The steering wheel of a boat lets the captain or helmsman change the direction of the vessel by connecting to the rudder. Some modern ships don’t actually have a wheel, instead having a toggle that uses remote control to change the rudder direction. But what is the steering wheel on a boat called?

The steering wheel on a boat is called the ship’s wheel or boat’s wheel. It is part of the steering mechanics that make up the helm and will change the direction of the rudder in the water in order to alter the vessel’s path in the water. In modern times, it is most commonly referred to as the helm, rather than steering wheel. 

Most boaters call the steering wheel the helm

In modern day maritime use, it’s very rare to hear someone actually call it a steering wheel, boat wheel, or ship wheel. Most boaters will refer to it simply as the helm. This refers to the wheel, tiller, toggle, or any other part of the console that lets you steer the boat.

Many people will visualize a boat’s steering wheel as the classic shape and design you might see on pirate boats from children’s books and toys. You can see a photo of one of those below if you don’t know what I mean.