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Old 04-07-2017, 10:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Some boats without a flybridge are miserable to drive due to bad lower station visibility, some are great from the lower station.

Until a particular boat is decided upon...all just wild guess opinions.

Is the 40 comfy driving from below?
I agree 100%! It's all about the boat, the comforts/conveniences, the equipment placement and the sight lines.

My 34 LRC has excellent, unimpeded 360* sight lines from the lower helm and it's my preferred helm. The FB has even better visibility but its equipment access is limited...no radar, no autopilot, small chartplotter, and no heat/fridge/weather protection creature comforts.




Up above, I feel the environment...down below, the comforts of the vessel. What's your preference?
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Old 04-07-2017, 10:53 PM   #22
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Our FB is totally enclosed so we steer from above. The lower actually has a plaque warning about limited sight lines and it looks factory installed. The PO told me he had never steered from the lower station. Other than the pretty wooden wheel it is a waste of space. But that is only my opinion. In a different boat with a different configuration ....

If I ever spring for wireless controls I might steer from anywhere.
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Old 04-07-2017, 11:13 PM   #23
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Visibility and ventilation are pretty good from the flybridge on my new boat

Same goes for the express bridge. New Stamoid and Strataglass are being installed right now, and a bridge A/C is next. As hot as it is in the summer here, being able to cruise in comfort is a big plus.
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Old 04-07-2017, 11:38 PM   #24
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Lower helm is great if you can stand the engine noise. Upper helm is ok if your'e not in a beam sea. They each have the good and bad points. If there was only one helm I would choose lower. Warmer and drier.
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Old 04-08-2017, 05:11 AM   #25
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For 15 years we drove from Maryland to fla, using the ditch. We only used the flybrige. So much debris, logs, timber, docks, especially after weather. We felt if we nicked a prop , there goes 5k. Also driving the rock pile, in South Carolina, was a white knuckle ride in itself, especially if a dropping tide. Always looking behind us, for perfect bearing.On one occasion driving south on the rock pile, a man in a small skiff, put his rod in the water, to show his depth, next to us. He was about 10feet away, about 5feet, of water,then granite .
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Old 04-08-2017, 05:21 AM   #26
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It's all about vis from the lower station....then other reasons.

This year we even left Jersey in better weather and headed north later than most years.

Haven't driven from the flybridge even one minute in 2000 miles this trip...including the Keys.

Never felt like it, never felt like I might not see something and hit it either.

To many years of being out in the wind and sun I guess, even though the helm chair up top is way more comfortable. It just doesn't make up for the rest on my boat.

Last liveaboard ONLY had a flybridge station and I loved it with a 3 sided enclosure, but seeing though the clear vinyl was a no go a lot of the time so you had to zip it open and you lost your protection from the elements to a degree.

Every boat is going to have its up and downs...pun intended for the driving spot.
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Old 04-08-2017, 07:33 AM   #27
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I am looking at a Mainship 35 foot, which only steers from the up stairs. Is this a concern? Do folks seem to feel that it can get too hot or buggy? The Mainship 40 foot gives me both options of driving from the top or bottom, do most find this a better option?

The 350/390 had a lower helm... so maybe you're talking about a boat from their non-trawler years?

Anyway, we had an earlier 34, with upper and lower helm. I really liked having the lower helm, but we used the flybridge about 99.9% of the time anyway. Visibility was better from up above, and we just liked being up there more. And then we have crab pots around here; did I mention visibility?

OTOH, a couple times when we fished early in the season, it was definitely nice to be inside with the heat on.

Our current ride has only a flybridge helm, and we've never felt the loss of a lower station. Wouldn't turn one down, depending on whatever consequences that might have on the rest of the interior accommodation, but wouldn't make it a requirement if we were shopping.

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Old 04-08-2017, 08:11 AM   #28
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Ok. Here's my two cents. A couple of weeks ago I had to drive my boat from the lower helm, by my lonesome. The Columbia was bull of debris due to high water, etc. There was no way I was going to be able to monkey down the ladder, throw dock lines, or what ever from the FB. 99.9% of my driving was from the upper helm -- I had help. From the FB you have a much better view. From the lower helm, there's mostly blind spots (everywhere). Which, makes operation from the top more appealing and you can see the crap in the river.

Back to the top. My eyes hurt from looking so hard from the lower station. I used binoc's a-lot. I trusted my radar to keep track of boats behind me. Additionally, there is no lower helm chair. The best part from the lower station was needing to use the head. I'd move to mid-river, put the boat in neutral, and us the head. Of course, there was no traffic. I do not have an autopilot.

The pro's and con's of the FB is going to be up to you. You can't use it if you don't have it.
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:24 AM   #29
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Lower helm stations on some boats, especially the old Taiwanese makes, are largely ceremonial. Really designed just to be backup helms. I believe the Mainship lower helms were just an option and not many people exercised it, but I am not the expert on that. The friends we knew that had one never used it because you couldn't see squat from it and the station was too high off the floor to be comfortable.

For us though, we boat to get out in the air and sun. While we have a proper pilothouse now, we have only used it once when we moved the boat from Manteo to Morehead City. It was a tad chilly. Anyway, basic lower helms are a different animal than a pilothouse. Keep that in mind when you look at boats.

There are wildly different opinions on FB vs. piloting below, so it is up to you to decide which is right for your experience.
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:50 AM   #30
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For many reasons... most mentioned here already in one or another post... I strongly recommend dual helms.

- FB pilot station is great whenever conditions permit, as well as being fantastic vantage point for docking in close quarters and for sight seeing in general!

- Salon pilot station is great when conditions demand you get under cover or to help lower center of gravity in really rough seas.

- Having both pilot stations also provides assured safety of redundancy... always a welcome factor when needed - for any reason.

I do like to pilot from bridge 99% - but - have been glad to occasionally have the salon helm for the other 1%... as a stop gap when required!
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:59 AM   #31
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Around here ten months of the year it has to be fully enclosed to be useful. We don't like the oxygen tent look and feel so off it came. We do miss the FB on those beautiful days but the rest of the time warm, dry and cozy is the winner.

Our old Taiwanese Trawler has quite good visibility from below.

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Old 04-08-2017, 09:16 AM   #32
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Put me in the "drive from the flybridge" category. I get much more exhausted driving from the lower helm. But we live in Florida, and if we lived in the Pacific NW or Canada, I think I would feel differently.
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:46 AM   #33
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Here's the main reason we drive from the FB.
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:49 AM   #34
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Codger,

Are you in Sunroad? I think we saw your boat!
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:53 AM   #35
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We have single level boats on which there's no choice, but on those with flybridges, we use both helms most every day. On a flybridge boat, we're seldom if ever alone. Typically at least 4-6 people aboard. Which helm is a matter of weather and conditions. When it's nice out, we'll typically be on the bridge. When it's not, rather than go through putting the enclosure all in place, we'll go inside. Often we'll start the day at the lower helm. Easier to get away from the dock and out to sea plus we'll stay there while we're all eating breakfast or coffee drinkers having their coffee. Then we'll move up. When we did the Erie Canal we did fasten all the enclosure so we could spend time comfortably up top and enjoy the view.

Most sportfishermen and I see those here with SF's are strictly from bridge types. Those moving slow and those single handing typically are more lower helm types. One thing I'd say is that if you have two helms, then make them both as usable and functional as possible. If one has shortcomings, figure out how to address those. You'll find it worth the effort.
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:10 AM   #36
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I only have the pilothouse, but its elevated above what a normal inside helm would be. At about midway between the elevation of a flybridge and the normal inside helm, it offers me a good viewing angle without having to hang on in beam seas. Plenty of ventilation on nice days with both side doors open. Heat and air conditioning for when it's not so nice. 5 steps to the galley is also very nice. Wouldn't change a thing.

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Old 04-08-2017, 10:13 AM   #37
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BandB

To use my lower helm it would take ten minutes to move stuff off the lower helm seat, that's how much it is used.
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:14 AM   #38
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We all know you steer from the engine room. LOL
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:23 AM   #39
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Visibility?...I would compare it to a road vehicle. Over the years I have never had one I could see all four corners. Still manage to parallel park just fine. You get a feel for it. Like how far the swim platform sticks out etc. You could always put up tall orange plastic poles all the way around to assist you if its that bad ��
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:23 AM   #40
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Ted

We all know you steer from the engine room. LOL
Well some of us do have that much room there.

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