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Old 08-28-2012, 11:24 AM   #1
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Flybridge or Not?

Hello,
My wife and I are anticipating the trawler lifestyle, and have attended TrawlerFest, visit Yachtworld.com, etc.
I have the impression that on those trawlers with flybridges, the flybridges are used the majority of the time for piloting. So for me, it makes sense to look for a boat with a flybridge. And it adds another living space.
She, on the otherhand, says that she doesn't particularly want a flybridge, in that it wouldn't be used that much. And a non-flybridge trawler would certainly save on costs due to fewer controls, less weight, etc.
We are to the point where we are deciding what we want and don't want in a boat. So any feedback/opinions in this area would be helpful.
I anticipate that most of our boating would be along the ICW and hopefully the Bahamas.
Thank you!
Wizard
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:54 AM   #2
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I suggest you do not write off a boat with or without a flybridge untill you have figured out a lot more about your intended use and cruising needs and looked at lots of both.

You have to look at where you are and what you want to do and of course the vessel size enters into it.
Many vessels have only inside steering, whether sedan type or pilot house.
The bridge does make a difference in close quarters manouvering on many vessels and many people prefer the flybridge to run the boat.

Are you a sunworshipper? Often people find they must install biminis or they fry in the sun. In our neck of the woods total canvas covers of the flybridge is required unless you want to be an Eskimo or a rainbird and drown or freeze if you use the boat in any inclement weather. On the other hand the bimini cover provides good shade in hot weather.

Where do you boat, what are the typical weather conditions and when do you expect to use the boat?

Do you want to carry a dinghy on top or kayaks/canoes/bikes? The upper deck can be good places to store this stuff but a fly bridge structure may limit you. On the other hand a protruding pilothouse may also. On the other hand many flybridges offer good or at least reasonable storage for light, bulky stuff that can't be stored easily below.

Very important is visibility from the inside steering station. Some boats have very good visibility from inside, some do not. Be sure if you avoid a flybridge model that you can REALLY see allowing for bow rise, railings, etc.

My own experience. I had a 24' flyb cruiser and used both stations depending on weather. Usually I was on the bridge for docking.
The next boat was a hardtop express cruiser, precursor to the sunbridges, and had no choice but visibility was good. That also gave us weather protection which is important here and when we used to do winter cruising.
My current boat, 32', of nearly 30 years has both. I seldom run from the flybridge at all anymore. Comfort, coffee, talk to my wife, and excellent visibilty including most docking situations. Also I could afford to outfit one station resonably well with gear, not two. However there are times when the flybridge is great in a new, tight quarters docking situation. Most docking though are from below. And of course I do use the extra storage up above to keep prawn and crab traps and some other gear that would be almost impossible to find space for below.

So don't write off one or the other untill you have studied a lot more. No matter what you choose there will be tradeoffs.
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:50 PM   #3
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Flybridge or not, is a matter of style and use. Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:
1. Better visability and the wind in your face feel.
2. Another space; great for parties
3. On bigger boats, a davit can pick up and store your dinghy on the boat deck

Cons:
1. Cost, but not much
2. Exposed to the weather, but a bimini and side curtains will help
3. Weight and windage
4. Motion underway is accentuated up high

We had a Mainship trawler with a flybridge that we used on the west coast, mostly for trips to Catalina. There was a lower helm station, but no helm seat. I rarely used the lower helm.

When we moved to NC we bought a downeaster style with no flybridge. The only downside is noise below and I do miss the better visibility of the flybridge.

David
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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I have had both. Both have their advantages. Want to climb steps and ladders? Get a fly bridge. No question there is better visibility up there. I miss it when "eye ball" navigating in the Bahamas. Other than that I love the complete pilot house for running the boat. If you have the flexibility of opening it to the out of doors or closing for protection from rain, cold or heat. It comes down to a very personal preference.
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:56 PM   #5
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We have a flybridge helm that we rarely use. Of course it's nice to sit up there in the sun from time to time. Traveling at 7-8 knots would get really boring if I was stuck on the flybridge. My father uses his flybridge to dock (better visibility for his aft cabin trawler). I have a sedan, so I can see behind me alright from the inside helm. Good luck with your search, to each his own when it comes to choosing the right boat for you.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:25 PM   #6
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Yes Quieter better visibilty best to have both
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:32 PM   #7
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As one who has traveled the ICW for about 10 years, half from the from the low helm of a 34' sailboat, and the rest from the flybridge of a 34' trawler, I can assure you that if you are planning to spend time in "the ditch" you will be glad you chose a boat with flybridge. The added height is a plus for navigation/spotting daymarkers, handling docking, awareness of oncoming and passing traffic, and on a nice day the breeze is a whole lot better. A lower helm is nice when the weather turns, and I doubt I'd like a trawler-style boat without a lower helm (they are out there), but we do almost all our piloting from the bridge. If your wife doesn't want to be up there, she can relax in the salon; my wife often does.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
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We never drive the boat from the flying bridge because neither my wife nor I like the sight picture from up there for close-in maneuvering. We find it much easier and more accurate to judge the boat's position from the lower helm than from the flying bridge. Deck access while docking is far faster from the lower helm if the person on deck needs a fast hand. Also we can't hear or smell what's going on in the engine room up there.

We nearly had a fire in the lower helm instrument console shortly after buying the boat due to a failed intercom/PA unit and had my wife not discovered it when she went below to get something our first clue there was a problem may well have been the flames. So we will never again operate a boat from the flying bridge.

That said, it's a great asset to the boat. Guests like to ride up there when it's nice and it's a great place to sit once we've reached our destination. So I'm glad we have it. However we both feel the ideal boat configuration is a raised pilothouse. If we had that we would probably prefer not to have a flying bridge at all although some pilothouse boats (Krogen, Fleming, etc.) can be had with a flying bridge just aft of the pilothouse.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:29 PM   #9
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IMO - Should have both! Salon and bridge pilot stations have + and - for differing reasons. Here are a few for the bridge!

1. Seasonal weather enjoyment,
2. Docking and/or anchoring reasons/conditions – instant 360 degree views,
3. Relaxing while on the hook,
4. Talking to other boat's passengers,
5. Reading books,
6. Privacy while writing poetry or having a close conversation,
7. Keeping close eye on young grand kids while swimming, or on boat decks, or while in the dink,
8. Watching fireworks on the 4th,
9. More room to have guests,
10. Greater safety in dual starter/controls/gauge stations,
11. Easier more accurate maneuvering in tight conditions or heavy boat traffic or heavy debris areas (such as Hells Gate NY NY),
12. Breathing room... when needed,
13. More seating,
14. Good sun-tan location,
15. Watching whales/seals/proposes,
16. Better night time piloting vision,
17. Increased hearing of area sounds while cruising (in day, night, or fog), or at dock, or at anchor,
18. Open-air for clearest, most unobstructed spotlight use,
19. Capability to keep close eye on those bottom fishing,
20. Visual trawling assistance to see angle of fishing pole lines and to follow chum line, and;
21. Of course... one of the most useful/prized commodities to assist ANY boat owner - - > Added cabinets and deck space to store more marine items, swimming apparatus, coolers, filled garbage bags – or, as often happens – simply some useless junk!

Just to mention a few of my reasons for having a bridge! lol

PS: I pilot from the bridge 99.9% of the time and love to often be on top when anchored in good weather ... so... my take on liking a fly bridge may be just a little bit slanted!

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Old 08-28-2012, 03:09 PM   #10
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I like the fly bridge as well to navigate from because of the unobstructed visibility. As a rule I will come into a marina on the flybridge and finish my docking manuvers at the lower helm because I do have a better feel of the boat and so I can go out onto the deck if needed to give an extra hand.

The main problem I have with no flybridge is poor visibility on a good day much less on a bad rain and salt spray day on cabin windows. Having another helm option in a sticky situation is priceless!

Consider this, if you have a fly bridge you don't have to use it. However if you need it it is there and the price difference really should not be much of a factor.

Best of luck how ever you choose!

Davy
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:09 PM   #11
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I think Art wants you to have a fly bridge. He left off a couple of things you can do us there, but I'm sure he will think of them.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:24 PM   #12
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We don't need no stinkin' flybridge.

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Old 08-28-2012, 03:49 PM   #13
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...It depends where you want to go or will go. You cannot be in the Tropics without a flybridge or,...turn your A/C on all the time!
Just ask those who came this way and didn't have one. They wish thay had.

Obviously, I do not see a point in having one if you are to cruise in Alaska.

Rgs
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:51 PM   #14
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Reading all the comments it appears to depend on where you live more then anything else.If your are up in the PNW where it is cool and damp alot of the time, you will most likely not use a FB as much. Most other loacations where it is warmer and dryer, I think you'll find most folks love their flybridges. The two bigs other things to consider at:

1. How are your knees and ankles ? Lots of stairs.

2. For most of your criuising grounds, do you need to contend with bridges, that will be required to open, to let you pass ?

I've always had a flybridge and live up their summer or winter. But winter in the CA Delta is hardly considered winter by most. I still own coats from my time in New Hampshire that i have not worn in 30 years,, but i keep them as a reminder.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:52 PM   #15
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Mark. Your look in that picture shows like you miss town...
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonstruck View Post
I think Art wants you to have a fly bridge. He left off a couple of things you can do us there, but I'm sure he will think of them.
Other things are X Rated - And, FUN TOO!!

Ain't flybridges a blast!
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:16 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard View Post
Hello,
My wife and I are anticipating the trawler lifestyle, and have attended TrawlerFest, visit Yachtworld.com, etc.
I have the impression that on those trawlers with flybridges, the flybridges are used the majority of the time for piloting. So for me, it makes sense to look for a boat with a flybridge. And it adds another living space.

Wizard
--------------------------------------------------------------
I love my flybridge because (in no special order):

Great visibility while underway

Much quieter and you can hear the marine environment better

More comfortable seating

Great for entertaining (While underway or at the dock)

Nice semi private sunbathing location for the ladies.

All the other positive comments everybody else said

- AND FINALLY -

Californian Trawlers are butt ugly without a flybridge!!



Larry B
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:23 PM   #18
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If you get hung by weather like i did in 2010 didn't leave NC untill Dec 27th. It was rough not having a lower helm station. Once in south Florida it was very nice and its much quiter than in a lower helm, I wanted one on my current trawler but it would change the C/G after i spent the entire rebuild moving it lower on the boat so i am stuck with inside helm only. It is better to have it and learn you don't like it rather than wish you had one later !
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:24 PM   #19
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If your are up in the PNW where it is cool and damp alot of the time, you will most likely not use a FB as much.
A lot of people up here who prefer driving from the flying bridge will have them enclosed and in some cases, heated. As it rarely gets down to freezing here temperatures are not so much an issue as rain and wind. A flying bridge enclosure deals with the weather issue as well as provides protection for the com and nav systems.

Another thing to consider with regards to the use of a flying bridge is that the higher off the water one gets, the greater the motion--- pitching and rolling--- they will experience. If one boats in relatively smooth waters all the time it's not an issue but if encounters with rough water are a possibility or frequent, having a lower helm could be very beneficial particularly for people with a low tolerance of boat motion.

The redundancy of a second helm station is nice to have although in the case of our boat with its chain and cable steering if the lower helm ceases to function the upper helm won't work either. But our multi-function depth/speed/etc. instrument has a repeater up top and we have a new self-contained GPS plotter for our fishing boat that can be mounted on the GB's flying bridge console, too. So we could run and navigate the GB from the flying bridge if we absolutely had to.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:33 PM   #20
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Good call Marin about the cable or chain steering, I know my other boat was Hydraulic but the Honey Badger is single cable rack and pinion not even sure how a second helm would attach .
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