Those who are taking such vehement opposition to twin aft helms may wish to consider the following:
1. Experience: How many of you have actually done any extended sailing on a catamran that was equipped with them? I suspect few, if any. On the other hand, those who own and cruise
on cats that are equipped with them do have direct hands-on experience and are in a good position to assess the relative merits. So too are the owners of so many monohulls that are now equipped with twin aft helms. If these designs were such a disaster, don't you think that the word would have gotten around? Don't you think that more designers/manufactuers of monohulls would be moving away from them, rather than towards them? Or do you think that the purchasers of monohulls with twin aft helms - many, if not most of whom are not first-time boat owners, actually prefer them?
2. In terms of catamarans specifically, manufacturers such as Catana do not specify twin aft helms for no reason. They are certainly not cheaper than a single
bulkhead mounted helm. Are they crazy? Are they committed to going out of business? In a word, no. Here are some attributes of twin-aft helms that make them attractive to a certain group of purchasers and hence, sensible for Catana even though they drive up the cost of production.
3. Performance: Catanas are not only more expensive than FP's, Lagoons and Leopards etc., they are also significantly faster. Understand that purchasers of Catanas are not just people with more money
than purchasers of those other brands - for the same money they could have purchased a much more spacious cat from any of those manufacturers. The fact is that people who purchase
Catanas are, for the most part, people who prioritize performance. In that context twin aft helms are the most logical and efficient set-up, even though they are more expensive to produce.
THEY PROVIDE BY FAR THE BEST VANTAGE POINT FROM WHICH TO ASSESS SAIL TRIM! While this may not matter to charter
companies or those who desire a condo on the water
, it clearly does to the purchasers of some cats. Does this mean that the owners of Catanas etc. are stuck out in the elements for endless hours while cruising? Of course not. The reality is that for most lengthy passages helming will be done almost exclusively by autopilot
. Indeed, Maxing-Out circumnaviagated without ever having to be at the helm in bad, let alone life threatening conditions.
However, on those occasions when one is making a short inter-island passage
or a day sail etc., how many of us would not prefer to maximize our performance? To not only reap the benefits of proper sail trim, but to display proper sail trim to others out on the water
? How many of us do not engage in little 'races' against other boats on the same heading? And how often will these situations arise in comparison to having to helm for extended periods in bad weather
4. Ease/safety in docking
: Make no mistake, twin aft helms enable the helmsperson to get the best possible view of an approaching dock
. This is particularly important in catamarans where the rather extreme beam can be not only intimidating, but can increase the risk of striking the dock
, or pulling in too far away from the dock to tie up without assistance.
5. Ease for the helmsperson in boarding/exiting the boat when leaving or arriving at a dock. Again, it is much easier/quicker to get to an aft helm on the same side as the dock than it is to a bulkhead mounted helm, or a raised helm. Unless you always sail with sufficient crew, this can be significant in moderate to heavy crosswinds.
All boats (and virtually all design elements of boats) are to some degree a compromise. Depending upon one's priorities, twin aft helms have a great deal to commend them.