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Old 11-05-2015, 12:28 AM   #1
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But the helm is on the wrong side




Wife and I had a look over a few boats today some in budget others not so but one that got my attention but not the wife's was because the helm was "on the wrong side "and she said it dose my head in to be on the starboard side so that was that . Dose helm position rate when others are buying a boat ? I didn't argue whith the wife because deep down I agreed 100%
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:43 AM   #2
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No problem, she stays to port and drives!

Helm in middle is preferred.
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Old 11-05-2015, 01:11 AM   #3
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NO. Most boats have the lower helm on the starboard side but not all of them. Some good mfgr. put theinside helm to port.

I've had boats with stbd helms. My current one has the interior helm on the port side.
Doesn't matter as far as i'm concerned.

What is of far greater importance is the visibility. If the view to the outside is poor for any reason then it doesn't matter which side the helm is on, it's poor.
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Old 11-05-2015, 03:26 AM   #4
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Yes, I agree,even here in Australia, most boats have the helm on the right side, often centrally in the flybridge. Helm on left is rare, so better get over that Gaston, or you'll be looking a long time.

However, I think that what you actually meant was the wife does not like to sit as shotgun, (so to speak), on the right, suggesting that the ones you didn't like actually had the helm on the left. Is that right? If that's the way it was, then yes, you won't find many (lower) left helmed boats here in Aus. so not to worry.
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Old 11-05-2015, 04:14 AM   #5
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My last boat had the helm on the port side, both lower and flybridge, this one has the lower on the Staboard and Flybridge in the mid ships. I had both boats together for a bout a year until I sold the old one, so use to jump between the two, I had no issue driving either. It is surprising how quickly you adjust and things become the norm.

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Old 11-05-2015, 06:24 AM   #6
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Really may depend on the boat, such as a single where helm side and docking maneuverability are an important combo ...but generally it doesn't matter one bit.
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Old 11-05-2015, 06:34 AM   #7
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My new boat is bass-ackwards from our last. Our trawler had starboard lower helm, but centered flying bridge. New motoryacht has starboard flying bridge station and a midship pilothouse station. I am not a huge fan of being off center upstairs.

In addition, the helm station is designed to drive more in the seated position, whereas I would much rather it be a standing station. Oh well, compromises... They are a plenty.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:09 AM   #8
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I'm a big fan of being center helm above and below, and that was another item in the plus column for selecting the Hatteras; especially with the doors immediately to either side of the lower helm leading to walk around decks. I perceived that the center position gave better 360 degree visibility as well.

Though it certainly wouldn't be deal killer with a helm to either side,makes zero difference which side; as our old Tollycraft and virtually all the boats we chartered were starboard side below, and a mix of center or starboard above.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:36 AM   #9
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Sorry to say it Gaston but I agree with the others about it not being a big deal - you might be getting caught up with the idea of driving a LHD car on RHD roads (or vice versa). You are going to have to build a bridge on sidelining any boat with a stb lower helm. Our IG has both to stb. although the flybridge wheel is closer to the centre than the lower.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:50 AM   #10
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You can get used to having the helm anywhere. To me, the practical considerations are visibility and access, and for those reasons I tend to favor having the lower helm station to starboard (presuming a door opening onto the starboard side deck).

Every commercial boat I ever ran had centerline helms, typically in an enclosed pilothouse. But then I also had at least one agile, experienced deckhand getting paid to scamper around handling lines. On my personal boat, being able to operate shorthanded or single-handed is important. For the person on the wheel to be able to participate in docking and getting underway, it helps to be able to step from deck to helm while keeping an eye on everything.

A boat that I recently developed a crush on and came very close to buying had a weird lower helm position - not to port, not to starboard, and not even directly on centerline. It was slightly offset to the left of center. It also had a rather pronounced sheer leading to a high bow. Result: lousy visibility from the lower station when approaching a dock. All by itself that wasn't a deal-killer, but it was one more thing on the "minus" side of the balance sheet. I actually looked into re-locating the helm, until I sobered up and reminded myself that there are a lot of boats out there for sale.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:56 AM   #11
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Caltexflanc wrote: "I'm a big fan of being center helm above and below, and that was another item in the plus column for selecting the Hatteras; especially with the doors immediately to either side of the lower helm leading to walk around decks. I perceived that the center position gave better 360 degree visibility as well."

Having run quite a few Hatts, I agree that in this case, a centerline lower helm works. Visibility is good, and the boats are substantial yet responsive to their controls. Maneuvering around docks is a piece of cake, and even in a strong breeze, once you position the boat alongside where you want it, it tends to linger for just long enough to step out on deck and toss a line or two, even if you're shorthanded.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:01 AM   #12
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I think center steering is best. The starboard side steering probably came in because that is the "green" side, or danger zone side. When I had my Uniflite the FB steering was center line. Lower helm was to port. It took a little adjustment, but I found that it is was easier to visually cover the "green" zone from the starboard side. Albeit that it was at the expense of not covering the "red" zone so well.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:43 AM   #13
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Smaller boats with single engines historically had RH props, and prop shaft torque lifted the stbd side. So helm was put on stbd. Operator weight tended to help trim. Obviously not a factor on multi-ton boats, but it was sort of set as "conventional".

When I built my boat, I put helm to stbd. Reason being I get some sun on my left arm in the car and truck, and with helm to stbd I can get sun on my right arm and balance my suntan.

Propwalk works against me though, with helm to stbd and prop walk to port, I like tying up stbd-to, boat would rather go port-to. Oh well.

As other's said: the side helm is placed is one of the most minor concerns. Good vis, good function, comfortable helm, all those are big deals. Helm side is not.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:53 AM   #14
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Since I am not aware of any float through fast food, bank or liquor store I don't think it matters.
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:10 AM   #15
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A little history why on the starboard side and why is called the starboard. Long long time s ago boats had a steering board on the right side so they dock on the left side called them port side. Steer board became starboard which for boat is still the preferred helm side.

Easy way to remember port and starboard, and color is: left is the shorter word and 4 letter same as port and the port color is red like port wine. Another tale is since the boats docked on the port side, that side was, keep clean. So the starboard side was the side to throw up on, so it was usually green in color. Thus the green side was the starboard side.
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:31 AM   #16
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The reason people don't like the helm on the stbd side is simply because we've spent such an incredible amount of time over many many years driving cars w the helm on the port side.

Many boat manufacturers in the 50's and 60's put the helm on the port side (Uniflite is a good example) thinking people would be more inclined to buy their boats as the port helm would be more comfortable to them. Some went even as far as putting fins on boats in a sick attempt to make them more stylish like the cars. We've been in the automotive age for some time. Some call it the jet age ect but life revolves around the car.
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:30 PM   #17
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Most commercial gillnetters and trollers in BC have the helm on the port side.


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Old 11-05-2015, 01:56 PM   #18
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Our boat has the flying bridge helm centered and the lower helm on the port side. In 5 years I've only driven from below twice. It wasn't a problem, just took getting used to driving with a solid 'roof' over my head.
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Old 11-05-2015, 02:20 PM   #19
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I've never had anything but single screws. On a boat that walks to port in reverse, my preferred docking is port side to and therefore a port side helm. My volvo walked to starboard and I preferred the starboard helm with starboard side docking .... I just found it made backing in to a slip easier.
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Old 11-05-2015, 02:23 PM   #20
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My last boat had a port helm and port shore power. My current Bayliner has port flying bridge helm and starboard electrical which I thought a bit odd but you get used to it. Docking is usually a slow event which gives me time to peek over the rail. I would not let helm position be a deciding factor in buying a boat. IMO.
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