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Old 07-26-2020, 08:43 AM   #1
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Second station - How much do you really use it?

Greetings all,

I'm shopping for the next boat, and not down to specific models yet. I'm hung up on wanting a second controls station. What I'm looking for will likely have a flybridge.

A little background - Currently an express cruiser user (06 Monterey 302 for sale!!) and mainly a river boater on the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. The plan is to move boating to Lake Superior, specifically Bayfield, Wisconsin. I have 2 small kids ages 8 and 6. And my stellar wife, who I've converted into a happy boater!

The goal is - It's a beautiful day in the boating-hood, up on the flybridge things going all good....Something changes, rain, cold, bugs, whatever.... I snap a cover over controls, walk down a stair/ladder, shut a door....carry on! I very much dislike isinglass and enclosures. Like a lot. A_LOT!

How much do you use your lower station, really?

My concerns:

1. It's limiting my boat search because it's not as common as I thought on a 32-42 foot boat. Mainly looking at 1998 and newer, but would jump at the right older vessel.

2. Will it suck? I've seen several comments about lower stations being unusable. Do you know of a specific setup that stinks so I can check it out?

3. Will I use it? More details, I grew up sailing Lake Superior on various sailboats, and am ok with some rain/wind/cold/bugs because sometimes you have to adapt and overcome to get to the good stuff right?

I welcome your always awesome opinions. Y'all never let me down!
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Old 07-26-2020, 08:46 AM   #2
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Thread started last month:

https://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/...elm-51263.html

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Old 07-26-2020, 08:48 AM   #3
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Missed that, Thank you!
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Old 07-26-2020, 08:53 AM   #4
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I almost always use my lower station...but I have decent visibility from there and I am comfortable operating a vessel from there.


Skin cancer and a bazillion hours driving boats keeps me off the bridge most days....I have had enough wind and spray in my face to last several lifetimes.


Those picture perfect days are enjoyable up there...but like I said... the joy has fizzled with time.


What many consider lousy lower steering stations don't bother me as much...it's sometimes what you are and aren't used to.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:02 AM   #5
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It's definitely very boat dependent. Some lower stations are great, others are an afterthought shoved in a corner and down too low in the boat so you can hardly see over the bow.

Flybridges vary as well. Some are comfy and a nice place to be, others are small and purpose-built and really meant as a place to run from when more visibility is needed / wanted (such as for fishing).

There are also boats which have a more express cruiser style helm up and aft like my boat. Mine isn't as high as a flybridge, but it's high enough to have good visibility. And it's got sight lines more like an express cruiser where you're looking over the cabin top, rather than way up and looking down on it. Being further back, it's got good visibility for docking.

Enclosure wise, a setup like mine usually gives you something in between. I've got proper glass windshields with wipers and a bimini (which I'd like to replace with a hard top). Center windshield opens for airflow on days where spray on the windshields isn't a concern. And there are isinglass side panels just aft of the windshields, but they normally get rolled up out of the way for nice weather. If the weather gets bad, drop the side panels, throw the aft canvas up (mine is fastback style because the bimini isn't full length, but there's an isinglass window in it). And then just keep going. Only downside there is no heat / A/C at the helm when it's all covered up.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:16 AM   #6
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I promised myself to never own an enclosue with eisenglass ever again after my last liveaboard...almost no good points.


BUT....now the different optically clear and easier to maintain, etc.... type enclosures have me thinking differently...except the pricing.


I just have a bimini top with no enclosure. Seconds to close and cover for a day or all year if need be. The new top only costs around $300 with boot as long as your frame fits some generic sizes. Keeps the sun and light rain off...which comprise 90 percent of my cruising days (probably 99% of my cruising time)...but I do miss the nearly inside storage area of a full enclosure.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:24 AM   #7
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We have a flush deck motor cruiser, and I love piloting it from the deck helm. It's one of the reasons we bought that model.

The only time I ever go up top, is when I am passing under a bridge where clearance looks a little tight, so I can see if there is room better.

But, it is a pretty view from up there.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Group9 View Post
We have a flush deck motor cruiser, and I love piloting it from the deck helm. It's one of the reasons we bought that model.

The only time I ever go up top, is when I am passing under a bridge where clearance looks a little tight, so I can see if there is room better.

But, it is a pretty view from up there.

You look to have a very nice helm position. Similar to mine, but a bit more enclosed. And then with a flybridge stacked on top!
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I promised myself to never own an enclosue with eisenglass ever again after my last liveaboard...almost no good points. I agree!


BUT....now the different optically clear and easier to maintain, etc.... type enclosures have me thinking differently...except the pricing. [B]Again, I agree and opted for a lexan, 4 sided enclosure about a year ago.
[/B
]
MY polycarbonate enclosure was pricey but is so clear that I marvel at it every time I'm on the flybridge.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:35 AM   #10
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Having had a trawler with enclosed pilot house and outside flybridge with no curtains, I almost always ran the boat from the pilothouse. As with psneeld, I have had a couple of run-ins with facial skin cancer an prefer to avoid the sun and wind. In fact, I kind of hate boating with sailboat friends now simply because there is no protection from the sun and bad weather. PH visibility is fine for most situations, though I usually went up top for close maneuvering and docking. Also, there have been a number of times in extreme weather when it would simply have been unsafe to be outside, especially for children.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:47 AM   #11
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I use the fly bridge most of the time. I do however, use the lower station for docking when I single handle or if itís just two of us and the wind is kicking up. I have a starboard side door and Iím starboard side to in my slip. I can stand outside with my hands on the throttle and gears plus the bow thruster if needed. Because Iím low I can just reach over and grab my fore and aft spring lines drape them on the midship cleat.
The lower station is also great in bad weather. Itís also heated and air conditioned.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:52 AM   #12
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With a sundeck trawler with no aft visibility from the lower station, I never use it when underway.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:09 AM   #13
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We deliberately bought a boat without a lower station. It had a canvas bimini and we replaced it with a hardtop. No more leaks. The hardtop is a bit oversize because I wanted a negative angle on the front of the enclosure. We have polycarbonate front panels and the first panel on each side. The middle 3 poly panels hinge up for ventilation. They are like looking through glass. We treat all of our 2 enclosures with Sumner 210. It is a spray on wax that helps greatly to bead up the water so it rolls right off. Also it is very quick and easy to use. I can do the inside and outside of the bridge in 45 minutes. I usually do it 2 times a year. A lower helm would have extremely limited visibility so we didn’t want to sacrifice the space to one.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:11 AM   #14
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A couple of photos showing the hardtop and the polycarbonate front oanels.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:25 AM   #15
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I prefer the lower helm while traveling, especially in foul weather....warmer, drier, less roll. Depends a lot on the climate where you live and your particular driving preference.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:48 AM   #16
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Quote:
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We deliberately bought a boat without a lower station. It had a canvas bimini and we replaced it with a hardtop. No more leaks. The hardtop is a bit oversize because I wanted a negative angle on the front of the enclosure. We have polycarbonate front panels and the first panel on each side. The middle 3 poly panels hinge up for ventilation. They are like looking through glass. We treat all of our 2 enclosures with Sumner 210. It is a spray on wax that helps greatly to bead up the water so it rolls right off. Also it is very quick and easy to use. I can do the inside and outside of the bridge in 45 minutes. I usually do it 2 times a year. A lower helm would have extremely limited visibility so we didnít want to sacrifice the space to one.

SOME lower stations do have extremely limited visibility...not all though... and like I said...some people can't deal with boating unless they are in a fishbowl...


Others here and many more have vessels that look out little round portholes/small square windows and get by like the pros that used to drive those type vessels.


For vessels that cruise at 8 or less knots, especially if they aren't continuously in high traffic areas....I think the perception of the need to have unobstructed 365 visibility is way overrated...and I have been on a lot of vessels from small to 400' with no issues related to visibility. The worst visibility I ever experienced was on flybridges with bad isinglass, vinyl and even poly that had mixed saltspray and/or lack of wipers.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:55 AM   #17
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We use our flybridge for entering leaving port but use the lower helm at sea because of reduced rolling and the ability to have meals and take turns for a snooze on long passages.
Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:51 AM   #18
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When the weather gets foul I go to the lower helm for a more comfortable ride. Our boat didn't have a lower helm seat and we didn't want a permanently attached seat due to taking up limited salon space. We made a helm seat and stool out of mahogany to match our salon interior .The seat attaches to a fixed strb salon wall support and the support leg fits into a channel built within the seat and stays secure to the floor using 5/8" dowels and matching receiver holes. We can take up/down quickly and stow in a small space in front of our couch. The back of the seat can be reversed to look aft as well. I'm short so the seat is high which give us great visibility over the bow. The seat is secure and doesn't move what so ever and comfortable.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:12 PM   #19
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It depends on where you are and what goes on in the boat. If you have guests you're more part of the group at the lower station. If you're somewhere hot, you're in the AC. If you're somewhere cold, your in the heat.
I only use the flying bridge for docking, sometimes in very low visibility, and looking for tuna. I operate in the PNW, and mainly on the ocean. Usually it's windy and cold on the upper station. I don't like canvas and plastic enclosures than only last a few years so my upper station is open except for a windscreen.
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Old 07-26-2020, 04:10 PM   #20
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I don't like canvas and plastic enclosures than only last a few years so my upper station is open except for a windscreen.
My opinion as well. When I do drive from the FB, it's either for docking or in nice weather when the breeze feels good. I don't care for FB enclosures either, although I do like my hardtop.
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