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Old 26-02-2013, 17:46   #1
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Looking for opinions on helm seats

We have a pilothouse cutter in steel. The pilothouse is great, but lacks a helm seat. I would appreciate hearing opinions as to good brands, value and options in helm seats, with the following attributes factoring in my co-skipper is five feet tall and I am six feet tall:

1) Must have a basic footrest.
2) Must be able to be slid fore and aft.
3) Must be able to be "heeled" and locked for those trade wind stretches.
4) Must be able to raised and lowered to accommodate all short and tall crew. A gas pedestal is not, however, necessary...it could be a robust friction fitting.
5) Aluminum is better so as not to trouble the Globemaster compass.

Arms would be nice. It needn't be leather or have fighter-pilot seat form factors, like some of the better fishing trawlers or naval ships. I would prefer a fairly cut-down seat, the back of which could fold down. Basically, something safe and comfortable to motor in when entering and leaving anchorages, harbour or at times when the AP isn't appropriate.

I am having difficulty because I'm either seeing giant padded "god" seats, or crappy little bassboat seats, not a lot in between, and my wife is tired of standing on a cinder block.

Your comments and anecdotes are welcome and thank you.
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Old 27-02-2013, 09:01   #2
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

Bump...seriously, no one here has ever bought a helm seat?
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Old 27-02-2013, 09:11   #3
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

Make it yourself out of timber;

non-magnetic
looks and feels great
easily repaired or modified
won't cost an arm and a leg

I was going to suggest a hammock chair that is also light and easily stowable, but coming up with a simple one that keeps the helmsman at the wheel rather than swinging around like a monkey is too much for my over-taxed DIY brain.
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Old 27-02-2013, 09:30   #4
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

I actually considered something like an upsized "baby swing seat" hanging from a length of track bolted to the pilothouse roof, but I couldn't figure a way to dampen a puke-making oscillation...

I suppose I could modify the more robust sort of rail-backed bar chair and tie on a couple of thin pillows.

Like this:

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Old 27-02-2013, 09:44   #5
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Bump...seriously, no one here has ever bought a helm seat?
I dont know of any that do all of what you want.... especially the "heeling" part. There are plenty of high end powerboat helm seats out there. The spring loaded ones are very nice, but really, the internals are plain steel! Some boaters go to the 18 wheeler store and get one of those high end seats, but that's probably a little overkill for you.... and still wont gimbal.
Rather than trying to gimbl a chair, make one with a concave bottom.
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Old 27-02-2013, 09:46   #6
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

That's a nice looking chair.

One of the things I'm considering for the centre cockpit of the steel schooner I'm dying to build, is a hardtop bridge between the fore & aft dodgers; with a helm seat suspended from that. When not in use I could fold it up to the underside of the bridge and have more room. It's still hazy but it's important to get the concept right first, then flesh out the details of it when building it. With a hatch in the bridge, the seat functions as a stepladder as well so I could close off the sides with canvas and still have instant access to the deck without letting in any spray. It also means I can run a jackline down the centreline and avoid going anywhere near the rail at all, maybe even stay clipped on to it while at the helm. You're probably not keen on Tarzanning off your pilothouse, but the ventilation and view might be a welcome thing. The hatch could even incorporate the seat, so you don't lose headroom with it folded up.
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Old 27-02-2013, 13:42   #7
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

Go to an auto wrecker and pick out the seats you want, get out your welder and install them just where you want them. Got mine for $40, very comfortable.
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Old 28-02-2013, 13:33   #8
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Sounds like an old barber chair would fit your needs nicely. Just a thought.
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Old 28-02-2013, 15:16   #9
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

Google :Sternperch ;you design, it they make it. Probably too basic for you ,but mine was an excellent up grade,
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Old 28-02-2013, 17:28   #10
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

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Sounds like an old barber chair would fit your needs nicely. Just a thought.
A bit big and overstuffed for the tropics and the space required, but I did look at a salon chair briefly as it had a more compact seat. Besides, I need it to move fore and aft as well as up and down. There's a pretty big size discrepancy between myself, my wife and, until he gets to 13-14 or so, my son.

Thanks for the suggestion, however.
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Old 28-02-2013, 18:03   #11
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

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Google :Sternperch ;you design, it they make it. Probably too basic for you ,but mine was an excellent up grade,
Nice indeed, but that's a rail seat. I'm looking for a helm seat inside the pilothouse. Like this sort of thing:



This would go in front of a wheel and an engine instrument panel, looking forward from a steel cutter's pilothouse, like this:
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Old 28-02-2013, 18:44   #12
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

We have 2 Power boat helm seats, with full 360 swivel, and folding backs not to uncomfortable! better with a seat pad plus the regular seat bottom. Beat the heck out of no seats !! we still have room in the house but I probly would of only gone with one, but Connie likes the idea of the 2 seats ! (what ya gonna do lol) if I could figure out how to post a pic on here I would put a pic of them on here !!
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Old 28-02-2013, 19:14   #13
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

I like this one. I have a cushion that fits in the curve. the seat also fits perfectly between the combing and the mizzen mast so I can sit high and steer by feet or auto-pilot. It gets nicely out of the way if needed. 2nd mate likes it too.
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Old 01-03-2013, 13:45   #14
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

That would be nice for the outside helm, or even for a nav station as it looks like you could keep chartbooks in it, but as I said, this is for the inside, pilothouse helm and must be adjustable for the big difference in height between the co-skippers...

Bob, I am looking hard at power boat and even fishing boat gear. It's going to be through-bolted into a steel deck, so I'm not worried about breaking anything.
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Old 01-03-2013, 14:41   #15
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Re: Looking for opinions on helm seats

When I welded my seats to the steel deck, I found I had to brace the steel from underneath as the steel flexes a good amount and the seat will wobble.
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