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  #1  
Old 09-02-2010
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Is "inside steering" really an advantage?

Okay, so I’m a (VERY) novice sailor (so be gentle), and don’t have a grasp on the sailing processes. I’m wondering what advantage does the ‘’inside steering” in a pilothouse type sailboat have over a “conventional” sailboat really? I live in the North West, I so am interested in these “pilothouse” type boats, but thinking about it, yes, the inside steering would be neat to keep me out of the rain, but as soon as I make a course change, wouldn’t I need to go out in the rain anyway to adjust sails?? This doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage at all! Unless of course you are tooling along under power, but that kindda defeats the purpose of a SAILboat doesn’t it…… can ya’all shed a little light?

Thanks for the time
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Old 09-02-2010
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I really Like the looks of PH boats and the additional "living space" they offer. but they really aren't practical my this area. Most seem like the best thing to have in colder areas. Your area would seem very well suited to PH types.

As you spend time around sailboats you will start to understand the "scary" mess of lines that seem to be all over the boat. Also, you will start to understand that it's not that confusing either! Not that I've seen PH boats up close and personal but many lines and controls can be routed to the cockpit to allow the crew and or helms person do the adjusting without going outside, which is a good idea pilot house or not!

The term is called "Single handing"

Also depending on where you sail determines how often your adjusting sails. On large open water trips it's can often be like "set and forget" with just an eye on things, the smaller the body of water and like in my case river sailing. I'm lucky to get 5 mins without changing things of tacking.

Hope this helps! Harken Yacht Equipment Catalog OnLine - Reference

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Old 09-02-2010
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I live in NW Highlands of Scotland so often raining or early in the season snowing-as you can see from pic of my boat I have a semi enclosed pilot house.Hard top windows and sides;lift out roof panel but open to rear but can be enclosed with zip in screens.
Its great-I have to get out to raise the mainsail but everything else is done from from pilot house.When moored up or out of water on hard in winter its like having a greenhouse on the boat-even in sub zero temps it gets really hot if sun is out.
I have in the past done it the other way-in the cockpit with ski goggles on and full waterproofs!
Totally love it.
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Old 09-02-2010
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Don't know about shedding any light, maybe some gray. We have had pilot house sailboats for about 20 years here in the PNW. We use our boat year round although our "long" (6-8 weeks) cruise is during the summer. We enjoy the ability to be inside during bad weather while motoring as opposed to either being out in the cockpit, alone, or building a complete tent over it to escape the elements. The sad fact is that we do a lot of motoring here in the PNW. We have strong currents, large tidal changes, narrow straits and channels, flukey winds during the summer and most people have a destination in mind when they set out for the day which requires a certain distance to be travelled to the next anchorage during the daylight hours. For example: the trip we just returned from covered about 1000NM and we motored for app. 140 hours (6 knots, you can do the math). We did have some great sails across Georgia St. and Queen Charlotte St., up Toba Inlet, down Bute Inlet, and many others, but the majority of our miles were under diesel power. We never sail from inside. The majority of our weather this summer was great, but in the Broughtons we had rain, mist, fog, and chilly temps much like we have for 7-8 months of the year. I prefer to motor in these conditions from inside where all the instruments are clear and I don't have to wear foulies. This doesn't mean that we don't sail in these conditions, only that when we can't sail that we are more comfortable. Our trip across Queen Ch. St. started in thick fog, but a nice wind on the beam, so we sailed. I raise sail anytime it's possible to sail, except through rapids or when the conditions are too severe (cold, rain, snow, wind over 35 knots, etc).
Pilot house sailboats are not for everyone, you lose living space inside due to the width restriction from the sidedecks and some don't like the looks and there is more windage (they are also generally more expensive and harder to find), but we wouldn't consider anything else in this area and climate.
Hope that answers some of your questions.
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Old 09-02-2010
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A pilothouse design allows you to spend a good portion of your time at the helm in relatively protected comfort. When you're not coastal sailing, on an open ocean passage, you may be on a single heading and tack for a very long time with little change in the wind direction, so having a pilothouse makes it a lot more comfortable in bad weather.

If you're lake sailing or coastal cruising, it makes far less of a difference.
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Old 09-03-2010
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I do my SAILING on weekends on the bay from the cockpit. Our "Vacation Cruises" are a whole different ball game. Point A to point B...... if I can sail ..... Great..... but usually Motor-Sailing is what I do. I don't like steering from the pilothouse - too confining - but just a couple weeks ago on my way to Greenport L.I. I was soooo..... glad I had the option. After the squall hit and the sails were down and we were getting to the area where more serious navigation was needed - Pouring Rain and 50' visibility Fog. Into the pilothouse with the Radar, Chartplotter, and Windshield Wipers. As the credit card ad says...... Priceless
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Old 09-03-2010
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I've always considered a dodger a must on any cruising sailboat. It provides protection from spray, wind, and allows better ventilation. I've used fabric ones but many long distance cruisers have waxed poetically about hard bimini's. I'd prefer a hard dodger over a pilothouse though.
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Old 09-03-2010
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In the PNW, a pilothouse allows you to sail/motorsail/motor year round in comfort. The winter is when a pilothouse really shines, generally I don't sail from the wheelhouse unless it's tough conditions and longish passages. Most pilothouses will have a large hatch above the helm to keep an eye on the mainsail but generally I do most of my sailing from the cockpit.

They give you a less closed in feeling but they have the disadvantage of creating more windage and the larger windows inherent in pilothouses would be somewhat of a concern offshore but there are remedies for that.

I do a lot of cruising up here all year long in most conditions and I will tell you that I would do a whole lot less winter cruising if I didn't have a pilothouse. Going out in driving rain and foul weather is actually quite enjoyable, not that it wouldn't be in a non-pilothouse, pilothouses just give you the option of being that much more comfortable should you choose to pilot from the wheelhouse.
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