Control Stick anbody?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Owly, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. Owly
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Owly Senior Member

    My interest is in catamarans for a number of reasons, probably the most important being a bridge deck cabin. It means that as a solo sailor, I can retreat into a warm safe space with full view (hopefully), on a level with the cockpit. I can relax, nap or sleep there (in a sort of recliner). High performance has never been a priority.....I seem to be deaf to all the claimed benefits. I like being at sea... why rush from one tiki bar to the next? Solitude in the natural world to me is joy.... it always has been. Others crave company and social life, and are energized by it.... I find it draining. I used to think there was something wrong with me.
    Wind vane steering typically uses a water paddle or a trim tab to magnify the forces of the vane.
    Aircraft also use trim tabs and servo tabs similarly. It strikes me that a simple control stick using aircraft type control cables could be a very simple control system for in the cabin when necessary... Just a single stick, perhaps short throw, or longer throw.. whatever is comfortable. I've used a lot of backhoes and excavators... the typical side stick used on a large excavator is very nice to use, but on the other hand I like the long sticks use on John Deere backhoes that put the pivot point down at the floor. I've flown aircraft with wheels, and center or side sticks... they all work well. It is of course only reasonable that a tiller pilot would work using the same system, greatly reducing load.
    I've watched most of Roger Taylor's videos on Ming Ming II and his high arctic adventures. Ming Ming II has a little addition to the top of the cabin with windows all around, and a swing seat in the companionway, so he can stay safe and warm. At one point he installed a whipstaff control inside... Less than an unqualified success. Ironically he has a wind vane steering system, and it struck me that rather than tying directly into the tiller, it would have made more sense to tie into the wind vane steering in place of the windvane.

    I haven't seen any examples of this being done, but it seems logical to me........ Any thoughts?

  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    In a boat, the stick is called a tiller. They work fine.
  3. The Q
    Joined: Feb 2014
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    The Q Senior Member

    I don't trust anything electronic, or that gets between me and control. Whilest I've used a joystick on an electric motorboat for the disabled on inland waters, wouldn't like it out at sea...
    I'd want a permanently rigged tiller or wheel instantly available..
  4. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Plenty of boats have inside steering stations, catamarans included. On sailboats they are usually of the wheel type, for reasons of mechanical advantage.
    Whipstaffs are seldom used, normally only on small boats using rigid linkage. It's also used on some type of proas.
    The reason you don't see the steering tied to the windwane is because of response time and fine control, since these are influenced by the speed of water over the tab. It is sometimes done with tiller pilots in order to steer heavier boats than the pilot would be able to steer by itself. The usual arrangement is to have two controls, the remote steering acts on the rudder, and the windwane has its own remote adjusting, normally a pair of cables. Slow speed maneuvering is almost impossible if you tie the steering station to the windvane.

    One thing to keep in mind is that it's not a requirement to mount a wheel awarthships, or have a really big one, you can have a small wheel mounted sideways if you like, or indeed a whipstaff. It's just a matter of getting enough leverage and positive control over the rudder.
  5. Owly
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Owly Senior Member

    The problem with the typical tiller is the amount of space it takes up in the cockpit. They req
    Good point about water speed......... Huge wheels are "in" but with a well balanced rudder, forces needed for steering are small, which would make a conveniently small wheel inside the cabin a reasonable option..... Most people who are voyaging rather than day sailing will almost never be hand steering anyway, and if they are it's because they are entering a port or steering through obstacles, or making a tack, in which case they will be adjusting sheets, etc. In many situations involving hand steering they will likely be motoring. In this day of wind vane steering and tiller pilots, the helmsman is pretty much of an anachronism. Blondie Hassler and Jester paved the way in the 1960 Ostar sailing the Atlantic single handed in bedroom slippers with the first wind vane steering system, rarely ever touching the tiller.... Jester didn't even have a cockpit [​IMG]
  6. Barry
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Barry Senior Member

    A couple of paths to consider

    Trollmaster builds remote controlled, fob type, steering for trolling outboard motors ( there are other manufacturers of this type of mechanism)

    We had 2 boats with Garmin autopilots, one with a rudder and the other turning twin 300 hp Yamahas. These had a blue tooth option, ie you could control it with a smart phone from anywhere

    Alternately, build your own. Start with a hydraulic helm, put a small wheel on it, and mount it inside your cabin, run some 1/4 inch hydraulic tubing to a ram mounted on the tiller handle. The tubing will make the installation easy to run. There are different helms available, that give a different cubic inch displacement per turn to accommodate different feed back forces from the tiller arm.
    Of course you will need to improvise a quick disconnect so that when you want rear tiller control, you can disconnect the hydraulic ram.
  7. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    Ha ha ha. A friend of mine who races catamarans just texted about the 45' cat he's ordering for his retirement. I told him I was more the traditional mono hull type and he laughed texting, "I guess I could wait for you everywhere we go."
    I texted back, "you could think of it that way or you could be jealous that I will get a lot more hours of sailing than you."
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
    Lloyd Too likes this.

  8. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Rumars Senior Member

    And that my friend is exactly why most people don't bother with an inside steering station on sailboats. An electronic autopilot with remote control takes care of all the times when a windvane has problems steering, and that's all you need.
    Now if you want an inside cockpit, where you can safely trim the sails from without getting wet, that's also possible, even with high end rigs.
    Will Gilmore likes this.
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