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Old 03-11-2019, 12:53 PM   #61
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City: Huntington Beach, CA
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I have a 34 Californian. It has an upper and lower helm. I drive at the upper helm when picking up a mooring or docking when I have crew aboard. When I get underway and have the Auto Pilot on course I will move to the lower helm to be with the wife in the salon and have coffee. When I go to Catalina Island it is a 4 hr trip for me. If I am solo I will drive from the lower helm when docking and picking up mooring. I have a side door at the lower helm which gives me access to the deck to handle lines.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:54 PM   #62
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Similar to many here, use Flybridge almost exclusively. Itís fully enclosed - so even chilly days, the enhanced views and, dare I say - quietness - cannot be beat.

That aside, to the specific question. If I knew I would be mostly or quite frequently single handed, Iíd sure strongly prefer a side door as to going without. Especially if wind and current are frequent impacts to docking or getting underway. Even with my twin engines, I frequently will utilize a spring line when leaving a tight pump-out dock we frequent that also has tide, wind and other boat traffic. That side door/lower helm on my Mainship 390 was fantastic at that point.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:56 PM   #63
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I also vote for two side deck doors from the pilothouse being preferable to a flybridge. If only one door then it should be port side.

My big 65ft, which I usually single handed, I would dock bow-in from the flybridge for visibility, but for stern-in it would be from the pilothouse where the view aft was better. However since it was 60 tons it did not drift too much so I had time to reach the dock and tie lines. If you're looking at a light fiberglass trawler with lots of windage then quick access to the deck and dock are very important.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:57 PM   #64
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Honestly, I have a sliding door on port and starboard but only use the starboard, closest to the wheel when by myself. Keep your wipers in good working order however if you plan to steer from lower helm and get a GPS with either two screens or wifi for when you are down below.

Good luck and happy cruising.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:12 PM   #65
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Upper or Lower Helm

When choosing to operate your vessel from the bridge or wheelhouse is a big decision. Climate & visibility aside, the choice is an important one.
Prior, prep, prevents poor performance. Flybridge operation gives goo vantage, but additional steps for docking. Wheelhouse gives better access for line handling. Iíll mentally prep Iím outside until late November. Keeping binoculars, note pads & Equiptment at the ready. Iíll move inside when the mercury dips and hold up camp where climate is controlled. Motherís Day Iíll move my gear back up to the alfresco location.
But knowing where I stand and why takes all the guesswork out. On Swift Trawler, all docking is to starboard as per vessel design. Asometric offset of house, makes Dockmaster & crew comfortable without direction. Running the boat from the Flybridge is the best. I need to live where itís warm year round.... and vacation where the mercury dips.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:21 PM   #66
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MT 34 aft cabin 90% below

Our cruising grounds in Maine provide enough consisent to discourage the full fly bridge covers, below decks station is comfortable for our low speed cruising, starboard station and gate just outside make for ready access to dock or tend anchor. Notably, even with an abundance of lobster trap bouys, visibility from the lower station is better, the bow flare obstructs close vision, and a step outside confirms ďclose but no foulĒ situations in real time.

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Old 03-11-2019, 01:22 PM   #67
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Er consistent wind that os
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:36 PM   #68
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We have a Helmsman 38. 4200 engine hours entirely from Pilothouse. Bridge is nice for drinks with friends in the evening. We cruise between Fl and New England or Canada seasonally. We spend a lot of time in pot infested waters of the Chesapeake, Albemarle, Florida Bay, etc. we find that the Pilothouse is nicer in Hot weather. There is a good breeze and no sun. We have been through hundreds of locks, and the midship Pilothouse door means easy access to either side. We always back into slips.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:46 PM   #69
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Upper or Lower Helm

I operate a Mainship 350/390 year-round in the Pacific Northwest. I have a completely enclosed bridge and always operate the boat from there. Visibility is the main reason but there is also more room for crew/guests to interact with the helmsman. I have installed a lexan front viewing panel and a windshield wiper for those odd days we get rain up here.
I have access to the starboard side deck from the lower helm position and operate the boat from the lower helm when docking, either bow in or bow out, starboard side. This gives me the best visibility of my distance from the dock, enables me to hand a spring line to a dock attendant and to visually see if the Admiral has been able to step off with the stern line.
My home base is a boathouse so I use the upper position when entering or leaving. It gives me the beat view of where the bow and the astern are (it is a fairly narrow fairway) and allows me to stop the boat before I hit the end of the boathouse. Getting down from the upper helm in the boathouse to tie up is not a problem as there is no need to hurry.
Enjoy.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:49 PM   #70
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We're ICW Great Loop cruisers and use marinas whenever possible, so port and starboard doors are essential for our style boating.

Imagine that you're approaching a lock single handed. The lock master tells you to use a bollard on the port side. You lay the boat up against the side with the mid-ship cleat next to the bollard. With the winds and other boats in the lock, you've got 5 - 7 seconds to step away from the helm, drop the line on and bring it back to the helm with you. Try that without a port side door.

On the loop, we always approached the locks from the lower helm because it was so easy to see what you're doing, and could easily tie port or starboard because we had port and starboard doors.

During nice weather, we always drove from the upper helm and during inclement weather, and when locking (and sometimes when docking), from the lower helm. We had a DeFever 44+5 CPMY.

In my opinion, port and starboard doors are essential, especially if you have to single hand the boat.

For those who've been in the soup, or looking for markers, watching boats, and trying to stay in a narrow channel, you understand how important it is to have all eyes on look out.

Finally, on the Defever we had stairs out of the salon and a short ladder to the fly bridge from the aft sundeck. Today, we're a lot older and would prefer not to have to climb any ladder, so we're shifting to a pilothouse without an upper helm, but with port/starboard doors.

Currently, we're running around in a great little island hopper Albin 28 Tournament Express and will soon be looking at an American Tug or a Nordic Tug for our next cruising adventures.
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Old 03-11-2019, 02:16 PM   #71
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Or is essential

This thread illustrates a important point , despite your preference, any boat youíll sell must have the option available. Folks who have a preference really have a preference.

Diligent had unreadable gauges on the bridge since we bought and rehabbed her throughout 8 years ago, this year the new panel goes in before we list at the end of season.

The bridge is a comfortable place to feed 6 and drink with 8, this spring if someone prefers the bridge helm it will be ready.
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Old 03-11-2019, 02:28 PM   #72
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Upper helm as long as we can stand it

Upper helm as long as we can stand it. If it's really cruddy weather or just too cold then lower helm.
Having said that, it's always a good idea to have your lower helm ready for use (windshield cover removed or able to remove very very quickly, things out of the way, etc) Experience on a previous boat that has taught me (depending on your steering configuration) that you can lose upper helm steering and still have functional steering at the lower helm (Low hydraulic fluid and upper goes dry first)
Depending on your situation you may very well be able to enjoy good weather and great visibilty afforded by the upper helm and then switch to lower helm prior to arrival at an anchorage, marina, lock or, wherever.
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:56 PM   #73
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I am a confirmed lower helm station trawler operator. Often can dock and depart by myself from there (occasionally standing outside the window for st'bd side helm), reaching in comfortably to steer and shift. That's where I can best be to perform a single-handed SOB recovery. There's where the best shade is on my boat.
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Old 03-11-2019, 05:07 PM   #74
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I use lower helm exclusively. View when docking is far better because the close in view is not blocked by the FB deck. I would remove the FB if it wouldnt hurt the value of the boat. My MS 34 Mk1 backs to port so I approach the bulkhead at a 30 degree angle at idle speed till the bow is 12" away with bulkhead to port side and then shift into reverse and it will lay alongside by itself. As soon as its alongside I shift into N and go out the back door to tie the bow line to a mid dock cleat.. then tie off the port stern line. I am essentially done and just add a few more lines at my leisure. As to weather, it gets HOT as hell here and the FB really sucks when there is AC in the salon.
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:36 PM   #75
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I boat in the PNW on my 3870 Bayliner. I have a canvassed in FB and NEVER run from the lower station. Mainly for visibility cruising and docking.
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Old 03-11-2019, 11:03 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Sound SOP! ... When possible, I use both hands on rails. ... Never like climbing/descending ladders or more than several vertical steps while underway. ... Even with high railings, I use a PFD while soloing. An unnoticed, errant/ignored wake could be enough to toss one of their boat.
I agree, to live or to die is only the difference of a simple choice. I like your boat.
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:39 AM   #77
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FB is used when manoeuvering in marinas, and when cruising when it's hot and calm. Otherwise, it's the Pilot House for me.

We have an aft cockipt control station, but I donlt find it useful since I can't control the wheel from there.
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Old 03-12-2019, 06:06 AM   #78
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I have a 44ft Trawler and always use the upper helm for manouvering as it is more clearly visible all round from up there, although it can be wet sometimes. I have used lower helm but found it not so good visibility wise.
I think you should use which ever is more comfortable and good visibility, the choice is really yours.
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Old 03-12-2019, 07:04 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by greatpapabear View Post
We have an aft cockipt control station, but I donlt find it useful since I can't control the wheel from there.
See post #19. Most good autopilot manufacturers offer a jog lever which allows you to control the rudder through the autopilot system. Pretty simple to add as it's the remote control box and a control wire running to the autopilot brain box.

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Old 03-12-2019, 07:06 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
See post #19. Most good autopilot manufacturers offer a jog lever which allows you to control the rudder through the autopilot system. Pretty simple to add as it's the remote control box and a control wire running to the autopilot brain box.

Ted
DOH! How come I hadn't thought of that! I'm on it to add to my list of 2019 upgrades.

Thanks so much.
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