Steering Apparatus, the appliances by which vessels are guided through the water. The earliest method was by a long oar passed out of the stern. An oar is a very efficient means of steering boats, and is still employed on whale boats, rafts, etc. The rudder governs a ship's motion by being turned so that its plane is in a position oblique to the plane of the masts and keel, and the reaction of the water against it causes the ship to turn. The head of the rudder, projecting above the deck, is furnished with a horizontal handle or lever called the tiller, by which the rudder is turned. The term helm is often applied to this, as also to the rudder and tiller together. To keep the rudder in the desired position against the force of the waves, on small vessels a rope is made fast on the weather side by one end, while the other is held with a turn around the tiller. A block and tackle are required for larger vessels, replaced upon still larger ones by "the wheel." This is a wheel and axle set upon the tiller, the rope of Which, making several turns round the axle, is carried toward each side of the ship, so that the turning of the axle draws the tiller toward that side the rope of which is being wound up. The handles for working the wheel appear as spokes extending beyond the periphery.

On river steamers, to enable the steersman (in this case called a pilot) to guide the vessel from his own observation, the wheel is placed within a structure called the pilot house on the upper deck at the forward end, and connected with the rudder. For this purpose ropes were formerly used, but serious disasters having occurred from their being burned in case of fire, it is now a law in the United States that chains or iron rods shall be used. By the use of two screw propellers, one each side the rudder, it was found by Mr. Edwin A. Stevens of Hobo-ken, N. J., that when these are worked in opposite directions the vessel may be turned on its centre as a pivot; he adopted this plan for the " Stevens battery".