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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-13-2002 05:03 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

It sounds like you may own the exception to the rule. My comments reflect how pilot houses are normally designed. When I was working with the Charlie Whitholz, a client of his asked him to design a boat with a removable pilot house which we both thought was an interesting idea. We had a pretty long discussion on pilot houses. For better or worse, unless there is some very unusual circumstance, pilot houses substantially raise the center of gravity and the height of the boom. The boom height being raised is even true for boats designed for full cockpit enclosures. Full cockpit enclosures being ''soft'' are normally designed with less headroom than a pilothouse because the feeling is that a helmsman must be able to stand in a pilot house without risking a head injury for hours at a time in rough going.

While your point about protecting crew members in a blow by placing as many as you can down below is very valid, you need to remember just how vulnerable to downflooding, the large windows in a pilot house make the vessel. To use your example of the Sidney Hobart disaster, one of the rescue boats sent out to help the fleet was nearly lost when its pilothouse windows were taken out by a big wave. They were able to seal the pilot house from the interior of the boat which allowed them to get back to port.

09-12-2002 10:16 PM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

I have a CT35 Pilothouse and can make some observations about my boat relative to Jeff H''s comments. I do not think that the pilothouse version of the CT35 has a higher center of gravity than the standard CT35. The engine in the PH version is located much further back in the boat and over the deepest part of the bilge, and is therefore considerably lower in the boat. The pilot house roof appears to be less than a foot higher than the doghouse version and the section of the deck in front of the pilothouse is flush deck, where the regular version has the doghouse extending well forward. Added up, this version may be more stable.

I have no problem seeing over the top of the pilothouse when seated at the outside steering station. My main boom is set quite low. If a soft dodger on a typical doghouse had a boom this close to the deck, the boom wouldn''t clear the dodger.

If you like to reading about storms at sea, think how many of the people lost overboard, such as in the Sidney to Hobart race, would still be alive if they had had inside steering in a good pilothouse. When the weather gets bad enough to produce knockdowns, you''ll find me inside the boat, not in the cockpit.

09-09-2002 02:37 PM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

I doubt the free enterprise system ever misses a market. The market for new boats, however, seems to be dominated by the biggest boats at the lowest price, and a pilothouse costs a bit more to build.

While there is no overwhelming need for a pilothouse for fairweather cruising on the Chesapeake, or short coastal hops, I believe a well-designed pilothouse sailboat is ideal for shorthanded offshore and extended coastal passages, but it seems most cruisers can''t afford a new boat, so they have to adapt what''s already available

Too many pilothouse designs appear to be adaptations of more conventional sailboat designs. Even well-regarded builders such as Shannon, Pacific Seacraft, Valiant, Cabo Rico and Tayana have produced these. Others have built heavy, chubby "motorsailors" resembling trawlers with sails.

I believe Siltala Yachts of Finland, who produces the Nauticat line of pilothouse sailboats from 32 to 52 feet LOA (in addition to the Nauticat line of 33-44ft. "motorsailors"), got it right ( I have a Nauticat 42 on order).

Starting in the 1980''s, Siltala began building a line of pilothouse sailboats designed from the keel up by Sparkman and Stevens as pilothouse sailboats. The current line consists of in-house designs that appear to emphasize performance even more. The pilothouses are low in profile and the cockpit helm is placed to allow unobstructed visibility forward. The interiors of the pilothouses benefit from the "Deck Salon" concept (and they have been doing it for almost 20 years). The large, accessible engine and ample tankage is low and centered. Unlike the current "Deck Salon" boats, however, these are designed to be steered, and navigated from the pilothouse. Though it''s no place to be steering while tacking up a narrow channel, I''ve never had trouble sailing from a pilothouse with the aid of wind instruments.

Nothing seems more absurd than scurrying up and down the companionway ladder like a crazed hampster, taking bearings topside and plotting them below in the so-called navstation, all because the cockpit is too windy or wet to manage a chart. Maybe that''s why virtually all workboats have some form of pilothouse.

Even this latest generation of Nauticats is on the heavy side, but that is partly due to their totally uncored hull and deck, powerful engines and long-range tankage. Nonetheless, our test sail revealed surprising performance under sail and power, far superior to the similarly heavy Island Packet we had just chartered, and featured better build quality for a similar price.

I''ve paid my wet and cold dues, and a flimsy cockpit enclosure just won''t do, thank you. Besides, how can you possibly keep a responsible lookout through those distorted plastic windows?
08-28-2002 09:26 PM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

I just checked those Beneteau Evasions on Yacht World, most are in Europe/Med but are commanding a healthy (100k range) price even for older models!
08-28-2002 02:54 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

I think it would be hard to say precisely how much it would cost to build a good 38 ft pilothouse that would address the issues that I mentioned. If you think of it you would want to use cored materials to lighten the interior in order to make up for the extra weight and top hamper of the pilot house. The pilot house will have a duplicate set of controls. Routing lines aft becomes more complex. There is more ballast, a bigger engine and a taller rig to buy. I would think that the costs to produce a pilot house model could easily add 10% or more to the cost of building a ''normal'' boat. And in making that assumption I am assuming that the boat sold in a volume consistant with the volume of a normal cruiser so that tooling costs can be spread through a reasonable number of boats.

08-28-2002 01:19 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

Jeff, while I agree with many of your points it would seem that many are design issues, where certain hull/rigs were "repurposed." I believe Beneteau did this with a 37 model called the Evasion. Only a few of those boats made it to the US and hit the market at the wrong time but it seemed they addressed many of your points. I had the good fortune of being on one of them. It was impressive.

Mitch,I recall those PS boats, quite nice and IMHO much more "worth the premium" than the CD pilothouse (but notice how the CDPH keeps its price). That many PSPHs were sold if FLA makes perfect sense in terms of market analysis, something that I''m not sure builders are tuned to. Take the case of Duane''s note about the increased appearance of "DS" models.

My personal take on the DS is that its another nod to female appeal with some functional gain in storage and headroom.

Jeff, just what would it cost to build a good 38 ft pilothouse that would address some of the issues you noted (before the builder/dealer markups)?

It''s pretty easy to define the target market.

08-26-2002 06:49 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

SailorMitch sure is right when he says some manufacturers are coming out with deck saloon models. They seem to be appearing everywhere.

Most of the ones we have seen do not offer inside steering stations, although some have the wheel and controls on the aft bulkhead (usually starboard) of the raised saloon, and claim this offers extra protection from the elements.

I don''t know from any personal experience with them underway, but I doubt the deck saloon concept offers much real protection unless you add a dodger. The main attractions seem to be the expanded view and rearrangement of the interior tankage and storage locations.
08-26-2002 05:25 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

Check out the Nauticat line of boats made by Siltala in Finland. Pilothouse boats are all they make.

Their older models are not known for sailing ability -- being kind here. But supposedly their newer models stress sailing performance. I know a fellow who just bought a Nauticat 37 and I want to verify with him how it sails. I''ve seen him out and about on the river here but haven''t been in touch with him yet.

Also check out the Pacific Seacraft 32, another Crealock design, and a pilothouse to boot.

Some manufacturers are coming out with "deck salon" models that might meet this requirement, although I''m not sure they all have an inside steering stations. Dehler and Jeanneau come to mind for DS models.

I think the problem has been that pilothouses have been aimed at areas with lots of rainy, cool weather, and not at the market at large. Pacific Seacraft has been surprised that so many of its 32''s were sold in Fla. That ought to tell the industry something.
08-25-2002 07:40 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

About 10 years ago, a lot of manufacturers of cruising oriented boats jumped on the ''pilot house model'' bandwagon. There was a market for pilothouse equipped sailboats but it is a comparatively small one.

To begin with, it is very hard to design a pilothouse for a boat under about 38 to 40 feet and still have it make sense in terms of an interior layout or deck plan. The market for boats over 38 feet is quite small. (There are less than 3000 new sailboats over 30 feet sold in this country each year and way more than two-thirds of those are under 36 feet.)

Adding a pilothouse option to an existing design is more complicated than simply producing a new deck mold. For one the height of the pilot house and its raised sole, means a higher center of gravity and additional weight. This means that the boat should get more ballast if the boat''s stability and it''s motion comfort is to remain the same as it had been. Of course this also means more weight.

With all of this added weight greater care must be taken to remove weight from somewhere else or the boat will sit low on her lines. That means either less tankage or more expensive cored interior components or the more typical situation that the boat sits lower in the water. In most cases these boats end up heavier and with more drag and so really need more sail area (and more ballast) to sail as well as thier non-pilot house sisters.

Most manufacturers end up reducing sail area rather than increasing ballast. So, instead of adding more sail area in most cases the builder uses the same mast but raises the boom to clear the pilot house and then reduces the size of the recommended jib to keep the boat in ballance.

As a result, in most cases, you end up with a boat with a less comfortable motion, less capacity and poorer performance and, since these are limited production boats, they typically sell for an often significantly higher price.

Then there is the issue of actually sailing with a pilothouse. I found it next to impossible to sail from within a traditional pilot house as visibility of the sails is very limited, you can''t feel the breezes, you needed to walk out of the pilothouse pretty frequently to make sail adjustments,(in the normal spring, summer and fall sailing season) it was quite a bit hotter down below in the pilothouse rather than in the breezes on deck. Steering from on deck, the pilothouse really obscured the view forward which meant jumping back and forth across the cockpit to keep watch. (That may have been a function of the specific pilot house boats that I sailed on.)

Lastly, with the advent of soft cockpit enclosures, so popular with the ICW ''snowbirds'', which can be fitted in northern climes and then removed in the tropics, the need for a pilothouse model is further limited.

Like so many things in sailing, pilothouses certainly have advantages for people who predominantly sail in harsh environments. But those advantages come require some compromises that are not insubstantial and which few sailors are willing to make.

08-25-2002 01:01 AM
Pilothouse--Are Builders Missing Market?

OK, I confess, the older I get the more attractive a pilothouse (inside steering) and added space looks. Some of the guys I''ve talked with also feel the same way...then the chat eventually includes the word "trawler."

Are the sailboat builders missing a market or do they feel there just isn''t a market in pilothouse boats and feel that they''ll just lose those folks to trawlers anyway?

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