Ive only experienced the L380 and L400 positions which are both comfortable in most conditions. The L400 more so, but less appealing to the eye with a tent on top of the coach roof. Yesterday we were sailing with a decent cross swell on the nose and a few waves broke over the bow and washed maybe 10buckets of water
along the windward hull
and down the rear steps. Pretty rare that happens but I was glad I wasn't sitting at a helm in that position. We do get the occasional splash from a wave over the bow at our helm and the clear screen
is usually always up for better visibility, but we occasionally zip it down if we are getting too wet from squalls
A couple of benefits of the L400 style is that all lines run to the helm and electric winch
so there is rarely a need to move from the helm except to stand and take the sheets
. Everything is a one man operation, including tacking, reefing and raising sails
etc while tending the helm. The double helm seat is nice for sharing with a friend ❤️
The location offers good access to talk with crew in the saloon
If I had to redesign it I would have a hardtop with fixed Perspex sides and sliding opening sections, and probably a bit lower than the current Bimini
. I like this feature on other bulkhead helms such as the st Francis 50 or Antares
. I'd also add a more cushioned and adjustable double seat.
I quite liked the new outremer
45s bulkhead steering
position, but the lack of weather
protection and no seat would bother me pretty quickly. Looks and performance wise, I don't think you can beat a flush roof with a low boom and preferably traveler on the coachroof. Any other option is a trade
off for comfort/performance.
Often it's said that you do t have to spend much time at the helm and most tasks can be done at inside Nav stations or from other positions, which can be true. But I find often I do want to be at the helm, especially in adverse conditions, so having a protected helm for the worst conditions, with instant access to all controls and lines, is high on my perfect boat priority list.
Lack of weather
protection and separation from the cockpit
, crew and saloon
would count out bridgedeck helms for me. Some go with a fully enclosed bridgedeck Bimini
but the windage would count out that option for me also.
All in all its a lot of pros and cons and what ticks most of your boxes. Often the helm position is less important for others than the interior
layout or boat performance and they might choose say a catana or outremer based on those preferences, or because they personally prefer the outboard
helm to a bulkhead helm and are ok with less weather protection.
I'd be happy enough with any helm position for weekend sailing or tropical weeks or months aboard and I guess I'd put on a raincoat or get a bit wet some days. Also if I typically sailed with a few crew having all lines leading to the helm would be much less of a priority, and I'd probably prefer have the sheets
and halyards located elsewhere to keep the crew amused and out from underfoot.
On a side note, I have to say that the raymarine wifi
, and I guess other manufacturers have it as well, is absolutely fantastic for keeping an eye on the plotter from anywhere on board using an iPad
. This allows you to keep an eye on wind
etc from any comfortable position onboard. We used it a lot crossing the Atlantic, where a 3-4 hr watch at the helm isn't really necessary in settled weather. We use it less so on shorter day sails