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Old 04-03-2012, 09:22   #1
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Aft Helms

Originally Posted by colemj
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You are an unusual Catana owner - all the rest of them rave about the advantages of the outside helms and say they would never own a boat without them.

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I lifted this quote from another thread because I did not want to derail that thread, but I really dislike the dual aft helm arrangement on some cats (Catana, Nautitech).

Delivered a Nautitech 44 a few years ago in snotty weather...no protection whatsoever at the helm, poor visibility forward when docking, awkward to access engine controls, a very short distance to being over board off the stern....

IMHO it looks cool in the advertising photos, but is not very practical.

Other opinions?
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:55   #2
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Re: Aft Helms

i agree
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:16   #3
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Re: Aft Helms

I don't have a lot of experience with the dual helm arrangement, but on a day sail across a fairly rough Caribbean sea state I rather enjoyed the helm position. Visibility forward and of the sails was great--far superior to sitting behind the cabin top where you can't see much on a lot of cats. Plus, docking was really quite good from out there--again, you could see what you were doing much better than on most cats, plus there is often one side or the other that requires greater diligence when docking and you can be on that side. I will say that you are much more exposed to the weather, but offshore most of us will be on autopilot anyway so it won't matter. It would be kind of nasty to have to spend a cold, dark, wet night watch out there if you had to for some reason.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:27   #4
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Re: Aft Helms

I agree totally colemJ . On my cat, sitting on the raised helm chair provided far better visibility than if I was back on the quarter.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:41   #5
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Re: Aft Helms

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I don't have a lot of experience with the dual helm arrangement, but on a day sail across a fairly rough Caribbean sea state I rather enjoyed the helm position. Visibility forward and of the sails was great--far superior to sitting behind the cabin top where you can't see much on a lot of cats. Plus, docking was really quite good from out there--again, you could see what you were doing much better than on most cats, plus there is often one side or the other that requires greater diligence when docking and you can be on that side. I will say that you are much more exposed to the weather, but offshore most of us will be on autopilot anyway so it won't matter. It would be kind of nasty to have to spend a cold, dark, wet night watch out there if you had to for some reason.
I agree that it is kind of cool ripping along on a good day (we had a few hours of good weather at least), but for other than fair weather day sail use -- don't like it much.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:48   #6
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We went on the Catana at the boat show">Miami boat show a few weeks ago. I was amazed by the helms. In my opinion they are dangerous. If you are at the starboard helm the view down the starboard hull was great but that was it. The cabin blocked any view of the port side and I am 6'4" tall. If you were in a congested area you would have to bounce back and forth from starboard to port. Docking may be good but do you have to sets of throttle controls, one starboard and one port? The brokers explanation of the steering stations was also, you'll be on autopilot 99% of the time. What a load of BS I want a boat I can sail comfortably all the time not 1% of the time. Geeez from retreading this post I guess I really don't like this setup!
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:42   #7
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Re: Aft Helms

I can't comment on the aft helm position as I have never tried it and for all I know it is the duck's nuts, but I feel that the "you'll be on autopilot most of the time anyhow" rationale is deeply flawed. There is always the possibility that the AP may fail or not be up to the task in rough weather requiring one to hand steer.

An aquaintance with a Crowther design lost his AP at the start of a long passage and ended up having to hand steer for 17 days across the N. Pacific. He spoke very highly of his sheltered helm position.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:13   #8
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Re: Aft Helms

The times that you absolutely need to be at the helm steering instead of on autopilot are the times that you really don't want to be outboard. Huge seas and strong winds would make if very uncomfortable and dangerous.

As for docking, I think many of the smaller Catana's and Nautitech's only have engine controls from one helm. The newer designed raised helm is the best for docking, IMO.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:51   #9
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Re: Aft Helms

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Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
The times that you absolutely need to be at the helm steering instead of on autopilot are the times that you really don't want to be outboard. Huge seas and strong winds would make if very uncomfortable and dangerous.

As for docking, I think many of the smaller Catana's and Nautitech's only have engine controls from one helm. The newer designed raised helm is the best for docking, IMO.
Absolutely, trusting auto to get it right in heavy weather is potentially suicidal.

The Nautitech 44 which I delivered only had engine controls at one helm station so docking in close quarters was very inconvenient. Especially since you had to hunch over the wheel to reach the engine controls...felt like Quazimodo driving a bus from the back seat. Had to get a crew member to stand on opposite bow to give me a visual reference.
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Old 05-03-2012, 16:17   #10
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Re: Aft Helms

Over 20 years and thousands of miles driving cats professionally I've tried them all. IMO the safest for coastal and inshore is twin aft. Worst is flybridge. Safest for offshore is forward cockpit unless you have extended windward work to do in which case you'll love bulkhead. Forward is also a lot warmer on passage nights as you are hopefully out of the wind. Worst offshore is flybridge, especially if you have to climb externally (Privilege615). Bulkhead also tends to make you lazy about trimming as the main is hidden on one tack or the other. Twin helms keep you fit and interested as you need to cross the boat an check the blind spot. (TAG60 has solved this with a leeward camera). You also get a great view of the rig so tend to sail more efficiently.

As for autopilots, I always spec two on new builds I manage. In my book it's an important part of safety. I also have seen a tiller set up for the emergency tiller if you want to go that far. A belt system from a 25-30 foot mono set up to turn a hydraulic wheel is a very cheap reserve pilot.
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Old 05-03-2012, 16:25   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caribcat
Over 20 years and thousands of miles driving cats professionally I've tried them all. IMO the safest for coastal and inshore is twin aft. Worst is flybridge. Safest for offshore is forward cockpit unless you have extended windward work to do in which case you'll love bulkhead. Forward is also a lot warmer on passage nights as you are hopefully out of the wind. Worst offshore is flybridge, especially if you have to climb externally (Privilege615). Bulkhead also tends to make you lazy about trimming as the main is hidden on one tack or the other. Twin helms keep you fit and interested as you need to cross the boat an check the blind spot. (TAG60 has solved this with a leeward camera). You also get a great view of the rig so tend to sail more efficiently.

As for autopilots, I always spec two on new builds I manage. In my book it's an important part of safety. I also have seen a tiller set up for the emergency tiller if you want to go that far. A belt system from a 25-30 foot mono set up to turn a hydraulic wheel is a very cheap reserve pilot.
Tom
I'm sorry but if you have to walk from one helm to the other to check a blind spot how would that make it safe? Safe is good visibility to all parts of the boat from one helm. Safe is also being in a protected part of the boat steering not perched of the rear rail. I do agree an autopilot is a safety item but should never take the place of a helmsman because the helm position is not well thought out.
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Old 05-03-2012, 16:45   #12
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Re: Aft Helms

Aft Helms pros

1. best position for pleasant weather sailing (you can see the sails from the helm)
2. get to choose windward or leeward helming depending on conditions (this deals with alot of the exposure issues I think)
3. ease of docking (as others point out only if throttle levers on both helms)
4. extra room in cockpit from no helm over or within cockpit area
5. lower boom/ more sail area for mast height
6. Redundancy (if properly rigged with cable steering to both rudders from both helms)

Aft helm cons

1. potential to have to helm in a more exposed position in rough weather if auto fails
2. sun exposure from no bimini

For me the pros outweigh the cons. ill just make sure i have spare auto parts.

If i had to helm for 17 days straight then the raised midship helm would get the nod no doubt but lets face it no helm would be anything more than just bearable in that scenario. The real issue is rendundancy on autopilot not helm position.

Personally I hated the movement of the shorter (40 feet or less) raised helms in seas (someone described it as riding an elephant recently i think - sounds about right)

For me at least unless im out day sailing the auto is often on even if im just sitting at the helm with a cold one. For cruising its always on if conditions allow. When i want to enjoy my sailing then the aft helm is the pick just as with monos.

I think the Nautitech is a pretty poor example of aft helms - they are further back than most and the stem is shorter amplifying this. Agree the throttle levers are just stupid where they are mounted on the other post!

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Old 05-03-2012, 17:46   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra
Aft Helms pros

1. best position for pleasant weather sailing (you can see the sails from the helm)
2. get to choose windward or leeward helming depending on conditions (this deals with alot of the exposure issues I think)
3. ease of docking (as others point out only if throttle levers on both helms)
4. extra room in cockpit from no helm over or within cockpit area
5. lower boom/ more sail area for mast height
6. Redundancy (if properly rigged with cable steering to both rudders from both helms)

Aft helm cons

1. potential to have to helm in a more exposed position in rough weather if auto fails
2. sun exposure from no bimini

For me the pros outweigh the cons. ill just make sure i have spare auto parts.

If i had to helm for 17 days straight then the raised midship helm would get the nod no doubt but lets face it no helm would be anything more than just bearable in that scenario. The real issue is rendundancy on autopilot not helm position.

Personally I hated the movement of the shorter (40 feet or less) raised helms in seas (someone described it as riding an elephant recently i think - sounds about right)

For me at least unless im out day sailing the auto is often on even if im just sitting at the helm with a cold one. For cruising its always on if conditions allow. When i want to enjoy my sailing then the aft helm is the pick just as with monos.

I think the Nautitech is a pretty poor example of aft helms - they are further back than most and the stem is shorter amplifying this. Agree the throttle levers are just stupid where they are mounted on the other post!

barra
On the aft helms your talking about, do you have good visibility of both bows from each helm?
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Old 05-03-2012, 17:57   #14
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Re: Aft Helms

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Originally Posted by smj View Post
On the aft helms your talking about, do you have good visibility of both bows from each helm?
Yes no probs with seeing both bows from sitting at either helm on mine.

I can see see how adding a squareish coachhouse to aft helm set up you could be in a problem here though. Maybe thats the problem with the nauti 44 though i dont know the boat.
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Old 05-03-2012, 18:09   #15
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Re: Aft Helms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post
Aft Helms pros

1. best position for pleasant weather sailing (you can see the sails from the helm)
2. get to choose windward or leeward helming depending on conditions (this deals with alot of the exposure issues I think)
3. ease of docking (as others point out only if throttle levers on both helms)
4. extra room in cockpit from no helm over or within cockpit area
5. lower boom/ more sail area for mast height
6. Redundancy (if properly rigged with cable steering to both rudders from both helms)

Aft helm cons

1. potential to have to helm in a more exposed position in rough weather if auto fails
2. sun exposure from no bimini
barra
1: you should be able to see sails from helm. I can see them from interior too.
2:this is a mute point as it deals with dual helms - can have dual bulkhead helms
3:i have the throttle levers on both helms - but find it no different than bulkhead helm. I also now have remote engine control.
4: i live on a sail boat - the cockpit is large enough. they take up much exposed space on deck.
5:not in relation to a bulkhead helm - flybridge is another story.
6:mute - see 2:

I did not buy this boat for the helms - but inspite of them. I decided to allow myself to become accustomed to them. And, after 12 months I am accustomed to their silliness. And am chucking them.
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