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kldzx9r 09-26-2007 02:50 AM

What do you think about a pilothouse sailboat
I thought of putting this question in another forum but I am looking for a boat to buy and this question relates to boat selection and purchase.

I am not experienced with sailboats much and looking for a bluewater boat to buy for extended trips maybe including crossing an ocean. I looked at some ads for pilothouse boats and they seem wonderful with navigation both on top and inside the boat to navigate while in bad weather conditions. I am guessing a pilothouse boat is a bit heavier and also maybe top heavy but they seem like a top choice. I think it is a wonderful feeling of the wind and spray of the sea in your face but for hours at a time wouldn't you prefer a pilothouse boat? Since pilothouse boats are not as common there must be a reason they are not desired as much but can you experienced sailors tell me what you think about a pilothouse boat instead of the others?

Idiens 09-26-2007 03:36 AM

Since I have a pilot house (Coronet Elvstrom 38) I am biased. I sail in a T-shirt when others around me are braving the wind, rain and waves of the North Sea all wrapped up in their warmest all weather clothing and huddling under an inadequate dodger. And when it gets really hot, you need a bimini, which I have as standard by removing the pilot house sides and back.
But generally, such craft are not built to race. On a boat my size, it might carry 6 or 8 crew to race, but I only have room for four in the pilot house and the side decks are not designed to be sat on. Racing boats need lots of space to let a large crew move about fast. The pilot house does add windage, which equals drag, which equals not so fast up wind.
The "mass produced" boats are designed to meet both racing and charter cruising requirements. I guess they make up the majority of the buyers who buy brand new, as the racers want the latest and fastest and the charter companies like to offer new boats for hire. There were a lot more pilot house models built before 1975, but that market slump bust a lot of builders. Since then, the remaining companies have largely focused on their main chance. However, Nauticat survived, as did Fisher for a while. Others try now and again but generally have low sales numbers.
For those who want not to race, or just charter for a couple of weeks, and want to live-aboard and travel slow but far, the newest is not so important as the functionality. So they hunt for a suitable boat and/or spend a lot on converting it to purpose. Some even add pilot houses.
My 2 cents.

kwaltersmi 09-26-2007 07:44 AM

Check the following thread for some good pilothouse discussion:

I'm sure TrueBlue will weigh in soon. He also sails a pilothouse.

sailingdog 09-26-2007 08:26 AM

You should be hearing from ChristyLeigh and Valiente too... both of them have pilothouse boats as well as TrueBlue.

jrd22 09-26-2007 10:10 AM

I think it all depends on where you sail. Northern, colder climates are ideal for a pilothouse, hot humid areas maybe not, although I think we get better ventilation through our opening pilothouse windows than a standard sailboat does. I've had a pilothouse for 16 years and wouldn't think of owning anything else, in fact I am looking for another one(larger). But I am in Washington State and sail year round here and in British Columbia where the water is cold and we get a lot of clouds and rain. I would recommend that you get some experience with both types of boats before buying one as there are other issues such as visibility from the cockpit forward and interior layout that you need to be aware of. Also, some pilothouse models are not designed for offshore use so you need to decide if that is something you are really going to do. I'd be happy to answer other questions.

SimonV 09-26-2007 10:24 AM

I dont think TB's is a pilothouse, more like a shed. :D

Faster 09-26-2007 10:26 AM

Pilot houses make good sense generally in areas where the boat is to be used a lot in "off season" conditions. We don't have one but we do have a dodger and I'm not shy about hiding behind the dodger and letting Otto drive on the nasty days if the conditions permit.

There are downsides to pilothouse boats, of course, otherwise as you say everyone would have one. Sightlines from the cockpit (and/or below) can be dismal making it difficult to avoid floating debris and steer around waves. Some pilothouses' large windows are not "offshore" ready without substantial storm covers. Under 45 or so feet it's difficult to design a pilothouse boat that is pleasing to the eye .. (jrd22,s NorthSea 34 is one of the better ones) Windage is up, weight is up etc etc.

Finally some of us just want to "feel the breeze".

But there's no denying I've been envious of a pilothouse sailing along with the crew below on those wet, cold fall/winter/early spring days.

TSteele65 09-26-2007 10:28 AM

From a purely utilitarian standpoint, you can't beat a PH for comfortable all-weather cruising. The PH gives you extra living room and weather protection.

I just can't get past the look of some of them, though; certain models look like trawlers with masts. Just my $.02.

christyleigh 09-26-2007 10:33 AM


Originally Posted by kwaltersmi (Post 198171)
Check the following thread for some good pilothouse discussion:

I think that previous thread covers anything I would re-type ;)

TrueBlue 09-26-2007 10:42 AM

That's exactly right TS, the shorter NC33 and NC331 does look boxy and somewhat elevated, compared to typical sailboats. Even the larger "traditionally" styled pilothouse models by Nauticat still have a trawler look.

When I first started to notice Nauticats, decades ago, to my design sensibilities the effect was distinctively Scandinavian, but unlike anything else I've ever seen.

There was one at my marina during the late 90's that was priced way above my highest expectations. But I found the boat to be very intriguing and dreamed of someday owning one. It's clearly a design that will not appeal to everyone.

Some of the newer Nauticat pilothouse models though, have low, sleek lines - but prepare to spend a huge amount of cash for them.

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