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Old 05-22-2019, 11:35 PM   #1
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Pilothouse windows & master staterooms

I notice so many, if not all, trawlers have back-sloping PH windows & forward master staterooms. From what I've read re: my ideal boat, forward-sloping PH windows are superior to the back-sloping windows. I suppose it's more of a cosmetic thing, people wanting a svelte look to their boat, rather than a nautical, work boat look?


I also notice most boats have the master stateroom in the forward part of the boat, when most literature recommends the aft part. In British sailing days, the aft part was reserved for the capt. & senior officers; the middle part ("midships") was for junior officers & the forward part for the seamen. That's why Annapolis students are called "midshipmen."


I've seen only a few boats that have both these qualities, the Diesel Ducks, esp.
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Old 05-23-2019, 12:32 AM   #2
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I've slept from the bow to the stern in ships and boats. The best ride is near midships. Near the bow in a big boat or ship in a heavy swell, it like a constant elevator ride and the stern has too much propeller noise. Especially in a vessel with high speed screws. My current boat has the masters cabin midships and not far from the lower wheel.

Sailing ships were conned near the wheel and officers in the stern with the crew before the mast, gave the officers a raised deck and easier control of the ship in the event of a mutiny. Not that uncommon a few hundred years ago. It also was more convenient for the captain when called to the wheel before a bridge was common.

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Old 05-23-2019, 01:16 AM   #3
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On my previous big boat the forward head was behind the collision bulkhead. I remember in heavy sees realizing how impossible it would be to even walk up there, not to mention use the head or sleep in the crew cabin just aft of it.

Ideally there would be a very large foc's'l just behind the collision bulkhead, then your master stateroom wouldn't be in such a horrendous place in rough seas.

But that takes up interior space. So you have to ask yourself if your priority is a floating condo or a real sea boat?

An alternate compromise would be to leave the big island queen up in the bow, for use when anchored. But take a lesson from sailboats and have a couple of sea berths in the salon or aft area for sea use.
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Old 05-23-2019, 06:12 AM   #4
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I have a approx 50’ Pilothouse boat with as you mentioned back sloping windows and a forward stateroom.

I would submit that in this size pilothouse boat there are only a couple of realistic design choices regarding stateroom placement, and access.

you can...

A. Access the staterooms from the salon area. This requires a compaionway from the salon, forward underneath the pilothouse. With this design you cannot have a full width master stateroom unless it is forward, which as you indicated is not a really desirable trait for sleeping underway. The plus side of this design is that your pilothouse is not required to be “cut up” making room for stairs, and that the stairs from the salon are straight, and relatively short, being only four or so steps.

B. Access the staterooms from the Pilothouse. This allows a full width master stateroom, which can be midship just forward of the engine spaces, the perfect place for sleeping underway. The challenge with this design is that the pilothouse needs to accommodate stairs, making it less useful. The stairs from the pilothouse are also by necessity longer, and often steeper because you need to go down the full height of the lower cabins.

In practicality you seem to see (in the 50’ size) most “passagemakers” having the stairs in the pilothouse, and many of the “coastal cruisers” having the stairs from the salon.

Possibly the reason is that most Coastal cruisers do not do full overnight open water passages all that often. It is just not necessary when coastal cruising, where passagemaking requires multi day cruises.

I think the same concept applies to window direction. A passagemaker is much more likely to encounter conditions where waves wash over the foredeck and things like portuguese bridges and reverse sloping windows are useful in protecting from these conditions.
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Old 05-23-2019, 07:38 AM   #5
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I've had both forward and backward sloping windows and much prefer forward sloping as they seem to do better in rain and let less sun in the pilothouse during the heat of the day. For the limited amount of night running I do, it really doesn't make a big difference to me. If I were crossing oceans with half of my underway time in the dark, I might feel differently.

Lots of pros and cons to master cabin placement. On a larger boat, I think I would prefer midship for size and motion. In the sub 50' category in warmer climates, I think I would want to be as far away from the generator and possibly split air conditioner units as possible. Aft cabins are nice and roomy, but make climbing from the swim platform to the deck on smaller boats, a pain. As I get older, I'm trying to reduce the number of staircases and ladders in my daily routine.

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Old 05-23-2019, 08:59 AM   #6
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I've had both forward and backward sloping windows and much prefer forward sloping as they seem to do better in rain and let less sun in the pilothouse during the heat of the day. For the limited amount of night running I do, it really doesn't make a big difference to me. If I were crossing oceans with half of my underway time in the dark, I might feel differently.
Good points about the rain and sun protection. However regarding to night vision I think it is critical for passage makers. When you're at sea for multiple days then, as you say, half that time is in the dark. Pilothouse needs to be pitch black and the instruments turned down or off completely.

BTW, the PH also makes a great place to have some privacy and quiet - something often overlooked on small boats.

BTW again, I always enjoyed how new crew or guests get completely freaked out when they climb into the PH at night for the first time. Actually kinda freaks me out also on day #1... thank God for radar!
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Old 05-23-2019, 09:21 AM   #7
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I chose forward sloping also, keeps the windows drier and gives more overhead space in the PH / helm area.
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Old 05-23-2019, 10:43 AM   #8
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We only have a helm on the flybridge which is what we wanted. We added a hardtop to the flybridge and made it extend forward over the front of the bridge enclosure so we have forward sloping windshield. It is great at night as we don’t get reflections on the windshield and it is nice in a gentle rain. The boat is a sundeck design so we have an aft master. The master is very quiet for sleeping and also dark for sleeping. It is tougher for line handling from the stern but we can deal with it since the boat meets almost all of our needs.
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Old 05-23-2019, 10:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by makobuilders View Post
Good points about the rain and sun protection. However regarding to night vision I think it is critical for passage makers. When you're at sea for multiple days then, as you say, half that time is in the dark. Pilothouse needs to be pitch black and the instruments turned down or off completely.
Mako/Diver: Are you saying forward sloping PH windows are a negative at night, including for a passage maker? I am only a coastal cruiser and generally travel within 30 miles of the coast. At night, its Dog Zebra, and the interior lights are off so I am looking out the windows every few minutes but mainly focused on the radar. The slope of the windows is therefore irrelevant in this case - IMO.
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Old 05-23-2019, 11:58 AM   #10
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Mako/Diver: Are you saying forward sloping PH windows are a negative at night, including for a passage maker? I am only a coastal cruiser and generally travel within 30 miles of the coast. At night, its Dog Zebra, and the interior lights are off so I am looking out the windows every few minutes but mainly focused on the radar. The slope of the windows is therefore irrelevant in this case - IMO.
No, not at all. I can't say which is better at night. In my experience of running boats at night, there are so many other variables that the window angle isn't what I remember as good or bad. Clearly either will work. If I were building a passage maker, I might spend more time evaluating the two styles.

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Old 05-23-2019, 12:13 PM   #11
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I think Kevin gave a great description of some of the reasons for cabin placement.


My ~40' boat has a forward cabin. My last sailboat had an aft cabin. I've experienced wave slap in both positions. Never had any problem with motion at anchor in either. During the winter, the forward cabin is a touch quieter as it is further away from the diesel furnace. The sailboat had a Webasto Air Top just on the other side of the bulkhead from the head of the after berth. Very loud. So I would look at boats that have other features you like and not worry about the position of the main cabin.


My current boat has aft-raked windows. I really wish it had forward raked windows. Forward raked windows with a good brow would keep the Pilothouse cooler on hot days and reduce the amount of rain on them. While I don't run very often at night, I think it would help with visibility as well. However, while a feature that would be nice, it certainly isn't something that would determine what boat I chose.
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Old 05-23-2019, 12:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ddw36 View Post
I notice so many, if not all, trawlers have back-sloping PH windows & forward master staterooms.
Selene
Nordhavn
Kady Krogen
Realship
Romsdale
Diesel Duck

to name a few

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I also notice most boats have the master stateroom in the forward part of the boat, when most literature recommends the aft part.
The air moves better there. Aft would require an Aft Cabin style boat, which then sacrifices the cockpit, overall external access and line handling.

Everything in a boat is a compromise.

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when most literature recommends the aft part.
Why? For what reason? How is it better?
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Old 05-23-2019, 12:22 PM   #13
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I like the forward sloping windows, from a practical point of view in minimising heat from the sun, and cosmetically as well. On the negative side, I expect forward sloping would be less aerodynamic when anchored in high winds or if hit with green water over the bow.

For night vision, if I want the best vision I go forward on the bow.

I enjoy my midship berth, even if it only a double, it's got a far more comfortable motion than the vee berth up front.
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Old 05-23-2019, 01:03 PM   #14
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We used to have a midship berth that was athwartship. We loved the 'reverse hammock' feeling when there was a little rocking. We found the air didn't move back there. We needed fans almost all the time.

The berth in the bow has more wave noise and creaking of snubbers. The motion is different, but we don't mind it. The creaking snubbers annoy me the most. However, we rarely need fans up there.
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Old 05-23-2019, 01:54 PM   #15
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Hi Fletcher I agree with the others that forward raking is better, as does the IMO in general for pilothouse design. Most important is just to eliminate reflections from instruments. At night I turned off everything except the compass binnacle which was on low. On clear nights I even turned to sleep my radar quite often and just checked every 10 minutes or so. Your eyes are your most important instrument unless you’re in heavy rain or fog.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:56 PM   #16
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Mako, I also agree that forward rake PH windows are a good thing. I have them, and echo the same comments as others. My initial comment was in regards to night time use. I thought you and Diver were saying they were an issue at night, but I misread your comment. Anyway, we are on the same page.
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Old 05-31-2019, 12:53 PM   #17
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Our bunk is amidship and we like it.
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Old 05-31-2019, 12:59 PM   #18
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I find discussions such as these invaluable as we research our next boat which will be longer range cruising. Thanks to all who contribute.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:08 PM   #19
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Love my forward rake, boat came with either option, but to me much clearer vision, especially less sun glare. Hadn't thought about the shade, but that's also a good point. There's a reason navy vessels almost always go forward rake, I imagine they have tested every possible angle at one time or another.
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Old 05-31-2019, 04:17 PM   #20
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Here's another vote for forward-raked windshield glass. The pilothouse dash and interior are better protected from heat and UV, and there is more usable overhead surface for mounting electronics, etc. But most appealing to me is (during night-time running) the reduced reflection from other light sources, inside or outside of the pilothouse.

When at sea the most comfortable place aboard for a berth is amidships. Next most comfortable would be aft. A forward cabin / berth is least desirable, mainly owing to the motion, but also to noise. For some folks noise in the forward stateroom can be an issue even at anchor, from wave slap. (When you're tired enough, that sound can be a sweet lullaby)!
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