absolutely no question that a tiller is better, unless of course a wheel is better.

With a wheel, you can almost always hang your jacket on the binnacle when it gets too warm.  Can't do that with a tiller.  

But then you can't steer with a wheel stuck between your legs.  So there's that.

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