Originally Posted by dokondr
Yet for me steering with good observation from inside is important, though I don't like tall pilot houses and would prefer a good trunk cabin with sturdy and clear portholes ...
I love pilot houses. I don't like little boats with big windage pilot houses though. Mainly for boat performance and windage at anchor NOT for worry of big seas crashing windows.
We're mixing apples and oranges a bit here with your desires, though.
Good observation from inside IS important when you're in a high traffic area and the outside conditions are unpleasant. So, nearby or in a harbor/port.
Your prior concerns about bluewater and a tall pilot house taking damage refer to dicey offshore sailing--presumed in the same unpleasant outside conditions--when you're not near a port and you're sailing through something a bit overwhelming. Right?
The performance of these two are apples and oranges. Do you see?
When you're far from land and far from other boats, you're going to do just fine taking a quick look around every 10 to 15 minutes, letting the autopilot do its work and not worrying about what you can see from the inside. You don't require much of anything to do this offshore sailing--you can step up and look out quickly no matter what the boat. To keep the rain out while you do it you might want a little dodger over the companionway. If you're solo, you're going to shirk on those lookout duties anyway...but I won't go there in this discussion.
Speaking from experience of coastal cruising with a boat having a very nice low chart house which allows great all-round visibility and of having the ability to do exactly as you want--that is to steer and do all from inside--I can tell you that if you're responsible, you're still going to pop your head out the companionway every 15 minutes and take a look 'round and you're still going to go out on deck every hour and check all the lines and sails--no matter what comfy inside station you've got. At least that's what we do. It really matters little what we can see in the intervening minutes because the watch-stander often has his/her nose buried in a book while the autopilot does the honors of steering. Even the best of inside steering and observation doesn't allow you the sound of the sails, water, wind. It is easier by far to know what's going on by sticking your head out and taking a look around.
And, in coastal cruising with numerous fishing boats around, at night, you might even find yourself bundled up and outside anyway--just to make sure that you see what you need to see.
There are some amazing boats out there for sale right now. If you're planning some real cruising/offshore, you might wish to stay away from little boats with huge pilot houses. Rather, get the same windage by installing a dodger/bimini enclosing the cockpit. It will allow you shelter while sailing in close to harbor and you'll be able to take off the canvas and stow it below if you're offshore and there's a worry of big seas/winds which will damage it.