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Old 23-05-2012, 00:11   #1
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Aft facing Nav Station?

A considerable number of boats for one reason or another have aft facing Nav Stations. While a sailing acquaintance argues he can't get on with it, never having had one myself I would appreciate any input/preferences.

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Old 23-05-2012, 00:37   #2
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Re: Aft facing Nav Station?

I looked at some Oysters with that arrangement, and didn't like it. It's disorienting. I suppose one would get used to it.

I spend a great deal of time at the nav table on and off passage -- it's my workplace onboard. For example, I often sit there in the evenings and work out the next day's passage while everyone else is relaxing in the salon. Or watch the instruments there if it's stormy and we're at anchor. Or write my log. Or a million other things. It's really good, in my opinion, to not have your back turned to others on board when you're at the nav table. So my own strong preference is a forward-facing one which communicates with the salon. YMMV.

My father's boat, a Pearson 365, has a side-facing nav table. It's quite a clever arrangement because it's right under the companionway so that the navigator can easily communicate with the helmsman. The nav table is very large for a boat that size, and is cleverly tucked under the side deck. But sitting at it is entirely anti-social -- you don't want to linger there when others are relaxing in the salon.

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Old 23-05-2012, 04:57   #3
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Re: Aft facing Nav Station?

Our boat has an aft-facing nav station. I didn't like the idea of it, but accomodated quickly and now reallly like it. The nav station is tucked away aft of the galley where a portside quarterberth would be. There's an opening port into the cockpit so that communication between helm and nav is very easy. There's good storage and, because the station isn't out in the middle of the saloon, traffic and people don't dump stuff in the area as they pass by. It's also isolated from sleeping and social areas so that working while crew is sleeping or doing other activities in the saloon isn't a problem.
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Old 23-05-2012, 05:34   #4
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Re: Aft facing Nav Station?

It's a tradeoff. Like Dockhead observed, facing forward it is much easier to be a part of the activities, and communicate with those, in the main saloon. On the other hand, facing aft almost always makes it easier to communicate with those in the cockpit.

There are moments when being able to communicate effectively from the nav station to the cockpit is crucial. On the other hand, you will probably spend vastly more time at the nav station communicating with others in the saloon.

The side facing nav station would seem to be a nearly ideal solution, but then it becomes more (or less) difficult to use, depending on which tack the boat is on and how far over it is heeled.

So, in the end, it becomes a very personal decision as to what tradeoffs you are willing to make.
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Old 23-05-2012, 06:02   #5
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Re: Aft facing Nav Station?

IMO, it depends upon the boat:

1. Pilothouse yachts: I had a Cartwright 36 Pilothouse Cutter with an inside steering station on centerline and the nav station facing forward, directly beside the interior helm. IMO, no other arrangement would have made sense as it enabled the helmsperson to steer while viewing charts spread out on the table, or if seated at the chart table, to see forward and continue steering the boat.

2. DS yachts: The advantage to a deckhouse saloon is that it allows forward visibility from inside the boat and again, in that case, I would consider it essential that the nav station either face forward, or athwartships so that someone seated there can easily see ahead while the boat is underway. Even without an interior helm, if sailing short-handed and required to go below to the nav station, it is comforting to still be able to see where the boat is headed.

Catamarans: Since virtually all catamarans permit forward visibility from inside the saloon, the same considerations as DS boats apply and the nav station should either face forward, or athwartships so as to permit easy forward visibility.

Non pilothouse/DS monohulls: I can see no advantage to orientation and would be more interested in having the nav station oriented in a way that makes best use of the interior space while allowing easy communication with cockpit.

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Old 23-05-2012, 06:10   #6
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Re: Aft facing Nav Station?

Would agree with David on all of his points. The aft facing nav station on the T-40 worked well and was excellent design.
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Old 23-05-2012, 06:25   #7
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Re: Aft facing Nav Station?

i dont have a nav station in my formosa-is only thing i miss from my ericson , which has a beautiful and well planned forward facing nav station at the companionway.

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