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oceanmaui 10-13-2004 10:25 AM

I''m sure it depends on your skill level, but i was wondering if it was possible to single-hand a pilothouse boat.

With a crew of 2?

Are there any advantages of a pilothouse over a cockpit (besides, i guess, shelter during a storm)?


jbanta 10-13-2004 10:53 AM

I have never sailed a pilot house equiped boat. Is it that much differnt than any other boat? I would think if you have some mythod of self steering (say an autohelm) that you could leave the wheel long enough to handle other important issues with halyards, sheets, or any other lines that need attention. I have a BIG problem with boaters that see a pilot system as a first mate that they can leave incharge of a boat without a lookout. That a differnt question though.. Sheltere is the only reason I can think of that makes a boater want a pilothouse. Storm or sun having shelter can be nice... As for me anything more than a dodger make a boat.... well kinda ugly.. Sorry

HRomberg 10-23-2004 10:41 PM

No reason you can''t single hand a boat just because it has an extra helm station below. You''d have to go topside to handle sails of course, but it''s not that different from running any other boat. What tasks concern you specifically about short-handing a PH boat? I''m planning to buy one in a few months, and I''d be interested to know if you had any specific difficulties with them.

oceanmaui 10-25-2004 07:23 AM

I''m new to the sailing world. My wife and i are just starting to look into the idea of cruising, so we''re just trying to get a feel for everything we can.

I kind of like the pilothouse style, but for no real particular reason.

So i was just wondering if anyone had any opinions on Pilothouse vs Cockpit type boats.

And especially since it will be just my wife and i sailing, i was wondering if having a pilothouse with just 2 people was a good/safe idea.

TrueBlue 10-25-2004 10:19 AM


As covered by the previous replies to your leading post in this thread . . . there are little differences aside from the added comfort and protection provided by the pilothouse. I am not too familiar with ALL the pilothouse choices out there, only with the one my wife and I recently bought . . . a Nauticat 33 motorsailor. We absolutely love the boat''s build quality, interior liveability and outstanding teak joinery. The standing and running rigging is also of a high quality. The interior space actually seems bigger than most 40 footers I''ve been on.

Irregardless of what some sailors think about the appearance of a pilothouse, I really do like the traditional lines of Nauticats (did someone actually say pilothouses were "ugly" in a prior reply?). There is a lot to be said about not having to deal with dodger canvas and issen glass.

With a 90 hp diesel, I can motor upwind, in no wind, or against currents at 8-9 knots. However, it is still a sailboat, although comparatively not the fastest ketch, she sails pretty darn well for her size.

If you are interested in pilothouses and in terms of basic differences between boats with cockpits . . . it is important, in my mind, to have an aft station for nice weather sailing or motoring. When things get snotty, go inside. Sliding teak pilothouse doors on both starboard & port sides make deck access easy. A large sliding moonroof makes checking sail trim convenient. The aft deck helm is also the preferred station when sailing in tight quarters. Therefore, we have versatility with both a cockpit and a pilothouse.

My wife is a total sailing novice, but with autopilot (we have a handheld remote), I can singlehand the boat even when tacking, or trimming the sails. Eventually, my first mate will be more confident to take the wheel, usually the arrangement most couples in our situation lead to.

The bottom line is what feels right to you and the type of sailng you prefer and expect from your vessel. Motorsailors & pilothouse sailboats are not designed to be fast race boats, but are extremely comfortable and versatile cruisers. JMO


oceanmaui 11-04-2004 12:40 PM

Thanks Steve.

I think that''s what we''re looking for, something nice and comfortable...a good cruiser. Not interested in racing.

A side question i guess...are "pilothouse sailboats" different than a "motorsailor"?

I''ve seen listings for both titles, but not sure if that''s just symantics, or if there is a real difference between the two.

TrueBlue 11-04-2004 01:25 PM

Perhaps other, more experienced sailors than I, could add a more definitive response to your question, but to my current knowledge, there is little difference between a description of a motorsailor and a pilothouse sailboat.

A similar analogy may possibly be made with: powerboat vs. motor-cruiser . . . depends upon which side of the pond you reside, I suppose.

Every boater has different criteria in developing a program of requirements; with a positive attitude, no one''s choice is a wrong one . . . simply the fit that works for your enjoyment.

In my world, boats are intended to be recreational, a means of escape from our regular land-based existence. What makes boating stressful (sail or power), is the constant interference of people making (sometimes unexperienced) adverse opinions of what we should be buying, or what we should have done, more often than not, after we have made our very expensive boat purchase.

Best of luck in your search for the ideal vessel. Keep an open mind and a steady course.


Jeff_H 11-04-2004 03:57 PM

With all due respect, there are big differences in the definition of a ''motorsailor'' and a sailboat with a pilothouse. The term motorsailor refers to the hull shape and powering of the boat. Motorsailors generally have hulls that are fuller aft to prevent squating under power and have proportionately higher horsepower engines and larger propellors than might be found on an auxilliary powered sailboat. There is absolutely no requirement that a motorsailor have a pilot house. (Look at the S&S designed Chris Craft 35 motorsailors of the 1960''s) Motorsailors generally trade off sailing ability for better motoring ability.

In contast, sailboat with a pilothouse may be configured to primarily be a sailboat and may not even have an engine as was the case with some of the early 20th century sailing work boats or may be auxillary sailboats which are primarily designed as sailboats but have engines as back-ups.

With regards to the original question, I find pilothouse boats harder to single-hand. It is much harder to see from the aft cockpit and so you end up having to keep moving around to check for traffic. It is harder to route control lines past the cabin so you end up moving around the boat much more. The Pilothouse impacts the wind that you feel in the cockpit so it is harder to feel if you are on course. You can''t see the jib from the windward side of the boat because the pilothouse is in the way making upwind sailing much harder. On some pilothouse boats you can sit on the leeward and see the jib but even then on many traditional pilot house boats you can''t see the jib from the helm at all. It is very hard to steer undersail from the pilothouse because all of your usual clues to wind direction and sail trim are obscured.


TrueBlue 11-05-2004 01:57 AM

Thank you for your knowlegable clarification to my reply Jeff_H . . . I stand corrected on the difference between pilothouse sailboats and motorsailors.

I do agree with your assessments of motorsailors. However, I feel the need to amend your observation that forward visibility of pilothouse sailboats is obscured from the aft helm by the pilothouse. This may be true with most pilothouse boats, where the aft deck helm is level (or below) the foredeck level. My pilothouse sailing experience is mostly limited to my Nauticat 33, with a poop deck raised such that it affords excellent forward visibility with a good view of all sails.

I also have good control of the headsail, with sheets directed aft by lead blocks to two winches mounted upon the pilothouse roof . . . inches from the helm. Going forward is necessary though, to work the main and staysail. I am still on the uphill side of the learning curve . . . but do immensely enjoy the boat.

One downside to this raised deck arrangement, is the position of the mizzen mast over the pilothouse roof. The resulting boom''s position causes the mizzen sail to obscure some lee side visibility unless one crouchs down . . . not terrribly inconvenient, but the boom creates a potential hazard in an uncontroled gibe or when coming about.


Jeff_H 11-05-2004 02:51 AM

Thank you for pointing out that there are some ''work-arounds'' for the visibility issue such as a raised after deck/cockpit area. This of course comes at the price of an increase in motion for the helmsman and a higher weight in the ends of the boat increasing pitching resulting in a decreased motion comfort,and higher weight and windage above the waterline reducing stability.


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