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Old 02-28-2012
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Question Pilot house windows, good, bad, please advise?

Hi
I have seen a boat I like, 36 ft heavy displacement long keel, all the right gear and price, just that she has a sunken pilot house with fairly large windows, for me that is, used to small portholes! The glass in these windows is 10mm toughened and these are in heavy duty laminated hardwood frames set in a 45 degree angle from the deck with no overhang or sunshade for a wave to hook up on and peel back the roof. The look out from the chart house and the galley is really nice, but I worry if green water in heavy weather could just punch through these windows? I see lots of boats with them and know many folk make long distance voyages. Could anyone with pilot house windows who has made long voyages and encountered heavy weather, please let me know how they got on?
Many thanks
Dawn
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Old 02-28-2012
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There are large windows and there are large windows. I talked to someone about the very large windows on the Discovery 55 ($1.5 million) and he said that they are stronger than the hull - made of laminated, tempered glass apparently.

For standard pilothouse windows people tend to have storm shutters that they can screw down over the windows to protect them. Assuming that the boat is properly built these would only be needed in really bad conditions, but it would make sense to have them onboard since those conditions can happen.
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Old 02-28-2012
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There's a lot of debate about this and strong feelings on both sides of the aisle. I think it's safe to say that the larger the window the easier it would be for a wave to take it out, but a lot depends on the materials used and the quality of the installation. That being said, I haven't read on any of the sailing forums of an instance of a PH's window(s) actually being blown out (although I'm sure there must be some) and there are hundreds/thousands(?) of successful ocean crossings in pilothouse sailboats. Our own boat made two trips from the PNW to South Pac. (previous owners) and during one 5800 NM crossing encountered at least three violent storms where, according to a letter written to Monitor Windvane, "practically everything on the boat broke, except your windvane". The pilothouse windows were not among the broken items (our front windows are laminated safety glass and sides are 1/2" Lexan, well secured with heavy stainless trim rings). If I were planning a circumnavigation involving extensive time spent in the southern ocean storms I would pick a different boat, for practically anything else I would worry more about other things than the windows. That's my two cents worth on the subject.
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Old 02-28-2012
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I sailed a 47' Alden ketch named Lady Helene to/from the Caribbean via Bermuda a number of times. Her pilot house/cabin had two large windows port and starboard and two large windows forward. I did think about deadlights, but they were never provided. We experienced a couple of storms and gales (weather prediction was a different game in the early '70s) and the windows got slapped several times. We had no water intrusion or breakage. I would not, however, have taken her in the Roaring '40s. I'd agree with JRD22.
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Old 02-28-2012
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Ive read a few times that its suggested to replace the windows with bullet proof glass so its strong enough to take on a wave. I have no experience in the matter its just what ive read on the subject.
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Old 02-28-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmalkin View Post
I sailed a 47' Alden ketch named Lady Helene to/from the Caribbean via Bermuda a number of times. Her pilot house/cabin had two large windows port and starboard and two large windows forward. I did think about deadlights, but they were never provided. We experienced a couple of storms and gales (weather prediction was a different game in the early '70s) and the windows got slapped several times. We had no water intrusion or breakage. I would not, however, have taken her in the Roaring '40s. I'd agree with JRD22.
Was that THE Lady Helene? The bigger predecessor to the Pearson Countess? When I was getting going in sailing I read "The Proper Yacht" and that boat was my favourite in the entire book - gorgeous boat. IIRC it was very high on Beisers personal list as well.
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I have seen several accounts of severe superstructure damage to sailboats in storms wherein they state quite unequivocally that the damage occurs to the LEE side from getting dropped into a wave rather than from boarding water on the windward or forward sides.

Such damage included cabintops being partially caved in, not just windows being blown out.

IMHO, thick, laminated, tempered glass, if properly mounted, will be as strong or stronger than the cabintop. Of course I wasn't actually on board any of the aforementiond boats.
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I have a CAL 46 that had a $250,000 refit in 2000 which included adding a pilot house and 3 ft to the stern. When my wife found the boat, my first concern was the windows and I am currently having storm shutters made. Better safe than sorry.
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Old 02-29-2012
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I have done a long delivery trip in the North Atlantic in a pilothouse. The boat was aluminum and the pilothouse was aluminum. The windows/ports were pretty large. We had numerous waves break over the boat. The side windows were tempered glass. The center forward window had an opening offshore hatch in it and was Lexan. Lexan is very hard to see out of in the dark which made visual navigation on a moonless night tough. The thick tempered glass held up fine to some pretty rough pounding. Plexiglass is a big no-no in installations like this because it flexes too much and will blow out when a wave hits it.

I am pretty sure the shutter idea will work but think about it. The reason you have a pilothouse is to get out of the weather when you steer the boat in bad conditions. Blocking your vision sort of negates that feature which means you have to steer from the cockpit which might not be that fun or safe in some conditions. After experiencing multiple 25 foot breaking waves I'd rather be in the pilothouse.
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Yup - it was the very same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
Was that THE Lady Helene? The bigger predecessor to the Pearson Countess? When I was getting going in sailing I read "The Proper Yacht" and that boat was my favourite in the entire book - gorgeous boat. IIRC it was very high on Beisers personal list as well.
Sloop - Twas the same boat. And I had read the Beiser book to prior to buying her in 1970; I was also very taken by his comments and thoughts on the boat.

Having said that, she really wasn't a blue water boat and was more of a terrific boat for a couple to do coastal cruising and the like. Her spoon bow allowed a lot of "hobby-horsing" despite constantly moving weight around to counteract that issue, the pilot house/cabin - while foreshadowing much of the current large window/salon designs of this decade - provided nice viewing but didn't allow much in the way of a "sea-boat" layout or function, the galley,head and forward cabin were relatively short on headroom.

But again, I loved the look and the sheer of the hull; I don't think she was designed for the kind of sailing that I did with her. Odd bit - I got a call from the yard the day after I sold her to a guy in CT, US. They wanted the new owner's phone number as apparently he had gone on board, fussed around, opened a seacock with the hose not attached and left the boat. The night watchman at the yard discovered her full of water, tied to the slip but sitting on the bottom with her deck's awash! The yard jovially pointed out to me - "At least he killed the cockroaches you brought back from the Caribbean..."

It killed me - but I had the check deposited...
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