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Stuck behind the wheel

During the past two years sailing Cepheus, I have repeatedly had issues when behind the big steering wheel due to inaccessibility of the controls, lines, and instruments. If sailing solo, I need to climb around the wheel for some sailing maneuvers or to look more closely at the chart, which can be challenging when offshore. When double-handed I have found that I get trapped behind the wheel and my co-skipper is required to take care of everything other than steering.  

In reality, the wheel is better suited to sailing the boat with three to four people. Therefore, after problems in the Ida Lewis race that resulted in the loss of the A2 spinnaker, I decided it was time to take the wheel out and replace it with a tiller. I had the wheel and its associated pedestal removed and am temporarily using the emergency tiller with an added extension arm to test this new way to steer.  

Cockpit opened up with the wheel removed

As soon as the replacement was made, and even before sailing, it was obvious this would make the boat an easier vessel to sail. On the first trip it was clear that the cockpit was opened up and that this was a well overdue upgrade. Now I can sit or stand in the middle of the cockpit with access to instruments, lines, charts and the tiller. Additionally, the ability to extend the length of the tiller gives great versatility to my position in the boat. This is a very functional upgrade that will improve performance and increase safety.  

During the winter months while the boat is hauled out of the water, I plan to make this change permanent by manufacturing a hard stop “click on” connection to the rudder post.

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