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Old 03-13-2016, 12:59 AM   #1
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Is a fly bridge and big aft deck essential in the tropics?

QUESTION: Is a fly bridge and big aft cockpit essential for fulltime live aboard comfort and enjoyment of life in the tropics and SE US cruising? Fly bridge appears in most of the “Top Five Items” thread from February so I want to narrow the discussion to full time live aboard in the tropics.

CURRENT TRAWLER CANDIDATES: Nordhavn 50 and Selene 53, which are almost exactly the same price, age, and engine hours.

PLAN – Buy a trawler on US West Coast and slowly make our way thru Panama Canal and on to SW Florida where our families have lived for 35-years. The boat will be our only home for the next several years. We’ll eventually purchase a waterfront home and continue to cruise Florida, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and US East Coast, hopefully as far as Maine or eastern Canada.

US – Experienced long distance cruisers in sailboats up to 42’ with 4-years of full time live aboard experience in the tropics. We currently live aboard in San Diego and own no shore side property.

The Nordhavn is the cleanest and best maintained boat I have ever been on. She has almost everything my wife and I want. We like everything about the Norhavn Except – NO FLYBRIDGE and little easily accessed outside living area on the boat deck. The only practical way to the boat deck, behind the dry stack, is thru the raised pilothouse and then outside on the port walkway aft and up some narrow stairs.

And, the aft cockpit area in the Nordhavn is smaller than my wife wants.

The Selene is also a very nice boat but is almost 60’ LOA, which makes it much more expensive to operate. The Selene slip in our marina is $490/month more than for the Nordhavn and $215/month more in Marina La Paz. But, the Selene has a much larger aft cockpit and a super fly bridge that is easy to get to and use. It seems to us the Selene has much more useful and liveable outdoor space.

We love being outside and when living on our sailboat in the tropics we spent about 15-hours a day in the cockpit or the foredeck. We cruised year ‘round for 20+ years in Puget Sound and north of there and know a whole bunch about cool and cold weather boating. I am not concerned about the fly bridge when the temperature drops below 65.

The 53’ trawler I served on in the tropics had an easily accessed fly bridge and we used it a lot.

Those of you with experience living aboard a trawler in the tropics – how important is the fly bridge for comfort and pleasure?

- underway in coastal waters
- underway offshore
- at anchor in the bright warm sunshine

Can we be happy with no upper outside living space? I think not; but I do love every other aspect of the Nordhavn 50.

The aft cockpit issue is a little more problematic. My wife loves to fish and spends most of the time underway with a line in the water. She wants a big fishing cleaning sink and work counter/space at the sink. She also wants a table that will seat four with good walk around area. The Selene has it all, except the sink, and the Nordhavn none.

I feel that a 16’ wide and 6’ deep cockpit on the Nordhavn is plenty of space but the wife wants more space if we are going to be living aboard for the next four to six years.

Do you tropical live aboard cruisers having thoughts about the necessary size of an aft cockpit?

I really like the Nordhavn layout, especially the easy access to the owner’s stateroom, when compared to the Selene. The Nordavn is the boat we want but the lack of a fly bridge is almost a show stopper for us.

I know it is a tough choice Selene–vs-Nordhavn but the lack of a fly bridge has really gotten me nervous.

Thanks for any opinions you want to share.
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:06 AM   #2
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Is the Fleming 55 outside your search parameters?
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:22 AM   #3
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We like everything about the Norhavn Except – NO FLYBRIDGE and little easily accessed outside living area on the boat deck. The only practical way to the boat deck, behind the dry stack, is thru the raised pilothouse and then outside on the port walkway aft and up some narrow stairs.

And, the aft cockpit area in the Nordhavn is smaller than my wife wants.

But, the Selene has a much larger aft cockpit and a super fly bridge that is easy to get to and use. It seems to us the Selene has much more useful and liveable outdoor space.

We love being outside and when living on our sailboat in the tropics we spent about 15-hours a day in the cockpit or the foredeck. We cruised year ‘round for 20+ years in Puget Sound and north of there and know a whole bunch about cool and cold weather boating. I am not concerned about the fly bridge when the temperature drops below 65.

The 53’ trawler I served on in the tropics had an easily accessed fly bridge and we used it a lot.

Those of you with experience living aboard a trawler in the tropics – how important is the fly bridge for comfort and pleasure?

Can we be happy with no upper outside living space? I think not;

The aft cockpit issue is a little more problematic. My wife loves to fish and spends most of the time underway with a line in the water. She wants a big fishing cleaning sink and work counter/space at the sink. She also wants a table that will seat four with good walk around area.

I feel that a 16’ wide and 6’ deep cockpit on the Nordhavn is plenty of space but the wife wants more space if we are going to be living aboard for the next four to six years.

the lack of a fly bridge is almost a show stopper for us.

I know it is a tough choice Selene–vs-Nordhavn but the lack of a fly bridge has really gotten me nervous.
Is it essential for everyone? No. But I think you answered your question for you.

We are fine with no flybridge for a day cruise or quick trip. However, for a long range cruising boat we can't imagine not having outdoor space. The more time you're spending on the boat, the more claustrophobic it can become.

A lot of people don't have yards for their homes and live in condos in the middle of town with no outdoor space.

We love the outdoors. If the weather was always conducive we'd spend the vast majority of our time on board on the bridge. Still we spend a large part of our time on it, enjoying the breeze and the sun.

You asked a question wanting someone here to talk you out of what you already know. People can answer that they don't have and don't want a bridge. Some will say they would never have one. But that does not mean their answer is for you. In one post, you said 7 times, 7 different ways how important it is for you.

We're on a boat tonight with no bridge, but it's an open sport boat and we used it to run 100 miles today, enjoy the afternoon and night and run 100 miles home tomorrow. However, when we considered doing the loop, we quickly dismissed this boat from consideration.

There are two other factors that I'd suggest thinking about if I didn't think your answer was already known. One is how much you have guests aboard and the other is how much the two of you like to be able to relax in private areas separate from each other at times.
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:24 AM   #4
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We do love the Flemming and have looked at a couple BUT the only one we can afford has Cat 3208 425 HP after cooled turbocharged engines with 4800 hours on them. I don't think I want to leave on a 6,000 NM cruise thru Mexico and Central America with 20-year old engines with that many hours.

Why?
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:30 AM   #5
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Is it essential for everyone? No. But I think you answered your question for you.

There are two other factors that I'd suggest thinking about if I didn't think your answer was already known. One is how much you have guests aboard and the other is how much the two of you like to be able to relax in private areas separate from each other at times.
We seldom have guests.

We have been married almost 42-years and do like each other but the private space is essential and is at the heart of my question. The need for more private space, while remaining on the same boat and being comfortable, is the primary reason we are looking at a much larger boat.

You are quite perceptive to have noted and asked that question.
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:34 AM   #6
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Tacoma-have you looked at Krogens? There is a very nice 48' in Seattle that would seem to meet the requirements you have stated so far. I have been on it and it is in excellent shape. And for sale at a pretty good price. Trying to set aside my Krogen bias, I would take a Krogen before a Selene all things being equal.
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Old 03-13-2016, 03:20 AM   #7
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Tacoma-have you looked at Krogens? There is a very nice 48' in Seattle that would seem to meet the requirements you have stated so far. I have been on it and it is in excellent shape. And for sale at a pretty good price. Trying to set aside my Krogen bias, I would take a Krogen before a Selene all things being equal.
The 2006 48' in Seattle is WAY More than I am looking to spend! The 1998 47' in Seattle is priced right but has 7718 hours on the engine and no stabilizers.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my question but, I am not asking for boat selection advice. I am asking about personal experience living in the tropics with only a small aft cockpit and no flybridge when everything else on the boat is perfect.

Is the lack of a fly bridge a good tradeoff for a perfect boat at a very reasonable price?
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Old 03-13-2016, 04:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacomasailor View Post
QUESTION: Is a fly bridge and big aft cockpit essential for fulltime live aboard comfort and enjoyment of life in the tropics and SE US cruising? Fly bridge appears in most of the “Top Five Items” thread from February so I want to narrow the discussion to full time live aboard in the tropics.

CURRENT TRAWLER CANDIDATES: Nordhavn 50 and Selene 53, which are almost exactly the same price, age, and engine hours.
I'm going to confuse the situation even more by saying, overall, if you have a large cockpit, you can easily do without the top weight, windage, and duplication of instruments in a flybridge, especially as in cold or nasty weather, inside in the pilothouse, which they do have, is the place to be. In hot weather, upstairs is often a bit too warm, and there are always stairs to go up and down. With no flybridge you can then use the area for neat things for extended cruising like a decent array of solar panels, to minimise generator running.

Having said that, sadly, the Nordy 50's, (which I also love), do have that smallish cockpit, which is why 'twisted tree' on here has the perfect solution, a Nordy 60, which is the 55 with the extra mainly in the cockpit. However, ones without a flybridge are the exception, so that one you looked at is a bit unique in that actually. They would be great boats for round the British Isles no doubt - great weather boat, and in climes where you don't do a lot of indoor/outdoor livin,' but maybe not so ideal where you plan to centre your cruising, i.e. the tropics, unless crossing wide oceans also is your desire..?

That hands the edge to the Selene, and the 53 is another boat I just love, and which has an easily accessed flybridge, but also pilothouse and large cockpit, so on balance if it would appear to have the edge, but you didn't ask us which boat sounded best, you asked whether a flybridge and/or large cockpit was essential in the tropics, but it's so hard to resist the temptation to do the "if it was me" thing, sorry...

We are in the tropics, and have both, and I'd sacrifice the flybridge for a great roomy boat with large rear cockpit any day, especially if it had a pilothouse and Portuguese bridge outside that. They both have that, don't they..? Don't forget in the tropics, there are bugs, lots of bugs, and it's much easier to screen and bug proof a cockpit than a flybridge, and it then extends your indoor living space into one continuous bug-proof area. Just sayin'...
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Old 03-13-2016, 04:28 AM   #9
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Just reading your post, it sounds like the Selene is the better fit for your needs.
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Old 03-13-2016, 04:30 AM   #10
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Tacoma-just thought I would mention the KK. I lived aboard for just over 5 years, spending half the year (winter) in the Virgins and half (summer) back in SE North Carolina. My own preference would be to have a flybridge and a decent sized back deck. But their use for you may be a bit different than mine I found that when docked, the flybridge did not get a lot of use. The back deck got a lot of use. Underway, the reverse seemed to be true. I like running from the bridge and, in calm seas, we liked spending more time up there. Would not want to be without either. I don't think I would consider a boat without both. But, as with all things boat, that is just my preference.
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Old 03-13-2016, 06:59 AM   #11
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We live aboard each winter in the Eastern Caribbean on a Krogen 42. Our time is at anchor. The flybridge is never used. All piloting is done from the pilot house where we have full instrumentation, including a back view camera. The aft deck is regularly used.

Last night we had one of several parties we hold each year. 20 people aboard and no one used the upper deck. The aft deck and saloon were crowded with a few up on the foredeck.

My wife and I do use the upper deck when we are watching sunsets and searching for a passage of the international space station.

A more important issue is the stabilizers. Makes it tough down here without them.

As far as brands go. We see Krogens, and Nordhavns. Every now and then a Flemming. Never a Selene. May be different in Central America.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:55 AM   #12
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Tacoma: As in all things it's a personal preference. Wifey and I spend most of our time on the boat, whether dockside/anchor/cruising outside. We homeport in Galveston Bay near Kemah (Gulf Coast). As a previous poster said, I think you've answered your own questions. One of our main goals in selecting our boat was the covered, spacious aft deck and the fly bridge. We like the outdoors........and as a 2nd, we can separate ourselves with 1 in the salon and 1 outside if we like, which, we occasionally do.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:07 AM   #13
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The furthest south I have kept my boat is Puerto Vallarta. Obviously not the tropics, but hot and humid enough that I know what the answer would be for us -- the flybridge and cockpit are often the place to be on the boat. While underway, the flybridge's apparent wind is enough to transform the otherwise stifling heat and humidity into the equivalent of a mid-winter Hawaiian vacation. With the added bonus of a great view and no bugs, our flybridge was consistently the choice of my family and guests (actually, the tower was also enjoyed, but not hour on-end). It should be noted that the flybridge was preferred by day and night, even though we ran the A/C 24/7.

At dock (and to a lesser extent, at anchor) is a different story, at least on very hot days. The heat and bugs on the outside, in contrast to air conditioned comfort inside, and given no necessity of being at the helm and only a static view, limited the time spent on the flybridge (and even more so, the tower). By contrast, under those conditions, the cockpit got much more use. But, in fairness, not being liveaboards, we didn't spend much time in port. Days were spent either in town or offshore.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:29 AM   #14
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We spend at least half of every momth onboard, 12 months a year, on the Texas gulf coast. For us, it's a no-brainer. We would compromise almost anything other than our large flybridge and aft deck. When we're underway, everyone is on the flybridge. The view is better, the breeze is almost always enough to stay cool, and, most important, we bought a boat TO BE OUTSIDE on the water.

Even on the warmest muggy days, nothing beats morning coffee on the aft deck. We made roll-up shades to keep the sun off when needed. When the bugs come out in the evening, we light up some citronella torches or mosquito coils and have cocktails on deck. If it gets a little too still to be pleasant, a couple of fans solve the bug problem and give a nice breeze.

We often have dinner on the flybridge where the breeze is best.

For us, a boat without generous outside space isn't much different than a waterfront condo.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:53 AM   #15
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How are the inside sleeping arrangements for you and the wife? Forward or amidships? I believe the Selene has a center-line queen up forward that you could utilize while at anchor when you don't want to run the AC all the time.
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Old 03-13-2016, 10:25 AM   #16
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Cruising and living in temperate climates, during waking hours, I'd say 90% of our time was spent on the very large flying bridge and covered aft deck of our Hatteras 56. Note the use of the term "large". I can see where a small and not comfortable for several people bridge like on a KK 42 (otherwise great boats) wouldn't get used much, maybe for piloting in shallow clear waters. We could comfortably entertain 8+ people on the FB and it was one of my favorite places to take a nap. We fed 6 or 7 in the aft deck many times, it was essentially our dining room though the galley was equipped with a 4 person dinette. Like others, we loved being in the outdoors.

Based on the OP requirements. I'd suggest looking at well maintained Hatteras LRCs.

What concerns me about the OP is that they are seemingly quite budget constrained. Talking about 50, 60 foot boats and a few hundred bucks a month is a big deal. Let me virtually assure you, that for the type of cruising you described, on boats that size, if you have normal standards (let alone high ones) of seaworthiness, creature comforts, and cosmetics, a couple or four hundred bucks a month will be a rounding error.

A boat is a highly personal decision. Some may scoff at this given the boat we bought for our purposes, but this Skipper Bob dictum was certainly true for us:

"Don't buy the biggest boat you think you can afford; buy the smallest boat you can be comfortable on". Remember, "comfortable" includes the ergonomics of operating and maintaining the boat.
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Old 03-13-2016, 10:34 AM   #17
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To stay cool ( sea water temp) is not hard.

A set of sun covers that are wider than the boats beam needs to be hoisted.

They are wider and can tilt to block the early AM and late PM sun.

The covers must be robust enough with internal poles lashed down to the hand rails to stay quiet in a thunderstorm , and not flap themselves to death.

They must be able to be struck by one person , if a BIG thunderstorm or water spout is noticed.

Sunset ,one can hose down to cool the mass of the boat , either a 100gpm fire hose , or a yard soaker hose all along the deck and cabin top for an hour..

If you enjoy canned air and 24/7 noisemaker , there is really no reason to GO to the tropics.

Hatch vents will keep the interior cool and fresh all night.
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Old 03-13-2016, 11:17 AM   #18
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As others have mentioned, big difference being underway versus at anchor / dock.

Underway there are certainly nice days to run from a flybridge. If you're a fair weather boater, it may be most days. For me, there are a few days that I miss not having the option, but only a few. I haven't been on either of the boats you're considering. So my question is how do the lower helms compare. Many boats with flybridges have lower helms that are compromises as they assume the upper may be used more. On my boat, the raised pilothouse is optimized because it's the only helm. With the 2 pilothouse doors open and 2 roof hatches, there is all the air flow most would want. I would say there is about 5% of the time I miss not driving from a flybridge, but that's it.

At anchor I don't miss a flybridge at all. As I've gotten older, my balance isn't what it used to be and adding stairs, especially carrying things, has no appeal what so ever. Very happy to use the forward deck or the covered stern deck at anchor.

As to space: drinks for 6; dinner for 4; sleeps 2 describes the maximum for my use. There might be 4 on the boat for a weekend, rarely. With that in mind, I don't mind outside spaces that are spacious for 2 and maybe close for 6. Not trying to encourage people to stay.

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Old 03-13-2016, 11:22 AM   #19
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Congrats on 42 years!!

Regardless of which one you pick, get used to running the generator or being in a slip. The AC will have to run constantly. Neither have enough natural ventilation to allow OFF gen time in the tropics. If you have a FB it will have to have a sun roof (of type, hard, bimini, or combo) or the sun will bake you alive up there. It is amazing how much sun reflectivity comes UP off the foredeck to burn your face under a visor! You mention the side doors. I have yet to find a boat with side doors that draws air through the boat. One thing I love about having a sedan with an aft door, is mooring/anchoring stern too, so the breeze blows through the whole boat. (ok, maybe not so good on BBQ night!)
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Old 03-13-2016, 12:52 PM   #20
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Congrats on 42 years!!

Regardless of which one you pick, get used to running the generator or being in a slip. The AC will have to run constantly. Neither have enough natural ventilation to allow OFF gen time in the tropics. If you have a FB it will have to have a sun roof (of type, hard, bimini, or combo) or the sun will bake you alive up there. It is amazing how much sun reflectivity comes UP off the foredeck to burn your face under a visor! You mention the side doors. I have yet to find a boat with side doors that draws air through the boat. One thing I love about having a sedan with an aft door, is mooring/anchoring stern too, so the breeze blows through the whole boat. (ok, maybe not so good on BBQ night!)
With doors on each side of the helm, sliding windows in the salon, double doors to the aft deck plus a forward hatch below, air circulation was never an issue on the Hatt. Even had a cool little ceiling fan on the aft deck. Temps would have to get well into the higher 80's and winds light before the genset needed to be fired up for AC. Our flying bridge did have a nice double bimini.


I'd be very hesitant to anchor solely stern to in anything other than dead calm.
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