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kwaltersmi 11-10-2006 09:12 AM

Pilothouse designs
I'm in the midst of my weekly "search" for a cruising vessel. I've been coming acrossed a lot of pilothouse designs. I've never sailed on a pilothouse boat, but I'm intrigued.

Can anyone help me out with pros and cons for cruising (bluewater, island hopping, etc.) with a pilothouse design?

Here's what I've got so far:

Pros: More cabin space, well-lighted cabin space, dry shelter for wet passages, added secuity (?), anything else?

Cons: More weight (?), less forward visibility, anything else?

camaraderie 11-10-2006 09:34 AM

Hot in breeze in cockpit. Winch positions & sail control generally a bit compromised. Generally less sailing performance due to changed sail plan. Windage at anchor and in storms. Increased rocking in wakes/cross-swells.
There is nothing wrong with a pilot house but as with any design, there are pros and cons. The big plus of course is shelter from the weather and cold and this is why you see more up north and far fewer in the tropics.

TrueBlue 11-10-2006 09:35 AM

This page identifies one yacht-builder's philosophy of their pilothouse concept:

On our boat, forward visibility is excellent, due to the full height aft cabin which raises the sight lines from the aft deck helm above the pilothouse roof. The negative effect of this however, is an increase in moment since we are higher off the water line when sailing from the aft helm.

kwaltersmi 11-10-2006 09:44 AM

It seems that some pilothouse designs offer dual steering in the pilothouse and one in an open cockpit area behind the pilot house.

Here's an example of one that I really like:

TrueBlue 11-10-2006 10:00 AM

Nice boat, but compare the forward visibilty from the aft helm of that selection with the helm of a NC33:

Faster 11-10-2006 10:03 AM

Pilothouse designs make the most sense in coastal cruisers when extended off-season sailing is planned, and so can be desirable in our area (PNW) for those that like to use the boat year round.

There is a huge variety of designs, some leaning towards function and others trying a little harder to maintain attractive lines. Most pilothouse designs that have good visibility from the inside steering stn (why have a pilothouse without one?) will tend to have large windows, a liability at least and a possible bluewater hazard in severe seas.

Windage is, of course, increased as well, but the biggest negative for most of these designs is extremely compromised visibility from the aft cockpit (with the exception of the Nauticats)

Pilothouse designs tend to look "chunky" until you get to and above the 50foot overall range. Two exceptions to this are Garden designed Gulf 29 and 32, which have relatively low pilothouses, but inside visibility is not great. Of the PNW built options in the 40 foot range, the Cooper 416 and the Sceptre 41/43 each take a different approach, with the Sceptre the sleeker of the two.

P/H designs don't make much sense for the tropics, IMO.

TrueBlue 11-10-2006 10:05 AM

Additionally, the pilothouse helm has full visibility as well, plus a large operable hatch and large port/starboard sliding doors. Great ventilation and safe access when on either tack.

christyleigh 11-10-2006 10:24 AM

Since your first word after cruising is Bluewater in your criteria I would have to direct you to Nauticat's other line of Pilothouses. True Blue and Christy Leigh are in Nauticat's 'Traditional Motorsailor' line and only receive a 'B' rating because of the sliding pilothouse door amidships - even though they are more beefy than many 'A' rated boats. Their 'Pilothouse Sailing Yacht' line however is 'A' Ocean rated resembles the one sited with the significant advantage of visibility Over and Around the pilothouse for the reasons TB mentioned.

sailortjk1 11-10-2006 10:38 AM

O.k., maybe I am way off in the deep end, please correct me if I am wrong.

In my boat searching and researching, what I have seen of Pilot House boats: I will agree that the inside stearing station does have its appeal, But what I did not find appealing is that the size of the main salon is compromised.

On our aft cockpit boat, you decend down into an open salon with plenty of room for people to dine, cook watch tv and to be in generally comfortable environment.

What I have found with a PH boat is that you move from the cockpit into the pilot house which is usually only big enough for the helm, a dinette, and chart table. Than you decend into the salon which has to be reduced in size comparably because of the fact that the vessel has a pilot house.

Are not the salons on PH boats smaller because of the house?

sailingdog 11-10-2006 10:54 AM

I guess it depends on the design of the boat. IIRC, at least on the Nauticats, the pilothouse doesn't have a dinette table..the salon below does.. Might want to look at this webpage, which is for the smallest of the Pilothouse Sailboat Nauticats, the 321. It gives a 3-D view of the salon. You do need QuickTime installed IIRC for it to work properly though. The salon is a couple of steps down from the pilothouse. The aft cabin is a bit lower still. You also have to step down to get to the galley, head and forward cabin/v-berth.

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