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Catamaran Steering

Catamaran or sailboat steering systems, have you ever tried to locate information?

This steering system did not form part of our design plans and much effort was put into its design for obvious reasons.

We have gone into much more detail on this, our reasons and their associated drawings in our Building Adventure Book, from the sizing of the steering cog, to the linking of the cables.

Attached are the end products of our steering drawings, from the 'helm wheel' through to the 'rudder arm'. The whole system will be connected with cable and tensioned with turn-buckles. Very simple, no hydraulic fluids, leaks or pumps needed.

The 'sheave boxes' are common products that have been installed with the thought of replacement, in the back of our minds.

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Therefore their positioning and securing is all accessible once the yacht is finished. The cables exit from the aft frame and are secured to the 'rudder pole'. The 'rudder pole' extends the full length of the aft beam and is in turn connected to each rudder arm (the components atop the actual rudder pole and rudders).

The 'rudder pole' is covered to protect it from the elements, water ingress and little boys who think they are Tarzan.

A hatch has been cut to provide full access to the aft steering sheaves and connection points on the rudder pole.

 

Cockpit design and fitout

Given that much time would be spent here, it was decided to make it extremely functional with as much floor space as possible. After jotting down the requirements from a ‘practical non-nautical point of view’ and ‘minimum nautical requirement point-of-view’, we came up with a 'windows wish list'.

While these may appear to be common sense items as you read, its another story plotting them out, remembering that the complexity of the idea/build directly influences the cost.

Items here included, a large access door, the largest possible windows, the ability for maximum opening of doors and windows, steering station to starboard, a steering station seat. Other requirements included, comfortable cockpit seats, easily accessible sailing instrument panel (that could be viewed from the aft area of each hull without duplicating instruments), simple and easy autopilot control, simple access area to the engines and refueling and lastly a large table that could be used for storage and a seat.

 

The cockpit entry has also been made to provide easy access with large steps into the cockpit. We have also chosen an internal opening bi-fold door. This door can be opened by half or completely if maximum airflow is needed. The door then backs onto the map table, out of the way of all walkway areas and very eye-pleasing when in the cockpit area.

Two cockpit windows face forward, the whole starboard window can be quickly removed internally providing full airflow when required for those hot days. The side turret windows are all fixed. The port window is sliding with good all-weather seals and a reasonably large drainage gutter at the base.

 

So where do you start?

Another Tip

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The Gas system is also external with the unit under the helm seat. These should be installed by a professional at this early stage of the build.

It just happens that they run in the same space as our cables. All the round holes here are for gas and steering access.

Choose your gas hot water heater carefuly, some claim good heating but at the same time 70% of their heat-energy is vented overboard wasting this precious gas resource, more importantly, your money.

Helm area, space for batteries

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All timber in the cockpit were resined both sides. Additionally, glass was applied to waist height within the cockpit for extra durability from the elements. This area is 'hose-friendly', that is it can easily be washed with a hose, no need for any gentle 'touchy-feely' stuff out here.

Cable sheaves & Gas

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Food for thought

  • State Gas regulations may require external gas piping and this needs to be planned now.
  • What size helm wheel do you want? You will need the wheel to mark its position so that it does not encroach on other lockers, such as the engine locker (which size can't be changed).