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Old 05-15-2019, 10:36 AM   #21
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I have never had any problem seeing everything - let alone anything at night, but then my window is raked back. I don't suffer from instrument glare bouncing around either. Maybe that's why boats that spend serious amounts of time underway at night ie. trawlers and naval craft have raked windows.
Been on plenty of raked window boats and any amount of light inside usually inhibits night vision.


The pros generally agree and why lookouts are often outside when conditions permit.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:36 AM   #22
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On several designs, a pilot house gets you just a few degrees higher enough to see that log in the water in front of your bow. I've got one and love it but I also have pilot house doors on both sides, which I highly recommend.
Again its personal choice but I've never had or wanted a fly bridge because it's either too hot, too cold, bugs, and i'd prefer to limit the number of trips i take to a dermatologist.
In addition to the other manufacturers mentioned, I'd suggest the OP look at Nordic 42, or American Tug 41/435.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:45 AM   #23
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Been on plenty of raked window boats and any amount of light inside usually inhibits night vision.


The pros generally agree and why lookouts are often outside when conditions permit.
yes of course, but hey I can only speak of my experiences.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:19 PM   #24
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This is easy to check out if you have a marina with a Nordic Tug roughly around 30 feet and a Ranger Tug, roughly around 30 feet. So before I begin, my bias for the waters around me is for an Express Cruiser, not a trawler - sometimes I want speed, i can always slow down.

To me the Ranger Tug is an express cruiser in drag. I mean how fast can it go and how fast can a true tug go, no contest. But the Ranger has a layout I like, the inside helm is open to the rest of the cabin. You have no isolation so that when guest are with you or your partner is present, you are part of the social group.

Now if you look at a Nordic Tug, you are isolated from the your guests. Its kind of like the new open concept in kitchens. Most don't want to be isolated in a kitchen when guests come over, the cook still wants to be part of the socializing; hence the removal of walls if you watch those renovation shows. Usually the first thing to go is the wall between the living room and kitchen.

I also feel, especially on smaller boats such as my 29 foot express cruiser, the salon area feels and is bigger when the inside helm is part of and not separated from the salon. So the salon on the Ranger Tug will feel larger than the salon on the Nordic Tug.

Now for the suggestion you need isolation to properly and safely maneuver a boat, this of course just doesn't hold water, so to speak. Driving a car is much more dangerous than boating ever will be, every time we pass a car, a car passes us, we turn, back up, and park we put ourselves at risk far more often than boating. Yet we have passengers in a car frequently in the "salon."

For night boating, you just need to ensure you have proper night lighting while under way. I'm putting a new LED, four little rectangle jobbie with both blue and white light, the blue for night time piloting. You will lose your night time vision if a bright light comes on but use an infantry trick. If you have to have a light on for a short period of time for whatever reason, close one eye and leave it closed, it will retain night vision, you'll probably only need one eye to complete your task, like get a pop out of the fridge.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:39 PM   #25
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We really dig our raised pilothouse. It's where everyone gathers when underway (it has a big L-shaped Settee and a watch berth), we have great visibility, it's protected and warm in the winter and it doubles as a "room/office" when not underway.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:47 PM   #26
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Also I'd say that if you plan ocean cruising then that needs to be done from the PH. I remember climbing up to the flybridge when I was 30 miles offshore and it felt really insecure.

I agree, especially at night and or in rough seas. Our pilot house also has a "watch berth" which allows the person off watch to sleep yet be readily available.
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:49 PM   #27
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I favor a PH for many of the reasons mentioned. In our boat I also find it convenient that I can access the engine hatch in the PH sole and not disrupt activity in the saloon. The forward berth and head are still accessible as well. I don't have a fly bridge and don't really miss it. Perhaps if I were cruising in the Bahamas I might due to the better angle to visibly navigate shalliws and ariund coral
Agree. Also, having both port and starboard doors and stern-facing windows provide good visibility and environmental awareness.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:59 AM   #28
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have yet to be in a pilothouse of anything from 26 feet to 399 feet that you can see anything at night through windows. You either go outside or stick your head outside or look through an open window for true night vision.

For those who do long passages, it is not practical to stand watch with your head out the window. Hence I believe either having bridge wings or a Portuguese bridge is really helpful.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:52 AM   #29
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It's also not practical to actually stand watch from the bridge wing or Portuguese bridge if you are the sole watch stander. And they are not all that practical on ldsx than 40 foot vessels.


So "seeing" stuff in the water on dark, choppy nights is almost a joke except occasionally....... small boats and their operations are usually a compromisd in many ways.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:25 AM   #30
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As usual on TF, we chime in supporting our own choices supporting anchors, engines, sedan, pilot house, sun deck yada yada. If the OP were to be a bit more revealing on things like cruising grounds, desired boat speed, budget, boat appliances, number of berths, ER access etc possibly some different answers would spring forth.

My top of the list ocean traveler is a non pilot house FPB. When I was younger it was a Hinckley sail boat. Today, the cruising grounds are inhabited with motoring sail boats. Grand Banks made their name on thousands of non PH cruise worthy vessels.

Discussions about night vision just don't apply in many cruisers game plan for a variety of reasons in the PNW. Right now I'm in Petersburg AK with 18 hours of daylight. Probably 99.9% of most cruisers' miles are daylight only. I can't imagine why a sane person (commercial fishermen excepted) would consider a night time cruise in BC given the debris.

So what is it for the OP? A top shelf PH Nordhavn for crossing oceans, a coastal PH Selene, a hot selling Ranger Tug, a very nice older Grand Banks, a flush deck Hatteras, an Elling, Sea Ray, Aspen power cat, Albin, or Ocean Alexander sedan?

All of the aforementioned are great boats IMHO. So many choices, hopefully intended use is taken into account.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:35 AM   #31
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To have or not to have a pilothouse?

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It's also not practical to actually stand watch from the bridge wing or Portuguese bridge if you are the sole watch stander.

Hmm good point. So Iíd make sure that window placement in the pilot house is such that you could see the radar display from the bridge wing through the window. Engine gauges donít need constant scanning, but radar is the #1 most helpful tool to the watchstander (other than his eyes). Thanks
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:04 AM   #32
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I think is hugely depends on your cruising style. For over night passages, having a dark PH while the rest of the boat can have lights is really nice. But for other cruising, a PH could isolate you from others on the boat. Your call whether thatís good or bad :-). When the PH has enough room, we find it becomes the proverbial kitchen in a house where everyone gathers. Itís typically the best viewing location as well.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:35 AM   #33
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I think is hugely depends on your cruising style. For over night passages, having a dark PH while the rest of the boat can have lights is really nice. But for other cruising, a PH could isolate you from others on the boat. Your call whether thatís good or bad :-). When the PH has enough room, we find it becomes the proverbial kitchen in a house where everyone gathers. Itís typically the best viewing location as well.

We find the same thing. Folks seem to congregate in the PH. Our boat is only really 40í if you donít count the 3í swim step. As such, the PH is about 1-2í shorter in length than would be ideal. Even so, we have comfortably had 5 adults and an infant all in the PH while under way. It really is the best place to watch the world go by at 7 knots outside of the flybridge.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:37 PM   #34
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I can't imagine why a sane person (commercial fishermen excepted) would consider a night time cruise in BC given the debris.

Judging by this comment, this person doesn't do much night cruising/sailing in BC waters. Like all things in life it depends....... 1) forward sonar 2) location 3) cruising speed.

In my sailing days, I hung out with a group of sailboat owners who often left work at 5 PM, arrived at which ever marina in the Vancouver area and above, and would sail off into the darkness as it was either late October, November, December, January, February. At one point I realized I had done more sailing in the dark than in the light. Over time, I personally hit two dead heads which just clunked along the hull.

I actually consider night cruising/sailing to be safer than day time cruising. Most recreational boaters are afraid to cruise in the dark and commercial traffic is greatly reduced. When you see a large commercial vessel, its usually lit up like a ride at the state fair. The only issue you need to be cognizant of is tugs towing barges and log booms, but in the Vancouver area, mostly barges. A Seattle man and his family cruising in Vancouver at night, new to boating, didn't know the light display for a vessel towing a barge and he made the mistake of steering his yacht between the two.

With forward sonar doing 8 knots or less, you have more of a heads up than any visual reference in the dark, unless you have one of those cloudless full moon nights.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:00 PM   #35
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Judging by this comment, this person doesn't do much night cruising/sailing in BC waters. Like all things in life it depends....... 1) forward sonar 2) location 3) cruising speed.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time sailing in the dark. Sometimes it was on long races, most of the time it was due to an outboard motor running out of gas, quitting, or in a couple of cases, blowing up. Then the combination of lack of wind and opposing current would make the trip back to our dock a very long process.


As an adult, I prefer to run during daylight hours. I'm not afraid of running at night, but even at 7 knots it can be tough to spot logs in the water. The exception is that I love to leave before dawn. There is is something magical about running the boat while the rest of the crew is asleep, watching the sun come up while sipping a cup of coffee.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:38 PM   #36
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Not afraid to boat in the dark, but all operational research I have come across says doing anything in the dark is harder, possibly more dangerous.


Emergencies tend to be amplified by darkness....which is the main reason I pleasure boat in daylight, not darkness.


Obviously, long distance cruisers that need to do overnight passages do them, but at greater risk, especially if not exceptionally prepared.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:57 PM   #37
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I've done many overnight sailing adventures. This is an activity that does not involve a couple of props, therein lies a bit of a difference vs a trawler. That said, I'd place a large wager that 75% of the sail boat miles traveled in the PNW are with sails furled.

So, other than RSN, who among us routinely pleasure cruises in the inland PNW waters during darkness in a 30 to 60 foot motor vessel?
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:02 PM   #38
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So, other than RSN, who among us routinely pleasure cruises in the inland PNW waters during darkness in a 30 to 60 foot motor vessel?
I would wager that age and retirement are the great influences to change those who are routinely making passages in the dark into those who haven't been in the dark in a long time.

In my sailing days, there were many nights that we hadn't yet rounded the turning mark before we could head home and it was already 02:00. Winter cruising would see us arrive at the boat at or after sunset and head out for a stay at an outstation at least 2 hours away. In the rain too.
Nowadays, we go when we know the weather is good, rarely late enough to risk losing the light and getting in late.
I have seen debris in the water all of my life, though since the demise of flat booms, not nearly as much. How long have the loggers been bundling or shipping wood down the BC coast? At least 25 yrs I think.
Nowadays the amount of free driftwood is a small fraction of what it was before that change in log booming practices.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:29 PM   #39
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We really dig our raised pilothouse. It's where everyone gathers when underway (it has a big L-shaped Settee and a watch berth), we have great visibility, it's protected and warm in the winter and it doubles as a "room/office" when not underway.
Ditto: and it's also our dining room leaving the saloon for lounging about and parties! The dinette converts to a double which, is only used on boys fishing trips when I choose to sleep up there..
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:32 PM   #40
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Then there is the "Cool" factor. Everyone knows women prefer men with pilothouse boats.

Totally unrelated.
I wonder how many former lifelong sailors come in out of the open cockpit to a pilothouse versus a flybridge?

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