Wheel steering extention

kbgunn

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Sep 19, 2017
147
2006 Hunter 38 4410 Lake Lewisville, TX
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:
https://www.westmarine.com/buy/forespar--steering-control-arm--14081368

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.

KBG
 
Oct 26, 2008
5,012
Catalina 320 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.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,951
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
then the wheel moves between 10:00 and 2:00 to hold a straight course as the wind varies with puffs.
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.
 
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Apr 18, 2012
41
Catalina 30TRWK 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.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,095
CAL 35 Cruiser moored 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.
 
Nov 18, 2010
2,441
Catalina 310 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,

Jesse
 
Jan 22, 2008
296
Islander Freeport, 41 Ketch 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.
 
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Johnb

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Jan 22, 2008
1,294
Hunter 37-cutter Richmond CA
You can use something you most likely already have at least one of, and most probably two - they are called legs.
 

kbgunn

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Sep 19, 2017
147
2006 Hunter 38 4410 Lake Lewisville, TX
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.
Cheers,
KBG
 
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Aug 1, 2011
3,959
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
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) :)
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,385
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 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.
 

kbgunn

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Sep 19, 2017
147
2006 Hunter 38 4410 Lake Lewisville, TX
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) :)
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.
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,959
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
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.
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,126
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I bought the Steering Control Arm a couple of months ago. I enjoy it when I want to relax on the stern seats in lighter, steady, winds. No stretching to reach the wheel with arms or feet.
I wouldn't use it in gusty conditions or winds approaching 8 -10 knots.
In the right conditions it is a great way to stretch out and relax.
 
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kbgunn

.
Sep 19, 2017
147
2006 Hunter 38 4410 Lake Lewisville, TX
I bought the Steering Control Arm a couple of months ago. I enjoy it when I want to relax on the stern seats in lighter, steady, winds. No stretching to reach the wheel with arms or feet.
I wouldn't use it in gusty conditions or winds approaching 8 -10 knots.
In the right conditions it is a great way to stretch out and relax.
The Control Arm looks like a bimini clamp.
https://www.amazon.com/INDUSTRIAL-S...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=T3Y73K30ND3JGTK5JAFT

But my wheel isn't perfectly round like a rail....is the clamp shaped like the wheel profile or is there leather or rubber taking up the space?
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,126
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
The clamp looks like it would fit oval or round. It comes with one rubber insert but was still too big for my wheel. I had to add another rubber spacer to make it tight.
The one in that link looks close. The steering stick clamp doesn't have the machine screw and the pin is the type with a ball bearing near the end and pressing a button on the end releases it.
 

Ward H

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Nov 7, 2011
3,126
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
Update,
Was at the boat today, the clamp in the link looks exactly like the one that came with my Forespar Steering Stick. The pin is different but the clamp is the same.
The rim of my wheel is oval but too small for the clamp as I said. I used a rubber bushing to make it fit.
 

kbgunn

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Sep 19, 2017
147
2006 Hunter 38 4410 Lake Lewisville, TX
Thanks for the update Ward. I think I will try to rig up a temporary solution using a bimini clamp, just to see if it can be a useful solution for me before I go off and invest in the professional version at $130. I appreciate your experience and willingness to share.

The bimini clamp, a boathook and some cordage ought to make a decent enough jury rig.