IMO, it depends upon the boat:
1. Pilothouse yachts: I had a Cartwright 36 Pilothouse Cutter
with an inside steering
station on centerline and the nav station facing forward, directly beside the interior helm
. IMO, no other arrangement would have made sense as it enabled the helmsperson to steer while viewing charts
spread out on the table, or if seated at the chart table, to see forward and continue steering
2. DS yachts: The advantage to a deckhouse saloon is that it allows forward visibility from inside the boat and again, in that case, I would consider it essential that the nav station either face forward, or athwartships so that someone seated there can easily see ahead while the boat is underway. Even without an interior
helm, if sailing short-handed and required to go below to the nav station, it is comforting to still be able to see where the boat is headed.
Catamarans: Since virtually all catamarans permit
forward visibility from inside the saloon, the same considerations as DS boats apply and the nav station should either face forward, or athwartships so as to permit
easy forward visibility.
Non pilothouse/DS monohulls: I can see no advantage to orientation and would be more interested in having the nav station oriented in a way that makes best use of the interior space while allowing easy communication with cockpit.