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Old 09-08-2021, 12:06 PM   #1
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Another new start for Helmsman

I was notified last week that construction had begun on our Helmsman 38E.

The decision to go with Helmsman was one which occurred after a lot of study, a viewing of a Beneteau Swift Trawler 35, a visit to Seattle, and then La Conner to look at American Tugs, another well made boat. We also had multiple discussions with other owners of the three boats. (I thought it was funny that I ended up selecting a boat that has the same name as my handle here).

My boating history dates back to high school growing up on the lakes in NE Tennessee, and when our kids were in high school we owned pontoon boats and a Bryant run about (which we still use on the Tennessee).

After retirement on the Tennessee River, we bought our first larger boat, a Carver 33 SS which was actually 38'9" and later renamed the 35 SS, and then the 37 SS. We owned that boat for four years and sold it last year. We found that the boat was a great lake/river boat for us. We enjoyed it tremendously. Many great trips on that boat, and learned the systems and the right way to manage a larger boat.

But I tired of dealing with two engines, trannys, shafts, and props and since it was a 2006 (and a boat!), the inevitable fixes that would pop up from time to time. I guess it is partially my nature, but I would always do the repair on both engines. Pretty tight down below for an older big guy. I was also a little concerned about having gas engines.

The current state of the local marine service and repair outfits was also a continuing source of irritation for me. I repeatedly would have "the best marina", "the best mechanic", or the "best electrician" on the river provide a repair, and then have to go back and re-do the work myself. Four different repair events costing thousands of dollars at three different locations all involved significant rework after months of waiting on my "slot" at their location. One marina had six different issues to be addressed. One repair (replacement of a horn - hard to reach and advised by Carver not to put weight on the area around the windshield) was completed correctly, albeit the shoe prints on the area around the windshield showed that my caution about the windshield was ignored. The other five fixes had to be reworked. (One was a potentially dangerous electrical issue that was "fixed" in a way that made it more dangerous. I figured it out after a couple of months of study on boat electrical systems.)


Another consideration for us was that we would like to take the boat south to the gulf, and perhaps further. We liked the idea of a trawler, with its typically greater range, a diesel engine, and an inside helm, without giving up the fly bridge. We knew that a single engine and a greater range might cost us some speed, but after thinking through it, we decided that wasn't as big an issue as we thought it might be.

Our first visit was to look at a 6 month old Swift Trawler 35. At the time, we liked the idea of the speeds it would reach, and thought the layout looked good in pictures. Our visit was a little bit of a disappointment. The salon was much too narrow for us. One of the door handles fell off in my hand, and the floors were pieced and creaked when we walked through. I immediately had visions of the work needed to keep the boat in good shape. In discussions with a couple of owners, (very happy with their boats), they both mentioned that they had each had gel coat repairs in a couple of spots. Per one discussion, Beneteau evidently has a couple of people traveling the country fixing those. Beautiful boat, but just not for us and our use case.

Then we noticed the discussion group for Helmsman on this forum. The comments in regards to Scott Helker and the quality of the boats really struck a chord with us. We looked at the 38E and I was hooked immediately. (TVA has enacted a regulation that since 1999, dock owners are limited to a thousand square feet for their docks. That limits the footprint and knocked out anything over the 38E size for us.) My wife was a little more reserved, and wanted to visit one.

While we scheduled a trip out to Seattle to talk with Scott and Gary, I had some good conversations with a couple of owners. What struck me with the owners was their positive comments in regards to the quality and handling of the boat. With my history of the marine repair history at the home port, I really wanted a "simple" good quality boat. Once we were able to visit Seattle, talk with Scott, Gary, and Van, and two owners graciously allowed us to visit a 38E and a 43, my wife's reservations disappeared and we made the decision to purchase. The visit to American Tug in La Connor was also great! They build very nice, high quality boats. We like the lines of the Helmsman more though, and we really like the personal touch that Scott brings to the table. The ability to put custom touches on the boat was also very important to us. I will discuss the options we went with in the next post I make, if folks would like to hear them.
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Old 09-08-2021, 01:28 PM   #2
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We’re waiting to hear about the start of our 38E that is scheduled for this month. Can you share your hull number? Ours is Hull Number 50. We signed the contract on June 10. I’m curious how often a new build starts.

We opted for the Helmsman over the American Tug for mostly the same reasons and we live in La Conner
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Old 09-08-2021, 03:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Doug_Snider View Post
We’re waiting to hear about the start of our 38E that is scheduled for this month. Can you share your hull number? Ours is Hull Number 50. We signed the contract on June 10. I’m curious how often a new build starts.

We opted for the Helmsman over the American Tug for mostly the same reasons and we live in La Conner

Hi Doug.



The communication was that we were 38049. So, we are hull number 49, I think. We signed in May, so it looks like just prior to you. Scott would be able to give you a good estimate of start time. Congratulations on your boat!
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Old 09-08-2021, 03:37 PM   #4
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We have hull #3 from before Scott bought the line from Mariner. Wonderful boat. You will be quite happy.
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Old 09-08-2021, 04:45 PM   #5
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We have hull #3 from before Scott bought the line from Mariner. Wonderful boat. You will be quite happy.

Thank you. I am sure we will. You have one of the first ones built! One of the reasons we decided to go ahead with Helmsman was the input from so many on this forum. Your previous posts, along with others on this forum, who have enjoyed their boats, was a big endorsement to me.
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:22 PM   #6
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Congratulations. Its a happy day.
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:53 PM   #7
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Congratulations to both of you! What is the estimated delivery date?
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Old 09-08-2021, 08:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmsman View Post
I was notified last week that construction had begun on our Helmsman 38E.

TVA has enacted a regulation that since 1999, dock owners are limited to a thousand square feet for their docks. That limits the footprint and knocked out anything over the 38E size for us.)
Congrats on the new boat!

I must be missing something about the dock size limitation -- 1,000 sf of dock would allow a 100' by 10' dock. Or perhaps it is the footprint of the boat and dock combined?
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Old 09-08-2021, 08:06 PM   #9
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Congratulations to both of you! What is the estimated delivery date?
I believe around early April, though I haven’t checked in with the team at Helmsman lately.
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Old 09-08-2021, 08:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Helmsman View Post
I believe around early April, though I haven’t checked in with the team at Helmsman lately.
Our original delivery date was late April or early May in Seattle. Scott pays the factory a bonus for staying on schedule. Fingers crossed. After commissioning, we'll drive it home to La Conner.
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Old 09-08-2021, 08:55 PM   #11
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Congrats, Helmsman. Great success on the build.

Definitely would appreciate to your comments on the custom options that you have chosen.

Do you plan to bring the boat back to Tennessee? If yes, how do you plan to take delivery?
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by MYTraveler View Post
Congrats on the new boat!

I must be missing something about the dock size limitation -- 1,000 sf of dock would allow a 100' by 10' dock. Or perhaps it is the footprint of the boat and dock combined?
My dock has a roof. The roof provides cover for rain and the summer sun. It is U shaped dock with the closed part facing upriver. It is 43’x23’ outside measurement making it a 989 sq. Ft floating dock.
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MarcK View Post
Congrats, Helmsman. Great success on the build.

Definitely would appreciate to your comments on the custom options that you have chosen.

Do you plan to bring the boat back to Tennessee? If yes, how do you plan to take delivery?
We will figure out delivery on the east coast or gulf coast. May take it north up the Hudson and then Erie Canal, through the Great Lakes, down the Illinois, to the Ohio, and on to the Tennessee. If Mobile, will head up the Tombigbee to the Tennessee. Then decision time. Go to port and head up to the Great Lakes or starboard and stop at the home port for a bit.

I may put her up for winter somewhere up north, and bring her down the following spring. Not quite sure yet. Might be time for the great loop right out of the chute.
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:43 PM   #14
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Scott Helker is a class act- You've all made great decisions.
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Old 09-09-2021, 07:16 AM   #15
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Nothing like the new boat smell , so they tell me I wouldn’t know . I’m glad people are buying new boats so there are used boats for people like me . I very much like the boat that you’re buying, I wonder if you could get one without a flybridge
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Old 09-09-2021, 07:17 AM   #16
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Nothing like the new boat smell

Nothing like the new boat smell , so they tell me I wouldn’t know . I’m glad people are buying new boats so there are used boats for people like me . I very much like the boat that you’re buying, I wonder if you could get one without a flybridge
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Old 09-09-2021, 07:19 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Scooby5959 View Post
Nothing like the new boat smell , so they tell me I wouldn’t know . I’m glad people are buying new boats so there are used boats for people like me . I very much like the boat that you’re buying, I wonder if you could get one without a flybridge
Looking at pictures, the flybridge doesn't look like a separate piece, so I don't know if they could easily build one without it. But with how it sits behind the pilothouse, it doesn't add much height or bulk anyway.
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Old 09-09-2021, 11:48 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
Looking at pictures, the flybridge doesn't look like a separate piece, so I don't know if they could easily build one without it. But with how it sits behind the pilothouse, it doesn't add much height or bulk anyway.
I agree.

Even if Helmsman agreed to do it, the cost of tooling for different topside molds would make it an expensive custom job. Cheaper to just not outfit the flybridge with the electronics one would normally want and don't use it. Or just select a different boat more suitable to one's taste.

And since I'm familiar with the layout, there is another small point. Major changes to eliminate the steps access to the topside would not add material space inside that could be used to some useful purpose.
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:16 PM   #19
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It's great to see Scott's customer service repeatedly rewarded. While we're never likely to pursue a Helmsman, I don't hesitate to recommend them to others. It's important we continue to praise those deserving, while equally important, we point out builders who have repeatedly failed their customers.
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Old 09-09-2021, 03:32 PM   #20
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Flybridge

As a newb, I'm curious as to why the flybridge would be seen as a disadvantage? Height? Stability?
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