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Old 01-27-2020, 09:19 AM   #1
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Upper or Lower Helm

Wonít know for myself till middle of February when I get to steer possibility new to us 36í Fu Hwa aft cabin with full sun deck hard top enclosure.

I like to say I have been trapped in Mexico for the last 44 days, and banned from my boat to everyone here. So 18 more sleeps till I get back to the docks, or if I get my way I will be at the Vancouver boat show...

My question! I just thought of when steering from lower helm you would have absolutely no visual from behind from swiveling around your chair to do a shoulder check. At best you would have to open side door and hang over board to see around the fat a@s of the aft.

Our current boat we have a 360 view from the wheel and have had some pretty big vessels sneak up on us. And yes are electronics are dated!!

Can this be a problem?

Have you mounted aft camera?

Even from the upper there is limited viewing with dink on the hard top, radar arch and other goodies....

Iím starring at the pictures of the boat daily, and starting to fear, this style of trawler and many other aft style brands.

You never get to see what you passed!! Hmmm
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:29 AM   #2
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Once I clear the harbor, I drive from the pilot house 95% of the time. Occasionally, I will move from there to the flybridge, but usually the weather is such that I would rather be in the PH. On really nice days, I will drive from the tower, where the view is spectacular. Inside the harbor, I steer from one of two wing stations on the Portuguese bridge -- usually the starboard side in order to better see the boat's on whose port side I am.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:30 AM   #3
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I don't use my lower helm. I can't see past the bow. Our lower help is not considered a pilot house. We navigate exclusively from the enclosed upper helm. This way we have a good view for logs and crab traps. There have been many occasions when we would have hit a log or crab trap steering from the lower helm.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:39 AM   #4
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Once away from docks and the harbor, I prefer the lower helm especially when it's cold and wet. Like ASD said though, it depends on how good your visibility is over thd nose of the boat.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:55 AM   #5
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Yes you do make a very valid point!
We do spend a lot of time at the upper helm when lots of debris is floating around, or weather permits. We currently only have a Bimini up there mind you.

I do prefer to be at the lower, hanging with our occasional company and spending time with my wife who loves to putter in the galley.

I thinking the Fu Hwa aft and bow profile maybe a problem for the lower steering being mounted so low in the hull. If you can’t see back or forwards from the lower might not be a good feeling. And not sure if I want to sea our travels looking through a plastic bag green house.

Still would like to here some thoughts and other experience. We love the style and interior layouts of the trawlers. Just trying to wrap my head around, a 6-8 hr day behind the wheel on grey drizzle day...
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:58 AM   #6
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I feel your pain We have a sundeck model also. But we always drive from the enclosed flybridge (pic in avatar is before the enclosure was added)- we are in the South so cold is not a big issue. We do have great 360 view from the FB, even with the dink on top of the sundeck. I'm planning on rear-view cameras anyway. Good luck.
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskan Sea-Duction View Post
I don't use my lower helm. I can't see past the bow. Our lower help is not considered a pilot house. We navigate exclusively from the enclosed upper helm. This way we have a good view for logs and crab traps. There have been many occasions when we would have hit a log or crab trap steering from the lower helm.
Exactly our reality.

The lower helm is used when entering/exiting port- otherwise, I'm at the upper helm at all times. The lower helm has OK visibility, but I prefer the commanding view from up top.

We have a 3rd station on the starboard quarter in the cockpit that is never used. If/when we head offshore to go fishing, I may use it...
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:26 PM   #8
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Prefer lower helm, especially if sea is kicking up.
In Boston Harbor I keep my head on a swivel, especially on weekends.
Offshore I am usually on a steady course so it's occasional checks.

But I don't have a rear cabin obstructing my view. I suspect I would leave the radar on if I didn't have a rear view and would do a clearing step out prior to any turns
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:32 PM   #9
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We always pilot from the upper helm for better visibility.
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:48 PM   #10
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This issue is one of the very first things I evaluate when looking at a prospective boat. Our old Hatteras 56MY had great 360 degree views from both helms.

It also had a great Furuno radar system which is the best rear view device of all, as you can set it to track possible collision courses from any direction.

So in bad weather, there was no deficit in using lower helm. With doors to each side of the helm leading to flush, walk around decks and also a flush deck straight back to the stern from the helm, I could single hand the thing, even as klutzy and inept as I am. Personally, I think I'd at some point go crazy in any sort of pilot house that had restricted sightlines and access, based on our experience with several chartered boats.

All that said, it is important to keep a 360 degree direct eyesight watch as a discipline. In good weather we loved to use the flying bridge.
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:49 PM   #11
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We only run from the flybridge as we donít have a lower helm. We did not want a lower helm since it takes up room in the salon. We put a hardtop on the bridge so it is enclosed and always dry.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:15 PM   #12
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I only run from the flybridge. I have a lower station but I don't like the limited visibility.
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:03 PM   #13
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I have a pilothouse, no upper helm. Visibility out the back PH windows is blocked by tender.

We use the radar to see behind us.
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxtrotCharlie View Post
I feel your pain We have a sundeck model also. But we always drive from the enclosed flybridge (pic in avatar is before the enclosure was added)- we are in the South so cold is not a big issue. We do have great 360 view from the FB, even with the dink on top of the sundeck. I'm planning on rear-view cameras anyway. Good luck.
With you being a 42í, you must have salon stairs to the FB? The 36í I am looking at only has access from either port or star exterior stairs to sun deck then I quick hop to the FB.

The no stair access up from the lower interior could make this boat a bust for us! Itís a shame because we really like the boat... putting on a rain coat to go back and forth from helm to helm . Sundeck might make a better palm tree boat than PNW boat.
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:22 PM   #15
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We have both a lower helm and upper helm on the bridge.
Boating in all weather, sun, rain, snow [although no longer the snow] we always use the lower helm. OUr boat offers excellent visibility from inside.

I do use the radar to now warn me of boats coming up from behind but I also can get a decent view out the side window and it is a quick jog to get a good view out the salon door.

If you are concerned to that degree then find another boat. Different boats offer different degrees of visibility from the two helm position. Pay attention to visibilty from the inside station.

I will mention that we used to often venture out in some rough water and I learned early on that the motion can be quite violent up top so that was one of the reasons I learned to run from inside.


And yes I would think a decent rear view camera would help but i cannot help with the selection.
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:52 PM   #16
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We always run from the FB. I'd get rid of my lower helm if I could, it's a waste of space for us and just added complication. Plus, there is nowhere to sit. At some point we may cruise in cooler weather destinations, and may use it then, but for now we don't use it all.
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Old 01-27-2020, 05:45 PM   #17
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Strictly Fly Bridge for me. I have owned the boat for about 8 years and can only recall steering from below on about three occasions. Once due to low pressure on the upper helm steering and a couple times due to weather. (It has to be pretty bad to get me below).

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Old 01-27-2020, 06:06 PM   #18
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I am very surprised the consensus of upper helm people. Yes I agree and even with our current boat we love it up there, when weather and temps permit.
But I would say I am 80% down 20% up.

For the aft raised sun deck guys and gals, do you find it a pain in the butt to always exit either side door and go outside to either have dinner on the sun deck or to the upper helm. Interested in personal experience, pros and cons. I really over think things my apology! I am trying to visualize carrying a steak to the bbq and clean and dirty dishes back and forth.

We only have experience with boats that we open a patio door and sit on a cover deck.

Again sorry, we are tired of buying and selling boats need to get right this time...?
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:09 PM   #19
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I have lower.and upper and a strong preference for steering from the flybridge to get an uninterrupted bird's eye view, but hide inside in heavy going or bad weather. Generally I use radar to avoid being surprised by an overtaking boat. I find the newer digital units like my Garmin Fantom make it easy by color coding contacts according to course and speed. It makes it easy to tell at a glance when another boat is closing on you. Shouldn't be a big deal to add a camera and use it to view the radar target when needed...
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:22 PM   #20
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We have both but I prefer lower helm. For docking I can reach the controls from the deck via the helm door if I want, and I`m there to help with a line. Also closer to the engines etc,more able to detect changes. Weather is a determinant, specific and generally, generalizing, further you go N in Aust greater chance of FB only boats, further south lower only is more likely, in between both is more likely. It`s also what you get used to, and the visibility either helm affords. I`d suggest keep your options open and try to get both.
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