Originally Posted by cbcat
In shopping for my first cat, I've decided that a bulkhead helm station is a must.
cbcat - If you've already decided "a bulkhead helm station is a must" - why are you asking?
I drive a Catana
471 and the outside helms were one of the biggest appeals in deciding to purchase
this model. Funny
how our tastes and desires can vary so much, huh?
I get asked questions about the "exposed" helms often and I know I've written these same words on this forum several times before.
I'll assume that besides the perceived negative of "exposure" that you might acknowledge the obvious positives of:
1. unobstructed visibility forward and astern - except to the opposite bow
2. easier docking
, because of better visibility and ability to help handle lines
3. unobstructed visibility upwind and exposure to the wind
on any point of sail either port or stbd when you WANT the wind input via sight on the water
and feel on your face - more like monohulls where you can always steer from the upwind side if you want.
4. redundancy in steering
linkage (at least on Catanas with mechanical steering)
5. better feel of the helm because the steering
linkage is direct, short, and solid to the rudders - no cable slop or tortuous paths between the wheels and rudders.
As for negatives, sun exposure is a real issue. That's what auto pilots are for and from a practical standpoint during passage
making - what these boats are designed for - you'll be on AP most of the time anyway. I have a stool I set on the cockpit
bench right behind the saloon
sliding door that allows me to sit in the shade under the bimini
and see 360, steering with the remote
AP if needed. This also works well in rain.
As for "exposure" to seas, that's what the leeward
helm is for. On a passage
up the Chesapeake last November for winter haul out
, our last day was about 50 nm from just south of Annapolis
, including 36 nm exposed in predicted 25 - 35 kt NW wind and 45 F temps. Actual turned out to be 35 steady with gusts to 45 at about 60 degrees apparent. The two of us huddled on the leeward helm seat, warm and dry, harnessed in watching for freighters and crab pots, acknowledging way points on the AP as spray went over our heads. We were shielded from wind and spray by the coach roof, bimini, and main sail. Sitting at the windward helm would have been absolutely miserable - as would sitting at a bulkhead mounted helm on the port side ala Lagoon
Had I not already been sold on the twin outboard
helm set up, that day would have done it.
Hope this helps.