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Old 11-30-2017, 06:36 PM   #1
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Question Inside Helm: Needed or Not? & Entry Door Beside Inside Helm:. Needed or Not?

Ahoy Y'all. Still trawler shopping for something in the 40'-44' range.

Question # 1: I've been pretty sure that one feature I definitely want is an inside helm. But I've seen a bunch of boats that were gorgeous, that we would have bought in a minute, except that they had no inside helm.

I would really value your opinions on how important (or unimportant), you have found it to have an inside helm.

Question # 2:. Of the boats we've found that had an inside helm, some had an entry door right next to the helm station. Others did not. Any thoughts about how important that side entrance is? Any thoughts on how hard it is to cut in a door if there isn't one there?

Please let me know what you think. All your comments about various brands of engines that you sent in reply to my previous post were a HUGE help!
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Old 11-30-2017, 06:41 PM   #2
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An inside helm is pretty nice in rainy or cold weather.

I doubt you could cut a door where there isn't one. If you want a door, buy a boat with a door.
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Old 11-30-2017, 06:48 PM   #3
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By inside helm, I assume you mean a downstairs helm. I think the answer lies in where you boat, how protected the flybridge/upstairs helm is and your own preferences/how you expect to use the boat. My brother has a Mainship 40, we live in a sub tropical climate and he never uses the downstairs helm. We chartered a trawler in the Chesapeake in late October and we were upstairs/outside as much as possible but there were time when the weather meant we drove from the downstairs helm.

Regarding an entry door righ next to the helm, I think it is handy but not an absolute necessity. However this again will be personal preference and dependency could be are you handling the boat by your self often. If this is a necessity I would opt for a boat that already had one, rather than modifying a boat to have one.
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Old 11-30-2017, 06:50 PM   #4
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Don't sell yourself short. Boat's are too expensive to compromise on something that you feel is important to you. And they are not like houses where its location, location, location.

If it is for you then it won't go past you. Be patient, your boat will come along.

Running from below when it is raining or cold is a pleasure. I prefer to run from the flybridge due to all around visibility. But every time I have been forced below by weather I also say to the missus, "that was a really quiet and comfortable run, why don't we run from below more often?"

Her reply "you say that every time you run from below!"

And yes, having the door there is very useful.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:02 PM   #5
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I had the same question for my broker 25 years ago. His advice--inside helm yes, door no. He said the doors can leak and take up wall space that might be better used. I took his advice and learned that wall space is tight on a boat, even one over 40' (we put a tall trash can where the door would otherwise be, hidden from view by the helm bench.) As for leaks, I have no experience since I have no door but can say that driving from on top is much preferable to driving from inside, when we were younger," "tougher" even in the rain and wind. But more recently, being less "tough" we enclosed the flybridge making for an all weather helm area (and have said to ourselves many times "why did we wait so long to enclose this thing.)
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:15 PM   #6
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I've been tossed around up on the flybridge in some nasty waves. When it's gets to rough I go to the downstairs helm. Having a downstairs helm is definitely a plus. I also have a helm door and love that too.
"ALEKA" 43 Albin trawler Portsmouth NH
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by captnscott View Post
I've been tossed around up on the flybridge in some nasty waves. When it's gets to rough I go to the downstairs helm. Having a downstairs helm is definitely a plus. I also have a helm door and love that too. "ALEKA" 43 Albin trawler Portsmouth NH
Agree. Flybridge is not a fun place to be during rough weather.
I consider a door mandatory. Easy to step out to set or retrieve anchor, quicker trip out to handle lines, nice breeze when you head for lower helm to get out of the sun, better visibility out stbd side, but they are more maintenance.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:26 PM   #8
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I had a 46í trawler that both helm stations. We currently have a 41í trawler that only has the flybridge helm. I bought it because I didnít want to give up the room in the salon. We just put a hardtop on the flybridge so weather isnít really an issue. It is striclty personal preference. I would buy a boat that is in better condition rather one that has or does not have a lower helm.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:42 PM   #9
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I normally run from the raised pilothouse, and really like that design. Visibility is good, doors both sides to access the Portuguese Bridge, which is also a feature I love. When in the river I briefly pop out both doors to check behind before turning. My nav set-up is better there too - 24" monitor, usually split screen with nav on one side and radar on the other.

My flybridge has a hardtop, so has good sun protection. I dislike plastic clears so it is open. The downside is that a lot of the time the wind strength or windchill can make it much less desirable than the pilothouse.

Look at as many different styles of boats as you can. If possible charter the one you like before buying. Boats are easy to buy but can take a really long time to sell, so its worth taking time and spending a few $$ before making the big commitment.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:51 PM   #10
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Wifey B: Would not purchase a cruising boat of any sort without an inside helm. I don't want to be limited. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night shall stay me from the swift completion of my appointed rounds.

The door. Strong strong desire to have it. However, many boats have controls now on the side deck, aft deck, portable, wherever, and that does make it more feasible to deal with no door.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:53 PM   #11
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We have both and in the three years or so that we have owned Malagari I could count on one hand the number of times I have driven from up top, The reality for us is the dog - too much trouble getting her up top so my wife and the dog stay down, with me in solitary splendour on the flybridge. Some might think of this as nirvana - I find its lonely.

As for the door - its just so handy being able to duck out and attend to the anchor - we have it down to a great routine - the door allows me to exit to the right from the wheel and go forward as my wife slides in from the left and takes over the helm. Coming alongside on the stbd side means I can help with the lines too. I can on port as well of course but it takes a smidge longer to get to them.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:55 PM   #12
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Inside Helm: Needed or Not? & Entry Door Beside Inside Helm:. Needed or Not?

I would say depends where you and how do you plan to use your boat. If you are to roam around a Carribean island well donít think you will use lower helm much. If you plan to cruisein Alaska well better to have one. I am using my boat only from may to october in Canada and donít use lower helm much. In fact I used it twice in 2 years, but each time I was very happy to have one instead of taking a shower in the cold rain or being forced to be out in an early morning during a cold autumn day.

And you could reverse the question, do I need a flybridge, my answer would be the same.

L
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:08 PM   #13
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I only have an inside helm, I have two doors, I donít have leaks because I have a 2í covered walkway all the way around, in the summer when making fishing trips I have shorts and long sleeves on, cuz itís cold up there.
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:10 PM   #14
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I removed the lower steering station on a MK 1 Mainship 34 because there was no side door. Lower helm on it was useless. I now have a lower station with a side door. Seldom use it but it is functional and I can see its usefulness. Bridge steering is the preferred method, vision and all that. I could bail from the bridge about as fast as to deal with lines as from the lower helm.

You are in Fort Pierce, as am I. My canvas plan and the mild climate + the fact I do not, as a general rule, travel in nasty weather. I would not hesitate to have a boat with only bridge steering. The only functionally I can see is if you are going to do the great loop or spend a lot of time up north, and even then with a good canvas plan, pick your days and some woolies you should be OK.
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:28 PM   #15
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I also wanted a lower helm with a FB and a helm door. With my wide side decks and stbd door, it's very simple to single hand my boat. It also helps in the fog and night runs to open the door for better listening and visibility. I would have been disappointed if I had accepted a boat without the lower helm and door.

I also appreciate the extra air circulation and enhanced traffic flow with my 3 doors open at anchor.
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:39 PM   #16
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Lower helm

When we first purchased our boat I always ran I from the upper helm. The prime reason being visibility particularly for close quarters manoeuvring. Overtime though I find myself using the lower helm more. Itís out of the weather, wind and rain but also including the bright sun even though we have a Bimini.
The lower helm with a side door is much more convenient for docking singlehanded and for anchoring. Just my preferences.
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:43 PM   #17
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My flybridge is canvas enclosed, itís heated and I have heated seats. I never use the lower helm any more. Now before the enclosure and heated seats I was down below 20% of the time in the summer months and 100% of the time in winter months.
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:45 PM   #18
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Where you go boating is a big factor, boats in use often reflect whether the area is warm enough for no lower helm. If I had to choose only one, I`d go lower helm, but having both is nice.
Definitely look for a helm door. I stand outside the cabin and reach in when reverse docking to operate the gears and line up with the dock finger. Plus you can help with docklines. Retrofit is not a good idea, unless you are desperately in love with a boat which has everything but that.
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Old 11-30-2017, 09:19 PM   #19
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No upper helm
No side doors.
Never think about either.
We go out on the outside deck through the aft cabin door. Never has the lack of either feature been noticed or been a problem.

There’s a bunch of features I could do without on my car w/o missing them. There’s a lot of stuff not needed on most boats so I think you should buy the boat you want. That’s what it’s about .. the boat. Go for it.
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Old 11-30-2017, 09:34 PM   #20
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My flybridge is canvas enclosed, it’s heated and I have heated seats. I never use the lower helm any more. Now before the enclosure and heated seats I was down below 20% of the time in the summer months and 100% of the time in winter months.
Heated seats? You win! I would use heated seats just to watch the sunset in the winter from the flybridge!
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