Does Controlling The Tiller Requires Constant Strength?
I have a 23' 1981 Irwin sailboat. Whether under power or undersail takes a lot of strength to control the steering.
I am a fairly young 31 year old male, and am in fairly good condition.
This is my first sailboat so I have no other personal experience to compare, but everyone kinda looks at me crazy when I tell them my boat is hard to control. It has almost thrown me off the deck, and my wife just can't do it at all.
Please help if you can. Oh, I did check to see if the rudder was bent and it seems straight by feel.
The sailboat you describe is quite large and so it probably will be difficult to use a tiller. Also when steering you must also remember to change the main sails position to the wind, which I believe may be your problem.
When you do not change the mainsail (which actually must be done before any movement of the rudder), the boat stops heeling and gets flatter as the wind is no longer pushing against it as much.
So if you want to go downwind, you must loosen the mainsheet first before changing course as the rudder will act as a large anchor and it will be near impossible to move as the heeling action of the boat will cause the rudder to go through the water at an angle.
Going upwind should be easier, but you should still pull in the main.
Also since it is an old boat, I would recommend getting it checked out or asking someone you know who sails to try it and comment on the steering.
Hope this helps. Best regards,