Should we purchase a Helmsman?

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KMAL

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2023
Messages
54
Vessel Name
Pamanus
Vessel Make
Arno Day Pilot House
I realize I may be asking a slough of biased Helmsman fanatics... But here goes: My wife and I are considering moving from a stunning Arno Day Pilothouse Trawler to a new boat with two staterooms. We are considering all of the usual suspects for NW cruising: American Tug, Nordic Tug, Selene, and Helmsman. Specifically the 43E. Out of all if the boats, we are least familiar with the Helmsman - yet we are very compelled as it checks many of the boxes for us. So - a few questions: For those of you that have been able to experience meaningful NW seas in your boat (Strait of JDF, Georgia, Haro) - how does your boat handle? Does it deliver confidence in tough water? Does it do well taking seas abeam? Would you stabilize your boat? If you are stabilized: what system do you use and what has been your experience. Does anyone have experience with an upgrade in power to the 425 hp Cummins - can you get the boat to twelve knots if needed at 80% power or lower? How has your order, delivery, and ownership experience been? Would you consider another Helmsman or never again? Any long term issues resulting from manufacturing? Our cruising is three season (Northwest) and we are very interested in comfort - is the Webasto forced air system adequate without being on constantly or cycling constantly? Have any of you upgraded to hydronic - or hydronic and electric? Or have you added more BTU's to the forced air system. Do you have a water maker? We are considering the following: Cummins 425 or 480 as we would like to get to 12knots when desired; Jackson Davit, Water Maker, NL Genset 6kw, Washer/Dryer combo, Stabilization (Magnus or Seakeeper are current considerations), Reverso oil system. Might consider a fuel polishing system. I know I have a lot of different questions - but seriously interested in what the Helmsman and Trawler communities think about the boat.
 
Since no one else has yet to respond, I'll be the first a take a crack at the long list of questions. Bear in mind, I own a 38, and the home waters are the Chesapeake so there are obvious limits to what I can contribute.

In a lot of ways the Nordic and American are two variations of the same choice. The two are quite similar in many ways. Both have hulls that lean more toward a planning hull. The Helmsman on the other hand leans more toward displacement while still being semi-displacement. I have not needed to do the math but I think you will find the Helmsman is a heavier boat per foot of length than the NT or AT. That weight will impede speed but assist stability, so you pick your preference in a world where you can't have it all. Leaning toward speed, there is more deadrise (V angle in the bottom at the stern) whereas the Helmsman is virtually flat there. The flatter section will make things more stable at anchor or in the slip, but the V helps the ride at higher speed. Again, you pick.

I can't comment on the Selene.

Beam seas are obviously the least comfortable point of sail on a trawler. In smaller chop the Helmsman will "squat" and plant itself harder into the water when above displacement speed since its hull leans toward displacement. That behavior reduces roll in chop. There comes a point when the seas are larger, or you are dealing with rollers, when stabilizers might be desireable. Others can better comment on where that line is.

Seaworthy? Well, it is a coastal cruiser, not a passage-making, cross the ocean sort of boat, and none of those you are considering are either. To me, its at least as seaworthy as the AT and NT, but again I can't comment on Selene. It is built heavily. Nothing flimsy about it. Helmsman once compared it to a tank, and I'd say that's apt.

There is at least one 43 with a large engine that likes to cruise it in the mid teens. Perhaps he might chime in. Personally I prefer 7-8 knots, for the peace and pleasure, and the economical fuel burn at that speed is a nice kicker.

Do the research but I think you will conclude you do not need fuel polishing with a Cummins QSB. The fuel pump delivers a lot more fuel to the engine than is burned, returning the excess to the tank. But in that process the fuel is filtered, so in essence you have a continuous polishing process happening in simple use.

However, quite a number get the Reverso system to make maintenance easier.

As a 38 owner I'd say my experience with build quality, order and delivery process, and after sale support is as relevant as anyone's. Arguably more relevant since I am on the east coast whereas support in the PNW is easier for the company to provide. Here is the honest answer. On a scale of 1-10, its a 10. Yeah, I know that sounds like a fan-boy answer, but its honest. I had Helmsman on the phone instantly within the last week when I needed to be walked through something. I think I'll stop short of giving examples that prove the point but if you get serious about a Helmsman and wish to pick at this a bit, feel free to reach out and we can do that off line.

Build quality? Better than I hoped it would be. My aging body is in revolt at the moment since I opted to polish and wax the hull and replace the zincs myself this past week before launch for the season. But that was a week spent with my face staring at every square inch of the hull, a foot away, inch by inch. After one season's use, mine is perfect. There was a time when Selene's had poor gelcoat. I heard that was addressed, but then heard of another such issue on a recent order. Do your own due diligence on what is true and what is internet rumor. However, what I know is true is that mine is perfect. Interior? Just go aboard one and judge the fit and finish yourself. Mine is flawless inside.

One thing about build quality is that its easy to roll into that the quality of the installed gear, and maybe one should. After all, choice of what gear to spec into the boat is something controllable by the builder. I think you are going to find, piece by piece, its all name brand gear that runs at the top of gear choices people gravitate to for quality. Helmsman leans towards quality over cheap as a rule. But should a top quality piece fail, can I call that a Helmsman fault? I don't think so when its generally considered quality gear. What you will have is their support in getting it addressed, which is all you can ask for. The best illustration of that is gear I personally selected, which was Simrad electronics. The Simrad autopilot hydraulic pump is generally considered to be the best there is, and many try to incorporate that pick into non-Simrad packages. Well, against all odds my pump delivered and installed was defective. Helmsman helped immensely in getting that sorted out, replaced, reinstalled, and tested. That is but one story that leads to the 10 out of 10 grade. There are more, but I'll stop there.

So would I order from them again? In a heartbeat. No hesitation.

The harder part is what do YOU want. If what you want is what Helmsman builds, you are in luck.
 
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Normally, members of the Helmsman Clan are a loquacious bunch, happy to jump in on this topic. So I was surprised that this sat without an answer right away. But FWT's post pretty much captures it all. It is all about what YOU want in a boat. I have spent time on all the boats you are looking at and come away with the conclusion that every one of them is an outstanding boat for someone. So it is really all about what YOU want. My perspective is as a serial Ranger Tug owner, which could not be more different than an Arno Day trawler, so take everything with a grain of perspective. By the way, the Arno Day Pilothouse Trawler is a magnificent, very good looking boat. Just sayin'.

We are looking forward to our second summer of cruising in the PNW with our 38e. We purchased ours from another Helmsman fan(atic) who is having the 46 built. We have already "enjoyed" rough seas from Seattle to Desolation Sound in our boat. The boat is heavy for its size and, provided you adjust according to conditions, I find it very seaworthy. This includes four JDF crossings (one in snotty conditions) and four Georgia Strait crossings (two in snotty-ish conditions). It is a very solid boat. And the 43 will be a VERY solid boat for its size.

Solid translates to slow, as this is a natural trade-off. We have gone from nimble, 15+ kt cruising in the RT to comfortable displacement speeds in the 38E. It struggles, in my view, when you push it really hard, and it purrs along ever-so-nicely if you keep it under 8 kts, with the benefit of great range. If you get a 43 you will fill it in Seattle and not fill it again until Ketchikan, and even then you will have a lot left in the tanks. The NT and AT's go faster if the destination is more important than the journey.

I have been most impressed with two things. First, it is the build quality/comfort. Go walk around on one at Lake Union. The fit and finish of the interior is so good, you will be very impressed. Some Selenes I have been on are quite well done, but the Helmsman has no equal in my view. I continue to marvel at this every time I crawl around the boat. They cut NO corners. But I do want to point out that this is an old school trawler, with luscious teak interior. It is not one of those fancy go-fast Euro boats with lots of flash and glitter.

Finally, as you will find throughout the many posts by members of the clan, the support from the factory is without peer. And for me that is saying a lot because I cultivated a close relationship with the Ranger Tug factory that served me quite well over the years. I still consider them friends. Scott and Van Helker are terrific and know every detail of the boat. They deserve a lot of credit for the success of the boat.

Which comes to my final point. There are not a lot of Helmsman's out there because this is a niche boat built custom at one factory. So get in line soon if you want a new one, or get lucky like we did and pick up a used one when it comes on the market. Talk to Scott.

Good luck with your search.
 
Since no one else has yet to respond, I'll be the first a take a crack at the long list of questions. Bear in mind, I own a 38, and the home waters are the Chesapeake so there are obvious limits to what I can contribute.

In a lot of ways the Nordic and American are two variations of the same choice. The two are quite similar in many ways. Both have hulls that lean more toward a planning hull. The Helmsman on the other hand leans more toward displacement while still being semi-displacement. I have not needed to do the math but I think you will find the Helmsman is a heavier boat per foot of length than the NT or AT. That weight will impede speed but assist stability, so you pick your preference in a world where you can't have it all. Leaning toward speed, there is more deadrise (V angle in the bottom at the stern) whereas the Helmsman is virtually flat there. The flatter section will make things more stable at anchor or in the slip, but the V helps the ride at higher speed. Again, you pick.

I can't comment on the Selene.

Beam seas are obviously the least comfortable point of sail on a trawler. In smaller chop the Helmsman will "squat" and plant itself harder into the water when above displacement speed since its hull leans toward displacement. That behavior reduces roll in chop. There comes a point when the seas are larger, or you are dealing with rollers, when stabilizers might be desireable. Others can better comment on where that line is.

Seaworthy? Well, it is a coastal cruiser, not a passage-making, cross the ocean sort of boat, and none of those you are considering are either. To me, its at least as seaworthy as the AT and NT, but again I can't comment on Selene. It is built heavily. Nothing flimsy about it. Helmsman once compared it to a tank, and I'd say that's apt.

There is at least one 43 with a large engine that likes to cruise it in the mid teens. Perhaps he might chime in. Personally I prefer 7-8 knots, for the peace and pleasure, and the economical fuel burn at that speed is a nice kicker.

Do the research but I think you will conclude you do not need fuel polishing with a Cummins QSB. The fuel pump delivers a lot more fuel to the engine than is burned, returning the excess to the tank. But in that process the fuel is filtered, so in essence you have a continuous polishing process happening in simple use.

However, quite a number get the Reverso system to make maintenance easier.

As a 38 owner I'd say my experience with build quality, order and delivery process, and after sale support is as relevant as anyone's. Arguably more relevant since I am on the east coast whereas support in the PNW is easier for the company to provide. Here is the honest answer. On a scale of 1-10, its a 10. Yeah, I know that sounds like a fan-boy answer, but its honest. I had Helmsman on the phone instantly within the last week when I needed to be walked through something. I think I'll stop short of giving examples that prove the point but if you get serious about a Helmsman and wish to pick at this a bit, feel free to reach out and we can do that off line.

Build quality? Better than I hoped it would be. My aging body is in revolt at the moment since I opted to polish and wax the hull and replace the zincs myself this past week before launch for the season. But that was a week spent with my face staring at every square inch of the hull, a foot away, inch by inch. After one season's use, mine is perfect. There was a time when Selene's had poor gelcoat. I heard that was addressed, but then heard of another such issue on a recent order. Do your own due diligence on what is true and what is internet rumor. However, what I know is true is that mine is perfect. Interior? Just go aboard one and judge the fit and finish yourself. Mine is flawless inside.

One thing about build quality is that its easy to roll into that the quality of the installed gear, and maybe one should. After all, choice of what gear to spec into the boat is something controllable by the builder. I think you are going to find, piece by piece, its all name brand gear that runs at the top of gear choices people gravitate to for quality. Helmsman leans towards quality over cheap as a rule. But should a top quality piece fail, can I call that a Helmsman fault? I don't think so when its generally considered quality gear. What you will have is their support in getting it addressed, which is all you can ask for. The best illustration of that is gear I personally selected, which was Simrad electronics. The Simrad autopilot hydraulic pump is generally considered to be the best there is, and many try to incorporate that pick into non-Simrad packages. Well, against all odds my pump delivered and installed was defective. Helmsman helped immensely in getting that sorted out, replaced, reinstalled, and tested. That is but one story that leads to the 10 out of 10 grade. There are more, but I'll stop there.

So would I order from them again? In a heartbeat. No hesitation.

The harder part is what do YOU want. If what you want is what Helmsman builds, you are in luck.
FWT - thank you so much for your very considered reply. We believe that the H43E meets our many requirements - without having cruised one we turn to the community of existing owners and we are grateful for your response. We too prefer cruising at 8 knots - our current boat does so and tops out a 10. Our objective with additional power is to have a boat that can achieve 12 knots for those times we need to find safe harbor or battle the currents that can reach 4 and 5 knots in our preferred cruising grounds. Grinding it out at 3.2 knots for an hour can be tough! I will be curious to hear from those that have opted for more power. Your experience with the hull is in line with our expectations as is your experience with build and finish. We hear nothing but good of the Helmsman experience which inspires confidence as well. Again - thank you very much for your thoughtful response.
 
Normally, members of the Helmsman Clan are a loquacious bunch, happy to jump in on this topic. So I was surprised that this sat without an answer right away. But FWT's post pretty much captures it all. It is all about what YOU want in a boat. I have spent time on all the boats you are looking at and come away with the conclusion that every one of them is an outstanding boat for someone. So it is really all about what YOU want. My perspective is as a serial Ranger Tug owner, which could not be more different than an Arno Day trawler, so take everything with a grain of perspective. By the way, the Arno Day Pilothouse Trawler is a magnificent, very good looking boat. Just sayin'.

We are looking forward to our second summer of cruising in the PNW with our 38e. We purchased ours from another Helmsman fan(atic) who is having the 46 built. We have already "enjoyed" rough seas from Seattle to Desolation Sound in our boat. The boat is heavy for its size and, provided you adjust according to conditions, I find it very seaworthy. This includes four JDF crossings (one in snotty conditions) and four Georgia Strait crossings (two in snotty-ish conditions). It is a very solid boat. And the 43 will be a VERY solid boat for its size.

Solid translates to slow, as this is a natural trade-off. We have gone from nimble, 15+ kt cruising in the RT to comfortable displacement speeds in the 38E. It struggles, in my view, when you push it really hard, and it purrs along ever-so-nicely if you keep it under 8 kts, with the benefit of great range. If you get a 43 you will fill it in Seattle and not fill it again until Ketchikan, and even then you will have a lot left in the tanks. The NT and AT's go faster if the destination is more important than the journey.

I have been most impressed with two things. First, it is the build quality/comfort. Go walk around on one at Lake Union. The fit and finish of the interior is so good, you will be very impressed. Some Selenes I have been on are quite well done, but the Helmsman has no equal in my view. I continue to marvel at this every time I crawl around the boat. They cut NO corners. But I do want to point out that this is an old school trawler, with luscious teak interior. It is not one of those fancy go-fast Euro boats with lots of flash and glitter.

Finally, as you will find throughout the many posts by members of the clan, the support from the factory is without peer. And for me that is saying a lot because I cultivated a close relationship with the Ranger Tug factory that served me quite well over the years. I still consider them friends. Scott and Van Helker are terrific and know every detail of the boat. They deserve a lot of credit for the success of the boat.

Which comes to my final point. There are not a lot of Helmsman's out there because this is a niche boat built custom at one factory. So get in line soon if you want a new one, or get lucky like we did and pick up a used one when it comes on the market. Talk to Scott.

Good luck with your search.
Thanks H - your local perspective tics a couple of boxes - we transit the same waters regularly with our current trawler and understand fat, slow, and comfy😎. Your experience and description of the Helmsman’s sea keeping is in line with expectations at 8 knots. We did walk a 43 on Lake Union with Van yesterday - hence our interest in reaching out to the ownership community in order to confirm (or not), many of our impressions, assumptions, and hopes. The boat at the dock is splendid in layout, finish, equipment, design, and function. We have never been out on one and have asked Van for a “ride” when opportune. Thank you very much for your comments - they are so very much appreciated.
 
We too prefer cruising at 8 knots - our current boat does so and tops out a 10.

This is helpful in understanding your perspective. I had the impression you were looking for higher speeds as a matter of routine.

In my opinion: the Helmsman hulls are perfect for that goal. Cruise at 8, but with reserve power and speed for more when the occasion demands it.

Until recently the standard engine was 250hp, but the 380hp was both more popular with customers as well as being more widely available to source. And so 380hp is the new standard size. If an 8 knot cruise speed is what you want, that 250hp is plenty. But most of us have opted for more in reserve and thus optioned up for more. I have yet to use it on mine, but am glad to have it.

Since you already have a conversation started with Helmsman, that saves me from suggesting you begin one. What I experienced was a VERY consultative process, where they took time to understand what I was looking to do, and looking for, and then made suggestions along the way of things to consider to get there. This was not an upsell process. This was a goal achievement process.

So that said, if you have a reserve speed in mind, at the right time you should turn the question over to Scott or Van. If you state what top continuous cruise speed you would like, they can help you select the engine size that gets you there. Just know that if 8 knots is your standard, everything extra normally goes unused. My 380 has a continuous duty RPM of 2700, on a max 3000. I normally cruise at maybe 1500 - 1600. I am running at half the RPM of max.

Bear in mind that as you go higher, trim tabs enter into the equation. I wanted to avoid that. Its not a case of not being willing to pay for them. It just adds another piece of gear, maintenance, etc. that begins to get away from simplicity. My 380hp "could use" them at higher speed, but I'd say barely above the mark of need. Since I have yet to use the higher speeds, that is gear that would also be sitting there unused. Go more, and get them. But Helmsman would have a more refined view on that than mine.

So to put it all a bit differently, the Helmsman hull design is optimized for your goal. The AT and NT hull shapes and somewhat lighter weight build are optimized for teens speeds as a matter of routine.
 
This is helpful in understanding your perspective. I had the impression you were looking for higher speeds as a matter of routine.

In my opinion: the Helmsman hulls are perfect for that goal. Cruise at 8, but with reserve power and speed for more when the occasion demands it.

Until recently the standard engine was 250hp, but the 380hp was both more popular with customers as well as being more widely available to source. And so 380hp is the new standard size. If an 8 knot cruise speed is what you want, that 250hp is plenty. But most of us have opted for more in reserve and thus optioned up for more. I have yet to use it on mine, but am glad to have it.

Since you already have a conversation started with Helmsman, that saves me from suggesting you begin one. What I experienced was a VERY consultative process, where they took time to understand what I was looking to do, and looking for, and then made suggestions along the way of things to consider to get there. This was not an upsell process. This was a goal achievement process.

So that said, if you have a reserve speed in mind, at the right time you should turn the question over to Scott or Van. If you state what top continuous cruise speed you would like, they can help you select the engine size that gets you there. Just know that if 8 knots is your standard, everything extra normally goes unused. My 380 has a continuous duty RPM of 2700, on a max 3000. I normally cruise at maybe 1500 - 1600. I am running at half the RPM of max.

Bear in mind that as you go higher, trim tabs enter into the equation. I wanted to avoid that. Its not a case of not being willing to pay for them. It just adds another piece of gear, maintenance, etc. that begins to get away from simplicity. My 380hp "could use" them at higher speed, but I'd say barely above the mark of need. Since I have yet to use the higher speeds, that is gear that would also be sitting there unused. Go more, and get them. But Helmsman would have a more refined view on that than mine.

So to put it all a bit differently, the Helmsman hull design is optimized for your goal. The AT and NT hull shapes and somewhat lighter weight build are optimized for teens speeds as a matter of routine.
Thanks again - good to know how you operate with the 380 - I will ask Van if they have performance data on the 425 - these engines are different beasts than my Deere which hits 2450 WOT on a hull that has never seen direct sun under the boot when in the water.... I too would like to avoid tabs - just don't seem right on many fronts. We have been cruising quite a bit already this year but travel will keep us from the water all of May - I look forward to engaging in the wild with the next Helmsman owner I run into.
 
I wouldn't be scared of trim tabs. At higher speeds the extra lift is likely to help performance. And if the tabs are big enough, deploying them slightly at lower speeds can improve roll comfort a bit on some hulls. I haven't been for a ride on a Helmsman to try it, but on my own boat the difference in ride is surprising at 6.5 kts just from lowering the tabs from just above flush with the hull to just below flush. The boat pitches a bit less and roll gets a bit slower and smoother. Surprisingly a small deployment like that has no measurable effect on speed in either direction.

Assuming Helmsman is using Bennett hydraulic tabs they've been in production for decades and are very reliable. Mine have needed no mechanical work in the boat's 38 year history.
 
I wouldn't be scared of trim tabs. At higher speeds the extra lift is likely to help performance. And if the tabs are big enough, deploying them slightly at lower speeds can improve roll comfort a bit on some hulls. I haven't been for a ride on a Helmsman to try it, but on my own boat the difference in ride is surprising at 6.5 kts just from lowering the tabs from just above flush with the hull to just below flush. The boat pitches a bit less and roll gets a bit slower and smoother. Surprisingly a small deployment like that has no measurable effect on speed in either direction.

Assuming Helmsman is using Bennett hydraulic tabs they've been in production for decades and are very reliable. Mine have needed no mechanical work in the boat's 38 year history.
Thanks - not sure what Helmsman uses but Bennett would be the choice.😎
 
KMAL, Your thread is interesting, and thanks for asking the original question. Happy to read that you had a tour of the 43 recently with Van Helker. I hope you really liked the 43.

We are receiving our 46 this July in Seattle and will have more room than we really need. But that's not the only reason. Handling, workmanship, quality, fit and finish are the reasons. Most of all, it is working with Scott and Van Helker on customization is a pleasure.

Our 38E handled beautifully in rough weather during our extended cruise to SE Alaska in 2022. Not only was she stable but with manual steering we were able to lessen the rough ride considerably. Throttle responses were immediate and got up to 12 kts with the Cummins 380, when needed. We normally cruised at 7-8 kts and had 3-4 gph fuel burn. Smooth ride in calm seas and no real need for trim tabs. She was well balanced, and to maintain that, we managed fuel quantity in saddle tanks. The Cummins 380 is a workhorse and easy to maintain.

In regard to fit and finish, she was the best quality vessel I have ever owned in our 15 years of power boating. Even our friends who own Selene, GB, American Tug and Norwest have said that the fit and finish, the workmanship and materials were of highest quality. But purchasing a marque depends on personal tastes. To each, their own.

Back to the 38's living space. The standard interior is well designed, and the day head is a real plus. Lots of storage and comfortable seating. Scott welcomes owners' ideas to make the spaces more personal and efficient. Many adjustments are complimentary, but some design changes will be at the owners' cost. In the end, every Helmsman Trawler is a custom vessel. absolutely beautiful

So keep the conversation going with Scott. A Helmsman trawler is value for the money. There, I said it.
 
KMAL, I posted a couple videos from yesterday on the trip from Tacoma to Seattle playing with the DMS stabilizer in “Our Helmsman 43”. May give a little insight into how the boat handles.
 
Since no one else has yet to respond, I'll be the first a take a crack at the long list of questions. Bear in mind, I own a 38, and the home waters are the Chesapeake so there are obvious limits to what I can contribute.

In a lot of ways the Nordic and American are two variations of the same choice. The two are quite similar in many ways. Both have hulls that lean more toward a planning hull. The Helmsman on the other hand leans more toward displacement while still being semi-displacement. I have not needed to do the math but I think you will find the Helmsman is a heavier boat per foot of length than the NT or AT. That weight will impede speed but assist stability, so you pick your preference in a world where you can't have it all. Leaning toward speed, there is more deadrise (V angle in the bottom at the stern) whereas the Helmsman is virtually flat there. The flatter section will make things more stable at anchor or in the slip, but the V helps the ride at higher speed. Again, you pick.

Beam seas are obviously the least comfortable point of sail on a trawler. In smaller chop the Helmsman will "squat" and plant itself harder into the water when above displacement speed since its hull leans toward displacement. That behavior reduces roll in chop. There comes a point when the seas are larger, or you are dealing with rollers, when stabilizers might be desireable. Others can better comment on where that line is.

Seaworthy? Well, it is a coastal cruiser, not a passage-making, cross the ocean sort of boat, and none of those you are considering are either. To me, its at least as seaworthy as the AT and NT, but again I can't comment on Selene. It is built heavily. Nothing flimsy about it. Helmsman once compared it to a tank, and I'd say that's apt.

There is at least one 43 with a large engine that likes to cruise it in the mid teens. Perhaps he might chime in. Personally I prefer 7-8 knots, for the peace and pleasure, and the economical fuel burn at that speed is a nice kicker.

Build quality? Better than I hoped it would be. My aging body is in revolt at the moment since I opted to polish and wax the hull and replace the zincs myself this past week before launch for the season. But that was a week spent with my face staring at every square inch of the hull, a foot away, inch by inch. After one season's use, mine is perfect. There was a time when Selene's had poor gelcoat. I heard that was addressed, but then heard of another such issue on a recent order. Do your own due diligence on what is true and what is internet rumor. However, what I know is true is that mine is perfect. Interior? Just go aboard one and judge the fit and finish yourself. Mine is flawless inside.

Win, from my limited time with my boat so far I completely agree with all of your assessments.

I previously owned 2 American Tugs. Your comments on the hull forms are spot-on. The AT's can, and we did, routinely cruise at speeds in the teens. The AT is a very seaworthy boat, though the ride is wet and it throws a lot of spray at higher speeds.

The Helmsman 38 is a heavy boat. 30,000 lbs. compared with 21,000 lbs. for the AT39. That, plus the soft chine (vs. hard chine AT hull) means it takes more power to push. The AT39 is faster than the Helmsman 38 for the same power. FWIW to my eye the Helmsman 38 hull looks a lot like the Wilbur 38, almost as if someone copied the design at some point in history. The hull will move faster, but it will take more power and burn more fuel doing it.

My 38 Sedan has a 550 hp engine and has a WOT of 17-18 knots, which should be improved by 1-2 knots with a different prop. Doubling speed from 7 to 14 knots increases fuel consumption 15-fold. An AT39 with a 550 engine will do 23-24 knots.

As the old saying goes, speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?
 
Hi guys, Love the discussions, pretty deep and almost a "meaning of life" argument! We are now under contract for Hull#3 of a 38S with an ETA of November '24. Nick and others input is dead on (thanks Nick!), We met Scott a couple weeks ago as he delivered a new 43E here in NC and I was totally sold in under 10 minutes!

Julie and I are "southern cruisers" as we live on the Pamlico River in eastern North Carolina. Having "evolved" from ski boats to sail boats on the lower Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, to a "go fast" SeaRay Weekender 30 to a Mainship Pilot 34 and currently a Beneteau Swift Trawler 34, one "learns" what makes sense and what works best. Having an overnight hospital stay last month and lying there at 4:30 in the morning cinched the Helmsman decision for me. You can't take that stock portfolio with you, it is the journey and the destination just comes along! We are leaving for a 3 week Beaufort NC to Beaufort SC and return cruise this Friday (and you better know how to properly pronounce each Beaufort!) as the last big trip on the Beneteau.

We decided on the 480hp engine, trim tabs, of course, and a custom flybridge with a hardtop Bimini on a 38S. Scott is very cool to work with! It should look really sharp.

The Beneteau is a great boat, they are indeed "Swift" at 20 knots WOT and light at 17,000lbs but it is time for the boat of our dreams, custom built, roomy, solid and beautiful! Stay tuned.
Skip
 
Congratulations and welcome to the gang. And post lots of pics. I’ve not seen a sedan in person yet and am curious.
 
Skip, congratulations on your order, and welcome to the growing family of owners.
 
Thanks guys, sounds like we have a great Helmsman community, cult, club, fraternity....all of the above! Will stay engaged and share progress!
Skip
 
Hi guys, Love the discussions, pretty deep and almost a "meaning of life" argument! We are now under contract for Hull#3 of a 38S with an ETA of November '24. Nick and others input is dead on (thanks Nick!), We met Scott a couple weeks ago as he delivered a new 43E here in NC and I was totally sold in under 10 minutes!
We decided on the 480hp engine, trim tabs, of course, and a custom flybridge with a hardtop Bimini on a 38S. Scott is very cool to work with! It should look really sharp.

Skip
Thanks Skip, glad to have been of help. Congratulations and enjoy!


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is this what you are coming from? What a beautiful boat if so. Looks seaworthy with the low center of gravity.

 

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is this what you are coming from? What a beautiful boat if so. Looks seaworthy with the low center of gravity. I love boats that look like boats and have quality craftsmanship. As Maynard Bray said to me one day..."Wood is good".

 
Wow. This turns a head. Congratulations.

I'd love to see a shot that shows the galley cabinetry layout.
 
is this what you are coming from? What a beautiful boat if so. Looks seaworthy with the low center of gravity.

Yes - that is our boat. She is a stunner in every sense. And yes, very comfy and capable. We simply need more accommodations now that our family has expanded through marriages and now grandchildren. Hence our interest in the H43.
 
Yes - that is our boat. She is a stunner in every sense. And yes, very comfy and capable. We simply need more accommodations now that our family has expanded through marriages and now grandchildren. Hence our interest in the H43.
 

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Ric

That looks seriously good.

Thanks for sharing that.
 
Kevin,
I don't own a Helmsman, but wanted to ask you about your current boat, since I am interested in a wooden boat, and there aren't a lot of people to ask about them who I would trust more than TF'ers.
Could you talk a little about what about your current boat no longer met your needs, and also what maintenance and upkeep has been like?
I have seen a bunch of Arno Day's lobster boats up in Maine, but I haven't seen another one of these trawlers. I have to say that she is a beauty!
Thanks for sharing whatever you can?
Peter
 
Sure - Pamanus, our current boat is a 41 LOA Pilot House Trawler built in 1973. She is in spectacular shape having been owned since 2009 by two owners - ourselves included, who really too care to maintain her at the highest standards. Her major systems were upgraded/replaced in 2010 - 2013, this include propulsion, plumbing, electrical. She had the very best in equipment - yet she is simple (for a boat). Her hull is over 90% original with a couple of planks having been replaced. Upkeep is not cheap - we haul her every year and have her on a schedule for upkeep: bottom paint every two years; hull paint every four years; superstructure paint every 7 to 10 years; brightwwork every two years. She is kept in covered moorage which makes a huge difference as she is kept in the North West. Bottom paint $3k to 4k, hull paint $20K; superstructure paint $25k; brightwork $7k. This results in an average annual spend of circa $20k with a bump every 3 or so years to say $40k. We take her to the best shipyard for wooden yachts in our area and arguably none of the best in the world. Hourly rates I consider a bargain for the expertise and craftsmanship at the yard range between $60 and $250 an hour depending on the expertise and seniority/experience of those needed - but I would say the average billing is less that $120 per hour. On the other hand - the cost of entry into a wood boat should be significantly less than that of a glass or steel boat of similar quality and shape. In my experience having owned several boats, I would say that the initial cost of Pamanus was between 30 to 40% of a nicely kept glass boat with high quality systems and build. So - pay now or pay later. There is nothing like a nice wood boat built by top craftsmen - but you need to stay on top of the maintenance or it will cost you. The brightwork that costs me $7k could easily cost me $20k if I let it go three instead of the usual two years. Light sanding is a lot cheaper than sanding down to the wood or stripping the boat. The same is true for all of the other protective coats. Mechanical maintenance is cheap - less than $2K per year as we have top rate equipment. Most of the mechanical spend is on annual commissioning, oil, impeller, belts, etc. I have the boat dived twice a year for cleaning and zinc replacement at roughly $250 per dive.
 
Kevin,
I don't own a Helmsman, but wanted to ask you about your current boat, since I am interested in a wooden boat, and there aren't a lot of people to ask about them who I would trust more than TF'ers.
Could you talk a little about what about your current boat no longer met your needs, and also what maintenance and upkeep has been like?
I have seen a bunch of Arno Day's lobster boats up in Maine, but I haven't seen another one of these trawlers. I have to say that she is a beauty!
Thanks for sharing whatever you can?
Peter
BTW - we are looking at the Helmsman simply because we require an additional stateroom. Pamanus is a wonderful boat that has been designed to accommodate two people overnight. She is massively generous in her master stateroom and head - but she only sleeps two. We know have son’s in law and grandchildren - so our needs have simply evolved.
 
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