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Old 06-14-2007, 04:20 PM   #1
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My instructor in Bellingham Washington during my BB certification talked a lot about her sail to Australia and Asia. I forget the type of boat they had, but her husband assured her it was a seaworthy rig. When they did their shakedown sail to Alaska they saw a lot of pilot house sailboats.

Her thoughts were it would have been nice to take in the out doors without being subject to the elements. He assured her again they were not seaworthy enough for the journey.

She said that every where they went, there were pilot house vessels making te same trip.

So as I entertain myself by scanning the boat ads what do you think?

Seaworthy or not Seaworthy?

Other aspects of pilot house boats that should be considered? Seems like watch would be little more comfortable as well.

Duckwheat
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Old 06-14-2007, 07:28 PM   #2
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We have a pilothouse ketch and love the view, although ours is low enough that we don't steer from inside if there's a chance of other small craft nearby--in other words, nowhere on inland waters because visibility immediately under the bow is limited. This makes it less attractive for some who only sail inland; for them a higher platform for the pilothouse--more like one found on the Nauticat or a motor yacht--might be better. But when it's blustery and messy offshore? That's when ours is a real blessing.

The one thing that you need to be careful of is the strength of the glass. On the advice of Steve Dashew, we went with 3/4" storm glass when replacing our windows. I got just a little nervous when I saw a picture of a pilothouse that had suffered a knockdown in the Atlantic, breaking the front starboard windshield and allowing the Atlantic swift access inboard. I believe that boat sank. With our bulletproof windows, my husband has suggested we can stand behind them in case of a pirate attack--he said they're stronger than the surrounding fiberglass! Of course, I'd prefer never to test this theory. I can't imagine sticking out my tongue at anyone with a gun. Glass that's 3/4" may be on the obsessive side, but I'd rather be that way than not about safety issues--and water packs a punch when it's angry.

Normandie
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Old 06-14-2007, 08:12 PM   #3
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We made friends with two fellows who circumnavigated on a pilothouse cutter, a Panda (Baba, TaiShing). They loved it, though when they left New Zealand they were strongly urged to fit plexiglass storm windows over the pilothouse windows. Although they were dismasted on their way up to Darwin, Australia, I don't recall that they ever had a problem with their windows, or considered them unsafe.

We've seen a number of pilothouse boats that looked eminently seaworthy, and many have gone a long way. One couple we met in the S. Pacific (they left from Florida several years earlier) loved their pilothouse, saying what you comment on - it was most comfortable on watches no matter the weather.

Then again, we've been on at least one pilothouse model (a Cheoy Lee) that made me a bit queasy while still at the dock. Too top heavy, needed a sail to be up to keep the movement comfortable.

I think, I would say I believe, that there are seaworthy boats and those that are not seaworthy in the pilothouse configuration. The size of the windows, and what they are made of, is one consideration. There is a BABA/Panda owner's web site that you might want to visit. Check out other boat makes' owner's sites, and that might give you more insight into how far/how well the boat you might be interested in has traveled. Take it with a grain of salt sometimes. We had a friend who circumnavigated on a San Juan 30, a light, round-the-buoys club racer - not what one would consider a blue-water boat - but it got him home. Even Hunters have circumnavigated.
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Old 06-14-2007, 08:18 PM   #4
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It is my belief that some pilothouse boats are pretty safe. Others are not. As always, it is a question of just how strong the weakest link is.

If I was asked to choose the most seaworthy type of vessel I know of then I would plumb for a flush-decked Colin Archer with no more than a small, one-man cockpit.

Aye,

Stephen

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Old 06-14-2007, 11:46 PM   #5
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We looked for a boat with a pilot house because we intend to enjoy some northern latitude sailing and didn't like the idea that some people have of ducking out for a quick look and then back down below because of the weather...We know too many sailors who make a habit of this because of cold. Our 54' schooner has a low pilothouse called a "charthouse" by its designer. It has large (plexi) glass windows. We were worried about adding "windage" with a large/tall pilothouse that would be even more useful, so we found a low one to be the most desirable compromise. The boat is presently in the yard being completely rebuilt right now and we are heavily reinforcing the carlines (wood boat = wood pilothouse/charthouse, carlines are the framing around the house and what one counts on to keep the house on the boat if knocked down). The previous owner had taken the opening windows and made them fixed plexi. We have mixed feelings about this since a breeze is nice, but know it is much safer.

If you've ever seen one of the Dashew (spelling?) videos on their boats, you'll see pilothouses there. I'm always a bit surprised, though because they seem to have open aft ends with just a canvas/plastic covering like a dodger. They point to plexiglass sliding doors that shut off the cabin below from the pilothouse, but it seems a little iffy. I'm thinking, with their reputation for wanting things very safe, that I'm missing something and those plexi doors must be much stronger than I'd thought.

Good sailing!
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Old 06-15-2007, 02:23 AM   #6
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I have not had much to do with the style of boat, but was recently chatting to Kaj Gustafsson, MD of Nauticat Yachts. (At the Kobe Intnl Boat Show) Given his assurances, I would think that as long as the boat is designed to be an ocean passagemaker, it should only suffer the drawback of increased windage.

I may be wrong, but I understood the Fisher range of pilothouse yacht/motorsailers was designed specifically for use in the North Sea, where I believe they have developed a strong following and a reputation for toughness.

There seems to be a trend in the US at the moment toward beamy, pilothouse yachts designed specifically for inshore weekend sailing, or marina life. These boats will be ideal for fulfilling their design function, but should not be confused with pilothouse boats built for blue water.

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Old 06-15-2007, 12:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I may be wrong, but I understood the Fisher range of pilothouse yacht/motorsailers was designed specifically for use in the North Sea, where I believe they have developed a strong following and a reputation for toughness.
I forgot about the Fishers. We've been on at least one of them, and they seem a sturdy boat. Nice looking, too.
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Old 06-16-2007, 01:23 AM   #8
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Our previous boat was a Worldcruiser Pilothouse 37.

Full-time liveaboard for ten years.

25,000 miles across the Pacific, Indian & Atlantic Oceans.

Cyclone Justin in the Coral Sea, Super Typhoon Paka in the Philippine Sea and Square Wave Bashing up the Red Sea.

At one point during Justin - we were literally looking at fish swimming in blue water outside the big pilothouse windows. Scared the crap out of me but we made it and gave me faith in the design.

Sold her for a lot more than we paid for her.

I do miss the view and inside helm.

Happy Hunting,

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Old 06-17-2007, 06:38 AM   #9
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Fishers are fantastic little ships. No doubt about that. They are good-looking, seaworthy and comfortable. But, if asked to choose the most seaworthy form of construction, it would still be a Colin Archer; which is basically a Fisher sans pilot-house.

Aye

Stephen

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Old 06-18-2007, 02:30 PM   #10
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One aspect has not yet been hit and it's only worth thinking about if you take your pilothouse yacht on ocean passages: In case of a knockdown the bouyancy of the pilothouse itself helps the boat to get back in an upright position easier than the same hull with a normal (low) cabin trunk configuration. I never thought of this aspect until some yacht builders here in Europe have models with versions with and without a pilot house in their programs and the tests in the yachting magazines show, that the uprighting momentum of zero measured on the mast top occurs later on a pilot house yacht than on a yacht with a normal cabin. Well they never knock down a boat like this in a test and I guess they let computers do the work, but it somehow makes sence that a pilot house must have some influence on the bouyance, when it is in the water...

And there is a difference between the more traditional pilot house yachts with big windows (eg the old wooden Nauti Cats I would not take over the North Sea in October) and the later models of the same ship yard and, for example, the Northshore produced Vancouver 34 Pilot and 38 Pilot... wonderful examples of safe pilot house yachts I' like to have if I had the money...

And , Stephen, concerning the Fishers: I am not so sure about their deep cockpits and the sliding doors... Yes, they are well known and quite common in our northern European waters but we have never seen them doing long term cruising.

So, if pilot house yachts are built sturdy, they have alot advandages, I believe...

Uwe

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Old 06-18-2007, 04:37 PM   #11
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I absolutely agree with Uwe on the subject of pilot houses. As I have previously stated, I would rather be without one. But Fishers are very solidly constructed.

Deep cockpits are always worrying and I have never been happy with sliding doors either but they are not uncommon on commercial craft. In high latitudes a pilot houise has a lot going for it but again, I wouild never choose one for seawothiness. having said that, North Sea fishing boats, which were of similar form, have survived many a storm.

Aye

Stephen
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:45 PM   #12
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I love pilothouses.........I live in Canada................Go figure. One small point that has not been mentioned is that a high house or pilothouse causes windage and a different righting momement than other boats of simalar hull design. My point is that some pilothouses were designed as such and compensate for both with placement of ballast and rig changes and some don't. Be very carefull of the boat that did not start out as a pilothouse but is one now. Did the renovator take into account the superstructure they were slapping on the deck and what overall effect it had on sailability and menuverabilty...............Cheers
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Old 06-24-2007, 11:41 AM   #13
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I was just glansing through an old number of Practical Boat Owner (October 2006) and there I found an article about a 10.6 metre Rogger motorsailer with a large pilohouse. The vessel was en route from Brighton to Galway when she was caught in a violent storm, force 11, between Lands End and Kinsale in Ireland.

The boat, battling the storm for some 35 hours, had its problems with electronics packing up but she survived well whereas a coaster sank not far away off the Welsh coast.

This probably does not prove a lot but it makes me think that pilothouse boats maybe better than I have previously given them credit for.

Aye

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Old 06-24-2007, 12:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nausikaa View Post
.....makes me think that pilothouse boats maybe better than I have previously given them credit for.

Aye

Stephen
Hi, Stephen,

There are some pilothouse boats (usually the house is "open" down to the main salon) that seem unseaworthy to me--but many appear quite seaworthy and tightly built. I do have a concern for safety when the boat has a lot of windage, period. If the house really degrades the sailing performance, I believe its not a good idea regardless of the structural integrity of the house itself. We wanted a pilothouse (as previously mentioned) for less fatigue and safer cold weather sailing. We were reluctant to get one with a tall pilothouse because of windage and ended up with a very low one that is described by the naval architect who designed her as a charthouse rather than a pilothouse--even though she has a second steering station within it.
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