Cruiser/Lats and Atts TV
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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My favorite topic! Pilothouse sailboats. Of course, living in the San Juan Islands/Pacific NW makes a PH a great choice for year round sailing. Plus, when properly designed, I just like the way they look. By that I mean the designer or architect started out designing a PH, not where the builder just added the PH to an existing model (I've seen some pretty unattractive examples of the latter).
William Garden has stated one of his favorite designs of all time was the "little Gulf 32". As a Capital Yachts product, I think it would need to be beefed up for true bluewater cruising, but many have done so without major modifications. IMHO, some other nice PH models with an inside helm (and these are SAILBOATS, not motorsailers, though living here I would love a Nauticat 32) are the Endurance 35 and 44; Sceptre 43; Hans Christian 39 PH; Corbin 39; Spindrift 43; Cooper 353 and 416; Tayana 37 PH; CT 41 PH; Rawson 30 PH (another Garden design); CSY 44 PH; Hardin 45; Newporter 41 (a wooden boat); Cascade 42 PH; and any number of custom Brewer, Benford, Buehler, Perry, and Garden designs. In fact, my last boat was a custom Garden Gulf 40 - flush deck with a low profile PH. Awesome boat! Visibilty from the aft cockpit was no problem whatsoever. Again, if the design is properly executed, visibility is not an issue.
If you are into motorsailers, the Nauticats are great, and I really love the look of the Fishers. Island Trader and Islander made some very roomy models great for living aboard, but not for sailing performance. The Columbia 41 and 45 are pretty roomy and supposedly sail decently. And Island Packet has just introduced their newest model, the SP Cruiser.
A lot of people say the big windows on a PH are a problem. Storm plexiglass added to the outside helps. But then I met a couple in Tonga who sailed their Cooper 416 there with no problems, and Bob Bitchin sailed his Formosa 56 PH 50,000 miles back and forth across two oceans with no issues. Plus he owned two Formosa 51s and never had a problem with PH windows. My boat had been from Seattle to Alaska and back with rough conditions on the outside (not the Inside Passage), and the windows were never a worry.
I also know someone who was on a nasty Gulf Stream crossing on a Valiant 40 - a boat most everyone would agree is a safe, strong bluewater cruiser - and one of the cabin trunk portlights was caved in by a wave. Go figure, eh?
If you are a prudent mariner, I think a well designed and executed PH can make a perfectly fine bluewater passagemaker. I plan on cruising someday in one.
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"Always approach the dock at the speed you wish to hit it."
1978 North Sea 33 Pilothouse Cutter (Ta Chiao)
Last edited by Moonfish; 11-10-2006 at 01:18 PM.