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Old 10-20-2015, 12:39 PM   #1
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To fly or not to fly?

I have seen many people on TF extol the virtues of a fly bridge for the sake of visibility, and I have seen a few references to stairs versus ladders for access. I sold my 3 story home in the city because the laundry was in the basement and the bedrooms were up on top floor. Bought in the country in a one story ranch with everything on same floor. I have also seen people reference their ages in 70's or more. I am in my 60's and 70% disabled through VA, Heart disease from Agent Orange. That also causes severe PAD in extremities. One reason for the laid back lifestyle of river cruising. Does anybody have a fly bridge and never go up there? Would a bow camera help visibility.? Most of the classifieds blare out "two nav sta's" like it's a good selling point. Does it add to the selling value, both for me and the next owner of my boat? Or should I just be looking for a boat with only a pilot house Nav Sta? Could be why I'm so taken by the Seapiper 35.
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Old 10-20-2015, 12:51 PM   #2
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Our boat has a flying bridge but we never operate the boat from it. We both prefer the sight picture from the lower helm even while close-in maneuvering. Plus the person driving is just a few steps from being able to assist the deckhand if necessary.

Guests often like to ride on the flying bridge if the weather is conducive and once we reach our destination we might go up there to enjoy the surroundings, read, have a meal, whatever. But if we didn't have a flying bridge we wouldn't particularly miss it.

But that's just us. A lot of boaters prefer operating from a flying bridge and spend most of their time up there weather permitting. Some people enclose the flying bridge so they can use it year round. It's purely a matter of personal preference. We feel the best configuration for a cruising powerboat is a raised pilothouse like Krogen, Nordic Tug, Victory Tug, deFever/Fleming, etc.
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Old 10-20-2015, 12:56 PM   #3
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to fly

So basically, if you was so minded, you could rearrange it into kind of an open deck lounge area? Not a bad idea, Thanks. I could probably get up there once, then wait a while to get back down. But stairs with rails would definitely be easier for me.
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Old 10-20-2015, 01:27 PM   #4
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My opinion: Depends whereyou will boat. Florida is flying bridge country. PNW non.My guess is a non flying bridge in Florida will be harder to sell.
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Old 10-20-2015, 02:04 PM   #5
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Marty, I must disagree with your assessment of the PNW. We have a fly bridge and in 5 years I've only driven from down below twice.


Unlike Marin, we prefer the view from above as we're cruising and especially when docking. But then, he lives on the Wet, errr, I mean West side of the state and I live on the east side where we get 300 days of sunshine a year. I suppose if I lived in a climate where it rained a LOT I might prefer to be down below.


Our fly bridge is the entertainment center for the boat. Even in the winter our guests seem to prefer to be up top with no heat rather than down below where it's 70*. Here's why.........


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Old 10-20-2015, 02:29 PM   #6
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I have both fly and lower station. I could use either, but find myself using the lower 95% of the time. Boat does have good all around vis, which many lowers do not. I like having all the nav gear, switches, everything.. out of the weather. Me included!!
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Old 10-20-2015, 03:15 PM   #7
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We had a flybridge and lower helm. Used the flybridge almost exclusively, except for when weather pretty much sucked (and we didn't have a great enclosure up above). Liked it that way, appreciated the options. But it was not a pilothouse design, so the lower helm didn't give great visibility forward, nor especially just near/under the bow -- where all those pesky crab pots hide. And we had a ladder, not stairs. Bagged that.


Went to a "rancher" -- an express boat. Not a pilothouse. Didn't like not being able to see down ahead of the bow. Bagged that.


Went back to a flybridge boat, with stairs. No lower helm, but good enclosure and a greenhouse affect when useful. All good. If we had a lower helm, maybe even better... but it wouldn't be at pilothouse level, so wouldn't be much of a gain for the times we'd use it.


IF we had a lower helm at pilothouse level, I'm guessing visibility forward and down would be improved over straight sightlines from a typical express boat. Might be able to live with only that, especially if physical challenges present.


I expect I'd want to compare pilothouse vision to flybridge vision... but at least I know I don't much care for standard non-pilothouse/express boat sightlines.


Our bridge is the standard social center; salon next if weather dictates, cockpit usually last BUT... that also depends on which way the sun is setting. Sometimes the cockpit is nicely shaded when the bridge is not... so we modify accordingly.




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Old 10-20-2015, 04:56 PM   #8
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Marty, I must disagree with your assessment of the PNW. We have a fly bridge and in 5 years I've only driven from down below twice.

Guess I wasn't clear. I was trying to differentiate between two markets as to desirability on resale. There are a couple of boats that come with and without a flying bridge. My estimate was that one could sell a Nordic Tug, for example, without a flybridge in the PNW without resistance because of the lack of a flybridge. In Florida however the market would heavily favor the Nordic Tug with a flybridge. May be wrong but I see more non flybridge boats in the PNW than in Florida.
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Old 10-20-2015, 05:57 PM   #9
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I mostly helm from the Pilothouse. There is purposely no enclosure for the flybridge and wind chill is a factor up there for much of the year, even at latitude 27.5ļS, even at trawler speeds. Also, I prefer the 24" PC screen in the Pilothouse to the MFD 12 on the flybridge for nav/radar display. Now it would not be a showstopper if a potential purchase did not have a flybridge.
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Old 10-20-2015, 07:13 PM   #10
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In experience the only boat owners that complain about fly bridges are the ones that don't have one .
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Old 10-20-2015, 07:37 PM   #11
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Lots of debris floating around in the PNW, a flybridge will give you a commanding view.
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:08 PM   #12
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To fly or not

So you think a pilothouse with a bow cam?. Would the monitor be a help or a distraction? Maybe some in/around Fla but Inland rivers and Atlantic ICW, mostly. Some Glakes in summer.
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:41 PM   #13
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I don't know how much value a bow camera would add. We have never felt a need to see any closer to our bow that we can from the lower helm, and we don't have a pilothouse boat.

We drove from our flying bridge helm when we first got our boat but quit using it for that purpose not long after. In large part because we find it easier and more accurate to judge our position and the boat's movement during close-in maneuvering from down below.

And partly because we averted a boat fire because my wife happened to go below to get something out of the galley and smelled the piece of electronics (loud hailer/intercom) burning up. We decided we preferred driving from where we can hear, feel and smell what's going on in the engine room and with the boat's systems.

We boat in the PNW where there is a fair amount of debris in the water and while it's true one gets a better view of what's ahead from the flying bridge the advantage is not so great to make it worth it to us to drive from up there. I've not measured it but I suspect the eye height difference between the lower and upper helm is only about six or seven feet if that.

The photo below gives a pretty good idea of what things look like from our lower helm. I took the shot on the center-line of the boat. The actual steering position is more to the right and with the large windows all around the main cabin visibility is very good.
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:49 PM   #14
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Wanderin, I think a bow camera would be an invitation to a disaster. One of two things would likely happen=== #1, visibility would be limited due to the size of the screen so you might miss seeing something that would wouldn't want to hit, or #2, you'd get focused on watching the screen and take your eyes off the horizon so much you'd fail to see the approaching hazard from your side.


A couple of years ago I helped a guy take a boat from Seattle to Stockton. As we were heading down the winding channel into Ilwaco, WA he was intently watching his three screens on the helm. He was so intent on watching the screens that if I hadn't warned him he'd have run out of the channel and run us aground.


When I casually mentioned that he should take his eyes off the screens and focus on where he was heading he got pi$$ed at me. Go Figure!
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:59 PM   #15
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.....he was intently watching his three screens on the helm. He was so intent on watching the screens that if I hadn't warned him he'd have run out of the channel and run us aground.

If I had a dollar for every time we've seen a big cruising boat plow by with the helmsman up on the flying bridge with his head buried in the instrumentation we could afford that Fleming we don't want any longer.

Electronic aids are great and we have ours on including the radar whenever the boat is underway. But it seems to be very easy for a lot of people to get totally immersed in the screens and forget about the reality outside the windows.
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:57 AM   #16
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My rule number one is: Most important navigation device is the windshield. Use it.
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:25 AM   #17
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Put us firmly in the two helm camp. We boat to be out enjoying nature and sight seeing. The view is so much better up there regardless of where you do your boating. One of the big things that attracted us to the Hatteras was the big flying bridge and the stairs some PO had made to get up there. And, all the alarms, controls and instrumentation were duplicated up there, including a Furuno black box system with a 19" monitor that folded down into a protective covered nook. The flying bridge had a set of full enclosures that neither I or the PO ever put to use. And another thing was the excellent visibility and ergonomics of the lower helm for bad weather days and most docking situations. Having charter boated a lot in the PNW, California, and southern Florida, a flying bridge was a requirement when buying a boat to live and cruise on full time. Clear free airspace is better than a windshield for navigation, IMO.
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:26 PM   #18
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Depends on the boat, number of people aboard, and the cruising grounds.

The OP referenced a three story home. I think of it as a rooftop sundeck. Also, when you have a ranch style home you can get out and roam the yard if you want to be outdoors. On a ranch style boat, you can't do that, beyond a few feet. You can't walk out on the water.

In good weather, we just think of a flybridge as the place to be. It's refreshing, outdoors. The view is better. I think of the loop and the canals. Well, get up on top and you're able to look out while on a main deck you're seeing banks a lot.

For use around home and short trips and small groups of people, I'm fine without a flybridge. But for long range cruising and more people and days at a time on the boat, I want it. I think of the boat footprint as a limited sized lot and the only way to get more space is to go up. I can either go from a 50' to an 80' boat or I can just add a bridge.

As to operating, I prefer to operate a boat from where I want to be, indoors or out, down or up. Very seldom do we move up for visibility as we have excellent visibility from both helms. In fact, I've rejected boats from consideration because the visibility from the lower helm wasn't satisfactory. I didn't want to be forced to always operate from the bridge.
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Old 10-23-2015, 03:05 PM   #19
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It's nice to have choices and single helm boats miss out on those options. When I bought the boat for use in the CA Delta, it was nice having a FB to see above and beyond the levees lining many of the waterways. In warm months, it's refreshing to drive from up there.

Nowadays, I drive from the FB very seldom since all the comforts of home and excellent 360 degree visibility reside at the lower helm. My FB comes in handy for storage. I frequently refer to it now as my attic.
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Old 10-23-2015, 05:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Our boat has a flying bridge but we never operate the boat from it. We both prefer the sight picture from the lower helm even while close-in maneuvering. Plus the person driving is just a few steps from being able to assist the deckhand if necessary.

Guests often like to ride on the flying bridge if the weather is conducive and once we reach our destination we might go up there to enjoy the surroundings, read, have a meal, whatever. But if we didn't have a flying bridge we wouldn't particularly miss it.

But that's just us. A lot of boaters prefer operating from a flying bridge and spend most of their time up there weather permitting. Some people enclose the flying bridge so they can use it year round. It's purely a matter of personal preference. We feel the best configuration for a cruising powerboat is a raised pilothouse like Krogen, Nordic Tug, Victory Tug, deFever/Fleming, etc.
What can one add? Nothing. When Marin is right; he is really right.

He hit our exact sediments.

in the beginning we did think we would want it. Have driven it once from up there and never again for all the reasons mentioned above.

I have let my guests drive the boat from the fly bridge, but then I am in the pilot house watching like a hawk
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