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Wheel steering extention

Discussion in 'Ask A Catalina Owner' started by kbgunn, Jul 16, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. kbgunn


    Joined Sep 19, 2017
    89 posts, 33 likes
    Catalina 1986 30 TR
    4410 US Lake Lewisville
    A post over in the Cat 22 forum got me thinking. I sail short handed and usually use the autopilot to steer when I'm not directly by the wheel. But it uses a lot of battery. (I have to admit I haven't spent a lot of time to optimize the setting for hunting and sensitivity.)

    I saw this is available:

    Does anyone use this? I haven't tried this arrangement, but was curious if others have...

    In my own experience sailing on inland lakes (insert lot's of caveats and assumptions here) if the rudder is centered with the wheel top at 12:00 position, then the wheel moves between 10:00 and 2:00 to hold a straight course as the wind varies with puffs. Plus or minus 60 degrees of rotation in other words. Seems like the extremes would be the outside limit of what you could do with a steering control arm.

    Will this type of arrangement be workable from coamings or the stern perch seats of a Cat 30? If so, then I can save the autopilot electric draw for only special occasions like raising/dropping the main.


  2. Scott T-Bird

    Scott T-Bird

    Joined Oct 26, 2008
    3,380 posts, 483 likes
    Starwind 27
    US Barnegat, NJ
    This looks pretty good to me. I think it is worth a try. It doesn't exactly replace autohelm, but I think it would make it possible to get into a much more comfortable position to steer, especially at the stern seats.

  3. Stu Jackson

    Stu Jackson

    Joined Feb 26, 2004
    19,907 posts, 575 likes
    Catalina 34
    224 CA Maple Bay, BC, Canada
    My experience is then perhaps you are over-steering. I go no more than spoke-to-spoke which is a lot less than 10 to 2. When sailing closehauled even in gusts, the boat sails itself with hardly any wheel movement even with the ap disengaged. I worked hard over the years on my sail trim.

  4. NoAgenda


    Joined Apr 18, 2012
    36 posts, 1 likes
    Catalina 30TRWK
    US LaSalle,Mi
    Our friend has one of the prototypes on their Beneteau first 38. He finds it awkward to use and rather use the autopilot. Its been on their boat for almost 30 years and is never used.

  5. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    5,897 posts, 2,061 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    KBG if you balance your boat using the trim of the sails you can get it to sail an almost straight line on it's own. I owned a 15ft Montgomery. When balanced in moderate breeze on inland lakes I could tie the tiller, leave the cockpit, stand by the mast on the bow and control the boat just by leaning one way or the other.
    The WestMarine Forespar is nothing more than a "tiller Extension" tied to the wheel. Get the end of a broom handle. Lash it to the wheel and get an idea of how it works to extend your reach while sitting on the rail. If it works, then maybe the $100 cost could be worth it.
    Practice balancing your boat and see how your speed and control improve.

    Will Gilmore and jon hansen like this.
  6. JK_Boston_Catalina310


    Joined Nov 18, 2010
    1,954 posts, 79 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Hingham, MA
    KB if you search in the Catalina 310 Forum you will find several active owners who use this setup (I think one may have actually invented this by using a tiller extension and some bimini pieces). But I would bet if you PM them they would give you some real world feedback.

    Good luck and fair winds,


  7. victorhoisington


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    173 posts, 27 likes
    Islander Freeport, 41 Ketch
    US Longmont, CO
    So this looks like a good idea but in practice it just becomes another complication in my cockpit.

    The last thing I want in an emergency would be yet another appendage hanging from the wheel which could cause problems when I need to steer around an obstacle or get out of trouble.

    I find if I need to steer from port or starboard side of the cockpit, my feet come in handy. I can reach the wheel and steer as needed easily, while still looking under the sail or over the bow. If I need to steer with more authority then I can always get off my bu%% and grasp the wheel with one or both hands.

    My 2 cents worth, good idea that works well on a tiller but not so well on a wheel.

    jssailem likes this.
  8. Johnb


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    1,056 posts, 90 likes
    Hunter 37-cutter
    US Richmond CA
    You can use something you most likely already have at least one of, and most probably two - they are called legs.

  9. kbgunn


    Joined Sep 19, 2017
    89 posts, 33 likes
    Catalina 1986 30 TR
    4410 US Lake Lewisville
    Well, I abandoned this project after a few failed attempts. A 1" hinged Bimini clamp didn't work because of the curvature of the wheel and D shaped profile of the stock. Lashing with cordage takes too long to install and remove. Duct tape is messy.

    The best suggestion was feet. I can reach the wheel from the stern perch and grasp a spoke with big toe. I've also been working on the trimming skills to get the boat and sail plan better balanced.

  10. Meriachee


    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    2,605 posts, 703 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    The AP can be adjusted for response. While sail trim is very important, if you are using the wind input to the AP and the response level is set at the highest, it's going to work a lot. The current Ray software is a range of 1-5 and we regularly sail at 2, unless there's a reason to set it higher. (look away Andre) :)

  11. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    8,982 posts, 2,271 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    A lot of it depends on the gear ratio of your wheel. The 36.7 is less than one turn lock to lock. While not needed due to the huge wheel, that thing might work. If you have to turn a lot more, it probably will not. I'm assuming more then 30 degrees each way (wheel, not rudder) and your done.

  12. kbgunn


    Joined Sep 19, 2017
    89 posts, 33 likes
    Catalina 1986 30 TR
    4410 US Lake Lewisville
    I have the Raymarine EV-100 AP. The P70 control head has 3 "Response Levels": Leisure, Cruising, and Performance listed in order of increasing aggressive course tracking. I tend to leave it on "Leisure". The other control is "Hard Over" time setting. Which increasing this setting decreases the time from stop to stop. A little counter intuitive. I like it mid-range around 15. This keeps the current draw around 1 - 1.5 A on average. I don't have an anemometer and so no wind input for the AP at the moment.

  13. Meriachee


    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    2,605 posts, 703 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    That would fit within the “dumbing it down” development that we’ve seen from Ray. I have an SPX with a p70 and even running 19.03 Lighthouse code, I have the 5 levels of response and the hard over timer. The addition of a rudder reference and wind input contribute to the reduction of power, but to Jackdaws point, if your wheel doesn’t move much, that’s going to complicate things.

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