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Gusto steering refit

Edwin Joy

The 44′ French & Webb built sloop Gusto was originally steered with a tiller. Her new owner felt that a wheel would make her easier to handle while powering in reverse and would also make moving about in the cockpit easier.

We decided to take advantage of an existing autopilot tiller arm that passed from the outboard rudder through the transom and into the lazarette. An Edson rack and pinion steerer was attached to the arm and an elegant box was built on the aft deck to house the mechanism.

The owner is delighted with the outcome. The wheel is placed so as to minimally intrude into the cockpit area. It is easily reached from the comfy helm seat (for maximum visibility) or from the cockpit (for maximum shelter from the elements.) There is excellent feel to the helm and steering is effortless in all conditions due to the fully balanced rudder.

 The wheel barely pokes into the cockpit. It can be easily reached from the comfy helm seat or hunkered down on the cockpit bench.

The wheel barely pokes into the cockpit. It can be easily reached from the comfy helm seat or hunkered down on the cockpit bench.

 An elegant box hides the steering mechanism and provides a base for the throttle and VHF handset. The wheel hub can decouple the wheel from the shaft so it doesn’t spin when the autopilot is steering the boat.

An elegant box hides the steering mechanism and provides a base for the throttle and VHF handset. The wheel hub can decouple the wheel from the shaft so it doesn’t spin when the autopilot is steering the boat.