Re: Willard 8 Ton Sailboat

Sean Eamon Kennedy

I once converted a 38’ Ingrid from wheel to tiller. Can’t say I necessarily regretted it, but I’m sure I didn’t get enough value out of it to justify the time and effort. Wheel and tiller each have their own pro’s and con’s. I came to the Ingrid from several years of sailing (mostly without a motor) and the wheel didn’t feel right. After a few years with a Willard motor boat (Vega Voyager) I think I might even prefer a wheel on a sailboat now.

Anyhow, you’re 10 years into it so I’m guessing you’ve thought it out.

Here are my thoughts. 
* A tiller can’t be long enough for controlling the boat (or “feeling” it, which may be why you’re planning on the switch) and it can’t be short enough for comfort in the cockpit. Spend a lot of time with mock ups. Have several people over and practice tacking the boat. If the tiller’s too long you risk crushing people against the seat backs and if it’s too short you risk having “rudder kick” crush you agains the seat backs.
* Slop in a tiller is worse than slop in a wheel. However you build the rudder post / tiller connection, make sure it’s solid and tight. If your tiller is sloppy you might as well keep the wheel.
* Tiller auto-pilots suck. In a small cockpit they take up a lot of space. If your current wheel steering uses a short bronze tiller (rather than a quadrant) try to keep it and use that for a below deck auto-pilot
* Design in the tiller stick connection point from the beginning. You’ll want it immediately but otherwise it will be one of those “I really should...” items.
* Make it easy to remove the tiller from the rudder head. Then you can get it out of the way when you’re at dock. Make it out of ash with baseball bat like proportions so you can use it to repel borders (at the dock only). Carve the head of your totem animal on end of the tiller. This really impresses people (and serves no useful purpose).

In retrospect I wished I’d spent more time sailing the Ingrid and less time futzing with the steering. I still have a really nice big bronze Edison chain drive steering system lying around my shop, if you know anyone who needs one.

On Dec 3, 2020, at 7:11 AM, Kdsprouse <Kdsprouse@...> wrote:

My name is Kevin Sprouse and I own a Willard 30 8 Ton Cutter for the last 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area   I have never joined or posted anything to any type of group, so please forgive any of my mistakes with this type of forum. 

One of my future projects is to remove the wheel steering and replace with a tiler. I would be interested to know any of you that may have accomplished this same project.  I’m interested in the length of the tiler, type of tiler head, and any other key lessons that would help me in not making the same mistakes.  

Vessel Jenny Ruth


Sean Eamon Kennedy
Vega Voyager “Moonlight”

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