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1977 cal 30 Wheel Conversion

Aug 4, 2015
35
Catalina 30 Gibralter Boat Yard
Hello all,
I just purchased a '77 Catalina 30 in incredible condition. It currently has a tiller and I’m wondering if it can be converted to a wheel helm. Is there a kit available? Is the rudder shaft adequate? How difficult? Is it worth the effort? Always wanted a wheel but every boat I buy ends up being a tiller.
 

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Nov 8, 2007
1,179
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Lake Erie
Personally, I would argue the tiller is a better option for a 30 footer. But I have seen many satisfied owners with a wheel. We have chartered at Cat 30 twice in the San Juans and we were happy with its wheel steering. I would have no doubts that a conversion would work fine.
 
Dec 11, 2004
950
Catalina 30 easy living
i can't answer your question but can suggest if you do this to get a large destroyer wheel so you can con the boat with one hand while sitting on the rail - like a tiller.
 
Dec 11, 2004
950
Catalina 30 easy living
i also suggest you call catalina yachts since they're the first to do what you're wondering and they' ve always been helpful for me.
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,166
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Well Congrats to you @lostintime . You...

Cal Boats are well made good cruise/racers. Love to go down wind.
Likely yes you can convert the boat. You’ll need to pick a binnacle maker Yacht Specialities were used by Cal, but I think Edison Marine (which is still in business) can help you with the equipment.
Think about the decision. The tiller does improve your room in th cockpit. At rest you can poke the tiller in the air and give yourself room for 4 to chat and eat. The wheel will shrink the cockpit and make getting to the stern of the cockpit a bit of an issue. You’ll develop a monkey jump twist soon enough once you practice it a bit.

Keep us informed about your project. Have fun sailing your Cal30.
 
Jun 8, 2004
2,269
Catalina 320 Dana Point
I've seen a couple conversions on Cat 30's and I would not recommend it, because of the loss of mechanical advantage the steering effort becomes excessive. A boat designed for a wheel has a T-shape cockpit for a large wheel, a conversion must use a much smaller wheel.
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,166
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Here you go. A small ships wheel,:poke: but this one has spokes to aid in control.
Ships_wheel.jpg
 
Aug 4, 2015
35
Catalina 30 Gibralter Boat Yard
All valid points. I have noticed the T shaped cockpit and wondered about wheel size as well as quick access to the helm with my layout. I agree the wheel takes up a lot of space but arguably so does the tiller. When in port the tiller is up and cockpit is very open but at sea the tiller tacks up 3/4 of the cockpit.

I'm going to continue to source the parts and knowledge however I think I'll sail for the season and get to know the boat before making any major changes.
 
Nov 7, 2011
2,507
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
A very wise decision.
I agree. A wheel conversion sounds like a very large project so see if you still want a wheel after the season.
Looks like a very nice boat. We just made the same move from an O'day 25 to a C30. Its proving to be a very nice move.
 
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Joe

Jun 1, 2004
6,768
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Besides the cost of converting, which will be substantial... you can figure in the cost of an autopilot. A tiller pilot is much less expensive to purchase .... and to install.
 
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Feb 5, 2004
3,933
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
The expense and maintenance of a wheel is not worth in on a 30' boat, in my opinion. There are times I wanted a tiller on my Catalina 36.
Edson can provide everything you need. The drawings with parts lists are here:
https://edsonmarine.com/sailboat-data-sheets/

They are a super company to work with, but their stuff ain't cheap!
By the way, you want the newer version.
 

JRT

Feb 14, 2017
1,376
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
I say find a Cat 30 with a wheel already. I'll take that sweet tiller 30 off your hands for sure!
 
Nov 7, 2012
673
1978 Catalina 30 Wilbur-by-the-Sea
Love the our 78' tiller, no way would I recommend putting in a wheel on a 77'. Have to drop the rudder, cut the tube, put a hole in the cockpit floor, buy pedestal, rig the thing up. Oh no. Auto pilots cost twice as much, less room in the cockpit, did I mention more holes in the boat.

I find it nice to get her balanced and still be able to adjust the heading while standing and having the tiller pushing on my leg or using a tiller extension and sitting pretty much anyplace in the cockpit.