I have had the wheel mounted AP on the boat since 2006, didn’t realize it was so old till I needed a template to remount the indicator. It was the only model choice when bought. I don’t find the wheel ever hinders my fingers on the wheel. I know some have put spacers between the wheel and the AP to give more room. Just never have needed it.
When set up for sailing I find the AP does a much better job of holding course then I will.
Not sure what the settings are for sensitivity, but other then at low speeds the boat wants to wander back and forth. I have tried a little centerboard, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Really I only use it when I need to go below, set the main when alone, or if sailing slowly so I can read and sail.
Using the lock mechanism seems to work just fine for short times, say a minute to three minutes, it all depends on winds, waves, and currents. Seems like a lot of money but in the long run, it gives you piece of mind. I wish mine was hooked up to the chart plotter, however, its been fine the way it is now. The next owner can do that.
I use the auto tack most times. I have it set for about 120 degrees, have fine tuned it in a long time. But it gets you around and then I can pinch up more if I need to.
The chartplotter and AP have been the two best investments. We have the full cockpit enclosure, but have really only used it once. Last year at Port Ludlow, it rained continually all day long.